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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin



Special Note One:  How can we keep the elevated spirit of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah with us every day of the year?  We remind everyone of the Responsa of the Rashba (Teshuvas HaRashba 5:1), who states that just as the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is the Eis Ratzon of the year, so too, is Tefillah Mincha the Eis Ratzon of the day.  Let us appreciate and utilize each and every Tefillah Mincha for the tremendous opportunity that it is--starting today!



Special Note Two:  There is another way that we can remain tied in some way to the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah.  The Sefer Tomer Devorah by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Z’tl, teaches us that each and every one of us, at least in some small way should do “Teshuvah BeChol Yom--Teshuvah every day.”  What a wonderful way to remain elevated--staying in touch with Teshuvah daily--coming closer and closer to the Ikar of your Neshama--to the Neshama at its source!  

Hakhel Note:  It may not pay to put away the Yom Kippur Machzor, or the Viduy Booklet that you have, until after Sukkos, so that you can open it and remind yourself as to where you were and where you want to go this year.  Of course, you can suggest this approach to a family member or friend and you can do this together.  In fact, the Rabbeinu Yonah, in the Igerres HaTeshuva (1:22) writes that it is a “Takanah Gedola”, it is of great assistance, to a person to find a friend or even a Rav or other mentor to discuss more heavenly matters with, and give, take, or exchange advice on maintaining and raising our Ruchniyus now and even throughout the year.



Special Note Three:  Sukkos is a Chag which should invigorate us with Emunah.  May we suggest that one purchase, or put aside, a Sefer on Emunah to study over every day of the Yom Tov.   Many Mussar seforim have sections on both Emunah and Bitachon, and many new Sefarim (in different languages) have been published on this topic, as it is obviously an essential Avodah of our time.  Let us imbibe as much Emunah as we can over this especially auspicious time!



Special Note Four:  We provide by clicking here a wonderful reminder sheet that one can keep near his seat in the Sukkah, so that he can fulfill the Mitzvah of Sukkah LeChatchila each and every time!



Special Note Five:  Project Inspire’s great project this year for Sukkos is “Kol HaEzra”--inviting an unaffiliated coworker, friend, or neighbor to your Sukkah.  This is the moving Noviminsker Rebbe’s, Shlita, powerful comment:  “By inviting a less affiliated Yid into your Sukkah you not only fulfill the Mitzvos of Hachnosas Orchim and of Hatzolas Nefashos, but you are also directing him Tachas Kanfei HaShechina--the essence of Chag HaSukkos.”  Project Inspire has much wonderful material at www.kiruv.com to help facilitate and enhance your experience.  Hakhel Note:  If one truly appreciates Teshuva, he will most certainly want others to benefit from and enjoy it as well.  Share the Ruchniyus! 



Special Note Six:  FREE N’OI SUKKAH FROM HAKHEL!  We provide by clicking here a treasure-filled message from the Mishna Berurah to post in your Sukkah or to keep close-by.  Special thanks to Rabbi Hillel Litwack, Shlita, who printed beautiful color posters, and allowed us to copy and distribute.



Special Note Seven:  The Sefer Mateh Efrayim, a classic Halacha Sefer on Hilchos Sukkah rules:  “Vechol Rega She’Shoheh BaSukkah Mekayeim Mitzvas Asei Min HaTorah-- and every moment that one spends in a Sukkah, he fulfills a Mitzvas Asei from the Torah.”  Indeed, Chazal (Sukkah 9) teach that just as Hashem’s name is Chal on Kodshim, so too, it is Chal on one’s Sukkah--one is in a especially holy environment!  The Kuntres Acharon adds that one who sits in the Sukkah should view himself as sitting in the King’s palace and even before the King Himself!  Ultimately, the Mateh Efrayim concludes, one who fulfills the Mitzvah of Sukkah in this world will have a seat in the Sukkas Ha’Livyasan in the future--may we merit it speedily and in our days!



Special Note Eight:  We provide the following Sukkos Notes from Hakhel Bulletins, as reviewed by HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita:


a.  Watching Your Waste. We must note that one generally cannot move his garbage cans from the side of the house to the front of the house on Yom Tov for garbage pickup, because it constitutes Hotza’ah on Yom Tov (leaving aside Muktzah issues).  Similarly, unless one has a P’sak from his Rav that in his case it is permissible, one cannot take the garbage out of his house to the garbage cans on the side of his house on Yom Tov without an Eruv in place. 


b.  Moving Mail.  According to The Halachos of Muktza by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchas Bodner Shlita (page 142) “Items which cannot be read are muktza unless such items are also normally used as utensils….  According to all opinions, where the letter is important, and one would not use it as a bookmark, etc. for fear of damage or loss, it is muktza.  It is suggested that one should not move mail on Shabbos or Yom Tov.  In cases of great necessity, a competent Halachic authority should be consulted.”



Special Note Nine:  In order to spur a greater appreciation, observance and celebration of Chol HaMoed, we once again provide the following CHOL HAMOED HIGHLIGHTS:


Chol HaMoed are days designated--set aside--for holiness.  We can therefore understand why someone who disgraces these days “has no share” in the World to Come (Avos 3:15).  According to the Bartenura (ibid.), disgracing the Mo’ados means doing unnecessary work on them, and eating and drinking in the same manner as one would on a regular weekday.


The following highlights are from a Hakhel Shiur, given by HaRav Dovid Zucker, Shlita, author of the Sefer Chol HaMoed (Artscroll), and Rosh Kollel of the Chicago Community Kollel.


1.                  The Avnei Nezer teaches (based upon the Zohar) that the Kedusha of Chol HaMoed may be likened to the light of the Moon--reflecting the Kedusha of Yom Tov itself.  Chol HaMoed is indeed enveloped by the Kedusha of the First Days and the Last Days of Yom Tov.


2.                  One should wear nicer clothes on Chol HaMoed than on a regular weekday.  The mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov applies to Chol HaMoed as well.


3.                  Rabbi Zucker stated that he felt that just as Kedushas Shabbos was thenisayon (the test) of 75 to 100 years ago, Kedushas Chol HaMoed is the nisayon of Galus Jewry today.


4.                  The laws of working on Chol HaMoed for a salaried employee depend upon whether the employee: (a) has vacation coming to him; (b) has no vacation coming to him, but can take time off without pay; (c) asking for time off will cause him to lose his job; or (d) asking for time off will not cause him to lose his job, but will have undesired effects.  Our notes here are intended to highlight these distinctions, but not provide the halachic parameters, which are detailed and often require consultation with a Rav.  For further information, you may study the Sefer itself, or obtain a copy of the Shiur on cassette tape or CD by calling (718) 252-5274.


5.                  Self-employed individuals and employers must consult with their Rav as to how/when to remain open on Chol HaMoed.  One should not rely on “everybody does it” or “ignorance is bliss”--remember, we are talking about the World to Come, and that is true bliss--and infinity.  The story is told of a factory owner who refused, despite the Chofetz Chaim’s pleadings, to close his factory on Shabbos--he told the Chofetz Chaim, “Rebbe, you don’t make money from a posuk in the Torah.”  When the Bolsheviks confiscated all of his property a few years later, he wrote a letter of contrition and apology to the Chofetz Chaim.


6.                  Unskilled work is permitted for the sake of the Moed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.  Therefore, if necessary, one may sew a button on in an unskilled manner.


7.                  A non-Jew cannot do work for you that you yourself cannot perform.  For example, your lawn cannot be mowed or landscaped--and your gardener must be sent away if he comes to perform work for you.


8.                  Skilled work is generally prohibited--even for the sake of the Moed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.  Once again, anything prohibited for a Jew to do is prohibited for a non-Jew to do for you.  There are certain exceptions in which skilled labor is permitted, which relate to “Tzorchei HaGuf,” such as a serious roof leak or a necessary oven or air conditioner repair.  With respect to car repairs, it would depend on the type of repair necessary, the need for the repair, and other factors, and a Rav must be consulted.


9.                  Laundering clothing can only be done for young children who have soiled their clothing and have nothing else to wear.  You cannot add other clothing into the washing machine once their clothes are being washed.  Once again, a non-Jewish housekeeper cannot do for you what you yourself cannot do.  Spot cleaning, if necessary, is permitted.  Drying clothing is permitted.


10.              Going shopping is only permissible (even if you otherwise enjoy shopping) if needed for Chol HaMoed or the Last Days of Yom Tov, or if it would constitute a “davar ha’avad” (See paragraph 13 below).  One cannot “trick” the Halacha (and yourself) by “wearing it on Chol HaMoed too.  Similarly, one should not push off buying a pair of shoes to Chol HaMoed if he can do so before Yom Tov (unless he simply ran out of time).  Rav Moshe Feinstein Z’TL once told a Yeshiva bochur to come back to Yeshiva a day later in order to go shopping for clothing after Yom Tov, rather than shop on Chol HaMoed.


11.              One cannot schedule a “routine” medical or dental checkup or exam for Chol HaMoed.


12.              One cannot put off to Chol HaMoed filling up the car with gas, going to the bank, etc., when he has time or an opportunity to do so before Chol HaMoed.


13.              In specific “davar ha’avad” situations where an actual loss will occur, if work (even if skilled) is not performed on Chol HaMoed, it may very well be permissible, and your Rav should be consulted.


14.              Cutting nails/manicure is permitted for Sefardim (if needed), and prohibited to Ashkenazim (unless needed, and one had previously cut nails on Erev Yom Tov as well).


15.              Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, ruled that setting/cutting a sheitel is considered skilled work and therefore is prohibited even for the sake of the Moed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.


16.              Standard writing (not calligraphy) is considered unskilled work and is permitted for the sake of the Moed.  One can type, send e-mails, e-faxes and text messages, but not print them out (unless permitted as a “davar ha’avad”).  Similarly, one can utilize a digital camera as long as the pictures are not printed out, and a standard camera, as long as the pictures are not developed.


The above, obviously, only briefly highlights some common Halachos.  In fact, Hilchos Chol HaMoed encompasses 20 chapters in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 530-549).  We additionally refer you to Rabbi Zucker’s wonderful sefer.  You may want to ask your Rav to give a Shiur this Yom Tov on the Halachos and Hashkafos of Chol HaMoed for everyone’s benefit.  Remember, with any question, or difficult or special situation, please consult your Rav--and have Simchas HaMoed!





Question for the Coming Week:  Our Hakafos over the seven days of Sukkos are intended to replicate the Hakafos around the Mizbeiach in the Bais HaMikdash.  However, in the Bais HaMikdash only the Kohanim would circle around the Mizbeiach.  Why, then, do we all--Kohanim, Levim, and Yisraelim all circle around the Bimah for Hakafos on Sukkos?  [Hint:  See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 660 and the Taz there].



Special Note One:  We are excited to provide by the following link http://www.prayingwithfire.org/images/Newsletter16.pdf  the sixteenth issue of the Praying with Passion Series, with the issue focused on Birchas HaShachar produced by The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation.  Please spread this especially useful and inspirational publication to others!



Special Note Two:  We continue with points and pointers relating to the elevated period we are now celebrating:


1.  With so much to do in such a short time, we must be especially careful to make sure that we don’t lose ourselves over the pressures of all that needs to be accomplished, and in the increased Holiday expenses.  However, we must remember that we recently sincerely asked for forgiveness for anger, for causing anguish to other people, for jealousy, and for a host of other Aveiros relating to our mental mind set and our speech.  Moreover, we confessed over acting “Bevli Da’as”--without using our heads.  Rather than falling prey to the Yetzer Hara, we should consider how every little step, how every little act--cleaning this or that, buying this or that, are all precious and irreplaceable Mitzvos which will stay with us forever and ever.  Even on Yom Tov itself, washing the dishes, removing the garbage, cleaning away a spill, and always keeping the Sukkah clean, is a part and parcel of Kavod Yom Tov!  Let us celebrate Yom Tov proud of our conduct and the path that we took to get there.  After all, the Torah teaches “Chag HaSukkos Ta’aseh Lecha--make for yourself a Chag HaSukkos.”  We ourselves are enjoined to the make the Chag into what it is and what it can be!  Additional Note:  There is another fascinating point about the continuum that we are passing through from Yom Kippur until Sukkos.  On Yom Kippur, we try as best as we can to serve Hashem as Malachim, as angels--no eating, or drinking, the Kittel and dress in white, reciting Boruch Sheim Kevod aloud...  The Sefer Kav HaYashar points out that the Gematria of Sukkah (91) is actually equal to that of Malach.  We were like a Malach just a few days ago, and we will be like a Malach again in a few days from now.  We dare not lose this very special semblance over the next couple of days, as we maintain our more enthused and elevated level of Mitzvah performance and conduct--as we had hoped and strove for on Yom Kippur.


2.  On Yom Tov we will be reciting the Bracha of Shehechiyanu both in the Sukkah and over the Arba Minim.  The Sefer Ma’aseh Nisim (Rebbi Yaakov MeLisa, also known as the Nesivos), explains the difference between the three words Shehechiyanu, Kiyemanu, and Higiyanu.  The word “Shehechiyanu” refers to the physical life Hashem is granting us in spite of the difficulties and dangers of Galus.  The word “Kiyemanu” refers to our eternity--Hashem has given us the opportunity of eternal existence through the performance of Mitzvos in this world.  The word “Higiyanu” expresses our acute awareness that we are only here at the moment of the Bracha because of the true Chesed of Hashem.  It is no small wonder then, that we are urged to recite this very meaningful Bracha with great Simcha and thanks to Hashem for bringing us to this moment so special in so many ways!


3. The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 625, seif katan 1) importantly reminds us that every time we dwell in the Sukkah we should remind ourselves that we are doing so both “Zeicher LeYetzias Mitzrayim and Zecher LeAnanei Hakavod.”  Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Shlita, incredibly points out that the Mishna Berura writes that if one does not have these Kavannos when entering the Sukkah, he is only Yotzei the Mitzvah of Sukkah--BeDieved!!  Accordingly, one is well advised to have a reminder upon entering the Sukkah of the proper Kavannos, so that he can fulfill the Mitzvah LeChatchila--in the first instance.  We provide by clicking here a Kavannah card for the first night (or for the first two nights) of Sukkos sent to us by a reader based on a Shiur given by Rabbi Boruch Hirschfeld, Shlita, of Cleveland.  We note that items 2, 3, and 5 on the card apply all seven days of Sukkos! 


4.  We will once again be benefitting from Birchas Kohanim on the days of Yom Tov.  We remind everyone that the Chofetz Chaim (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 128 at the outset of the Bi’ur Halacha) writes that even non-Kohanim (yes, you!) can fulfill the Mitzvas Asei DeOraysa of Birchas Kohanim by having in mind to receive the Bracha from the Kohanim, as Hashem commanded!


5.  Now, we are ready to turn to HaRav Dessler, Z’tl.  HaRav Dessler (Michtav Me’Eliyahu 1:268) explicitly writes that the reason for the close proximity between Yom Kippur and Sukkos is the “Shemira,” or protection, that the Mitzvah of Sukkah provides.  On Yom Kippur the Yetzer Hora is quashed, but is revived so quickly after Yom Kippur that we are required to promptly recite “Selach Lanu Avinu Ki Chatanu” in the Ma’ariv Shemone Esrei just 7 to 8 minutes after we have concluded Ne’ilah.  How can we be protected for the rest of the Year?  It is by surrounding ourselves with the Sukkah and inculcating ourselves with its holiness.  In fact, the Zohar writes that the Sukkah can be compared to the Teivah of Noach, Noach’s Ark , which protected and eternally preserved the remnants of all life on earth.  The Sukkah takes all of our physical and human drives and activities such as eating, drinking, sitting, walking, and sleeping, and houses them in the spiritual well beyond the seven days of Sukkos.  The ephemeral becomes the everlasting.  Complementing the Sukkah is the taking and shaking of the Four Minim, which symbolizes the spiritual control over harmful gashmiyus, such as dangerous winds and dews--also, once again, well beyond Sukkos.


The Sefas Emes finds a clear allusion to this in the Torah’s words that we are to observe Sukkos:  “Shivah Yamim BaShana-- Seven Days of the Year,”-- the Seven Days are sufficient to infuse us with all that we need for the coming year.  It is for this reason that Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh day of Sukkos, is the date when the final “notes” relating to our judgment are delivered.  By then, we have indicated to Hashem whether we have, or have not, availed ourselves of the opportunity to protect the Ruchniyus that we acquired on Yom Kippur and bring it into our homes and our workplaces.


May we inculcate theses thoughts into our being, and may this Sukkos bring with it the protection--and the consequent guidance--to make this year especially great and successful!



Special Note One:  We conclude Neilah on Yom Kippur with Kabalas Ol Malchus Shomayim.  We accept Hashem’s Kingship over us--now and forever.  While this may be a difficult concept for those who have been raised in Western Society, and for those of us who are impressed by their own, wisdom, prowess or strength, the fact is that it is as absolute as the truth gets.  It is interesting to note that the penultimate Pasuk of the Shiras HaYam (Shemos 15:18 ) is “Hashem Yimloch Le’olam Voed--Hashem’s Malchus will last forever.”  The teaching is so fundamental to our daily life-that this Pasuk is actually repeated ten (!) times daily during the course of our three daily prayers (Nusach Ashkenaz), and even once in Kriyas Shema Al HaMita!  We will leave it to you to double-check our count in your next three tefillos.  If someone could give us the Nusach Sefard/Sefaradi/Ari counts, it would be most appreciated.  In all events, as we go through events in the day in which we sense that there is more to what happened than meets the eye--that there had to be a reason why you met up with him, or for why that certain unexpected thing happened, or even why you just missed the light--bring to mind and state this Pasuk--and you can touch daily that most sublime moment of Neilah on Yom Kippur!



 Special Note Two:  We provide the following post-Yom Kippur points and pointers:


1.  It may be a good idea for one to review his activities from this past Erev Yom Kippur and Yom Kippur, and make some notes as to items he forgot to do, or items that he should have done, so that he will have them Be’Ezras Hashem, for next year: 

·        Did everyone ask Mechilah from each other at the Seudas HaMafsekes?

·        Were the Halachos of Teshuvah and Vidui, and the Halachos of Yom Kippur itself (such as washing) clear to all?

·        Were all the candles that were necessary to be lit actually lit?

·        Were there any Sefarim needed to be purchased that could have further enhanced the davening or the day?

·        Are there any notes, thoughts, choices of Kabbalos, or personal Prayers that I should put into writing?


2.  The Al Cheits must definitely stay with us through the year.  Here are just a few examples:


·        Al Cheit… BeZilzul Horim U’Morim. The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah explains that Zilzul means not only actively disgracing a parent or a teacher, but simply and unfortunately not giving them the respect they are due.  Moreover, we are reminded that respecting elders is more than just a nice or socially proper thing to do, but also an absolute requirement, and that the failure to do so is sinful.  The Kuntres reminds us that one must stand up for his teacher even when engaged in Torah study.


·        Al Cheit…BeChozek Yad. HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, explains that Chozek Yad is more than just forcing people to listen to you, or otherwise acting by compulsion or with a strong hand.  It also includes the Sin of “Kochi VeOtzem Yadi”--in which one attributes his success, wealth, and talents to himself--rather than to Hashem which is The True Source. 


·        Al Cheit…Besikur Ayin. Misusing one’s eyes can occur very often in very different contexts and with very different effects.  One can show anger, or speak Lashon Hara with his eyes, one can roll his eyeballs in public, one can gaze, raise eyebrows, size up a person and have a person realize you are sizing him up--all without ever saying a word.  Our eyes are such a precious and miraculous commodity--rather than abuse them, let us make sure that we use them exclusively for Mitzvah purposes throughout the day!


·        Al Cheit…BeSimhon Leivav. The Artscroll Vidui sums this up remarkably in one sentence--“We have not seen Hashem’s hand in everyday events.”  If we can take the extra time to relate the occurrences of our lives and the events of the world around us to Hashem’s Hand--than the Deveikus we so recently experienced can be taken with us throughout the coming year.  Additional Note:  With this essential point in mind, we can understand why this Sin is the final and concluding specified sin in the Al Cheits.


3.  One other point on Neilah:  In the course of our personal Neilah prayer, we twice mention “LeMa’an Nechdal MeOshek YaDeinu--so that we withdraw our hands from theft.”  The Chofetz Chaim points out to our singling out of Oshek in Neilah and our repeating the phrase twice and emphasizes the absolute need for one to “clean-up” his act in financial matters.  If this is what we Daven for at Neilah, this is what we should be following up through the year as well!


4.  The Chofetz Chaim also once urgently called his close students to his house, opened up a Siddur and read the following four powerful words from Elokai Neshama:  “UleHachazira Bi LeAsid Lavo--and you will restore it to me in the Time to Come.”  He pleaded with his students:  “It is what you make of your Soul in this world that will be restored to you in the future--nothing less and nothing more.  “Do you understand that?! Do you appreciate it?!”  Our essence for eternity is being written by us in the manner in which we lead our daily lives!  With the gift of Teshuvah, we can raise our Neshamos to new and untold heights.  Let us use the gift wisely--and make our Soul great!


5.  Rav Eliyahu Lopian, Z'tl, told his son that if a person  was careful to keep the Kabbalos he accepted upon himself until Hoshana Rabbah--then that was a proof that the Kabbalah was true and any sin afterwards would be considered as a 'first-time', new iniquity.  Let us strengthen ourselves in our Kabbalos--most certainly over the next 10 days!



Special Note Three:  The Chasam Sofer composed Zemiros, Shiros, and Tishbachos under the title  "Shiras Moshe".  His son asked him when he had the opportunity to compose these Songs--after all every minute of his time was so carefully counted.  The Chasam Sofer responded that he composed these Songs in the period between Yom Kippur and Succos--when his Deveikus to Hashem was exceedingly great.  We **too** must utilize this period of great Deveikus and keep the Ruchniyus of our Torah study, of our Tefillos, and of our Mitzvos highly charged and exceedingly energized!



Special Note Four:  One of the reasons given for which we do not recite Tachanun in the period between Yom Kippur and Succos is because the first Beis HaMikdash was being dedicated during these very days in the times of Shlomo HaMelech.  Remember--history repeats itself--in these very days we can still celebrate the building of the Third Bais HaMikdash! Let us do our utmost to make it happen!



Special Note Two:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos Series:


1.  In other years, when Yom Kippur occurs on a weekday, one is required to utilize a “Ner SheShovas--a candle which was lit before Yom Kippur, in order to make the Bracha of Borei MeOrei HaEish in Havdalah on Motza’ei Yom Kippur.  When Yom Kippur occurs on Shabbos, this would not appear to be necessary, as one is in any event making the Bracha of Borei MeOrei HaEish because it is Motza’ei Shabbos (and we do not need a Ner SheShovas on Motza’ei Shabbos).  However, the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 624, seif katan 7) writes that the Minhag is to be Machmir and to use a Ner SheShovas on this Motza’ei Shabbos as well, and the Ezras Torah Luach follows this ruling.


2.  HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl writes that he remembers that in his first year in Kelm the “Kabbolah HaRaishis--the top Kabbala” was Shemiras Shabbos “For this is the way of the Yetzer Hora to seek large profits, and since the Mitzvah of Shabbos is so great, the Yetzer seeks to up-end you in the proper observance of Shabbos.”  Shabbos Yom Kippur is certainly a day to reflect upon ways in which one can enhance his own Shemiras Shabbos and the Shemiras Shabbos of others.


3.  We remind all women who are Madlik Neiros and recite a Shehechiyanu then that they do NOT recite a second Shehechiyanu i.e., the Shehechiyanu after Kol Nidrei, which is found in the Machzorim.


4.  Some rule that because we will not be making Kiddush over wine on Leil Shabbos, we should have Kavannah to be Yotzei the Mitzvah of Kiddush Leil Shabbos when we recite, for example, the words “MeKadeish HaShabbos” in Shemone Esrei at night.


5.  One should also remember that on Motza’ei Yom Kippur he will be enjoying a Seudas “Yom Tov”, but also a Seudas Melaveh Malka!  What a wonderful opportunity!



Special Note Three:  At a very recent Shiur, HaRav Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, once again urged all attendees to undertake as a Kabbala the study of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi.  Through the study of Halacha, he urged one could save himself from many unnecessary Aveiros that he would not otherwise even realize that he is committing.  He reminded everyone that pleading ignorance to the King is not a very respectable or worthwhile defense.  We once again provide the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi by clicking here.



Special Note Four:  EMERGENCY RECOMMENDATION FOR TESHUVA:  Rav Dessler, Z’tl, writes that in difficult times when one does not know what the day will bring, one should undertake a shortcut to Teshuva which he literally calls “Ezra Rishona (first aid)” in difficult times (Michtav D’Eliyahu I, page 30).  Rav Dessler provides the following four emergency recommendations for Teshuva: Learn Torah – in order to chase away the Yetzer Horah. Learn Mussar – in order to acquire the true view of life. Accustom Yourself to Break Your Desire – (according to Rabbeinu Yonah in the name of the Raavad) this is equivalent to many fasts in one day!  Increase Your Acts of Kindness – both to individuals and to K’lal Yisroel.  This includes practicing Chesed B’Lev – including davening for others, doing a chesed for the z’chus of others, and having tza’ar for the suffering of others.



Special Note Five: We provide the following important points and pointers relating to Yom Kippur:


1.  When we recite the words in Selichos and on Yom Kippur of “Aval Anachnu VaAvoseinu Chatanu--but we and our forefathers have sinned,” we must remember that they are actually part of the Vidui itself.  In fact, the Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva (2:8) calls these words the “Ikar” of Vidui.  Accordingly, it would appear that one should be slightly bowed over as he recites these words, as in the remainder of the Vidui.


2.  From a reader: “I have long felt that one reason we say HaMelech HaKadosh in the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is that we prove to ourselves that we can change the hergel--habit pattern--of davening all year long.  If we are forced to change our habit and not daven on autopilot, we prove to ourselves three times a day that we **CAN** change our ways if we just put our mind to it.”


3.  We must remember to do one final search of our monetary matters before Yom Kippur.  The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 606, Seif Katan 1), writes that improperly holding other people’s money is, rachmana l’tzlan, the mikatreg b’rosh--the lead prosecutor.  The Mishne Berurah adds that one should not rely upon his own decisions in monetary matters with others, “Ki HaYetzer Hora, Yesh Lo Heterim Harbe--for the Yetzer Hora finds many leniencies”!  In monetary matters or issues with others, one should consult his Rav.


4.  We must remember and spend some time working out the “Aveiros Kalos”--the so-called lesser transgressions.  The Shaarei Teshuva ( 1:38 ) writes that we should not look at the “smallness of the transgression” but the Greatness of He Who warned against it.  Secondly, if one persists in a small transgression, the successive accumulation of Sin could be analogized to a delicate and weak strand of silk which, through constant redoubling, becomes a stout rope.  Moreover, even as to a “small transgression,” a person can be considered, rachmana l’tzlan, a “mumar--an apostate”--in this particular respect(!).  Finally, Rabbeinu Yonah writes, if the Yetzer Hora gains even a “small victory” over a person today, it can gain a greater victory tomorrow--so you must stop him today!


5.  In the Yom Kippur davening, we will recite, “K’Dalim U’Chrashim Dafaknu Dilasecha.”  This means that we should view ourselves before Hashem as, rachmana l’tzalan, a poor person knocking on someone’s door and asking for funds that he needs to survive.  This is what we are doing as we stand before Hashem.  Fortunately, though, we are blessed with Someone who will answer the door and receive us warmly and with love.


Related Note:  In the Yom Tov davening, we recite that Hashem is the “Don Yichidi L’Buai Olam--the Sole Judge of the World.”  Is there not a Bais Din Shel Ma’aleh, a Heavenly Court ?  Yes, there is, answers HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, and they review the matter with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  However, the final P’sak’--the final ruling--is in the hands of Hashem!


6.  According to some authorities, Yom Kippur is the Yartzheit of Rebbe Akiva, who gave his life Al Kiddush Hashem in such an awe-inspiring way.  This may be the reason that we enumerate the Asara Harugei Malchus in Musaf on Yom Kippur.  Undoubtedly, we mention them as well so that their merits stand in our stead.  We additionally note that Yizkor is recited on Yom Kippur--not only because the departed are judged--but also so that their zechusim will help to protect us on the Yom HaDin.


8.  In the Musaf Shemone Esrei, we will recite the words “V’ein Anachnu Yecholim La’asos **Chovoseinu** B’vais Bechirasecha--we cannot perform our obligations in the Beis Hamikdash this Yom Kippur because of the foreign hand that has been placed there.”  We must take these words deeply to heart.  It is our “Chov”--our current and existing obligation--to bring Korbonos in the Bais Hamikdash and for the Kohein Gadol to perform the special Avodah on Yom Kippur.  This is not something of the past--nor is it relegated only to the future.  It is something that we must do now, and we are being forced not to do it.  When reciting all of the words relating to Avodas Yom Kippurim we should bring them to life in our minds, and also sincerely yearn in our hearts that we see them in reality in our days!


9.   Some individual Kabbalos that have been shared with us:  One person undertook something we had previously suggested--before making a Bracha, to quickly think about on what he is making the Bracha on, and to whom he is making the Bracha.  Another person said that he is going to be more careful about the fruits and vegetables requiring checking that he eats, romaine lettuce, strawberries, etc., and is “not going to eat them at any catered affair just because they are in front of me.”  A third person stated that he was going to try to answer the one word “Amen” with Kavannah, which means  “what I just heard is true, and I believe it-- thank you.”  Yet another said he was going to commit to be “metzape l’yeshua”--wait for the Geulah daily by thinking about it more carefully in davening.  Finally, one person said that she especially was going to take out her written list of Cholim, and say a particular perek of Tehillim for all on the list at least one time daily.  Hakhel Addition:  Another related suggestion would be a Kabbalah for a person to wait a few moments, or do something else, prior to eating, after his food is ready and waiting for him.  This is a small but important gesture in quashing desire.  Another Addition:  Rabban Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, also urges, if at all possible, for one to figure out how he can be among the Asara Rishonim, the first ten at Minyan--for in addition to the compounded reward one gains (Brachos 47B) , one truly demonstrate his loyalty to the King.  NOTE:  We remind everyone of HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon’s teaching--that one should formalize and express his Kabbala at the end of his private Tefilla in Neilah.  FOR AFTER YOM KIPPUR:  It is well known that Rav Pam, Z’tl, would urge his talmidim to keep a “Kabbalos Card” which listed the initiatives that each person took upon himself in his Teshuvah process. The Kabbalos Card could either serve as a personal diary of success, or at least a written Teshuvah reminder to be viewed regularly.


10.  The Chayei Odom (Chapter 143) writes that the four organs of speech of a human being (mouth, tongue, lips and teeth) are comparable to the four articles of clothing that the Kohen must wear in order to perform the Avoda in the Bais HaMikdash.  The Chayei Odom continues “…and it is known that if the Bigdei Kehunah are soiled, one cannot do the Avoda.  So, too, if the mouth is soiled [with improper speech] how can we open our mouth to do our Avoda of Tefillah, and to beg pardon for ourselves, as a Kateigor (prosecutor) cannot become a Saneigor (defense attorney).” We must make a special effort to do Teshuva over the sins of speech--a Shmiras Halashon Yomi commitment (or an improvement in some way to the commitment) may be a fine start!  Of course, all Kaballos, all commitments, should be bli neder, without promising. 


11.  REMINDER!  Chazal (Shabbos 127A) teach that “V’Talmud Torah K’Neged Kulam--the study of Torah is equivalent to them all.”  The Chofetz Chaim teaches that we must be especially certain to do Teshuva for not devoting adequate time and effort in our Torah studies—for it is the ultimate of ALL mitzvos--equivalent to them all! Moreover, and once again, the Pele Yoetz writes that the reason that the Brocha of Teshuva  in Shemone Esrei  begins with “Hashevenu Avinu L’Sorosecha”--bring us back to your Torah, is because we cannot properly perform any Teshuva--over any other matter--unless we  first study better what the Torah says or requires of us relating to that matter.  Thus, dedicated improvement in Torah study is a prerequisite to Teshuva!


12.  Clearly, Tefillah is a great Avodas HaYom of Yom Kippur.  It is absolutely imperative for us to daven (on Yom Kippur—and everyday) for all our uneducated brethren who know oh so little of Torah and Judaism.  Is it really possible for us not to shed a tear for them this Yom Kippur?!


13.  The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 606, Shaar HaTzion, Seif Katan 8) writes that “One must forgive a person even if they have sinned against you b’maizid (intentionally), and if one does so forgive, so, too, will you be forgiven even for your intentional sins against Heaven.”  We must always remember that Hashem’s Hashgacha Protis over us is based upon “Midah K’Neged Midah”--the attribute of measure for measure, and that, as we all know (but may find hard to apply) “according to the effort is the reward” Avos 5:27.


14.  On Yom Kippur we should constantly remind ourselves that we are immersing ourselves in purity (“Titharu”).  Just as a person who is physically ill may go to the hospital or take medication to get better, Yom Kippur is an ultimate healing process for the ailments of the soul--which need to be cured for a much, much longer time than the body needs to be healed.  What an Opportunity ! What an Occasion!  We should especially express our thanks to Hashem for the unfathomably infinite gift that He has given us!





Special Note One:  Yidden--Tzedaka! Please!!



Special Note Two:  We received the following wonderful words from a reader:  “As I was davening Sim Shalom on Rosh Hashanah, I was struck by the words "alainu V'al Kol Yisroel Amecha."  Namely, as we are asking for peace and serenity for ourselves, we are making this same request for all of K’lal Yisroel.  Which means that as I was requesting this bracha for myself, I was also requesting this bracha for the person next to me, and for all of the mispalillim, and the person next to me was making the request for themselves and for me.  It hit me that at this point, we are basically davening for ourselves and for each other!  I felt such a sense of achdus with the K’lal-and in the very next breath we ask Hashem to bless us  “K’echad.”  What allows us to make this request?  It's the sense of unity that we feel as we realize that we are all davening for each other in the previous sentence.  G'mar Chasima Tova!”



Special Note Three:  We provide by clicking here the tremendously meaningful and powerful words of the Yesod VeShoresh Ha’avodah for one’s important use on Yom Kippur.  Please feel free to distribute further.



Special Note Four:  We provide by clicking here a potential list of Kabbalos that we have provided in the past, for you and your family.  Of course, if you have other suggestions, we welcome your additional suggestions.



Special Note Five:  As the Shelosh Esrei Middos, the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, are such an essential part of our Yom Kippur Tefillah, we once again provide, by clicking here for Hebrew and here for English core explanations of these Middos, to enhance your Kavannah when reciting the Middos.  Hakhel Note:  One of the Thirteen Attributes is “Emes--Truth.”  How is Truth associated with the Attributes of Mercy? May we suggest that you start with the link!



Special Note Six:  The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation, an affiliate of Hakhel, has an outstanding Initiative to join this Yom Kippur.  Everyone is urged to participate.  We provide the Initiative and its detail, by clicking here to follow the link.



Special Note Seven:  Beyond the Initiative, we received a moving and plea-filled letter from a reader, which we provide by clicking here.    As with all of the other links provided above, one can feel free to print-out and distribute in his Shul and elsewhere.



Special Note Eight:  Another reader provided the following insight:  “I was just in a Shul for Mincha, and the Mispallilim did not have the combination for the safe to open it for Avinu Makeinu.  Said one attendee, “So, it’s not the end of the world.”  While it may not be the “end of the world,” we should acknowledge and appreciate that the Aron HaKodesh is not usually opened--and that if it is opened, we should treasure the moment, and inspire ourselves with greater Kavannah and Dveikus.  Is it any small wonder that the Aron remains open for the entire Chazaras HaShatzh at Neilah?!



Special Note Nine:  HaRav Shach, Z’tl, once traveled during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah to Tel Aviv to the Admor of Strikov.  A student asked him why he was traveling to Tel Aviv at a time when every minute was being scrupulously measured.  HaRav Shach responded that he had a Kabbala that before Yom Kippur one should go to get a Bracha from a “Gutter Yid--a Good Jew.”  Let us take this essential lesson from Rav Shach-- and be sure to get Brachos from our Rabbanim and other “good Jews.”



Special Note Ten:  Two essential quotes to remember from the Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva: 


a.  “And what is Teshuva, it is that the person should leave his sin and remove it from his mind…” (i.e., not think about it, so that it can lead him to sin again) (Hilchos Teshuva 2:2).


b.  “And just as a person sins “Mida’ato U’Virtzono”--with his knowledge and with his will, so too should he do Teshuva “Mida’ato U’Virtzono” -with his knowledge and with his will (Hilchos Teshuva 6:2).  What we need to do is undertake a willing and conscious effort.  Hakhel Note:  One should emphasize to himself-- this is MiDa’ati U’MiRetzani--I am doing Teshuva knowingly because of its unparalleled importance. Before reciting Vidui, one should stop and think or state that he is fulfilling the Mitzvas Asei MiDeoraysa of “VeHesvadu Es Avonam.”



Special Note Eleven:  The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos writes that according to some Poskim the Mitzvah of eating on Erev Yom Kippur begins tonight, the Eve of Ninth of Tishrei.  The Arizal writes that “Eating BeKedusha and Lesheim Shomayim on Erev Yom Kippur can be Misa’akein one’s eating of prohibited foods and one’s overeating that he has stumbled in during the previous year.”  Let us work at elevating our Achila on Erev Yom Kippur--it can have *very curative* effect!



Special Note Twelve:  The following is excerpted from Day 117 of the incredible Sefer Positve Word Power:  Chazal teach (Yoma 85b) that sins between Hashem and man can be erased by confessing one's sin, sincerely regretting it and making a commitment to refrain from repeating that sin.  Those whose sins are against other people have another preliminary step to take before they can enjoy the blessing of a clean slate.  They must gain forgiveness from the person they have harmed, which means acquiring the humility to approach the other person, admit one's mistake and ask forgiveness.  A person who hurts another with words must first realize that he has caused someone pain.  He must empty himself of justifications:  He deserved it... He’s said worse to me... He didn't mind ... It wasn't really an insult... etc.  Once a person has arrived at true regret for his words, he must ask the victim to forgive him and commit himself to refrain from repeating the offense.  If he is rejected once, the Halacha requires that he must try a second and even a third time.  The sooner a person comes to realize that Teshuvah is necessary, the less painful the process will be.  Wounds heal far more easily before they've had time to fester.  Because we have the gift of Teshuvah, we need not leave behind a list of casualties when we make our inevitable journey into the Next World.  We need only find within ourselves the humility and optimism to begin again!”



We continue with points and pointers relating to the awe-filled and awesome period that surrounds and pervades us:


1.  After the inspiration of Rosh Hashana, and its immediate continuance into Shabbos Shuva, one may have felt that he was already ‘ready’ to go straight into Yom Kippur with inspiration, energy and zeal.  Why is it that we need a regular week of weekdays before we can experience Yom Kippur--when we will hopefully once again be lifted to great heights?  What is the reason that the Torah makes Rosh Hashana the first day of the Seventh Month, and seems to push off Yom Kippur the tenth day of the Seventh Month?!  One lesson we can clearly derive is that in order for the inspiration we received on Rosh Hashana not to be temporary and fleeting, not to be only a streak of transitory Kedusha, we need to reinforce it in the course of our everyday lives of this world.  These wonderful days of Teshuva are not a period for us to simply pass through, but are a period in which we can achieve great gains in elevating ourselves in a permanent and eternal way.  The Satmar Rebbe, Z’tl, once remarked that two people may be walking on the street leaving from the same place and arriving at the same destination, yet their travel may have been an entirely different experience.  One traveler may have viewed his journey simply as a means to an end, and mindlessly wasted his time with nothingness from point A to point B, while the other used his time thinking about what he was going to accomplish once he reached his destination, and how he could better or best accomplish his goal.  To us, our journey through the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, and through life in general, is not a means to an end--but an important part and parcel of the end itself--and o’ how it important it is to use it wisely!


2.  In the Haftorah we read just a few days ago, the Navi (HoSheiah 14:2) taught us to return to Hashem “Ki Chashalta Ba’Avonecha--for you have stumbled with your sins.”  May we suggest that if one feels or senses that he is about to sin, he actually visualize himself as about to stumble, slip and fall at a horrible or dangerous location.  By avoiding the slip and fall, not only does he remain uninjured and unsoiled--but he may also be able to save someone else from slipping at the same location!


3.  Yesterday, we pointed out that Rabbeinu Yonah (in the Sha’arei Teshuva, outset of Sha’ar 4) teaches that Teshuva is to the soul what a panacea is to the body.  This is beautifully reflected in the Avinu Malkeinus we have been reciting daily, in which we ask Hashem:  “HaChazireinu Be’Seshuva Sheleima Lefanecha”, and then immediately follow this plea with “Shelach Refuah Sheleima LeCholeh Amecha.”  Once we have healed our soul, the healing of our body takes on greater meaning.  This is of course, also similar to the Mishabeirach for a Choleh in which we first ask for a “Refuas HaNefesh,” and then for a “Refuas HaGuf.”  Remember, all of this healing is free, and the extent of all of our healing is directly proportional to the sincerity and effort we invest in its achievement.


4.  The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva writes that man is unique among all creatures in that he is “Yodeiah Tov VeRah--he can differentiate between good and evil.”  Thus, no one--no one--can claim that he is incapable or too set in his ways to change.  Moreover, because we are all capable of doing Teshuva, we will be held accountable if we do not do so.  Indeed, the Noda BeYehuda adds that if a person is stiff-necked and obstinate and says of himself “what have I done wrong already”, rather than searching through his ways, than Hashem Himself will have to search through his ways--and the results maybe a lot different than had the person made the effort.  We must remember that the Navi exclaims: “Hinini Nishpat Osach Al Omreich Lo Chatasi--I will judge you for saying I have not sinned.”  The time before us to penetratingly evaluate ourselves, and then re-evaluate ourselves, is decreasing by the day, and there are not too many days left.  Remember--one cannot write anything down on Yom Kippur, and if we wait until Erev Yom Tov, we may get too busy with eating and other matters to pay close enough attention to our lives in general.  Today and tomorrow are absolutely crucial!


5.  We would like to remind our readers of the Chazal brought by HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (Yalkut Shemoni to Tehillim 102), in which we are taught that our personal prayers on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur actually take the place of “the Navi, the Kohein, the Bais Hamikdash, that would have otherwise brought Kappara for them.”  For those of you who prepared a personal Tefillah to Hashem for Rosh Hashana relating to Kavod Shomayim and your goals in life, please remember now to put it into your Machzor for Yom Kippur.  For those who have not yet done so, now is the time to prepare your private supplication to Hashem.  HaRav Salomon suggests that your personal entreaty be recited before the words “Asei Lema’an Shimecha” at the end of Shemone Esrei.


6.  One of the highlights of our Tefillos on Yom Kippur is the description of the incomparable Avodah of the Kohein Gadol on Yom Kippur in the Bais Hamikdash.  The description truly shows us how much one person can accomplish--not only for himself--but for all of Klal Yisroel.  Nevertheless, the description of the Avodah for one who is not fully familiarized with Mesechta Yoma may be difficult.  Accordingly, we highly recommend an excellent publication entitled The Yom Kippur Avodah--The Pictorial Avodah Series (C.I.S. Publishers in conjunction with Pirchei Shoshanim).  This wonderful step-by-step description (which includes many illustrations) will certainly help us better inculcate those great moments on Yom Kippur in the Bais Hamikdash--which certainly will have an impact on our Yom Kippur as well.  The Sefer should be available in most Sefarim stores.


7.  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, notes that in the second Bracha of Shemone Esrei which relates to Hashem’s Gevurah, we add the important phrase “Mi Chamocha Av HaRachamim--who is like You Hashem, the Father of Mercy?”  What, HaRav Moshe asks, does Gevurah have to do at all with mercy?  Doesn’t Gevurah represent Din or justice?  HaRav Moshe answers that with this precise language Chazal are teaching us how we are to perform acts of mercy--with Gevurah!  We should not, for example, wait for the poor person to come knocking at our door, or for the neighbor to ask for the favor.  Instead, we should strengthen ourselves and look for the opportunities of Chesed.  We should be Giborim in Rachamim.  To do so is to emulate Hashem, and to do so is the mark of the Torah Jew.  Hakhel Note:  At the end of the day, you may want to think about where you were a true Gibor in Rachamim.  If you cannot find a shining example, perhaps you could put it high on your list for the next day!


8.  A beautiful suggestion for a Kabbala for the coming year is to undertake to recite two Brachos--Shehakol Nehiyeh Bidvaro and Boreh Nefashos in a special way--such as from a Siddur, or with closed eyes, and/or by its slow recital while paying attention to the meaning of each phrase.  Indeed, Boreh Nefashos is so crucial that the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 207, seif katan 7) takes the time to provide an explanation of this Bracha’s meaning.  See there for details.


9.  Another possible and powerful Kabbala may be to identify daily five actions you are otherwise performing, and either recognize the Mitzvah in their performance, or make a slight change in the actions to turn them into Mitzvos.  With this, you have taken something you have to do daily anyway, or you otherwise may do without thinking by rote, and elevate them  into acts of Avodas Hashem and make them an important part of a purposeful life!


10.  A great Kabbala is brought by the Alter of Kelm, Z’tl, in the name of Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, “The Ikar Kabbalah on Yom Kippur should be on the study of Mussar--for if we fail to attain what we should have on Yom Kippur--through the daily study of Mussar, we can extend the Yom Kippur into the coming year!”



Special Note One:  By the following links, we provide a Shiur by Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, given in Teaneck, New Jersey, three years ago two days before Yom Kippur and appropriately entitled: 48 Hours Until Kol Nidrei Click here for the audio (MP3 format)  Click here for the video  The entire collection of shiurim available on the Hakhel site is available at the following link -  http://www.hakhel.info/AVResources.htm



Special Note Two:  Further to the point of the outstanding importance of the Tzedakah over the next few days, the Yesod VeShoresh Ha’Avoda writes that one should be “Marbeh BeTzedakah” because giving Tzedakah is a “Segulah Neflaha LeKapparas HaAvonos U’Veyichud LaEvyonim MeHuganim Ba’alei Torah--giving Tzedaka is a wondrous Segulah for forgiveness of sin--especially if it is to poor Torah Scholars.”  Over the next several days, let us especially remind ourselves:  Give!  Give!  Give!  and then…Give! 



Special Note Three:  We provide additional points and pointers relating to these great days in which the Navi testifies that Hashem is close to us.  In fact, the Ben Ish Chai writes in a letter that “I must tell you that I am writing to you now in the Days of Teshuvah, in which every minute is in my eyes considered as an entire month.”  Moreover and incredibly, HaRav Shlomo Wolbe, Z’tl, reports that he once personally heard from HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl that if he had just a few more of these “Golden Days” he would be able to attain the level of Ruach HaKodesh!  Accordingly, let us try to do what we can--and then a bit more: 


1.  The Chayei Odom (Chapter 143) actually writes that it is a **Mitzvas Aseh--a positive commandment from the Torah ** to do Teshuva **before** Yom Kippur, as the posuk states "Lifnei Hashem Titharu--before Hashem, should you purify yourself." Accordingly, we should avoid the voluntary or otherwise less necessary activities that a typical work, travel, or day at home may bring and focus, if not concentrate, on mitzvos, ma'asim tovim, and the Jewish "real thing"--Teshuva.  Hakhel Note:  The Rabbeinu Yonah writes that just as healing is to the body, attaining Kappara is to the soul.  Medicine is Hashem’s Shaliach to heal the body, and Teshuva is Hashem’s Shaliach to attain Kappara.  For many, Teshuva and Yom Kippur together will bring about a complete Kappara, a complete healing, and no further treatment will even be necessary.  This is how significant the Aseres Yemei Teshuva are--with Yom Kippur our souls have the potential to walk out fully cured! 


2.  The Chayei Odom (ibid.) also writes that the gravest sin is inadequate Torah study--"because one who is far from Torah study is far from serving his Creator", and this is why in the fifth brocha of Shemone Esrei (known as "Teshuva") begins first 'Bring us back our Father to Your Torah'--which leads to Hashem's service--and only afterwards does the brocha go on to pray to Hashem for assistance in doing Teshuva.


3.  It is no coincidence then (as it never is), that the Sha’arei Teshuva writes that a Ba’al Teshuva should increase his merit through Torah study.  “If he had previously learned one Posuk, one Daf, one Perek, now let him learn two.”  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains this to mean that one does not necessarily have to learn quantitatively more.  Instead, he need only improve his Torah study in some way--by spending more time with an extra Mishna, Chavrusa, or Shiur, by making sure to learn Halacha and Mussar every day, or by simply looking into something more in depth, one is demonstrating his aspiration for Teshuva.  Hakhel Note:  We once again remind our readers about the remarkable Kabbala proposed by Rabban Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita,--to learn Kitzur Shulchan Aruch every day.  With this, one is not only studying Torah, but he is also learning how to correct improper conduct of the past, and is personally deftly weaving Teshuvah into his Torah study!  We once again provide by clicking here the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Daily Calendar, in which one can complete the entire Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in one year


4.  In this regard, HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, explains that while one who is dedicated to Torah is referred to as a “Ben Torah,” one who is a dedicated accountant is not referred to as a “Ben Cheshbon,” nor is an accomplished businessman referred to as a “Ben Aisek.”  The reason is that through the study of Torah, the Ben Torah views Torah as a parent--guiding him, teaching him and caring for him, so that he becomes a different person than he would have been without the Torah.  In a sense, the Torah is giving birth to a new individual, bringing out the potential within that would have otherwise lain dormant.  The disciplines, however, do not get to the core--the inner self--of the person, and leave his spiritual essence raw and untouched.  Thus, when studying Torah, one is not only giving Nachas Ruach to Hashem, one is bringing out the higher form of life pent up within him!


5.  At about this time of year the words of the famous Vidui Book echoes within us “At least 194 times on Yom Kippur, we shall confess our sinning through speech.”Yet, Hashem gave us one mouth-not two-one mouth to daven, learn, do business, talk to friends and strangers, and do everything else.  We are using the “most expensive heirloom China ”-the mouth, used for divrei kedusha for the most everyday of activities, as well.  Of course, one lesson for us is to elevate our speech, even in the mundane, to speak kindly and positively (we cross reference yesterday’s bulletin).  But there is something more we can do, at least every so often.  That is, sometimes, in high regard and respect for this precious heirloom, to simply remain silent and not answer back, or just listen without voicing an opinion.  In fact, the Rosh, in the classic Orchos Chaim L’HaRosh (29), writes “It should be easier for you to take money out of your pocket than to take words out of your mouth.”  While we may not be on this level, we do present a practical suggestion:  Once a day--at least until Hoshana Rabba--refrain from saying one (perhaps not such good) thing a day that you were going to say-not only because you would have to confess it many times on Yom Kippur-but also because you realize that you only have one mouth which you will be soon using to make a brocha, daven, give encouraging words to a friend…  Second suggestion: Try the first suggestion.  It may be much easier than you think!!


6.  Over the Aseres Yemei Teshuva we have been adding “U’Chesov LeChaim Tovim Kol Bnei Vrisecha--and inscribe for good life all the children of Your covenant.”  HaRav Pam, Z’tl, teaches that this is a broad request--in which we ask Hashem to remember all of our brethren for the good.  This being the case, HaRav Pam continues, how can we later revert from our lofty consideration of others to pre-judging people or hurting them in any way.  We cannot be two-faced--appearing especially nice when it is convenient for us.  One can remember and repeat this beautiful request--‘U’Chesov LeChaimTovim Kol Bnei Vrisecha!’ during the year… as he is otherwise about to say or do something to someone he wouldn’t otherwise have the audacity to say or do on Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur.  Hakhel Note:  One of the great reasons for Hashem to listen to Sanigoriya, to defenses, on our behalf is that we act as Sanigorim, we look favorably upon and provide defenses for the actions of others.  Let us practice looking favorably at everyone--after all, they are our closest friends and allies--our “Bnei Vrisecha!”


7.  In the last Pasuk of Mizmor Shiur Chanukas HaBayis LeDovid (Tehillim 30) recited in Shacharis every morning, Dovid Hamelech exclaims “LeMa’an Yezamercha Kavod--so that my soul may make music to You….”  Why is the soul referred to by Dovid Hamelech as “Kavod?”  One great explanation given is that Kavod represents the essence of the soul.  A person is brought into this world to bring honor to Hashem, honor to himself, and honor to others.  When reciting this Pasuk daily in Shacharis, one can reflect upon his previous day--was it a day replete with Kavod?   Perhaps more importantly--will I make this day a day filled with Kavod Shomyim and Kavod HaBriyos?!!  What a great project for the year to plan for a conscious an dedicated increase in Kavod--the essence of one’s soul!



Special Note One:  Opportunity Beckons!  If one begins Mishnayos Mesechta Sukkah today, and learns only three Mishnayos a day (such as one after Shacharis, one after Mincha, and one after Ma’ariv, or in any other way one can), he will finish Mesechta Sukkah on Hoshana Rabba!  



Special Note Two:  Many of us may be familiar with the “Vidui HaGadol--the Great Vidui of the Chidah.”  We are pleased to make available by clicking here the Vidui HaGadol, together with additions from the Sefer Chayei Adom and Sefer Ma’avar Yabok, as produced by Rabbi M. Golub, Shlita, of Lakewood .  This detailed list is an excellent tool for introspection now, and, if possible, should be sincerely recited at least once on Yom Kippur.  Please feel free to distribute further. 



 Special Note Three:  We cannot overemphasize the importance of giving Tzedakah in the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah.  The Rambam two separate times in Hilchos Teshuvah (2:4 and 3:4) highlights the giving of Tzedakah as a key element of the Teshuvah process.  In fact, the Rambam writes (ibid.) that one should be ‘Marbeh BeTzedakah--give much Tzedakah’ during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah.  We should not let a day pass this week in which we do not give Tzedakah, so that our path to Teshuvah is well paved.  Let us remember the words of the Navi (Yeshaya 56:1).  that we read just yesterday on Tzom Gedaliah “Shimru Mishpat Va’Asu Tzedaka Ki Kerova Yeshuasi Lavo--observe justice and perform Tzedakah for My Yeshua is soon to come….In the Zechus of our constant and persevering Tzedakah, may we be Zoche to Yeshuos for ourselves and for all of Klal Yisroel.



Special Note Four:  It is interesting to note that although the Navi describes the Shofar as a tool to instill fear in our hearts, to awaken us to do Teshuva, we nevertheless cease to blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashana.  The simple explanation for this may be that by now we have had enough of a dose of awakening for us to do the rest on our own.  After all, the King has already arrived, and is now asking us to come see him this week.  It is now up to us not to forfeit the opportunity.  Hakhel Note:  Today is already the fifth day of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva--let us make **today** count!  By now, one should be formulating the Kabbala/Kabbalos that he intends to undertake for the coming year.  We asked HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, when one should finalize his Kabbalos.  He advised that his Rebbe, HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, would formalize and express it at Neilah on Yom Kippur.  Now is the time we should be going through the preparatory and practice stages to make sure the Kabbalos work, and how we can refine and improve on them.  



Special Note Five:  The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (VI: p. 254, 255) specifically writes that one must appease his friend even if his friend is wrong, and even if his friend provoked him, to the extent that he hurled insults upon him.  The Piskei Teshuvos adds that people do the wrong thing when they go around asking their close friends “Do you Mochel me?”, “Do you Mochel me?”, rather than spending the time to speak to those with whom there has been friction or difficulties, asking them for Mechila--which is really what is important.



Special Note Six:  We provide the following points relating to Teshuva and the Aseres Yemei Teshuva:


  1. When we recite the words in Selichos and on Yom Kippur of “Aval Anachnu VaAvoseinu Chatanu--but we and our forefathers have sinned,” we must remember that they are actually part of the Vidui itself.  In fact, the Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva (2:8) calls these words the “Ikar” of Vidui.  Accordingly, it would appear that one should be slightly bowed over as he recites these words, as in the remainder of the Vidui.


  1. There are ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, and ten chapters in Hilchos Teshuva of the Rambam.  Do you think that the Rambam is suggesting that we learn one chapter a day over the Aseres Yemei Teshuva?  Well, at this point, we can learn two chapters a day…and still finish before Yom Kippur!


  1. Chazal teach that during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva we recite HaMelech Hakodosh, rather than HaKel Hakodosh.  Why is it that HaMelech must replace HaKel in the bracha?  Can’t we just add HaMelech before or after HaKel, so that it is HaKel HaMelech Hakodosh?  After all, as we concluded U’Nesaneh Tokef, did we not cry out that Hashem is Melech Kel Chai V’Kayam?  Moreover, Kel is even in the Shelosh Esrei Middos that we have been reciting and will continue to recite so many important times through the end of Yom Kippur.  Why not continue to include it in the bracha, as we do on the other 344 days of the year?!  We look forward to your thoughts!


  1. The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 423) does not write extensively about the Aseres Yemei Teshuva.  Specifically, he writes the following, “It is appropriate for every person to search through and scrutinize his deeds and do Teshuva as necessary.”  However, the Rema adds *just one other thing*--“A Sofek Aveira--an aveira that one is unsure about--requires more Teshuva than an aveira which was certainly committed, because one does not feel so sorry about an aveira that he is unsure he performed.  It is for this reason that the Korban for an Asham Tolui (the Korban brought if one is unsure he performed certain aveiros) actually costs more than a Korban Chatos (brought for an aveira definitely committed).”  Based on these sparse words of the Rema, we must be sure to reflect upon those words and deeds we were unsure about, looking up the Halacha in a sefer, or consulting with a Rav, in order to properly and honestly fulfill our mission and goal during this most special of weeks!


  1. The following incredible Kabala is based upon a Shiur given by HaRav Don Segel, Shlita, in the Five Towns area of New York , as related by Rav Yosef Eisen, Shlita.  In the Shiur, HaRav Segel taught about the importance a person should place on making proper brachos throughout the day.  He then gave the following simple yet phenomenal suggestion to permanently improve your bracha recitation:  Divide the bracha into three parts and focus on the meaning of each section separately:  1) “Baruch Ata Hashem”...(This is praise and thanks, and your statement that “Hashem, You are the Source of all bracha, and bring more and more continuously to this world”....);  2) “Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam”...(“You are All-Powerful, and Rule over the Whole World”...); 3) The specific nature of the bracha--Borei Pri/HaMotzi/Asher Kideshanu...specifically appreciating the specific item or event that we are making a bracha over. 

Isn’t this Kabala suggestion too wonderful and practical ...to simply let it go by?  If it seems too great an undertaking all the time, perhaps start with a certain bracha, or certain brachos in the day?  Remember, you are in the heart of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva--so there is no better time to start than right now.  If you have a food item in front of you--try it!


  1. The Chofetz Chaim notes that there are two successive requests in the Tefillah of Avinu Malkeinu we are now reciting daily, which don’t seem to match up.  First, we ask Hashem to “Kaleh Kol Tzar U’Mastin Mai’Aleinu--to destroy all of our foes and enemies.”  Then, we immediately request of Hashem that He be “Sisom Piyos Mastinainu--that He simply closes the mouths of our enemies.”  If they have been destroyed--as we have just requested--than why follow up with the need to silence them?  The Chofetz Chaim answers that we may not have enough merit for them to be destroyed--so we ask that they at least be silenced!  He explains, however, that this request to silence them will only be granted if we make proper use of our mouths so that we can be rewarded Middah KeNeged Middah with Hashem’s sealing theirs.  As we look around the world today, enemies and erstwhile friends hover over us, some openly exclaiming that they want to destroy us, and some trying to do so in more clandestine ways.  If we have not yet merited their immediate destruction, let us merit Hashem’s silencing them through our remaining silent when we should--and through a rededication of our mouths to Torah, Tefillah and positive speech!  


  1. Rabbeinu Yonah in the classic Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva (3:17 ) writes that there is a Mitzvas Asei in the Torah of “U’Vacharta BaChaim--to Choose Life.”  What a great gift--a Mitzvah simply to choose life!  As we search our ways and deeds during these unparalleled days so that we merit life…we are actually fulfilling a separate Mitzvah of choosing life.  Let us perform this Mitzvah with Hiddur by thoughtfully and meaningfully improving our lifestyles and our ways!



We wish each and every one of our readers a Kesiva VeChasima Tova, a Year which is replete with Chayim Tovim and Shalom! 


Today is Erev Rosh Hashana--let us remember the essential teaching of ‘Gilu BeRe’ada’--rejoice with trembling.  We are about to greet the King in His Palace and be a part of His coronation.  In the King’s kindness, we are also about to be judged.  Let us appreciate the awesome nature of the time.  We provide by clicking on the following links the audio Shiurim given by Rabbi Eliezer Lieff, Shlita, and Rabbi Zev Smith, Shlita at the Hakhel Yarchei Kallah in Monsey just two days ago on the topic of Rosh Hashana-Its Significance and Awesome Power.  


Additional Note:  Because of the great importance of today as the last day of the year, the Yetzer Hara will undoubtedly work overtime to make one feel upset, depressed, angry, and even strangely to “get in” those last Aveiros of the year before the awesome day of Rosh Hashana begins.  Today is the day in which we can show our Gevurah, and end the year on a most positive note by not falling prey to his tactics and guile, and instead filling the day with Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim, in a good temperament and in positive preparation…for the first day of the New Year!


From a reader:  The Gematria of 771 is equal to UMI METAHEIR ESCHEM--and who purifies us.  May it be a year in which Hashem graces us with the purity of the Bais HaMikdash. 



Special Note One:  We make the following essential points relating to Rosh Hashana:


1.  As previously noted, there are several reasons why challos on Rosh Hashana are round (ibid., p. 206):


(a)   It is a Siman Tov, because round objects don’t have an end, symbolizing Arichus Yomim--life where there is no end in sight!

(b)   The Round shape symbolizes unity among us--a King needs a unified nation!

(c)    The round shape is the shape of a crown.  This serves to remind us that even while eating our meal, we are involved in the Malchus of Rosh Hashana.


2. Reb Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, in the Sefer Ohr Yisroel writes that the time of Tekias Shofar, when one is judged on his deeds, is like the time that the Kohein Gadol entered the Kodesh HaKodashim.  Accordingly, during the time of Tekias Shofar, one should consider himself-- and feel--as if he in the innermost chambers of the Bais HaMikdash.  One must, of course, have Hirhurei Teshuva before entering. 


3.  The Yesod V’Shoresh HoAvoda (Sha’ar 11, Chapter 3) writes: “And with each and every Tekia that a person hears from the Tokea, he should with great joy think--‘With my listening to this Tekia, I am fulfilling a Mitzvas Asei of Hashem, and I want to give Hashem Nachas Ruach with this.’ 


4.  HaRav Leib Chasman, Z’tl, asks why it is that of all of the possible Chapters of Tehillim to recite before Tekias Shofar do we recite Chapter 47, which is LamNatzeiach Livnei Korach.  He importantly answers that this Chapter reminds us of the Bnei Korach who were saved at the last possible moment from going to the depths of Gehennim.  Thus, with an earnest Hirhur Teshuva one can still now, a very short time before Din, save himself as the Tekkios are blown!


5.  Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Shlita, reminds us that even slight daydreaming may lead a person, who is otherwise listening to the Tekias Shofar, to not realize which blast is actually being blown.  This may result in his losing a Mitzvas Asei DeOraysa on this great day.  Accordingly, he urges each one of us to keep his finger in the Machzor on the Shofar blast that is then being blown.  Additional Note:  LeHalacha if one steps out after the initial 30 blasts to use the facilities, he does make an Asher Yatzar, notwithstanding that the 100 blasts have not yet been completed.


6.  HaRav Shlomo Wolbe, Z’tl, reports that Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, would be “Ma’arich Meod--spend considerable time” with the words in Shemone Esrei of “Kasveinu BeSefer HaChayim LeMa’ancha Elokim Chayim”--for this is the hope of a human being that his life be imbued with LeMa’ancha--with fulfilling true purpose and meaning in life.  We do not want to only live--we want to live life to its real fullest.  Additional Note:  HaRav Wolbe asked HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl, what to tell his students on Rosh Hashana.  After many minutes of silence HaRav Levenstein told him “Zug Der Bnei Yeshiva Uss Iz A Ribbono Shel Olam in Der Velt--tell them that there is a Ribbono Shel Olam in the world.”  If one keeps this life-guiding thought on his mind, he will be focused and he will succeed.


7.  Regarding the concept of crying during one’s Tefilos on Rosh Hashana, one should be sure to consult with his Rav.  One thing, however, is certain--whether or not one cries tears, one should certainly cry out. 


8.  We must remember that the most essential part of Tefillas Mussaf both for the individual in his recitation of Mussaf silently, and in the Chazoras HaShatz, are the 10 Pesukim of Malchiyos, the 10 Pesukim of Zichronos, and the 10 Pesukim of Shofros.  One should very much endeavor to understand the meaning of the words of each of the Pesukim as he is reciting them.  It takes time.  One must also be very careful to follow the Shatz as he recites these Pesukim--as although they follow many Piyutim, and one may be tired, they are actually the most essential part of the Chazoras HaShatz.  These Pesukim are extraordinary, for through them one accepts upon himself Ohl Malchus Shomayim, and through them Hashem remembers us for the good.  Remember--Hashem in His abundant kindness, gives us the opportunity to recite theses Pesukim on our own, and then to carefully listen to the Shatz recite them again.  If you are a Shaliach Tzibbur, who has already put great Kochos into the meaningful Piyutim, please remember that when the Mishna in Maseches Rosh Hashana talks about Tefillas Mussaf it talks about these Pesukim as the essence of Mussaf--so please recite them meaningfully, with deep feeling and intent. 


9.  As we seek Rachamim from Hashem, we would like to remind our readers the Zohar (Parshas Noach) that when we answer “Amen, Yehei Shemai Rabba” with all our strength, Hashem “becomes full of mercy” for us.  May we therefore suggest that, especially over the Yomim Noraim, when answering “Yehei Shemai Rabba” in Shul you look into the Siddur and concentrate on the words.


10.  In the Bein Odom L’Chaveiro area, may we suggest working on “tzorarnu”--having mercy upon, and not causing pain, to other people.  Hashem’s Midah K’Neged Midah can then work in kind, and we will be saved from pain as he demonstrates His Mercy to us!


11.  ESPECIALLY When davening on Rosh Hashanah, starting with Adon Olam, and throughout the davening, search for the word “Melech” and reflect from time-to-time on Hashem’s Malchus relationship with you.  One should also realize that with Hashem’s Malchus comes the awareness that despite one’s apparent wealth, one has nothing and owns nothing but for the beneficence of the King, and should humble himself in Prayer.  For further elucidation of this concept see Sefer Tomer Devorah Chapter 9 (Malchus).


12.  Hashem, as we constantly repeat during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, is the “HaMelech HaKadosh-The King, The Holy.”  “Holy” denotes separate, apart, removed, distant, and not in the same place or plane (see Rashi, Vayikra 19:2 and Rashi, Kiddushin 2A).  How could it be that our King, with whom we are in constant dialogue through Torah and Tefillah, whom we constantly place before us with Brachos and Mitzvah performance, could be HaKadosh, distant, apart and separate?  The Sifsei Chaim (1:147) explains that this is precisely the lesson of the words “HaMelech HaKadosh” being placed together as a unit--even though Hashem is Kadosh-separated and apart--He wants to be King over us, and wants us to make Him our King by our drawing closer to Him and by ourselves becoming kedoshim--our elevating ourselves to higher planes of Ruchniyos.


13.  We must remember how precious the moments are, and when we feel we are tiring, refresh ourselves--as we pray for our lives, the lives of Klal Yisroel and the lives of the world!



Special Note Two:  We present below the essential words of the Sefer HaChinuch teaching his son both about Rosh Hashanah, and about the meaning of the blowing of the Shofar.  The following is excerpted from the masterful translation of the Sefer HaChinuch by Rabbi Charles Wengrov (Feldheim Publishers).


First, with respect to Rosh Hashanah (Mitzvah 311):


“… on this day all human beings in the world are judged for their deeds.  Chazal said by way of imagery--to make it clear that His providential regard extends over the activity of every single individual, and not over the species in a general way--that all human beings pass before Him like sheep in single file--in other words, one by one, and not mingled together.


“Well, at the root of the precept of this holy season lies the theme that it is of God’s kindnesses toward His human beings to recall them and regard their deeds one day in every single year, so that the iniquities should not become a great many, and there should be room for atonement.  Abundant in His kindness (Exodus 32:6), He tips [the scales of justice] toward loving-kindness, and if they [the sins] are few, He pardons and clears them away.  And if there are wrong deeds among them that require cleansing, He exacts payment for them bit by bit, in keeping with what Chazal taught (Avoda Zara 4A):  ‘From his friend, a man will collect his debt bit by bit.’  But if He would not call the sins to account for a long time, then they [the sins] would become so very many, until the world would almost incur destruction, Heaven forbid.


“Consequently, this distinguished day ensures the endurance of the world.  It is therefore fitting to make it a festival day that it should be in the list of the precious holy times of the year.  However, since it is the ordained time for everyone alive to be judged, it is proper to behave then with reverent fear and awe, more than on all other holy times of the year.  This is the reason for the theme of the ‘memorial of the shofar—sound’ (Leviticus 23:24) mentioned with it:  for the t’ru’ah (shofar--sound) is a broken call, to intimate that everyone should break the force of his evil inclination and have remorse for his bad deeds.”


As the Sefer HaChinuch continues his instructions to his son with respect to the Mitzvah of Shofar (Mitzvah 405):


“At the root of the precept lies the reason that since man is a creature of physical matter, he is not aroused to things except by something stirring, in the way that people at the time of battle will sound horns and even shriek, in order to be well aroused to war.  Then so, too, on the day of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the year, which is the day determined of old for all those who came into the world to be judged on it...  For this reason everyone needs to arouse his nature to entreat mercy for his sins from the Master of mercies; for Hashem is gracious and compassionate, forgives iniquity, wrongdoing and sin, and absolves those who turn back to Him with all their heart.  Now, the sound of the shofar greatly stirs the heart of all who hear it, and all the more certainly the sound of the t’ruah, which means the broken (quavering) peal.


“Apart from the arousal that is inherent in it, there is a reminder for man to break the impulse of his heart that is evil with the cravings and sinful matters of the world, as he hears the broken (quavering) sounds.  For every person, according to what he sees with his eyes and hears with his ears, will prepare his heart…This is why R. Yehudah said:  ‘On Rosh Hashanah, a shofar [horn] from male animals is to be blown’--in other words, the bent (curved) horn of rams, so that a man should remember when he sees it that he is to bend his heart in subservience to Heaven...”


It is clear from the Sefer HaChinuch that it is our mission at this time of year to experience feelings, true feelings.  Feelings of love, feelings of fear, feelings of awe, feelings of reconciliation, and feelings of happiness.  We must take a few moments to close our eyes and come to ourselves, perhaps with a few tears to show for it.  It is interesting to note that there may be both tears of sadness and tears of joy, but they are both tears--for they both represent what lies within us being brought forth.


Let us properly prepare for Hashem’s Kingship over the world, by first experiencing kingship over ourselves!



Special Note One:  For a pre-Rosh Hashana audio Shiur in Mussar given by HaRav Herschel Zolty, Shlita, Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshivas Mir, please click on the following link:  http://www.4shared.com/audio/INSnOHTu/R_Zolty_Musser_SHiur_5.html



Special Note Two:  Within the next month, we will be blessed with the opportunity to make an Eruv Tavshilin three times.  To assist in properly performing this wonderful Mitzvah, we provide by clicking here an Eruv Tavshilin Halacha Checklist, as reviewed by HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita: 

Please feel free to distribute further!



Special Note Three:  We provide by clicking here a wonderful Malchus Card, based upon an incredible Shiur given by HaRav Shlomo Brevda, Shlita.  The card is supplied on a ‘four pages per sheet’ format, so that you can print-out on harder stock, and distribute in Shul.    Let us excel this Rosh Hashana in Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim. 


Additional Note:  It is essential that we commit on Rosh Hashana to keeping Ohl Malchus Shomayim with us the rest of the year as well.  Our prime daily opportunity is at Kriyas Shema.  We remind our readers that before reciting Kriyas Shema twice daily, one should have Kavannah that he is about to fulfill the Mitzvas Asei of Kriyas Shema and that he is about to fulfill the Mitzvas Asei of Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim.



Special Note Four:  Do You Daven As If Your life Depends On It?  By clicking here we provide some helpful suggestions and an important calendar for the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah.  Once again please feel free to distribute in any way possible!



Special Note Five:  We provide yet another two remarkable teachings, excerpted from the Sefer Orchos Chaim LeHaRosh HaMevuar:


1.  As we know, when giving Tzedaka, the Torah enjoins “VeLo Yirah Levavecha Besitcha Lo--and you heart should not feel bad when you give to him.”  In other words, it is not enough to give, but one must also do so with a glad and giving heart.  So, too, is it with respect to Lashon Hara.  It is not enough simply not to speak Lashon Hara--rather, one should feel the importance of the other person in his heart as well.  Indeed, this is truly the way to achieve and observe Shemiras HaLashon to its fullest.


2.  If one is truly working on himself to be “min hazochin”, of the meritorious ones, then he will realize that there is nothing to be Makpid against another about--for he is too busy with his own self-improvement, to come down hard on others.



Special Note Six:  The following is a brief summary of a powerful, meaningful, and practical Shiur given by HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, relating to our Rosh Hashana Tefillah:  Dovid HaMelech teaches in Tehillim (102:18) “Panah El Tefillas Ha’Arar Velo Vaza Es Tefillasam--Hashem turns to the Tefillos of one who is aroused and does not disregard their prayers.”  Chazal (in the Yalkut Shemoni to this Pasuk) teach that this Pasuk refers specifically to the generations “which do not have a Kohen, a Navi, or a Bais HaMikdash to achieve Kappara for them, but rather what is left for them is the Tefillos that they supplicate on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.”  Thus, according to Chazal, our Tefillos over the next several days are our Kohen, our Navi, our Beis HaMikdash to achieve Kappara, atonement. 


HaRav Salomon points out that our Tefillos on Rosh Hashana seem to be especially marked with the Malchus of Hashem, and do not appear to leave room to incorporate our personal needs or requests.  HaRav Salomon said that “we asked the Steipler, Z’tl, whether one can make his own private Bakashos, his personal requests on Rosh Hashana.”  The Steipler responded that generally speaking this is a Machlokes between the Poskim who allow it, and the Mekubalim who teach that one should drive away his own needs on behalf of the Malchus of Hashem, and not act like dogs who bark out, “Hav, Hav--give, give.”  The Steipler continues that according to all opinions--even according to the Mekubalim--a person **can ** make his personal appeals, his personal requests to Hashem on Rosh Hashana if they relate to Kavod Shomayim, to Kiddush Hashem.  If one just wants to be given this, or given that, he should not make the request.  However, if, for example, he wants to learn or daven better to enhance his relationship with Hashem, for Hashem’s honor; or if, for example, he wants to earn a Parnassah, so that he can fulfill the Mitzvos in a more beautiful way--then he is showing an appreciation of life which is a life LeKavod Shomayim.  This is a request which is befitting for Rosh Hashana.


Based upon this great teaching of the Steipler, HaRav Salomon implores us all to compose our own personal Tefillos for Rosh Hashana, relaying to Hashem what we need and how it will bring Kavod Shomayim.  We should then recite our self-composed Tefillah (which can be in English) in Elokai Netzor at the end of Shemone Esrei--preferably before “Asei LeMa’an Shemecha--do it for the sake of Your Name”--which demonstrates that your request truly is for the sake of Hashem’s name.  HaRav Salomon concludes and urges:  “Don’t lose this priceless opportunity!  Write down on a piece of paper what requests you will make from Hakadosh Baruch Hu at the end of Shmonei Esrei.  Discuss it with your spouse, what do you really need, Parnassah, Shidduchim for a child, more Kedusha in the house, more respect from a child, health etc.  Fine tune that request list.  Anything that is important to you should be put on the list, just keep in mind that the end of the Tefillah is, Asei LeMa’an Shemecha…Asei Lema’an Kedushasecha…you are assured if the requests are for the Kovod of Hashem, for increased Kedusha, they will certainly be granted!”


Hakhel Note:  Please reread this note--and take action!



Special Note Seven:  We received the following insight from a reader relating to Teshuva in personal relationships:  “As people interact, they can ask themselves, ‘How would I react if my mother/father did/said this to me?’  This puts a person in a different mindset and can really help a person treat his fellow man with kavod.”


Hakhel Note on this insight:  The Chayei Odom (67:1,3), notes that true Kibud Av V’Eim which is a source of Arichus Yomim (we all need a special grant of that at this time of year!) is fulfilled not only in action and in speech, but also in thought.  If one is blessed with parent(s) who are alive, the Chayei Odom continues, he should view them as “Gedolim V’Nichbidei Aretz--great and honored people in the land,” even if he knows that other people do not treat them with special respect or importance at all.  In fact, the Chayei Odom concludes, honoring parents in one’s thought is the “Ikar Kibud--the most important way of respecting a parent”--perhaps because this demonstrates that you really mean it.  Our reader, with the thought above, has fulfilled the mitzvah beautifully!



Special Note Eight:  Although we are sure that many of our readers study daily the five minute lesson a day from the book Praying With Fire, in light of the Yomim Noraim and the time we will spend in Shul, we provide the following words from HaRav Shimon Schwab, Zt’l (as found in Day 83 of Praying with Fire, Volume I):


“For Hashem’s sake, let us be quiet in the Beis Haknesses.  Our reverent silence during the tefillah will speak very loudly to Him, Who holds our fate in His hands.  Communicating with Hashem is our only recourse in this era of trial and tribulations.  There is too much ugly noise in our world today.  Let us find peace and tranquility while we stand before Hashem in prayer!”


Special Note Nine:  When we see an older person who is full of zest and energy, we say that he is “full of life.”  Life is something that we will all be beseeching over the next several days.  It is especially important, then, to rid ourselves of feelings of despair, of tiredness (rest, if you have to!), and act with special vigor and energy--in short, to be “full of life”--when performing mitzvos.  Indeed, the Shelah HaKadosh writes that “It is a great principle, when performing mitzvos, that they be performed with alacrity and great joy--as if one was first commanded to perform them today.”  May Hashem, on a “Midah K’Neged Midah” basis, grant more and more life to those who put life into their mitzvos!


Special Note Ten:  The Maharal (Gevuras Hashem Chapter 51) writes that the word “Shana” (year) comes from the word “Shinui” (different, change) because each year is (or, at least, should be) different than the previous one.


Following this concept, Rosh Hashanah, is then the beginning of the time of change.


 Yet, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 603) brings a conduct change that it is customary to undertake during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva (eating only Pas Yisroel breads, cakes, pretzels, etc.).  Why is this conduct change limited to the Aseres Yemei Teshuva and not extended for the whole year?


 We present two responses:


Response One:  The changes, while limited, demonstrate to the person the he can break previous “hergel”, day-in, day-out habits and practices.  Yes, it is hard to get out of a rut (coming late to shul, hurting others with words, tossing brochos out of the mouth), but one can and one must do so.  The real bottom line is – If I am not for myself, who is for me--and if not now when?


Response Two:  When a new employee starts to work, he is sure to go well above and beyond the call of duty the first few days (arriving early, doing extra jobs, etc.).  Certainly, at this time of year, when you now realize you are working for the King of the entire World and Universe, you will do your absolute UTMOST.  By undertaking the specific Aseres Yemei Teshuva changes, and by doing additional mitzvos-by going above and beyond the call of duty-we demonstrate that we are working for the King anew, which is a nice step in the right direction.  If we can keep the awareness going…we will even “Keep the Change”!



Special Note One:  By clicking here, we provide an excellent audio Shiur recently given by Rabbi Bentzion Bamberger, Shlita, on the extremely timely topic of Teshuva Tefillah U’Tzedakah Ma’avirin Es Ro’ah HaGezeirah. 



Special Note Two:  We received a beautiful poem on Rosh Hashana composed by a reader who was thoughtful enough to share it with us.  We present it by clicking here.



Special Note Three:  One of the first passages in our Selichos is “Nachpesa Deracheinu V’Nachkora--Let us search and investigate our ways.”  Interestingly, the concept of “chipus”, or searching, is utilized by Chazal (Pesachim 7B) in describing what we must do to eliminate chometz from our midst.  Consider the following: If someone would begin 30 days before Pesach, or at least seven days before Pesach, to cry out “I must search for my chometz, I must get rid of it!” we would be impressed.  However, if we would realize that the person is only exclaiming his intent but not actually eradicating the chometz, we may instead view the person as being somewhat untruthful, or perhaps incompetent.  As we exclaim just a few days before Rosh Hashana that we must search our ways, we must recognize that while a proclamation is admirable, it is inappropriate, or in stronger terms, negligent, to stop there.  We must not only say that we are going to search--but we must search and find--and begin the correction process.


HaRav Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita, importantly notes that we proclaim at the highlight of U’Nesane Tokef on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: “U’Teshuva, U’Tefilla, U’Tzedaka Maavirin Es Roa Hagezaira--Teshuva, Prayer, and Charity Remove the Evil Decree.”  People are of the mistaken notion that by fulfilling Prayer and Charity, which are of course eminently necessary during these times, somehow Teshuva is automatically fulfilled, as well.  The Paytan teaches us that this is not--absolutely not--the case.  Teshuva is a stand-alone, essential element of the Yomim Noraim, and, moreover, it is mentioned **first**.


While Teshuva is a serious business, a very serious business, it is also a joyful one.  As the Rambam describes in Hilchos Teshuva, part of the process is recognizing that “I am not the same person”--I am not that person who spoke the Loshon Hora, ate those questionable items, or failed to learn any Torah at all on that day.  Like chometz, you can actually get rid of the negative past--and Chazal teach that in certain circumstances it can even become an asset to stand in your stead.  But just like the Simcha of a Bar Mitzvah or a wedding requires planning and effort, so does Teshuva.  For just as a wedding transforms two independent lives into two dependant lives, and attaining bar mitzvah turns a boy into an adult responsible for his actions in detail, so does Teshuva change **You** into who you are supposed to be.  It is therefore so befitting (and of course planned) that Rosh Hashanah falls on the day that man was created (now 5771 years ago) for it teaches us that it is our opportunity to be re-created.  Indeed, on this day, Adam HaRishon, Chava and Kayin, the first three human beings in this world, sinned in their own particular way, and each immediately began a Teshuva process that has allowed humanity to exist for these thousands of years, and will bring us to Moshiach.


We note that just because Teshuva is joyful does not mean it is not difficult.  The newlywed couple must adapt to untold idiosyncrasies (and the like); the Bar Mitzvah bochur to getting up (on time) for minyan and literally hundreds of new real responsibilities.  Likewise, the Ba’al Teshuva must override habit and overcome a previously successful Yetzer Hora.  Rav Schneider, Shlita, and other Torah scholars suggest an important guide and aid in becoming the **You** that you should be.  One should measure his/her action by asking the following question--Is what I am about to do the Ratzon Hashem--would Hashem be pleased with what I am about to do or say?  This level or standard of care, the Rabbonim teach, is not flighty or Heavenly.  It is down-to-earth and within our reach--we are ALL capable of it, and we can attain it.  How?  Through the daily study of Mussar (see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 603, Mishne Berurah seif katan 2 and Shaar Hatzion there).  The study of Mussar puts us into close daily contact with none other than ourselves--and once we are in contact with ourselves, the world, or at least our world, is before us.


So, as we stand just several days before the anniversary of our creation, perhaps we can, bli neder, take it upon ourselves, to pick one of the classic or even more recent Mussar seforim-- and try to establish the coming year as a Year of Simcha, beginning with our very own joy of re-creation!


Additional Note:  More on Teshuvah, Tefillah and Tzedakah in Special Note Five below.



Special Note Four:  Chazal (Bava Metzia 85A) relate that a calf being brought for shechita looked to Rebbe Yehuda HaNasi to help save him from his fate. Rather than empathize with the young animal, Rebbe Yehuda told him “Go, for with this you will fulfill your purpose in Creation.” Although Rebbe Yehuda was obviously factually correct in his statement to the animal, the Gemara there teaches that Rebbe Yehuda began to suffer yissurin--pain and affliction--for his failure to feel and display some sensitivity to, and mercy for, the creature. Indeed, the Gemara teaches, Rebbe Yehuda later showed true mercy to a chulda (a weasel), and his afflictions immediately ceased.


The Tomer Devorah (Chapter 3) writes that yissurin is a paradigm example of din--strict justice--for it represents what our lives would be like, and what we could be constantly subjected to, if we were taken to task for our iniquities.  What prevents this din from befalling us is Hashem’s mercy upon us.  His mercy upon us, in turn, is in direct proportion to our mercy upon His creations.  As the Tomer Devorah teaches, “One should not disgrace or unnecessarily kill any creation, for Hashem’s wisdom is infused into them all--inanimate, vegetable, animal and man.  It is for this reason that we are forbidden to shame food.  Similarly, one should not uproot any plant without reason or kill any living thing without purpose...and demonstrate mercy to the greatest extent possible.”


Contrary to the opinion of the unlearned, the recitation of Selichos is not only for the “big sinners.”  We--each and every one of us--need Hashem’s mercy very, very much, especially in times plagued by the din of previously unheard of tzaros, sickness and terror.  We must respond with inordinate and extraordinary measures of mercy.  Others may laugh at your avoiding pulling a leaf off a tree for no reason, or at using a plastic cup to pick up an ant in the kitchen, bringing it outside alive to its natural habitat.  You, however, know better, for you recite three times daily in Ashrei (Tehillim 145:9), “His mercies are on all His works.”  The word “all” is not to be taken or treated lightly.


It goes without saying that there are many opportunities to display sensitivity and mercy even before you get to the leaves and the ants.  Taking the time to lift someone’s spirits, caring about the well-being of an elderly person in your neighborhood, smiling at the grim-faced.  To test yourself, perhaps you can pick an hour during the day and work hard at especially applying your concern and mercy in the various situations that may come up during that time.  You may learn and grow from the experience.


So, this week as we ask for mercy, we should commit to practicing it--from not carelessly scaring a small animal, to helping arrange a Shidduch in the morning, to offering someone a ride in the afternoon, to giving time over the phone at night to someone who had a hard day, to not throwing your clothing across the room--remember, we are in an especially auspicious period for character growth.  May we excel at it!



Special Note Five:  We provide below several important points and reminders prior to Rosh Hashana:


a.  Please remember to have all clothing that will be worn on Rosh Hashana checked for Shatnez.  Shatnez clothing inhibits Tefillos from rising to the Shomayim (as discussed in detail in Praying with Fire II).  If there is any doubt whatsoever as to any item of clothing for men, women, or children, it is urgent that they be checked before being worn on Rosh Hashana.


b.  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us in Mishlei that “Yiras Hashem Tosif Yamim--the fear of Hashem provides us with additional life.”  It would be totally appropriate for us now to feel some real nervousness, some real fear before the Yom HaDin.  Of course, as we have pointed out, the fear should be coupled with a joy of knowing that our Teshuvah, Tefilla and Tzedakah can extricate us from a Din that we might chas veshalom otherwise deserve.


c.  Specifically with respect to Tzedakah, Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, Shlita, points out that the words ‘miser’ and ‘misery’ are too closely related for comfort.  On the other hand, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that post-dated checks when given to a Tzedakah are counted for your immediate Zechus now before the Yom HaDin.  Let us take the time now to give additional Tzedakah, so that Hashem will, Middah K’Neged Middah treat us with additional Tzedakah on the Yom HaDin. 


d.  If one asks for forgiveness now, and does not wait until Erev Yom Kippur, he has most certainly increased his merits prior to the Yom HaDin.  May we ONCE AGAIN additionally suggest that you make a special effort not to annoy others with your conduct or speech, for if you treat others with courtesy, pleasantness and caring, there is a Middah KeNeged Middah for you to be blessed with the same.  By clicking here you will find related teachings of Chazal, as to how one can be Zoche BeDin.  We provide these teaching again this week because of their utter importance now.  If someone would merely provide you with his reasoned thoughts on how you could win the lottery, wouldn’t you lend a listening ear?  Well, here we have (lehavdil) none other than Chazal--teaching us how we can win--our lives!


e.  In furtherance of the previous note, by clicking here we provide a Tefillah to Hashem that you judge others L’Chaf Zechus 


f.   Last year, we had suggested that a person count the number of times he recites Asher Yotzar every day--for a year--and add up the actual number of miracles that he experienced over the year in the ordinary course of his bodily functions!  For those who did not take us up on the suggestion last year, and experienced or know someone experiencing difficulties with these functions, perhaps (as a zechus, or in appreciation) one can make an actual Asher Yotzar count one of his goals for this year!


g.  The Sefer Mesilas Yesharim ends with two extremely potent Pesukim that we recite daily in Shacharis.  Can you identify them?  Would it not be extremely meaningful to have special Kavannah in them every day?!


h.  As we have noted before, when making a brocha starting now and for the coming year, is it “Melechaolam” (what does this mean?), or is it “Melech HaOlam”?  The difference, quite literally, is rulership over the world!


i.  Each one of us is really very wealthy in many ways.  Among those ways is that commencing on Rosh Hashana we can begin many different programs which are broken down into daily segments, including: Positive Word Power (the new Sefer published by The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation; Praying with Fire; Praying with Fire II; the outstanding new Sefer Yearning With Fire and The Chofetz Chaim a Lesson a Day.  Which treasure will you choose?  Truth be told, you can choose more than one!


j.  We provide the following words from HaRav Shimon Schwab, Zt’l, (as found in Day 83 of Praying with Fire): “For Hashem’s sake, let us be quiet in the Beis Haknesses.  Our reverent silence during the Tefillah will speak very loudly to Him, Who holds our fate in His hands.  Communicating with Hashem is our only recourse in this era of trial and tribulations.  There is too much ugly noise in our world today.  Let us find peace and tranquility while we stand before Hashem in prayer!”


k.  The Elef Hamagein notes that Selichos is structured as an additional Tefillah during the day--beginning with Ashrei, continuing with Selichos (whose supplications parallel Shemone Esrei) and concluding with Tachanun.  What a special privilege it is to recite this special Tefillah every day until Yom Kippur--with especially detailed requests on Erev Rosh Hashana when we need them so much!



Special Note One:  We are excited to provide by the following link http://www.prayingwithfire.org/images/Newsletter15.pdf  the fifteenth issue of the Praying with Passion Series, with the issue focused on Birchas HaShachar produced by The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation.  Please spread this especially useful and inspirational publication to others!



Special Note Two:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series:


1.  As this is the last Shabbos of the year, it is certainly a time to be especially careful with our Kedushas Shabbos--zemiros, the way we speak, our care with muktza matters, looking up those Shabbos Halachos we were unsure of and that we have meant to look up for a long time… and any Inyanei Shabbos that we know could use our personal tweaking.  Additional Note:  As Dovid HaMelech teaches and the Chofetz Chaim reminds us, “Mi HaIsh HaChafetz Chaim Ohev Yamim Leros Tov--who is the man who desires life…one who guards his tongue from speaking evil.”  Accordingly, we should be especially careful with Shemiras HaLashon this Shabbos, and perhaps undertake to join in the Chafetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s Shabbos Machsom Lefi--a wonderful weekly project which greatly enhances the Kedusha of the Shabbos table.  For further information and the necessary materials, please call CCHF at 845-352-3505.


2.  HaRav Chaim Kanievski, Shlita, was asked the following question:  If it is forbidden to say Vidui on Shabbos, how can one do Teshuva--does he have to wait until after Shabbos to do Teshuva?  HaRav Kanievski responded that one should accept the other aspects of Teshuva upon himself--i.e., feeling sorry for what he has done, and accepting upon oneself not do the aveira again, and that the Vidui need not be done then.  The only reason that one does not recite Vidui on Shabbos, he added, is because we don’t generally recite personal Tefillos on Shabbos, and Vidui would be similar to a personal Tefilla.



Special Note Three:  Teshuva for a Life of Wrongdoing:  The wonderful Sefer, Journey to Virtue by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita (Artscroll), provides the following essential guidance for one who feels inundated by past wrongdoings: 


Even if one has regularly offended people (through Lashon Hara, Rechilus, verbal abuse, etc.) for many years and caused incalculable damage during that time, one should not despair, for nothing stands in the way of Teshuvah.  No matter how low a person has stooped, Hashem is ready at all times to accept his Teshuvah.  Furthermore, Hashem desires and awaits his return.  “And until the day a person dies You wait for him, if he will return to You, You will immediately accept him” (Tefillah of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur).


The Rambam writes in Hilchos Teshuva (7:4, 7): Let not a person who has done Teshuvah imagine that he is far removed from the greatness of Tzadikim because of his sins and iniquities.  It is not so; rather, he is beloved and desired before the Creator as if he had never sinned. Furthermore, his reward is great because he 'tasted sin and then left it, and overcame his evil inclination….  How great is Teshuvah. Yesterday (before he did Teshuvah) he was distanced from Hashem…if he cried out to Him he was not answered…when he performed Mitzvos they were taken away (i.e., they were unwanted)…and today (after he has decided to return to Hashem)…when he cries out he is answered immediately…when he does Mitzvos they are accepted with pleasure and joy…and furthermore, Hashem desired them! (ibid)


Although it may be impossible to recall the identity of all those who were harmed, one should at least make efforts to placate the ones whom one does remember having wronged.  A person who wants to do Teshuvah for years of wrongdoing should engage in four different activities:


(a)  He should rectify whatever he possibly can.


(b)  He should take steps to distance himself as much as possible from repeating his old patterns of behavior. He should make efforts to avoid situations in which he will be tempted to repeat those wrongs, and should take active steps to ensure that his resolution to change his ways are carried out.  For example, he should study Mussar and the laws pertaining to the wrongs committed.  If his personality led him to abuse others or speak Lashon Hara, he should examine the sources of the problem and get help to change his behavior patterns.


(c) Torah and acts of kindness are atonements for wrongdoing.  Thus, if a person wants to atone for previous behavior he should engage in Torah study and act with kindness to others.


(d)  The righteous find favor doing precisely those activities with which they had previously sinned.  Thus, someone who wishes to atone for Lashon Hara, verbal abuse, cheating, etc. should try to teach and spread knowledge of these Mitzvos and prohibitions and encourage others to observe them.  At the height of the ecstasy of rejoicing on Succos, those who repented said, “Fortunate are our older years that have atoned for our younger years.”  Most important is the need to firmly resolve that from now on these wrongs will not be repeated.


Hakhel Note:  Hashem has given us unbelievable opportunity to cleanse ourselves of years of accumulated grime.  Let us make the effort at this special time to come clean!



Special Note Four:  Today is the Yahrzeit of the Chofetz Chaim.  We provide a sampling of his essential teachings, excerpted from the excellent Sefer, Give Us Life, collected and edited by HaRav Mendel Weinbach, Shlita:


1.  Everything approaching its end summons all of its energies for a last stand.  A candle’s brightest flame appears before it dies, and it is always darkest before dawn.  The power of evil is approaching its end so it has summoned all of its resources and massed the greatest attack in history on the forces of good.


2.  People often say “This world is also a world,” but the truth is that “Only this world is a world” because only here can a person improve and accomplish.  This is the World of Action, the World to Come is only for the reward.


3.  Good manners require a person to carefully prepare for an audience with an important official.  If one is privileged to see the king, he takes several days to get ready.  So if Chazal tell us that we must prepare for a lifetime before entering the palace of the King of Kings we must appreciate how supremely exalted this palace must be.


4. The reward mentioned by the Torah for certain Mitzvohs such as honoring parents is not their real payment for that is only due in the World to Come.  The small reward we receive in the meantime is like the meals given to the king’s soldiers which are not subtracted from their pay.


5. Teshuva must be performed with great energy. A person should return to Hashem with at least the same degree of enthusiasm and energy with which he had sinned.


6. The greatest sinner will be called to account for the slightest wrongdoing because his terrible record is no license for further evil.  The Rambam writes that the wicked King Yerovom will be punished for not fulfilling the mitzvah of Eruv Tavshilin.


7.  Just as there are rich and poor, strong and weak, so do people vary in their talents and abilities in Avodas Hashem.  The Torah therefore commands; “You shall love Hashem with *your* heart, *your* soul and *your* might--each man according to his particular powers.  Additionally, the real meaning of “all your might” is whatever is most precious to you--Chazal knew that to most people money is the most precious item.  However, to someone who Torah and Mitzvos is most precious, he must be prepared to sacrifice even these, if necessary, for the honor of Hashem.  A Rosh Yeshiva, for example, must be prepared to sacrifice his own Torah study--his “all your might”--in order that Torah may flourish among his disciples.


8.  An orderly, efficient shopkeeper knows exactly where each item in his stock is located and its precise value.  An orderly Jew does every act with Hashem in mind because he knows that the simplest act--like the simplest ware--can bring a tremendous profit if it is used correctly.


9.  One of the signs given by Chazal of a madman is that he sleeps overnight in a graveyard.  A man has the opportunity of returning from the grave to a new and eternal life by studying or supporting Torah.  If he wastes this opportunity and remains forever sleeping in the graveyard, he is truly a madman.


10.  If you should ask your wife for Shabbos Kugel on Friday she will suggest that you eat something else because “ this Kugel is for Shabbos”. Honor is like Kugel and is only to be enjoyed on the day which is forever Shabbos--Olam Haba.  If you eat the Kugel today, you may go hungry on Shabbos.


11.  HaRav Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, compared momentary interruption in Torah study to the uprooting of two feet of railway track from a line stretching for thousands of miles.  Just as this seemingly insignificant act can wreak havoc upon the railroad, so too can a break in Torah study.


12.  I am neither a Chosid or a Misnagid.  My only ambition is to fulfill what is written in Shulchan Aruch.  Chazal teach that a person will be asked whether he set aside times for Torah study and whether he dealt honestly in business.  There is no mention of ever being asked whether one is a Chosid or Misnagid.


13.  Even a small storekeeper keeps a record to know  the small amounts that his customers owe him.  Let us not fail to keep records of our life in this world--for it affects us for eternity.


14.  A Torah supporter gives a few copper coins and the institution he supports gives him a share in an eternal Torah.


15.  What good is our Selichos if all we do is tell Hashem our sins?  He knows them well enough already.  Our duty is to resolve not to repeat our foolishness!



Special Note One:  We were recently advised of a modern application of "HaKol Kol Yaakov, VeHaYodayim Yedei Eisav--the voice is the voice of Ya'akov and the hands are the hands of Eisav.  It can apply to almost each and every one of us every morning.  The voice of Ya'akov may be the ring of your alarm clock that awakens you every morning to our Avodas Hashem--to davening, to learning, to Chesed, to living life to its fullest.  The yodaim of Eisav may be the hands that reach out and press that snooze button--delaying your Modeh Ani, making you late for Minyan, causing you to unnecessarily rush and scamper.  Yes, there definitely may be utility to the snooze button in certain limited situations--but when in doubt one should definitely err on the side of the Kol of Yaakov then having to look back and say 'oh no, it was r'l the yodaim of Eisav this morning....'



Special Note Two:  As in a week from today, our Din will be before the Bais Din Shel Ma'alah, we provide by clicking here our flyer “HOW TO BE ZOCHE B'DIN”   We urge you to make a real and special project of following Chazal's "Sage" advice especially over the next week, and perhaps turn it into a family or more expanded project as well.  If even only a little bit of Chazal's guidelines can stick with us  over the coming year--such as being freer with compliments, and in always looking at the flipside before judging someone (would I want to be judged in this way?!)--imagine what a purer person we will be at this time next year!



Special Note Three:  As we will soon be reciting Selichos, we must remind ourselves that Chazal teach us that our supplication of the essential 13 Middos of Rachamim--does not return empty-handed.  We accordingly provide by the following links the “plain meaning of the words” in both Hebrew (by clicking here) and English (by clicking here) of the 13 Middos.  We should study these words and their meanings (made available in the links, and from other sources such as the Artscroll and Metsudah Selichos) in preparation for Selichos so that our supplications have more powerful and effective force. 


Additional Note:  It is important that we note that the Elef HaMagen (in the name of the Birkei Yosef and Maharik), writes that while reciting the Thirteen Middos (Hashem, Hashem), one should be in a slightly bowed position--to indicate humility and regard for the hallowed words that one is reciting.


Special Note Four:  We provide the following additional points and pointers regarding  the crucial period that we are in:


a.  We should try to remember that there are three elements to our lives--Bain Odom LaMakom, Bain Odom Lechaveiro, and Bain Odom LeAtzmo.  We should definitely think about at least one aspect in each area in which to improve our lives in the coming year.  In this way, our lives will simply become more complete.  HaRav Yerucham Levovitz, Shlita makes a wonderful observation on the Pasuk we recently read in Devorim relating to the Bais HaMikdash:  "LeShichno Sidreshu U'Vasa Shama--you shall seek the Shechina and come there [to the Bais HaMikdash]."  HaRav Yerucham asks--shouldn't the Pasuk have read in the reverse--U'Vasa Shama, VeShichno Sidreshu...You shall come there and seek the Shechina?!  The answer, HaRav Yerucham writes, is that the Pasuk is teaching us that we must FIRST seek the Shechina --and only if we first seek the Shechina do we take the SECOND STEP of coming to the Bais HaMikdash.  It is the time now of LeShichno Sidreshu--to seek the Shechina through our introspection and improved thoughts, words and deeds.  If we can do this, if we yearn to grow in Ruchniyus, we will be zoche to the great SECOND STEP of U'Vasa Shama--we will get to the highest places of Kedusha.  What a great guideline in every life activity--LeShichno Sidreshu!


b.  The Orchos Chaim LaRosh teaches us the value of our words in a very special way--'Hotza'as Picha MaiHotza'as Momoncha--one should be more careful taking the words out of his mouth than taking money out of his pocket.  While this may seem an insurmountable task for the average individual in the course of his everyday life, one can certainly put this essential analogy into practice when he is in doubt as to whether to say something or not.  Think about it from time to time as you take out your wallet or pocketbook!


c.  More real Tachlis:  We are about at the time where at the forefront we will be pleading for nothing short of  Chaim--life for ourselves, our families, K'lal Yisroel and the World.  Let us consider that the Torah is also called the Toras Chaim--a living Torah, and that the Torah is in and of itself an Eitz Chaim--a Tree of Life to hold on to.  In fact, Chazal in Mesechta Avos (2:8) teach us specifically that "Marbeh Torah Marbeh Chaim--the more Torah, the more life".  Remarkably, Rabbeinu Yonah writes in the Sefer Sha'arei Teshuva that "VeNasasi BLeChol Hamakom Ba'avuram--and I will save the whole place for them" refers to those who study Torah and bring [further] life to the world.  Perhaps it is for this reason that the Techilas Dino Shel Odom--the first judgment that a man must face after 120 years is over his Torah study--in a real sense, over how much he attached himself to life.  No one can truthfully say that what Hashem has given him life until this point is because "Magi'yah Li--I deserve it."  What we can try to do, however, is take strides to be more deserving than we have been until this point.  What makes us more deserving of life itself is Torah study--the Toras Chaim, the Eitz Chaim, the Marbeh Torah--Marbeh Chaim.  We must accordingly highly recommend that all--young and old, men and women-- take some real and practical step to bring Torah closer to their lives--to spend a few extra minutes with Torah study each day.  If one is not careful to study even for a brief moment at his breakfast or dinner table--maybe he can bli neder commit to some form of Torah study at this special time ( a Mishna, a Pasuk, a Vort) --thereby indicating and acknowledging that even one of the key moments of daily bodily care is also dedicated to...life!!


Special Note One:  From Mrs. Tropper of Yad Eliezer:  “One more matching opportunity has been made available for the people of Sderot only--someone will match up to $10,000.00 in contributions.”  Hakhel Note:  We all need Rachamei Shamayim so desperately.  Let us demonstrate our own Rachamim so that the people of a community in Israel can have chickens for Yom Tov.  Your dollars will be matched, doubling its effect, and will part of the contribution of our Tzibbur--and not just an individual donation.  Please go to www.yadeliezer.org and note that your donation is for Sderot.



Special Note Two:  Great New Opportunity for Women!  Aneinu has recently began a

daily Brochos text message (available by email as well) geared for women.  In order to subscribe, please text 216-235-4330 or email me @ dafnotes@gmail.com.  Here is a sample of yesterday’s text:  “One should make mezonos on soup that has significant amount of barley or noodles, and no bracha is needed for veggies and soup.”



Special Note Three:  We now have one week left until the last day of the year, Erev Rosh Hashana.  There is so much to do, so much to think about, so much to look back upon--and to look forward to.  How do we put it all together?  Perhaps the first step is to ask Hashem for help--even for this!  When reciting the bracha of “Ata Chonen” every day, think of how much you need him to grant you the right insight, the right decisions, the right thoughts on self-improvement, the right goals…a tear (or complete sincerity) while thinking about the help that you need would appear very appropriate.  This is what we suggest you focus on in Shemone Esrei today and Sunday.  Remember, it’s your life--and no one cares, or should care, more about it--than you!



Special Note Four:  As part of taking stock, one should not overlook the items or money he has borrowed from or lent to others (one reader wrote to us as to how different friends told her that they had her books on their bookshelves--but still had not returned them), think about who he owns a phone call or apology to, and, perhaps, that thing about him that he knows bothers people most, but that he has failed to correct because it is “him.”  If you realize that your mannerism or “custom” really does irk family, friends, or colleagues, maybe it should become part of the “Nachpesa Deracheinu”--the search of our ways so essential to steering us back to the proper path in life.



Special Note Five:  The Shemiras Haloshon Daily Calendar for 5770 is now available.  To obtain a larger number of calendars for your Shul or group, please contact 732-363-4577.



Special Note Six:  As we continue to contemplate Hashem’s Malchus in preparation for the Yomim Noraim, may we suggest that one consider why we mention the word “Melech” in the bracha of Refaeinu in Shemone Esrei, and why we refer to Hashem’s “Kisei Kvodecha--Throne of Glory” in the bracha of Asher Yatzar.  Indeed, it may be a good idea to reflect upon this very important notion for a moment every time we recite Melech in  Refaeinu and Kisei Kvodecha in Asher Yatzar!



Special Note Seven:  At this time of year in which we expand our efforts in search of a Good Year, and in which we seek a nullification of any difficult decrees against us, we note the primacy of answering “Amen; Yehei Shemei Rabba” with Kavannah as a special means for assisting us with our goals.  We provide by clicking here the words of HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl, in the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim regarding this Kavannah and its potency.  Now is the time to improve your “Amen; Yehei Shemei Rabba” by looking at the words in your Siddur/Machzor as you say them, reciting them aloud, and understanding each word as you recite it--with the intention of ever-increasing Kovod Shomayim the world.  In addition to the Kovod Shomayim coming through your Tefillos being answered, you could very literally be bringing Yeshuos to yourself, your family, and all of Klal Yisroel--and there are a lot of things that we need Yeshuos from both individually and collectively.



Special Note Eight:  The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva specifically enumerates 24 items which are “Me’Akvin Es HaTeshuva--which are obstacles to Teshuva,” making Teshuva more difficult.  Please see there for the entire list.  We will only mention one of these Teshuva obstacles at this time:  “Sonei Es Atochachos--one who does not like to be reprimanded.”  Over the next several weeks, we will be hearing many Drashos and Shiurim by our Rabbanim, and many of these Shiurim may have involved great, dedicated and directed preparation by the Rabbanim.  We should make the effort, at each and every one of these Shiurim (whether we are attending “voluntarily”, or whether it is a drasha in middle of davening) to apply something practically to ourselves from what is being said.  Remember, it is Hashgacha Pratis that you are being presented with these words.  Do not be a “Sonei Es Hatochachos!”  Instead, demonstrate your desire and ability to grow from each and every learning experience that Hashem provides you during this extremely opportune time.


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