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12 Tishrei

Special Note One:  Post-Aseres Yemei Teshuva points and pointers:


A.  The Maharsha explains that the absolute requirement to have Kavanna in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei can be attributed to the fact that this one short Brocha contains so many Names of Hashem.  On Yom Kippur, we experienced a great awe of Hashem, and gained a more sublime appreciation of the Sanctity of His Name. May we suggest that for the coming year (or at least for the coming month) one especially focus on the Names of Hashem in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei (if you have not counted at least nine, you have counted incorrectly).  Indeed, the Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 98, seif katan 3) writes that before beginning Shemone Esrei, one should picture himself as if he is in the Kodesh Hakodoshim (as the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur!)--don’t give up the incredible and tangible opportunity as you recite the Names of Hashem with their proper meaning.  For further detail on the Kavanos in these Names, please see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 5, and Mishna Berurah there.  The Kohen Gadol may recite the name of Hashem in his particular way—but you are empowered and charged to recite them in your way as well!


B.  There is another way that we can remain tied in some way to the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah.  As we have noted many times in the past, 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! 


C.  During the very short period between Yom Kippur and Succos in the year that we left Mitzrayim, the Bnei Yisroel were busy donating all the materials that were necessary to build the Mishkan.  The grand generosity of our ancestors during this period brought together all of the great wealth necessary to build the Mishkan before Sukkos even began (see Ba’al HaTurim, Shemos 36:6)!  We must take a lesson, based upon the principle of Ma’aseh Avos Siman L’Bonim, and use this specially endowed time to give Tzedaka to worthy causes-- both in Eretz Yisroel (as the center of Kedusha) and in your own locale. Make it a priority--for the Torah did--during this sanctified time!


D.  The period between Yom Kippur and Sukkos is so spiritually elevated, it is reported that the Chasam Sofer composed Shiros V’Sishbachos to Hashem during this time.


E.  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.  We are almost there! 



Special Note Two:  Pre-Sukkos points and pointers:


A.  During this very busy time, we must remember that a prime order of the day is for our intellect to rule over our emotions, and control the situation, rather than be controlled by it.  In Kelm, there would be a special tune for the words: “Al Tivahel Ma’asecha” -- do not react with confusion or overreact; rather, be calm and collected.  There is much to do in the next several days, and much of it has to do with Mitzvos and their proper performance.  Let us have the presence to keep ourselves in the right frame of mind.  If we are supposed to be happy on Yom Tov--shouldn’t we be happy when preparing to be happy?!


In this regard, may we suggest preparing a checklist now so that important items and activities are not left for Erev Yom Tov!  Family members should have their Yom Tov clothing purchased or cleaned; children should receive the treats that will make them happy; 48-hour candles, which help tremendously if one is in need of fire on the second day of Yom Tov, are now readily available, and can be purchased.  Please feel free to supply us with your additional suggestions for early preparation to share with us all.


B.  One should not purchase any of the Four Minim (including the Aravos on Erev Yom Tov) from a child under Bar Mitzvah, as he is not capable of effecting a halachically-valid transaction.



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


A.  The Luach Davar B’Ito brings that this Shabbos (13 Tishrei) was the day that Sedom and its neighboring cities were turned over.  Perhaps the lesson is that this reflects the period we are in--uprooting evil and bringing good to the world!


B.  Shabbos is the 100th Yahrtzeit of HaRav Chaim Berlin , Z’tl, who has also left as a legacy the great Yeshiva founded with his name.  One truly does not realize the great effects of what he can accomplish through Talmud Torah Lishma--HaRav Berlin who lived in Yerushalayim is attributed with so much Torah study across the ocean--in the U.S. ! 


C.  We present below several rulings of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, relating to Shabbos and Sukkos, as excerpted from the Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Volume III ):


1.  If a person makes a Sukkah on top of a car, the car has Kedusha, and one cannot take down the Sukkah and use the car for other purposes--even if one initially had only intended to use the Sukkah for a short time, no tenai will help regarding the Sukkah itself (as a tenai only helps for the Noi Sukkah). 


2.  A large Sukkah is not more of a Hidur than a small Sukkah--if one does not need a large Sukkah.  If a Sukkah is too small, it is a Chiyuv Gamur to make it larger for one’s family to fit--not a ‘Hidur’. 


3.  Although it is not nice (mechu’ar) to use items created for akum celebrations as Noi Sukkah, it is nevertheless permissible to do so Al Pi Halacha.  The Halachos of Noi Sukkah apply only to something attached to the Sukkah--not to a plant, flowers or the like, which do not have any restrictions relating to taking them out of the Sukkah. 


4.  If snow falls on the Sukkah, it is batel to the Schach, and the Sukkah may be used. 


5.  One may not nail down the Schach even if he is worried that the Schach may fly up in a high wind.  One should instead tie boards next to the Schach to weigh it down, or tie the Schach loosely with something that is not mekabel tumah.  If Schach did fly off on Shabbos or Yom Tov, one can have a Goy put it back, telling him to do so L’Shem Tzel--for the sake of shade.  Note:  Based upon this ruling, if the Schach flew up and flew back down itself, a question may be whether it has been placed back on the Sukkah L’Shem Tzel.  One should consult his Rav in this event.


6.  If a child under Bar Mitzvah put up the Schach, one should preferably place the Schach down again. 


7.  If a woman made a Shehechiyanu on Hadlakas Neiros, she can still answer “Amen” to the Shehechiyanu in Kiddush, because the Shehechiyanu in Kiddush applies to other Mitzvos as well (such as building the Sukkah and dwelling in it). 


8.  If one in the past had been makpid not to even eat Achilas Ar’aee out of the Sukkah, and wants to stop this practice, it would be better for him to be Matir Neder. 


9.  If one is eating meat, fish or cheese as a meal, he must eat it inside the Sukkah. 


10.  If one takes a drink in the Sukkah, drank a little bit and then went into his house for something, when he comes back to the Sukkah, he must make a new bracha--for this would be considered akira mibayis l’bayis. 


11.  In Kiddush, one makes a bracha of Borei Pri HaGafen and then Leisheiv BaSukkah, for he will surely continue to eat immediately, as one must eat immediately after Kiddush.


12.  If one has a Sukkah in his kitchen, he must have a Mechitzah between the area of the pots and pans, and the area of the Sukkah.  Even in a public Sukkah, one should be careful to take out dirty dishes right away, so as not to leave the Sukkah in a mevuzeh (disgraceful) state. 


13.  Outside of the Sukkah, if a person feels that he is going to fall asleep if he sits down on a certain chair, then it is not considered an ‘accident’ that he fell asleep outside the Sukkah; accordingly, it is not permissible--and one should wake him up.  If one did not realize that he would fall asleep outside of the Sukkah and he does, then he has not done an issur. 


14. One can do the na’anuim in Shul differently than others in Shul may be doing them, as everyone knows that there are different Minhagim.  A woman does not have to hold the Daled Minim during Hallel.  If one had used palm tree leaves for Lulav knots (it being clear that they were used for the Lulav), one should not throw them out in a disrespectful way. 


15.  The basis for the Minhag of bringing instruments into Shul for a Simchas Beis Hashoeivah is Zecher L’Mikdash. Hakhel Note:  Let us treat a Simchas Bais Hoshoeivah accordingly! 



Special Note Four:  Sukkos points and pointers:


A.  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.


B.  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!


C.  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. Hakhel Note:  One's  Sukkah Decorations become Muktzah over Yom Tov, unless he makes a t'nai that he intends to get benefit from them (use them, eat them, etc.) over Yom Tov and/or Chol HaMoed. For the specifics of the appropriate t'nai , please consult with your Rav or Posek


D. The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 625, seif katan 1) 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! 


E.  Since Chag HaSuccos is such a foundation of our Emunah--may we suggest that one make a special effort to have Kavannah when reciting Amen--in fact, their Gematriaos--91-- are the same-- very far from 'coincidence'!


F.  The Elef HaMogen (in the Sefer Mateh Ephraim (626:18) writes that **every minute** that one spends in the Sukkah is a separate Mitzvas Asei M’Deoraisa.  (See also Yesod V’Shoresh HoAvoda for a moving discussion as to how much one should treasure his moments in the Sukkah.)


G.  On Yom Tov, we will be reciting the Bracha of Shehechiyanu both in the Sukkah and over the Arba Minim.  It is important to once again review the words of the Sefer Ma’aseh Nisim (Rebbi Yaakov MiLisa, also known as the Nesivos), who 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!


H.  Chazal (Yalkut Shimoni to Vayikrah 23:42) teach that one who fulfills the Mitzvah of Sukkah in Olam HaZeh will be protected by the Sukkah of Hashem in Olam Haba.  Even in this world, the Shem M’Shmuel writes in the name of his father, the Avnei Nezer, that because of the protective power of the Sukkah, one need not recite the entire Krias Shema Al HaMitah when sleeping in the Sukkah, but only the first Parsha of Shema and HaMapil.  [This ruling of the Avnei Nezer is not brought in Shulchan Aruch, but gives us a better appreciation of what we may not necessarily see with our eyes in the Sukkah.]


I.  A boy above the age of five or six is required to eat all those foods in the Sukkah that his father would be required to eat in the Sukkah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 640:2).


J.  When one enters the Sukkah to eat a Seudah, he should invite the Ushpizin verbally--for if he does not invite them, they do not come.  The Ushpizin will also not come if money is not set aside for the poor for Sukkos (Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah 11:13; see also the Shelah HaKadosh, Mesechtas Sukkah).  As previously noted,  we remind everyone that the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch writes that it is a special Mitzvah to give Tzedaka on Erev Sukkos.


K.  The Mishna Berurah writes that because of the great Kedusha of the Sukkah, one must be especially careful not to engage in forbidden talk, and try not to engage in mundane chatter (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 639, Mishna Berura, Seif Katan 2).  One should look around the Sukkah from time to time and remind himself that he is engulfed in a Mitzvah like no other time during the year!


L. It is fascinating to note that the Ikar Ma'asim which require Sukkah--more than davening and learning (!)  are eating and sleeping--perhaps what one would consider the most physically required and non-spiritual, the least elevated, of our daily activities.  Yet, this is where the lessons of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are housed--in our activities as human beings for the rest of the Year--and this is the guidance--and the Shemira--that the proper performance of the Mitzvah of Sukkah will provide for us over the coming months 


M.  One should not assume that a Sukkah put up in a restaurant, amusement park or the like is automatically kasher because 'it must be under someone's supervision'.  One should try to make his own determination that he can fulfill the Mitzvah of Sukkah in the structure in front of him!


N.  The four letters comprising the Hebrew word Lulav also comprise the first letters of words we will recite every day of Sukkos--VeTaher Libainu LeAvdecha BeEmes--purify our heart to serve You in truth (Luach Dovor BeIto). Hakhel Note: HaRav Dessler, Z'tl, points out that Lulav is a combination of the words Lo Lev--a demonstration that one is dedicating his heart to the Ribbono Shel Olam--based upon the Pasuk (Mishlei 23:26) Tenah Bni Libcha li!  Let's take the clear message and work on purifying our hearts in our very own personal way this Sukkos!


O.  The spine of the Lulav (the shedra), and not the Lulav itself, must be at least sixteen inches, and must be one tefach (four inches) more than the Hadassim and Aravos when tied together (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 650:2).  Many people think that only the Lulav need be taller, but actually it is the spine of the Lulav that must extend so that the Hadassim and Aravos must stop four inches BELOW the highest point of the shedra--which is the point at which the centermost branch last splits. 


P. The Siddur HaGra notes that the 4 Minim are k'neged a letter of the 4-letter Ineffable Name of Hashem.  The last Heh is represented by the Esrog. Accordingly, we should be careful to keep the Esrog touching the Minim in the other hand--so that the letters stay complete.  It is brought from HaRav Chaim Vital, Z'tl, al pi sod, that the  Esrog should be touching at the bottom of the Lulav--where the bottom of the Hadassim and Aravos are--and not near the middle of the Haddasim and Aravos. 


Q.  How should a lefty hold the 4 Minim?  This is an apparent Machlokes between the Mechaber and the Rema--and it is accordingly suggested that whatever opinion you initially follow--you also hold them the other way as well (this is what the Steipeler, Z'tl did, as reported in the Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (VI: p.423). Lefty's get a second opportunity!


R.  We will once again be benefitting from Birkas 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 Birkas Kohanim by having in mind to receive the Bracha from the Kohanim, as Hashem commanded!


S.  On Chag HaSukkos, we spend much time and effort in order to properly perform the Mitzvos of Sukkah and the Four Minim.  Many people may forget that there is another great Mitzvah on Sukkos, which is the Mitzvah to be b’Simcha--in a state of happiness.  In fact, Sukkos is known as “Z'man Simchasenu--a time of bliss.”


The Sefer Pele Yoetz writes in the name of the Arizal that one who is truly joyful on Sukkos, and does not allow himself to be pained, is assured that he will have a good year and will merit constant joy.  The Pele Yoetz writes that one can attain this level of joy by reflecting upon how fortunate he is to be so different from all other creations in the universe, by having the opportunity to be close to Hashem through the study of Torah and the performance of Mitzvos.


The Rambam at the end of Hilchos Lulav (8:15), explains that the euphoria we should experience on Sukkos is an inner joy which is rooted in the depths of the heart:


“The joy that a person should experience in doing a Mitzvah and in his love of Hashem who so commanded is a great Avodah; and one who does not allow himself to feel this joy [does not follow the Torah’s directive] to be joyful and good of heart…and the only true greatness and honor is to rejoice before Hashem, as Dovid HaMelech did in dancing before the Aron HaKodesh…”


The Simcha we experience on Sukkos is an anomaly to the rest of the world, which equates joy with fun.  Our happiness is “Yismechu B’Malchusecha”--the joy of our soul in its closeness to Hashem and in our ruchniyus--tangibly experiencing a sublime, inspiring, spiritual purpose in life!


T.  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.


U.  As we sit in the Sukkah in the upcoming sunny days, we should think about our own personal ways in which we can instill the Sukkah’s Shemira into our homes after the Seven Days have passed.  Will it be by remembering to picture Hashem in front of us when we say the word “Ata” in each one of our Brachos?  Will it be in the manner that we eat--sitting down and eating respectfully?  Will it be with the voice level used in our home?  Will it be by not purchasing the extra luxury or overindulgence because it looks so nice, is so “balabatish,” or tastes so good?  Will it be by the emphasis of mind over matter?  The list goes on…


May we inculcate these 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 Five:   We present below several Shailos asked of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as presented in the Sefer Ma'aseh Rav:


1 .  Question:  One is permitted to place a sheet within 4-tefachim of his Sechach to decorate the Sukkah and it does not invalidate his Sechach.  This being the case, one can simply spread a sheet directly under his Sechach--and he will be able to eat in the Sukkah-even when it is raining--why don't we all do so?! [See Mishnah Berurah to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, 629, seif katan 58].


     Answer:  The Torah did not obligate us to do so.


2.  Question:  Is it better to stay in the Sukkah longer and not be one of the first 10 in Shul for Minyan, or should one leave the Sukkah in order to be one of the first 10?


Answer: There are two possible responses:  The rule of Taishvu Ke'Ain Taduru which would seem to dictate that it is better to be one of the first 10--as is the case the rest of the year and as brought in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 90:14. The other possibility is DeOvid K'Mar Ovid, DeOvid KeMar Ovid--either way, it is a winning situation!


3.  Question:  Is it permissible to give a Shiur on Sukkos if you know people will fall asleep at the Shiur?


    Answer:  One can give the Shiur--but must first warn the people that it is forbidden to sleep outside of the Sukkah!


4. Question:  One wants to fulfill the mitzvah of Yeshivas Sukkah but does not have anything to make a bracha of Laishaiv BaSukkah on. Is it better for him to enter and stay in the Sukkah without making a bracha--or not to enter for he will not be able to make the bracha?


    Answer:  One should enter the Sukkah even though he cannot make a bracha over the Mitzvah at that time.


5.  Question:  One started a meal in the Sukkah, and it began to rain so he put on the shloch.  When the rain stops, and he takes off the shloch, should he make a new bracha of Laishaiv BaSukkah?


   Answer:  Yes.


6.  Question:  On Hoshanah Rabba,  need one be careful not to step on the broken off Aravos leaves?


   Answer:  One should be careful.



Special Note Six:   As in previous years, we review with you:


.                                         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 Moados 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 2005), 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 the nisayon (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.


                                                   CHAG SAMEACH!



11 Tishrei

The following incredible selections from Vidui are excerpted directly from the Artscroll Yom Kippur Machzor (the more detailed notes in back of the Machzor):


Al Cheit Shechatanu Lifanecha BeOnes U’VeRatzon--”We have said we had no choice but to sin; and we sinned because we could not resist temptation.”


Al Cheit Shechatanu Lifanecha BeImutz HaLev--”We have refused to admit that we might be wrong.”


Al Cheit Shechatanu Lifanecha BiVli Da’as--”We have sinned through ignorance.  We have failed to think carefully, or to learn enough.  Failure to study the Torah leads inevitably to sin, and lack of insight or information causes people to misjudge situations.  Self imposed ignorance is no excuse.” 


Hakhel Note:  The above are just the initial three of the Machzor’s remarkably concise and moving Vidui, rooted in Rav Dessler’s explanations and brought so well to each individual.  Before putting away the Machzor, try to apply each one of the practical explanations to you in your life! Note:  There is no issur in keeping the Machzor out over Sukkos!



IMPORTANT QUESTION! Your Kabbalah Notebook--is everything in check?




Special Note One:  We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times.   Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 5 and 6:


5.  Lo Le’echol Ta’aroves Chometz--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from eating Chometz even when it is mixed into other foods, if one eats a kezayis of Chometz in the Shiur of Achilas Pras.  If one eats a kezayis, he has violated the prohibition, although he does not receive kares.  If one eats less than a kezayis he still receives Makas Mardus.  This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times and to men and women alike.


6.  Lo La’asos Melacha B’Shabbos-- this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from performing the 39 prohibited Melachos on Shabbos, which include both Avos and Toldos.  If one violates Shabbos intentionally, he receives the death penalty of Sekilah and if he does so unintentionally, he must bring a Korban Chatas.  If one violates a Shevus  D’Rabbanan intentionally he receives Makas Mardus.  One who intentionally violates Shabbos in public is treated as an akum in all respects.  The Navi Yeshaya praises the Shomer Shabbos with the words “Ashrei Enosh Ya’aseh Zos…Shomer Shabbos Maichaleloh--praiseworthy is the person who scrupulously keeps the Shabbos.”  This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times and to men and women alike.



Special Note Two:  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 Three:  How can we keep the elevated spirit of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah with us every day of the year? Some Post-Yom Kippur Notes:


A. KeKelev Shav El Kayo…’--just as a dog returns to that which it has regurgitated, so too does an unwise person return to the sins that he has committed in the past.  We may want to keep this graphic thought on our minds as a method for not returning to the foibles of yesteryear.


B.  The Rabbeinu Yonah, in the Iggeres 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.


C.  It is said in the name of an Adam Gadol that our Rosh Hashana Tefillos stay with us through the Year with Aleinu Leshabe'ach, and our Yom Kippur Tefillos stay with us with the LeOlam Yehei Adam... Meh Annu, Meh Chayeinu tefillah found in the Karbanos of Schacharis.  It would we be wonderful if we could take our daily Kavannah in these two Tefillos--as a wonderful and meaningful remembrance of our Yomim Noraim tefillos--with us throughout the year!


 D.  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?



Special Note Four:  In a Teshuva Drasha, Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita, provided an incredible di’yuk and insight from Sefer Yonah ( 1:12 ).  Yonah Hanavi, after advising the shipmen that he was the only one responsible for the storm, tells them, “Sa’Uni Va’Hatiluni El HaYam--pick me up and heave me into the sea…”  Why did he tell the shipmen to “pick me up”--wouldn’t it have been sufficient to simply say “heave me into the sea”?!  The answer is that Yonah is teaching us the value of one additional second of life--he would live for another moment if he were first picked up and then heaved into the sea, rather than being heaved directly into the stormy waters.  Life is so precious, so irreplaceable, and if used properly, so everlasting, that we must value every single moment.  It simply makes no sense whatsoever to consciously waste it on an aveira, or for there to be time when there is simply “nothing to do.”  Perhaps it is for this reason that we have so much--so many good things--to do in this short period between Yom Kippur and Sukkos, so that we take Yonah’s lesson to heart--and train ourselves to appreciate the moments and use them wisely!



Special Note Five:  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.  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.  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 yesterday, 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.  


Special Note Six:  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!



9 Tishrei

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 Mei’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 Yisrael. 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.





1. At Sunday’s Hakhel Yom Iyun, Rabbi Yitzchok Sorotzkin, Shlita, taught that the Kabbalah one undertakes should be something easy, and something that comes up time and time again, so that it is constantly reinforced.  He also suggested that it should relate to something at the beginning of the day--so that one starts the day on the right foot, and can constantly reinforce his positive behavior.  Hakhel Note One:  What about reciting Borei Nefashos from a Siddur or card?  Hakhel Note Two:  HaRav Sorotzkin noted that a Kabbalah should preferably be undertaken for a minimum of 40 days.


2. Also at the Hakhel Yom Iyun, Rabbi Avrohom Schorr, Shlita, taught that while Kabbalos in Asei Tov could be done step by step, Kabbalos in Sur Mairah mean that the ra’ah must be removed completely and at once.  He urged all to undertake two basic Kabbalos in ‘Sur Mairah’: (i) close one’s homepage, so that he is not distracted to the wrong areas and also saves valuable time in his life; (ii) install a sonic wall. 


3.  Here is an insightful Kabbalah from a reader in the Bain Adam L’Atzmo area: “I am bli neder going to think twice (or three times if I find myself lax) before taking out my cell phone to talk in a public area, or in order to text while walking on the street.”


4.  When reading the daily portion in the Sefer Chofetz Chaim, Shemiras HaLashon, Guard Your Tongue, Daily Companion, as the case may be, a wonderful Kabbalah may be to read the words aloud or at least mouth them. 


5.  HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl, writes that he remembers that in his first year in Kelm the “Kabbolah HaRaishis--the top Kabbalah” 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.” 


Rebbi Eliezer Ben Durdaya was an infamous sinner who did Teshuvah when someone told him that he was a ‘lost cause’.  Then, after unsuccessfully looking everywhere for assistance in asking Hashem for mercy, he finally realized the truth--HaKol Talui Be--it is all dependent upon me.  HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, Z’tl, teaches that this great sinner became known as ‘Rebbi’ because he taught us all how to do Teshuvah--it is HaKol Talui Be--realizing that it is all dependent upon me.  This is the essence of one’s Kabbalos!





Special Note One:  Today we conclude with our series on Shemone Esrei--with the very last phrases of Elokai Netzor:


A.  Immediately preceding recitation of Yehiyu L’Ratzon, many have the custom of reciting the Pasuk/ Pesukim which begins with the first letter of their name(s), and ends with the last letter of their name(s).  The Chofetz Chaim in Sefer Shemiras Halashon (II:9) provides a detailed explanation for this custom:


B.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 122, seif katan 8) brings from the Sefer Chayei Adam that there are now other additional personal requests that a person should make daily at this point in the davening--and if one cannot make them well in Lashon HaKodesh, he can make them in another language--as long as they come 'mikiros libo--from the depths of his heart'!


C.  We then take three steps back in a singular bowed position, and after having taken the three steps back, we turn to our left (bowed) and recite “Oseh Shalom Bimromav”, then turn to our right (bowed) and  recite “Hu Ya’aseh Shalom Aleinu”, and then face ahead (bowed) and recite the words “Ve'Al Kol Yisroel VeImru Amen.”  With these words and this action, we leave the presence of the King in a most respectful manner--and once again noticeably asking for Shalom--as we do at the end of Birkas Kohanim, in the last Bracha of Shemone Esrei, at the end of  Kaddish, and at the end of Birkas HaMazon.  For additional amazing reasons for taking three steps back, see Bais Yosef to Tur Shulchan Aruch 123, and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 123: Mishna Berurah, seif katan 2.


D.  We then conclude with the Yehi Ratzon that the Bais HaMikdash be rebuilt so that our Avodah can be fulfilled in its highest and its most pristine form in the Bais HaMikdash--for we know that “VeArva LaHashem Minchas Yehuda V’Yerushalayim--this will be the most pleasant thing for Hashem and, accordingly, this is our most sought after Avodah!



Special Note Two: We provide several additional, final notes from the Sefer Kovetz Halachos: Yomim Noraim  by Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita, containing the pesokim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita.  After studying these pesokim, one should, of course, in all events consult with his Rav with respect to his own personal situation, circumstances, or Minhagim: 


A.  A minor who eats on Yom Kippur does not make Kiddush, but it would seem that he should make a bracha of Borei Pri HaGafen on grape juice.  Hakhel Note:  In Children in Halacha,  Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita, writes:  “When a child eats on Yom Kippur, Kiddush is not recited prior to eating.  A child should recite Ya’aleh V’Yavo (for Yom Kippur), but does not repeat Birkas HaMazon if he forgets to.”[The same would appear to be true for a Choleh who must eat on Yom Kippur]. 


B.  If a person arises before Amud HaShachar (which is quite late this year--in New York approximately 5:36 AM, assuming it is 72 minutes before HaNetz HaChama), one should wash his hands again after Amud HaShachar even on Yom Kippur, where there is otherwise an issur of rechitza.


C.  Women who attend Shul should recite Kol Nidrei together with the Shaliach Tzibbur just as men do, but anyone davening at home does not recite Kol Nidrei.


D.  If there is a break in Shul between Mussaf and Mincha, and one takes off his Talis--he involves himself in a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether he should make a new Bracha when putting the Talis back on again.  Accordingly, it is best for one to have in mind when putting on his Talis in the morning that that the bracha is only covering his initial wearing--so that any subsequent levisha will definitely require a new bracha.


E.  There is an issue as to whether one makes an Al HaGefen on the Havdalah wine, as he plans to eat a meal immediately after Havdalah.  If one does not intend to drink wine in this Seudah, then he does make an Al HaGefen on the Kos Shel Havdalah before the Seudah. 



Special Note Three:  Rebbe Yisrael Salanter, Z'tl, would advise his talmidim to daven on EREV YOM KIPPUR that they utilize Yom Kippur to its fullest!




A.  It is a Mitzvas Asei from the Torah to eat today, on Erev Yom Kippur.  Rabbi Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita, points out that since one ordinarily eats during the day, it would not be clear that one is eating L’Sheim Mitzvah--unless he so expresses it before eating; after all--Mitzvos Tserichos Kavannah--we require Kavannah in order to fulfill the Torah commandments.  Accordingly, in addition to one’s careful brachos today, it would be appropriate for him to state in Lashon HaKodesh or in another language: “I am eating now to fulfill the Mitzvah of eating on Erev Yom Kippur!”


B.  The Chayei Adam (Chapter 143) presents a tremendous amount of essential ideas, and we once again urge you to review the Chapter today.   Here, we very briefly summarize just a few of the concepts:  (a) The Pasuk states Lifnei Hashem Titharu--before Hashem shall you cleanse yourself.  Accordingly, it is essential that we begin our purification process before Yom Kippur begins --now!  (b) The sin of Lashon Hora is so horrific that it leads to the three cardinal sins of Shefichas Domim, Gilui Arayos and Avodah Zara.  This sorry point we learn from the Nachash who spoke Lashon Hora against Hashem--which led to all 3 of the devastating sins. (c)  One who causes pain or anguish to an Almanah or Yasom is liable to Missah B’Yedei Shomayim.  (d) In accordance with one’s increased Torah study will be his increased service of Hashem.  (e) One Cannot recite Vidui on a Bain Adam LeChaveiro sin unless he first appeases his friend. (f) Based upon Tehillim (51:19), reciting Vidui with proper remorse is as if one brought a Karbon in the Bais HaMikdash.  (g) One way to begin one’s remorse is with the words “Mah Assisi--oh what have I done!” A person must view  himself as a true sinner, and be truly sorry for what he has done for the Vidui to be effective.


C.  The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva (6:2) provides the following inescapable conclusion: “Kishem SheHaAdam Chotei Mida’ato U’Veretzono, Kach Hu Oseh Teshuva Mida’ato U’Veretzono--just as one sins by his own knowledge and his own election, so too can he do Teshvua by his own knowledge and his own election!”


D. We must remember to do one final search of our monetary matters before Yom Kippur.  The Mishna 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 Mishna 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.



Special Note Four:  YOM KIPPUR ALERTS:


A.  IMPORTANT!  We once again 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.


B.  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!


C.  Clearly, Tefillah is a great Avodas HaYom of Yom Kippur.  It is absolutely imperative for us to daven (on Yom Kippur—and every day) 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?!


D.  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.  Let us be sure to recite this pizmon with special attention and care.


E.  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (133:21) writes that the reason for Yizkor on Yom Kippur is not only because thinking about the departed humbles one’s heart, but also because the deceased also need a Kapparah.  It is for this reason that we give Tzedaka in their merit--Hashem viewing it as their own giving-- viewing it as 'if he were still alive he would have given this as well'.  Those who are alive can also ask that Hashem ease the judgment of the departed, just as Dovid HaMelech davened for Avshalom.  The departed can also be Melitzei Yosher for us in our judgment--we do not daven to them but we ask them to daven on our behalf, perhaps in the merit of our following in their ways. 


F.  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 Bais 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.  Indeed, the great majority of Mesechta Yoma, the Mesechta of Yom Kippur, discusses the Avodah in the Bais HaMikdash.  We, of course, bow down during the Chazaras HaShatz of Mussaf, just so that we have a touch of the Avodah that we so long for.  It is said of the Chasam Sofer that when he recited the Avodah at Mussaf he would cry so powerfully that the pages of his Machzor would stick together from the saturation of his tears.  Accordingly, although we may be weary at this point of a Yom Kippur service it very much behooves us to put our efforts into recitation of the Avodah with feeling and longing for the great Kapparah and Deveikus that it effected.  Imagine being there as the Kohein Gadol expressed Hashem’s Ineffable Name ten times on Yom Kippur.  We note that, in describing the Kohein Gadol’s mentioning of this Name, the Mishnah states that the Name was Yotzei MiPi Kohein Gadol--it came out of the Kohein Gadol’s mouth.  The Tiferes Yisrael on the Mishna explains that the Kohein Gadol did not even speak--rather, it was the Shechina keviyachol reciting the Name out of the Kohein Gadol’s throat!  Oh--how we must long to be there!


G.  One of the Avodos of the Kohein Gadol was to sprinkle the blood in the Kodesh HaKodoshim and on the Paroches “Achas LeMa’alah V’Sheva L’Matta--once in an upward fashion and seven times in a downward fashion.  Some explain that the one upwards motion symbolizes our following the Yetzer HaTov--whose one instructions elevates us towards the heavens.  On the other hand, as Chazal teach, the Yetzer Hara has seven names--representing that he can ‘take us down’ in several different ways.  Accordingly, it is of the essence that we focus on the Achas LeMa’alah--and with that we can overcome its multiple counterpart--the Sheva L’Matta.


H.  Finally, in the Yom Kippur davening we emphasize that Hashem is a Salchan and a Machlan.  What does the extra nun at the end of each of these words come to indicate--why don’t we say that Hashem is simply a Soleiach and a Mochel?  The Sefer Otzros HaTorah explains that the extra nun indicates a hanhaga temidis--that this is a constant and recurring Middah of Hashem.  Thus, even if a person falls back to a sin time and again--as long as he was truly sincere, expressed true remorse, and with a full heart was mekabel not to do it again--then Hashem will be a Salchan and a Malchan--and continuously grant new forgiveness!  The old aveiros are gone.  Any new aveiros can be wiped out by  Hashem with our new Teshuva--for he is a Salchan and a Machlan!



Special Note Five:  We provide important points and pointers relating to Neilah:


A.  The Sefer Otzros HaTorah writes that the end of Yom Kippur, when the gates close, brings a Shefa Gadol along with it, for a climax or a conclusion is always a time of greatest intensity.  For instance, as the Midrash Shochar Tov teaches, before Alos HaShachar is the time when the night is darkest.  Similarly, at the end of days will the Yetzer Hora be at its strongest--for it is about to reach the end of its purpose. So too, is the Shefa of Kaparas Yom HaKippurim greatest during these last moments of Neilah.  Over the last 40 days, Days of Mercy, we have davened and pleaded, done Teshuva and given Tzedaka.  We have, to use the Mashal of the Maggid M’Lublin, shot all of our arrows but one.  There is a lion on the other side of the grass and there is one arrow left--this is Tefillas Neilah.  Our lives depend upon how powerfully we deliver our final arrow! 


B.  Sent to us from  the ‘Flatbush Chabura’:  “Rav Avrohom Schorr, Shlita, brings from the Meshech Chochma that while there usually is no kapara for Chilul Hashem except at the end of a person's life (through constant Kiddush Hashem and Limud HaTorah are brought by the seforim as being a kapara), at the time of Neilah when Hashem is Don Yechidi (judges all by Himself) , if one has done proper Teshuva through charata and bechi (crying) one can gain mechila EVEN for Chilul Hashem. This gives us some insight into the amazing power of the time of Neilah!”


 C.  A great theme of Tefillas Neilah is LeMa’an Nechdal MeiOshek Yadeinu-- that we have no thievery or the taking of another’s possessions left among us (as we know this is what the Dor HaMabul’s final cause of destruction was).  Accordingly, the Chofetz Chaim warns everyone to seriously consider and reflect upon whether he has something that really belongs to someone else in his possession and make immediate decisions to rectify the situation. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Z’tl (Boston, RIETS) additionally notes that the thievery we may be referring to is our stealing from Hashem, our people and ourselves--by not living up to our purpose in life.  At Neilah, we proclaim that we will no longer follow that sorry, past route--and that we fully intend to live up to Hashem’s expectations of us! 


D.  We conclude Neilah with the phrase Hashem Hu HaElokim seven times--as with these words the Shechinah is escorted back up through the Seven Rekiyim.  It is essential for us to realize that this is the phrase that all of the people on Har HaCarmel recited when Eliyahu defeated the nevi’ei haba’al--with Hashem’s acceptance of his sacrifice.  We must realize that we are now in a similar position.  The ‘ba’al’ is behind us--Hashem has accepted our Karbon--and we intend to forever and ever tread on a new and successful path in His Avodah!


E.  One should also remember that on Motza’ei Yom Kippur he will be enjoying a Seudas “Yom Tov”.


F.  May we suggest that even if one does not have a Yeshiva Mai Chayil El Chayil in his community that he still demonstrate his new goals and aspirations by setting aside time for Torah study after the Seudah.  This is dedication--this is rededication!  






8 Tishrei





1.  “Thank you for the reminder about watching our speech. Often, the problem is impulsiveness, we speak before we think. I once heard the acronym, that before one says something, he should THINK:


T=is it thoughtful, truthful
H=is it helpful
I=is it inspiring (or will it incite)
N=is it nice
K=is it kind

Unless one can answer yes to these questions, one should not say anything. I’ve used this acronym, and it allows me the 5 seconds to pause, not be impulsive, and watch my words.”

2. “I heard Tzipporah Harris, the originator of the “Ahavas Yisrael Chaburos” express the following thought-In the physical world, closeness is measured by proximity. In the spiritual world, closeness is measured by how similar one is to something. Hence, although physically, I am closer to the chair I am sitting on, spiritually; I am closer to a Yid in another country, because I am more similar to him spiritually. So, the more similar I am to Hashem, the closer I am to Him. Hence, the more I emulate Hashem (by becoming kind, patient, slow to anger, tolerant, etc.) and by working on my middos, the closer I will be to Him.”  Hakhel Note:  See our link and note to the Thirteen Middos in Special Note One, Item F below.




Special Note One:  We provide the following important links for you to print out and further distribute for Yom Kippur, as we have done in the past:


A.  Click here for the extremely essential words of the Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvoda relating to Inui on Yom Kippur--and what to think about if one starts to become hungry or thirsty.  


B.  Click here for the 5773 V’Ani Tefillah Foundation Yom Kippur Worldwide Initiative Flyer regarding  a great opportunity to acquire additional zechusim on Yom Kippur itself-- incomparable zechusim on the Holiest Day of the Year--when we need them most!: 


C.  We received an important message based upon the words of the Chofetz Chaim, which also includes extremely valuable words of Chizuk and encouragement.  If one does not have time to read all of the text, we highly recommend that one at least read the words of Chizuk and encouragement, which are so noge’ah lema’aseh.  The message is available by clicking here.


D.  Click here for a Vidui Card in Lashon HaKodesh with more detailed specification as to possible Aveiros.  Click here for a women's Vidui card in English.


E.  Click here for the Thirteen Middos--The Thirteen Attributes in Lashon HaKodesh.


F.  Click here for the Thirteen Middos--The Thirteen Attributes in English.  Hakhel Note:  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, (Moadim I, p. 214) points out that when reciting the Thirteen Middos, we should feel HaKaras HaTov to Hashem for acting towards us in this way--this, in turn, will inspire us to act with similar middos to others as well(which we should bli neder be mekabel upon ourselves!).


G.  By clicking here, we once again provide a great Tefillah for Teshuvah--which you may insert at the end of your Yom Kippur Shemone Esrei   The Tefillah is published in the Sefer Kav HaYashar for one’s self, one’s family members, and one’s friends to do Teshuva--especially invaluable at this time of year!



Special Note Two:  The following wonderful thought is excerpted from a publication known as TT #385--Vidui: 


“Remember, that Teshuva is one of the greatest gifts of Hashem to us. It is the expression of His Divine Mercy and Love.  If He did not want us to straighten ourselves out, He would simply punish us for transgressions without giving us a second (and third and fourth and fifth...) chance to repent. Our motivations for Teshuva should be fear AND love of Hashem. The challenge is awesome, but it is always possible for one to change for the better. Step by step, a bit at a time. Never be discouraged by what seems to be too formidable a task. Be encouraged by the fact that this is what Hashem wants of us--not to punish us, but for us to return to Him in strengthened faith, in better performance of Mitzvos--qualitatively and quantitatively, and to more carefully avoid the pitfalls of sin--between Hashem and ourselves and in our interpersonal relationships.



Special Note Three:  We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times.   Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 3 and 4:


3. Lo Yimatzeih Chometz--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from finding Chometz in his possession.  If one moves something which had turned Chometz into his home, or if he purchases Chometz and ‘puts it away’ for later use, he receives malkos twice--for he has violated both Ba’al Yaira’eh and Ba’al Yimatzeih.  If he left the Chometz in his possession without doing a physical act to bring it into his possession, then he still violates both Ba’al Yaira’eh and Ba’al Yimatzeih, but he does not receive malkos. It is forbidden to derive benefit from Chometz which was left in a person’s possession over Pesach even beshogeg (unintentionally). This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times and to men and women alike. 


4. Lo Le'echol Chometz--this is the Mitzvas Asei which prohibits one from eating or deriving benefit from Chometz on Pesach.  One who eats a kezayis of Chometz on Pesach intentionally is chayav kareis, and beshogeg must bring a korban chatas.  One who eats less than a kezayis intentionally receives makas mardus.  The same Halachos would apply if one liquified the Chometz as well. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times and to men and women alike. 



Special Four: We continue to review our personal requests after Shemone Esrei:  Today, we continue with the phrase:  “LeMa’an Yeichaletzun Yedidecha Hoshiah Yiminecha VeAneini--so that Your beloved one may be saved--let Your right hand save and respond to me.”  As we are about to conclude Shemone Esrei, with these six words we make a very powerful request--for with these words, the Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah explains, we are asking Hashem to save us from all Tzaros, that Hashem save us by Nes--open miracle (which is symbolized by Hashem’s right hand), and in the final word, we call out “VeAneini--Hashem please answer my Tefillah.”  Let us remember that Yom Kippur is referred to as Yishi--the day of my Yeshuah.  We have a chance every day with these words to ask for Hashem’s Yeshuah as well.  Certainly in these few days before Yom Kippur and on Yom Kippur itself we should instill spirited Kavannah into LeMa’an Yeichaletzun Yididecha Hoshiah Yiminecha VeAneini!



Special Note Five:  By this time one should be placing some focus on bli neder his Kabbalos for the coming year.  May we suggest that there should be at least one Kabbalah in each of the following areas:  Bain Adam LaMakom, Bain Adam L’Chaveiro, and Bain Adam L’Atzmo.

Hakhel Note:  It is well known that Rav Pam Z’TL would urge his talmidim to keep a ‘kabalos card’ which listed the initiatives that each person took upon himself in his Teshuvah process. The kabalos card could either serve as a personal diary of success, or at least a written Teshuvah reminder to be viewed regularly. As in the past, we provide you below with some sample kabalos, both Bain Adam LaMakom and Bain Adam L’Chaveiro from which you may choose.  With respect to Bain Adam L’Atzmo--a person must look deeply into himself and decide which Middah it is that needs the most improvement--improving in Sever Panim Yaffos, the areas of ka’as, ta’avah, hakpadah…. Here, we leave it up to a person’s literal soul-searching of his own. Remember, the inescapable reality-that the ability to do Teshuvah is in your hands alone!


Bain Adam LaMakom

Have Kavana in the first p’sukim of Sh’ma

Bench slowly from a bencher

Keep a brief diary of your mitzvos/aveiros at the end of the day

Learn at least one halacha a day

Have Kavana in the first bracha of Shemone Esrei

Avoid talking politics/sports/business or about people at the Shabbos table

Say Asher Yotzar with Kavana at least once a day

Refrain from reading secular newspapers or magazines

Say Modim with Kavana for all the goodness given by Hashem

Establish a seder in learning before going to work

Daven all three tefilos with a minyan

Begin learning Hilchos Shabbos from any sefer


Bain Adam L’Chaveiro

Make a list of cholim and say Tehillim every day for them

Speak courteously (hello, please, thank you, Good Shabbos) to your family and strangers

Help a single person with a shidduch

Especially guard your tongue from Lashon Hora for at least one designated hour a day

Do a chesed that nobody knows about once a day

Avoid making a sharp, angry or witty remark at least one time a day

Stand up for rabbonim, parents or elders

Compliment someone at least one time a day

Compromise with others/ judge others favorably at least once a day

Give tzedaka every time you raise your voice or speak Lashon Hora

Learn the halachos of bein adam l’chaveiro (bikur cholim, shmiras halashon, nichum aveilim, etc.)


On the Bain Adam L’Chaveiro level, may we remind everyone of the Chofetz Chaim’s teaching that in the future everyone will be healed--except for the Ba’al Lashon Hara!


A final thought on our Kabalos: Remember, the Torah tells us “U’Vacharta BaChaim—Choose Life”. Incredibly, Hashem puts our lives in our own hands.



Special Note Six:  Please remember VeTalmud Torah K’negged Kulam.  We remind everyone that a person can utilize his own resources to help increase his joy in Torah learning.  For instance, some have the habit of vigorously (or even gently) shaking their legs to and fro as they sit and learn.  This may create an aura of nervousness and impatience which is antithesis of happiness in Torah study.  Thus, may we suggest that a person try to curb his habit in this regard.  Others may have the custom of keeping their blackberries handy and examining the cause of its vibration every few minutes.  If one wants to express and appreciate his Torah learning, he may want to try the exercise of keeping his phone on silent or turned off from the time he is in Shiur or otherwise occupied with Torah study.  Hakhel Note:  The story is told of how HaRav Aryeh Levin, Z’tl, wanted to visit some Jewish visitors being held by the British.  The British guard on duty would not let them in that day.  The Jewish guard who was working together with the British guard advised the Britain that the Rabbi was a righteous person and simply wanted to visit the prisoners out of the goodness of his heart--and that it was wrong not to let him in.  The Britain mocked him and said that he was obviously a salaried worker who was happy to go home while still getting paid.  A few minutes later they noticed HaRav Levin sneaking into the compound through a different door when he thought no one was looking.  The Britain remarked:  “Now I see that he is a righteous person--and he is not doing it for the money!”  We must realize that it is the extra effort that distinguishes between our ‘having to do something’ and the love of Torah and Mitzvos that should truly be part of our fiber and being!



Special Note Seven:  We provide a few brief notes below from the Sefer Kovetz Halachos:  Yomim Noraim by Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita, containing the pesokim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita:


1.  One performing Kapparos on behalf of another (moving the chicken, fish or money around his head) and reciting ‘Zeh Chalifaseich’ should first recite Kapparos for himself--so that one who already Zakkai can come and help someone else become Zakkai. 


2.  If one knows that his friend does not perform Kapparos--it does not appear that it will help to perform Kapparos on his behalf without his knowledge.


3.  A child over the age of nine who will at least fast for a portion of Yom Kippur should also be educated on the importance of eating Erev Yom Kippur.


4.  Both a father and the mother should bentsch a child on Erev Yom Kippur. 


5.  It is better for the one being blessed to be in close proximity to the one giving the blessing, but the bracha may be given at a distance as well. 


6.  If one embarrassed his friend in public, one must ask for his mechila in public as well.  However, it is enough to ask for mechila in front of ten people even if he embarrassed him in front of more than ten people. 


7.  Not only should spouses ask mechila of each other, but family members should ask mechila of each other as well, for through the course of the year they may hurt each other in some way. 


8.  One should ask mechila of a child whom he hurt or embarrassed--even thought he must do so again when he becomes bar/bas mitzvah in order to obtain forgiveness. 


9.  Each time we recite Vidui it is a separate Mitzvah, and one should have Kavannah that he is being mekayem the Mitzvas Asei Min HaTorah of Vidui.  One Vidui is not me’akev any other.  Children should also be taught to recite Vidui.  In the aggregate, one who recites Vidui in shul will have recited ten Viduim which, the Tur (Orach Chaim 620) writes corresponds to the ten times that the Kohein Gadol mentions the Ineffable Name on Yom Kippur.  If a person is davening at home, he need not make up the Viduim that would be otherwise recited in Chazaras HaShatz.  


10.  VaEl Kulam Eloak Selichos is not part of the Vidui, and need not be recited in a bowed position.


11.  If one recites the details of various sins found in alphabetical order in the Chayei Adam (Chapter 143), it would be considered as if he is specifically listing his sins.  Of course, one should add any specific sins that he remembers.  When one adds his own specifics sins in his own language, he may be more sincere and embarrassed, and feel greater remorse about his sin. 


12.  One beats his chest when reciting the words of Ashamnu as well as when reciting the words Shechatanu in the Al Chait, and the words Al Chatayim at the end of the Al Chait.  Additionally, one should also beat his chest when mentioning any specific sin that he adds on his own. 


13.  Some have the custom not to wear gold objects on Yom Kippur.  This would not include white gold, nor would it include anything which may look like gold, but is not truly gold. 


14.  One who has the custom of washing his hands four times when he wakes in the morning, should only wash three times on Yom Kippur, and one who has the custom of washing three times upon leaving the bathroom, should only wash once.  One should not use deodorant, as it is considered Sicha on Yom Kippur.


15.  Women should also recite Tefillas Zaka, and skip the parts that do not relate to them.  Women who go to Shul should also be careful not to recite Shehechiyanu twice.


16.  One should bring himself to cry in his Tefillos on Yom Kippur and should be sure to express his personal requests to Hashem. 



 Special Note Eight:  Some ask why there is no bracha on the Mitzvah of Teshuva.  The wonderful Sefer Otzros HaTorah brings several answers:  (a) The Bais Yitzchak writes that it would be inappropriate to say the words VeTzivanu Al HaTeshuva--which would indicate that we would not want to do Teshuva unless we were commanded to do so, (b) The Divrei Yisrael writes that this is a Mitzvah that applies to all nations and not only the Jewish people, and therefore Asher Kideshanu B’Mitzvosav would not be accurate in this context, (c) The Pardes Yosef writes that the Ikar Mitzvah of Teshuva is in the heart and that Chazal did not institute brachos over Mitzvos of the heart, (d) The Pardes Yosef brings as a second approach--we do not make a bracha over Mitzvos which are related to Aveiros.  For instance, when returning a stolen item and fulfilling a Mitzvas Asei of VeHeishiv Es HaGezeilah we do not make a bracha.  So too does Teshuva originate from a sin initially committed, and so a bracha would be inappropriate.



Special Note Nine:  The Chofetz Chaim provides an amazing Mashal.  A merchant came to a wholesaler and put together an order of $100,000.  When it was time to pay he explained that he did not have the money, but would like to purchase all of this on credit.  Based upon the wholesaler’s experience with this merchant’s slow payments in the past, the wholesaler wholly rejected the request.  However, after much prodding and pleading, he was about to give in.  His salesman and workers stopped him--explaining to him that it would cost him untold aggravation, time and money.  The wholesaler was in a quandary--should he listen to the merchant with the poor credit record, but who was in dire need of making a living--or to his loyal workers?!  At that moment, a wise man walked in and the wholesaler immediately asked him what to do.  The wise man turned to the merchant in need of a livelihood and asked him if he had $5,000.  The response was affirmative.  He advised the merchant not to buy anything on credit, but instead to buy $5,000 worth of goods.  When he sold those and made money he could come back and buy $7,500 in goods.  No credit would be necessary.  The merchant would buy for cash and the wholesaler and all of his loyal employees would be happy.  The Nimshal:  We ask Hashem for credit, saying we will do better in the future, but the Malachim vehemently argue against us, pointing to our past record.  Our Rabbanim, the wise men ,tell us to do Teshuva in areas and ways where we can accomplish, in ‘cash’, little by little building up our business on our own--so that everyone is pleased--and everyone is happy! 


Special Note Ten:  In the physical world, as runners get closer and closer to the finish line, they do not slow down or sway to the side out of exhaustion or abandonment--but stay very much on the path, putting in their extra full strength for the most successful finish possible.  We should apply our knowledge of this fact to the Real World situation immediately ahead of us--which will have eternal and everlasting effects!


B’EH, we intend to publish a Bulletin on Erev Yom Kippur with some important additional points for Yom Kippur itself.  If you have the time or ability, please look out for it.



5 Tishrei

Special Note One:  We continue to review our personal requests after Shemone Esrei:  Today, we begin with the phrase: “P’sach Libi BeSoresecha U’VeMitzvosecha Tirdof Nafshi --open my heart to Your Torah and may my soul pursue Your commandments.”  Here, we ask not only that we be given the ability to study--but that Hashem open our hearts so that our study is successful and fulfilling.  We then ask for Hashem’s assistance not only to perform the Mitzvos--but to pursue the Mitzvos--which indicates a true understanding and appreciation of them.  When one cherishes something, he runs after it.  We then continue to plead with Hashem as follows:  VeChol HaChoshevim Alai Ra’ah Meheirah Hafer Atzasam VeKalkel Machshevasam--and for those who intend to do me harm, speedily void their plans and spoil their intentions.”  What an important request--especially at a time when different enemies--from terrorists to so-called world leaders seek to r’l harm us, if not r’l obliterate us.  Here is our opportunity, daily--three times a day-to ask Hashem to thwart their intentions.  Why should their designs be deterred?  Asei LeMa’an Shemecha, Asei LeMa’an Yeminecha, Asei LeMa’an Kedushasecha, Asei LeMa’an Torasecha--if not for our sake, so that Kiddush Hashem will prevail in the world, with everyone recognizing the Malchus of Hashem, and the world is once and for all brought to its fulfillment!”



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


A.  There is a wonderful Shabbos newsletter prepared by the Pirchei Agudas Yisroel of Kensington which contains Torah thoughts, lessons from Gedolim, and Halachos.  It is available at no charge by email. To subscribe, email: chanie613@gmail.com


B.  The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 423, seif katan 2) writes that on each one of the days of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva a person should look into his ways relating to his activities over the year on that particular day of the week.  Perhaps this is easiest to do for Shabbos, in which a person’s schedule and activities are usually fixed.  A person should reflect:  What mistakes did I make in Hilchos Shabbos last year?  What improvement will I make to my Shabbos table?  Will I start to sing some additional zemiros?  Will I try to have more guests over?  How can I improve my Shabbos Tefillos?  What special Parshas Hashavua commentary will I bli neder undertake this year? Will I be careful to eat Melave Malka on Motza’ei Shabbos?  This Shabbos is the time to have these special thoughts and make some Shabbos decisions!   Hakhel Note:  As this is the first Shabbos of the year--let us make sure bli neder that we are mekabel Shabbos on-time--or even a few minutes before the time.  May it be a Siman Tov for one’s Kabbalas Shabbos for the rest of the year!


C. This week’s Parsha contains the Mitzvah of Hakhel--may we all live to see its true fulfillment!



Special Note Three:  In this week’s Parsha (Devorim 31:19) we learn that Moshe was instructed to “Sima Befihem--to put the Torah into our mouths.”  A Rav once explained that just as with a person who can be fed by others, but must swallow on his own, so, too, can the Torah (with all of the modern technological advancements and publications which assist us) be placed into our mouth--but we still must ingest it on our own!  Along these lines, HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, explains why the Torah is suddenly referred to as Shira in the Parsha--especially when it comes to the Mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah.  If we were to simply view Torah study as a requirement, an obligation, the right thing to do, or the like--then it is not a Shira, a song to us, and it will be difficult for it to be ‘written’--to have a Kiyum within us, and for the next generation.  We should reflect upon and appreciate the beauty and sweetness of Torah--the Shira of Torah!  For this is Torah study that is ‘written down’--that lasts and is everlasting!





A.  In Birchos HaShachar one thanks Hashem for taking care of all of my needs--She’asah Li Kol Tzarki.  What a wonderful inspiration for one to remember daily--Hashem is there to take care of me and all that I really need!  Is it not, then,  my responsibility to spend some time and effort considering how I can act differently, how I can change for the better--in honor of Hashem!


B.  U’Chesov LeChaim Tovim Kol Bnei Brisecha--inscribe all the children of Your covenant for good life.”  What is ‘good life’?  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah explains that it is a life in this world which will be prove to be good for Olam Haba. 


C.  The following points are excerpted from Nachpesah Deracheinu VeNachkora--a pamphlet issued in Lakewood , which is available (in Hebrew) by clicking here.


1.  The Aseres Yemei Teshuva are different than the other days of the year, in that during these hallowed days, Hashem actually wakes us up to do Teshuvah, while throughout the year a person must initiate the process in some way on his own (Sefer Ya’aros Devash, 1:1).  This is the meaning of the Pasuk that we recited on Tzom Gedailah and that we have recited in the Selichos:  Dirshu Hashem BeHimatzo”(Yeshaya 55:6) --Hashem presents Himself to us now without our having to find Him. If a person would take the matter seriously, he would realize that his heart is actually yearning for Teshuvah during these days.  Hakhel Note:  Imagine that HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, or HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Z’tl, came into the room to wake you up--wouldn’t you spring out of bed?!  Here we have the Melech Malchei HaMelochim Who has come to wake us up--let us jump at the opportunity!


2.  We must search our ways--this may be difficult not only because it involves real thought, but also because people forget what they do, and also repress what they have done--or at least the seriousness of it.  It is for this reason that the expanded version of the Vidui (such as that of the Chida or the Chayei Adam) have been published.  On the above link, one will find an expanded Vidui for one to reflect upon.  One should use it to take notes on what he would specifically like to correct, and a plan on how he will do so. 


3.  The reason that one recites Vidui even over sins that he believes he did not commit is threefold:  (1) Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh LaZeh--we are all responsible for each other, and so we must ask forgiveness for our mutual aveiros; (2) One may have committed the sin in a previous gilgul; and (3) One may have committed the sin, and not have focused or remembered it.


Hakhel Note:  As noted above, if you can free yourself of an Aveira--you will still be reciting the Vidui on behalf of someone else (as Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh LaZeh)--so you will be fulfilling an additional mitzvah of VeAhavta LeRayacha Komocha!



D.  The Rambam in Chapter 4 of Hilchos Teshuvah brings 24 items which are me’akev (hold back, or limit a person’s ability to do) Teshuvah.  One of them is HaPoresh Min HaTzibbur--someone who separates himself from doing a Mitzvah together with the community, for he lacks the collective merit that they have engendered.  Another is Sonei Es HaTochachos--one’s failure to listen to and apply the words of Mussar that are related to him (everyone should grow from the Shabbos Shuvah Drasha that he will hear tomorrow--and realize that they are directed to him).  A third me’akev is one who allows himself to be honored at the expense of another person (even if that person is not there, and even if the other person is not embarrassed).  The last item listed by the Rambam is HaMischaber LeRasha--one who associates with a person who sins--for the association leaves a mark whether or not one realizes it.  If we think about it a bit, we all can stay further away from one person or another of this sort.  See the Rambam there for the complete important listing of items which are me’akev Teshuvah).  Hakhel Note:  If one’s car would not go over 20 miles per hour and he did a lot of highway driving, would he not take the car in for repair?  The 24 items which are me’akev Teshuvah simply do not let us get up to the speed we need to be at! 


E.  The period that we are in is a serious one and should be treated as such.  One should think twice before joking around or acting with levity in order to ‘lighten the mood’. 


F.  In this week’s Haftarah, the Navi Hoshea (14:2,3), after urging us to do Teshuva (Shuva Yisroel!) immediately instructs us on how to do Teshuva with the words “Kechu Imachem Devorim Veshuvu El Hashem--take words with you and return to Hashem.  One must take his words with him--he must realize (as the Vidui Booklet points out) that a GREAT NUMBER of the sins he will mention in the Vidui of Yom Kippur have to do with misuse and abuse of that great power that distinguishes man from animal--the power of speech.  The Chofetz Chaim teaches that if we are more circumspect with our speech, we can be free of the following Issurim:


1. Lashon Hara--brings many, many other aveiros along with it and can destroy relationships, families and lives

2. Rechilus--as above, and perhaps even more hurtful to the person

3. Sheker-while Hashem’s seal is Emes!

4. Chanufa--including egging on...’you’re right!’

5. Laitzanus--mockery, poking fun, ridicule

6. Ona’as Devorim--hurtful or insulting words

7. Halbanas Panim--embarrassing another in public causes one to forfeit his share in Olam Haba

8.  Divrei Ga’avah--words of arrogance--even though the real sign of greatness is humility (Iggeres Haramban)

9.  Divrei Machlokes--fighting, argumentative words

10.  Divrei Ka’as--words of anger that you won’t be able to take back.


Perhaps one can keep this list around near a place(s) where he can look at it before he is about to make a statement or comment, or have a conversation, that is not within the usual manner of speech.  Remember the VERY FIRST words of instruction of the Navi--Kechu Imachem Devorim--VeShuvu el Hashem!  May you hear your success--with your very own ears! 



G.  We must remember and spend some time working out the “Aveiros Kalos”--the so-called lesser transgressions.  The Shaarei Teshuva ( 1:38 ) explains why.  Firstly, one 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, r’l, 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!


H.  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


I.  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.”


J.  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 BiSeshuva 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 Mi Shebeirach 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.


K.  We highly recommend that one not wait until Tuesday evening to take out his Vidui Booklet/Machzor, but instead begin to review some of the details of what one will be confessing so as not to “surprise” himself on Yom Kippur.  When preparing for Yom Kippur, and certainly on Yom Kippur itself, when one recognizes or brings to mind a sin which he has particularly transgressed, he should certainly stop and feel remorse for it.  In the Yom Kippur davening, we will recite, “K’Dalim U’Chrashim Dafaknu Dilasecha.”  This means that we should view ourselves before Hashem as, r’l, 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!




4 Tishrei

Special Note One:  Having concluded the Mitzvos Asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times, as set forth in his Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, we B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times.   Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 1 and 2:


1.  Gid HaNasheh--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits our eating the Gid HaNasheh.  The Mitzvah is applicable to Kosher Beheimos and Chayos (the right and left thighs). There are different parts to the Gid--one closer to the bone which is assur Min HaTorah, and other parts which are assur MiD’Rabanan.  If a person eats a Gid from a Kosher animal which was a neveilah (it was not shechted properly), or a treifah (it was going to die on its own), he has violated two Lo Sa’asehs.  This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times and to men and women alike.


2.  Lo Yaira’eh Chometz--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from having Chometz visible in his possession for the seven days of Pesach.  This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times and to men and women alike.



Special Note Two: We continue to review our personal requests after Shemone Esrei:  Today, we begin with the phrase:  Elokai Netzor Leshoni Mairah U’Sefasai MiDaber Mirmah--Hashem, guard my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking deceitfully.”  This request is obviously based on the very similar Pasuk in Tehillim (34:13):  Netzor Leshonecha Mairah U’Sefasecha MiDabeir Mirmah.”  It is extremely important for us to realize the two Pesukim which precede this Pasuk (Pesukim 12 and 13).  There, Dovid HaMelech writes:  Lechu Bonim Shimu Li Yiras Hashem Alamedchem Mi HaIsh HaChofetz Chaim Ohev Yamim Liros Tov…the fear of Hashem I will teach you, who is the man that desires life who loves days of seeing good.”  Startlingly, then, the Pasuk of Netzor Leshonecha Mairah answers two questions--how does one attain Yiras Hashem and who is one who wants life.  It is no small wonder, then, that at the very top of our personal requests, we ask for Hashem’s assistance with what we say and how we say it.  With this assistance, we will be on the road to Yiras Hashem and Chayim itself!  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, adds that over the Shemone Esrei we have used our mouth for very positive things--our expressions of thanks and our requests to Hashem as the Source of all.  We accordingly ask Hashem that we continue to use our mouths properly even as we conclude this Tefillah.  Next, we continue with the phrase:  VeLimkalelai Nafshi Sidom VeNafshi Keafar Lakol Tihiyeh--and regarding those who curse me let my soul be silent, and let my soul be like dust to everyone.”  We ask here for Hashem’s help in gaining humility--not responding to those who attack us even for no good reason, and furthermore, meriting not even to feel pain from the intended insult or words of hurt.  Thus, in the first phrase of Elokai Netzor, we davened for protection for our mouths--and in this phrase we daven for protection from the mouths of others.  As the classic Vidui booklet points out, sins of speech constitute a substantial portion of the sins we will be reciting Vidui about on Yom Kippur.  Our sincere Tefillos now--in Elokai Netzor--can go a long way towards demonstrating our sincerity in improving our ways! 



Special Note Three:  At what special occasions in the future will the Shofar be blown?  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah brings from Rebbi Yehuda HaChassid that there will be three times that a great Shofar will be blown:  (i) at Techiyas HaMeisim, (ii) at Kibutz Galiyos, and (iii) in order to bring down the Malchus Edom.  In a wonderful sense our Shofar blowing on Rosh Hashana serves as the bridge between the call of the Shofar at Har Sinai (where the Kol Shofar could actually be seen!), and the ultimate Kol of the Shofaros that we will hear in the great and hopefully very close future!  To the western world the Shofar serves as no match for synthesizers, computerized music and the like--we know better--Ashrei HaAm Yodei Seruah--fortunate is the people that understand the Shofar’s importance--from Har Sinai to eternity! 





A.  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 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 short but directed 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!


B.  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. Hakhel Note:  We had previously asked why we do not recite HaKel HaMelech HaKadosh--simply adding HaMelech after HaKel--which could remain as part of the bracha.  We suggest that the Sifsei Chaim’s important contrast in thought may be a very good  answer!


C.  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.


Additional Note One:  We have already noted the Mishna Berurah who rules that when one forgives another who hurt him intentionally or wantonly--Hashem will also forgive him for his acts of malice as well!


Additional Note Two:  Can one first ask Hashem for forgiveness of a Bein Adam Lechaveiro activity--by reciting Vidui and only afterwards ask the hurt party for forgiveness--or must one first ask of and obtain forgiveness from  the person--and only then come to Hashem and recite Vidui?  The answer will remind you how important asking for forgiveness--especially BEFORE

Yom Kippur--really is!


Additional Note Three:  One who does forgive should forgive with a Lev Shaleim--a complete heart! 


D.  Perhaps the single greatest Nisayon that we face is Mitzvos Anashim Melumada.  We do so many good things, we perform so many nice acts, daily.  But we do so much out of rote and habit--not properly appreciating the greatness and profundity, the everlasting effects, of the Mitzvos that are being performed.  As the Chofetz Chaim points out, a person’s goal in this world is not to perform 70 years of good deeds here, so that he will have 70 years of heavenly bliss in the world to come.  Rather, it is to maximize one’s 120 years here, which will have defining and everlasting effects--forever and ever and ever.  The opportunity of reciting Kriyas Shema, for example, two times today may simply be part of 14 times this week, and many hundreds of times over the course of a year--but each and every Kriyas Shema, each and every Pesukei D’Zimrah, each and every daily Chesed and each and every daily Torah study lasts forever--and its everlasting effects are very much dependent upon the way in which it was performed.  It is for this reason that one may otherwise feel that the ‘Yetzer Hara is ‘leaving me alone’--because he may be relatively satisfied with the banal and/or lackluster performance of Mitzvos.  The Aseres Yemei Teshuvah is a time to reignite and reenergize, to re-appreciate and re-instill within us the invaluable and incomparable gifts of Mitzvos given to us by Hashem daily.  One-by-one, step-by-step, recognize the Melumada--and stamp it out!  The mark of success will literally be everlasting!


E.  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 Rebbi, 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.


F.  The following excellent Kabala is based upon a Shiur given by HaRav Don Segel, Shlita, last year 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.  Hakhel Note:  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!


G.  We learned from the Malchiyos and Zichronos of Rosh Hashana that we are to realize that a real focus of our life should be placed upon Kabalas Ol Malchus Shomayim and the awareness that Hashem watches over us and guides us--and does the same for billions of people in a manner which is beyond our comprehension.  All of this reminds us that Hashem wants us to do good--so that we achieve eternity in the best possible way--and Hashem wants to help us.  To this end, there is a remarkable bracha--the last of the Birchos Hashachar in the morning.  The Bracha begins HaMa’avir Sheinah Mai’einai--thanking Hashem for removing the slumber from one’s eyes and refreshing him to begin a new day--and then proceeds within the bracha to make approximately 20 different requests for Hashem’s help during the day.  The bracha then concludes HaGomel Chassadim Tovim--Who bestows beneficent kindnesses upon His people Yisrael.  We may suggest that if one bli neder accepts upon himself to recite this bracha slowly with Kavannah, asking Hashem for assistance in so much of what happens or could happen throughout the day--one demonstrates his recognition of Hashem’s Malchus over him, and also of Hashem’s awareness of and involvement in the particulars of one’s every day trials, tribulations and victories.  Moreover, one is praying for Hashem’s assistance in so many important matters--and he is certainly coming to the right place in doing so!  Perhaps one can attempt this Kabala--reciting this bracha slowly with Kavannah--to start with for 30 days--it may mean starting davening or coming to Shul a minute earlier in order to give the bracha the recognition it deserves--but it will certainly be so splendidly worth it!



3 Tishrei

Special Note One: Boruch Hashem over the last nineteen weeks we have reviewed the Nineteen Brachos of Shemone Esrei. Over the next week we hope to review our personal requests after Shemone Esrei--which begin to be expressed in Elokai Netzor:


A.  Many, before reciting Elokai Netzor, first recite the Pasuk of Yiheyu Lekatzon Imrei Fi...(Tehillim 19: 15) The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 122, seif katan 8) brings from the Seder HaYom that this Pasuk has much powerful meaning here, as it has 10 words, 10 Yuds, begins and ends with a Yud, and is comprised of 42 letters representing the 42 letter name of Hashem. Accordingly, the Mishna Berurah writes: ‘Vesodo Sod Gadol’, and ‘accordingly, one should recite it slowly and with kavanna , and it will very much assist his Tefillos to be accepted and not to be returned empty ....


B.  The first two Bakashos of Elokai Netzor relate--as you may have guessed--to pleading for Hashem’s assistance in the area of speech---please save me from (a) Lashon Hara, and (b) from speaking falsehood or deceitfully. The Chofetz Chaim writes that before we can make this request we must demonstrate the willpower and desire to abandon these practices ourselves--and then we can ask for the Siyata DiShmaya in every and all situations!



Special Note Two:  Reminder--Tzedaka today--if not now-then when? Hakhel Note: We cannot overemphasize the importance of giving Tzedaka in the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah. The Rambam two separate times in Hilchos Teshuvah (2:4 and 3:4) highlights the giving of Tzedaka as a key element of the Teshuvah process. In fact, the Rambam writes (ibid.) that one should be ‘Marbeh BeTzedakab-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: I). that we read in the Haftarah of Tzom Gedaliah “Shimru Mishpat Va’ Asu Tzedaka Ki Kerova Yeshuasi Lavo-observe justice and perform Tzedaka 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 Yisrael!



Special Note Three: 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 364 days of the year?! We look forward to your thoughts!



Special Note Four:  We provide points and pointers relating to this precious week which holds the majority of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva within it. We especially note that there are still eight days left-- eight days of action--which can help us attain the Birkas Hashem and the sweet year that we so long for:


A.  Last week at this time we were blowing Shofar. This week, we no longer hear the wondrous and piercing sound. Why is this really so--if the Shofar is to move us to Teshuva should we not continue to hear its sublime message through Yom Kippur-- as we reach the epitome of Teshuva?’ We may suggest that the Shofar heralds the Days of Judgment--that the King will soon be arriving to sit in Judgment and will stay close to us (Dirshu Hashem BeHimatzo) from Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur. Once the King arrives on Rosh Hashana, though, it would be superfluous and even perhaps insulting to the King and even to His subjects that any kind of reminder is needed that the King is here. We must accordingly be acting in a very special way at this time--with the knowledge and awareness that the King is here this week visiting with us.  Our learning, our tefillos, our mitzvos, should be and feel different. It would not hurt for a person to make a little sign for himself to place on his desk, refrigerator or other conspicuous place that reads ASERES YEMEI TESHUVA--just so that the extra caution and precaution, care and vigilance, is exercised during these precious days.


B.  Next week at this time we will no longer have the privilege of reciting the incredible and powerful Avinu Malkeinu tefillah. We must treasure each opportunity this week--and each and every plea for mercy should be heartfelt. Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita teaches in the name of HaRav Yitzchok Hutner, Z’tl that Avinu Malkeinu provides a very special combination: A father sometimes wants to give to his child but is unable--he doesn’t have the ability, the time, the funds, etc. A king, on the other hand, has all of the above--but he simply may not have the willingness or desire to help his subject. Hashem, however, is different. As a Father--Ich Vill--I want to give, and as a King--Ich Kenn--I can give! We therefore approach Hashem as our Father and King who can certainly actualize our requests! The Father and King needs only to see and hear that we are His loyal son and subject. Indeed, even if we have gone astray in the past, he can see the sincerity of our current requests--as we heartfully plead with Him “Chaneinu VaAneinu ...Asei Imanu Tzedaka VaChesed VeHoshieinu. Suggestion: Perhaps we can stretch out our hand and have a Hirhur Teshuva as we ask for this Tzedaka VaChesed here to demonstrate our fervent belief in the Dirshu Hashem BeHimatzo that this week so especially and uniquely houses!


C.  When we recite the words in Selichos and on Yom Kippur of “Aval Anachnu VoAvoseinu 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 “lkar” 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.


D.  Everyone must realize that not only is he a judge, as he is constantly judging other people (hopefully-favorably--for everyone’s sake!), but that he is also a Rebbi--teaching others by his behavior. What time he arrives in Shul or to learn, how he treats Seforim, how he demonstrates respect to others when talking to them, how appropriately he dresses, how careful he is in reciting brachos, how he treats a person asking for charity or help, are just some of the most daily activities where are ‘students’ learn from us. We can create daily Kiddush Hashem or c’v Chilul Hashem which can carry on for years (and maybe even generations) in and through the conduct and behavior of others who learn from us--our neighbors, friends and family. Our thoughtful actions not only have ramifications in the heavenly worlds now--but in the future in this very world! Let us go for daily Kiddush Shem Shomayim--making it a part of our daily awareness and our daily goal!


E.  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!



Special Note Five:  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!



27 Elul

Special Note One:  We conclude our focus on the Nineteenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Shalom--Our Prayer for Peace.  Both Sim Shalom and Shalom Rav conclude in the same way:  VeTov BeAinecha Levarech Es Amecha Yisrael Bechol Eis U’Vechol Sha’ah Bishlomecha Baruch Atta Hashem HaMevorech Es Amo Yisroel BaShalom…May it be good in Your eyes to bless Your nation Yisrael...Blessed are You Hashem Who blesses His people, Yisrael, with peace.  The Sifsei Chaim points out that the term blesses is in the present tense, because HaKadosh Baruch Hu constantly brings peace to us, both personally and on a communal level. Indeed, even to the casual observer, threats of war, threats of violence and threats of ill-will, sometimes suddenly vanish.  The Eitz Yosef teaches that Shemone Esrei ends with the word Shalom because each Shemone Esrei was instituted in place of an Avodah in the Beis HaMikdash, and just as the Kohanim would give us Birkas Kohanim (which ends with the word Shalom) at the conclusion of their Avodah, so too, we follow suit and conclude with the great and all-inclusive bracha of Shalom as well.  The Eitz Yosef also explains that the reason the word Shalom is mentioned exactly four times in the bracha is to teach us that Hashem bring us peace after each one of the four galiyos--the four exiles.  As we recite the very last word of Shemone Esei--BaShalom (i.e., the fourth time the word Shalom is mentioned), we should realize that we are both pleading with and thanking Hashem for the final and ultimate Shalom--from the fourth and last of exiles--may we sense and experience it speedily and in our day!



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


A.  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 this past year… and repairing any Inyanei Shabbos that we know could use our personal tweaking.


B.  The Rabbeinu Yonah writes in the Igeres HaTeshuvah that it is forbidden for a person to be burdened by his business dealings on Shabbos.  Even though one may think about business matters in general--if it will cause one tirdas halev or nidnud de’agah--any sense of burden, worry or consternation, then even the thought is truly forbidden.  As the Tur (Orach Chaim 306) writes:  “When one feels that all his work has been completed before Shabbos--”Ain Lecha Oneg Gadol Mizeh--one has no greater oneg on Shabbos than this.”  The Sefer Shemiras Shabbos KeHilchasa enlighteningly adds that one not allowing himself to have these improper Shabbos thoughts is described by the following words in our Shabbos Tefillah: Menuchas Shalom V’Shalvah V’Hashkeit Vavetach Menucha Sheleimah She’atah Rotzeh Bah.  What a bli neder wonderful Kabbalah for the coming year--to celebrate one’s Shabbosos in Shalom and Shalvah…!


C.  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 Tefillah.


Special Note Three:  PARSHAS HATESHUVA!  We would like to remind everyone that non-coincidently, this week’s Parsha, Parshas Nitzavim, contains the Parshas HaTeshuva (Devorim 30:1-10).  Many Siddurim contain the Parshas HaTeshuva together with a short Tefillah afterwards, and it is usually found immediately after the Shacharis prayers.  It would most certainly be appropriate to recite the Parshas HaTeshuva and the subsequent Tefillah today…leading into Shabbos…and then on Sunday...leading into Rosh Hashana.  We especially note that much of Teshuva has to do with thought and speech.  By reciting the Parsha relating to Teshuva contained in the Torah itself, and then davening to Hashem for help in this regard, you have certainly taking important strides--in both thought and speech!



Special Note Four:  ELUL ALERTS:


A.  Remember--Tzedaka Today--Please!  Hakhel Note:  The Sha’arei Teshuvah (Sha’ar Daled--the Elements of Kappara) notes that “Tzedakah Tatzil MiMaves--Charity saves from death”, and that it also therefore must save from yisurin as well!


B.  Something easy to correct:  In the coming year, one can take upon himself, bli neder, not to ‘leave for a short while’ or ‘make a phone call’ before making any Bracha Achrona--whether it  be bentsching, Ahl HaMichya or Borei Nefashos.  One can also take upon himself, bli neder, to be careful about not saying:  “I will bentsch now and eat/drink this after I bentsch--one should be cognizant to avoid any bracha she’aynah tzricha--any bracha that is not necessary at any point during the day.


C.  Something easy to remember:  Chazal (Menachos 110A) teach that even without the Beis HaMikdash, if a person commits a sin for which he would have to bring a Karbon Olah, he should read the Parsha of the Karbon Olah; similarly, if he committed a sin in which he would have to bring a Chatas, Asham or Asham Taluy, he should read that Parsha in the Torah that relates to the Chatas, Asham or Asham Taluy, as the case may be.  Some siddurim, in fact, specifically provide these Parshios with the Yehi Ratzon to be recited afterwards, asking for Hashem’s forgiveness as if one had actually brought the Karbon.   


D.  At this time of year we especially focus on the gift of life.  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us that “Eitz Chaim He LaMechazikim Bah--the Torah is a tree of life for those who hold onto it.”  The Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 8) explains what holding onto the Torah includes:  “One must help those who study Torah not only with money, but with deeds. One should honor them and encourage them in their studies, strengthening their desire and ability to study.  One can honor the Torah and those who study it through words, through the actions of his body, through his monetary possessions, and by stirring others to honor Talmidei Chachomim as well....”  Let us all grasp on to this tree of life--in the many valuable ways that we can!  


E.  Kepitel 51 of Tehillim is sometimes known as the “Chapter of Teshuva”.  It would be a worthwhile investment to read this Chapter slowly and with feeling.  Dovid HaMelech there teaches (ibid, Pasuk 10) Tashmieini Sason V’Simcha--advise me of joy and happiness.   Rashi and the Radak there explain that the joy and happiness being referred to is Selichas HaCheit.  With this, we can understand the Kol Sason VeKol Simcha that we sing about at a Chasunah--it is the forgiveness that that Chassan and Kallah attain on their wedding day!  Indeed the Sefer Peleh Yoeitz writes that one should be MeSame’ach the Chassan and Kallah by reminding them that they are now free of sin.  By undertaking the Teshuva process, we are effectively preparing ourselves for great joy-- actually the joy shared by a Chassan and Kallah!


F.  The story is told of a man who brought his son to the Chofetz Chaim, and asked the Chofetz Chaim for a bracha that his son become a Talmid Chochom.  The Chofetz Chaim looked at the young man in front of him, and then looked at the father and said to him:  Un Vus Vet Zahn Mit Dem Tateh?!--And what about the father?!”  Now is the time to focus on expanding our  own potential, in order to maximize our lives.  It is very important for us to realize that everything that we will be doing over the next crucial days does make a difference and will make a difference. 


G.  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 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.  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!


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


I.  Last year, we had suggested that a person count the number of times he recites Asher Yatzar 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!


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


K.  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; Praying with Fire; Praying with Fire II; and The Chofetz Chaim a Lesson a Day.  Which treasure will you choose?  Truth be told, you can choose more than one!


L.  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!”


M.  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!


N.  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!


O.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, in Sifsei Chaim (Moadim 1), writes that Noach lived through three different periods in his life--first in the world before the flood, then in the Teiva, and finally in the postdiluvian New World.  In a remarkable sense, each and every one of us is like Noach. We experience three different times each and every year. During the year we may have committed misdeeds which must be rectified (like the world before the flood), followed by the period of Elul and the Aseres Yemei Teshuva--being the time in the Teiva to rectify them, and the new post-Teshuva world open for us to utilize to its utmost.  It is our role now to use our time in the Teiva to its utmost!





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, Tefillah 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.  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”!


E.  From HaRav Dessler in a letter to his son in 5695:  “…My dear son, please remember what is before you, the Day of Judgment, which requires great preparation.  You must daven from the depths of the heart to arouse Rachmei Shomayim (Mercy from Heaven) that we merit Heavenly Assistance, and that Hashem gives us success in attaining Teshuvah from the depths of the heart, for this is the ikar (essence) through which we can emerge innocent in justice B’Ezras Hashem. (Michtav M’Eliyahu Volume 4, page 313).”


Remember, there are no limits to what we can accomplish with Siyata D’Shmaya, and just one sincere Tefillah can get us there!





A.  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.


B.  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.


C.  Especially when davening on Rosh Hashana, 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). 


D.  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.


E.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, explains that when we ask Hashem to remember the Akeidas Yitzchok, we are not asking Hashem to recall a gigantic event of the past--but rather, a metziyus in Ruchniyus that was created by Avrohom Avinu at that time and continues through our day--it is a metziyus of Mesiras Nefesh of Avrohom Avinu and Yitzchok Avinu to do the will of Hashem.  By referring to it, we connect ourselves to the Mesiras Nefesh of the Avos which still exists in the world.  In truth, the Ruchniyus of our deeds--for the good and for the bad--also continue on in the world and do not dissipate after the Mitzvah, or r’l aveirah has been performed.  When one does Teshuvah then, explains HaRav Friedlander, he is not erasing an event of the past--he is eliminating the current metziyus of negative Ruchniyus that exists as a result of the sin. Teshuvah transforms any inappropriate Ruchniyus that was created and exists into a Ruchniyus that gives Nachas Ruach to Hashem.  It is essential that we realize and act on this on Rosh Hashana.  HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, explains that Rosh means ‘head’ and just as the head of a body contains the mind which controls and runs the entire organism (and if there is a problem in the head, the rest of the body is affected as well), so too, is Rosh Hashana--the head of the year essential for the health and well being of the rest of the year.  The more that one is successful in his Avodah of Rosh Hashana--the more successful he will be the entire year. 


F.  In our Rosh Hashana Tefillos, we recite that Rosh Hashana is a Yom Teruah Mikrah Kodesh Zecher L’Yetzias Mitzrayim.  At a Shiur, HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, posed a straightforward but fundamental question:  We understand how the Shalosh Regalim are rooted in Yetzias Mitzrayim.  What, however, does Rosh Hashana have to do with Yetzias Mitzrayim--how is a Zecher L’Yetzias Mitzrayim?!  HaRav Salomon explained that, in truth, our experience at the Seder and over Pesach is supposed to leave a great and lasting impression upon us--to effect a change in our attitude.  However, after the Seder, although one may feel uplifted, he does not really know what effect, what mark, the experience has made on his life.  It is on Rosh Hashana  that the mark will be felt.  The degree, the extent to which one feels that Hashem is omnipotent, and knows and sees all of one’s thoughts, words, and deeds, is the extent to which one has internalized the Yesodos HaEmunah that Yetzias Mitzrayim represents.  Pesach is a time when we learn about Hashem’s power, Sechar V’Onesh and Hashgacha Pratis.  Rosh Hashana is a time when we live our belief.  We must tremble in awe and be overjoyed (Gilu BiReAdda) at the realization of the Malchus of the day.  This is an Ikar of Living our Emunah!  We must then take Hashem’s Power and Presence with us every single day and in every single situation.   Incredibly, HaRav Salomon brought that HaRav Chaim Brisker, Z’tl, taught that if a person does not learn parts of the Torah he is not an apikores--but if he does not know the Thirteen Ikarim--the Thirteen Ani Ma’amins, then he is!  It is therefore of utmost importance that we review and understand the Thirteen Ikarim--and put them into practice in our daily life.  The extent of our awe and joy over Hashem’s Malchus on Rosh Hashana is indeed a direct result and outcome of the lessons of Yetzias Mitzrayim. This is what we take with us and demonstrate on Rosh Hashana--and this is what we must take with us in the coming year! 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. 


G.  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. 


H.  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!


I.  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. 


J.  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.’ 


K.  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.


L.  As we hear the order of Tekiah, Shevarim, Teruah, Tekiah, we realize that the first sound may represent us in our current state--solid--believing that we are doing pretty well as a Shomer Torah U’Mitzvos in a spoiled, degenerate and perhaps even decadent environment and world--and that our behavior is really a Tekiah.  However, upon a little thought, reflection and analysis represented by the Teshuva process--we arrive at Shevarim, we break ourselves down a little bit and realize that there really is something to correct.  Once we have opened up the thought process enough, we get to Teruah, in which we thoroughly break through, shattering our self-contained aggrandizements and illusions--and realize that much work is to be done for us to reach our true and great potential.  If we go through the process of Tekiah, Shevarim, Teruah--then we will be able to complete it with another Tekiah--a new and different Tekiah of advancement in Avodas Hashem.  If one repeats the process enough--he can complete it in its entirety-- resulting in a Tekiah Gedolah!


M.  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. 


N.  Dovid HaMelech teaches in one of the key Kepitlach (Chapter 24) recited on the Yomin Noraim:  Mi Ya’aleh BeHar Hashem…Neki Kapayim U’Var Leivav.”  We know that Neki Kapayim refers to hands that are clean of theft or pilferage.  What is a ‘Var Leivav’?  The Chofetz Chaim writes that is refers to someone whose heart is focused on important matters, without truly trivial items becoming part of the admixture of his thoughts.  It is indeed for this reason that we ask Hashem every day immediately before Shema: “VeYacheid Levaveinu Le’Ahava U’LeYira Es Shemecha VeLo Neivosh LeOlam Va’ed--may our heart be united in our love and fear of You and [then] we will not be shamed for eternity.”  If our hearts are filled with the proper thoughts, it will have no room for irrelevancies, irreverencies and waste.  As the Chofetz Chaim continues, we affirmatively declare in the Zichronos portion of our Tefillah on Rosh Hashana “Ki Zecher Kol HaYetzur Lefanecha Bah…Machshevos Adam VeSachbulosav--for everything appears before You, Hashem… the thoughts of man and his designs.”  To what can this be compared?  To a merchant who leaves on a trip taking along with him his treasure chest, and who asks one of his relatives accompanying him on the trip to watch after the treasures.  The relative agrees, but asks whether he can look inside the chest.  The merchant allows him to, and the relative opens the chest--only to find it half-filled with precious gems and rubies--but that the other half is filled with dirt and grime.  The relative thinks to himself ‘what a fool this wealthy man is--how did he place the precious jewels side-by-side with the soil and muck?!’  The dirt is, of course, a Nimshal to the whims and desires that a person occupies his mind with--all of which will after 120 years turn to afar--the earth below.  When the person then sees that which he has done, he will wonder and lament: how could I have had this dual and contradictory love--loving the Torah and the Mitzvos and the Hevlei Olam Hazeh.  How could I have filled up my treasure chest with so much dirt--when there was so much room for more priceless riches?!  Therefore it behooves everyone, concludes the Chofetz Chaim, to drive away those Machshavos of Hevel which lead a person to fulfill his desires, cravings, and temporal wants--and instead pursue Yichud HaLev--the unification of one’s heart in the love, fear and service of Hashem.  Every day, one fills the treasure chest of his mind--it is up to him to determine whether he does so with something which will be eternally worthless--or everlastingly priceless!


O.  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!





We must remember how precious the moments on Rosh Hashana 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!


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




26 Elul



QUESTION FROM A READER:  Can you find a mekor to inform us of a proper Teshuva for one who missed Brachos Rishonos and Brachos Achronos?


ANSWER FROM HARAV PINCHOS BODNER, SHLITA, MECHABER OF THE HALACHOS OF BROCHOS:  This is an excellent and timely question. I have not personally seen any Rishonim or Achronim who discuss this issue per se. However, since the question begs to be answered, I offer my own thoughts on the matter.  The basic requirement for Teshuvah for any wrongdoing is well-known:   Regret for what was done, verbalizing the sin (Viduy), and accepting on oneself to act correctly in the future.  The Mishna Berurah writes in his introduction to Hilchos Shabbos that there is no way that one can observe Shabbos properly without learning the Halachos. It stands to reason that acceptance of making brachos properly cannot be accomplished without a resolve to spend at least a few minutes on a daily or regular basis studying the Halachos.  There is, however, another requirement for Teshuvah in this case. The Gemara relates: (Brachos 35B) Reb Chanina bar Popa said “Anyone who derives pleasure from this world without making a bracha is (in a sense) stealing from Hashem, stealing from his fellow Jew, and a comrade of Yeravam ben Nevat.”  By neglecting to make the bracha, he not only withholds the expression of gratitude due to Hashem, he also causes the flow of abundance to be withheld from his fellow Jews. We know that if someone steals, it is not sufficient just to repent--he must also return the money or compensate the victims. How does one compensate for somewhat withholding the flow of abundance to his fellow Jews? The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 366) states that the Teshuvah for persons who stole from the public is to fund a community need that will benefit the victims. Thus, he could donate to a food or clothing distribution organization, or to an organization that assists persons with obtaining a livelihood, etc. (The money should be given in a quiet or anonymous manner, so that he should not receive recognition or honor for his ‘donation’).




Special Note One:  We continue our regular Monday/Thursday listing of the Mitzvos Asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times, as set forth in his Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar.  Today, we present the conclusion of the Mitzvos Asei applicable in our times--Mitzvos 75, 76 and 77:


75.  Asiyas Ma’akeh--this is the Mitzvas Asei to build a protective fence around a roof, and to remove all dangerous situations from one’s home.  As the Torah states:  “…and do not place blood in your home…”  If someone does not build a fence on his roof when required, and does not remove a potentially fatal situation (such as an open pit on one’s property), he has voided this Mitzvah.  The fence must be strong enough for one to lean on it and for it not to fall.  It is likewise forbidden to own a vicious dog.  The Sefer Chareidim writes that if a person keeps this Mitzvah in mind every day, looking to see whether anything in his home needs tikun, he fulfills the Mitzvah every day.  This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times and to men and women alike. 


76.  Zechiras Ma’aseh Amaleik--this is the Mitzvas Asei to remember verbally what Amaleik did, its evil deeds and how it attacked us, all to arouse us to hate Amaleik.  This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times and to men and women alike. 


77.  Lehachris Zaroh Shel Amaleik--this is the Mitzvas Asei to destroy Amaleik.  We will not, however, know who Amaleik is until Eliyahu HaNavi comes and tell us, at which time we will be able to complete this Mitzvah. 


The Chofetz Chaim concludes the 77 Mitzvas Asei that are applicable in our days with the following words:  “May Hashem give us the merit to see the coming of Eliyahu HaNavi and Moshiach Tzidkeinu Bimheirah Veyameinu Amen.  We have now completed the 77 Mitzvas Asei which are applicable in our day--the Siman for them is VeChayu Bahem (and you shall live by them)--whose Gematria is 77!”


Hakhel Note:  Mazel Tov to all we have completed our listing of the 77 Mitzvos based on the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar with us.  May this be a special merit to bring into the Yom HaDin!  BE’H in the Year 5773, we will commence the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar listing of the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which are applicable in our times. 



Special Note Two:  We continue with our focus on the Nineteenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Shalom--Our Prayer for Peace.  Before concluding the Bracha with Baruch Atta Hashem, we will proceed to the variation of this Bracha recited at Mincha and Ma’ariv (Nusach Sefard, Maariv only).  The bracha begins with the words:  Shalom Rav Al Amecha Yisrael Tasim LeOlam Ki Atta Hu Melech Adon Lechol Hashalom --May You place abundant Shalom on Your people Yisrael, for You are the King, Master of all peace.”  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, suggests that the reason that we have a separate Nusach for Mincha and Ma’ariv is because the morning represents Hashem’s Midah of Chesed (as symbolized by Avrohom Avinu, whose great Midah was Chesed and who established Tefillas Shacharis), while the times of Mincha and Ma’ariv are times of Midas HaDin (as symbolized by Yitzchok Avinu whose Midah was Gevurah/Midas HaDin, and Yaakov Avinu, who blended Avrohom Avinu and Yitzchok Avinu’s Midos).  Accordingly, we need Shalom Rav--abundant Shalom, in order to counteract all of the dangers and difficulties of Din that could lurk during this period.  We then follow by especially reinforcing our absolute belief that Hashem is the complete Melech Adon Lechol Hashalom--King and Master over any and all aspects of peace--personal, communal and worldwide.  Countries that are at war with us, leaders that threaten us, terrorists that want to attack us…they simply fall by the wayside if that is the will of the King and Master of peace.  The words of this Bracha, when said with Kavannah emphatically declare to Hashem that we know that we have come to the right place to ask for the greatest bracha to each of us individually and to all of us as a people--to Hashem--the Melech Adon Lechol HaShalom! 



Special Note Three:  We provide a few brief notes below from the Sefer Kovetz Halachos:  Yomim Noraim  by Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita, containing the pesokim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita :


a.  One must recite Birkas HaTorah before reciting Selichos. 


b.  It is better to recite less Selichos with Kavannah, than more without Kavannah--however one should always be careful to recite the 13 Midos together with the Tzibbur.


c.  We wash and take haircuts on Erev Rosh Hashana to demonstrate our faith that Hashem will perform a miracle for us and find us innocent on Rosh Hashana.  Even though one may take a haircut a day or two before Rosh Hashana, it is still a greater Kavod Yom Tov to take it Erev Rosh Hashana itself.


d.  One need not recite Hataras Nedarim on Erev Rosh Hashana in the morning--one may recite it the night before, as well.


e.  The most important part of the Simanim is to Be Me’Orer BeTeshuvah when one recites the Yehi Ratzon.  As a matter of fact, even if one does not have the different species--he can still recite the Yehi Ratzon because the ikar is the Tefillah and Bakashas Rachamim.  Note:  Rabbi Kleinman adds in his notes that since the Simanim are all for a Siman Tov, the Mishna Berurah emphasizes that all the more so should we be careful not to anger in these days--so that this too will be a Siman Tov for the coming year!


f.  There are different customs as to whether one recites the Yehi Ratzon with Hashem’s name (i.e., Hashem Elokeinu Vailokei Avoseinu) or not.  If one has made a Bracha on the food item, he should eat a little bit before reciting the Yehi Ratzon.  Otherwise, he should recite the Yehi Ratzon before partaking of the food.


g.  Egozim may include other types of nuts as well such as almonds and peanuts.  However, if a food is baked or cooked with any nut items, it is not an issue.  With respect to peanut butter, HaRav Kamenetsky, Shlita, distinguishes between creamy peanut butter (with no peanut pieces), which is permitted, and chunky peanut butter, which is not permitted. --


 h.  One can and should daven for Inyanim Ruchaniyim--fulfillment of his spiritual needs on Rosh Hashana. 


i.  As the Mishna Berurah states:  “When reciting Avinu Malkeinu the words Ro’ah Gezar should be recited together.”


j.  When hearing the Tekios DeMe’umad, one should not be leaning on anything.



Special Note Four:  ELUL ALERTS: 


A.  Rosh Hashana is in five days.  It is said that a Chassidishe Rebbe once came to an inn in Elul and heard two gentiles talking. One said to another--”It’s planting time now--if you don’t do a good job planting now--what will you have to eat for the rest of the year?!”  The Rebbe understood the message.


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


Additional Note One:  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 Midos (Hashem, Hashem), one should be in a slightly bowed position--to indicate humility and regard for the hallowed words that one is reciting.


Additional Note Two:  A Gadol once observed that people say: “I am going to ‘say’ or ‘recite’ Selichos.”  In fact, however, one is really going to be “Mevakeish Selichos--one is going to plead with Hashem for His mercy and forgiveness.”  Let us keep this in mind for the days of Selichos that follow. 


C.  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 Hashanah in Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim!  Please show your Hakaras HaTov to HaRav Brevda by davening for a Refuah Shleimah for him, which he so greatly needs--Shlomo Leib Ben Miriam. 


D.  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 Kevodecha--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!


E.  At this time of year, 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 the following link  http://tinyurl.com/mnkaaz  thw 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 Kavod 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 K’lal Yisroel--and there are a lot of things that we need Yeshuos from both individually and collectively.


F.  Chazal teach that if one says “Echta V’Ashuv, Echta V’Ashuv”--I will sin and repent, sin and repent--he will not be able to do Teshuva.  Why not--as long as the Teshuva is the final step?!  One answer may be because he will continue to do the aveira “just one more time and just one more time”--and he will not be able to end at the Teshuva stage.  A reader advised us of the story of a smoker who because of blood clots r’l had a leg amputated.  The doctor sternly warned him to stop smoking entirely, so that he would not have the same fate happen to his other leg.  However, the smoker continued to smoke from time-to-time daily--based upon the ‘logic’ of ‘what could one cigarette do?  We must realize that each aveira does damage, and that because one aveira leads to the next (aveira goreres aveira), the damage is multiplied many times over.  Accordingly, one can never be in the mode of sinning and doing Teshuva and then sinning and doing Teshuva again--because if he permissibly allows the ‘first cigarette’--which is inherently destructive, and which leads to the next ‘just one more cigarette’. 


Hakhel Note:  The opposite, is, of course, true of Mitzvah performance.  Each Mitzvah has incomparable inherent riches associated with it--and then leads to further Mitzvos multiplying the wealth many times over. 


G. We are all searching for ways which will help us be Ma’arich Yamim--gain length of days.  Chazal provide us with many different instructions which can help in this regard.  See, for example, Megillah 27B-28A.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 79, seif katan 5), provides one instruction which we can all follow:  “for one who is careful not to mention Divrei Kedusha in an unclean place--it is said about him U’Vadar HaZeh Ta’arichu Yomim--and through this, one’s days will be lengthened!  Let us remember this throughout the day--and gain life--simply by properly revering that which is holy!



Special Note Five:  We provide the following essential points made in Praying With Fire II by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita:


a.  R’ Itzele (Blazer) Peterburger, Z’tl, in Sefer Kochvei Ohr examines this seemingly illogical order of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.  He asserts that logically, Yom Kippur should have come first, allowing the Jewish people to begin by confessing and cleansing themselves of their sins.  After that process, they could arrive at the Day of Judgment, Rosh Hashanah, deserving of a good year.  However, Rav Blazer explains that a person’s first priority must be to recognize that Hashem is the benevolent King Who likewise renders judgment.  Only then can one truly comprehend the magnitude of the forgiveness one must seek on Yom Kippur.


b.  Our plea for a renewed lease on life is not limited to simply keeping our heartbeat and breathing going for another year.  HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl, writes (Sefer Ohr Yechezkel, 109):  “Zachreinu LeChaim is not just a request for life itself; it encompasses everything.  That which is connected to life is also called life--health, sustenance, removing obstacles and hardships are all included in our request for life.”  With so much at stake, we cannot afford to ‘stand in the shade’ during this period, when Hashem’s radiance is at its peak.


c.  To better appreciate the time period before Yom Kippur, Rabbi Kleinman provides the following allegory:  There was once a king who occasionally set out among the general populace to stay in touch with the realities of his subjects’ lives.  Prior to his arrival, he would send out letters to a random selection of families, announcing his visit.  On one such occasion, a poor couple living on the edge of town received a letter announcing that the king would be visiting them. The couple, who lived in abject poverty, began to discuss what to do.  “We have to repair the front stairs and weed the lawn and paint the walls and borrow at least one good chair for him to sit on,” the husband insisted.  “Who are you trying to fool?” the wife contested.  ”We don’t have money for all that.  And besides, the king knows he’s visiting paupers.  We should just be ourselves.”  ”No,” the husband countered.  ”We have to put in our best effort.”  We have to show him that we prepared for his visit in the best way we can.  He has to see that we are his loyal subjects and that we are proud that he is our king.”  It is for this reason that we undertake extra efforts, and are more meticulous and punctilious, in the learning of Torah and the performance of Mitzvos.  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us (Mishlei 24:16) “Ki Sheva Yipol Tzaddik VeKam…for a righteous man can fall seven times and rise, but the wicked shall stumble upon evil.”  It is the Tzaddik who realizes that even though he has fallen in the past he can nevertheless rise and become great.  It is actually a Rasha, a wicked person, who believes that because he has stumbled once, he has hopelessly fallen forever.  One has to take the time and make the effort to get up, as Hashem is now extending His hand to help us in an extraordinarily merciful, compassionate, and forgiving way, in a way which is beyond our wildest dreams or imagination.  In what ways can one help himself “up”?  Spending more time in Tefillah, true care in Shemiras HaLashon, opening the hand a bit wider to give Tzedakah, and in bleaching one’s Midos.  A sincere and tangible plan to avoid anger, jealousy (including looking at another person in the wrong way) and the need to gratify every last desire, will go a long way towards pulling you from last year’s fall to standing up ably and with pride on one’s own two feet.  Let us try to get up all together--for if not now, then when?!



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 Beis 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 Steipeler, 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 Shemone 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 Kavod of Hashem, for increased Kedusha, they will certainly be granted!”


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



25 Elul

Special Note One:  We continue with our focus on the Nineteenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Sim Shalom--Our Prayer for Peace.  We begin the Bracha of Sim Shalom by asking Hashem for Shalom, Tovah, U’Vracha, and then once again, a bit later in the Bracha, we say that Hashem has given us Tzedaka, U’Vracha, V’Rachamim.  Why is the term Bracha singled out--are not everything else like Torah, Tzedakah, Shalom, all brachos?  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, explains that the term Bracha refers back to Hashem’s blessing to Avrohom Avinu--”VeHeyei Bracha--you will be the source of bracha--giving bracha to others.”.  As Avrohom Avinu’s descendants, we are the Ba’alei Bracha for the world!  We therefore ask that Hashem bring bracha to the world through us!  The Bracha continues with the request of VeTov BeAinecha Levarech Es Amecha Yisrael Bechol Ais U’Vechol Sha’ah Beshlomecha--may it be good in Your eyes to bless Your people, Yisrael, in every season and in every hour with Your peace.”  There are no two dates, and no two times in which the peace that is necessary is the same.  One day, we primarily need peace from war in Eretz Yisrael; another from a terrorist act overseas.  Moreover, as HaRav Schwab, Z’tl, points out:  “If one would observe the entire globe from space at one time, he would not find one moment that the earth is free of strife, when there are no incidents of bloodshed, or when no one is endangering someone else’s life.  Therefore, at every moment of our lives-- Bechol Ais U’Vechol Sha’ah, we are dependent upon and plead for Shlomecha--Your Peace--Hashem’s special protection over us from wars and dangers of every kind and nature.”  Hakhel Note:  Let us especially reflect on how desperately we always need--on an individual and collective basis--Shlomecha--Hashem’s peace to be upon us and with us! 



Special Note Two: ELUL ALERTS:


A.  Please make special donations to Tzedakah over the next five days.  These are the last opportunities in the Year 5772 to do so.  Your daily special effort in writing the check and in taking the time, will surely stand in your stead! 


B.  When thinking about how one can improve in Torah study, it is not only how much more that one can learn--but how to best maximize what one is learning.  Many, for example, have bli neder began to study the Daf Yomi, which will (amazingly), be completing Mesechta Brachos in approximately three weeks.  Mesechta Shabbos will be beginning next, and it is one of the most crucial Mesechtos to know Halacha L’Ma’aseh.  Now is the time to think about what adjustments and tikkunim can be made in one’s Daf Yomi (or other daily) study--so that one reviews, retains and improves his learning--and knows when and how to apply it in his daily life. 


C.  The Chofetz Chaim writes:  HaDibur Hu Ashro VeHatzlachoso Shel Adam--one’s speech is the source of his achievement and his success.”  We should not let ourselves down in what is our pride and joy.  In fact, we can help ourselves in the area of Lashon Hara in a very important way.  Many believe that if someone who he is speaking in front of already knows about somebody else’s issue, he can continue to speak about it, because it is already known.  This is not so, and the Chofetz Chaim consistently emphasizes that the cheit of Lashon Hara gets worse and worse with the more people who hear it, and even if a person has heard it once, his hearing it again (and again) can solidify his belief of the item, or add new details which he did not know before.  Two people who can legitimately talk about an event or situation should not talk in front of others, whether on the telephone or in person, if others will be listening--even if that person (such as a sibling or friend) knows what the issue is.  


D.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 606, Sha’ar HaTzion, Note 8) rules that if one forgives a friend for something that the friend had done intentionally, then Hashem will also forgive him for what he had done intentionally--Midah K’Neged Midah!  The Chofetz Chaim proves this from the following Pasuk in Micha (7:18):  Noseh Avon V’over Al Pesha--Who forgives intentional iniquity and passes over intentional sin”, which Chazal interpret to mean “Lemi Noseh Avon, Lemi She’over Al Pesha--whose intentional iniquities are forgiven…the one who passes over another’s intentional sins against him.”  Hakhel Note:  In this regard, Rabbi Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, provides the following exceptional insight:  “Most people are not excited to hear about Yom HaDin.  People have anxiety.  That is because they approach Yom HaDin with emotion, but without the proper understanding.  The basis of the world, the concept upon which the world was founded and exists, is Din or justice.  This is not negative.  It is, instead, a statement that the world is not free, and that the world has a purpose.  If Hashem wanted us just to receive without action, He would simply give and give and give as He is All-Good.  Instead, Hashem wants something to be demanded of us, so that it elevates us.  If we are Ma’avir Al HaMidos, we look away at what others have done to us, and we are not makpid, then Din--then justice--the world order, dictates that Hashem will do likewise. If we give Tzedaka to others, then Hashem will give Tzedaka to us.  Succinctly stated, if we say that we do not want to do anything, then we are not living in the world’s reality.  Today, the 25th of Elul, is the first day of creation (according to Rebbi Eliezer), with man being created on Rosh Hashana.  It is a time for us to contemplate the order that Hashem has placed into the world, to understand that just as punishment is part of Din, so too, is mercy, compassion, complimentary words and proper conduct--all of which Hashem recognizes and registers for every person individually, for K’lal Yisrael, and for the world as a whole.  This is not a free world, this is a world of meaning--the actions we undertake which give Nachas Ruach to Hashem return to bring Nachas Ruach to ourselves individually, to K’lal Yisrael and to the world! 


E.  We must remember that when it comes to sins which are Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, we have a totally different Cheshbon, and we must seek pardon from our friends before we come to Hashem.  To help jog one’s mind in this regard, we provide below a short list of items to consider and reconsider:


·        Have I disturbed another person while he was learning?

·        Have I disturbed and deterred another person while he was doing a Mitzvah?

·        Have I scoffed at, degraded or not paid proper attention to another as he shared a D’var Torah or personal Chidush with me?

·        Have I allowed loose lips to reveal someone’s private information or secret?

·        Have I misappropriated or borrowed without permission--even if I thought that I was justified in doing so?

·        Have I embarrassed anyone in public (including relatives or children)?

·        Have I been makpid, standing on ceremony or on principle because of my honor?

·        Have I been sufficiently concerned for the money and possessions of others?

·        Have I suspected others who had in actuality done nothing wrong?

·        Have I given bad advice because I did not have the time to think things through, or to look into the matter further or because I am opinionated?

·        Have I honored reshaim?

·        Have I not paid workers or rent on time, when it was expected of me?

·        Have I made it my unwavering practice to stand up in front of an elder (60 or 70) when he comes into the room?

·        Have I shown proper respect to Talmidei Chachomim in my Shul and in my neighborhood (and certainly to my teachers)?’

·        Have I been there ‘as a friend’ to accept the Lashon Hara of another?

·        Have I held back my hand from giving Tzedaka when the opportunity presented itself?

·        Have I caused tza’ar to my spouse or to my friends?

·        Have I been jealous of the wealth, honor or wisdom of others?

·        Have I fought with others?

·        Have I acted deceitfully towards others?

·        Do I know what Sinas Chinam is, and if I do not, how do I know that I am not guilty of it?


Hakhel Note:  Even though all of the above are Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, and one will need his friends’ forgiveness if he has violated any one of them, one should always daven (and continuously daven) that he not stumble in sins of Bein Adam L’Chaveiro--and that he successfully fulfill the Mitzvah of VeAhavta LeReiacha Kamocha each and every day! 


F.  HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z’tl, teaches that the midah ra’ah which leads to all other midos ra’os is atzlus--laziness.  Laziness does not only mean that one has trouble getting up in the morning.  It can also include the failure of one to exert himself or extend himself a bit more than he has until this point.  Simple examples could include picking up one’s Siddur rather than having it rest on the table--if this will help one have more Kavannah; raising one’s hand in order to kiss one’s Tefillin periodically during davening; running or walking at a faster pace when one is in sight of a Mitzvah; taking the time to look up or ask about a Halacha that one is unsure of…  The world is a world of opportunities--the better that we are at acting upon them, the greater and more important the world is to us!



24 Elul




(1)  In the week of Rosh Hashana, one should study the Igeres HaTeshuvah of the Rabbeinu Yonah (found in the back of many editions of the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah). 


(2)  Always remember MiD’var Sheker Tirchak.  As we continue in the last few days of the year, perhaps we can be especially careful to make sure that even the whitest of untruths does not leave our mouths. 


(3)  Chaver Tov HaYeh LiYireih Hashem--be a good friend to those who fear Hashem.  It may be a wonderful suggestion at this time of year to decide to befriend or get closer to someone who you feel is more lofty or elevated in his actions and pursuits. 




Special Note One:  We continue with our focus on the Nineteenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Sim Shalom--Our Prayer for Peace.  We continue with our request that Hashem give the bracha of Shalom, and the additional brachos that follow of Tovah, Bracha, Chein, Chesed and Rachamim to “Aleinu Ve’al Kol Yisrael Amecha”.  We thus pray for every individual who is reciting this bracha together with us (Aleinu) as well as for all of K’lal Yisrael, who are Amecha--the Am Hashem.  We note that Yisrael is placed before Amecha (as it is in the Bracha of Retzei) to perhaps first recall the Zechus Avos of Yaakov Avinu.  We now proceed with a great request: “Barcheinu Avinu Kulanu K’Echad BeOhr Panecha --bless us Hashem all together with the light of Your countenance.”  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, explains that we can be zoche to the light of Hashem’s countenance, i.e., a very special level of Dveikus to Him. when we are bound together and united.  We were, for example, zoche to Hashem’s He’aras Panim at the time of Matan Torah, when we united together at Har Sinai (VaYichan Sham Yisrael Neged HaHar), as we specifically mention in the bracha:  Ki Be’or Panecha Nasata Lanu Hashem Elokeinu Toras Chaim--for with the light of Your countenance You gave us the living Torah.”  As we recite these words, we should feel connected and united with the rest of K’lal Yisrael--hoping for Hashem’s He’aras Panim to come back to us once again! 



Special Note Two:  Today is the Yahrzeit of the Chofetz Chaim, who serves as a driving force in all of K’lal Yisrael until today.  In his honor, we provide a brief thought of his, which so symbolizes the practicality of his teachings:  “The Seforim teach that when a person is accustomed to a particular middah ra’ah (bad character trait) and acts in that way in front of others, they copy him and he is held accountable for the negative influence he has had on their lives (see Yoma 86A, Rashi d’h Kegon).  Now, continues the Chofetz Chaim, it is known that Hashem’s rewards are greater than His punishments (Sanhedrin 100B)--and so, all the more so will a Mitzvah or middah tovah that one has and which is copied by others become a source of great merit for him--as he obtains a chelek in their Ma’asim Tovim.”  Hakhel Note:  As an example, if one consistently and continuously uses his tongue for the power of the positive, complimenting, thanking, and really not speaking Lashon Hara, then others readily recognize (especially with a little encouragement!) that there is a standard to live up to and a beautiful reality to follow--and every time they do so, they bring merit to the originator.  The Chofetz Chaim’s lesson to each and every one of us is that no one is isolated, no one stands alone.  As we do Teshuvah in a particular area or in a particular way, let us take the words of the Chofetz Chaim to heart and bring those around us who may have had a similar fallibility or fault back with us--for our own merit and the merit of all of K’lal Yisrael! 



Special Note Three: Several additional points and pointers relating to the elevated days of Elul:


A.        We provide by the following link http://tinyurl.com/bry8ykl  a wonderful summary (in Hebrew) of Eitzos to be zoche on Yom HaDin. 


B.  The Sifsei Chaim (HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Zt’l), in Moadim I teaches:


(1)     After Adam HaRishon sinned and his Teshuvah was accepted (all on Rosh Hashana!), the Torah records that Hashem placed the Lahat HaCherev HaMisshapeches (the flame of the ever-turning sword) to prevent him from re-entering Gan Eden at that time.  With this, the Torah provides an essential lesson in Teshuva.  It is not enough just to ‘decide’ not to fall prey to the sin again.  One has to actually create some type of fence or system to prevent the possibility of falling again.  One out of thousands of examples one can think of would be for a person who comes late to shul, almost as a matter of course.  His true Teshuva may be to start a learning Seder with someone before davening even if only for 10 or 15 minutes (thereby ensuring that he will be on time), or to “penalize himself” in some way for having been not as respectful as he could have been for his audience with the King


(2)     As we see in this coming week’s Parsha, a person can delude himself into thinking “Shalom Yihiye Li--and walk in the way his heart sees fit” (Devorim 29:18).  Yet, no one has any contracts with Hashem--every action has ramifications.  If a person acts or reacts “as his heart sees fit,” or “as his heart says,” by whim or fancy, he should be sure to give the matter some second thought.


(3)     “Derech Chaim Tochachos Mussar--the road to life is words of reproof”--with these words of Mishlei, Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, is teaching us that the road to life is paved not by shunning the reproof and constructive criticism of others, but, quite to the contrary, by allowing it to enter and penetrate your heart.


(4)      We should make sure that, at least at this time of year, we fulfill the following words of Rabbeinu Yonah in the Yesod HaTeshuva, “One should not fill all of his desires in food or drink, and so said the Ra’avad…the great and wonderful pathway to Teshuva is by curbing one’s desire while eating….”


C.  HaRav Pam, Z’tl, taught his students that in interpersonal relationships:  Me’at Min HaTov Tzarich Lidchos Harbeh Min HaRa’ah--a little bit of good must push aside a lot of bad that the person may have done to you.”  Indeed, the Sefer Tomer Devorah emphasizes this teaching as one of the key ways in which one can emulate Hashem.  After all, think of all that Hashem is sovel--that Hashem puts up with in this world--waiting for us to be better, waiting for us to bring this world into a better state.  He allows the sinner to sin, and even allows him to continue to thrive after all that he has done.  We too must push down and to the side the dishonor, disgrace and misdeeds that others (even relatives!) have cast upon us, being sovel--and recognizing that they too are creations of Hashem.  The Sefer Tomer Devorah goes to the extent of saying:  “Even if they have no merit, their Avos did, and one who disgraces children, disgraces their parents.”  Everyone is worthy of our tolerance, our patience, and our Middos Tovos.  Let us emulate Hashem’s way of Savlanus--and may He shine His Middah of Savlanus upon us as well! 


D.  Chazal (Brachos 32A) teach that after the Cheit Ha’eigel Moshe Rabbeinu lost his strength, “Velo Haya Lo Koach LeDabeir--he did not even have any strength to speak.”  Hashem then told him:  If you leave me alone, I will destroy them and make a great nation out of you.  Moshe Rabbeinu thus realized that it was up to him--so he stood up and strengthened himself in Tefillah, pleading with Hashem for mercy.  His pleas were granted.  There is a remarkable lesson here.  Moshe Rabbeinu had absolutely no strength to speak--but when he realized that it was up to him, he arose, strengthened himself and began to pray--successfully!  No matter how down one may feel, or how difficult it may be--we can think of Moshe Rabbeinu who found himself in a situation where the future of K’lal Yisrael was almost lost, and he simply had no strength to speak.  Once he realized that he could make a difference--he found within himself the powers that he needed.  We too can make the difference--in our lives and in the lives of others.   When it does not seem possible, when it is way too difficult--no matter what the situation--try!  If Moshe Rabbeinu’s lesson is followed through to its completion--you too can be successful!


E.      Finally, we suggest once again the importance of a cell phone takana.  To some, the takana will be a special restraint while in the car, to others--it will be self-control while walking on the street or in a store, and yet to others it will be personal discipline in the hallway of a shul.  We are not even suggesting total 'perishus' in any one of these areas--but perhaps at least beginning with thinking twice before taking it out and making it into another appendage of your body at these points of your day.  A person can really get to know himself or develop a thought, for example, while walking--is that phone call, text or email so absolutely necessary, so really urgent for the moment?!



Special Note Four:  The Mishna in Rosh Hashanah (1:2) teaches us how Rosh Hashanah is different than the other three times of the year (Pesach, Shavuos, and Sukkos) during which we are also judged.  Rosh Hashanah, the Mishna teaches, is different because “Kol Baei Olam Ovrin Lefanav--all who come into the world pass are judged individually, as they pass before Hashem as if they are walking in a single file.”  The Mishna brings a Pasuk in Tehillim (33:15) to explain how Hashem could judge the billions mixed together all over the world as unique, individual creatures.  The Pasuk says:  “HaYotzeir Yachad Lebam HaMeivin El Kol Ma’aseihem--because Hashem formed every aspect of every being, He can fully comprehend every single individual’s actions, words, and thoughts.  In fact, the tenth Ani Ma’amin also quotes this very same Pasuk and reads as follows: (Artscroll translation)  “I believe with complete faith that the Creator, Blessed is His Name, knows all the deeds of human beings and their thoughts, as it says, “HaYotzeir Yachad Lebam….”  This is the only Pasuk quoted in any of the Ani Ma’amins.


We now would like to share with you a stunning thought, which can provide a tremendous source of guidance, and special zechuyos, for the time period that we are in.  Let us go to Tehillim Chapter 33, and review the Pesukim which immediately follow this telling Pasuk quoted both in the Mishna in Rosh Hashanah and in the tenth Ani Ma’amins.  After this Pasuk, Dovid HaMelech continues by teaching us what the upshot, what the consequence, is of Hashem’s having created us and comprehending all of our deeds.  [Once again, we provide the Artscroll translation (may they be blessed for all they have done for K’lal Yisrael)]:  “A king is not saved by a great army, nor is a hero rescued by great strength; sham is the horse for salvation; despite its great strength it provides no escape.  Behold the eyes of Hashem are on those who fear Him, upon those who await His kindness, to rescue their soul from death, and to sustain them in famine.  Our soul longed for Hashem--our hope and our shield is He.  For in Him will our hearts be glad, for in His Holy Name we trusted.  May Your kindness Hashem be upon us, just as we awaited You.”


With these revealing words, Dovid Hamelech paves a pathway for us to follow in our Avodas Hashem.  Now that we know that Hashem knows every single thing about us--What is it that Hashem really would like to see?  As highlighted above, Hashem looks to those who fear Him, who are awed by His all-knowing, all-encompassing, and infinite greatness and who look to Hashem for His closeness, for His kindness.  Surely, if we would fear a lion, a bear, a terrorist, a car that is out-of-control, we should be in absolute and unfettered awe of the Creator of all creatures and all circumstances and events!  When we realize Hashem’s Omnipotence, we also realize that everything we have is wholly the result of His kindness, as we partake of the Royal Table in various ways throughout the day.  Throughout the day we should express our needs to Hashem, and thank Him for what we realize He has given us and continues to give us.  As we look at our hopes for the coming year, we must look back at the bolded Pasuk, and realize how powerful its teaching really is, and how crucial it is in our life.  If we can remind ourselves of this Pasuk daily, we can go far in avoiding the strictness of Din, and bring Hashem’s kindness upon us…just as we awaited it!




Special Note One:  We continue our regular Monday/Thursday listing of the Mitzvos Asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times, as set forth in his Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar.  Today, we present Mitzvos 73 and 74:


73.  Dinei Nachala.  This is the Mitzvas Asei which provides for inheritance.  First, a person’s property goes to his son(s) and (if the son is not alive) to the son’s descendants.  Second, if he has no son(s), or the son is deceased and has no living progeny, the estate goes to his daughter(s).  Third, if he has no living daughter(s), or living progeny from her, the father of the deceased inherits the estate. Included in this Mitzvah is the bechor inheriting a ‘double portion’.  MiD’Rabanan, a husband inherits his wife’s property.  This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times and to men and women alike. 


74.  Shiluach HaKan.  This is the Mitzvas Asei for one who finds a nest of a Kosher bird on the road with the mother hovering over the chicks or on the eggs, to send away the mother before taking the chicks or the eggs, and only then take them.  If she returns to the nest, one must continuously send her away for as long as her wings touch the nest.  If one fails to send away the mother when he should have and she then dies before he has an opportunity to do so, he has voided the Mitzvas Asei and has also violated a Lo Sa’aseh.  This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times and to men and women alike. 


Hakhel Note:  For an outstanding work on how to perform the Mitzvah of Shiluach HaKan in our day, we refer you to the Sefer Shalei’ach Tishalach by Rabbi Naftali Weinberger, Shlita (Feldheim). Remember--Arichus Yamim is part of the Torah stated reward for this Mitzvah! (Devarim 22:7)



Special Note Two:  We continue with our study of the Nineteen Brachos of Shemone Esrei.  This week we focus on the Nineteenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Sim Shalom--Our Prayer for Peace.  The Levush writes that this Bracha corresponds to the words of the Malochim who recited “Baruch Atta Hashem HaMevorech Es Amo Yisrael BaShalom”, when Bnei Yisrael entered Eretz Yisrael at the time of Yehoshua Bin Nun.  Our Bracha immediately follows the Birkas Kohanim which ends with the word Shalom, and now we continue to emphasize its great need to us.  Indeed, the Sefer Ya’aros Devash writes that in praying for peace in K’lal Yisrael, we should have Kavannah that we are fulfilling the Mitzvah of V’Ahavta L’Reiacha Kamocha!  The first words of the Bracha are “Sim Shalom Tovah U’vracha Chein VaChesed V’Rachamim Aleinu Ve’al Kol Yisrael Amecha--place peace, good, blessing, graciousness, kindness and mercy upon us and upon all of Yisrael, Your nation.”  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah explains that Shalom (peace), includes many important facets--Shalom HaGuf (physical and mental peace within oneself), Shalom Bayis (with all members of one’s family), Shalom HaMedina (peace within the country and among countries), Shalom HaKinyanim (peace regarding all of one’s possessions, with no disputes over them), and Shalom MiKol Pega Mikra U’Machlokes (peace from any incident, accident and dispute with others).  Let us take a moment to reflect upon the fact that Birkas Kohanim concludes with Shalom, that bentsching concludes with Shalom, that davening concludes with Shalom--for us to recognize how essential Shalom is to our lives both individually as a person and collectively as part of K’lal Yisrael and indeed the world.  It is so essential that we have Kavannah in this Bracha--we must be sure to inspire ourselves and reinvigorate ourselves as we begin with the word ‘Sim’.  Within the course of the Bracha we have the opportunity to mention the word ‘Shalom’ (or its derivative) four times.  Each mention of the word Shalom is truly a ‘mouthful’ and ‘mindful’--and we should be sure to make it count!



Special Note Three:  Several additional points and pointers relating to the elevated days of Elul:


A.  Not only has Selichos now begun even for Ashkenazic Jewry, but we are up to the point that today is the last Monday of the year, tomorrow will be the last Tuesday of the year, etc.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 581 seif katan 25) teaches that we should prepare for Rosh Hashanah by bathing and taking a haircut, to show our Bitachon that Hashem will look favorably upon us, and judge us with Tzedakah.  Now is the time to take those actions which help move Hashem to do so! 


B.  We refer to Hashem as Avinu Malkeinu, and we typically interpret Avinu (Our Father) as the kind adjective and Malkeinu (Our King) as the stricter adjective.  This is not necessarily the case.  Malkeinu also means that Hashem is All Powerful.  Just as one comes to a king with a request that only a king can grant, we come to Hashem making our requests as someone who is a loyal subject now--even if we need to be pardoned of past disloyalties.


C.  Now that we have begun to recite Viduy on a daily basis, we recall the holy words of the Sefer Tomer Devorah in which HaRav Moshe Cordevero, Z’tl, writes that when one recites Viduy he should have in mind to bring upon himself Tahara--a wellspring of purity.  Indeed, HaRav Cordevero writes, that Dovid HaMelech in the Kepitel of Teshuvah (Tehillim 51:4) exclaims:  Herev Kabesaini Mei’avoni U’Maichatasi Tahareini--abundantly cleanse me from my iniquity, and from my sin purify me!”


D.  A wonderful project to start today and continue for at least 30 days (which will take you to Simchas Torah) is to do one Mitzvah or Ma’aseh Tov a day which is for the express and only purpose of giving Nachas Ruach to Hashem. 


E.  The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah notes that Tefillah is an essential part of Teshuvah.  Not only does this mean that we are to daven to Hashem for forgiveness, writes the Sha’arei Teshuvah--but we must daven to Hashem, asking Him to help us in the Teshuvah process.  Every person needs to gain clarity as to the Teshuvah that he should be doing. 


F.  One can easily brush over the Ashamnus and the Al Cheits boldly disclaiming any sin in this regard or at least thinking that what he has done is ‘Nisht Geferlach’--not so bad.  HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, Mashgiach of the Mirrer Yeshiva in New York , teaches that Nisht Geferlach’ is ‘Geferlach’.  We know two things: 


(1) The Navi (Yirmiyahu 2:35 ) teaches:  Hineni Nishpat Osach Al Amreich Lo Chatasi--Hashem judges a person by separate judgment for the person’s claim that he did not sin.”


(2) It is not the ‘major aveiros’ that may necessarily affect many people, but as Chazal teach it is the “Mitzvos that a person steps upon that surround a person at the time of his judgment”.  One must get serious in his reflection as to some of the everyday challenges and pitfalls that he encounters.  Here are just a few examples:


(a) Tzararnu--going through the day making the conscious effort not to hurt anybody with one’s words or actions.  Even if the other person is not a timid, weak, poor or suffering person--and even if that person is your parent, wife or child--one must take his own pain and care to avoid causing pain, suffering, anguish, or distress to another. 


(b) Kishinu Oref--we must not be stubborn and rigid, but flexible and attentive.  “I know better”; or “I will teach him”, without working with the person on his own level and in a way that bests suits the person is not only counterproductive--but offensive and wrong.  The prohibition against being stiff-necked likewise applies to an attitude of “I can’t change the way I daven”, “I can’t learn more than I do”, and “That’s the way it is--every once in a while Lashon Hara comes out.”   We add that as part of taking stock on Kishinu Oref, one think about something about himself that he knows bothers others, but that he has failed to correct because it is “him.”  If one realizes that a particular mannerism or ‘custom’ really does irk family, friends, or colleagues, 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.


(c) Overdue Items--one should not overlook the items or money he has borrowed or lent to others, or to whom he owes a phone call or an apology before Rosh Hashanah.


(d) Brachos Recitation--were there any times this year that you failed to make a Bracha Achrona?  Was there any time this year when you were unsure whether you recited an Asher Yatzar or not?  Was there any time this year that you recited the wrong bracha on a product?  Do you let your family/friends get by with the way they recite brachos--even though you know that they should do better?  Fascinatingly, the Orchos Chaim LaRosh teaches that one should be careful to instruct his family to be careful in three items:  Kavannah in Tefillah; the proper method of Netilas Yadayim; and proper brachos recitation.  It is not a long list--but it is a powerfully meaningful one!  Our dedication to improvement in brachos recitation is a demonstration of the honor that we feel in bringing Hashem into our life every day--throughout the day!






A.  #81:  Do not look to somebody who is smaller than you in his Avodas Hashem or in his Yiras Hashem, but rather to one who is greater than you.


B.  #90:  Do not minimize the significance of even one enemy.


Hakhel Note:  Please read again!




Special Note One:  We conclude with our focus on the Eighteenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Hoda’ah--Thanksgiving.  The next phrases of the Bracha are:  


1.  HaTov Ki Lo Chalu Rachamecha VeHaMerachem Ki Lo Samu Chasadecha…--Hashem is the Good One Whose mercies are never exhausted and the Merciful One Whose kindnesses never end.”  The commentaries explain that Hashem has Rachmanus on us and spares us punishments that we may otherwise deserve, and then, beyond not punishing us--He showers His unending Chesed upon us.


2.  VeAl Kulam Yisborach VeYisromam Shimcha Malkeinu--and for all of these may Your Name be blessed and exalted our King continuously and forever.”  Here, in recognition ‘of all the above’ all of the Chasdei Hashem which we have mentioned until this point, we ask that Hashem allow the entire world to recognize that Hashem is Baruch--the source of all blessing and Romeim--exalted above all.  With the term Shimcha we express that we really cannot fathom Hashem, but just that we know Him by how He conducts Himself in this world--which is His ‘Name’ so to speak.  This sought after time of Yisborach V’Yisromam will also be a time of “VeChol HaChaim Yoducha Selah VeYehalelu Es Shimcha BeEmes…-- when everyone alive will thank You forever and truly recognize and praise You.” 


3.  The Bracha concludes:  Baruch Atta Hashem HaTov Shimcha U’lecha Na’eh LeHodos--Whose Name is Good and to Whom it is pleasant to give thanks.”  Here, we recognize that all of Hashem’s actions in this world emanate from His Good, and we make it clear that we are thanking Hashem not only because it is the right thing to do as HaKaras HaTov, but--because we feel true pleasure in doing so! 



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


A.  We note that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, teaches that one of the reasons that we read Parshas Bikkurim (whose essence is recognition of Hashem’s gifts to us) this Shabbos at this time of the year is to remind us to have HaKaras HaTov and thanks to Hashem for life and the gifts of the past year. 


B.  The Chazon Ish (Kovetz Igros 3:149) writes that the Ikar HaTeshuvah on lack of proper care in a Mitzvah is “Simas Lev Al L’Habah--putting care into one’s future activities.”  Especially immediately prior to Shabbos, the Chazon Ish writes that one must be careful not to get involved even in another Mitzvah--because it is common for a person to get into a situation where he will not be able to complete the Mitzvah before Shabbos and it could lead to….  It is better not to do start the Mitzvah, than it is to come close to compromise the Shabbos. 


C.  As we continue our acts of introspection into Shabbos, we may want to think about those Erev Shabbos activities we undertake that may have an effect upon others on Shabbos itself.  For instance, if one living in America sends an email on Erev Shabbos to an uneducated Jew who lives or is vacationing in Europe where it may already be Shabbos--what are the potential issurim that he may be machshil the uneducated Jew in when he reads that email, and then responds by taking action such as making a phone call to a third party--or even simply by answering the email-- typing something in response and exacerbating his conduct clicking “To All”(remembering that an uneducated Jew is still obligated to perform all Mitzvos--whether D’Oraysa or DeRabbanan)?  Similarly, if one sends a ‘cc’ or a ‘bcc’ of an email to someone ‘local’ before Shabbos, but that local person might take action because of the email on Shabbos, one may want to think twice about sending such an email close to Shabbos, before ‘closing up shop for the day’.  Who would want the chillul Shabbos (perhaps even multiple chilul Shabbos) of another Jew on his head--even if the uneducated Jew would quite likely be mechallel Shabbos in some other way during the very same time period, and even if one could perhaps assert in his defense that he wasn’t the direct cause, etc..  Perhaps to rectify any prior misdeeds or borderline types of activities in this area relating to the great and holy Shabbos, one can talk about and explain Shabbos to not-yet-religious Jews, and be decidedly cautious in sending out emails on Erev Shabbos (and Erev Yom Tov)--especially in the afternoon.  Remember, we are to be so careful with Hilchos Shabbos that we are proscribed from blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashana which falls out on Shabbos--as a gezeira that someone *may* come to violate the Melacha of carrying on Shabbos. We certainly should be careful to avoid any culpability, responsibility or horrible feeling engendered by a non-thinking electronic communication with someone who does not yet know enough to fathom the transgressions he is committing with that seemingly innocent, cc’d email!


D.  With the slower Shabbos davening, or at least with the greater ability to start Shacharis a few minutes early if you need more time--may we suggest a special focus on the word “Melech” this Shabbos.  As we have pointed out in the past, the Sefer Mateh Ephraim, the great halachic handbook on the Yomim Noraim, refers to Elul as Yomim HaKedoshim.  By connecting to the Yomim HaKedoshim of Elul on Shabbos Kodesh, we will have added a new and wonderful dimension of Kedusha to our lives.  It is all there for the taking!



Special Note Three:  We continue with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, on the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chelko (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, Shlita:




A.  To Hashem there is no ‘easier Mitzvah or harder Mitzvah’--we are to perform all of the Mitzvos equally. It is likewise our task not to look how easy or how hard the Mitzvah is to perform--but who is the One Who commanded us to peform it! 


B.  One must be careful not to hurt a child with words.  There was a man who was speaking to the Chazon Ish after Shacharis one day, and children were playing in front of them.  One child accidentally pushed the Chazon Ish.  The man turned to the child and began screaming at him.  The Chazon Ish said to the man:  “Don’t you know that there is an Issur of Ona’as Devarim?”  The man responded:  “The child has to be educated.”  The Chazon Ish told him:  “Leave the Chinuch to his parents and teachers--you violated an Issur D’Oraysa .”  On another occasion, children were running on the Bima in the middle of Krias HaTorah, and HaRav Eliya Lopian, Z’tl, simply went up to the Bima took one of the children by the hand gently and asked him:  “Where is your father?”--and took the child and brought him to his father! 


C.  Tzniyus teaches us that Hashem’s glory fills the entire world, and that Hashem sees and hears everything.  When a person acts with Tzniyus he is reminding himself that he is in Hashem’s presence--and fulfills the Torah’s teaching:  HiShamer Lecha Pen Tishkach Es Hashem Elokecha.” 


Special Note Four:  Several additional points and pointers relating to the elevated days of Elul:

A.  As we begin the last week of the year, Ashkenazic Jewry also begins the week of Selichos, during which time we take the extra time, and make the extra effort, to plead and supplicate for mercy through many powerful and beautiful Tefillos.  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 yisurin--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.  


So, this coming week as we ask for mercy, we should commit to practicing it--from not stepping on a bug even as you walk to Shul at daybreak, 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.  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.  May we excel at it--all the time!


B.  The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva writes that Teshuva applies not only to correction of aveiros, but to improvement in middos as well.  Clearly, one of the most insidious of middos ra’os is Ka’as or anger. Even the sound of the word ‘Ka’as’ is foreboding.  The following very powerful and very practical lesson on controlling anger is excerpted from yesterday’s daily lesson in the monumental work Positive Word Power (Artscroll/Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation):  “When we lose ourselves in anger, we immediately forget one salient fact:  It’s another human being on the receiving end of the diatribe.  It’s a person with a heart, with feelings, hopes, and struggles.  It’s a person like ourselves.  Finding the moment to connect to this reality is one of the most effective means available to curtail Ona’as Devarim in our lives.  Effective as it is, this strategy is difficult to enact when one’s temper has been lost and he is in the middle of an angry tirade.  It helps to plan the strategy now, when one is not being pulled by the undertow of powerful emotions.  What will you do the next time you feel the urge to launch a verbal attack?  Look into the person’s eyes as you speak to him.  See that there is a person there, with his own thoughts, his own problems.  Will your words disturb his sleep?  Will they arouse anger in him that he will take out on someone else?  Cause him to lost confidence in himself?  We don’t have to inflict pain on each other.  If we can feel the other person’s suffering, rather than blocking it out of our consciousness, we will be motivated to find another way: a gentler, more sensitive and respectful way.  The way we, ourselves, would like to be treated”.  Hakhel Note:  The next cycle of Positive Word Power will begin on Rosh Hashana.  Learning the practical and effective lessons from this Sefer in its beautifully written and easy-to-read daily format would truly be a meaningful and worthwhile project for the coming year!


 C.  Chazal teach:  “Al Tehi Rasha Lefnei Atzmecha--do not view yourself as a Rasha.”  This means that a person should not get down upon himself, or put himself down, and decide that “this is the way it is” or “this is the way I am.”  Quite the contrary, when a person realizes his thoughts, words, or actions are deficient in a particular area, he should view this realization or awareness as unique and personalized “Hashgacha Pratis”--a message from Hashem to take action and do something about that particular item or matter.  Hashem cares about you and wants you to succeed in all aspects of your life…you should care no less for yourself!  Indeed, on the teaching of Chazal “Tichleh Shana U’Kililoseha--let the year and its curses end,” and let the new year and its brachos begin, HaRav Gedalya Schorr, Zt’l, teaches that we must treat our foibles and faults of the previous year as a seed.  We must plant them in the ground out of sight and touch, and nurture our past experiences into a beautiful and blossoming new fruit during the coming year.  We should most definitely not let the sins of the past, and despair over them, obstruct the beautiful potential from growth that we have in the coming year.  We must realize that much brocha lies ahead--if we follow the path of blessing.


D.  Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita provides remarkable solace and encouragement in the name of the Chasam Sofer.  In the ordinary course, we are taught that Teshuvah performed out of Ahava (love of Hashem) converts Aveiros which were performed even intentionally into actual Zechuyos, while Teshuvah performed out of Yirah (Fear) turns Aveiros performed intentionally into Shegagos--unintentional sins--which Hashem will obviously treat much differently on the Yom HaDin, but which are still sin.  The Chasam Sofer, however, adds that if the other two key “seeking”components besides Teshuva--i.e., Tefillah and Tzedakah--are present, than even Teshuva performed out of Yirah will be able to convert those intentional Aveiros into Zechuyos!!  What a bonus! What an opportunity!  What a gift!!  Let us take the next ten days to make our search a very, very successful one...and may we blessed with an outpouring and overflowing of Zechuyos for ourselves... and for our people!


E.  Timely notes from a Shiur by Rabban Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita:


1.  Rabban Gamliel noted the particular Chessed of Hashem in letting us know that the Yom HaDin is coming.  Looking at the rest of the world around us, they appear clueless to, and certainly unprepared for, their impending judgment.  He related the very famous Mashal, which cannot be repeated enough, of the merchants who were trying to smuggle contraband over the border by putting it into a coffin, and asking the border guard to let the coffin through so that the deceased could be buried with respect in his hometown.  The guard, who was otherwise very busy and should have been easily distracted, insisted upon prying open the coffin notwithstanding the claims of its bearers that he would be disgracing the deceased by doing so.  He got a few guards together to open the box--and found not a body, but an incredible amount of merchandise packed into a small area.  Upon their arrest, the terrified merchants began to sob uncontrollably, and asked the border guard why he had especially insisted on making sure that the box was opened.  He replied that it was very simple--he saw no one crying over the deceased, and realized that something was awry.  ”Frankly, he said, I would really rather not have done this--if you would have cried before, you would not be crying now.”  Hakhel Note:  Unlike the merchants who even failed to cry at all, our tears before the Yom HaDin:

Should be heartfelt, real and sincere

For who can fathom the value of each and every tear

Before the Kisei HaKavod at this very special time of year?!


2.  The Arizal teaches how each part of Tefillah brings special Hashpa’os--special influences--to the different worlds--Asiyah, Yetzirah, Beriah, and Atzilus.  Where, then, does Tefillah bring a Hashpa’ah Tova--a positive influence, upon ourselves?  Rabban Gamliel answered that it is at the conclusion of Tefillah, in Aleinu LeShabeiach, that the Hashpa’ah of Tefillah come to rest upon us.  It is therefore essential for us to have Kavannah in Aleinu--for after helping all of the worlds, we must also help ourselves.  He emphasized that Tefillah is the major source of Hashpa’os Tovos--of Hashem’s Goodness coming upon us, and that it is for this reason that most of the day on the Yemei HaDin of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are spent in prayer, so that we have the greatest opportunity for the Hashpa’os Tovos to move and settle upon us.  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, once saw someone walking out of Shul at Aleinu.  He turned to him and said:  “Aleinu is not Tefillas HaDerech.”  We should instead appreciate very well the words of the Rema in Shulchan Aruch who writes (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 132:2) “VeYezaher BeOmro BeKavannah”--and one should be careful to recite Aleinu with Kavannah.  The Mishna Berurah (ibid. seif katan 8) adds that we should recite Aleinu “B’Aimah U’Veyirah--with awe and fear,” because all of the Heavenly Hosts stand together with Hashem and together they all exclaim:  “Ashrei HaAm Shekacha Lo….”  How powerful our Aleinu really is!


3.  Finally, Rabban Gamliel explained part of the symbolism of honey on Rosh Hashana.  Why do we need honey--after all, everything that Hashem gives to us is sweet, for no one cares about us and knows what is best for us in all circumstances more than Hashem.  The truth however is that we do not always recognize, we do not always “taste,” this sweetness.  With our honey, honey cake, tzimmes, and other honey products during the Yemei HaDin, we ask Hashem to shower us with those kinds of sweet things during the coming year in which we ourselves can actually taste, and savor the incredibly powerful and delectably delicious sweetness!



 Special Note Five:  The following lessons are excerpted from Elul: Inspirational Words and Tefillos for the Most Important Part of the Year by Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, Shlita:


1.  “The Mashgiach of Yeshivas Bais Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, New Jersey, HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, teaches that the main goal of the Yetzer Hora is to try to make a person forget his special quality--that he is a ben melech--the son of the King.  As a result of this degradation and resulting misperception, the person sinks to a low level and does things which are not fitting for his roya1 status.  Yosef HaTzaddik. at the time of the greatest test in his life, argued with the wife of Potifar”  ”I have a connection to my father and therefore, I cannot connect to what you are saying.”  Consequently, he emerged from the test unscathed.  This is the way that a person should conduct himself during Elul--raising himself to come close to the truth of “Ani LeDodi VeDodi Li.”  One must be aware of his inherent aristocracy, and his actions should reflect that awareness.  A chossid once asked the great tzaddik, Reb Shlomo of Karlin, Z’tl, ‘What is the greatest aveirah that a person could commit in his life?’  Reb Shlomo put his face into his hands, thought for a moment and then said, “The greatest aveirah a person could commit is to forget that he is the son if the King’!”


2.  In the Sefer, Rabbi Goldwasser presents seven moving Tefillos on Teshuva (in Hebrew) from various important sources--to help move you, and put you into a frame of mind for Teshuva.


3.  “The Gematria of Elul (67) is the same as the Gematria of binah, understanding--for when acquires sufficient understanding, he will be moved to do Teshuva.”


Hakhel Note:  With this awareness, we can perhaps suggest the answer to a question which may initially trouble many women.  Why is it that men have the benefit of the Shofar being blown every weekday morning in Elul to awaken them to the special times-while women davening at home have no such fearful reminder?  We may propose that the Shofar is intended to instill the ‘binah’-the understanding in a person to recognize his position and situation and do Teshuvah. Women, on the other hand, are blessed with a ‘binah yeseira’-a special level of binah, which jump starts them without the actual need of the Tekias Shofar every morning.  Indeed, Binah’s sharing of the same gematria as Elul, may indicate to us that women are on a heightened level of awareness the entire year!  In a similar vein, the Yarmulke which men must wear to remind themselves to subjugate themselves to their Creator is not worn by women--because though their added level of binah--they are already Yarei Malka--they are a step ahead in the fear of their Creator.  The Shofar, then, is the great equalizer--we all have a little over a week until Rosh Hashana to get the job done--let’s really succeed this year!



Special Note One:  We continue our regular Monday/Thursday listing of the Mitzvos Asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times, as set forth in his Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar.  Today, we present Mitzvos 71 and 72:


71.  HaKem Takim--this is the Mitzvas Asei to help someone reload his package--either on his animal or on himself.  If one sees a person who needs help loading and does not help him, he has been mevatel this Mitzvah, unless he is a zakein and it is not in accordance with his honor (even then if he would reload it for himself, he must do so for another, and in all events one should do lifnim meshuras hadin and help someone even if it is not in accordance with his honor). If one has two Mitzvos in front of him--that of unloading and loading, the Mitzvah of unloading takes precedence, since it helps in alleviating an animal’s suffering, with one exception:  If it is someone who one dislikes (in the limited case that this is permitted halachically) who is loading--then it takes precedence to help him, so that one defeats his Yetzer Hara (i.e., which is telling him to ignore this person).  When one unloads, he is permitted to charge for his services.  Both the Mitzvos of unloading and loading apply in all places and at all times and to men and women alike. 


72.  Hochacha--this is the Mitzvas Asei to reprove someone who has sinned, as the Pasuk states “Hocheiach Tochiach Es Amisecha”.  When giving tochacha, one should advise the person that he is really sinning against himself with his deeds, and tell him that the reason he is giving him the rebuke is for his own good-- to bring him to Chayei Olam Haba.  One should give rebuke only to one he believes would listen, so that he would not do the sin again.  One must even give Tochacha to a person of greater stature then himself, and one who has the ability to rebuke and does not do so is also held accountable for the sin.  One should not begin the process of Tochacha by embarrassing the sinner.  It is a Mitzvah to accept rebuke and to appreciate and love the rebuker for having done so.  This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times and to men and women alike.  Hakhel Note:  More on this in Special Note Three below.



Special Note Two:  We continue with our focus on the Eighteenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Hoda’ah--Thanksgiving.  Yesterday, we noted the difference between Nodeh Lecha and U’Nesaper Tehillasecha.  Now, the Bracha lists specific categories of what we thank Hashem for:


1)  Al Chayeinu HaMesurim BeYadecha”--for our lives that are in Your hands--i.e., that we live and breathe!  Hashem’s Chesed is so great that we continue to live even during the time that we speak Lashon Hara, as we walk in late to shul, as we disturb someone’s learning, as we pain someone physically or with words.   Moreover, with every moment of life He grants us here, He gives us the opportunities we need to be zoche to more and more life--in this world, and the eternal life of Olam Haba.


2)  VeAl Nishmoseinu HaPekudos Lach”--and for our souls that are deposited with You every evening, which are returned refreshed in the morning. Even if we owe Hashem huge apologies for what we did the day before, He still graciously renews us for another day, hopefully of betterment.  We very well understand why before going to sleep, we recite the Pasuk “BeYadecha Afkid Ruchi Padisa Osi Hashem Kel Emes”, and when we arise why we recite “Modeh Ani Lefanecha…!”


3) “VeAl Nisecha Shebechol Yom Imanu”--and for the miracles that are with us every day.  This means to include not the major miracles, but the more private, hidden miracles that keep the person going every day…the continuous miracles of the human body, one’s physical and mental health, one’s Parnassah….


4) “VeAl Nifliosecha VeTovosecha She’bechol Eis, Erev, Vavoker, VeTzaharayim”--and for the wonders of life and for the goodness that we see bestowed upon us--at all times, evening, morning and afternoon.  Some learn that the phrase Erev, Vavoker, VeTzaharayim refers back to when we thank Hashem--at all times, morning, evening and during the day.  Others learn that it refers to when He showers His wonders and goodness upon us--every day, throughout the day.  Both are certainly true! 


We note that one should definitely put his thought into the four concepts above, personalizing them to one’s own life, especially thinking of particular examples as he recites the words (and they certainly can be different examples daily--Boruch Hashem!)



Special Note Three:  Several additional points and pointers relating to the elevated days of Elul:


A.  HaRav Yaakov Galinsky, Shlita, in his recently published Sefer on Elul and the Yomim Noraim (Hebrew) brings the following two teachings from the Sefer Orchos Tzadikim: (1) “A small act performed with Anavah (humility) is accepted before Hashem 1,000 times more than an erstwhile great act that is done with ga’avah; and (2) a Mitzvah performed with Simcha is worth 1,000 times more than a Mitzvah that is performed as a masah, a burden.”  HaRav Galinsky added that if we put these two together--Anavah and Simcha in our Mitzvah performance, we are in the 1,000 times 1,000 category (millionaires!).


B.  The Gemara (Brachos 19A) brings the case of one who was put into nidui (excommunication) because he was mezalzel B’Netilas Yodayim--he did not properly treat the Mitzvah D’Rabbanan of Netilas Yodayim.  At the Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Shlita, stressed how important it is to make sure that one washes his entire hand during Netilas Yodayim, and showed how one could do so in a hand-turning motion.  We wash our hands for various Halachic reasons so many times a week--and will certainly do so on Shabbos and Rosh Hashana--let us revisit our Netilas Yodayim and perhaps review with our Rav or Posek our proper performance of the Mitzvah--so that we are not c’v mezalzel B’Netilas Yodayim--but instead are mechabed this great Mitzvah of Netilas Yodayim--performed so often n our lives! 


C.  In s short while, most of us will fulfill the Mitzvah of Tekiyas Shofar by listening to the Shofar blasts.  In fact, the bracha (which we will hear) will be Lishmo’ah Kol Shofar.  The Chofetz Chaim points out that Kabbalas HaTorah at Har Sinai was also through our hearing--Na’aseh V’Nishmah.  What goes along with all of this, writes the Chofetz Chaim, are the words of Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men:  Mishlei (15:31) “Ozen Shoma’as Tochachas Chaim B’Kerev Chachomim Talin--the ear that listens to reproof of life dwells among the wise.”  The importance of listening to reproof is highlighted by Chazal (Bava Kama 83B) who teach us that if one destroyed his fellow’s eye or his hand, the court evaluates the victim in the same way as a slave being sold in the market--how much he was worth with all his limbs, and much he is worth now with one limb missing. But should he make the victim deaf, he must pay equivalent to the person’s complete value, because he can no longer hear reproof that will bring him to the life of the World to Come!  (Presented in the English translation of Mishlei by Rabbi Avrohom Rosenberg; Judaica Press).


Additional Note:  In the Orchos Chaim LaRosh (No. 45), the Rosh writes that “one should be happy when hearing words of Mussar, as if having found a great treasure.”  HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl, explains this passage with the following analogy:  A young soldier is suddenly surrounded by the enemy.  Out of nowhere, a senior officer appears and shows the soldier exactly how he can extricate himself from the situation--and even defeat the enemy.  Likewise, our Rabbanim, our Maggidei Shiur, our teachers are our senior officers who are extending a life-line to us with their guidance and teachings.  HaRav Kotler teaches--should we not rejoice with, and should we not implement, their heartfelt words of direction and assistance?!  We must listen carefully and closely--and seriously ponder and think about--how to thrive and grow from their words!



Special Note Four:  We continue with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, on the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chelko (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, Shlita:




A.  If Reuven embarrasses Shimon and Shimon elects to forgo any repartee or any act of ‘getting back’ or vengeance, he has fulfilled the Mitzvas Asei of VeHalachta Bidrachav--following in the ways of Hashem.  One can fulfill the Mitzvas Asei of VeHalachta Bidrachav many times a day in the course of his interpersonal relationships!  One should also realize that when acting with Bitachon in Hashem, he fulfills the Mitzvas Asei of Tamim Tihiyeh Im Hashem Elokecha.  Even when thinking about Hashem’s greatness, he can fulfill the Mitzvas Asei of VeYadata HaYom VeHasheivosah El Levavecha Ki Hashem Hu HaElokim.  We do many Mitzvos every day--all we have to do is simply think a little bit better about what we are accomplishing! 


B.  With respect to the Mitzvah of Tzitzis, the Pasuk teaches: “LeMa’an Tizkeru VeAsisem Es Kol Mitzvosai, VeHeyisem Kedoshim Lailokeichem--we wear Tzitzis so that we remember and perform all of the Mitzvos, and so that we will be holy to Hashem.”  We see, then, that the Tzitzis themselves add Kedusha to our lives.  Let us think about this as we put them on-- when we see them--and when we take them off to retire for the evening!


C.  Bitachon means that there can be a Yeshuah in the same way that there was a tzara.  For instance, on Chanukah when we recite Al HaNisim…--that Hashem gave over the strong into the hands of the weak and the many into the hands of the few, we are affirming that we do not go by numbers or statistics--but by the Yad Hashem, and only by the Yad Hashem.  When we go to war against our enemies the Torah tells us Lo Tirah Meihem--do not fear them!...for it is only appropriate to fear Hashem--and to fear sin and do Teshuvah!



Special Note One:  We continue with our focus on the Eighteenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Hoda’ah--Thanksgiving. The next phrase is “Atta Hu--You are”.  This is the second time within the first several words of the Bracha that we recite the phrase Atta Hu--representing our unique relationship to Hashem in the second and third ‘person’ is mentioned within the Bracha.  The next phrase is “L’Dor VaDor--from generation to generation”.  The Iyun Tefillah presents two possibilities as to the meaning of this phrase within the Bracha.  The first is that it concludes the previous words of Tzur Chayeinu Magen Yisheinu Atta Hu--L’Dor VaDor.  In other words, we thank Hashem for being the Rock of our life (as described yesterday) and the Shield of our salvation (as described yesterday) from generation to generation--for, as we describe in the Haggadah, “Bechol Dor VaDor…in each and every generation they stand up to destroy us.”  A second p’shat in L’Dor VaDor , writes the Iyun Tefillah, is that it is the introduction to the next phrase of Nodeh Lecha U’Nesaper Tehillasecha--meaning that in each generation we thank You for the unique gifts and Hashgacha that You give to that generation.  Indeed, the Chasdei Hashem change in accordance with the needs of the time and the needs of the place.  The difference between the terms Nodeh and Nesaper is that Nodeh refers to our thanks personally as expressed directly to Hashem, while Nesaper means that we relate to others and publicize that which Hashem has done for us (as in the popular song taken from the Pasuk in Tehillim (107:8) “Yodu Lashem Chasdo VeNifliosav Livnei Adam”).  While it may be inappropriate to sing the words of Modim--we can certainly feel the joy while expressing our thanks!



Special Note Two:  Several additional points and pointers relating to the elevated days of Elul:


A.  IMPORTANT REMINDER!  The Seforim refer to the days of Elul as Yemei Ratzon; Yemei HaRachamim V’HaSelichos; and Yamim Kedoshim.  It is three weeks until Yom Kippur--let us treasure each day!  Please note that this is not the time of year when one should feel that he has ‘maxed out’, doing the best and the most that he can.  Just as to the wealthy, there is always room for an extra profit, another good deal, another asset, another gain, so too, we can expand our ‘I’ to bring in those extra mitzvos, and those extra improvements in character and in daily deeds which can truly improve a person’s life--in this world, and forever!


B. When reviewing our actions and inactions over the past year, we must remember to include the doubtful actions and possible misdeeds as well.  The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 604:1) writes that a safek aveirah needs more Teshuvah than a certain aveirah because a person feels more charatah when he knows that he did wrong than when he is in doubt.  In fact, it is for this reason that the monetary cost of an Asham Talui (brought when one is unsure he has sinned) is greater than that of a Korban Chatas (brought when a sin is certainly committed).  Hakhel Note:  Perhaps one can keep a separate (hopefully short) listing of matters of doubt.  We add that this is an especially important time to ask one’s Rav or Posek for final decisions as to how to properly conduct oneself in a particular area (such as a matter of Hilchos Shabbos or a particular item in Hilchos Kashrus) if one is not certain if what he is doing is correct, and does so either because he thinks it is correct or saw someone else do the same thing in a similar situation.


C.  At the recent Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, HaRav Don Segal, Shlita, related what HaRav Avrohom Kalmanovitz, Z’tl, the Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva heard from the Chofetz Chaim himself:  “What is the greatest tzara to a Jew?  The greatest tzara is if Hashem leaves us.  When does Hashem leave us?  The answer is found in the Torah itself [last week’s Parsha (Devarim 23:15)]:  VeLo Yireh Vecha Ervas Davar V’Shav Mei’acharecha--and Hashem will not see a thing of nakedness in you, and depart from you.”  The Torah expressly states that it is the ervas davar that causes Hashem to leave our camp.”  Accordingly, the Chofetz Chaim concluded that any hidur that we can perform to avoid ervas davar is a hidur in keeping the Shechina close by to us.  We need to keep our Machaneh Kadosh for Hashem to be with us and save us from those who wish to attack us and destroy us.  In some ways, HaRav Segal added, the sight of erva could be worse than the aveirah of arayos itself.  He noted the words of Chazal who teach:  Ain HaBracha Metzuyah Ela B’Davar HaSamui Min HaAyin--and suggested that one can interpret this teaching to mean that bracha can only be found when d’var erva is hidden from one’s eyes.”  HaRav Segal accordingly pleaded and encouraged all men and women to be especially careful and concerned with the way they dress, and also reminded everyone that it a Gevaldige Eis Ratzon to daven to Hashem for anything at a time that one consciously guards his eyes from looking at or towards something that he should not be looking at.


D.  This is a time of year when we are all seeking to come close to Hashem.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, teaches that one of the most serious items that separates us from Hashem is our ga’avah--our arrogance, haughtiness, and simple belief that we ‘did it ourselves’.  We must be careful to avoid the feeling of “Kochi VeOtzem Yadi--it is my ability and my prowess that achieved the result.”  When one quashes this thought, he recognizes Hashem’s continuous presence in his life and moves closer to Him.  In this regard, we should take nothing for granted--it is not a sure thing that one knows how to go to a store, buy a bottle of milk, have the money to pay for it, and return home safely.  Every step of the way, it is only with Hashem’s guiding light and loving hand!


E.  Talmud Torah K’Negged Kulam”.  We all know how important Talmud Torah is.  A simple but outstanding method of one demonstrating this in his personal life is by not allowing oneself to be interrupted or disturbed while studying--whether it is a five minute study session or a one-hour study session.  If one is, bli neder, mekabel this as Limud Beretzifus--knowingly and willingly not looking at the cell phone, nor allowing for words of batalah or extraneous words during his study session or Shiur, then he has obviously elevated himself to a wonderful level of ‘Na’aseh V’Nishmah’.  There is a second simple method in which one can demonstrate on a daily basis his awareness and his oneness with Talmud Torah K’Negged Kulam.  That is, if one has two tasks that one could perform in front of him--to open up a Sefer and study Torah, or to do something else--and one consciously chooses the study of Torah as a matter of priority, a matter of principle--he has demonstrated that in his life--it is truly Talmud Torah K’Negged Kulam.  We must show that it is not simply a matter of Hashkafa, or even a significant Ma’amar Chazal--but that it is a Divine standard that we live by in our daily lives.  Each and every one of us can be a living embodiment of--Talmud Torah K’Negged Kulam!



Special Note Three:  We continue with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, on the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chelko (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, Shlita:




A.  Rabbeinu Yonah movingly writes:  Vekiyum Mitzvas Asei Nikrah Yiras Shomayim Kemo HaZehirus BeMitzvos Lo Sa’aseh--and the fulfillment of a Mitzvas Asei is called Yiras Shomayim, just as is staying clear of violating a Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh.”  Incredibly, according to Rabbeinu Yonah, for every Mitzvah a person performs, he also fulfills a separate Mitzvah along with it of Yiras Hashem--as long, of course, as he does not perform the Mitzvah out of habit and rote, without thought (mitzvas anashim melumadah).


B.  VeZos Min HaChamuros U’Min HaIkarim Hanidrashim Min Ha’adam--and this is one of the most stringent and most essential items that Hashem expects of a person.”  To what do these words of the Sha’arei Teshuvah refer?  To exert tircha and ameilus in Gemilus Chesed--helping others, whether they are rich or poor.  HaRav Salomon notes that because the Rabbeinu Yonah uses the words tircha and ameilus with respect to Chesed, it appears that the same amount of effort that one puts into Torah should be put into one’s Chesed!


C.  There is a separate Mitzvas Asei of “U’Vacharta BaChaim--to choose life” (Devarim 30:19).  HaRav Salomon explains that the essence of this unique Mitzvah is for us to approach Mitzvos as life, and aveiros as death.  It is for this reason that we have a rule of Safek DeOraysa LeChumrah--if one is not sure about something on a Torah level, he should be stringent--for it is a matter of Safek Chaim--of life itself!  When one chooses to do a Mitzvah, he is making the conscious choice to choose life!




Special Note One:  We continue with our focus on the Eighteenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Hoda’ah--Thanksgiving. The next phrase is “Sho’attah Hu Hashem Elokeinu V’Elokei Avoseinu LeOlam Va’ed--that You are our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers forever.”  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, first points out that Atta Hu puts together the second and third ‘person’, which is similar to all of our brachos, in which we say:  Atta Hashem”--noting our unique relationship to Hashem both in the second and third ‘person’.  We then continue stating that Hashem is our Elokeinu, before mentioning that he is Elokei Avoseinu.  Our relationship with Hashem is primarily based on our own closeness to Hashem, but the basis of this ability is definitely Hashem’s bond with the Avos.  [This concept is similar to the words of the Shira where the Pasuk says “Zeh Keili V’Anveihu Elokei Avi VeAromemenu”--in which we first express our personal relationship with Hashem, before ‘going back’ to describe our forefathers’ connection with Him.]  HaRav Friedlander points out that Elokeinu V’Elokei Avoseinu LeOlam Va’ed describes our closeness to Hashem in three time periods, the present--Elokeinu, the past--Elokei Avoseinu, and the future--LeOlam Va’ed.  We then continue with two further descriptions of our relationship with Hashem--Tzur Chayeinu and Magen Yisheinu--the Rock of our life and the Shield of our salvation.  By the ‘Rock’ of our life, we mean that our living breaths have a source in Him, He is the Rock from which our lives or hewn, and also that He is a Rock upon Whom we lean and support ourselves, as the Pasuk (Devarim 32:37) expressly states “Tzur Chasayu Vo--the Rock Whom all of our trust is in.”  By the term “Magen Yisheinu--the Shield of our salvation” we recognize that Hashem shields us from tzaros even before they come (Magen), and even if they do come, He saves us from the tzara (Yisheinu).  We have only begun the Bracha--and we see how packed it is with precious and priceless meaning!



Special Note Two:  Yesterday, at the Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, we benefited from outstanding Shiurim given by our Gedolei Rabbanim.  We urge you to obtain the full measure of their words by obtaining CD’s and tapes--718-252-5274.  We provide below just several points and pointers from the Shiurim relating to the elevated days of Elul and Teshuvah we are in:


A.  Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, noted that after Shema in the morning we have 15 adjectives after the word Emes--Veyatziv, VeNachon, VeKayam….  Yet, in Ma’ariv we only have one adjective--V’Emunah.  Indeed, even in Shacharis, after reciting VeYatziv VeNachon we recite Emes V’Emunah Chok Velo Ya’avor--in the end it is our faith and trust in Hashem that remains steadfast and enduring. In the darkness of the night of galus, our strongest link is our Emunah.  Our Emunah, however, should not be expressed simply as Hashem does this, or did that, but should be based in the bracha of Ahava Rabba or Ahavas Olam which preceded it.  Our Emunah must be based in a deep love and appreciation of all that Hashem does for us in our relationship with Him.  Our Emunah is not to be lip-service, it is to be like the strong love of a parent to a child, or of a husband to a wife, as all of Shir HaShirim demonstrates! 


B.  Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Shlita, taught from the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah that we need only begin the process of Teshuvah, and Hashem will go so far as to change our nature in order to complete the process.  Many times, a person may claim:  “I am addicted”, “It is my nature” or “I cannot change”.  Technically, they may be right--but Hashem will actually change that if the person is sincere in his penitence.  Rabbi Oelbaum showed that it is actually an explicit Pasuk in the Torah:  U’Mal Hashem Elokecha Es Levavecha--Hashem Himself will circumcise our hearts.”  Rabbi Oelbaum discussed at length doing Teshuvah in areas where the Mishkal HaChassidus (weighing factors to determine which is the Mitzvah and which is the Aveirah) is involved, and provided real and practical examples. Rabbi Oelbaum also spoke about Emes, noting that just like a piece of steak cannot be 90% Kosher and 10% treif, so too, a statement cannot be 90% truth and 10% falsehood.  Rabbi Oelbaum noted that many people attend or listen to shiurim, but because we are blessed with so many Shiurim--people may not take the true lessons that they are supposed to glean from the Shiur they just attended or heard.  Instead of a shiur just being something that one goes to and comes home from, one should take the time to try and apply what one has just heard to his everyday life--really and practically! 


C.  Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, taught that the process of Elul for human beings should be viewed much like the search for Chometz in the 30 days before Pesach.  It is simply not enough to think and do in generalities--one must search in the nooks and crannies, being specific as to where the Chometz may be found--and removing it or being mevatel it.  So too, in Elul, it is insufficient for a person to say “I will learn more Torah” or “I will try to do better next year with my mouth”, etc.  Just as before Pesach we take apart the house, performing an orderly search, which will ultimately benefit us and produce a wonderful holiday, so too in Elul, we need to go through the different parts of our life in detail, and identify where the ‘Chometz’ lies, so that we can rid ourselves of it.  We have to be cognizant of the big problems and the little problems, the real issues that others have with us, and the little shortcomings as well.  We must make a mental [or better yet] or written list of what is not as perfect as it should be.  Examples:  How does one walk into the house after his day at work?  Does one have an emphasis on sensitivity to others, or does he just blurt out words?  [Rabbi Belsky noted that harmful words are usually not intentional but come from not being careful and simply letting them pop out.]  Continue your introspection:  Am I noted for my smile?  Do people like to be in the room with me because I keep people happy?  Is anyone scared of me?  Make an exhaustive list, and then perhaps an abbreviated list for immediate focus.  One should treasure his successes one by one, as he grows in his Middos and Ma’asim Tovim.  This is the groundwork for Teshuvah.  


D.  HaRav Don Segal, Shlita, (in Yiddish) taught that the Avodah of Elul is the Avodah of a person realizing who he is supposed to be--what is his own mahus, what is his own character.  We are all familiar with the concept that in Elul, we are supposed to arise from our deep sleep and slumber.  When one is sleeping, he is not living life as his true self.  His dreams tell him that he may be on a plane, in Spain, or having conversations that never have or never will happen with people that he may or may not know.  It is not reality.  When one wakes up, he realizes who he is and what he really has to accomplish today.  The essence of Elul is not a time to straighten out that which he ‘messed up’ during the year--it is for one to recognize who he really is--for the rest of his life.  HaRav Segal also pleaded with everyone to daven with great Kavannah this Rosh Hashana--for with everything going on in the world, who knows what Hashem has to rule upon in the coming year?  He noted that the Chazon Ish wrote that Tefillah is a ‘Mateh Oz BeYad Ha’adam--a powerful tool in the hands of people to arouse Heavenly mercy.”  Hashem is there for us--Bechol Koreinu Eilav--in all that we call out to Him! 



Special Note Three:  We continue with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, on the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chelko (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, Shlita:




A.  Rabbeinu Yonah remarkably teaches that when one is victorious in a battle against the Yetzer Hara, he fulfills the Mitzvas Asei of Yiras Hashem, and it is for this that one is rewarded.  The Rambam learns that when one thwarts the Yetzer Hara and does not do an aveirah, he is rewarded based on the fact that Hashem’s measure of reward is greater than that of His punishment.  Accordingly, if the punishment for having faltered would have been x, then the reward for not falling prey is y plus…. 


B.  Hashem wants us to perform all of the Mitzvos, even those that are easier to perform and might be treated lightly by some.  The reason for this is that Hashem wants man to be as complete as possible, and performing all of the Mitzvos is necessary for that completeness.  If a person beautifully performs only certain Mitzvos, he can be compared to owning an orchard which has only one type of fruit--as opposed to an orchard filled with different fruit trees, in which one sees all types of beautiful sites and wonderful fragrances.  Another way to look at one who has not performed the Mitzvos Kallos that he could have is as one who owns a chain of beautiful and precious jewels which is missing several links--as beautiful and precious as the jewels on the chain are--without additional links, the chain is simply not complete. 


C.  When it comes to the performance of Mitzvos, Hashem has two Cheshbonos--how much is this Mitzvah worth to Hashem (which we have no idea about), and how much effort and energy a person puts into a Mitzvah--and with respect to that it is Lefum Tza’ara Agra--according to the effort is the reward.  HaRav Mattisyahu brings the Maharal who explains why the Torah states the reward of certain Mitzvos if one cannot be truly rewarded in this world for Mitzvos, as Sechar Mitzvah BeHai Alma Leka--one cannot reward spirituality in physicality.  The Maharal explains that the reward described in the Torah is only for the effort involved and has nothing to do with Hashem’s Cheshbon of what the Mitzvah is worth to Him in the Next World!  Although we do not perform Mitzvos for their reward--there is much that Hashem--on His own Cheshbon--wants to shower upon us!



Special Note One:  We continue our regular Monday/Thursday listing of the Mitzvos Asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times, as set forth in his Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar.  Today, we present Mitzvos 69 and 70:


69.  Hashavas Aveidah--this is the Mitzvas Asei (found in last week’s Parsha!) to return a lost item to its owner.  If a person fails to do so without a proper exemption, he violates a Mitzvas Asei and a Lo Sa’aseh.  If he keeps the object for himself, then he violates this Mitzvas Asei and two Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh.  The Mitzvah to return an object applies even to the object of a rasha--as long as he does not eat neveilos lehachis or is a mechalel Shabbos b’farhesya, in a manner in which he would be considered an apikores. If the object is one which is not in accordance with the finder’s honor to pick up (example: if it was his own then he would leave it there as well) then he does not have to deal with it--but even then it would be lifnim mishuras hadin to do, vetavoh alav bracha.  The Chofetz Chaim brings the Rabbeinu Yonah who teaches that if one is obligated to take effort to save a person’s monetary possessions, certainly is he obligated to save the person himself when he is in a difficult or precarious situation.  The Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.


70.  Azov Ta’azov Imo--this is the Mitzvas Asei to unburden another’s animal which is having difficulty with its load.  One is obligated to unload the animal for free, however a zakein to whom doing so would be beneath his dignity is patur from the Mitzvah.  If one helped unload, and the animal was reloaded and began to suffer again, one is obligated to continuously help.  In fact, one is obligated to travel along up to a parsah, unless the owner of the animal says that it is not necessary.



Special Note Two:  We continue with our study of the Nineteen Brachos of Shemone Esrei.  This week we focus on the Eighteenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Hoda’ah--Thanksgiving. Hoda’ah is such an important bracha that the Mishna Berurah writes that if one did not have proper Kavannah in the bracha of Avos, then there are Poskim who rules that having Kavannah in this bracha of Hoda’ah satisfies the minimum Kavannah requirement.  The Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl (Brachos 27) brings from the Sefer Rokeach that Kavannah is me’akeiv either in the Bracha of Avos or in the Bracha of Hoda’ah, and so if one did not have Kavannah in the Bracha of Avos, he should be sure to have Kavannah in the Bracha of Hoda’ah in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tefillah.  The Sifsei Chaim explains why the Bracha of Modim is so crucial that it could be equated with the Bracha Avos in this sense--‘for the ikar of Tefillah is a feeling of our sheer dependency on and subservience to HaKadosh Baruch Hu--to know and feel that everything comes from Hashem--and this is exactly what we express in the Bracha of Hoda’ah.  The word “Modim”, explains the Sifsei Chaim, bears two meanings:  (a) to be Modeh Al HaEmes--to admit to the truth, and (b) to express Todah or thanks and HaKaras HaTov to Hashem.  Of course, the two thoughts are related--once we recognize that Hashem directs everything, we express our thanks for all that He does for us.  The first thing we recognize/thank Hashem for is that he is “Hashem Elokeinu”.  As we have noted in the past, the term Hashem Elokeinu refers to Hashem’s Rachamim towards us, and His Hashgacha Pratis over us in all matters.  We may accordingly suggest that the first words of the Bracha express the theme beautifully:  Modim Anachnu Lach”--we thank Hashem that we are His! 



Special Note Three:  Several additional points and pointers relating to the elevated days of Elul:


A.  In last week’s Parsha (Devarim 21:21), the Torah writes: “Uvi’arta Hara’ah Mikirbecha--and you shall remove the evil from your midst.”  HaRav Avrohom Rogler, Z’tl, (author of the Sefer Ma’alos HaTorah, and brother of the G’ra), remarkably teaches that every time one fights his Yetzer Harah and consciously does not do what the Yetzer Harah is pushing him to do, he should have in mind these words :  Uvi’arta Hara’ah Mikirbecha.  Each time one does so, teaches HaRav Avrohom--he fulfills the Mitzvas Asei of-- Uvi’arta Hara’ah Mikirbecha!  What better time than now to fill-up on this Mitzvas Asei! 


B.  Chazal teach about the Ben Sorer U’Moreh, that he is put to death after all of the conditions are fulfilled, because Yamus Zakai VeAl Yamus Chayav--he should die innocent, rather than guilty.  Fascinatingly, Chazal do not teach that he should die innocent rather than rob people or murder them, but rather that he should be put to death in order not to die guilty--focusing only on the Ben Sorer U’Moreh, and not the evil that he would bring upon others.  We derive from this how important it is for a person to do a Cheshbon HaNefesh about the effect of an aveirah upon himself--even before the impact and extent of his actions have an effect on other people.  When a person, for instance, speaks Lashon Hara--he must realize what a detrimental effect it has on him personally.  Rabbeinu Yonah (Sha’arei Teshuvah 3:210) brings Chazal who teach that we are beloved to Hashem because of our voice, and we are hated by Hashem because of our voice.  If we use our voice for Torah, Tefillah and words of Chesed, then Hashem says:  (Shir HaShirim 2:14) “HaShme’ini Es Koleich--I want to hear your voice.”  However, if our voice is used for improper purposes, then beyond its adverse impact on others (and perhaps their descendants for generations and generations), Hashem says (Yirmiyah 12:8):  Nasnah Alai BeKolah Al Kein Seneisi’ah--she raised her voice against me, therefore I hated her.”  Hakhel Observation:  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Mishlei (18:21) “Maves V’Chaim BeYad Lashon--death and life are in the hands of the tongue.”  Let us make the ‘death’ part of our tongue a part of our past--so that we are only left with the Chaim B’Yad Lashon--life is what comes from our tongue!  [More from the Sha’arei Teshuvah in Special Note Four.] 


C.  Chazal (Brachos 32B--yesterday’s Daf) bring the Pasuk that we had been reciting daily for more than two weeks, “Kavei El Hashem Chazak VeYa’ameitz Libecha V’Kavei El Hashem--Hope to Hashem, strengthen yourself and He will give you courage, and Hope to Hashem (Artscroll translation).” Chazal (ibid.) derive from this Pasuk--and this is truly an amazing point to keep in mind--every act of personal supplication, of Tefillah, is an act of Kavei El Hashem.  Perhaps before making a personal request, one can think of these very words--Kavei El Hashem! 


D.  As we move closer to the re-inauguration of Hashem’s Creation of, and Malchus over, the world, it behooves us to pay special attention and respect to all of the creations that we actually find around us.  The following is excerpted from the Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 2):  “A person should accustom himself to respect all creatures, recognizing in them the superiority of the. Creator, Who formed man with His wisdom--and that all creatures contain in them the wisdom of the Creator. A person should realize that they (all creatures) are greatly precious, since He Who fashioned all things--the Wise and Superior Above All--has involved Himself with creating them, and if one despises them, c’v, it affects the honor of their Creator.  This

is comparable to a wise craftsman who makes a vessel with great wisdom. and when he displays his work to people, one of them begins to disgrace and despise it. How upset will that craftsman be, since, by despising the work of his hands, one is despising his very wisdom.  So, too, HaKadosh Baruch Hi is grieved if one despises any of His creatures.  This is the meaning of the Pasuk:  "Mah Rabu Ma’asecha Hashem--How great are Your works,  Hashem." (Tehillim104:24).  The Pasuk does not say “Mah Gadlu” (how magnificent), but rather, how great--which suggests importance, as in the Pasuk "Rav Beiso--the very important people of the house" (Esther 1:8).

The Pasuk in Tehillim continues:  "Kulam BeChochma Asisah--You have made them all with wisdom."   Thus, since Your Wisdom was involved in creating them, Your works are very important--and it is proper for man not despise them, but to recognize and perceive Hashem’s wisdom in each and every one of them!  Hakhel Note:  Every branch, every leaf, every spider web, every squirrel, every opossum, every pigeon, the gray sky and the blue sky, the air, the water, the stars, and the celestial hosts--everything and anything--Hashem is the Creator and they are all His creations--Mah Rabu Ma’asecha Hashem! 



Special Note Four:  We continue with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, on the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chelko (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, Shlita:




A.  HaRav Salomon notes that Rabbeinu Yonah originally wrote four She’arim--Sha’ar HaYirah, Sha’ar HaTorah, Sha’ar HaAvodah, and Sha’ar HaTeshuvah.  The only one that survived the trials and tribulations of our Galus is the precious Sha’ar HaTeshuvah.  How we must endear ourselves to that which is left of the Gates of Rabbeinu Yonah!


B.  Dovid HaMelech teaches Tehillim (112:1):  Ashrei Ish Yarei Es Hashem--fortunate is the man who fears Hashem.”  Rabbeinu Yona reminds us that this is especially so when he is an Ish--when he still has a yetzer hara to fight and best.  If a person is weaker and frailer, the Teshuvah is not as wholesome.  Let us do battle as Ish--with our power and might. 


C.  Even though there is a principle in Halacha of ‘Safeik D’Rabbanan L’Kulah--when in doubt on a matter which is MiD’Rabanan we take the lenient approach, this does not mean that what the Rabannan teach is kal, or light.  All it means is that they provided that one could be lenient in instances of doubt--but the actual Halacha is extremely serious.  It is wrong to say ‘it is only a D’Rabbanan’.  In fact, it would appear that the reason that a person who violates the Divrei Chachomim is chayav misah is because he treats their teachings lightly.  Moreover, he will come to sin time and time again, because of this improper attitude.  It is really just the opposite--as the Chachomim instituted their gezeiros for purposes of Yirah.  In fact, the reward for Yirah itself is greater than many Mitzvos, because it is the foundation of all Mitzvos.  For instance, one who is careful about Yichud with a member of the opposite gender lest he sin--brings upon himself the Ohr Yiras Elokim Yisborach (see Sanhedrin 21B).  The Chachomim bring the light of Yirah upon us! 


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