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26 Tishrei

REMINDER! Just a few days ago, we began reciting “Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGeshem--He causes the wind to blow and brings down the rain.” The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah adds a bit more depth to its recitation. Hashem causes the wind to blow--bringing the clouds to where they are needed, and brings each drop down to its proper place at its proper time to fulfill its purpose--be it for punishment, be it for pleasure, or be it to maintain life itself. We must remember that each and every drop of rain has a place and a purpose, and we should reinforce this understanding every time we praise Hashem with these words. The added benefit to this one additional second of Kavannah at Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGeshem is that you will definitely remember whether you recited Mashiv HaRuach in your Shemone Esrei.  Additional Point: One may want to keep his finger on the words of the first bracha of Shemone Esrei and continue doing the same through Mashiv HaRuach--as an additional assurance that one does not miss this very important addition!


Special Note One: Our singing on Simchas Torah should remind us to revert back to the constant and eternal Simcha that we as a nation are especially blessed with because the Torah is such a part and parcel of our very essence and being. Every time we say “Oy” or sigh, or the like, perhaps we should try to follow it with a brief rendition of Ashreinu Mah Tov Chelkeinu, Toras Hashem Temima, or other unique or words which move us to highlight our incredible lot--our unparalled relationship with an infinite gift!

Related Note:  HaRav Yechezkel Abramsky, Z’tl, provides a beautiful teaching relating to the Na’anuim--the shaking of the Daled Minim during Hallel. He explains that the Na’anuim are intended to indicate that we thank Hashem for all that He does for us in this direction, in that direction, that direction, etc. If we thoughtfully demonstrate our thanks of Hashem with our Na’anuim, Hashem in turn will provide us with more blessing--and prevent harm and difficulties (symbolized by “bad winds”) from coming to us from these very directions. We can take this thought another step and reflect upon how important it is to have Kavannah and/or positive thoughts when undertaking activities which could be Mitzvos, but instead are undertaken mindlessly or because one feels required to do so (just as the Na’anuim can be thoughtlessly performed). Cleaning the home and dishes, traveling to work in the rain, running an errand in which others will benefit, all can bring greater bracha to you if performed with thought and purpose. Furthermore, just as with the Na’anuim we may not even fully understand all that we are achieving, so too when helping others or performing another Mitzvah we can never fully fathom what we are really accomplishing. At the very least, the Sefer Yesod VeShoresh Ha’avodah writes, with the performance of this task or that act we should have in mind that by doing it we want to give Nachas Ruach to Hashem!

Special Note Two:  One of the obvious and transparent results of Sukkos was that no two individual Sukkah dwellings were at all the same. One person may have been able to sleep all nights in the Sukkah without hindrance, another may have no mosquito bites to show for the hours he spent there, a third may have been able to eat all meals in the Sukkah without rain because the timing of the minyanim he attended were just right. One may have met all of his goals for Chol HaMoed, another may have exceeded his expectations for Simchas HaMoed, and others may have just managed at a minimum.  The key for us all is that each person’s Avodas Hashem is so special and unique that it is incomparable to the person sitting next to him in Shul--or even sitting at the same table together with him.  We should draw great Chizuk from this thought--as each and every one of us go through the year, it will be our personal tour with Hashem.  The more we feel our personal role in Avodas Hashem, the more real our spiritual lives and the more profound our relationship with Hashem will be.  It is fascinating to note that we concluded our daily recitation of L’Dovid Hashem Ori (Tehillim 27) on Shemini Atzeres with the words: “Kavei El Hashem Chazal V’Ameitz Libecha V’Kavei El Hashem--hope to Hashem, strengthen yourself and He will give you courage; and hope to Hashem.”  This is a tremendous lesson to take away--this is our tzeidah laderech--with the Yamim Noraim and the Yamim Tovim over, we are left with the greatest possible result--keeping Hashem close to us throughout the year!


Special Note Three: Some additional point and pointers on the post Yomim Noraim/Yom Tov Period:

A.  On Yom Kippur we recited as the Ikar Vidui Avahl Anachnu Va’Avoseinu Chatanu.” In stark contrast to this, the Mishna in Sukkah (5:4) relates that during the Simchas Bais HaShoeivah, the people in the courtyard who were leaving the Eastern Gate turned to the west, faced the Heichal and exclaimed: “Our fathers who were in this place turned their back to the Heichal, instead facing to the east and bowing to the sun--but our eyes are towards Hashem!” The great transition from Yom Kippur to Sukkos results in our abandoning the previously ill-chosen ways which had been etched in stone (Anachnu Va’Avoseinu Chatanu) --even to the extent of their origin from our fathers and their fathers. To cleanse ourselves--and aid our parents (and their parents) with any previous malfeasance--let us take a good look at an old custom, an ‘established family practice’ and instead turn towards the Heichal-and proclaim we have chosen to abandon that--and that we are now facing towards Hashem! We have learned the lesson, we have made the transition--from Yom Kippur…to Sukkos!

B.  After seeing his Chassidim in a down mood on Motza’ei Sukkos as they were about to daven Ma’ariv, it is reported that Rebbe Moshe Sassover, Z’tl, gave them wonderful Chizuk by exclaiming “My brothers please remember that it is the very same Hashem who is the Atta Vechartanu and the Atta Chonantanu. Hashem demonstrates to us His midda of Atta Vechartanu with the special feeling that we experience on Yom Tov…and shows us His midda of Atta Chonantanu--by giving us the wisdom, insight and understanding to get through and even succeed during all of the weekdays of the year! As Chag Simchaseinu has just passed, we should study how we can bring Simcha with us through the rest of the year. The Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 19) writes as follows: “Simcha Hu Ikar Gadol B’Avoda--Simcha is an essential part of our Avodas Hashem, as Dovid HaMelech teaches (Tehillim 100:2) Ivdu Es Hashem BeSimcha Ba’u Lefanav Birnana--serve Hashem with joy, come before Him with joyous song! The Mesilas Yesharim then explains (from the Midrash) that when one rises to daven he should feel elation in his heart that he has the ability to pray before One to Whom there is no comparison. In fact, the Mesilas Yesharim writes that this is THE SIMCHA AMITIS--the true Simcha--that a person rejoices over the fact that has merited serving the Master of the Universe, learn His Torah and perform His Mitzvos--all of which provides a person with the true and absolute fulfillment of his potential and everlasting eternity!

C.  We began the month of Tishrei with the knowledge that on Rosh Hashanah our lives and our livelihood will be determined for the coming year. We concluded the last Chag of Tishrei with the Tefillah for Geshem, asking for sustenance of blessing over the winter and the coming year. An essential lesson, then, that extends throughout the entire month is that Hashem is the Provider, and that “Kochi VeOtzem Yadi--my strength and the power of my hand that accomplished this” is simply not part of the Torah Jew’s lexicon. Every so often, when realizing what one has accomplished or attained, he should express (or at least think to himself) “Thank you Hashem for this accomplishment. It is not Kochi VeOtzem Yadi, it is You!!” With this thought or statement alone, one will demonstrate that he has taken much from Rosh Hashanah…from Yom Kippur…from Sukkos and from Shemini Atzeres!

D.  As we often note, the Sefer Tomer Devorah urges the following three words: “Teshuvah Bechol Yom--Teshuvah every day!” By looking at your Kabbalah list every day, and reflecting/acting upon it just a little bit, you not only be performing Teshuvah for one day, ten days, thirty or forty days, but for seven days a week, 365 days a year. What Nachas Ruach to Hashem-- What Nachas Ruach to yourself!!




14 Tishrei

DAVEN! We DO NOT want it to rain on our treasured Mitzvah of Sukkah.  We have one tool--our TEFILLOS --which are more powerful than any forecasts--let us do our part today in davening that we have the opportunity this evening, tomorrow evening and throughout Sukkos to fulfill the Mitzvah thoroughly and BeHiddur Nifla!



FOREVER THANKFUL! Please do not forget to have Kavannah tonight (and tomorrow night if you are in Chutz LaAretz) --before eating the Kezayis/KeBeitzah-plus of Challah, that you are doing so because Ki BaSukkos Hoshavti Es Bnai Yisroel BeHotze’e Osam MaiEretz Mitzrayim --Hashem set us in Ananei Kavod and gave us Sukkas to dwell in as we left Mitzrayim and traveled through the otherwise torturous desert conditions--something that each generation thereafter MUST REMEMBER and be forever thankful for! 



OFF! We asked Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, whether on Shabbos or Yom Tov one is permitted only to spray his body with “Off” anti-mosquito spray, or whether he can use “Off” anti-mosquito lotion as well. He advised that one could use the lotion on Shabbos or Yom Tov, but not rub it on or smooth it out--just pour it on and let it spread by itself.



TZEDAKA! The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 135:15) rules that one should give Tzedaka generously today!



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We conclude our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. Because of the close proximity to Sukkos, we will provide a greater number of Halachos. We note that one should also study the Halachos Sukkos on Sukkos itself (which is the final teaching of Mesechta Megillah--Megillah 32A). We provide by clicking here our review of Halachos of Sukkos beginning approximately one month ago--to date.


A. 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 an akum 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! 


B. We present below several rulings of HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, relating to Hilchos Yom Tov, also as excerpted from Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Orach Chaim, Volume III ). 


1. Since there is no equivalent of Lecha Dodi or Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbos, one should fulfill the Mitzvah of Tosefes Yom Tov by accepting Yom Tov upon himself before Shekiyah. Women should light candles before Yom Tov begins, and not after.


2. One can place a wick into its floating holder on Yom Tov, provided that the hole is fully open before putting the wick in. 


3. The Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov requires a husband to buy his wife new Yom Tov clothing, even if she already has Yom Tov attire.  A woman can be Mocheles a new article of clothing, and it is not then considered as if the husband has not fulfilled the Mitzvah.  If one cannot afford it, he should at least buy new shoes for her.  In our time, one may buy jewelry which may be less expensive than shoes, if his wife attains Simcha through the new jewelry item. 


4. A man should fulfill the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov by having a Revi’is of wine every day.  If one truly dislikes wine, he need not drink it, because he will not be BeSimcha as a result.  One can, however, mix grape juice with the wine so that he does not taste the alcohol. 


5. One take bones out of fish and meat on Yom Tov, check rice, and wash fruits and vegetables which are dirty (even if they were inedible without washing), and there is no Issur of Borer.  However, with respect to utensils, clothing and Seforim, the laws of Borer are similar to those of Shabbos, and the Heter of Borer on Yom Tov is only with respect to food items. 


6. One should only carry on Yom Tov items which will still be needed for that day, not simply for the purpose of protecting one’s article, or preventing a loss.  It is forbidden to squeeze on Yom Tov; accordingly, one cannot squeeze fruits for their juice, even if one wants to drink the juice on Yom Tov. 


7. The restrictions that apply to opening containers on Shabbos, apply identically on Yom Tov.


8. LeChatchila, opening a refrigerator on Yom Tov, has the same Halachos as on Shabbos. However, BeSha’as HaDechak, one can me Maikil on Yom Tov and open the refrigerator even if the motor is not on.


9.. One may not make ice cubes on Yom Tov, for it is similar to Boneh, and Boneh is Assur on Yom Tov as well.


10. One may take milk or soup out of the freezer, and the Issur of Nolad is no violated on Yom Tov.  Similarly, one can bake a cake even though the mixture of ingredients was originally liquid and will turn into a solid, and it is not considered Nolad for Yom Tov purposes.


11. One can take something frozen out of the freezer to defrost for Yom Tov Sheini if it is not a Tircha, but one cannot heat something up from Yom Tov Rishon to Yom Tov Sheini.


12. One can put something into the refrigerator or freezer even for the next day, for it is being done for orderliness (like putting it into its proper cabinet) and not considered a preparation for the next day.


13. If one forgot to put on the lights on Erev Yom Tov, and it reduces his Simchas Yom Tov, he can ask an akum to turn on the lights, because it is a Shvus  D’Shvus BeMakom for the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov.


14. It is permissible to fold one’s Tallis on Yom Tov which is Erev Shabbos, even if one has not made an Eruv Tavshilin.  However, it is not permissible to wash dishes on Yom Tov for the sake of Shabbos, even if one has made an Eruv Tavshilin. BeSha’as HaDechak HaGadol, it would be permissible.  Married children who will be with their parents for Yom Tov should be told by his parents that he is being mezakeh them with his Eruv. 




Special Note One: Sukkos points and pointers:


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


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


C. 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.


D. 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, ahl 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. 


E.  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!


F.  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!


Additional Note: HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, notes that Chazal uniquely refer to Sukkos simply as ‘Chag’, for the word Chag is a special indication of Simcha, symbolizing the dancing in a circle that was and is typically celebrated at a Simchas Beis HaShoeivah. Indeed, the Torah specifically reiterates the Simcha that we are to feel on Chag HaSukkos with the Pasuk (Devarim 16:14 ,15): “VeSamachta BeChagecha…VeHayisa Ach Samei’ach.” HaRav Chaim understands this special reiteration in the Pasuk to mean that there is a second Mitzvah --a Simcha Yeseirah on Sukkos over and above that of the other Chagim! HaRav Chaim adds that, based upon this elevated, additional concept of Simcha on Sukkos, we must understand and internalize that Hashem is telling us to be happy because there is much to be happy about with the great Mitzvos over the Yom Tov of Sukkos!



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




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, “Rebbi, 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 Mo’ed 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 Mo’ed 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 Mo’ed 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.



Special Note Three: 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!






13 Tishrei

IMPORTANT TEACHING FROM A READER: “It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy!”



SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT FROM A READER: It is definitely not too late to improve--we received the following suggestions for improvement from a reader:


“1. Please note that it is forbidden to place one's hat or reading glasses on top of a siddur, sefer, Chumash, Gemara, etc. Many people are unfortunately not careful with this.


2. The Tefillin Shel Rosh must be placed above the hairline. If it's placed below the hairline, you were not mekayem the mitzvah - and if you made a bracha on the shel rosh, the bracha was said in vain. Again, many people are unfortunately not careful with this.


3. Do not talk while wearing Tefillin. If you want to talk, take off your Tefillin first. There are people who go outside the shul after davening and talk on their cell phones while still wearing Tefillin. Anyone who fears Hashem and who has respect for the holy Tefillin will be careful not to engage in idle chatter while wearing them.


4. If possible, try not to leave the shul until after the final Kaddish has been said. Many people have the "minhag" to start walking out during (or even before) Aleinu. This should be avoided unless there are extenuating circumstances and you must leave shul early.


5. Many men have the "minhag" to shake hands with women - and I have seen that there are those who will even initiate a handshake with a lady. While it's true that some poskim are lenient on this issue, I understand that HaRav Moshe was against it. Ask yourself: If HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, were in the room, would I shake hands with someone of the opposite gender? If you wouldn't shake hands with a lady in Reb Moshe's presence, then why would you shake hands with a lady in the presence of Hashem - who is everywhere?!”



REMINDER FROM A READER! “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.”





1. Is it a greater hiddur to build a larger Sukkah even if one does not require so much space?


2. If one has two Sukkahs to enter--and one is more beautifully decorated than the other--is it a greater Mitzvah to dwell in the more beautifully decorated Sukkah?


3. Although we make the bracha of Shehechiyanu both on the first and second nights of Sukkos, we only make the bracha of Shehechiyanu over the Daled Minim on the first day and not on the second day--why?



TEHILLIM CHAPTER 150: As we have noted in the past, the last HalleluKah--the last Kepitel in Tehillim (Chapter 150), has 12 phrases--each corresponding to a  month of the year.  This month's corresponding phrase is Halleluhu BeNeivel V'Chinor--let's get the message!



TODAY IS THE DAY ! The Luach Davar B’Ito brings that today (13 Tishrei) is 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!



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. Because of the close proximity to Sukkos, we will provide a greater number of Halachos:


1..  Reminder! 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).



2. It is a Hidur Mitzvah to use new aravos every day of Chol HaMoed (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 137:6).


3.. A Lulav is Muktzah on Shabbos, and one may not move it l’tzorech gufo u’mekomo--even if one needs the place that it is in (ibid. 137:7).


4..  We present below several Shailos asked of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as presented in the Sefer Ma'aseh Rav:


A .  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 Mishna Berurah to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, 629, seif katan 58].


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


B.  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 would be a responsible approach.


C.  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!


D. 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.


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


   Answer:  One should be careful.





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



Special Note Two:  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.  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 Berurah 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 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!


Additional Note: 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! 


C.  The Mishna Berurah also 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 Berurah, 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! 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 tenai 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 tenai , please consult with your Rav or Posek.


D.  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'!


E.  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.]


F.  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).  

G. 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 


H.  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!


I.  The four letters comprising the Hebrew word Lulav also comprise the first letters of words we will recite every day of Sukkos--VeTaher Libeinu LeAvdecha BeEmes--purify our heart to serve You in truth (Luach Dovor B’Ito). 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!



12 Tishrei

PLEASE DON ’T FORGET!  The monetary matters that you realized on Yom Kippur have to be cleared up--clear them up now--before Sukkos!


Related Note:  During the very short period between Yom Kippur and Sukkos in the year that we left Mitzrayim, the Bnei Yisrael 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! Remember the Amalei Torah of Kiryat Sefer where your dollars are matched dollar-for-dollar, buying Yom Tov food for truly needy families-- please go to yadeliezer.org and mark Kiryat Sefer in the Comments section.



ERUV TAVSHILIN: Within the next two weeks, we will be blessed with the opportunity to make an Eruv Tavshilin two times! To assist in properly performing this wonderful Mitzvah, once again provide we provide by clicking here an Eruv Tavshilin Review, as reviewed by HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita. Please feel free to distribute further!



CARBON MONOXIDE ALERT: We received the following, which has been widely distributed. We have verified its source: “On the ‘third day’ of Rosh Hashanah [really Shabbos Shuva], I was awakened by the sound of the carbon monoxide alarm announcing high levels. We immediately cleared everyone out of the house and summoned the fire department. When they arrived, they informed me that the cause of the high carbon monoxide levels was due to leaving the stove and oven on over Yomtov and Shabbos. The buildup of these dangerous fumes was not due to a faulty gas line or leaking appliances, but rather to the lack of adequate ventilation. The constant burning of the gas range and oven - even on a low flame, will over time emit unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide.  I was told that the fire department was tending to many such calls over the last few days. The firemen implored me to please tell the Rabbis and announce to the community that if people need to leave on the stove or oven over the holidays, then must ensure that the area is properly ventilated. Turning on an exhaust fan or even opening the kitchen window a bit is enough to prevent terrible danger. I would also like to stress the importance of a carbon monoxide detector. They are not expensive and often come together with the smoke alarm. I would not want to think what our Shabbos would have been like had we not had the alarm- especially since the gas travels upward and the levels upstairs where everyone was sleeping were much higher. I have been told that in some communities there are public announcements to alert people to take the necessary precautions.”



YOUR KABBALAH NOTEBOOK--Is everything in check?



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos:


1.  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’Doraysa.  (See also Yesod V’Shoresh HoAvoda for a moving discussion as to how much one should treasure his moments in the Sukkah.)


2.  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!



TISHREI!  Some say that the word Tishrei is rooted in the word Tishri--which means to untie or unravel.  In this month, we untie the leash that the Yetzer Hara had placed upon us--and we are off on our own to stay as close as we can to the actions of Malochim--rather than to the actions of animals.  The Ba’alei Mussar give the example of a poor man who collects enough money to buy a horse--which will save him much time and effort, and will allow him to make greater profits in any new business endeavor.  Upon purchase of the horse, it will be up to the new owner--will he let the horse lead him wherever the horse wants to go--to the pasture area, towards other horses, to destroy those tools or that fence?  Or--will the new owner direct the horse to proceed in a calm and orderly fashion towards the fair where he can purchase what he needs to take care of himself and his family?  Over the past year, one may have permitted his body to run his soul awry--but, we now have committed ourselves to take control of the horse and use it for his true purpose--to help his master in each and every way possible to succeed!




Special Note One: Our Yom Kippur Tefillos are over for 5774. It is our responsibility for the fervor, passion, or feeling that we experienced (at least at some point!) during the Tefillos to continue on with us through the year.  We note that there are several highlights of the Yom Kippur Tefilla which we recite daily.  They include Shema Koleinu, Aleinu, Boruch Sheim Kevod, and the ‘Mah Anu-Meh Chayeinu’ climax of our personal Neilah prayers.  At least when reciting these daily Tefillos we should remind ourselves of the feelings we had on Yom Kippur as we pled for our lives, and for the salvation of a shaky and nervous world. There is no doubt about it, your Tefilla makes a difference—and you better believe it!


One other related point:  The Maharsha explains that the absolute requirement to have Kavannah in the first Brocha 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 Brocha of Shemone Esrei ( if you have not counted at least nine, you have counted incorrectly). Indeed, the Mishna 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!



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


A. We remind everyone of the Responsa of the Rashba (Teshuvas HaRashba 5:1), who states that just as the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is the Eis Ratzon of the year, so too, is Tefillas Mincha the Eis Ratzon of the day.  Let us appreciate and utilize each and every Tefillas Mincha for the tremendous opportunity that it is--starting today!


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. The Rabbeinu Yonah, in the Igeres 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.


D. In Neilah, we placed great emphasis on the 13 Attributes of Hashem’s Mercy.  The first Chapter of the Tomer Devorah describes in practical terms how we ourselves--in a very human way can practice these VERY 13 Attributes in our everyday lives. ...We can then be zoche to Hashem’s showering His 13 Attributes upon us--Middah K’Neged Middah for our pursuit and following of these attributes in our own lives.  We strongly urge a careful and thoughtful study of the first chapter over Sukkos!



Special Note Three:  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; 72-hour candles--which help tremendously if one is in need of fire on the second day of Yom Tov, are now available, and can be purchased.  Please feel free to supply us with your additional suggestions for early preparation to share with us all.



Special Note Four: 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 particular time--let us keep up our spirits elevated-- tap in to time!




9 Tishrei

YOM KIPPUR SHOE ALERT: All Toms shoes with the exception of their vegan line are made with leather insoles (Flatbush Jewish Journal).



FROM A READER: “I love the idea of being a walking mitzvah.  I often will take extra tissues with me to a shiur, they are easy and light to carry and so much appreciated by the person who sneezes and is without.  Perhaps if one is a ‘walking mitzvah’ then not only is the ‘chesed item’ he is carrying a mitzvah, but perhaps he is performing a mitzvah with each step he takes or each mile he drives while having the chesed item in his possession. Additionally, one can become a walking mitzvah on Shabbos (or any day of the week) when it is forbidden to carry, by making it a priority to dispense a smile or kind word and to have a sever panim yafos. I would love to hear further suggestions from your readers for ways in which one can be a walking mitzvah.” 



A TIMELY SHIUR: We provide by clicking here a practical, extremely timely audio-shiur (thirty minutes in length), by Rabbi Bentzion Bamberger, Shlita, relating to…Yom Kippur and Teshuvah!



THE AHL CHEIT LINK :  We provide by clicking here for your use today and Yom Kippur a compiled review of the Ahl Cheits that we have briefly reviewed in steady steps since Elul. Please feel free to print-out, and share the link with others!



HELP TILT THE SCALE!  By clicking here, we provide the three Kabbalos which Rav Eliezer Ginsburg, Shlita, urges us to perform in the year 5774.


Hakhel Note: In clarification of Kabbalah number 2, HaRav Ginsburg advises that if the child is given a cell phone--it should belong to the parent, so that the child knows that it is the parent’s to take back at any time.



HAMELECH HAMISHPAT: The Kuntres Avodas Hatefillah brings that the meaning of the term HaMelech HaMishpat is HaMelech HaYosheiv Achshav Ahl HaMishpat--the King who is now sitting on the throne of justice.



LET US START THINKING!:  The Sefer Leket Reshimos brings the following teachings of HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, relating to Yom Kippur and Teshuvah:


1. The entire day of Yom Kippur is an experience of Lifnei Hashem--standing in front of the Borei Olam. One should arein tracht--think deeply into what this opportunity and privilege really is. To begin with, one must realize that he has an abundance of Siyata Dishmaya, that his heart is pure, and that he should make great effort to focus on his Tefillos--for hatzlacha in the coming year!


2. Because Yom Kippur is a day of Kedusha and Tahara--all that one does becomes Kadosh and Tahor as well!


3. The reason that one who is Ma’avir Ahl Middosav is forgiven for his sins is because an individual cannot stand up to Din--but as part of community, he is able to. When one is Ma’avir Ahl Middosav, he demonstrates that he is not only concerned with himself--but with others as well--and is accordingly part of the community!



YOM KIPPUR INITIATIVE: By clicking here we provide the 5774 V’Ani Tefillah Foundation Yom Kippur Worldwide Initiative Flyer regarding  a great opportunity to acquire incomparable zechusim on the Holiest Day of the Year--when we need them most!



EXTRA SPECIAL VIGILANCE: Although the above form of Ta’anis Dibur is only for a short period (one can make it longer!), one should be especially careful and vigilant that he not get angry on Yom Kippur, not be makpid against another, and be especially Ma’avir Ahl Middosav(as above)!



BORUCH SHEIM KEVOD: On Yom Kippur we will be especially privileged to recite Boruch Sheim Kevod aloud together in Shema at Ma’ariv and Shacharis, and at the conclusion of Ne’ilah.  Does one recite Boruch Sheim aloud in Kriyas Shema Ahl HaMittah on the night of Yom Kippur?  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that one does not. The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos brings that it is minhag Chabad to do so.  Accordingly, every person should follow his Rav or Posek in this area.



YIZKOR: 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 views it as their own giving--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. 



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos (please continue on your own until we B'EH resume on Monday!):


1. When eating one’s kezayis or preferably more than a kebeiyah of challah in the Sukkah on the first night of Sukkos [or in Chutz La’aretz on both nights of Sukkos], one should lechatchila have in mind that he is doing so Zecher Leyetziyas Mitzrayim and Zecher Le’ananei Kavod, which surrounded us and protected us from the elements around us in the desert (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 626, Mishna Berurah seif katan 1). According to Rebbi Akiva, the Sukkah is actually a remembrance to the actual physical Sukkos or huts that every family of K’lal Yisrael possessed  in the Midbar. Rabbi David Ashear, Shlita (Emuna Daily), in the name of HaRav Yitzchak Scher, Z’tl, asked what is so remarkable about our dwelling in simply huts, that brings us to commemorate it with the Sukkos holiday. HaRav Scher answers that the great miracle of the huts is the personal Hashgacha Pratis that each family experienced in the Midbar--a miracle which continues through our day! As we sit in the Sukkah on the first night(s) of Sukkos--let us revel in Hashem’s Hashgacha Pratis over us!


2. When one places his esrog back in a nylon or plastic container on Yom Tov, isn’t he being molid reiach--creating an esrog odor in the lining and in the box? The Be’er Moshe rules that it is not--for it is not the derech b’nei adam to benefit from the minimal amount of fragrance that the temporary containers absorb and emit (see SA OC 658, Mishna Berurah seif katan 7 and Dirshu Note 7). 




Special Note One:  We provide important points and pointers relating to Erev Yom Kippur:


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 himself before eating as 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 the ninth day of Tishrei.”


B.  One of course should be focusing in on the specific Kabbalos that he will be making.  Here is an insightful Kabbalah from a reader in Bain Adam LeAtzmo area: “I am going to think twice (or three times), if I find myself lax before taking out my cell phone in a public area, or in order to text while walking on the street.”  As we have mentioned numerous times in the past a Kabbalah in the advanced technology area would be especially appropriate for us, as many have referred to this as the great Nisayon of our Dor. We note that all of Rav Ginsburg’s suggested Kabbalos above relate to technology!


C.  We will be reciting Viduy at Mincha.  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 itself--now!.  (b) The sin of Lashon Hara is so horrific that, it leads to the three cardinal sins of Shefichas Domim, Gilui Arayos and Avodah Zara.  We learn this from the Nachash who spoke Lashon Hara against Hashem--which the immediate result of these three cardinal sins occurring. (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 “Ma Assisi--oh what have I done!” A person must truly view  himself as a sinner, and be truly sorry for what he has done for the Vidui to be effective.


 D.  The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva (6:2) provides the following inescapable solution Kesheim SheHaAdam Chotei Mida’ato U’Veritzono Kach Hu Oseh Teshuva Mida’ato U’Veritzono--just as one sins by his own knowledge and his own election so too, can he do Teshuvah by his own knowledge and his own election.



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.  The following will also include Erev Shabbos Halachos of this special Shabbos--a Shabbos Shabbason!  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 Retzeih (for Shabbos) and Ya’aleh V’Yavo (for Yom Kippur), but does not repeat Birkas HaMazon if he forgets either one.”[The same would appear to be true for a Choleh who must eat on Yom Kippur]. 


B.  If a person arises before Amud HaShachar, 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.  It is best to use a Ner SheShovas even though one would make Havdalah on Motza'ei Shabbos in any event.  One does make a Bracha on besomim--because it is also Havdalah for Motza'ei Shabbos.  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. 


Additional Notes on Hilchos Shabbos--as part of our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series:


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



Special Note Three:  We provide important points and pointers relating to Yom Kippur:


A.  According to some authorities, Yom Kippur is the Yahrtzeit of Rebbi Akiva, who gave his life Ahl 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.  


B.  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 Hara. Learn Mussar – in order to acquire the true view of life. Accustom Yourself to Break Your Desire – (according to Rabbeinu Yonah in the name of the Raavad) this is equivalent to many fasts in one day!  Increase Your Acts of Kindness – both to individuals and to K’lal Yisroel.  This includes practicing Chesed B’Lev – including davening for others, doing a chesed for the z’chus of others, and having tza’ar for the suffering of others.


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


 D.  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!


E.  HaRav Zaidel Epstein, Z’tl, was asked why the Ahshamnus are in the plural--after all doesn’t one have to find forgiveness for his own sins first.  HaRav Epstein responded that every Jew is responsible for his fellow’s actions, and that, accordingly, every Teshuva that we do is on behalf of others as well. 


F.  The great majority of Masechta Yoma, the Masechta of Yom Kippur, discusses the Avodah in the Bais HaMikdash.  Indeed, we even 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 the Avodah was being recited he would cry so powerfully that the pages of his Machzor would stick together from their saturation with 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.  In describing the Kohein Gadol’s mentioning of the Name, the Mishna states that the name was Yotzei MePi Kohein Gadol--it came out of the Kohein Gadol’s mouth.  The Tiferes Yisroel on the Mishna explains that he could not even speak but the Shechina was reciting the Name out of the Kohein Gadol’s throat.  Oh--how we must long to be there!


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


G.  One of the Avodos of the Kohein Gadol was to sprinkle the blood in the Kodesh HaKedoshim 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 symbolizes our following the Yetzer HaTov--whose instruction 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 counterpart--the Shevah L’Matta.



Special Note Four:  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 it is darkest.  So too, at the end of days will the Yetzer Hara 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 moments.  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.  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 (though 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 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  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 our not living up to our purpose in life.  At Neilah, we proclaim that we will no longer follow that sorry 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 Shechina 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 HaKarmel 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 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”, but also a Seudas Melaveh Malka!  What a wonderful accomplishment!


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

REMINDER:  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



QUESTION OF THE DAY : What is the first word in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim? What does that teach us about our approach to life?



CLOSE YOUR EYES : At a recent Shiur on Teshuvah, Rabbi Eliezer Ginsburg, Shlita, asked everyone to close their eyes for a few moments and have Hirhurei Teshuvah. After everyone opened their eyes, he noted that this was only beginning--but who knows what Yeshuos could come from a few moments of Hirhurei Teshuvah alone! One must start somewhere--this may be the way to begin!



THE RAMBAM’S POWERFUL LESSON: In Hilchos Teshuvah (7:3), the Rambam writes: “One should not say that Teshuvah is only for aveiros which involve a deed, such as immorality and theft. Rather, just as one must do Teshuvah from these, he must also search through his bad Middos--whether anger, hatred, jealousy, levity, money-seeking, honor-seeking, food lusting, and the like and do Teshuvah. In fact, Teshuvah for Middos Ra’os is harder than Teshuvah over particular deeds, because a person is so absorbed and involved in his Middos, that it is difficult for him to become a different person. Nevertheless this is what is required of us--as the Navi teaches--”Ya’azov Rasha Darko, Ve’Ish Aven Machshivosav, VeYashov Ehl Hashem…!”



TIMELY ADVICE: The Mishna Berurah (SA OC) writes that although one must always ask his friend for mechila immediately after having hurt or offending him, there is a special chiyuv to do so before Yom Kippur--as the Torah requires Lifnei Hashem Titharu on Yom Kippur, and we cannot purify ourselves before Hashem relating to an aveirah of Bein Adam L’Chaveiro without first obtaining mechila from the person offended. Indeed, not even the Se’ir Hamishtalei’ach could effect Kapparah for sins of Bein Adam L’Chaveiro! At the recent Hakhel Yom Iyun, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, taught that the way one asks for mechila is simply by saying ‘I was wrong’; ‘I did the wrong thing’; ‘I made a mistake’; ‘I am sorry’--but that one should be careful not to hurt a person or embarrass him when asking for mechila.


Additional Note: Rabbi Belsky also commented:


1. No one should ever say: ‘I have a terrible temper’-which justifies his anger. Instead, he should say: ‘I have a stupid temper’--to indicate that it is nothing to be proud of, and there is no justification for it.


2. When asked by someone to give him mussar in a very brief way, Rabbi Belsky told him: “I will give it to you in two words--Grow Up!”



SOME NEW KABBALOS SUGGESTIONS [Also See Special Note Three Below]:


A. Be a ‘Walking Mitzvah’--carry something with you which can always be used for the express purpose of a Chesed at any time--some extra stamps, a pen, a check or two designated for tzedakah use. [Think of the utter joy you put on a collector’s face when he anticipates receiving a quarter or dollar in shul--and instead receives a $10 check!]


B. Personalize a Kabbalah relating to a family member or friend--if a particular habit or method of speech he has constantly annoys you--work on being ma’avir ahl midosav relating to it.


C. Once a day, take the second choice of the food you were going to eat, rather than your first choice, in order to practice quashing one’s desires.


D. Before starting work every day, begin with a  prayer to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. By the following link, we once again provide by clicking here a Tefillah formulated by a reader, which you are of course free to use or adapt.


E. Rebbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, teaches that when we recite Shema, we are accepting upon ourselves both Ohl Malchus Shomayim and Ohl Mitzvos. Accordingly, rather than walking out of Shul immediately after having recited Shema at Ma’ariv--we should spend at least another five minutes in Shul studying Torah--to demonstrate that we are taking the Ohl Malchus Shomayim and Ohl Mitzvos seriously!



TAKE SOMETHING OUT OF THE HOUSE: As we had noted in the name of HaRav Gifter, Z’tl, in the past, it may be a good idea to look around the house, find something that does not belong--and remove it!



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos:


1. As we all know, the Rema writes that one should begin building his Sukkah on Motza’ei Yom Kippur so that he leaves one Mitzvah and enters another. If one finds it difficult to begin the actual building either because he is weak from the fast or he needs the help of others, the Kaf HaChaim writes that he should at least speak with his household members regarding the Sukkah. In a similar vein, the Aruch HaShulchan writes that one unable to build a Sukkah should be involved in learning Mesechta Sukkah or the Halachos of Sukkah. Likewise, the Mateh Ephraim writes that if one has purchased his Lulav and Esrog prior to Yom Kippur, he should check them on Motza’ei Yom Kippur to make sure that everything is in order (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 624; and 625, Dirshu Notes 3 and 4).


2. One should physically join together the Lulav and Esrog when reciting the bracha and when shaking them. The Aruch HaShulchan rules that one should join them together when reciting Hallel and the Hoshanos as well. The Kaf HaChaim brings from the Radvaz that one’s fingers around the Lulav or around the Esrog would be considered a chatzizah, a separation between the Lulav and the Esrog, and that accordingly, one’s fingers should not be totally wrapped around them (SA OC 651:11, Dirshu Note 80).




Special Note One: We conclude our review of the Ahl Cheits before Yom Kippur. Today, we study both Ahl Cheits under the letter Taf:


Ahl Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha BeSesumes Yad--Not Acting Properly with Money


Money is an item that most deal with every day. Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat deals with many situations and how one must handle them according to Halacha--whether as a partner, employee, lender, or borrower. One also has communal responsibilities with his money--including an obligation to pay his share to his shul and to organizations, to lend money to the poor when necessary, and to repay loans when they are due. One also has an obligation to only do business and to partner with those who are upright. By not acting properly in monetary matters, one can be guilty of the most serious of sins. Indeed, the Mishna Berurah writes that one must do his best to settle his financial affairs before Yom Kippur as HaMekatreig HaGadol Ahl Ha’adam involves financial matters (SA OC 606 seif katan 1).  The Mishna Berurah adds that one should not rely upon his own decisions in monetary matters with others, “Ki HaYetzer Hara, Yesh Lo Heterim Harbey--for the Yetzer Hara finds many leniencies”!  In monetary matters or issues with others, one should consult his Rav.



Ahl Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha BeSimhon Leivav--Wondering and Confusion


The Viduy Booklet includes in this Ahl Cheit  a person’s wondering about why he has problems and worries, and thinking that he has not done anything bad enough to deserve such punishment. Also included in this Ahl Cheit is taking action when perturbed and confused which leads to sin (such as overreaction and anger). Pathway to Prayer brings from the Alter of Kelm that this is the final Ahl Cheit in the Aleph Bais series, for after all of the other sins, we confess that we have acted with confusion--not properly realizing what is right and what is wrong--and that is the biggest sin, for one must learn, and one must know!


Hakhel Note: We have now concluded our review of the Ahl Cheits by Aleph Bais. The Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 1), writes that one’s Kavannah in Viduy should be LeKabel Alav Taharah--to bring purity upon oneself. It is for this reason that Dovid HaMelech in the Tehillim Kepitel of Teshuvah exclaims (Tehillim 51:4):  Herev Kabseini Mei’avoni U’Meichatasi Tahareini--abundantly cleanse me from my iniquity and from my sin purify me.” When reciting Viduy, one should visualize Hashem cleansing his soul!



Special Note Two:  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.  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.  It is available by clicking here.  Please spread the word.


Hakhel Note:  As Rebbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, teaches, it is not your job to watch the clock--it is your job to make the most out of Yom Kippur for yourself, your family, your community, and for all of K’lal Yisrael!


B.  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.


C.  A Viduy Card in Lashon HaKodesh with more detailed specification as to possible Aveiros.  Please click here.


D.  The Thirteen Middos--The Thirteen Attributes in Lashon HaKodesh.  Please click here.


E.  The Thirteen Middos--The Thirteen Attributes in English.  Please click here.


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!).


F.  We once again provide a  great Tefillah for Teshuvah--which you may insert at the end of your Yom Kippur Shemone Esrei.  You may view it by clicking here.  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 Three:  The following wonderful thought is excerpted from a publication known as TT #385--Viduy: 


“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 Four:  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 Kavannah in the first p’sukim of Shema

Bench slowly from a bencher

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

Learn at least two halachos a day

Have Kavannah in the first bracha of Shemone Esrei

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

Say Asher Yatzar with Kavannah at least twice a day

Refrain from reading secular newspapers or magazines

Say Modim with Kavannah 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 Hara 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 one time a day

Give Tzedaka every time you raise your voice or speak Lashon Hara

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 Five:  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 authorities.  The British guard on duty would not let them in that day.  The Jewish guard who was working together with the British guard advised his colleague 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 Brit 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 Brit then 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 Six:  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 Seven:  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 Eight: Additional important Pre-Yom Kippur points and pointers:


1. If one has the capability, he should most certainly review and study the classic Chapter 143 of the Sefer Chayei Adam  which so beautifully and meaningfully explains the focused attitude and approach one should have to and on Yom Kippur.  We note that the Chayei Adam provides more detail of specific Aveiros, and that HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, views the detail of the Chayei Adam as being ‘mefaret’--specifying one’s sins.


2.  We remind everyone of the awesome thought related by HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, relating to why the ten great sons of Rav Pappa are mentioned at every Siyum. Rav Pappa, in ten places in Shas, resolves a difference of opinion between Amoraim by demonstrating Kavod for both of them, and ruling that we should conduct ourselves like both of them.  Because of his special display of Kavod HaTorah, he was zoche to have ten sons who themselves were unique Talmidei Chachomim--deserving and receiving Kavod HaTorah as well.  At the time of a Siyum, which is a time of true Kavod HaTorah, we recount their names.  We can all improve in some aspect of our Kavod to the Torah and those who study it--the way we speak, the way we act, the way we learn together, and the elevated regard we should have for all levels of Torah students and their studies.


3.   ’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.


4.  The Chasam Sofer (Yoreh De’ah 213) brings an amazing question from a ‘Kadmon Echad’:  How is it that if one enters a Mikvah he becomes Tahor--after all shouldn’t he make the water tamei upon his touching it?  The answer is that since the water is attached to the ground and never leaves it, it does not become tamei.  So, the Tahara of the Mikvah is based upon the water remaining attached to its source.  So too, is the Tahara that we receive from Hashem--we must remain attached to our source--Mi Mitaher Eschem Avichem Shebashamayim.  Without our Deveikus to Hashem--we could not become Tahor! 


5.  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!




7 Tishrei

QUESTION OF THE DAY : What is the last word of Avinu Malkeinu?  Why do think that it is fitting that we end Avinu Malkeinu with this word?


SAY “THANK YOU!”: It is said that HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl was asked for a segula for the Yemei HaDin.  He responded that every morning we recite the following words in Mizmor Shir Chanukas HaBayis:  “Hayodecha Afar HaYagid Amitecha--will the dust thank You, will it speak of Your truthfulness...?”  If one thanks Hashem properly, he concluded--he can very literally keep himself alive--for this is very much part of being alive!


Hakhel Note: Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita once said that he knew of an extended family which, when getting together, would always begin with Tehillim Chapter 111-as an expression of thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for enabling them to join together for a Simcha or for a Yom Tov meal.  Rabbi Wachsman added that the word Shevach means praise, and that the closely related word Sh’vach means to improve--for we improve ourselves and our lot when we express the proper Shevach to Hashem.



RABBI BELSKY’S THOUGHT: At the recent Hakhel Yom Iyun, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, elaborated on the concept of being more machmir in the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah. He explained that the concept is really for a person to elevate himself a notch above his ‘ordinary life’. One does so by making an additional exertion, taking an extra effort, perhaps even undergoing a bit of strain in order to raise himself up during this period. The example given in Shulchan Aruch (603) is not to eat pas shel akum. Rabbi Belsky suggests that another example of something one can do is not to eat his favorite food or the snack that ‘I just love’. This extra effort, this exertion is to teach one that he does have the ability, he does have the kochos, to rise above his present state! Hakhel Note:  HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, taught that an important avodah of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah period is ressen piv--being more careful with what goes in and out of one’s mouth.  You need not say it, you need not have it. Simply stated, a person can elevate himself above his current situation--but it is not by an electronic or other device that he does so--it is by the strength of character that Hashem has blessed him with.





I wanted to offer a few kabbalos suggestions for your readers:


1. For women: Try to light Shabbos candles at least five minutes before the zman, if possible.


2. For men: Pay attention during chazaras hashatz. (Do not look into a sefer or space out. Do not check your email or phone. Do not text. Do not stare at other people. Just listen to the baal tefilla and follow along in your own siddur.) Other than saying Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo and Amein, keep your mouth shut during chazaras hashatz. Talking during davening (or during leining) is one of the worst aveiras a Yid can do!


3. Say “Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo.” Do not only say “Shmoy” or “Baruch shmoy” (like some people do). Say it correctly. And don’t start saying ‘Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo’ until the baal tefilla finishes pronouncing Hashem’s name completely. Also, do not say Amein until the baal tefilla finishes pronouncing the bracha completely.


4. Talk to Hashem throughout the day, not just three times a day.


5. Before davening, accept upon yourself the positive commandment of “You shall love your fellow as yourself.” [Arizal]


6. Before going to sleep at night, say (or at least think), “I am going to sleep so that I will have energy to serve Hashem tomorrow.”


7. Learn Torah out loud if possible (not merely reading the sefer with your eyes, but actually verbalizing the words).



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos:


1. Although there is an opinion that one should not pick up his Lulav and Esrog the first night of Sukkos, as it is not yet time for the Mitzvah to be performed and they would otherwise be Muktzah, most Poskim rule that the Daled Minim may be picked up and moved on the first night. In fact, it is known that the Ba’al Shem Tov, Z’tl and Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, would practice the na’anuim on the first night of Sukkos in preparation for the morning. Rebbi Yisroel explained that we should look at the military which undergoes training and exercises in preparation for the actual battle, so that when the time comes, their actions are conducted with care and precision. Most certainly, he continues, should we do the same for the na’anuim, which is an “Avodah Gedolah LeYotzreinu Bechol Tenu’ah U’Tenu’ah--a great service to our Creator--with each and every movement!” (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 658, Dirshu Note 4). Hakhel Note: Let us remember that we are performing an Avodah Gedolah during the na’anium!


2. The Bikkurei Yaakov writes that the Old City of Yerushalayim has, according to the Rambam, the Halachos of the Beis HaMikdash as to Lulav--which would mean that on all seven days of Sukkos, even in our time, it is a Mitzvah D’Oraysa to take the Daled Minim there. HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, when going to the Kosel on Sukkos day [apparently, other than the first day], would accordingly take the Daled Minim a second time--for perhaps he was now fulfilling a Mitzvah D’Oraysa of Daled Minim--in addition to a Mitzvah D’Rabbanan of Daled Minim he had performed earlier in the day. It is reported that HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, was nota lehachmir to the opinion of the Bikkurei Yaakov. The Chazon Ish, Z’tl, ruled not to enter into the Old City because of this safek, because perhaps one would have a Mitzvah D’Oraysa to fulfill the Daled Minim, and his Daled Minim would not be kasher--resulting in his voidance of the Mitzvah. HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, disagrees with the premise of the Bikkurei Yaakov, and writes that even according to the Rambam, the Mitzvah D’Oraysa is only in the Beis HaMikdash--and not in Yerushalayim--which would mean that the Old City outside of the Beis HaMikdash has no special rule in our day with respect to the Mitzvah of Daled Minim (ibid., Dirshu Note 1).




Special Note One: In order to complete our review of the Ahl Cheits before Yom Kippur, we will bli neder now review two Ahl Cheits per day, so that we have the opportunity to briefly review each one of them in steady steps. Today, we study both Ahl Cheits under the letter Shin:


Ahl Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha BiShvuas Shav--Swearing Falsely or In Vain


HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, explains that swearing in this manner represents a lack of the true honor that is due to Hashem. In fact, Pathway to Prayer brings from the Sha’arei Teshuvah ( 3:45 ) that one who swears falsely desecrates the name of Hashem, and the punishment for desecration of Hashem’s Name is greater than all other sins. The prohibition of Shvuas Shav is so severe, that it constitutes the third dibrah of the Aseres HaDibros. One may be faced with situations where he must ‘solemnly swear’, or provide an affidavit which is ‘sworn to’. He must accordingly consult with his Rav or Posek about the situations and circumstances which are permitted--and which are prohibited.


Hakhel Note: At the recent Hakhel Yom Iyun, HaRav Uren Reich, Shlita, explained that each member of Bnei Yisrael carries Hashem’s Name with him--and that we should not take our royal bearing in vain as well.



Ahl Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha BeSinas Chinam--Improper Hatred


The Torah provides for extremely limited circumstances in which hatred of another Jew is permissible. When it is not permissible, and one nevertheless feels hatred he has violated an express Lo Sa’aseh in the Torah of “Lo Sisnah Es Achicha Bilvavecha”. This means that, among other matters one cannot dislike another because he does not like the way he speaks, behaves, conducts his business, or because he ‘rubs him the wrong way’, is more prosperous, or is more honored than him. Chazal teach that it is because of Sinas Chinam that we have been in our current Galus for almost 2,000 years. As the Viduy Booklet succinctly states--we may hate wicked deeds, or someone’s behavior--but we are not permitted to hate the person himself. The Viduy Booklet adds in the name of the G’ra that because everything that happens to us is decreed in heaven, it is wrong to hate the person offending you--since he is Hashem’s messenger in doing so. HaRav Aryeh Finkel, Mashgiach of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Yerushalayim was once reciting the short paragraph of Avinu Malkeinu near the end of the Mussaf Shemone Esrei on the Yomim Noraim--in which we ask Hashem to spare us from sickness, disease and other tzaros--but broke down crying only when he asked Hashem to spare us of Sinas Chinam. This is an aveirah that we all can shed something of--and if we do so together, may it bring the Geulah Shleimah in our time!



Special Note Two:  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.  If someone drinks water after the Seudas HaMafsekes, and is doing so not because he is thirsty, but just that he won’t be thirsty on Yom Kippur, would not make a bracha on the water. 


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


6.  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. 


7.  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. 


8.  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. 


9.  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. 


10.  Each time we recite Viduy it is a separate Mitzvah, and one should have Kavannah that he is being mekayem the Mitzvas Asei Min HaTorah of Viduy.  One Viduy is not me’akev any other.  Children should also be taught to recite Viduy.  In the aggregate, one who recites Viduy in shul will have recited ten Viduyim 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 Viduyim that would be otherwise recited in Chazaras HaShatz.  


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


12.  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 specific sins in his own language, he may be more sincere and embarrassed, and feel greater remorse about his sin. 


13.  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 Cheit.  Additionally, one should also beat his chest when mentioning any specific sin that he adds on his own. 


14.  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. 


15.  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.


16.  Women should also recite Tefillas Zaka, and skip the parts that do not relate to them.  Women must be careful not to recite Shehechiyanu twice.


17.  One should bring himself to cry in his Tefillos on Yom Kippur and should make his requests of Hashem--even when Yom Kippur falls out on Shabbos. 


18.  When mentioning Shabbos in the Friday night davening, it would appear appropriate that one have in mind that he is fulfilling the Mitzvah of Zechiras Shabbos.




6 Tishrei


THE RAMBAM’S LANGUAGE: There is no ambiguity. The Rambam (Hilchos Teshuvah 3:4) writes exactly what we are to do during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah: “LeHarbos BeTzedakah U’VeMa’asim Tovim VeLa’asok BeMitzovs Yoser MeKol Hashana--we must give more Tzedakah, do more good deeds and be very involved in Mitzvos--to a greater extent than the rest of the year.” This is what we are supposed to do--it is up to us to do so!



GRAND OPPORTUNITY--START YESHIVAS MAICHAYIL EL CHAYIL IN YOUR SHUL OR COMMUNITY:  For the last few years we have seen the great success of Yeshivas Maichayil El Chayil--where men, boys, and fathers and sons, COME BACK TO SHUL after a post Yom Kippur Seudah to study Torah for an hour to demonstrate  their true rededication to the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah which is KeNeged Kulam.  To spur the boys on, gifts and raffles for Seforim and Yom Tov prizes can be offered--and those donating the funds for the prizes, and purchasing them, certainly have a Chelek in Talmud Torah DeRabbim--on Motzei Yom Kippur!  Please bring this INCOMPARABLE PROGRAM to your shul or community--and what a sweetening Zechus it will be for you and yours on Yom Kippur!  We have sample flyers and raffle tickets. Please contact us if you have any questions at all--347-409-5061.



ANOTHER THOUGHT ON KABBALOS: Very often, much precious time during the year is lost as one walks from place-to-place (such as from home to the bus) without any focus. The mind is allowed to wander. Sometimes it is good, and one reminds himself of things to do--but very often it may be more of a waste of time, and even destructive as one considers ‘why he said this’ or ‘why she did that’? It may be a better idea for one to attempt to bli neder commit to think about what he is going to think about before he starts his walk (perhaps keeping items that need to be thought about on a piece of paper and looking at it before leaving). Of course, the item to be thought about can most certainly be Divrei Torah--as Chazal (Shir HaShirim Rabbah) teach that the sechar for learning Torah while traveling is five times greater than for learning Torah in a regular study position. Imagine the constructive hours you can gain in just one year!


Hakhel Note: We welcome your thoughts on Kabbalos!



NOT JUST CLEAN INSIDE…: Chazal teach that because we do not eat or drink on Yom Kippur as a matter of course, one of the ways that we can accord Kavod to the day is by wearing a kesus nekiyah--clean clothing in honor of the day. As many will be wearing their Shabbos clothing on Yom Kippur, may we recommend that one take out the clothing now, and make sure that it is free of spots or stains--so that one becomes clean--both inside and out!



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos:


1. It is forbidden to place the sechach down before putting up the walls of the Sukkah, as the placement of the sechach should be the final act which makes the Sukkah kasher. It is likewise of utmost importance that when placing the sechach on the Sukkah any shlak or awning is rolled up. After the sechach has been fully placed on the Sukkah and the Sukkah is kasher, one may then roll the shlak or awning on it (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 134:8). No trees may be directly above the Sukkah. However, if the branches of trees next to the Sukkah (but not on top of the Sukkah) block the sunlight from reaching the Sukkah, the Sukkah is still kasher (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 626:1, Bi’ur Halacha d’h Tachas).


2. In order to be yotzei the Mitzvah of Daled Minim per se, one need merely pick up the Minim and put them down, without even performing na’anuim. If one has done so, it is still better to at some point pick them up again and shake them in accordance with his Minhag. In all event, the more one holds the Minim because they are precious to him, the more he demonstrates his Chibuv HaMitzvah (it is for this reason that some do not put the Minim down immediately after Hallel, but keep holding the Minim until after Kaddish Shaleim following Hallel). When one holds the Minim in a holder, it is considered as if he is holding them directly, as he is doing so to demonstrate honor and respect for the Mitzvah. (SA OC 652:1, Rema; Dirshu Notes 8 and 11). 




Special Note One: In order to complete our review of the Ahl Cheits before Yom Kippur, we will bli neder now review two Ahl Cheits per day, so that we have the opportunity to briefly review each one of them in steady steps. Today, we study both Ahl Cheits under the letter Reish:


Ahl Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha BeRitzas Raglayim Leharah--Running to do Bad


Hashem has given us the ability to act with zerizus to perform Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim. Today, in the fast-paced society that we live in, we may even have an added measure and level of zerizus in everything that we do. However, the Yetzer Hara abuses this usually beautiful trait and persuades us to anxiously or hurriedly sin. This Ahl Cheit teaches us that the passion and desire, the joy and the pleasure, one demonstrates in his pursuit of a sin is in and of itself a sin. One must most certainly avoid running out of a Shul or Beis Midrash, walking quickly towards someone to tell him something that he should not be told, or move quickly to hurt somebody in any way. We may add that when one performs an aveirah with speed or quickness, he is giving kavod to the aveirah and demonstrating his dedication and sincerity towards it. The word ‘ratz’ (run) is related to the word ratzon (will)--as this demonstrates one’s true feelings towards what he is doing (Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah, quoting Alei Shur II, p. 257).



Ahl Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha BeRechilus--Tale Bearing


The Torah specifically proscribes Rechilus with the words “Lo Seileich Rachil Be’amecha--do not tale bear among your people.” Commentators have pointed out that the term Lo Seileich (do not go) is used in the Torah in order to show that the very act of going to tale bear is sinful. Rabbi Aaron Werner, in his commentary on the Yom Kippur Shemone Esrei notes that the sin of Rechilus also includes revealing secrets and encouraging contention. We must remember that it is not only forbidden to speak Rechilus--it is also forbidden to accept the Rechilus, or even to begin listening to it, unless there is a valid purpose. We need only look at what happened to Nov Ihr HaKohanim, to the great sage Do’eg and to the Malchus of Shaul HaMelech because of only a few words that were uttered by Do’eg to Shaul HaMelech. Death and Destruction. We should not be guilty of Rechilus--we should shudder at it!


Additional Note:  We provide the following definitions based upon Guard Your Tongue by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:


Loshon Hora: Speaking badly about another Jew, even if true and even if meant in jest.


Rechilus: Reporting to someone what others have done or spoken against him in a manner which may cause resentment. Hakhel Note: Remember, it is Rechilus, even if it is true!


Motzi Shem Ra: Loshon Hora or Rechilus which is not true.


Ba’al Loshon Hora: Someone in the habit of speaking Loshon Hora or Rechilus-who loses his chelek in Olam Haba.


Example: “Rivka borrowed your book without permission.” This is both Loshon Hora and Rechilus. If it is not true, it is also Motzi Shem Ra.





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!  Is it not 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 a good life?  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah explains that it is life in this world which will 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 Gedalya and that we have recited in Selichos:  Dirshu Hashem BeHimatzoh--Hashem presents Himself to us without our having to find Him (Yeshaya 55:6).  If a person would take the matter seriously, he would realize that his heart is 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, or repress what they have done--or at least the seriousness of what they have done.  It is for this reason that the expanded versions 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 take specific notes on what he would specifically like to correct, and 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.


4.  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 something together with others, 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 at least in one way from the Shabbos Shuvah Drasha that he heard).  A third is somebody who receives honor 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 they leave a mark whether or not one realizes it.  We all can stay farther away from one person or another of this sort (see the Rambam there for the complete 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! 


D.  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’.  As we all know, each new day during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah corresponds to one’s intending to do Teshuvah for all of these days in the prior year. 


E.  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 Delasecha.”  This means that we should view ourselves before Hashem as, rachmana l’tzlan, 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.


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


G.  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.”


H.  Rabbeinu Yonah (in the Sha’arei Teshuva, outset of Sha’ar 4) teaches that Teshuva is to the soul what a panacea is to the body.  This is beautifully reflected in the Avinu Malkeinus we have been reciting daily, in which we ask Hashem:  “HaChazireinu Be’Seshuva Sheleima Lefanecha”, and then immediately follow this plea with “Shelach Refuah Sheleima LeCholeh Amecha.”  Once we have healed our soul, the healing of our body takes on greater meaning.  This is of course, also similar to the Mi Shabeirach 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.


I.  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!



5 Tishrei




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





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



QUESTION OF THE DAY : 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!



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos:


1. One typically makes Kiddush on Yom Tov morning and recites a Leisheiv BaSukkah. If one will not be washing his hands in the Sukkah, but instead will be going back into his house, by going inside he has interrupted between his bracha of Leisheiv BaSukkah and eating Challah in the Sukkah, over which the Leisheiv BaSukkah has been recited. Although this may be acceptable bedi’eved, the Sefer Sukkah KeHilchasa provides other eitzos--either eating sufficient cake after Kiddush before one leaves the Sukkah, or drinking a revi’is of wine at the time of Kiddush (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 643 Dirshu Note 10). One may want to consult with his Rav based upon his personal facts and circumstances.


2. On the first morning of Sukkos, one recites two brachos over the Daled Minim--Ahl Netilas Lulav and Shehechiyanu. He should not shake the Lulav until after he has recited the Shehechiyanu. The Bikkurei Yaakov writes that one should make the brachos over the Daled Minim before davening in the Sukkah ahl pi kabbalah and also to demonstrate zerizin makdimin lemitzvos. Certainly, even for those who have the custom to wait until immediately prior to Hallel in Shul to recite the brachos, it is best to daven K’Vasikin so that one can perform the Mitzvah as close to sunrise as possible. However, even if one is not davening K’Vasikin, the Seder HaYom writes that if it is the Minhag of one’s Shul to recite the bracha in Shul together before Hallel, one should not deviate from the Minhag. The Bikkurei Yaakov adds that in such an instance it is best for a person to come home after davening and shake the Lulav in the Sukkah (SA OC 644, Mishna Berurah seif katan 3 and Dirshu Note 1).




Special Note One: In order to complete our review of the Ahl Cheits before Yom Kippur, we will bli neder now review two Ahl Cheits per day, so that we have the opportunity to briefly review each one of them in steady steps. Today, we study both Ahl Cheits under the letter Kuf:


Ahl Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha BeKalus Rosh--Acting In a Lightheaded Manner


HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, writes that when one adapts a lightheaded attitude, he makes it difficult for himself to focus and strengthen himself in Mitzvah performance. It is difficult to act with sincerity and earnestness when one treats matters somewhat lackadaisically. Pathway to Prayer writes that the cheit of Kalus Rosh refers to acting without the appropriate fear of heaven when doing Mitzvos, or in a holy place (such as a Shul or Beis Midrash) and notes that specifically included in the prohibition of Kalus Rosh in a Beis Haknesses is joking, laughter and idle talk (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 151:1). Furthermore, when one jokes or acts in a frivolous manner, it can lead to more serious aveiros, as Chazal teach (Avos 3:13 ): “Sechok V’Kalus Rosh Margilin Le’ervah--laughter and lightheadedness lead to licentiousness.”  Finally, concludes Pathway to Prayer, the Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 5) writes that laughter and lightheadedness remove one’s heart from straight thoughts and gradually remove the fear of Hashem from him. Hakhel Note: The Mesilas Yesharim also writes that one leitzanus or one tzechok katan can destroy the many gains made by a person [as one missile can destroy a building], and that accordingly a person must act with great discretion and care, even if he is tired or the Yetzer Hara is convincing him that a ‘good joke’ is appropriate under the circumstances, in order to ensure that the many gains one has made in the Teshuvah area are not lost by even a single inappropriate behavior.


Ahl Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha BeKashyus Oref--Being Stubborn


When one finds himself thinking ‘this is the way I do things’; ‘this is just who I am’; ‘I can’t do better’’--he is using his stubbornness to not accept constructive criticism or words of rebuke or improvement. Additionally, when one looks at events that are happening to him as ‘coincidence’ or ‘part of life’, then he is also guilty of Kashyus Oref because he is refusing to review the events of his life as personalized to him. HaRav Dessler, writes that stubbornness can come from a strong desire (ta’avah) implanted in him by the Yetzer Hara which he does not want to change. After the Cheit HaEgel, Hashem advised Moshe Rabbeinu that K’lal Yisrael had acted as an ‘Ahm Keshei Oref’’--stubbornly not allowing themselves to be free of the passions and desires they had before Kabbalas HaTorah. Succinctly stated, if one finds himself ‘digging in’ in any area--whether an opinion or in conduct--and not with an open ear and mind to the words, to the circumstances, to the situation around him--he is acting with stubbornness, and must do Teshuvah for doing so.


Special Note Two:  We provide Aseres Yemei Teshuva Alerts relating to this precious week which holds the majority of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva within it. We especially note that there are still six days left-- six 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 Viduy itself. In fact, the Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva (2:8) calls these words the “lkar” of Viduy. Accordingly, it would appear that one should be slightly bowed over as he recites these words, as in the remainder of the Viduy.


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!



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


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


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


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


(a)  He should rectify whatever he possibly can.


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


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


(d)  The righteous find favor doing precisely those activities with which they had previously sinned.  Thus, someone who wishes to atone for Lashon Hara, verbal abuse, cheating, etc. should try to teach and spread knowledge of these Mitzvos and prohibitions and encourage others to observe them.  At the height of the ecstasy of rejoicing on Sukkos, 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!




29 Elul


KESIVA VECHASIMA TOVA--we wish each and every one of you a Kesiva VeChasima Tova, a Year which is replete with Chayim Tovim and Shalom!...We would graciously accept your brachos for the coming year!



ROSH!  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! 


SHIRA!  In last week’s Parsha, we learned that Moshe was instructed to “Sima Bifihem--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 put into our mouth--but we still must ingest it on our own!  Additional Note:  HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, explains why the Torah is suddenly referred to as Shira in last week’s 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!


Hakhel Note: Here is Shira in practice--FOUND YESHIVAS MAICHAYIL EL CHAYIL IN YOUR SHUL OR COMMUNITY:  For the last several years we have seen the great success of Yeshivas Maichayil El Chayil--where men, boys, and fathers and son, COME BACK TO SHUL after a post Yom Kippur Seudah to study Torah for 45 minutes or an hour to show their rededication for the new year to the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah which is KeNeged Kulam. To spur the boys on, gifts and a raffles for Seforim and Yom Tov prizes can be offered--and those donating the funds for the prizes, and purchasing them certainly have a Chelek in Talmud Torah DeRabbim--on Motzei Yom Kippur!  Please bring in your shul or community--and what a sweetening Zechus it will be for you and yours in the Yemei HaDin!  Please contact us if you have any questions.




SHOFAR ALERT: Some of the custom of reciting or looking at Yehi Ratzons after the initial blowing of the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah morning.  These Yehi Ratzons mention the names of Malochim.  Rabbi Ezra Rotkin, Shlita has brought to the community’s attention a Teshuva from the Minchas Elazar who teaches that in some Machzorim--censors or other meshumadim were able to r’l implant oso ha’ish in the first Yehi Ratzon! The Artscroll and other more recent Machzor publications of the Machzor have removed this blight--but if you are using an older Machzor or know someone that is--and you recite or look at these Yehi Ratzons--please beware! 



SPECIAL MESSAGE! The three Tefillos of Malchiyos, Zichronos and Shofros are parallel to the three Yesodos HaEmunah of Mitziyus Hashem (Malchiyos), Sechar VeOnesh (Zichronos), Torah MiSinai (Shofros).  As we recite these very special Brachos, let us do so slowly and meaningfully--every word, every Pasuk is important!  Our careful following of the Chazzan’s repetition of each of the ten Pesukim of Malchiyos, Zechronos and Shofros is as if we recited them again!  Remember--This is a great part of the essence of Rosh Hashanah, and we will discuss it a bit further below



A NEW KABBALA OPPORTUNITY ! The Chofetz Chaim writes that when a person recites the words VeAhavta Es Hashem Elokecha, he should think about the Greatness of Hashem and how He gives life to all worlds, in comparison to one’s own smallness--and by this a person will recognize the goodnesses and gifts that Hashem constantly bestows upon him from the time he was born and through eternity.  If a person cannot focus on this during the Shema, the Chofetz Chaim continues, then at least he should try to think about it one time a day, and he suggests that this time may be after davening before one eats--just as other Mitzvos like Tefillin or Luvav, which one does not eat prior to their performance. What a wonderful pre-breakfast thought!



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos (please continue on your own until we B’EH resume on Monday!):


1. 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.


2. All of the Daled Minim must be properly acquired--from the most expensive Esrog through the most reasonably priced Aravah. This means that when one ‘is left with’ purchasing fresh Aravos on Erev Sukkos, he must be sure that the person selling them has the authority to sell them and is of an age who can legally transfer ownership of an article that he has acquired. If one is not careful with his Aravos in this regard, he will not be Yotzei the Mitzvah of the Daled  Minim--notwithstanding that the other three minim may be perfect(!) (SA, OC 649)




Special Note One: In order to complete our review of the Ahl Cheits before Yom Kippur, we will bli neder now review two Ahl Cheits per day, so that we have the opportunity to briefly review each one of them in steady steps. Today, we study both Ahl Cheits under the letter Tzaddi:


Ahl Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha BiTzediyas Reiah-- Secretly Hurting Others


This Ahl Cheit includes going behind other people’s backs in ways which causes their dignity or respect to be lowered, and in ways which can cause them financial harm. The term Tzediyas includes the ‘lying in wait’ or stalking--even if no harm is actually caused. HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, writes that this Ahl Chait includes attempting to trap a friend’s heart, which will allow his judgment to be improperly tainted. The Dover Shalom writes that this Ahl Cheit also includes causing one to err in judgment, pretending to be one’s friend for personal purposes, and preventing others from doing Mitzvos.


Ahl Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha BeTzaros Ayin--Small Mindedness


The Sefer Viduy writes that small mindedness goes beyond miserliness--and includes envy over the possessions of others, feeling bad about someone else’s success, and not dealing with people in a friendly manner or with a cheerful countenance. Pathway to Prayer adds that it also refers to one who does not want to do good for others. The Dover Shalom writes that it also includes complaining about the cost of Shabbos, Yom Tov and other Mitzvos.





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


B. 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. 


C. 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 one make a special effort not to annoy others with his conduct or speech, for if one treats others with courtesy, pleasantness and caring, there is a Middah KeNeged Middah for him to be blessed with the same.  Hakhel Note:  The Chofetz Chaim (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 606, Sha’ar HaTziyun 8) provides us with a truly amazing teaching.  He rules that if someone forgives his friend for something his friend did against him b’meizid u’bimered--maliciously or intentionally--then Hashem will forgive him even for the Mezidin--the intentional acts that he commits.


D. 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.


E. There is the story of a Russian citizen walking in the dark in the middle of the night.  The Russian army soldier ordered him to stop once, twice, and three times, but he did not.  Finally, the soldier said:  “In the name of Nikolai the Great I order you to stop!” but the citizen did not stop.  The soldier shot him in the leg and then simply learned that the gentlemen was no terrorist or criminal, but a person who did not want to be bossed around for nothing.  When the citizen sued the soldier for hurting him--the soldier’s answer--accepted by the court--was:  “If all else failed, when I ordered him to stop in the name of Nikolai he should have.”  We must recognize that the time has now come for us to stop and realize the importance of the moment.  As HaRav Dessler advises, if one would only take a look back at the events of the prior year--he must realize that they all emanated from the several days ahead of us.  Let us use them wisely--and to their utmost!


F.  The Poskim remind us that we dare not get angry on Rosh Hashanah--and Hashem will hopefully act in a similar manner towards us--Middah K’Neged Middah...and may it be a Siman Tov for the year! Let us begin practicing today--on Erev Rosh Hashanah!


G 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 Yisrael breads, cakes, pretzels, etc.).  Why is this conduct change limited to the Aseres Yemei Teshuva and not extended for the whole year?  We know of  two possible 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”!


H. 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 Rachamei 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).”


Additional Note One: 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 Steipeler 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 Steipeler 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!”


Additional Note Two:  Chazal teach us that the Navi Hoshea was taught that he should have pleaded to Hashem on behalf of K’lal Yisrael with the words Bonecha Haim, B’nei Chanunecha, B’nei Avraham Yitzchok VeYa’akov--Galgeil Rachamecha Aleihem!” We too must plead on behalf of Hashem’s children--who are the children of the Avos and our brothers as well!  A Rav asked us to focus our readers’ attention on the beginning words of our Selichos daily--KeDalim U’cheRoshim Dofaknu Delasecha--we are all impoverished as we seem Hashem’s compassion.  We should recognize that every person has his own pekele of issues and difficulties-- AND DAVEN NOT ONLY FOR OURSELVES BUT FOR EVERY MEMBER OF K’LAL YISRAEL.  There are those with physical problems, mental problems, Shalom Bayis problems, Parnassah problems, Shidduch problems--there are so many issues--we must expand our “me” our “I” to encompass those who are one with us.  During the Selichos Period and over the Yomim Noraim we are not only davening for ourselves! Let us make the effort to open our hearts far and wide--and may Hashem open the door even farther and wider!


Please click here for the link--it is extremely important!


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



Special Note Three: NOTES FOR ROSH HASHANA: 


A.  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. FROM A READER: “Rabbi David Ordman recently told an audience of women at Um Ani Homa  in Bnai Brak that the best preparation for Rosh Hashanah is gratitude.  When we feel hakaros hatov for all that Hashem gives us, it brings us closer to Him and our awe of His greatness increases.  Rav Ordman recalled that Rav Elyashiv, Z’tl, once asked his son to teach him the correct English words to thank his American  surgeon.  When his son responded that he would be happy to thank the doctor in his father’s name, Rav Elyashiv informed him that hakaros hatov may not be delivered by a shaliach and cited as proof our davening Shemonah Esray.  The congregation can be yotzei with every bracha along with the shaliach tzibur except for one—Modim!”


C.  Chazal teach that one who answers Amen properly is granted length of days and length of years.  Over Rosh Hashana, perhaps we can try to improve our Amen response.  With Amen, you affirm that Hashem is your ‘Kel Melech Ne’eman.’  There are additional Kavanos as well, depending on what you are responding to, regarding which you can consult your Rav or teacher.


D. The Zohar (Parshas Noach) teaches 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 “Amen, Yehei Shemai Rabba” in Shul you look into the Siddur and concentrate on the words.


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


F.  HaRav Shlomo Wolbe, Z’tl, reports that Rebbi Yisrael 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’anecha--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.


G.  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. 


H. 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


I.  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. 


J.  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. 


K.  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 Tekios are blown!


L.  Reb Yisrael Salanter, Z’tl, in the Sefer Ohr Yisrael 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. 


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


N.  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.


O.  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!


P.  We briefly noted above the tremendous significance of Malchiyos, Zichronos, and Shofros We must remember that the most essential part of Tefillas Mussaf both for the individual in his recitation of Mussaf silently, and in the Chazaras 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. 


Q.  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 teruah (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 teruah, 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...”


Hakhel Note: 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 Yisrael and the lives of the world!






A. This Shabbos is known as ‘Shabbos Shuva’ with the word Shabbos coming before the word ‘Shuva’ in order to teach us the preeminence of Shabbos even over matters which could otherwise help us with our Teshuva process.  


B. The Mishna Berurah (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. In this week’s Haftara, 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.  We must take our words with us--we must realize (as the Vidui Booklet points out) that a GREAT NUMBER of the sins we mention in the Vidui of Yom Kippur have to do with misuse and abuse of that great power that distinguishes us from animal--our 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--one reader pointed out that embarrassing another in public causes                  one to forfeit his share in Olam Haba--and then asked if this is so --is this the greatest  aveira--even greater than Chillul Hashem....

8.  Divrei Ga’avah--words of arrogance--even though the 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 we can keep this list around near a place(s) where we can look at it before we are about to make a statement or comment, or have a conversation, that is not within our 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! 


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



28 Elul

NOTE ON SELICHOS: 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!



TEFILLAH FOR TESHUVA:  We provide by clicking here the Tefillah, as 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.



PARSHAS HA’OLAH:  Chazal teach that a Karbon Olah is brought for not fulfilling a Mitzvas Asei, and for improper thoughts.  In our current time, when we have no actual Korban Olah, Chazal teach (Menachos 110A) that being osek in the Parshas Ha'Olah stands in its place and stead (see Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah, Sha’ar Daled).  In the outstanding Siddur Tefillah L’Moshe, which contains notes by Rabbi Tzvi Yavrav, Shlita, of the teachings of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, the Parshas Ha'Olah and relevant Tefillos are provided, and we provide them by clicking hereOne should attempt to obtain the Siddur, for in it he will find much more wealth!



REMEMBER--THEY CARE! Over the next two weeks, we will be hearing many drashos from our Rabbanim and teachers asking us to improve. One of the famous teachings of the Rosh is 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.  Our Rabbanim, our Maggidei Shiur, our teachers are our senior officers who are extending a life-line to us with their guidance and teachings.  Should we not rejoice with, and should we not implement, their heartfelt words of direction and assistance?!  Listen carefully and closely--and seriously ponder and think about-- how to thrive and grow from their words!



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

Please feel free to distribute further!



PAS YISROEL LIST:  We provide the following link to the OU’s Pas Yisroel list for the coming year, for those who are particularly careful on Pas Yisroel during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah --  http://oukosher.org/blog/consumer-news/pas-yisroel-list-5774/




HILCHOS SUKKOS! We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos:


1. Why does the bracha of Leishev BaSukkah not have to be made while standing, as many other Birkos HaMitzvos? The Pri Megadim writes that just like the bracha over Hafrashas Challah can be made sitting because through doing so it is going to permit one to eat (which is done sitting), so too, the bracha of Leishev BaSukkah permits one to eat his meal in the Sukkah--and therefore it can be said sitting. The Pnei Yehoshua writes that only for a Mitzvah which is to be performed standing need the bracha be recited standing, but for a Mitzvah which can be performed sitting, the bracha over the Mitzvah can be recited sitting as well. It does not appear that the Mishna Berurah would agree with the explanation of the Pnei Yehoshua, as he rules that Megillas Esther can be read sitting, although the brachos must be recited while standing. Note: The Rambam rules that the bracha of Leishev BaSukkah should be recited after Kiddush, both of which are said standing, and the person should then proceed to sit down (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 643:2, Dirshu Note 3)


2. If one had already eaten Mezonos and made a Leishev BaSukkah, and now wants to be Motzi others with the bracha of Leishev BaSukkah as they are about to make Kiddush and start a Seudah, HaRav Aharon Leib Shteineman, Shlita, rules that he may do so (ibid., Dirshu Note 7).




Special Note One: As our approach to the Yomim Noraim becomes more intense, in order to complete our review of the Ahl Cheits before Yom Kippur, we will bli neder now review two Ahl Cheits per day. Today, we study both Ahl Cheits under the letter Peih:


Ahl Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha BiPhrikas Ohl--Casting Off Responsibility


HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, learns that this Cheit refers to not just downright insubordination, but to not approaching one’s responsibilities with the proper seriousness, sometimes acting with negligence, sometimes in a nonchalant manner, and sometimes with laziness. Our responsibilities include accepting Ohl Malchus Shomayim, Ohl Yiras Shomayim, as well as the Ohl Torah and Ohl Mitzvos. One's Cheit in this area becomes compounded when, because he shirks a responsibility, someone else is forced to step in when he should not nor need not do so. Pathway to Prayer brings the Rabbeinu Yonah (Sha’arei Teshuvah 3:169), who describes one lacking in Ohl Yiras Shomayim as ‘one who fulfills Mitzvos by rote, and when they succumb to sin they do not sigh or worry about it’. Included in one who shirks his Ohl Torah is one who does not use the limited time he has to learn wisely, considering it as part of his ‘recreation’ or ‘free time’, and not as the precious time that he has with Hashem’s heavenly gift to us.



Ahl Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha BiPhlilus--Improperly Judging


HaRav Dessler, explains that this Aveirah includes questioning a Torah law, or the teachings of Rabbanim. It also includes questioning the Hanhaga HaElyona, such as why reshaim seem to be successful and at peace in this world. There is a third area which this Cheit covers: When one judges another unfavorably or improperly passes judgment on another, he has sinned BiPhlilus. If one can think of instances where he has not given someone (including a close family member) the benefit of the doubt, then-- after asking him for forgiveness, here is where he should sincerely sigh--and ask forgiveness from Hashem as well.


Hakhel Note:  We once again provide by clicking here a Tefillah to Hashem that you judge others L’Chaf Zechus.



Special Note Two: As we focus on Teshuvah, we recall the following additional teachings of the Rabbeinu Yonah in the Sha’arei Teshuvah:


A.  Lashon Hara is weighted against several chayavei misos.  Hakhel Note:  As the Chofetz Chaim points out, the act of murder kills one person, while the act of Lashon Hara can kill three--which is evidenced with the Ma’aseh of Nov Ir HaKohanim in which the speaker (Doeig), the recipient (Shaul HaMelech), and the one spoken about (Achimelech and the people of Nov) were all killed.


B.  The sin of embarrassing another person is so great because shame could be more bitter than death.  One who is Motzi Sheim Rah against a person or a family can effect a permanent p’gam upon him or them, and so the speaker can never attain a Kapparah.  Moreover, one who shames another person in public is among the people who go to Gehenom and do not leave.


C.  If one is unsure whether the road or path he is on has unclean matter, he should not mention Hashem’s name, nor speak Divrei Torah.


D.  The reason that Hashem ‘gives wisdom to the wise’ is because they honor the Torah and study it with a spirit of kedusha. 


E.  It is forbidden to join together with the person who is a Rasha not only in worldly matters--but even for the purpose of a Mitzvah.


F.  A person is obligated to think about ways in which he could provide good Eitzos to his friend--and this is one of the Ikarei Darchei Gemilas Chassodim.


G.  Although one is permitted to show respect to a powerful person even if he is wicked, one should not praise them or speak well about them to others.


H. Tzedakah Tatzil MiMaves--Charity saves from death”, and that it also therefore must save from yisurin as well.  Remember--Tzedaka Today--Please! Hakhel Note: You can still help support the Bnei Torah in Kiryat Sefer--whatever dollar you give will be matched, dollar-for-dollar. Please go to www.yadeliezer.org and write Kiryat Sefer in the comment section.



Special Note Three: Significant Elul Alerts:


A. 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.


B.  Something easy to remember: 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 LaMachazikim 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!  


C.  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!


D.  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. 


E.  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, as provided in previous years.  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!


F. As we have noted in the past, 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!


G. 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 DayWhich treasure will you choose?  Truth be told, you can choose more than one!


H. 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!”


I.  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’Nichbedei 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!


J.  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!





27 Elul

WELCOME TO THE LAST THREE DAYS OF THE YEAR--May we especially excel and stand out in our honesty, integrity and Kiddush Hashem as we enter and continue this practice into the New Year.  Ask yourself:  Will this be one of my primary Kabballos?  Additional Note:  Because of the great importance of these last three days, the Yetzer Hara will undoubtedly work overtime to make one feel upset, depressed, angry, and even strangely to “get in” those last Aveiros of the year before the awesome day of Rosh Hashana begins.  These days are the days in which we can show our Gevurah, and end the year on a most positive note by not falling prey to his tactics and guile, and instead filling the days with Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim, in a good temperament and in positive preparation…for the first day of the New Year 5774!


TOMORROW! THE WORLDWIDE HASHAVAS AVEIDAH INITIATIVE! Hakhel and KEY invite all to participate in The Worldwide Hashavas Aveida initiative, tomorrow, 28 Elul, all are encouraged to return any lost or unreturned items that might be in their possession, or to pay back any money that is owed. 


To participate, please review the list below and see if you can return any of these, or any other unreturned or found items that you have or are aware of:


* Sefarim that have been borrowed (from an individual, or Beis Midrash or shul)

* Money loaned to you (including when you ran short of cash and someone loaned cash to you at the checkout counter or otherwise)

* Keys you found

* Items children  left in your home (jackets, tzitzis, yarmulkes, hats, gloves...)

* Items  brought home from camp, but that belong to someone else

* Items which adult guests have left in your home

* Raincoats or umbrellas -- or jewelry for a simcha that you borrowed from someone

* Misdelivered mail


This is a very important mitzvah for any day, but especially before Rosh Hashana! Join us this tomorrow, by doing this special mizvah.





(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. 



EITZOS FOR THE YOM HADIN: We provide by clicking here a wonderful summary (in Hebrew) of Eitzos to be zoche on Yom HaDin



HILCHOS SUKKOS! We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos:


1. The Rema rules that one should commence building the Sukkah immediately after Yom Kippur, for he fulfills a Mitzvah in building the Sukkah as well. The Bi’ur Halacha writes that according to the Yerushalmi the building of the Sukkah is a separate Mitzvah (i.e., separate and apart from sitting in the Sukkah), and one would actually make the bracha of Asher Kideshanu BeMitzvosavLa’asos Sukkah; however, the Bavli disagrees, and holds that it is not the ikar Mitzvah. There is a Machlokes Achronim as to whether according to the Bavli it is still a Mitzvah to build to the Sukkah (and a person should preferably perform the Mitzvah on his own), or whether it is a hechsher Mitzvah--which prepares one to dwell in the Sukkah over Sukkos (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 641, Dirshu Note 1).


2. A child who becomes Bar Mitzvah over Sukkos would not recite a Shehechiyanu over the Mitzvah of Sukkah, as he already recited (or was Yotzei) the Shehechiyanu prior to his bar mitzvah. With respect to a Ger who converts to Yiddishkeit over Sukkos, the Bikurei Yaakov is unsure whether he would make a Shehechiyanu at that time, as the chiyuv came upon him together with all Mitzvos, and not as a special Mitzvah that only comes MeZman LeZman--at designated times during the year for which the Shehechiyanu would be recited (SA, OC 641, Dirshu Note 8).




Special Note One: As our approach to the Yomim Noraim becomes more intense, in order to complete our review of the Ahl Cheits before Yom Kippur, we will bli neder now review two Ahl Cheits per day, so that we have the opportunity to briefly review each one of them in steady steps. Today, we study both Ahl Cheits under the letter Ayin:


Ahl Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha BeEinayim Ramos--Lofty Eyes


HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, explains that lofty eyes refers to inner ga’avah, in which a person puts down or disregards others in his heart, feeling greater than them, and that this leads to many other sins Bein Adam L’Chaveiro. Hashem says about someone who has this attitude: “Osah Lo Uchal--him I cannot bear.” (Tehillim 101:6) The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah brings from the Sha’arei Teshuvah that the tikun for lofty eyes is for a person to actually lower his eyes. We may suggest that this is so because one’s outward actions affect one’s inward nature. Additionally, when a person senses that he is feeling an air of superiority about him, or looks down at another--he must also ‘look down’ at himself--to understand who he really is. Rabbi Tovalsky’s guidelines in LeAnavyim Yitein Chein presented over the last several days should prove extremely helpful to one who feels that he is superior to this one or that one, or who finds himself looking down at other people.


Ahl Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha BeAzus Metzach--Demonstrating Brazenness  


It is said over in the name of the Chofetz Chaim that the one and only basis for sending a student away from Yeshiva is an attitude of brazenness. The middah of Azus is reserved for us only to be strong in the performance of Mitzvos when faced with challenges, and for no other purpose. Pathway to Prayer writes that for one to use it by responding to his Rebbi or Rav or anyone with an undeserved level of disrespect is severe enough for Chazal to term such a person a Rasha. Moreover, it is about such a person to whom Chazal referred when they stated “Az Panim LeGehenom” (Avos 520). Finally, Pathway to Prayer concludes: “A brazen person is also lacking one of the primary characteristics of a Jew, as the Gemara (Yevamos 79A) teaches, these are the signs of a Jew, they are merciful, shamefaced [the opposite of this characteristic] and benevolent.”



Special Note Two: ELUL ALERTS: 


A.  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” [in Hebrew by clicking here] and [in English by clicking here] of the 13 Midos.  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, Z’tl.  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! 


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 clicking here the words of HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl, in the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim regarding this Kavannah and its potency.  Now is the time to improve your “Amen; Yehei Shemei Rabba” by looking at the words in your Siddur/Machzor as you say them, reciting them aloud, and understanding each word as you recite it--with the intention of ever-increasing 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 Yisrael--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 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. 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.  It is the custom not to eat Egozim on Rosh Hashana. 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: Rabban Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, explains 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!



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