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!
1.Rabbi David Ashear, Shlita, astoundingly points out that not
only are we gifted the ability to do Teshuvah—which could mean not only
making amends for what we have done, but even potentially turning our
iniquities into Mitzvos—but on top of it all Hashem made Teshuvah a
Mitzvah in the Torah—for which we get sechar
2.The Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter
1) writes that just as Hashem accepts our Teshuvah and in the place where a
Ba’al Teshuvah stands not even a Tzaddik Gamur can stand, so too, should
we accept the Teshuvah of others when they apologize to us.We should not begrudgingly forgive them and thereafter treat them in
a distant and cold manner—but instead should bring them closer to us, and
treat them with the newfound warmth with which Hashem treats the Ba’al
Teshuvah. After all, we have to emulate the ways of Hashem!!
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 timesgreater 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 firming up your 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 kesusnekiyah--clean
clothing in honor of the day. 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:
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. 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, which 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
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
B.“U’Chesov LeChaim Tovim Kol
Bnei Brisecha--inscribe all the children of Your covenant for good
life.”What is a good
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 the following link -http://tinyurl.com/d54y4uc
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
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 version of the Vidui (such as that of the Chida or the Chayei
Adam) have been published.On
the above link, one will find an expanded Vidui for one to reflect upon.One should 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 litzlan, 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 ( ) 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
litzlan, 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
B’Seshuva Sheleima Lefanecha”, and then immediately follow this plea
with “Shelach Refuah Sheleima
LeCholei Amecha.” Once we
have healed our soul, the healing of our body takes on greater meaning.
This is of course, also similar to the Mi Shebeirach for a Choleh in which
we first ask for a “Refuas HaNefesh,” and then for a “Refuas HaGuf.”
Remember, all of this healing is free, and the extent of all of our healing
is directly proportional to the sincerity and effort we invest in its
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!
WHICH IS MALEI BIRKAS
AHL CHEIT LINK: As Yom Kippur approaches,
we provide for your use by the following linkhttp://tinyurl.com/p8ewl7da
compiled review of the Ahl Cheits. Please feel free to print-out, and
share the link with others!
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
REMEMBER TO GIVE TZEDAKAH
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
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 MelechKel 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 353 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. Our notes are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the
Mishna Berurah, Volume VI:
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. 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 LeisheivBaSukkah 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.
Note One: Now
that we have concluded our Nineteen Week Kavannah campaign of the nineteen
brachos of Shemone Esrei, we conclude with our focus on our personal
requests in Elokai Netzor. For example: “P’sach Libi
BeSoresecha U’VeMitzvosecha Tirdof Nafshi --open my heart to Your
Torah and may my soul pursue Your commandments.”Here, we ask not only that we be given the ability to study--but that
Hashem open our hearts so that our study is deep and successful.We also ask for Hashem’s assistance not only to perform the Mitzvos--but
to pursue the Mitzvos, indicating an understanding and appreciation of them.When one cherishes something, he runs after it.We then continue to plead with Hashem as follows:“VeChol HaChoshevim Alai
Ra’ah Meheirah Hafer Atzasam VeKalkel Machshevasam--and
for those who intend to do me harm, speedily void their plans and spoil
their intentions.”What an
important request--especially at a time when different enemies--from
terrorists to so-called leaders seek to r’l harm us, if not to r’l
obliterate us or compromise our dedication to Torah study and to Mitzvos.Here is our opportunity, daily--three times a day to ask Hashem to
thwart their intentions.Why?“Asei LeMa’an Shemecha, Asei LeMa’an Yeminecha, Asei LeMa’an
Kedushasecha, Asei LeMa’an Torasecha--so that Kiddush Hashem will
prevail in the world, with everyone recognizing the Malchus of Hashem, and
the world is brought to its fulfillment!” We provide by the following link
additional notes on Elokai Netzor for the years 5771 and 5772 http://www.hakhel.info/TefillahArchive.html
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
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
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
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:
should rectify whatever he possibly can.
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 is 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 an unbelievable opportunity to cleanse ourselves
of years of accumulated grime.Let
us make the effort at this special time to come clean!
we continue to provide Halachos on HilchosSukkos.
Our notes are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah,
continue on your own until we B’EH resume on Monday!):
Continuing with the Halachos of Hakafos, one must fully circle the Bimah in
order for it to be considered a Hakafa.After the Aron Kodesh is opened to take out a Sefer Torah for the
Hakafos, it should be left open.There
is a question as to whether the Sefer Torah that is taken out must be held
or can be placed on the Bimah.HaRav
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that if everyone in the tzibbur has a
Lulav and Esrog, the Sefer Torah can be placed on the Bimah.However, it is reported in the name of the Chiddah that it is better
to hold the Sefer Torah than to perform the Hakafa (but most preferred,
according to the Chiddah is to quickly perform the Hakafa) while someone
else is holding the Sefer Torah, and then take the Sefer Torah.HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that the one who holds the Sefer
Torah is considered as if he is actually doing the Hakafah.However, the Kaf HaChaim and the Kuntrus Acharon rule that it is
better to do the actual Hakafah.(Shulchan
Aruch Orach Chaim 660, Dirshu Notes 2 and 3).
is a difference among the Poskim as to how to hold the Lulav and Esrog
during the Hakafa. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav rules that the Lulav should be
held in the right hand and the esrog in the left, and with the Ben Ish Chai
adding that people who hold both in one hand are mistaken.However, the Steipeler, Z’tl, and HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, do rule
that the Lulav and Esrog can be held in one hand (with the Siddur in the
other).The Bikurei Yaakov
writes that the Lulav and Esrog should be held until after the Kaddish after
the Hakafos, so that it does not appear that one views holding them c’v
as a burden in any way by putting them down quickly (Shulchan
Aruch Orach Chaim 660, Dirshu Note 2).
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 Hashanah--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 Hashanah--the more successful he will be
the entire year!
Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, explains part of the symbolism of honey on Rosh
Hashanah. 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!
SHIRA!In last week’s Parasha (Devorim 31:19), we learned that Moshe
Rabbeinu was instructed to “Sima
Befihem--to put the Torah into our mouths.”A Rav once explained that just as with a person who can be fed by
others, but must swallow on his own, so too can the Torah (with all of the
modern technological advancements and publications which assist us) be put
into our mouth--but we still must ingest it on
Note:HaRav Dessler, Z’tl,
explains why the Torah is suddenly referred to as
Shira in last week’s Parasha, 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
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
Motzai 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.
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
MESSAGE! The three Tefillos of Malchiyos, Zichronos and Shofros are
parallel to the three Yesodos HaEmunah of Metziyus Hashem (Malchiyos),
Sechar VeOnesh (Zichronos), and 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, Zichronos
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
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 Lulav, which one does not eat prior to their
performance. What a wonderful pre-breakfast thought!
Special Note One:NOTES FOR EREV ROSH HASHANAH:
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, Tefilah and Tzedakah can extricate us from a Din that we
might chas veshalom otherwise
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 Hashanah 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 Hashanah.
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 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!
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 “Shanah”
(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 the beginning of the time of change. In fact, 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.). However--why is this conduct change limited to the
Aseres Yemei Teshuva and not extended for the whole year? We know of
two possible responses:
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
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 that we merit Heavenly Assistance, and that Hashem
gives us success in attaining Teshuvah from the depths of the heart, for
this is the ikarthrough which we can emerge innocent in justice B’Ezras Hashem. (Michtav
M’Eliyahu Volume 4, page 313).”
One: The following is a brief summary of a powerful, meaningful, and
practical Shiur given by HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, relating to our
Rosh Hashanah 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 Shimoni 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 Hashanah and Yom
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
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 Hashanah 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 Hashanah. Based upon this great teaching
of the Steipeler, 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!”
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!
are no limits to what we can accomplish with Siyata D’Shmaya, and just one
sincere Tefillah can get us there!
Special Note Two: NOTES
FOR ROSH HASHANAH:
A. There are
several reasons why challos on Rosh Hashanah are round (ibid., p. 206):
is a Siman Tov, because round objects don’t have an end, symbolizing
Arichus Yomim--life where there is no end in sight!
round shape symbolizes unity among us--a King needs a unified nation!
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 Hashanah.
FROM A READER: “Rabbi David Ordman 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 Shemone
Esrei. The congregation can be yotzei with every bracha
along with the shaliach tzibur except for one—Modim!”
teach that one who answers Amen
properly is granted length of days and length of years.Over Rosh Hashanah, 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 (Parashas
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.
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
Shlomo Volbe, 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 Hashanah. 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.
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
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. 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 Gehennom. Thus, with an earnest Hirhur Teshuva one can
still now, a very short time before Din, save himself as the Tekios are
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
L. 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.’
Shlomo Pearl, Z’tl, teaches 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.
N. 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!
O. 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 Hashanah talks about Tefillas Mussaf it talks about
these Pesukim as the essence of Mussaf--so please recite them meaningfully,
with deep feeling and intent.
P. 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.
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
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!
Special Note Three:
A NOTE FOR SHABBOS SHUVA:
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? How
can I improve my Shabbos Tefillos? What special Parashas 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
C. In this week’s Haftara, the Navi
Hoshea (14:2,3), after urging us to do Teshuva (Shuva Yisrael!) 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 freeof the
Hara--brings many, many other aveiros along with it and can destroy
relationships, families and lives
above, and perhaps even more hurtful to the person
Hashem’s seal is Emes!
egging on...’you’re right!’
poking fun, ridicule
Devorim--hurtful or insulting words
Panim--one reader pointed out that embarrassing another in public causes
to forfeit his share in Olam Haba--and then asked if this is so --is this
the greatest aveira--even greater than Chillul Hashem....
Ga’avah--words of arrogance--even though the sign of greatness is
humility (Iggeres HaRamban)
Machlokes--fighting, argumentative words
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!
TO ALL OF OUR BELOVED READERS:
must remember how precious the moments on Rosh Hashanah are, and when we
feel we are tiring, refresh ourselves--as we pray for our lives, the lives
of K’lal Yisroel and the lives of the world!
again, we wish each and every one of you a Kesiva VeChasima Tova, a Year
which is replete with Chayim Tovim and Shalom!
REMEMBER TO RETURN!
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,
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
is a very important mitzvah for any day, but especially before Rosh
Hashanah! Join us today, by doing this special mitzvah.
TEFILLAH FOR TESHUVA: We provide by the following link http://tinyurl.com/2dm686
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.
PARASHAS HA’OLAH: Chazal (Menachos 110A) teach that a Karbon Olah
is brought for a violation of a Mitzvas Asei, and for improper thoughts. In
our current time, when we have no actual Korban Olah, recitation/study of
the Parashas HaOlah stands in its place (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, he brings the
Parashas HaOlah, which we provide by the following link http://tinyurl.com/pzzj6w2One should attempt to obtain the Siddur, for in it he will find a
clearer print and much more treasure!
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.”
As we have already noted, 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?! Let us
keep this analogy in mind and listen carefully and closely--and seriously
ponder and think about-- how to thrive and grow from their words!
Hakhel Note: Remember--Hakol Tolui Bi--it all depends on me!!
HILCHOS SUKKOS! Today,
we continue to provide Halachos on Hilchos Sukkos.
Our notes are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah,
Yosef explains that the reason that on Yom Tov the Maftir reads from the
Mussaf Karbanos is because Hashem told Avraham Avinu that when the Bais
HaMikdash is standing we will attain Kaparah through the Karbanos--but when it is not standing and we read the Seder Karbanos, then Hashem
will consider it as if we actually brought the Karbanos and forgive us for
our sins (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim
659, Dirshu Note 2).Hakhel
Note: What a special time!
are different opinions and a difference of Minhagim as to whether Hoshanos
in Shul are recited after Hallel or after Mussaf. The Bikurei Yaakov proves
that in the Bais HaMikdash the Hakafos were done before Mussaf, but writes
that we do not have the ability to change Minhagim.The Kav HaChaim writes that ahl
pi kabbalah, they should be recited after Hallel.The Bikurei Yaakov writes if a tzibbur does not have a Sefer Torah
(and, according to the Aishel Avrohom Mi’Butschatch, if one is davening
privately), one does not recite Hoshanos.However, the Ben Ish Chai writes that one can circle around the Bima
even if there is no Sefer Torah, and that accordingly, even if one is r’l
not well and davening at home, can put a Tanach on a chair (according to
the Kav HaChaim, on a table) and circle around it in order to fulfill the
Aruch Orach Chaim 660, Dirshu Note 1).
Special Note One: As we focus on Teshuvah,
we recall the following teachings of the Rabbeinu Yonah in the Sha’arei Teshuvah:
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.
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 Kaparah.Moreover, one who shames another person in public is among the people
who go to Gehenom and do not leave.
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.
reason that Hashem ‘gives wisdom to the wise’ is because they honor the
Torah and study it with a spirit of kedusha.
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.
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.
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. The Sha’arei Teshuvah (Sha’ar Daled--the Elements of Kappara)
notes that “Tzedakah Tatzil MiMaves--Charity saves from death”,
and that it also therefore must save from yisurin as well!Remember--Tzedaka
Today--Please! Hakhel Note: You can still help support the Bnei
Torah in Eretz Yisrael--whatever dollar you give will be matched,
dollar-for-dollar. Please go to www.yadeliezer.org.
Special Note Two: Significant
Pre-Rosh HaShanah Alerts:
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.
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 LaMechazikim Bah--the
Torah is a tree of life for those who hold onto it.” The
Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 8) explains what holding onto the
Torah includes: “One must help those who study Torah not only with
money, but with deeds. One should honor them and encourage them in their
studies, strengthening their desire and ability to study. One can
honor the Torah and those who study it through words, through the actions of
his body, through his monetary possessions, and by stirring others to honor
Talmidei Chachomim as well....” Let us all grasp on to this tree of
life--in the many valuable ways that we can!
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!
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
one of us is really very wealthy in many ways. Among those ways is
that commencing on Rosh Hashanah we can begin many different
programs which are broken down into daily segments, including:Positive
Word Power; Praying with Fire; Praying with Fire II; and The
Chofetz Chaim a Lesson a Day. Which treasure will you choose?
Truth be told, you can choose more than one!
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 Hakenesses. 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!”
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: PLEASE
REMEMBER--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 Hashanah 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 5775!
WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE COMING YEAR! We provide by the following link -- http://tinyurl.com/pfdv3jwa calendar for the study of Sefer Mesilas Yesharim over
the two-month period of Tishrei and Marcheshvan 5775. We have it available
on large postcard stock as well. Please feel free to print out, make your
own postcard, and spread the word!This
Program is for men and women--there are outstanding English translations of
the Mesilas Yesharim available both through Artscroll and Feldheim.This bli neder two-month
undertaking will most certainly demonstrate your real desire for improvement
in the coming year! PLEASE JOIN US!!
THE ROSH PROVIDES THE FOLLOWING POINTED TEACHINGS
IN THE ORCHOS CHAIM LAROSH:
(1) In the week of Rosh Hashanah, 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 MiDevar
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 Heyeh LiYirei
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
REMINDER: Thisweek, we will be blessed with the opportunity to make an EruvTavshilin! To assist in properly performing this
wonderful Mitzvah, we once again provide by the following link --http://tinyurl.com/43svvmgthe Halachos of EruvTavshilin, as reviewed by HaRav Yisroel Belsky,
Shlita. Please feel free to distribute further!
IMPORTANT--FROMA RAV: TheclassicHalacha sefer for
the Yomim Noraim--Sefer Mateh Ephraim
(533:4) writes that one should learn the four Perakim of Mesechta Rosh
Hashanah on Rosh Hashanah because
they correspond to the four letters of the Sheim.
It is for this reason that Machzorim bring that one should learn one Perek
of Mishnayos Rosh Hashanah at each Rosh Hashanah meal--thereby completing
the Mesechta in Mishnayos by the completion of Rosh Hashanah. The Elef
HaMegein (ibid., seif katan 23) writes that it is a
‘Segulah Nifla’ah She’Yizkeh L’Yom HaDin!’ The Rav advised us that
he knows of nothing else that the Elef
HaMegein writes is aSegulah
Nifla’ah--and accordingly urges Shuls to have Shiurim to review Mishnayos
Rosh Hashanah on Rosh Hashanah, and if possible for one to study the
Mesechta at or around the time of one’s meal.
HILCHOS SUKKOS! Today, we continue to
provide Halachos on Hilchos Sukkos. Our notes are excerpted from
the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah, Volume VI:
noi Sukkah may be used to read from on Yom Tov--such as those that
contain the Ushpizin on them, they are nevertheless Muktzah and one can not
move them on Yom Tov.If the noi
Sukkah contain divrei kedusha and
have fallen on the floor on Shabbos or Yom Tov, can one pick them up?This
may be a Machlokes HaPoskim and accordingly one should consult with his Rav
or Posek.Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 630, Dirshu
2.The Shevet HaLevi rules that decorations which are really
manufactured with the intent of being utilized by other religions (such as
lights that blink on and off)may
be purchased from the store and used--as they are made by machines which
cannothave an avoda
zaraintent,never made it into a house of avoda
zara, and in any event could have alternative uses.HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, agrees--but nevertheless rules that it is me’chu’ar--inappropriate--to
use such an item. (Shulchan
Aruch Orach Chaim 630, Dirshu Note 15).
NACHAS RUACH PROJECT!:A wonderful project to start today and continue for at least 30 days
is to do one Mitzvah or Ma’aseh Tov a day which
is for the express and only purpose of giving Nachas Ruach to Hashem.
A. 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 both Hebrew by the following link --http://tinyurl.com/2d63u8and
English by the following linkhttp://tinyurl.com/yq9k42of
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
Additional Note One: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 Hashanah when we need them so much!
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.
that , as partof Selichos, we
have begun to recite Viduy on a daily basis, we recall the holy words of the
Sefer Tomer Devorah in which HaRav
Moshe Cordevero, Z’tl, writes that
when one recites Viduy he should have in mind to bring upon himself Tahara--a
wellspring of purity.Indeed,
HaRav Cordevero writes, that Dovid HaMelech in the Kepitel of Teshuvah (Tehillim
51:4) exclaims:“Herev Kabesaini Mei’avoniU’Maichatasi
Tahareini--abundantly cleanse me from my iniquity, and from my sin
C.One can easily brush over the Ashamnus
and the Al Cheits boldly
disclaiming any sin in this regard or at least thinking that what he has
done is ‘Nisht Geferlach’--not
so bad.HaRav Ezriel Erlanger,
Shlita, Mashgiach of the Mirrer Yeshiva in New
teaches that ‘Nisht
Geferlach’ is ‘Geferlach’.We know two things:
(1) The Navi (Yirmiyahu
Nishpat Osach Al Amreich Lo Chatasi--Hashem judges a person by separate
judgment for the person’s claim that he did not sin.”
It is not the ‘major aveiros’ that may necessarily affect many people,
but as Chazal teach it is the “Mitzvos
that a person steps upon that surround a person at the time of his judgment”.One must get serious in his reflection as to some of the everyday
matters and situations that REQUIRE rectification. Below are some simple
(a) Tzararnu--going through the day making the conscious effort not to
hurt anybody with one’s words or actions.Even if the other person is not a timid, weak, poor or suffering
person--and even if that person is your parent, wife or child--one must take
his own pain and care to avoid
causing pain, suffering, anguish, or distress to another.
(b) Kishinu Oref--we must not be stubborn and rigid, but flexible and
attentive.“I know better”;
or “I will teach him”, without working with the person on his own level
and in a way that bests suits the person is not only counterproductive--but
offensive and wrong.The
prohibition against being stiff-necked likewise applies to an attitude of
“I can’t change the way I daven”, “I can’t learn more than I
do”, and “That’s the way it is--every once in a while Lashon Hara
comes out.”We add that
as part of
taking stock on Kishinu Oref, one
think about something about himself that he knows bothers others, but that
he has failed to correct because it is “him.” If one realizes that
a particular mannerism or ‘custom’ really does irk family, friends, or
colleagues, it should become part of the “Nachpesa
Deracheinu”--the search of our ways so essential to steering us back
to the proper path in life.
(c) Overdue Items--one
should not overlook the items or money he has borrowed or lent to others, or
to whom he owes a phone call or an apology before Rosh Hashanah.
(d) Brachos Recitation--were there any times this year that you failed
to make a Bracha Achrona?Was
there any time this year when you were unsure whether you recited an Asher
Yatzar or not?Was there any
time this year that you recited the wrong bracha on a product?Do you let your family/friends get by with the way they recite
brachos--even though you know that they should do better?Fascinatingly, the Orchos Chaim LaRosh teaches that one should be careful to instruct
his family to be careful in three items:Kavannah in Tefillah; the proper method of Netilas Yadayim; and
proper brachos recitation.It is
not a long list--but it is a powerfully meaningful one!Our dedication to improvement in brachos recitation is a
demonstration of the honor that we feel in bringing Hashem into our life
every day--throughout the day!
D.We refer to Hashem as Avinu
Malkeinu, and we typically interpret Avinu
(Our Father) as the kind adjective and Malkeinu
(Our King) as the stricter adjective.This
is not necessarily the case.Malkeinu
also means that Hashem is All Powerful.Just as one comes to a king with a request that only a king can
grant, we come to Hashem making our requests as someone who is a loyal
subject now--even if we need to be pardoned of past disloyalties. We
provide by the following link--http://tinyurl.com/3ndyslebased 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!
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:
must recite Birkas HaTorah before reciting Selichos.
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
wash and take haircuts on Erev Rosh Hashanah to demonstrate our faith that
Hashem will perform a miracle for us and find us innocent on Rosh Hashanah.
Even though one may take a haircut a day or two before Rosh Hashanah, it is
still a greater Kavod Yom Tov to take it Erev Rosh Hashana itself.
need not recite Hataras Nedarim on Erev Rosh Hashanah in the morning--one
may recite it the night before as well.
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!
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.
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. --
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.”
hearing the Tekios DeMe’umad, one should not be leaning on
Special Note Three: Remember--Tzedaka
FROM A READER: ”Regarding your note about Simhon Levov
and not acting in a hurried manner, in HaRav Avigdor Miller’s beautiful
commentary on Chovos Halevavos, he comments in Sha’ar Habechina that the
fact that Hashem created the world with so much variety, is to show us that this is a world of PLAN
and PURPOSE. I was thinking that
we are commanded to follow in Hashem’s ways. Planning is the
antithesis of acting with behalah. Besides all of the obvious
benefits of not acting with confusion, another benefit is doing the mitzvah
of V’halachta B’Drachav. “
HILCHOS SUKKOS! Today, we continue to
provide Halachos on Hilchos Sukkos. Our notes are excerpted from
the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah, Volume VI. We will now turn
to the Halachos relating to the Sukkah. We providetwo halachos for each of today, Shabbos,
1.The Chayei Odom writes that it is a mitzvah min hamuvchar to
build a Sukkah with four walls, and many Poskim rule this way as well. In
fact, the Chazon Ish was makpid to have four complete walls, without
windows (Shulchan Aruch
Orach Chaim 630, Dirshu Note 26).
2.If schach was
placed so thickly on a Sukkah that stars cannot be seen through it, the
Sukkah is still kosher. However, the Mishna Berurah writes that if the
schach was so dense that rain could not fall through even in a heavy rain,
one should be machmir and not utilize it even when it is not raining. Even
then, however, it is better to sit in such a Sukkah than not in a
Sukkah at all. Indeed, the Shevet HaLevi rules that one could even make the
bracha of Leshev Basukkah while sitting in such a Sukkah. The Kaf HaChaim
rules that a bracha should not be recited (Shulchan Aruch
Orach Chaim 631:3 Mishna Berurah seif katan 6, Dirshu Note 7).
3.If one places a
sheet of plastic on top of the schach when it is raining, the Shevet HaLevi
rules one should continue to sit in the Sukkah. Other Poskim hold that when
it is really raining, you can not fulfill Mitzvas Sukkah--even if you do not
feel the rain. (Shulchan Aruch
Orach Chaim 629, Dirshu Note 41).
4.If the schach was
blown up off the top of the Sukkah because of the wind, and then falls back
down on to the Sukkah and covers it again, HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, and yblch’t
the Shevet HaLevi rule that the Sukkah is pesula, because the schach as newly placed down by the wind (or
which fell because of the lack of it) was not then placed with
the with the necessary intent of l’shem tzel—for the sake of
shade. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 635, Dirshu
5.Likewise, if a nachri
put up schach, but did not do so l’shem tzel--but only because he understood only that he was doing it for a Jewish need, HaRav Elyashiv,
Z’tl, rules that the schach is pasul (Shulchan
Aruch Orach Chaim 635, Dirshu Note 4).
6.It is muttar
lechatchila to place noi Sukkah within four tefachim of the
schach. If the noi would continue down more than four tefachim,
however, HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, holds that the minhag is to be machmir and
not use it, as it is no longer batel to the schach. The Shevet
HaLevi and HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, however, rule that it is perfectly
permissible, as it is considered batel to the schach because it originates
from an area that is batel to the
schach (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 627,
Dirshu Note 12).
steps to clear one’s mind before davening Mincha. As we have noted in the
past, the Rashba writes that Tefillas Mincha is an Eis Ratzon. Making
the effort to clear one’s mind in the middle of a busy day can raise your
Tefillos to the highest of heights--accomplishing great things for your own
life and for all of K’lal Yisrael! Hakhel
Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, teaches that one should make Kabbalos relating to
the beginning of something--the beginning of davening, the beginning
of learning, the beginning of a Mitzvah--for when the beginning is proper
there is a greater opportunity for the remainder of the act to be much more
uplifted and elevated.
continue with our Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos Series:
OF ELUL IS THE CELEBRATION OF THE BEGINNING OF THE CREATION OF THE WORLD, AS
WAS CREATED ON ROSH HASHANAH--SIX DAYS LATER. LET US APPRECIATE THE
GREATNESS OF THE WORLD’S ANNIVERSARY--AND
USE THE OPPORTUNITY TO RAISE OURSELVES UP FOR THE COMING YEAR!
this is the last Erev Shabbos of the year, we may want to think about those
Erev Shabbos activities we undertake that may have an effect upon others on
Shabbos itself. For instance, if one living in America sends an email
on Erev Shabbos to an uneducated Jew who lives or is vacationing in Eretz
Yisrael or Europe where it may already be Shabbos--what are the potential
issurim that he may be machshil the uneducated Jew in when he reads that
email, and then responds by taking action such as making a phone call to a
third party--or even simply by answering the email-- typing something in
response and exacerbating his conduct clicking “To All”(remembering that
an uneducated Jew is still obligated to perform all Mitzvos--whether
D’Oraysa or DeRabbanan)? Similarly, if one sends a ‘cc’ or a
‘bcc’ of an email to someone ‘local’ before Shabbos, but that local
person might take action because of the email on Shabbos, one may want to
think twice about sending such an email close to Shabbos, before ‘closing
up shop for the day’. Who would want the chilul Shabbos (perhaps
even multiple chilul Shabbos) of another Jew on his head--even if the
uneducated Jew would quite likely be mechallel Shabbos in some other way
during the very same time period, and even if one could perhaps assert in
his defense that he wasn’t the direct cause, etc.. Perhaps to
rectify any prior misdeeds or borderline types of activities in this area
relating to the great and holy Shabbos, one can talk about and explain
Shabbos to not-yet-religious Jews, and be decidedly cautious in sending out
emails on Erev Shabbos (and Erev Yom Tov)--especially in the afternoon.
Remember, we are to be so careful with Hilchos Shabbos that we are
proscribed from blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashana which falls out on
Shabbos--as a gezeirah that someone may come to repair musical instruments.
We certainly should be careful to avoid any culpability, responsibility or
horrible feeling engendered by a non-thinking electronic communication with
someone who does not yet know enough to fathom the transgressions he is
committing with that seemingly innocent, cc’d email.
B. Likewise, as this is the
last Shabbos of the year, it is certainly a time
to be especially careful with our Kedushas Shabbos--zemiros, the way
we speak, our care with muktza matters, looking up those Shabbos halachos we
were unsure of and that we have meant to look up for a long time… and any
Inyanei Shabbos that we know could use our personal improvement.
the slower paced davening on Shabbos, or at least with the greater ability
to start Shacharis a few minutes early if one needs more time--may we once
again suggest a special focus on such words as “Melech”, “Chasdecha”
and “Rachamim” this Shabbos. As we have pointed out in the past,
the Sefer Mateh Ephraim, the great halachic handbook on the Yomim
Noraim, refers to Elul as Yomim HaKedoshim. By connecting to the
Yomim HaKedoshim of Elul on Shabbos Kodesh, we will have added a new and
wonderful dimension of Kedusha to our lives. It is all there for
D.HaRav Chaim Kanievski, Shlita, was asked the
following question: If it is forbidden to say Vidui on Shabbos, how
can one do Teshuva--does he have to wait until after Shabbos to do Teshuva?
HaRav Kanievski responded that one should accept the other aspects of
Teshuva upon himself--i.e., feeling sorry for what he has done, and
accepting upon oneself not do the aveira again, and that the Vidui need not
be done then. The only reason that one does not recite Vidui on
Shabbos, he added, is because we don’t generally recite personal Tefillos
on Shabbos, and Vidui would be similar to a personal Tefilla.
Special Note Two: As
in just a few days, our Din will be before the Beis Din
Shel Ma’alah, we provide by the following link our flyer “HOW TO BE
ZOCHE B’DINhttp://bit.ly/aKol3oWe urge you to make a real and special project of following
Chazal’s sageadvice especially over the next week, and perhaps turn it into a
family or more expanded project as well. If even only a little
bit of Chazal’s guidelines can stick with us over the coming
year--such as being freer with compliments, and in always looking at the
flipside before judging someone (would I want to be judged in this
way?!)--imagine what a purer person we will be at this time next year!
Special Note Three:As we
will soon be reciting Selichos, we note that the Elef HaMagen (in the name
of the Birkei Yosef and Maharik), writes that while reciting the Thirteen
Middos (Hashem, Hashem), one should be in a slightly bowed position--to
indicate humility and regard for the hallowed words that one is reciting.
Special Note Four: We
provide the following additional points and pointers regarding the crucial
period that we are in:
a.We should try to
remember that there are three elements to our lives--Bain Odom LaMakom, Bain
Odom Lechaveiro, and Bain Odom LeAtzmo. We should definitely
think about at least one aspect in each area in which to improve our lives
in the coming year. In this way, our lives will simply become
more complete. HaRav Yerucham Levovitz, Z’tl, makes a wonderful
observation on the Pasuk we recently read in Devorim relating to the Bais
HaMikdash: “LeShichno Sidreshu U’Vasa Shama--you shall seek the
Shechina and come there [to the Bais HaMikdash].”HaRav Yerucham asks--shouldn’t the Pasuk have read in the reverse--U’Vasa
Shama, VeShichno Sidreshu...You shall come there and seek the Shechina?! The
answer, HaRav Yerucham writes, is that the Pasuk is teaching us that we must
FIRST seek the Shechina --and only if we first seek the Shechina do we take
the SECOND STEP of coming to the Bais HaMikdash. It is the time
now of LeShichno Sidreshu--to seek the Shechina through our introspection
and improved thoughts, words and deeds. If we can do this, if we
yearn to grow in Ruchniyus, we will be zoche to the great SECOND STEP of
U’Vasa Shama--we will get to the highest places of Kedusha. What
a great guideline in every life activity--LeShichno Sidreshu!
Chaim LaRosh teaches us the value of our words in a very special
MaiHotza’as Mamoncha’--one should be more careful taking the words out of his mouth
than taking money out of his pocket. While this may seem an
insurmountable task for the average individual in the course of his everyday
life, one can certainly put this essential analogy into practice when he is
in doubt as to whether to say something or not. Think about it
from time to time as you take out your wallet or pocketbook!
c.More real Tachlis: We
are almost at the time where at the forefront we will be
pleading for nothing short of Chaim--life for ourselves, our
families, K’lal Yisrael and the World. Let us consider that the
Torah is also called the Toras Chaim--a living Torah, and that the Torah is
in and of itself an Eitz Chaim--a Tree of Life to hold on to. In
fact, Chazal in Mesechta Avos (2:8) teach us specifically that “Marbeh
Torah Marbeh Chaim--the more Torah, the more life”. Remarkably,
Rabbeinu Yonah writes in the Sefer Sha’areiTeshuva that
“VeNasasi LeChol Hamakom Ba’avuram--and
I will save the whole place for them” refers to those who
study Torah and bring [further] life to the world. Perhaps it is
for this reason that the Techilas Dino Shel Odom--the first judgment that a
man must face after 120 years is over his Torah study--in a real sense, over
how much he attached himself to life. No one can truthfully say
that what Hashem has given him in life until this point is because “Magi’yah
Li--I deserve it.” What we can try to do, however, is take
strides to be more deserving than we have been until this point. What
makes us more deserving of life itself is Torah study--the Toras Chaim, the
Eitz Chaim, the Marbeh Torah--Marbeh Chaim. We must accordingly
highly recommend that all--young and old, men and women-- take some real and
practical step to bring Torah closer to their lives--to spend a few extra
minutes with Torah study each day and/or to improve the quality of our Torah
study. If one is not careful to study even for a brief moment at
his breakfast or dinner table--maybe he can bli neder commit to some form of
Torah study at this special time ( a Mishna, a Pasuk, a Vort) --thereby
indicating and acknowledging that even one of the key moments of daily
bodily care is also dedicated to...life!!
Special Note Five: Today is the Yahrzeit of the Chofetz Chaim, who serves as a
driving force in all of K’lal Yisrael until today. In his honor, we
provide a brief thought of his, which so symbolizes the practicality of his
teachings: “The Seforim teach that when a person is accustomed to a
particular middah ra’ah (bad character trait) and acts in that way
in front of others, they copy him and he is held accountable for the
negative influence he has had on their lives (see Yoma 86A, Rashi d’h kegon).
Now, continues the Chofetz Chaim, it is known that Hashem’s rewards are
greater than His punishments (Sanhedrin 100B)--and so, all the more so will
a Mitzvah or middah tovah that one has and which is copied by others
become a source of great merit for him--as he obtains a chelek in their
Hakhel Note: As an example, if one consistently uses his tongue for the power
of the positive, complimenting, thanking, and really not speaking
Lashon Hara, then others readily recognize (especially with a little
encouragement!) that there is a standard to live up to and a beautiful
reality to follow--and every time they do so, they bring merit to the
originator! The Chofetz Chaim’s lesson to each and every one of us
is that no one is isolated, no one stands alone. As we do Teshuvah in
a particular area or in a particular way, let us take the words of the
Chofetz Chaim to heart and bring those around us who may have had a similar
fallibility or fault back with us--for our own merit and the merit of all of
provide a sampling of his essential
teachings, excerpted from the excellent sefer Give Us Life, collected
and edited by HaRav Mendel Weinbach, Z’tl:
approaching its end summons all of its energies for a last stand. A
candle’s brightest flame appears before it dies, and it is always darkest
before dawn. The power of evil is approaching its end so it has
summoned all of its resources and massed the greatest attack in history on
the forces of good.
often say “This world is also a world,” but the truth is that “Only
this world is a world” because only here can a person improve and
accomplish. This is the World of Action, the World to Come is only for
3.Good manners require a person to
carefully prepare for an audience with an important official. If one
is privileged to see the king, he takes several days to get ready. So
if Chazal tell us that we must prepare for a lifetime before entering the
palace of the King of Kings we must appreciate how supremely exalted this
palace must be.
4.The reward mentioned by the Torah for certain Mitzvohs such as
honoring parents is not their real payment for that is only due in the World
to Come. The small reward we receive in the meantime is like the meals
given to the king’s soldiers which are not subtracted from their pay.
5.Teshuva must be performed with great energy. A person should return
to Hashem with at least the same degree of enthusiasm and energy with which
he had sinned.
6.The greatest sinner will be called to account for the slightest
wrongdoing because his terrible record is no license for further evil.
The Rambam writes that the wicked King Yerovom will be punished for
not fulfilling the mitzvah of Eruv Tavshilin.
7.Just as there are rich and poor, strong and weak, so do people vary
in their talents and abilities in Avodas Hashem. The Torah therefore
commands; “You shall love Hashem with *your* heart, *your* soul and *your*
might--each man according to his particular powers. Additionally, the
real meaning of “all your might” is whatever is most precious to you--Chazal
knew that to most people money is the most precious item. However,
someone to whom Torah and Mitzvos is most precious must be prepared to
sacrifice even these, if necessary, for the honor of Hashem. A Rosh
Yeshiva, for example, must be prepared to sacrifice his own Torah study--his
“all your might”--in order that Torah may flourish among his disciples.
8.An orderly, efficient shopkeeper knows exactly where each item in his
stock is located and its precise value. An orderly Jew does every act with
Hashem in mind because he knows that the simplest act--like the simplest
ware--can bring a tremendous profit if it is used correctly.
9.I am neither a Chosid or a Misnagid. My only ambition is to
fulfill what is written in Shulchan Aruch. Chazal teach that a person
will be asked whether he set aside times for Torah study and whether he
dealt honestly in business. There is no mention of ever being asked
whether one is a Chosid or Misnagid.
10.If you should ask your wife for Shabbos Kugel on Friday she will
suggest that you eat something else because “this Kugel is for Shabbos”.
Honor is like Kugel and is only to be enjoyed on the day which is forever
Shabbos--Olam Haba. If you eat the Kugel today, you may go hungry on
11.Even a small storekeeper keeps a record to know the small
amounts that his customers owe him. Let us not fail to keep records of our
life in this world--for it affects us for eternity.
12.A Torah supporter gives a few copper coins and the institution he
supports gives him a share in an eternal Torah.
13.HaRav Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl,
compared momentary interruption in Torah study to the uprooting of two feet
of railway track from a line stretching for thousands of miles. Just
as this seemingly insignificant act can wreak havoc upon the railroad, so
too can a break in Torah study.
14.One of the signs given by Chazal of a madman is that he sleeps
overnight in a graveyard. A man has the opportunity of returning from
the grave to a new and eternal life by studying or supporting Torah. If
he wastes this opportunity and remains forever sleeping in the graveyard, he
is truly a madman.
15. What good is our Selichos if all we do
is tell Hashem our sins? He knows them well enough already. Our
duty is to resolve not to repeat our foolishness!
Note Six:Thoughts on Parashas
A.The Parasha (29:9) begins with the words “Ahtem Nitzvaim HaYom
Kulchem--we all stand before Hashem”. The Ba’alei Mussar explain
that this is to teach us that this time of year nobody can hide behind
the Rabbis, the teachers, the Tzaddikim, the leaders of the generation or
anyone else--but that everybody, yes everybody from the woodchopper to
the water carrier stands before Hashem and must accordingly do his part to
come closer to Him and bring life and success for oneself and for K’lal
Yisrael during the coming year!
B.The Pasuk (Devorim 30:12) teaches “Lo
VaShamayim Hi—It is not in the heavens….The Seforno learns that the
Pasuk is teaching us that to do Teshuva one does not have to hear from a
Navi or other heavenly voice—each and every person is capable of Teshuva on
his own—using his own sechel and his own willpower!
C.On the Pasuk (Devorim 30:14): “Ki Karov Eilecha HaDavar Me’od
Bephicha U’vilvavecha La’asoso”, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky,
Shlita, learns that a person who wants to do Teshuvah should learn Hilchos
Teshuvah. The Sefer Derech Sicha explains that the Chofetz Chaim
(once again, his Yahrzeit is today) in Chovas HaShemira (Chapter 3) teaches
that learning the Halachos of a Mitzvah removes the Koach of the
Yetzer Hara regarding it.
Parasha (30:19) also provides the powerful teaching of “U’Vacharta
BaChaim--and you shall choose life”. The Rabbeinu Yonah in the Sefer Sha’arei
Teshuvah learns that this is a Mitzvas Asei from the Torah. Let us
choose life--and fulfill a Mitzvas Asei in doing so!
We are soon reaching the
climax of our Teshuva season. Our hopes, our wishes are soon to
converge into moments of destiny for ourselves, our family, and the world.
This coming year, Be’Ezras Hashem, can be a great one for us and all of
K’lal Yisrael--let’s try to put the effort in NOW!
HILCHOS SUKKOS! Today, we continue to provide twoHalachosonHilchos
Sukkos. Our notes are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna
Berurah, Volume VI. We continue with the Halachos of theDaled
The Rosh rules that the
definition of hiddur is not
dependent upon what one subjectively may consider beautiful, but rather
what the chachomim established
as hiddur.The Tiferes Yisroel writes, for instance, that the hiddur
of the esrog is for the pitom
to be perfectly aligned with the oketz.
Likewise, the Chasam Soferrules
that “Veanveyhu” is
determined by what our chachomim determine
to be beautiful—and that, if we may borrow the expression, in this
regard, beauty is not in the eyes of the beholder.Similarly, the shiurim, which
indicate what the Torah considers to be a complete Min is Halacha L’Moshe
M’Sinai, and is not based upon a human determination as to when
the Min is fully grown or
developed (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 648,
Dirshu Notes 102, 106 and 125).
degree of dryness of a hadas and
an arava which would render it
unfit for use, is not determined by the leaf breaking when touched by
one’s fingernail. Rather, the halacha is a more lenient one. In order
for the hadas and arava to be rendered invalid because it is
yavesh, its initial green appearance must have changed to a
whitish-appearance (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 647,
Dirshu Note 8).
Hakhel Note: If one starts today and learns just two Mishnayos
of Mesechta Sukkah every day, he will complete all of Mishnayos Mesechta
Sukkah before Sukkos is over.Slow
but steady strides mean great accomplishment!
Special Note One: One week from today is Rosh
Hashanah. This is the last week of the year. Let us do
our utmost to make it a great one!
Special Note Two: Remember Tzedaka Today!--and every
day--for the rest of the year (Bli Neder!). Instead of counting
down the days--make them count up!
Special Note Three: We
continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author
Sta”m--An Insider Reveals
The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or
Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.
Does an elevator in a
condominium/apartment building (in which all residents are Jewish) require a
There are more opinions regarding this
question than perhaps any other in Hilchos Mezuzah. Before presenting
them, however, we must clarify that this question relates to two distinct
“doorframes.” One is the doorframe of the actual elevator compartment
itself. The second is the doorframe on each floor through which one enters
and exits the elevator compartment.
With that in mind, we can now present
the various opinions:
Opinion 1 – The actual elevator compartment
itself requires a mezuzah on the right side as one enters.
The logic behind this is based on the
concept of “beis sha’ar” – a doorway through which one walks
to enter the house. Inasmuch as one walks into and out of the elevator in
order to enter one’s home, the elevator takes on the status of a beis
Opinion 2 – The doorframe on each floor
requires a mezuzah on the right side when exiting the elevator.
The logic behind this is as follows:
The actual elevator lacks permanence since it is often in motion. As a
“temporary” structure, it requires no mezuzah. Upon exiting the
elevator, however, one is walking through a doorway leading to a proper
hallway or lobby. This certainly requires a mezuzah.
Opinion 3 – The doorframe through which one
passes upon entering the elevator at the entrance levelrequires
a mezuzah on the right side. On all other floors, however, it should be on
the right side when exiting the elevator.
The logic behind this is as follows:
The usual way to get to all apartments or condominiums in the building is by
walking into the elevator on the entrance level and walking out on the
desired floor. Hence, the beis sha’ar to each apartment is on the
right side while entering the elevator on the entrance level, and the
right side while exiting on all other floors.
Opinion 4 – An elevator does not require a
The logic behind this opinion is as
follows: The doorframe on each floor does not require a mezuzah on the right
side leading into the elevator since it usually leads to an empty shaft. A
doorway is obligated to have a mezuzah only if one can always walk through
it. If, however, when walking through that doorway, one would r’l fall into a shaft, that is certainly not what the Torah had in
mind. Nor is a mezuzah required on the right side of the doorframe of each
floor when exiting the elevator, because it is like a doorway in the middle
of nowhere – with no permanent staircase or ladder leading to it.
The actual elevator itself requires no
mezuzah since a beis sha’ar must be stationary. Nowhere do we find
any mention of a beis sha’ar which is constantly changing
locations. Furthermore, one cannot actually exit the elevator when it is in
motion. Hence, during those moments, it is like a sealed doorway (not merely
locked). Such a doorway requires no mezuzah.
prevailing custom in America is
like this last opinion – not to place a mezuzah on an elevator.
Eretz Yisraelas well, most elevators have no mezuzah. Nevertheless,
many scrupulous people do place mezuzos on elevators in accordance with
Opinion 3 (no berachah is recited).
Special Note Four: In the past, we have provided the
following test.Even if you have
already taken it, can you please take it again to see how you do this time?
Question 1: You press the button on the elevator for
the door to close and hit “3”. The elevator doors close, but
the elevator does not move. You do it again, with the same
result. The reason is…
A. The elevator doors do
not stick properly.
B. You are not pushing the
buttons hard enough.
C. The building owner did
not pay his electricity bill.
D. Hashem does not want
the elevator to move for you at this time.
Question 2: You go to the store especially to buy a
container of milk--and there is none left. Now, you do not know
how you or others will eat their cereal or drink their coffee. The
A. The truck driver did
not deliver enough cases.
B. The cows did not
produce enough milk in the last few weeks.
C. It is your tough luck.
D. It is a Nisayon for you
to test your patience, and to see if you will get angry and unnerved.
Question 3: You thought you charged your cell phone
all night, but it still won’t turn on. The reason is…
A. All these phones are
especially designed to break.
friend gave you a used battery.
D.Hashem is reminding you to make a
cell phone Takanah.
Question 4: You are selected over a group of other
people for a certain position, or a certain project. The reason
works by seniority.
called the right people, and used your ‘protektzia’ wisely.
have always worked the hardest, and it is now paying off.
Parnassah was determined on Rosh Hashanah for the year--and now is the time
for you to make some more money.
Question 5: Your knee has hurt the last few days. You
woke up today and it stopped hurting as much. The reason is…
Tylenol finally built up in your system to quash the pain.
stretching exercises that your friend taught you have worked.
are not as old as you thought you were.
D. Every pain, in every
increment, and in every location is determined by Hashem who is Hatzur Tamim
Question 6: You thought of your own P’shat in a
Pasuk today, and you told it to a few friends who liked it as well. The
are bright, and know how to ‘use your head’.
finally got enough sleep.
must be a gilgul of a great person.
Hashem Yitein Chachma--Hashem gives you wisdom.
Question 7: You have a child who is often difficult or
impossible to deal with. He half listens when you ask him to do
something, spends a lot of money and does not seem to realize it, and based
upon what he knows in his homework is ‘wasting your money’ in tuition as
well. The reason is…
A. It is some kind of
family ‘bad gene’.
was given an ayin hara when he was young, even though you
don’t really believe in ayin haras.
helps you balance out your stress--some at work and some at home.
wants to see if you can perform Chesed constantly, consistently, and in very
situations. As time passes, you can get better and better!
Question 8: You received a reimbursement check in the
mail from your insurance company from an overpayment that you made in the
amount of $485.16. The reason is…
A. The insurances
company’s computers are programmed to catch mistakes.
wife pays the bills and she was probably talking on the phone when she made
out the check.
also got your paycheck today--when it rains, it pours.
D. Hashem is giving you
money to pay your debit balance at the supermarket, and now you even have a
small credit--so now you don’t owe them money, and the supermarket owner
receives what he needs as well.
Question 9: You woke up by yourself at --the usual time that you arise--even
though your alarm clock did not go off. The reason is…
have programmed your body to arise at this moment every day.
garbage truck probably passed by and made a lot of noise.
must have just ended a dream that you don’t remember.
D. You forgot to set the alarm, and
Hashem gently stroked you so that you would not be late for Shul,
so that you could get your child off to Yeshiva on time, or so that you
could keep to your daily schedule.
Question 10: Today, an otherwise nice person tells you
“I haven’t seen you in a while--wow, you look older, um, um, but as they
say you’re not getting older you’re getting better, um.” The
A. People are so quick to
talk with their mouths, saying everything that comes into their minds. They
have been raised poorly.
B. You have been working
too hard and look too stressed out--but you can change that.
C. He corrected himself--
you are not getting older, you are just getting better.
D. Hashem it telling you
that it is a week before Rosh Hashanah, and B’EH you will be a year older
in the coming year. It is a privilege to be a year older, but
also a real responsibility to reach your potential. You must get
A brief explanation of the Test:
In our Rosh Hashanah Tefillos, we recite that
Rosh Hashanah is a Yom Teruah Mikrah Kodesh Zecher L’Yetzias
Mitzrayim. At an important 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 Hashanah 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 Hashanah 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 Hashanah 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 Hashanah is indeed a
direct result and outcome of the lessons of Yetzias Mitzrayim.
This is what we take with us and demonstrate on Rosh Hashanah--and this is
what we must take with us in the coming year!
ACQUIRE MANY NEW FRIENDS!Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Mishlei (19:4),
Hon Yosif Rei’im Rabim…. Taken
on a simple level, this means that when a person attains wealth, he obtains
many new-found friends.The
G’ra, however, understands the pasukon a deeper level. He explains that through the study of additional
Torah, one obtains more and more malachim
who are his ‘friends’ when it counts--for eternity--in front of the Bais
Din Shel Ma’alah. This is so because with each and every word ofTorah uttered, a Mitzvas Aseh is performed and a new and trustworthy ‘friend’ is
Hakhel Note One: The Chofetz Chaim, based
upon this pasukin Mishlei
and the Gra’s explanation, writes that the great rule is: “HaDibur
Hu Ashro V’Hatzlachaso Shel Adam…”
speech is the source of happiness and success for a person if one
uses it wisely.If c’v one does not—there is no one organ of the body that could do
more damage than the tongue, for with each word of forbidden speech one
creates a kateigor, an antagonist
in front of the very same heavenly tribunal.The choice is ours—if we can sincerely focus on the words that we
utter—we will most certainly and without doubt be wealthier than the
wealthiest person imaginable to us!
Hakhel Note Two:The pasuk(Mishlei ) teaches “Nefesh
Ameil Ameila Lo–a soul that toils, toils for itself.” HaRav
Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, Z’tl, writes that Shlomo HaMelech is teaching us
with the seemingly repetitive termthat
when one places effort into his Torah study he will not only attain the
fruits of his labor—but Hashem will reward him with additional and
unexpected Torah knowledge—as if
he had toiled in that as well!HaRav
Lefkowitz instructs that the first place to begin one’s efforts in Torah
is to physically express the words of Torah that one is learning—and not
merely read them with his eyes (see the Gra’s words above!).We must look at life practically--air is so important, so
indispensable to live in this world--and it is free! Torah is not only
indispensable in this world--but in the next--and Hashem will shower us with
more and more of it at no cost, if we only put in the effort that we
HILCHOS SUCCOS! Today, we continue to provide two Halachos on Hilchos Sukkos.
Our notes are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah,
Volume VI. We continue with the Halachos of the Daled Minim:
1. If the shipu’a at
the top of an esrog is uneven on its two sides—then what is considered its
chotem which should ideally be
without blemish—for Halachic purposes?HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules that once the shipu’a
has started on one side, and continues for a longer distance, the entire
area is considered the shipu’a
for the second side as well.This
is because although the shipu’a has
stopped on the second side, the entire area will be viewed by the individual
as part of the shipu’a.The Shevet HaLevi, Shlita, however, writes that a person will
view the two sides independently.HaRav
Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, on the other hand, rules that the chotem
should be at the midpoint
between the two areas of shipu’a. Hakhel Note: One can learn from this alone how choshuv
it would be to obtain an esrog
with a shipu’a which is even.It
will hopefully result in an indisputably beautiful chotem (Shulchan Aruch
Orach Chaim 648, Dirshu Note 71).
2. HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules that bletlech which do not rise above the esrogcan be considered as part of the mar’eh esrog, and it is accordingly better to take anesrogwith a nice shape which has these kinds of bletlech than to take anesrogwhose gidul is not as beautiful which has no bletlach (Shulchan
Aruch Orach Chaim 648, Dirshu Note 91).
THEY WILL GET
THEIR DUE: Rashi (Devorim
26:6) writes on the pasuk of Arami
Oved Avi that although Lavan was not successful in his attempt to
annihilate Yaakov Avinu and his progeny--the Torahnevertheless uses the term Oved,
considering it as if he did destroy us, in order to indicate that he is
punished as if he had accomplished his goal.We can learn from this that our enemies who sought our destruction in
the most recent war in Eretz Yisroel will also be avenged by Hashem as if
they had r’l succeeded. May we
witness this Nikmas Hashem in our
HE CAN’T STAND-IN FOR YOU!The Tosfos Yom Tov (end of Mesechta Rosh Hashana) explains that
if a person is able to daven for himself, the Shliach Tzibbur cannot replace
him: “…it is because one must ask for mercy by himself!” Who better
than you and you alone know the kinds of mercy you are looking for--and how
importantly you need it.As we
have emphasized many times, the word rachamim
appears so often in our davening—even in places where one may not
otherwise expect it.Especially
at this time of year, one should make the effort to have kavannah
when mentioning Hashem’s rachamim
in Pesukai Dezimra, Birchos Krias Shema, and Shemone Esrei.Remember—not even the Shaliach can stand-in for you!
Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl (in Sefer Ohr
Yechezkel--Elul) notes that on Rosh Hashanah all of man is judged
relating to his Olam HaZeh and his
Olam HaBah--Hashem’s great books
are open before Him. However, there are no secret investigations, and we are
given a great amount of time to prepare our cases and to rectify our
misdeeds.Yet, so many treat it
as if it is only a matter of a few small coins that have, or may be, lost.How could this be so?!HaRav
Levenstein, Z’tl, answers that this must be part of the curse of the tochacha
in last week’s Parashawhich
states “Yakecha Hashem BeShiga’aon
U’VeIvaron U’Vesimhon Leivav--Hashem will strike you with madness
and blindness and with confounding of the heart” (Devarim 28:28).Rashi there explains that Simhon
Leivav means Otem HaLev--the
essence of the curse being that our hearts become sealed, and we remain
thoughtless and thereby actionless in the face of matters of extreme urgency
and importance.HaRav Levenstein
concludes, however, that notwithstanding the curse, we can open our
hearts--as is evidenced by the period of Elul (Ani
L’Dodi where we demonstrate our love of Hashem) and the blowing of the
Shofar--which is intended to open the blockage in the face of our awe and seichel.Hakhel Note:We add that the Chida, Z’tl (brought in the Sefer Otzros
HaTorah) writes that Elul first
begins with Ani LeDodi--I am
to my Beloved Hashem and then-- Dodi
Li--Hashem will be for me!
Note: Another interpretation of the calamity of Simhon
Levav is approaching matters in a confused or perturbed manner—without
clarity and clear thinking.As
we have noted in the past, there are three words in the Sefer Orchos Chaim L’Rosh which were especially emphasized in Kelm and
recited in a special nigun- Ahl
Tevahel Ma’asecha— do not act in a hurried
or disconcerted manner. Calmness
essential to making the right decisions and taking the right steps.If one has any doubt as to what to say, what to do, or what to think,
in a particular circumstance or situation—think about and focus upon what
would give Hashem the most Nachas
Special Note:We continue with points and pointers relating to the Sublime Period
we are in:
we now have one week left until the last day of the year, Erev Rosh Hashana.
There is so much to do, so much to think about, so much to look back
upon--and to look forward to. How do we put it all together? Perhaps
the first step is to ask Hashem for help--even for this! When reciting
the bracha of “Ata Chonen” every day, think of how much you need Him to
grant you the right insight, the right decisions, the right thoughts on
self-improvement, the right goals…a tear (or complete sincerity) while
thinking about the help that you need would appear very appropriate. Remember,
it’s your life--and no one cares, or should care, more about it--than you!
B.As part of taking
stock, one should not overlook the items or money he has borrowed or lent to
others, who he owes a phone call or apology to, and, perhaps, that thing
about him that he knows bothers people most, but that he has failed to
correct because it is “him.” If one realizes that any mannerism or
particular attitude really does irk family, friends, or colleagues, maybe it
should become part of the “Nachpesa
Deracheinu”--the search of one’s ways so essential to steering back
to the proper path in life.
C. As we continue to contemplate Hashem’s Malchus in
preparation for the Yomim Noraim, may we suggest that one consider why we
mention the word “Melech” in the bracha of Refaeinu in Shemone Esrei,
and why we refer to Hashem’s “Kisei Kvodecha--Throne of Glory” in the
bracha of Asher Yatzar.Indeed,
it may be a good idea to reflect upon this very important notion for a
moment every time we recite Melech in Refaeinu and Kisei Kvodecha in Asher
D.At this time of
year in which we expand our efforts in search of a Good Year, and in which
we seek a nullification of any difficult decrees against us, we note the
primacy of answering “Amen; Yehei Shemei Rabba” with Kavannah as a
special means for assisting us with our goals. We
provide by the following link -- http://tinyurl.com/mnkaazthe words of HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl, in the Sefer Nefesh
HaChaim regarding this Kavannah and its potency. We remind
our readers that 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 in the world. In addition to the
Kavod Shomayim coming through your Tefillos being answered, you could very
literally be bringing Yeshuos to yourself, your family, and all of K’lal
Yisroel--and there are a lot of things that we need Yeshuos from both
individually and collectively.
E. The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva
specifically enumerates 24 items which are “Me’Akvin Es HaTeshuva--which
are obstacles to Teshuva,” making Teshuva more difficult. Please see
there for the entire list. We will only mention one of these Teshuva
obstacles at this time: “Sonei Es Hatochachos--one who does not like to be reprimanded.”
Over the next several weeks, we will be hearing many Drashos and
Shiurim by our Rabbanim, and many of these Shiurim may have involved great,
dedicated and directed preparation by the Rabbanim. We should make the
effort, at each and every one of these Shiurim (whether we are attending
“voluntarily”, or whether it is a drasha in middle of davening) to apply
something practically to ourselves from what is being said. Remember,
it is Hashgacha Pratis that you are being presented with these words. Do
not be a Sonei Es Hatochachos!
Instead, demonstrate your desire and ability to grow from each and
every learning experience that Hashem provides you during this extremely
Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita teaches that our Tefillos are so significant, and
so great, because the path has already been laid for them by the
Avos--Avrohom Avinu laying the ‘train tracks’ upon which we can
subsequently ride for Tefillas Shacharis, Yitzchak Avinu for Mincha, and
Yaakov Avinu for Ma’ariv.There
is one particular bracha in Shemone Esrei, HaRav Salomon continues, which is
particularly vital at this time of year.We ask that the great Shofar be sounded to herald the Mashiach.This Shofar is not physically large--but it is great. In fact, it is
even greater than the Shofar of Matan Torah.This is because although the Torah is an antidote to the Yetzer Hora
(Borasi Yetzer Hora, Borasi Torah
Tavlin K’negda), the shofar of Mashiach will bring in its aftermath the
total eradication of the Yetzer Hora--so that our Ruchniyus will no
longer be impeded, thwarted or damaged in any way.If, then, one SINCERELY PRAYS for Bi’as HaMashiach at this
that his attitude, his true goal, his sincere aspiration is for Teshuva--for
the time that he can finally--once and for all--be able to live a life of
tefillos of this kind at this time of year, concludes HaRav Salomon, counts
one among those who seek the path of Teshuva!
Today, we continue to provide two
Halachos on Hilchos Sukkos. Our notes are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition
of the Mishna Berurah, Volume VI. We continue with the Halachos of the
an esrog becomes spotted through much hand-holding, the well-known Chasam
Sofer (Sukkah 36A) writes that this is its true beauty.The Chazon Ish, Z’tl, and Steipeler z’tl, both explain this to
mean that the esrog is not more mehudar as a result--rather, it is to say
that because this is part of the esrog’s function and use--the spots
become part of the mareh esrog--which is an item of beauty.HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, and yblch’t
HaRav Vozner, Shlita, take one additional step and rule that the Chasam
Sofer would not want his sevarah
relied upon on the first day of Yom Tov, in which the mitzvah of Daled Minim
is MiD’Oraysa (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 648, Dirshu Note 89).
2.If an esrog was stored under a bed, is it rendered unfit for use
because of the ‘ruach ra’ah’
that has come upon it?The
Binyan Olam rules that one should use it only if he has no choice.The Sedei Chemed writes that one should rinse off the esrog three
times with water before using it.The
Steipeler, Z’tl, writes that it is only an issue on the first day when
there is a requirement of Lachem--and it cannot be eaten, but on subsequent days one may take
it lechatchila.Hakhel Note: For those transporting an esrog and putting it under
their train or plane seat, this may be an issue, as well (Shulchan Aruch
Orach Chaim 649, Dirshu Note 82).
Note One: We provide the
following points and pointers for the last Ten Days of the Year:
A.It is said in the name of a great Rav:“One should view the entire world as being in a freezer--everyone
around seems to be extremely cold, in fact frozen and perhaps even numbed,
to that which is truly meaningful and important.One can warm himself up to the Real World through the study of Sifrei
Hakhel Note: HaRav Mattisyahu
Salomon, Shlita, brings the teaching of the S’mak (Mitzvah 9), who writes,
based squarely on the Pasuk U’Maltem
Es Orlas Levavchem V’Orpechem Lo Sakshu Ohd that it is a Mitzva
Aseh MiD’Oraysa to listen to words of rebuke. Accordingly, concludes
HaRav Salomon, since the study of Mussar is grounded in taking rebuke and
trying to become a better person from doing so--one fulfills a Mitzvas
Aseh MiD’Oraysa according to the S’mak each and every time he studies
B.The Chofetz Chaim relates that our powers of sight,hearing,
and speech, are not bodily
strengths or capabilities, but instead truly emanate from our souls.
Accordingly, we will have these abilities in Olam Haba--but only to the
extent we properly used them in this world. One not careful with Lashon Hora
could quite literally be speechless--while others around him are talking
Torah and communicating on a Ruchniyus plane. One who has misused his
eyesight may be unable to bask in the Shechina’s light. One not careful to
protect his ears may be unable to hear the teachings of the heavenly
academy. These results are eternal. Accordingly, concludes the Chofetz Chaim,
it is most imperative that we review our acts and deeds especially with
respect to these three powers--and literally come
to our senses!
C.There is a famous parable of the Dubno Maggid that relates to how one
can tell the difference between a regular worker in a factory and the son of
the owner who also works in the very same department.The regular worker is sure to clock in at ,
clock in and out for lunch, and clock out at .He then goes home to take care of his real
business there.The son of
the owner, however, will arrive early, work through lunch, and won’t even
realize that it is --after
all, it is hisfather’s
business.We will soon ask
Hashem to treat us not only as Malkeinu but also as Avinu
Malkeinu--and we well know that we may not be able to make it based
upon Malkeinu alone.If we want
Hashem to treat us like His sons--should we not act like a good son acts
towards his father ?Do we
arrive at davening or to a shiur exactly on time or a little bit late--or a
little bit early, without looking at the clock too much in between?What is our real business--Are
we yotzei a Mitzvah--or do we
appreciate and even enjoy its sweetness?Do we feel our Father’s love throughout the day by recognizing His
Presence and embrace?Do we
treat our friends and acquaintances the way our Father would expect that His
sons will treat each other?If
our Father was to ask us if there is anything that we would not do for
Him--how would we respond?Let
us take the time to take the Yiddish expressions which may have fallen out
of contemporary practice “Tatteh
Liber” and “Tatteh in Himmel”--and try to bring them back into our daily
thoughts and vocabulary!
hear the order of Tekiah, Shevarim,
Teruah, Tekiah, we realize that the first soundmay 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!
the year draws to a close, we can go
only right by using our money, which otherwise presents us with so many
Nisyonos through the course of the year, in a way our Father would like us
to--helping his other sons--our brothers!Hakhel Note: Please match a Yad Eliezer fund--if not now--when?
Note Two: HaRav Chaim
Freidlander, 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!
We would like to remind
everyone that non-coincidently, this week’s Parasha, Parashas Nitzavim,
contains the “Parashas HaTeshuva” (Devorim 30:1-10). Many Siddurim
contain the Parashas HaTeshuva together with a short Tefillah afterwards,
and it is usually found immediately after Shacharis. It would most
certainly be appropriate to recite the Parashas HaTeshuva and the subsequent
Tefillah over the next four days…leading into Shabbos…and into Rosh
We note that much of
Teshuva has to do with thought and speech. By reciting the Parasha
relating to Teshuva contained in the Torah itself, and then davening to
Hashem for help in this regard, you have certainly taking important strides.
Special Note Three: As
we move closer to Rosh Hashanah, we must remind ourselves of the essential
teaching of Chazal: “Mitzvos She’Adam Dush B’Akeivov Misavevin Lo B’Sha’as HaDin--the
mitzvos that a person ‘steps upon’ surround him when he is being
judged.” Let us think about what “being surrounded” at the time
of judgment means.
Picture a city in
siege, a prisoner surrounded by guards, a cowboy surrounded by Indians.
There is simply nowhere to go, no room to escape. It is a very,
very difficult situation. It is our job to make some holes--preferably
gaping holes--in the encirclement, in the siege, in those mitzvos that we
“step upon” in our daily life by curing them, healing them, fixing them.
What “stepping upon” a mitzvah could entail may be treating the mitzvah
either lightly, not carefully enough, or not with the degree of respect that
The Mesilas Yesharim
(in the Trait of Nekius--Cleanliness) puts middos into the same category as
mitzvos regarding our need to improve and refine them in our lives in this
Remember, as Rabbi Frand,
Shlita, teaches, Elul is Jewish Tax Season. Indeed, it may very well
be that Tax Season was invented so that we could more properly appreciate
and experience Elul.
May we each make great and gaping strides, so that we
are far from surrounded by sin on the upcoming Days of Din--and instead are
surrounded by walls of overflowing Mercy and Love!
SUGGESTIONS FROM READERS:
1. Reciting the second paragraph of Aleinu with kavanna for the plain meaning of its
awesome words—perhaps by using a finger to point word-by-word or
2. Come to Shul fifteen minutes before the start of
Hodu, so that you can say brachot and all the davening before Hodu.
3. Turn off your cell phone one hour before Shabbos.
REMINDER--OPPOSITES DON’T ATTRACT: The Sefer Mesilas Yesharim (in
discussing the Middah of Tahara) contrasts Chochma
V’Yirah to Ta’ava V’Cheit.
In his notes on the Mesilas Yesharim,
HaRav Yecheskel Sarna, Z’tl, writes that we learn from here that Ta’ava (following one’s desires) is the opposite of Chochma--and
Cheit is the opposite of Yirah.
Ta’ava vs. Chochma. Cheit vs. Yirah--the
choice is ours!
Mashgiach Ruchni in a major Yeshiva advised the Bochurim that the tremendous
difference between us and the other nations of the world is that our G-d is
very much alive and together with us as part of our everyday lives. He
suggested to the Bochurim that the next time they exclaim Baruch
U’Varuch Shemo they feel the vibrancy of, and closeness to, Hashem
TENDAY CHALLENGE! Perhaps one of the most famous teachings of the Rambam is his Hilchos
Teshuvah. If one begins today, and learns one Chapter a day of the
Rambam’s Hilchos Teshuvah, he will have completed the Rambam’s teachings in
time for Rosh Hashana…an undertaking which may be a real sign of one’s
sincerity in his Teshuvah process!
HILCHOS SUCCOS! Today, we continue to provide two Halachos on Hilchos Sukkos. Our
notes are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah, Volume
continue with the Halachos of the Daled Minim:
The minimum stated Shiurim for the Daled Minim are MiD’Oraysa. According
to the Kiryas Sefer and the Levush, the spine of the Lulav extending a
tefach above the Hadas is also required MiD’Oraysa, although the Aruch
LeNer rules that this requirement is MiD’Rabbanan. When holding the Lulav,
it is ahl pi sod that the spine should be facing the person (Shulchan
Aruch Orach Chaim 650:1, Mishna Berurah seif katan 7 and Dirshu Note 1).
2.A lefty should perform the na’anuim in the same manner as a righty,
since the na’nuim to the right are based on “kol
pni’os she’attah poneh…”--one should move towards the right.
There is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to how one should perform the na’anuim
when he finds himself in a minyan which does the na’nuim differently than
his Minhag (such as a nusach Ashkenaz individual in a nusach Sefard minyan).The Chayei Adam, the Steipeler Z’tl, and yblch’t
HaRav Vozner, Shlita , HaRav Karelitz, Shlitaand HaRav Chaim Kanievski, Shlita rule that one should follow the
minhag hamakom and avoid Lo Sisgodedu
issues. However, the Aruch HaShulchan, the Aishel Avraham (Butshatch) and
HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rule that there is no issue of Lo Sisgodedu in this regard. Hakhel Note: Accordingly, one should
ask the Rav of the Shul in which he is davening for a p’sak halacha as to
how he should conduct himself. Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 651; Dirshu Notes
74 and 75).
Special Note One:HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, gave an essential Shiur to explain
the extreme significance of the period we are in. Elul is not a time period
that was discovered 200 years ago, 500 years ago or even 1,000 years ago.
Rather, it was Moshe Rabbeinu himself who demonstrated the power of Elul to
us, as through his Tefillos during this time he was able to bring the Luchos
Sheniyos and the Torah back to this world. HaRav Salomon brings from
HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl, that peoplemistakenly believe that when we exclaim on the night of Yom Kippur
“VaYomer Hashem Salachti Kedvarecha”--that
we are referring to the Tefillos that we are about to begin reciting on Yom
Kippur. However, it is really the process of our Tefillos over the 40 days
from Rosh Chodesh Elul that bring about our forgiveness on Yom Kippur. We
must understand that our Tefillos NOW
until Yom Kippur are important and effective as we are in Yemei
Rachamim and Yemei Ratzon.
What is Tefillah? It is not an exercise in which we attempt to
‘persuade’ Hashem to change His mind. It is rather an Avodas
HaLev--a sincere and heartfelt experience in which we declare that we
are entirely dependent upon Hashem. It is the acknowledgement that it is
Hashem Who has the power and control over everything--and anything that I
have comes from Him. With this heartfelt internalization, a person becomes a different person, and may receive what he asks for. The
essence of Tefillah is for a person to feel that he stands before Hashem and
recognizes who Hashem truly is and what Hashem means in his life. Chazal
teach that “in our current times when we do not have the Mitzvah of
Bikkurim, we instead daven three times a day”. This is because one who
brings Bikkurim does so ‘Lifnei
Hashem Elokecha--before Hashem’ (Devarim 26:10). Our davening three times a day is for us to attain this level of Lifnei
Hashem Elokecha even in our times and in our day. HaRav Salomon
brings the famous teaching of HaRav Chaim Brisker, Z’tl, that if one does
not know that he is standing in front of Hashem when davening Shemone Esrei,
then he has not in fact davened. The difference between a young child
davening and an adult davening is that a child simply looks into a Siddur
and says the words--whereas an adult stands before and talks to Hashem while
doing so. As the Arizal explains, the Nusach of our Tefillah as established
by the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah
has all the powers necessary to reach the Olamos
HaElyonim. What we have to do is say them, simply understanding the
meaning of the words and knowing before Whom and to Whom we are talking.
HaRav Simcha Zissel, Z”tl (the Alter of Kelm), adds that if we can conquer
the Yetzer Hara of foreign thoughts in Tefillah--then Hashem will, Middah
K’negged Middah, conquer any anger or Din that He might otherwise have
upon us. We learn this from Avrohom Avinu, who was koveish,
who conquered, his mercy over his son and brought him to the akeidah, in
whose zechus Hashem is koveish,
conquers any anger or Din He has against His people in the Yemei HaDin. It is therefore a tremendous and invaluable undertaking
to work on controlling foreign thoughts during davening, and to recognize
before Whom we stand. If one realizes he has a foreign thought--then, as
with all bad thoughts--at the very least he should not enjoy it and do
whatever he can to ‘throw it out’ of his mind. He will then be acting
like Avraham Avinu who was a koveish--and
Hashem will then be a Koveish Ka’as
MeiAleinu--showering Chesed and Rachamim upon us, and bringing us the Geulah
Sheleimah B’Karov BeMeheirah V’Yameinu.
Two: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical
aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside
Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You
Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos,
Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.
For a fuller
treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer,
which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.
My walk-in closet, as well as the
walk-in pantry, are smaller than 4 x 4 amos. Can I assume that there
is absolutely no need for a mezuzah in these areas?
There is actually a three-way machlokes
regarding such rooms, as explained below:
·R’ Moshe Feinstein maintains that there is no need for a
mezuzah since the “room” is smaller than the halachic
(R’ Daniel ben Yaakov of Horodna, d. 1807) maintains that the room
requires a mezuzah on the right when entering. The reasoning behind this
opinion is that 4 x 4 amos is given in the Shulchan Aruch as the minimum
size of a house. While others understand this to refer to a room
as well, the Chamudei Daniel takes it literally. He therefore rules
that while the minimum size of a house is 4 x 4 amos; a room
within a house requires a mezuzah even if it is smaller – provided
that it is functional.
·The Chazon Ish maintains that a “room” of this
sort requires a mezuzah on the right side when exiting the room. The
reasoning behind their opinion is that the closet and pantry require no
mezuzah in their own right since they are both smaller than 4 x 4 amos. However,
when exiting these rooms, one is walking through a doorway into
a room which is larger than 4 x 4 amos. Such a doorway always
requires a mezuzah.
Although some in Eretz Yisroel follow
the Chamudei Daniel, many contemporary poskim in Eretz Yisroel
rule in accordance with the Chazon Ish.
In America, the custom may generally be in accordance with the ruling of R’ Moshe
This week’s Parasha contains the 611th Mitzvah. What it is? Can
you explain why we remind ourselves about this Mitzvah prior to Rosh Hashana?
Real Halacha Lema’aseh!
PLEASE REVIEW MORE THAN ONCE: The following teaching contained in the Sefer Orchos
Chaim of the great Rishon and one of the greatest Poskim of all time,
Rabbeinu Asher, its once sentence constitute Siman #90 of the Sefer:
minimize the significance of even one enemy.”
OUR TEARS BEFORE THE YOM HADIN:
Should be heartfelt, real
For who can fathom the
value of each and every tear
Before the Kisei HaKavod at
this very special time of year?!
HILCHOS SUKKOS! Today, we continue to provide two
Halachos on Hilchos Sukkos. Our notes are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition
of the Mishna Berurah, Volume VI. We continue with the Halachos of the Daled
Minim. Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek for a final
ruling in his facts and circumstances. We
are providing a total of six halachos--for today, Shabbos, and Sunday!:
Is there an obligation to check the Daled Minim each day before making a
bracha, just as there is an obligation to check one’s Tzitzis everyday
before putting them on?The
Minchas Yitzchak rules that because
the Daled Minim were scrupulously checked when purchased and will only be
used for a short period of time (unlike Tzitzis whose use is ongoing), one
can assume that they are still kosher, and that nothing has occurred which
would render them pasul. If there is reason, however, to believe that they
may have become pasul (such as a communal set of Daled Minim being used by
many), one should check them before reciting a bracha. (SA OC 651 Dirshu
If one forgot to recite the bracha over the Daled Minim before being yotzei
, he can still recite the bracha--as the na’anuim
are part of the Mitzvah. If one forgot to recite the She’hechiyanu over
the Daled Minim on the first day of Sukkos, the Aishel Avraham (Butshatch)
rules that is preferred that one wait until the next day and recite the
She’hechiyanu when taking the Daled Minim then.HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, however, rules that the She’hechiyanu could
be recited the same day before Hallel, as the na’anuim
in Hallel are an extension of the Mitzvah. In fact, according to HaRav
Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, the bracha can be recited during Hallel
itself bein haperakim--in between
kepitelech. (SA OC 651 Mishna Berurah seif katan 26 and Dirshu Note 44).
3.One should pick up the Daled Minim while standing, and make the
bracha while standing as well, but b’dieved one is yotzei
the Mitzvah (even if he is healthy) if the bracha is recited and the Mitzvah
performed when sitting. (SA OC 651 Mishna Berurah seif katan 27).
4.One makes only one bracha over the Daled Minim per day, even though
it is a Hiddur Mitzvah to pick up the Daled Minim several times throughout
the day, as was the practice of
the Anshei Yerushalayim.The
reason one makes the bracha only once is because the actual Mitzvah is to
take it only one time a day (U’Lekachtem
Lachem)--but one demonstrates Chibuv Mitzvah by picking it up more times
throughout the day. There is definitely no issue of Ba’al Tosif if one
continues to pick up the Daled Minim when the express purpose is showing his
special affection for the Mitzvah. (SA OC 651 Mishna Berurah seif katan 28
and Dirshu Notes 47 and 48).
One should physically join together the Esrog and Lulav even during the
recitation of Hallel and the Hoshanos.
The Kaf HaChaim brings that one should not even put his fingers in between
the Lulav and Esrog.(SA OC 651
Mishna Berurah seif katan 48 and Dirshu Notes 80 and 81).
6.If one does not have Daled Minim with him at the time of Hallel,
HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules that it is better to recite Hallel
b’yechidus later with the Daled Minim so that he could perform the na’anuim.
HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita agrees--unless one can quickly borrow his
neighbor’s during the na’anuim. (SA
OC 651 Dirshu Note 61).
AT THIS TIME OF YEAR! We
note that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, teaches that one of the reasons
that we read Parashas Bikkurim (whose essence is recognition of Hashem’s
gifts to us) at this time of the year is to remind us to have HaKaras HaTov
and thanks to Hashem for life and the gifts of the past year.
Note One:We continue with our
Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series:
The Luach Davar B’Ito brings
that in Kelm there was a takanah for a person to pay a k’nas of money if he exhibited any anger or kapeida in his house on Erev Shabbos.
Through the week, and especially on Erev Shabbos, we purchase or put away
the best for Shabbos…whether it be cake, flowers, clothing. Chazal teach
that Shabbos is Mei’ein Olam Haba. Accordingly,
as we enjoy our special Shabbos treats and treatment, we should reflect upon
the fact that the one who has properly saved up in ‘Olam Hazeh’, he will
enjoy infinitely greater treats in Olam Haba!
Hakhel Note: Chazal, based
upon the Pasuk of “VeDaber Dovor” teach that one’s speech on Shabbos
should not be the same as on a weekday (Shabbos 113A). This is brought
to light in many Halachos in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 307, many having to
do with worldly-related matters. Based upon this Halacha, the use of
many words may be questionable on Shabbos. Here are some examples:
Netanyahu, Obama, elections, market (any one), emailed and even ... ‘my
cell phone’. You may think of several other words and phrases.
If one truly believes that Shabbos is Mai’Ain Olam Haba--why would he
speak Olam Hazeh language there?
The Mishna Berurah (ibid., seif katan 21) writes that at Shalosh Seudos,
which, unlike the first two meals does not have a Kiddush associated with
it, it is Tov VeHader--good to
beautify the meal by making a bracha and drinking some wine during Shalosh
Seudos (which is the Shita of the Rambam). HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita,
teaches that the amount can be less than a revi’is, and one only need to
drink a little bit--as the point is to demonstrate the importance of the
The Mishna Berurah writes that lechatchila one should have delicacies in
this meal in accordance with his capabilities (ibid. seif katan 22).
The reason that women are equally obligated in this meal is because as to
all matters of Shabbos men and women are equal, and also because they also
benefitted from the miracle of the Mon,
in which Parasha the three meals of Shabbos are alluded to (ibid seif katan
Shalosh Seudos is more important than Melave Malka; accordingly, if one has
a limited amount of meat, fish or other delicacies, it is better to serve
them at Shalosh Seudos (ibid., Bi’ur Halacha d’h U’lefachos,
and Dirshu Note 20).
On Shabbos at Mincha, we uniquely recite the Tefillah of VeAni Tefillasi…Eis Ratzon--which demonstrates that although we
have eaten and drank, we still look to the Torah. Accordingly, we will not
recite this Pasuk this year--on Yom Kippur which falls out on Shabbos, since
we will not have eaten or drank before then. During the course of the year,
however, even a person who davens b’yechidus
should recite the Pasuk (SA OC 292 Mishna Berurah seif katan 2 and Dirshu
Note 1).Note: On Shabbos Yom
Kippur we will also not recite Tzidkasecha
Tzedek at Mincha, because there we state (Tehillim 69:14) Mishpatecha Tehom Rabba--Your judgments are very deep---and on Yom
Kippur we ask for Hashem’s Rachamim!
Special Note Two: In
this week’s Parasha we encounter the Tochacha. Chazal explain that we read
the Tochacha before the end of the year so that “Tichleh
Shana U’Kileloseha--let the year and its curses end,” and let the
new year and its brachos begin.HaRav
Gedalya Schorr, Zt’l, teaches that we must treat our foibles and
faults of the previous year as a seed. We must plant them in the
ground out of sight and touch, and nurture our past experiences into a
beautiful and blossoming new fruit during the coming year. We should
most definitely not let the sins of the past, and despair over them,
obstruct the beautiful potential from growth that we have in the coming
year. We must realize that much brocha lies ahead--if we follow the
path of blessing.
Special Note Three:The Pele
Yoetz, in a beautiful discussion of Teshuva, makes the following
essential points for all to know, among others. If you have the time
and capability, they are found near the end of the Sefer Pele
A. The most important
portal to Teshuva is the study of Torah--to learn the Halachos that one
needs to know, and to study works of Mussar and Yiras Hashem. Anyone
who learns on his own or attends Shiurim is per se closer to Hashem.
In fact, this is why the bracha of Teshuva in Shemone Esrei first begins
with Torah--HaShiveynu Avinu
L’Sorosecha (Bring us back to Torah)--for the study of Torah is a
prerequisite to Teshuva. Hakhel Note: In this regard, we provide
one incredible point for your Kabbalah consideration. If a person
takes just seven(7) minutes a day and turns it into a new learning Seder--a
time for learning anything that he wants to, or always intended to but never
got around to it, this will aggregate into 210 minutes of additional
learning a month. Not a lot? According to the G’ra and the
Chofetz Chaim, because every word of Talmud Torah is a mitzvah, and one can
say 200 words a minute, one is performing 200 mitzvos a minute when he
studies Torah. Now let us do the simple Halachic math, which we have
provided in various ways in the past: 210
minutes a month times 200 mitzvos a minute equals 42,000 mitzvos a month, or
an additional 511,000 mitzvos for a 365 day year--and these are mitzvos of
the literally incomparable quality of Talmud Torah, regarding which Chazal
teach “VeTalmud Torah KeNeged Kulam.”
How would you like to dedicate 7 minutes a day (i.e., more
than half a million mitzvos a year) to Teshuva in Talmud Torah in the
coming year?! Hashem certainly provides us with unbeatable
B.The Yetzer Hara attempts to minimize aveiros.
It is “only this” or “only that”…”but this” or “but that”.
When you see yourself thinking or using these kinds of phrases, be on the
lookout for sin.
C.Chazal teach how severe the penalty of taking or
withholding another’s money is. [Chazal actually teach that
“Someone who takes from his friend even something worth only a
peruta, is viewed as if he took his life and the life of his
descendants.”] The Pele Yoetz succinctly states, “and someone who has his friend’s
possessions in his hands will not have his Tefillos heard…and if his
Tefillos are not heard on the Yomim Noraim--does he have any hope?!”
D. The way one can tell
whether his soul is pure is by the Kavanah--which includes the fear, love
and great joy--that he places into his Tefillah. Everyone should try
and work on purifying his soul!
Special Note Four: The
following teachings of HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, the Mashgiach of the
Lakewood Yeshiva, are excerpted from the Sefer Leket
Reshimos (on Elul and the Yomim Noraim):
1. The growth of a person
is measured by the toil and effort he puts into his Avodas Hashem, and one
who does not put in the effort really has nothing. No drop of sweat goes to
2. One should not treat
Elul as the rest of the year, for the whole next year will be dependent upon
how one progresses in Elul. In Bein Adam LeChaveiro, one should work on
being Noseih B’Ohl Im Chaveiro--joining
as one with another, viewing his
burdens as one’s own burdens and his joys as one’s own joys. This is the
actualization of V’Ahavta
3. Elul is the acronym of
“Ani LeDodi VeDodi Li--if we
view ourselves as the son of the King, we will act in a different light”.
We act irresponsibly only because we push aside our true royalty and
bearing. Hashem told Yirmiyahu HaNavi (1:7): “Ahl
Tomar Na’ar Anochi--do not say “I am but a youth”--Hashem tells
this to each and every one of us.
4. Chazal teach that one
who is Ma’avir Ahl Midosav will
be forgiven for his sins. The reason that this is so is because by being Ma’avir Ahl Hamidos, a person demonstrates that he is not only
concerned with himself--but cares about others as well. Here therefore joins
in with the merits of K’lal Yisrael.
5. It is the end that is
important--if a person was a Tzaddik all of his days, and then c’v
becomes a Rasha, he will be judged as a Rasha. Happily, the vice versa is
also true. Now, looking back at the beginning of the year, we may have
started off Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in a great way. It is, however,
important to end the year in a great way--with the Sha’arei Rachamim and
Ratzon open wide to help us.
6. Before going to sleep
and upon arising, HaRav Wachtfogel advised that one daven that he be zoche
to Teshuvah Nechonah-- proper
7. It is hard for us to
feel awe because we do not have world leaders who inspire it. What we can
do, however, is think about Kriyas Yam Suf, and how the Torah records: “Az Nivhalu Alufei Edom Eilei Mo’av Yochazeimo Ra’adNamogu
Kol Yoshvei Kena’an.” If these akum
sensed Hashem’s Gevurah through these awesome sights--we should
likewise envision similar Gevuros to appreciate Hashem’s Majesty.
8. A person should never
despair or get depressed over the thoughts, words or actions of his past--as
he is judged only according to his deeds at the time of judgment. If at that
time he is a Tzaddik, he will be judged as one. It is accordingly the Avodah
of Elul to prepare for Rosh Hashana so that one is a Tzaddik at that time.
Special Note Five:
The Mishna in Rosh Hashanah (1:2) teaches us how Rosh Hashanah is different
than the other three times of the year (Pesach, Shavuos, and Sukkos) during
which we are also judged. Rosh Hashanah, the Mishna teaches, is
different because “Kol Ba’ei Olam
Ovrin Lefanav--all who come into the world pass are judged individually,
as they pass before Hashem as if they are walking in a single file.”
The Mishna brings a Pasuk in Tehillim (33:15) to explain how Hashem could
judge the billions mixed together all over the world as unique, individual
creatures. The Pasuk says: “HaYotzeir
Yachad Lebam HaMeivin El Kol Ma’aseihem--because Hashem formed every
aspect of every being, he can fully comprehend every single individual’s
actions, words, and thoughts. In fact, the tenth Ani Ma’amin also
quotes this very same Pasuk and reads as follows: (Artscroll translation)
“I believe with complete faith that the Creator, Blessed is His Name,
knows all the deeds of human beings and their thoughts, as it says, “HaYotzeir
Yachad Libam….” This is the only Pasuk quoted in any of the
We now would like to share
with you a stunning thought, which can provide a tremendous source of
guidance, and special zechuyos, for the time period that we are in.
Let us go to Tehillim Chapter 33, and review the Pesukim which immediately
follow this telling Pasuk quoted both in the Mishna in Rosh Hashanah and in
the tenth Ani Ma’amins. After this Pasuk, Dovid HaMelech continues
by teaching us what the upshot, what the
consequence, is of Hashem’s having created us and comprehending all of our
deeds. Once again, we provide the Artscroll translation: “A
king is not saved by a great army, nor is a hero rescued by great strength;
sham is the horse for salvation; despite its great strength it provides no
escape. Behold the eyes of Hashem are on those who fear Him, upon
those who await His kindness, to rescue their soul from death, and to
sustain them in famine. Our soul longed for Hashem--our hope and
our shield is He. For in Him will our hearts be glad, for in His Holy
Name we trusted. May Your kindness Hashem be upon us, just as we
With these revealing words,
Dovid Hamelech paves a pathway for us to follow in our Avodas Hashem.
Now that we know that Hashem knows every single thing about us--What is it
that Hashem really would like to see? As highlighted above, Hashem
looks to those who fear Him, who are awed by His all-knowing,
all-encompassing, and infinite greatness and who look to Hashem for His
closeness, for His kindness. Surely, if we would fear a lion, a bear,
a terrorist, a car that is out-of-control, we should be in absolute and
unfettered awe of the Creator of all creatures and all circumstances and
events! When we realize Hashem’s omnipotence, we also realize that
everything we have is wholly the result of His kindness, as we partake of
the Royal Table in various ways throughout the day. Throughout the day
we should express our needs to Hashem, and thank Him for what we realize he
has given us and continues to give us. As we look at our hopes for the
coming year, we must look back at the highlighted Pasuk, and realize
how powerful its teaching really is, and how crucial it is in our life.
If we can remind ourselves of this Pasuk daily, we can go far in avoiding
the strictness of Din, and bring Hashem’s kindness upon us…just as we
awaited it! Special Note One:In
the Parasha of Bikurim while recounting our servitude in Mitzraim, records
“Vanitzak El Hashem--and we cried out to Hashem,” the G-d of our
Fathers, and Hashem heard our voices. The Chofetz Chaim notes that the
Pasuk does not state that Hashem
heard our prayers, but that Hashem
heard our voices. This is to teach us that we must cry out with
our voices in times of trouble (obviously not in a manner which will disturb
others). The Chofetz Chaim adds that when crying out, one should plead
for the “K’lal Kulo--for the entire tzibur,” and one should make his
request after having performed a mitzvah. It is for this reason, he
writes, that all of the “HoRachaman” requests are made after Birkas
Special Note Six:
Some specialHisorerus from the
Sefer Sifsei Chaim, HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Zt’l ( Moadim I) teaches:
A.After Adam HaRishon sinned and his Teshuva was
accepted (all on Rosh Hashanah!), the Torah records that Hashem placed the
Lahat HaCherev HaMishapeches (the flame of the ever-turning sword) to
prevent him from re-entering Gan Eden at that time. With this, the
Torah provides an essential lesson in Teshuva. It is not enough just
to “decide” not to fall prey to the sin again. One has to actually
create some type of fence or system to prevent the possibility of
falling again. One out of thousands of examples one can think of would
be for a person who comes late to shul, almost as a matter of course.
His true Teshuva may be to start a learning Seder with someone before
davening even if only for 10 or 15 minutes (thereby ensuring that he will be
on time), or to “penalize himself” in some way for having been not as
respectful as he could have been for his audience with the King
B.As we see in this coming week’s Parasha, a person
can delude himself into thinking “Shalom Yihiye Li--and walk in the way
his heart sees fit” (Devorim 29:18). Yet, no one has any contracts
with Hashem--every action has ramifications. If a person acts or
reacts “as his heart sees fit,” or “as his heart says,” by whim or
fancy, he should be sure to give the matter some second thought.
Tochachos Mussar--the road to life is words of reproof”--with these words
of Mishlei, Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, is teaching us that the
road to life is paved not by shunning the reproof and constructive criticism
of others, but, quite to the contrary, by allowing it to enter and penetrate
D. We should make sure that, at least at this
time of year, we fulfill the following words of Rabbeinu Yonah in the Yesod
HaTeshuva, “One should not fill all of his desires in food or drink, and
so said the Ra’avad…the great and wonderful pathway to Teshuva is by
curbing one’s desire while eating….”
4.Finally, we suggest once again the importance of a
cell phone takana.To some, the
takana will be a special restraint while in the car, to others--it will be
self-control while walking on the street or in a store, and yet to others it
will be personal discipline in the hallway of a shul.We are not even suggesting total ‘perishus’ in any one of these
areas--but perhaps at least beginning with thinking twice before taking it
out and making it into another appendage of your body at these points of
your day.A person can really
get to know himself or develop a thought, for example, while walking--is
that phone call, text or email so absolutely necessary, so really urgent for
We are soon reaching the climax of our Teshuva season.
Our hopes, our wishes are soon to converge into moments of destiny for
ourselves, our family, and the world.This
year, Be’Ezras Hashem, can be a great one for us and all of K’lal
Yisroel--let’s try our very best to make sure we are a part of it!
The following is excerpted from Life is A Test, by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis:
might argue, surely, Hashem, Who is all-knowing, Who foresees that which
will occur in the future, was surely aware that Adam and Chava would violate
His instructions, and that He would banish them from Gan Eden. So, if He
knew beforehand that His plan was doomed to failure, why did He go through
with it? Why didn’t He just bypass Gan Eden and immediately place Adam and
Chava into a world of struggle, toil and sacrifice?
one of the reasons was to offer us a lesson in parenting--so that we might
be fortified and better prepared when our children do not turn out as we had
hoped. When reality does not mesh with our dreams, when the pain is so
intense that we actually feel as if our hearts had been cut out, at such
times, we must remember that, if Hashem can be disappointed, who are we to
complain? And if He does not give
up on us, who are we to give upon
REMINDER: By the following link http://tinyurl.com/kcy82vz we provide an essential Tefillah from
the Sefer Taharas HaKodesh, as provided to us by the Always Our Kids
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the wonderful Daf Yomi Chazara website http://www.shaschabura.org.
We provide the Chazara program for the Mesechta by the following linkhttp://tinyurl.com/mye4wfzWe thank a reader who helped us with
this important link.
RESOURCE FOR MESECHTA CHAGIGA! Daf
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relating to the Daf Yomi Mesechta being studied and responds--as yet another
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Today, we continue to provide two Halachos on Hilchos Sukkos. Our notes are
excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah, Volume VI).
continue with the Halachos of the Daled Minim:
The Rema writes that the minhag is for a Lulav to have three kesharim. The
Mishna Berurah writes that the three kesharim represent the three Avos. The
Mishna Berurah also writes that according to the Taz the kesher that holds the three minim together should be
considered as one kesher, so that one should make two kesharim above it, but
that according to the Eliyahu Rabba there should be three kesharim besides
the kesher that hold the three minim together (SA OC 651, Mishna Berurah
seif katan 14).
When picking up the Daled Minim, the Chayei Adam rules that one should first
pick up the Lulav with the three Minim on it, and then the Esrog. However,
the Magen Avraham brings in the name of the Shela that one should pick up
the Esrog first because the Torah refers to the Esrog [Pri Eitz Hadar]
before it refers to the Lulav [Kapos Temarim]. When putting down the Daled
Minim, the Magen Avraham writes that one should place the Lulav down and
then the Esrog. However, HaRav Yaakov Emden, the Dagul Meirevavah and HaRav
Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, all hold that one should place the Esrog
down first and then the Lulav (SA OC 651, Dirshu Note 36). Hakhel Note: Find
out what your minhagim are or should be--and be consistent!
Special Note One: The
Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva writes that Teshuva applies not only to correction
of aveiros, but to improvement in middos as well. Clearly, one of the
most insidious of middos ra’os is Ka’as or anger. Even the sound of the
word ‘Ka’as’ is foreboding. The following very powerful and very
practical lesson on controlling anger is excerpted from yesterday’s daily
lesson in the monumental work Positive Word Power (Artscroll/Chofetz
Chaim Heritage Foundation): “When we lose ourselves in anger, we
immediately forget one salient fact: It’s another human being on the
receiving end of the diatribe. It’s a person with a heart, with
feelings, hopes, and struggles. It’s a person like ourselves.
Finding the moment to connect to this reality is one of the most effective
means available to curtail Ona’as Devarim in our lives. Effective as
it is, this strategy is difficult to enact when one’s temper has been lost
and he is in the middle of an angry tirade. It helps to plan the
strategy now, when one is not being pulled by the undertow of powerful
emotions. What will you do the next time you feel the urge to launch a
verbal attack? Look into the person’s eyes as you speak to him.
See that there is a person there, with his own thoughts, his own problems.
Will your words disturb his sleep? Will they arouse anger in him that
he will take out on someone else? Cause him to lost confidence in
himself? We don’t have to inflict pain on each other. If we
can feel the other person’s suffering, rather than blocking it out of our
consciousness, we will be motivated to find another way: a gentler, more
sensitive and respectful way. The way we, ourselves, would like to be
treated”. Hakhel Note: The next cycle of Positive Word
Power will begin on Rosh Hashana. Learning the practical and
effective lessons from this Sefer in its beautifully written and
easy-to-read daily format would truly be a meaningful and worthwhile project
for the coming year!
Note Two: Additional notes on the Yemei Rachamim of Elul:
In last week’s Parasha, Rashi teaches: “Pirtzah
Korah L’Ganav--a breach in a wall calls out to a ganav to enter.” It
would be a tremendous step in a person’s Teshuvah process to identify
those breaches which are large enough to let the ganav
The Sefer Tomer Devorah points out that the three Pesukim in Micha of Mi
Keil Kamocha Nosei Avon V’Over Ahl Pesha… (Micha 7:18-20) contain
all of the 13 attributes of Hashem’s mercy. The Sefer therefore advises
that one constantly recite these three Pesukim, so that he reminds himself
of Hashem’s 13
attributes--which each and every one of us must emulate. It is no wonder,
then, that these three Pesukim conclude the Haftaras of both Shabbos Shuvah
and Yom Kippur Mincha!
Chazal teach that if one is Dan
L’Chaf Zechus--judges his friend favorably, then Hashem will judge him
favorably as well. The Ben Ish Chai asks--we can understand why we should
judge favorably--after all we really may not know the truth, the details,
the nuances. But how could this apply to Hashem--what does it mean for
Hashem to judge us favorably--after all, He knows all of our thoughts and
actions--without any doubt or uncertainty whatsoever?! The Ben Ish Chai
answers that because you have judged another favorably, Hashem will look at
your situation in a different light than what had actually transpired. For
instance, if one did not give Tzedakah when he had a particular
opportunity--Hashem will say: “If he had more money, he would have given
Tzedakah.” If one did not daven with the Kavannah that he should have,
Hashem will say: “If he had just a little more sleep he would have
certainly davened with more Kavannah.” If we can judge others l’chaf
zechus…imagine how much more infinitely Hashem can do so for us!
HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita,
points out that some people may place greater focus on the Bracha in Shemone
Esrei of Bareich Aleinu than for Atta
Chonein L’Adam Da’as. He notes, however, that when one asks Hashem
for Chochma--and especially Chochmas
HaTorah--he is asking for help with his eternity, and the request could
therefore be much more profound and everlasting! Hakhel Note: Perhaps one
should consider stretching out his hand (“Ke’ani
BaPesach”) when reciting this Bracha, in order to move himself to a
better level of Kavannah-- and reality!
The Mishna in Avos ()
teaches that there are four different approaches to going to the Bais
HaMidrash: One who goes but does not study when there obtains reward for
going. One who studies at home but does not go earns reward for
accomplishment. One who goes and studies is a chossid,
and one who does not go and does not study is a rasha.
It is clear from the Mishna that in order to
do best--to be a chossid--in one’s Torah study, he should go to the
Bais HaMidrash and learn there. Even if a person feels that he may be better
suited, equipped and prepared to learn at home, to achieve completeness in
one’s studies and get to the highest level--to be a chossid in Torah-- if
at all possible, one should be sure to go to the Bais HaMidrash and learn
Note Three: The following points were made
by Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita:
did Hashem create us? Yishayahu HaNavi (43:21)teaches: “Ahm Zu Yatzarti Li
Tehillasi Yesapeiru--our role is to bring Kiddush Sheim Shomayim to the
world--causing Hashem’s Name to be praised!”
Chofetz Chaim would quote the Pasuk in last week’s Parasha--that if Hashem
sees an ervas davar in us--then He
recoils and stays away from us. Improving in Tzniyus is an essential element
of improving ourselves--for by doing so, Hashem will stay with us and not
remove His Presence from us. Now is the time to reflect upon our wardrobe
and our conduct--to keep Hashem’s Presence with us!
Midrash teaches that when the Malach HaMaves comes to snatch a person from
this world, there are three drops that come from his sword. The Panim Yafos explains that these three drops represent the three
traits which are Motzi’in Es
Ha’adam Min Haolam--Kinah,
Ta’ava and Kavod.
person should humble himself to take the first step to put an end to a fight
he is having with another.
When it comes to Tzedaka, some people may say that “the Mosdos HaTorah are
having problems”. What does this mean?! We are all part of the Mosdos
HaTorah--they are not ‘third parties’ or ‘others’--we are all joined
as one in strengthening and spreading Torah to the greatest extent that we
Alter of Kelm would say that a Kabbalah that one establishes for the Yomim
Noraim--and then keeps during the year, has the same tokef--the same
strength for the person as the Yomim Noraim do themselves. Accordingly, one
should choose Kabbalos that he can adhere to and fulfill--so that he has the
Kedusha of the Yomim Noraim with him the entire year!
Note Four: We continue an
exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written
by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An
Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When
Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And
For a fuller
treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer,
which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.
A neighbor was here yesterday looking
at my porch door. He insisted that I put the mezuzah on the wrong side of
the door! How can this be? Everyone knows that the mezuzah must be on the
right side of the doorway as you walk into the room. Why should a porch be
We must now explore what is the status
of a porch--and whether it truly requires a mezuzah.
a porch does indeed require a mezuzah, then your mezuzah is in the right
place. If, however, a porch does not require a mezuzah – as some poskim rule – then your neighbor is
correct:the mezuzah would have to be affixed on the right side going from the
porch into the house (which obviously does require a mezuzah).
Other poskim, who are of the
opinion that a porch does require a mezuzah,nevertheless rule
that the mezuzah should be on the right side of the doorway (from the porch
to the house) since the house is considered the primary obligation relative
to the porch.
However, when the porch has an entrance
from public property as well, many more poskim agree that the mezuzahought to be placed on the right side of the doorway (from the porch to
the house). This is common for the back porch of many homes where the back
porch is easily accessed from the street without having to enter through a
a situation where there is no entrance from public property, R’ Moshe
Feinstein maintains that the mezuzah is affixed on the right side of the
doorway going out to the porch. In America that
is indeed the prevalent custom.
The consensus among contemporary poskim (HaRav Elyashiv z’tl, ybl”ch
HaRav Vosner, HaRav Karelitz.) in this situation is to have the mezuzah
affixed to the right side of the doorway going into the house – as your
A READER: “In the Zechus of our
sincere Tefillos, may we soon be zoche to daven on the other side of the
Hakhel Note: At the recent
Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Avraham Chaim Feuer, Shlita, suggested that
when reciting Es Tzemach Dovid in each and every Shemone Esrei, before
concluding the bracha with Baruch Atta Hashem--one should actually say or
think the words: “Ani Ma’amin
B’Emunah Sheleimah B’vias HaMoshiach V’af Ahl Pi Sheyisma’meiah…”
This is truly a wonderful suggestion for one to increase his Kavannah in
this pivotal bracha! For CD’s of all of the Yarchei Kallah Shiurim, please
KABBALA SUGGESTION FROM A READER: Being in a sitting position for every
bracha rishona and bracha acharona on food. Hakhel Note: We look forward to
your Kabbalah suggestions!
WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY
FOR THE COMING YEAR! We provide by the following
link -- http://tinyurl.com/pfdv3jwa
calendar for the study of Sefer Mesilas
Yesharim over the two-month period of Tishrei and Marcheshvan 5775. We
have it available on large postcard stock as well. Please feel free to print
out, make your own postcard, and spread the word!
HOW MUCH DOES HASHEM LOVE US? For
an idea as to how much Hashem loves us, and how exactly He shows us His
love, we urge you to recite the second bracha in Ma’ariv tonight with
Today, we begin the thirty day period prior to Sukkos. Many learn that the
obligation to study the Halachos of Sukkos begin thirty (30) days in advance
(see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 429, Ba’air
Heitev). Accordingly, we bli neder intend to provide two Halachos per
day. Our notes are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah,
Volume VI). B’EH this year we will begin with the Halachos of the Daled
The Daled Minim must contain two
Aravos and three Hadasim. The Mishna Berurah rules, for example, that if one
used only one Arava, he must take the Daled Minim again and make a new
bracha (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 651, Mishna Berurah seif katan 3:4).
The Hadassim must be higher than the Aravos. There are various reasons given
for this. The Levush writes that it is because the Hadas is mentioned first
in the Pasuk. The G’ra writes that it is because the Hadas is compared to
the eyes and the Arava to the lips--and the eyes are higher than the lips.
The Mishna Berurah writes that it is ahl
pi kabbalah. The Hadasim should be to the right of the Lulav, with the
Arava to the left--and this is true whether or not the person holding the
Lulav is right-handed or left-handed. See, however, the Bikurei Yaakov (seif
katan 9) who leaves this issue as a tzarich
iyun (SA OC, Mishna Berurah seif katan 12, Dirshu Notes 18 and 19).
Special Note One: Welcome
to the last two weeks 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
Special Note Two: Two Weeks from today will be Erev Rosh Hashana.It is reality check time--real
It is reported that many Gedolim would shake and tremble during
this time, to the point that their knees would knock (as the phrase is
actually used in Sefer Doniyeil--”Dah
LeDah Nakshan”--with the English word ‘knock’ quite possibly
having this Torah source).Even
if one may not be at this level of trepidation, one can most certainly
privately shed tears to the Ribono Shel Olam in fear and shame--as the Pasuk
states “Bemistarim Tivkeh Nafshi-- my soul weeps in private”.By this suggestion, we do not mean to express negative fear. What we
mean to convey is that the judgment we are to face is not tilted, perverted
or fiasco-filled as we might have otherwise seen in the courtrooms of basar
vadam.Our judgment will be
true and just, and there is much that we need to make amends for.Having come to the realization, having faced the facts--that one’s
life and the lives of others really and truly hanging in the balance--we can
then begin to fully value and appreciate that we are incredibly gifted with
the instructions--just exactly what we need to do in order to emerge
successfully and even gainfully on the Day of Judgment!Does it make any sense at all to not make the sincere effort, or at
least demonstrate the willingness, to be guided by these life-bearing and
instructions are direct and to the point:“Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzedakah Remove the r’l Evil Decree Against Us”--of course we all know the
words--but when we get up to reciting or even crying out these words on the
Yemei HaDin we must have already begun to demonstrate that they are more
than just poignant words in a Machzor or even terror-filled lip service.Lehavdil, even the best recipes in a recipe book that one owns are
not worth more than the paper they are written on until such time as someone
actually puts together the ingredients and properly follows through; after
having worked hard and carefully in the kitchen. When one does so, however,
not only will the cook or baker benefit, but all those around will share in
the wonderful success as well.
Dovid HaMelech (Tehillim 14:2) summarizes this all in one Pasuk:
“Hashem MiShomayim Hishkif Ahl Bnei
Odom Liros HaYeish Maskil Doresh Es Elokim--Hashem looks down from the
Heavens to see if there is a wise person who seeks Him.What does Dovid HaMelech mean?How
does one seek Hashem--we all know that He cannot be seen and has no
body, shape or form?!Moreover,
Hashem is omnipresent --He is everywhere-- so what is there to seek--He is
right here and right there and there and there and there?!We suggest that we seek Hashem through our clear and concise guide
and formula--through Teshuva, through Tefillah, and through Tzedakah.Through ‘Teshuva’, we seek Hashem by searching through for stains
of various shapes and sizes and washing as best we can our middos, our
thoughts, our words and our actions.Through
‘Tefillah’, we seek d’veikus
with Hashem--if we make the effort, we will be, and feel, in direct contact
with the Omnipresent through prayer.As
we daven Shemone Esrei, we must sincerely try to picture Hashem’s Presence
in front of us, listening to ‘me’ (yes--me!)
talking with Him, pleading with Him, and thanking Him. Although
young children and the uneducated daven a four-minute Shemone Esrei--it does
not mean that we must follow suit--and, moreover, if we are attempting to
improve our lives, we should not daven in the same way as we did ten or five
or even one year ago.Every
year, our seeking through Tefillah--our connection to Hashem must certainly
mature and grow.Finally, we
seek through ‘Tzedakah’--by seeking Hashem through kindness to His
creatures--through extending our hand and giving while seemingly receiving
nothing in return.In this
regard, we refer you again to the Yad Eliezer opportunities--for Amalei
Torah and for Almanos who seek out their brother’s assistance.
Upon reflection, we must be especially warmed and encouraged by the
words of Dovid Hamelech--that Hashem looks to those who seek Him--for it
means that we are all in the running, we all have the chance, we all are
capable and we all can succeed.We
are now certainly close enough to Yom Tov to begin writing things
down--events of the past year, middos to be changed, items to be taken care
of, before Rosh Hashanah ...in order to make the words we shall soon cry out
“Teshuva Tefillah U’Tzedaka”
all the more meaningful and all the more successful on the upcoming Yom Tov.
Additional Note One:Some
in the western world criticize and mock us--claiming that we are made to
feel guilty for our actions.This
myopic view looks at Olam Hazeh and can see no further.We know that our actions have far-reaching effects now--and will stay
with us for eternity.The story
is related of an actual dibbuk
which had uttered words of nivul peh--unbecoming
language.When asked how it
could do so--after all wasn’t it already in the next world--it responded
that a person in the next world is only what he makes of himself here in
this world.His nivul
peh stays with him there too--and serves as an eternal source of shame
and discomfort (to say the least).Having
noted this--just begin to imagine what Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzedakah will
look like and feel like--for eternity!
Additional Note Two:As
noted in the past, Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita provides remarkable solace
and encouragement in the name of the Chasam Sofer.In the ordinary course, we are taught that Teshuva performed out of
Ahava (love of Hashem) converts Aveiros which were performed even
intentionally into actual Zechuyos, while Teshuva performed out of Yirah
(Fear) turns Aveiros performed intentionally into Shegagos--unintentional
sins--which Hashem will obviously treat much differently on the Yom HaDin,
but which are still sin.The
Chasam Sofer, however, adds that if the other two key “seeking”
components besides Teshuva--i.e., Tefillah and Tzedakah--are present, than
even Teshuva performed out of Yirah will be able to convert those
intentional Aveiros into Zechuyos!!What a bonus! What an opportunity!What a gift!!Let us take
the next two weeks to make our search a very, very successful one...and may
we blessed with an outpouring and overflowing of zechuyos for ourselves...
and for our people!
LOOKANDLOOK AGAIN! Rabban Gamliel Rabanovich, Shlita, teaches, “If one looks at his
food while he is eating it--why would one not look at the words of one’s
brachos in his brachos card, siddur or bentscher when thanking Hashem for
PAYING TOMORROW:Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches (Mishlei
Tomar L’rei’acha Leich VaShuv U’Machar Etein V’Yeish Itach”--Do
not tell your friend: “Go and return and tomorrow I will give, though you
have it with you”. The Chofetz Chaim teaches that the ‘friend’
referred to in this Pasuk is the Yetzer HaTov--who is the true friend of a
person, and advises him how to do good. What Shlomo HaMelech is teaching is
that one should not say “I will do this good tomorrow, that good tomorrow,
learn double tomorrow, come on time tomorrow, daven better tomorrow, do that
Chesed tomorrow--for each day is independent of the next and is truly a
world onto itself.” Just as one would not push away the good advice of his
best friend, should he not delay fulfilling the suggestions, the advice, the
urgings of his best of all friends--the Yetzer Hatov--to do good not
SMELL THE KETORES! In last week’s Parasha,we learned that when we go out to war against our enemies, “Venishmarta
Mekol Davar Rah” (Devarim ). The
word davar (thing) is similar to dibur
(speech), and accordingly, the Pasuk is interpreted to mean that a person
should be especially careful from Lashon Hara and bad speech in order to be
saved in war. HaRav Chaim
Kanievsky, Shlita, points out that because of the gravity of the aveirah of
negative speech, it could literally be a deciding factor as to whether a
person will live in a time of danger. Indeed, Shlomo HaMelech clearly
teaches “Maves V’Chaim BeYad
HaLashon--death and life are in the hand of the tongue.” (Mishlei
18:21) It is truly fascinating
to point out that Chazal (Pesachim 59A) teach that the only avodah which
preceded the Karbon Tamid Shel Shachar
in the morning was the Ketores. Why
was this so--why should any avodah come before the Karbon
Tamid in the morning? We may
suggest that the Ketores brought Kapparah for the sin of Lashon Hara (Zevachim
88B). Accordingly, before the
Avodah of the Karbon Tamid and the rest of the avodos of the day could take
effect, the sin of Lashon Hara had to be cleared--so that we could go on
with life in the upcoming day.
After saying Modeh Ani upon awakening in the morning, it may be a wonderful
Kabbalah for one to state that he will bli neder be a Shomer Piv U’Leshono for the upcoming day!
MALEI RACHAMIM: The
Berditchever Rebbe, Z’tl, provides a great insight as to the profundity of
Hashem’s Rachmanus upon us. In the Selichos, we say that “Anu Melei’ei Avon V’Ata Malei Rachamim--we
are full of sin and You are full of mercy.” The difference in our being
malei avon is that we may have 150 lbs., 200 lbs. or so of sin that we are
filled with--but Hashem fills the entire universe--and He is full of mercy!
Hakhel Note: Let us
especially focus in our Tefillos in pleading with Hashem to shower upon us
the mercy that He is so filled with! It is essential that we focus on the
term Racheim, Rachamim, Rachamecha, etc. in our Tefillos!
HIGHLIGHT QUOTES FROM THE RECENT HAKHEL YARCHEI
1. Rabbi Yisroel Reisman,
Shlita: Every day we are met with challenges in which we must balance
excellence and convenience. For instance, do we go to the better barber, or
to the one who is closer by?; to the store with greater selection, or to the
store with the shorter lines?.... A person’s striving for excellence
should not only be in matters of Gashmiyus--but in matters of Ruchniyus as
well. A person’s goal must be towards idealism and perfection. Why can’t
he be among the first 10 at minyan, or really be careful not to hurt anyone
with words at any time? Why
can’t he go to shul and have a seder even when he would rather be relaxing
at home? The measure of a person’s success in life--is the measure of his
goal to achieve excellence! Hakhel
Note: Test yourself during the day--Am I using the gold standard--for
2. Rabbi Pinchos Jung,
Shlita: Tefillah makes a great impact upon a person. It is Hiskarvus
HaLev and Hishtapchus HaNefesh.
The Siddur is a Mikdash Hametaltel.
When the time for davening comes, we should view it as if Shabbos has
come--as if everything we had to do has been taken care of and can no longer
be taken care of at this time!
3. Rabbi Avraham Chaim
Feuer, Shlita: Yiddishkeit is not a religion. Its definition is a live connection to Hashem!
Special Note One: The Sefer
Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 11)
writes the following moving words about the primacy that careful Kashrus
observance must have in our lives: “…for forbidden foods bring tumah mamish into the heart and soul of a person to the point that
Hashem’s Kedusha leaves and moves far away from this person [when this
happens] a person’s ability to have true knowledge, and his seichel that
HaKadosh Baruch Hu gives to those that are pious leaves him. The forbidden
foods enter his body and become a part of his being. Anyone with a brain in
his head should view forbidden foods as poison, or in which some poison has
been mixed. If one would be concerned for any portion of poison in any
food--would he dare eat from it?! Even if one has the smallest doubt about
it, he would not be lenient--and if he would risk it, he would be considered
a Shoteh Gamur--a complete fool.
Of this, concludes the Mesilas Yesharim, Shlomo HaMelech, writes (Mishlei
23:2): “Vesamta Sakin BeLo’echa Im
Ba’al Nefesh Atta-and you should put a knife into your jaw if you are
a man with a mighty appetite.”
As we conclude the year 5774, we should look back at the food that we
brought into our homes, or that we ate while we were out. Were we lenient
when we did not know what the Hashgacha was? Did we ignore Kashrus issues
that we knew existed, simply by placing the burden or responsibility on the
Kashrus agency? Did we speak to our Rav before attending a Simcha at a
facility that had to be Kashered and/or about the questions that one should
ask at a restaurant or food establishment out-of-town, or with which he was
not familiar. The parasha of Kashrus is reiterated in the Torah--after all,
eating is something that we all do at least two or three times a day, and
thousands of times a year. It is imperative that we review our ways, to
ensure that our body and soul are nourished in Kedusha--so that our actions
and deeds will be able to express that holiness in all places, at all times,
and to all people!
Special Note Two:
More on Tefillah, which is so essential for us to focus upon at this time of
year. Set forth below is a listing of important reminders relating to
Tefillah, which have been culled from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna
Berurah to Shulchan Orach Chaim 90:
A. The Chasam Sofer
writes that Chana davened within four Amos of Eili HaKohein because it is a Segulah
Nifla’ah to daven at the side of a Tzaddik.
B. Although the
Shulchan Aruch rules that a person should be Mishtadel (apparently
meaning only to make an effort) to daven in Shul with a Minyan, HaRav Moshe
Feinstein, Z’tl (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 2:27 and
3:7) writes that it is a Chiyuv B’Ikar Mitzvas Tefillah--it is an
obligation going to the essence of the Mitzvah of Tefillah to daven with a
minyan in Shul, for when one davens by himself, even if he is a Gadol and a
Tzaddik, he is not assured of being answered. Hakhel Note:
Obviously, women have a different basis and standard in this regard.
Everybody has their duties and their roles!
C. HaRav Chaim
Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that children who have reached the age of Chinuch
and can answer to Kaddish and Kedusha are included in the principle of BeRov
Am Hadras Melech--and their presence in Shul adds to the davening of the
D. The Mishna Berurah
(seif katan 55) writes that a Bais HaMidrash which is used by the many to
learn Torah has greater Kedusah than a regular Shul, and that it is better
to daven there with only ten people than in a Shul where there are many
Mispalelim--even if one does not learn there at all! If one does learn
there, one should preferably daven within four Amos of the place that he
learns, as it has a higher level of Kedusha for him.
E. One should not
look at or face pictures and drawings (and certainly not a mirror or glass
where he can see his own image) when davening. The Steipeler Gaon,
Z’tl, would not daven in a Sukkah in front of pictures of Gedolim which
were placed there as decorations.
F. One should try to
be among the first ten of the Mispalilim for a Minyan. The Machatzis
HaShekel writes that within the first ten, the earlier you are, the greater
the inyan (and reward). Even if one is not among the first ten,
the Aruch HaShulchan writes, one should try to come as close to the first
ten as possible, so that he will draw Kedusha earlier.
G. The Mishna Berurah
(seif katan 39) writes (directly from Chazal) that one who arrives in Shul
early for Shacharis and Maariv is Zoche to Arichus Yamim.
H. If a person in
Shul realizes that he is davening Shemone Esrei in the wrong direction, for
example one in New York realizes that he is davening towards the west and
not the east, he should pick up his feet and change them to the right
direction. If one is not in Shul, he should keep his feet together and
move his head to the right direction. If this is not possible,
he should keep his heart (his thoughts and intentions) towards the
I. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that when
at the Kosel it is not preferable to daven inside the ‘cave’ even though
it has a roof and is enclosed which is usually a prerequisite for Shemone
Esrei, because the entire area by the Kosel is a Makom Tefillah. Hakhel
Note: In the Zechus of our sincere Tefillos, may we soon be zoche to
daven on the other side of the Kosel’s wall!
PLEA FROM HARAV ELIEZER GINSBURG, SHLITA: “From
today until Yom Kippur let’s leave our cell phones at home or at least
shut them off before entering a shul to daven. What a zechus this would be
for all of K’lal Yisrael as we are faced by crises and unprecedented
challenges. Let us rise to the occasion by showing the Borei Olam that we
can better ourselves and protect our Mikdashei Me’at.”
AIN OD MILEVADO:
In addition to his great mastery in Halacha, Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Z’tl,
urged all of his students and listeners to constantly express “Ain Od Milevado” and “I love You Hashem!” He had recently
completed his 1,000th Sunday morning Halacha Shiur at Agudath Israel Bais
Binyonim in Flatbush. One can view a listing and a summary of some of his
Shiurim in Halacha at www.seetorah.com
In his memory, we once again post the link to the Ain
Od Milevado passage from the Sefer Nefesh
HaChaimhttp://tinyurl.com/5a6qmy--something each and every one of us should perhaps be reciting
daily at this time of year.
THE GYM VS. THE SPA: Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier,
Shlita, gives the Mashal of a person who checks into a five star hotel, and
is shown the entrance to the state-of-the-art gym on the right, and the
wondrous spa on the left. The person intends to enter the gym, workout hard
and well--and then go to the spa as his after-workout reward. He mistakenly
takes a left turn and ends up in the spa. He decides to stay and spends the
entire time in the pleasure-filled experience, but remains an unhealthier
person for it. The Nimshal is, of course, someone who ignores the purpose of
this world--the gym in which to workout--so that he can enter the spa ready
to enjoy its true rewards, and instead goes straight to the spa, whose
experience in this way is worth infinitely less than had he gone to the gym
first as he should have. Truth be told, we have many gym vs. spa choices
every day--let us turn right to
the gym in each and every case--so that we can attain the true measure of
value of the spa--which, instead of for 120 years, will last for eternity!
CLEANING UP MONETARY MATTERS: The Business Halacha Hotline notifies
us that using a friend’s credit card or family member’s credit card for
purchases or taking advantage of his special finance offers can involve
serious ribbis issues. For more information, and to discuss options for
rectifying a Halachically problematic situation, one can call the Business
Halacha Institute at 718-233-3845, extension 41. The Business Halacha’s
Confidential Shailah Hotline FOR
MONETARY MATTERS is 877-845-8455. By email, one may send the Shailah to email@example.com
One: Last week’s Parasha highlights “When you go to war against
Mussar explain that this Pasuk--especially at this time of year--is meant to
emphasize to us our battles against the Yetzer Hara. HaRav Meir Schuck,
Z’tl, points out that the Torah begins with the concept of war against
enemies (in the plural) and continues with the word “U’nsano--Hashem
gives him over into your hand”.
If there are many enemies--what does the Pasuk mean by turning the plural
into the singular? It must be, then, that we are being taught that what
appears to be many enemies--one against Mitzvos, one fighting for ta’avah,
another for kinah, yet another for bitul Torah, lack of Kavannah in Tefillah…,
it is really only one enemy--the Yetzer Hara! What makes this world so
special is that it gives us the opportunity to succeed against the Yetzer
Hara. Each success against the Yetzer Hara is a great victory, and
these are the greatest of all earthly battles (Mesilas Yeshorim,
But just like
an army needs the best equipment and strategies in order to emerge
victorious, so too must we be prepared with the best tools and weapons for
There are two
basic “War Room” strategies which we have previously provided for
success against the Yetzer Hara. Remember, the Yetzer Hara is
exceedingly sly (“orum”), and also acts as the Satan and the
Maloch HaMoves. We must meet the challenge and respond in kind.
Strategy One: Eliminate the Choice.
The Yetzer Hara often outwits his victim by presenting a choice to him and
coaxing him to make the wrong choice. To avoid making the wrong
choice, one should see himself as a “muchrach”, as one being
forced to do the right thing, and not have any choice in the manner.
Here is a
simple example (you can come up with the harder ones):
Should I give
this quarter to tzedakah before Shacharis? I could, but it is my last
quarter, and I may need it for a parking meter later today, and then what
will I do?
will respond “I must give the quarter to tzedakah because it is Shacharis
time, and it is appropriate to give tzedakah now (Shulchan Aruch, Orach
stated, you must eliminate the choice. Just as in Olam Haba, there
will eventually be no choice because everything will become so clear to us,
so too, one can make it all clear now, as well.
Strategy Two: Strategy One is, of course,
successful when you realize that in front of you lies a choice. What
if the Yetzer Hara simply “blindsides” you by placing you in a situation
where you are face-to-face with an aveirah?
example one (you can come up with the harder ones):You turn around on a crowded subway and the only
person facing you is Harry, the Lashon Hara monger.
example two: You sit down in a restaurant with a non-Jewish co-worker, are
about to order, and you realize that the hashgacha is inferior.
involves the use of mental imagery to defeat the Yetzer Hara. One form
of mental imagery is thinking about a situation that could come up, and how
to handle it before it happens—what happens if I meet up with a person who
starts speaking Lashon Hara—how will I deal with it? Or, how can I
explain kashrus and its stringencies to the non-frum or non-Jew? If
one has already imagined the situation, he may be very well-equipped to deal
with it when it really happens.
perhaps more powerful, image is a picture of a human being confronting some
kind of vivid punishment or “Gehinnom”, thinking, is it really worth it
for me to do what I am about to do? Chazal tell the story of a great
person, who, when confronted with sin, ran over to a hot stove, and said
“He who does this, falls into this.” What an image!
In a more
positive light, one can imagine a very bright, immense and infinite paradise
for following the Torah’s ways. Overcoming the situation will bring
beautiful victory for a person, his family, and Klal Yisrael.
The above are
two proven strategies. As the clocks ticks up towards Rosh Hashanah,
we urge you to try the winning side.
May this year
be a year of victory for all of K’lal Yisrael!
Two: As we travel deeper and deeper into Elul, we become more strongly
sensitized to the words of Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim--”V’Ani
Kirvas Elokim Li Tov--as for me, I realize that being close to
Hashem is good.” There is an incredibly penetrating Chapter of
Tehillim--Chapter 139--which also very much relates to the time
period that we are in. We urge each and every one of our readers to
slowly read this Kepitel in the Hebrew, and study it in the English, as
well. If you are moved, you are certainly heading in the right
Note Three: We provide the following essential points made in Praying
With Fire II by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, relating to the “Eis
Ratzon Period (Time of Favor) that we are in from Elul through Yom
Kippur--40 days of Paradise for the Neshama!:
A. R’ Itzele (Blazer) Peterburger, Z’tl, in Sefer Kochvei
Ohr examines this seemingly illogical order of Rosh Hashana and Yom
Kippur. He asserts that logically, Yom Kippur should have come first,
allowing the Jewish people to begin by confessing and cleansing themselves
of their sins. After that process, they could arrive at the Day of
Judgment, Rosh Hashanah, deserving of a good year. However, Rav Blazer
explains that a person’s first priority must be to recognize that Hashem
is the benevolent King Who likewise renders judgment. Only then can
one truly comprehend the magnitude of the forgiveness one must seek on Yom
B. Our plea for a
renewed lease on life is not limited to simply keeping our heartbeat and
breathing going for another year. HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl,
writes (Sefer Ohr Yechezkel, 109): “Zachreinu LeChaim is not
just a request for life itself; it encompasses everything. That which
is connected to life is also called life--health, sustenance, removing
obstacles and hardships are all included in our request for life.”
With so much at stake, we cannot afford to “stand in the shade” during
this crucial Eis Ratzon, when Hashem’s radiance is at its peak.
C. To better
appreciate the role of Elul, Rabbi Kleinman provides the following allegory:
There was once a king who occasionally set out among the general
populace to stay in touch with the realities of his subjects’ lives.
Prior to his arrival, he would send out letters to a random selection of
families, announcing his visit. On one such occasion, a poor couple
living on the edge of town received a letter announcing that the king would
be visiting them. The couple, who lived in abject poverty, began to discuss
what to do. “We have to repair the front stairs and weed the lawn
and paint the walls and borrow at least one good chair for him to sit on,”
the husband insisted. “Who are you trying to fool?” the wife
contested. ”We don’t have money for all that. And besides,
the king knows he’s visiting paupers. We should just be
ourselves.” ”No,” the husband countered. ”We have to put
in our best effort.” We have to show him that we prepared for his
visit in the best way we can. He has to see that we’re his loyal
subjects and that we are proud that he is our king.” It is for this
reason that we undertake extra efforts, and are more meticulous and
punctilious, in the learning of Torah and the performance of Mitzvos.
We must remember that, during this very 40-Day Period, Moshe Rabbeinu worked
very hard in Shomayim pleading our case for eternal survival--and was
successful. The grace of the Period renews itself annually for each
and every one of us. However, it is not easy. There are no
“push-button” solutions. Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men,
teaches us (Mishlei 24:16) “Ki Sheva Yipol Tzaddik VeKam…for a
righteous man can fall seven times and rise, but the wicked shall stumble
upon evil.” It is the Tzaddik who realizes that even though he has
fallen in the past he can nevertheless rise and become great. It is
actually a Rasha, a wicked person, who believes that because he has stumbled
once, he has hopelessly fallen forever. We have to take the time and
make the effort to get up, as Hashem is now extending His hand to help us in an extraordinarily merciful,
compassionate, and forgiving way, in a way which is beyond our wildest
dreams or imagination. In what ways can we help ourselves “up”?
Spending more time in Tefillah, true care in Shemiras HaLashon, opening the
hand a bit wider to give Tzedakah, and in bleaching our Middos. A
sincere and tangible plan to avoid anger, jealousy (including looking at
another person in the wrong way) and the need to gratify every last desire,
will go a long way towards pulling you from last year’s fall to standing
up ably and with pride on your own two feet. Let us try to get up all
together--for if not now, then when?!
Note Four: We continue an
exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written
by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An
Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When
Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And
For a fuller
treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer,
which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.
The dining room
and living room in our home are located on either side of the front hall,
and have open arches at each entrance. Is it true that a doorway with no
actual door does not require a mezuzah?
A doorway without an actual door is a
subject of dispute among the Rishonim. A mezuzah must still be
but a berachah is not recited.
What if there is no area on the doorway
to put a mezuzah? I have a porch door and a gate which each close in a
manner that leaves no room to place a mezuzah.
Often, a hollow area can be created in
the doorframe to put a mezuzahcase. This would solve the problem.
Another possible solution is to add to
the doorframe by attaching posts. The minimum addition would be a post ten tefachim
high on each side of the doorframe, an extension of the lintel, as well as
an extension upon which to place the mezuzah.
If these options cannot be implemented,
Ashkenazim may affix the mezuzah, without a berachah, on the area in front
of the doorway. In this situation, it should ideally be affixed to the front
of the actual post. When not placed on the post, care should be taken that
it not be more than one tefach away.(Sephardim
may not rely on this solution).
reader provided a great insight from the Malbim, which may be helpful in our
understanding of why we recite L’Dovid Hashem Ori (Tehillim,
Chapter 27) from Elul until Hoshana Rabbah
until Shemini Atzeres or Shabbos Bereshis for others). In this Kepitel, Dovid
HaMelech relates: “Achas
Sha’alti Mei’eis Hashem Osah Avakeish Shivti B’Veis Hashem Kol Yemei
Chayai--there is one thing I ask for and seek--to dwell in the
house of Hashem all the days of my life.” Dovid HaMelech had many
responsibilities and perhaps millions to care for. Health, happiness,
Shalom Bayis, Parnassah was definitely on his mind, but when all is put into
perspective, all of the details and particulars of one’s personal, and
one’s communal, needs--ultimately they all lead to one life goal--D’veykus
B’Hashem. One has (or should have) a lot on his mind in Elul.
With all that, he must keep his focus as to what it is all for, what it is
all about. We therefore recite this Kepitel twice every day--to keep
us focused and aimed at our true, ultimate, and everlasting goal!
MIDDAH K’NEGED MIDDAH:
From a reader:
“If I will overlook
people’s shortcomings….Hashem will overlook mine.
If I won’t be exacting
with other people…Hashem will not be exacting with me.
If I won’t scrutinize
other people and look at their faults…Hashem will not scrutinize me and
look at my faults.”
Hashem has made Middah
K’neged Middah a basis of the world’s existence--let’s be smart!
FOLLOW-UP! Many times we do an important Chesed for another person--helping
him with advice, being a good listener, taking the person’s name to daven
for him…but as the next day comes, new and different circumstances and
situations present themselves, and we may forget the person who we so helped
or benefited just a day or two or three before. It would certainly be most
beneficial for a person to keep a note to follow-up in a day or two or more
on how this person feels, how that person fared, or whether he still needs
this, or she is still looking for somebody for that. The follow-up to the
initial Chesed not only provides shleimus,
a completeness to the act of Chesed itself--it also provides a shleimus
to the person completing it!
Special Note One: We
continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos Series:
1. As we continue to
focus upon Hashem’s Malchus, and the re-coronation on Rosh Hashana, we
note that every Shabbos we recite the words: “Yismichu
BeMalchuscha Shomrei Shabbos VeKorei Oneg--those who observe Shabbos and
call it a delight, rejoice in Your Kingship.” Although there is no
special Halacha of physical Simcha on Shabbos as there is on Yom Tov, there
is a more sublime and supernal feeling of joy in Hashem’s Malchus…each
and every Shabbos.
2. In tomorrow’s
laining we are privileged to have two of the Sheish Zechiros, which many of
us recite daily after Shacharis. The Luach Davar Beito brings
the Magein Avraham (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 60, seif katan 2) who writes
that one should have Kavannah to fulfill the Mitzvas Asei DeOraysa of
remembering what happened to Miriam when the words “Zachar
Eis Asher Asa Hashem Elokecha LeMiriam…” are read in the sixth
aliyah (Devarim 24:9). The Luach recommends that an announcement be
made before Shishi to this effect!
3. Rashi (Sotah 49A)
writes that when all the people gather together on Shabbos to hear the
Rav’s Drasha, they fulfill not only the Mitzvah D’Oraysa of Talmud
Torah, but also the Mitzvah D’Oraysa of Kiddush Hashem. It is for
this reason that the Gemara (ibid.) teaches that one of the bases for the
world’s continuing existence is the answering of “Yehei Shemei Rabba…”
to Kaddish at the conclusion of the Rav’s Drasha. The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan
Aruch, Orach Chaim 290, seif katan 6) writes that the Ikar at the Drasha is
to teach Halachos Shabbos--that which is permitted and that which is
forbidden--and to bring the people to Yiras Shamayim. Let us put the
importance of Hilchos Shabbos into the time frame that we are in.
Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, teaches that the ‘Aleph-Bais’ of
Teshuvah is learning the Halachos of the topic or item for which Teshuvah is
required. How many can look back at the previous year and affirm that
there was no slippage, mistake, or ignorance, with respect to his Shabbos
observance? One reader advised us that he put a pitcher of water
into the freezer on Leil Shabbos before going to sleep, and took it out on
Shabbos morning before going to Shul, so that he would have very cold water
without ice at his Shabbos Seudah. On the way to Shul that morning, he
realized that he had two issues--1. Was he allowed to place the water into
the freezer to freeze in the first place? and 2. Was he then permitted to
take the frozen water out of the freezer to defrost into ice cold water in
the pitcher--or was he intentionally creating water from ice (‘molid’).
He looked up the Shailah on his own (without consulting a Rav), determined
that his actions were permissible, and drank the water. Whether or not
his conclusions were ultimately correct, what he reported to us determines
the need to think before you act, and the need to study the Halachos of
Shabbos (certainly on Shabbos itself!).
A Jew who observes Shabbos
is known as a “Shomer Shabbos.” A Shomer is one who guards against
intruders and casualties that may befall or attack that which he is
guarding. One can do his job as a Shomer if he establishes a new
or special Seder in the Halachos of Shabbos--and especially studies
those Halachos in which he knows he is weak, or in which he has made
mistakes in the past. In fact, he can ask his Rav to give the Rav’s
Drasha on these topics on Shabbos! Remember, as the Mishna Berurah
points out, Shabbos is mentioned no less than 12 times in the Torah.
If even the point of the Yud in the Torah demands respect and
interpretation, imagine the reverence and attention we must give to the
Halachos of Shabbos…when the Torah emphasizes its extraordinary importance
to us so many times and in so many places!
Special Note Two: Points and pointers on this
week’s Parasha, Parashas Ki Seitzai:
A. In tomorrow’s Parasha, Ki Seitzai (Devorim ), Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, brings the
following thought in Growth Through Torah (p. 494-495).“The Aishes Yefas Toar must cry over her parents for a period of
thirty days. The Ramban explains that thirty days is the amount of
time necessary for her to remove the attachment to her idols from her mouth
and heart. Rabbi Chaim Zaitchek, Z’tl, comments that we learn from here
that to really change a trait it takes a thirty-day period of intense work.
This is the principle of the month of Elul which is a time for us to focus
on our behavior and traits in order to make a major improvement in
ourselves.A person tries to
work on a trait for a day or two, and when he does not see improvement he
becomes discouraged and gives up. When
you want to improve any trait, give yourself thirty days of serious effort
in order to see visible changes. While some people are able to make
changes very quickly, even they need a significant amount of time in order
to ensure that the new habits become second nature. Even if you do not
see any positive changes in the first week or two, if you will persevere for
an entire thirty days, you will begin to see the fruits of your labor.”
Hakhel Note: Today would be
an awesome day to begin your own personalized thirty-day self-improvement
project--to conclude with Yom Kippur itself!
The Sefas Emes provides two great lessons from this week’s Parasha for us
to always take with us:
Some of the most famous Mitzvos in the Parasha relate to returning lost
objects to others. Since, the Sefas Emes notes, we are duty bound to
love others as ourselves--and not more--then we must most certainly endeavor
to return lost objects to ourselves
as well. With respect to our physical possessions, we must be aware
that Hashem has entrusted us with objects--and be sure to get them back if
borrowed or taken (unless Tzedaka or chesed is involved), and certainly not
squander them. Spiritually--we must ‘return’ to be the person we
are supposed to be. Elul is a time when we can return to ourselves
that which so much belongs to us--our strengths, talents, energy and goals
in Avodas Hashem. This Parasha, always read in Elul, clearly provides
us a stark reminder to us to bring as much as we can back home.
Additional Note: Whenever you help return a lost object to someone
else--let it serve as a Hashgacha Pratis reminder to you that you should
also be returning something lost to yourself!
The Pasuk teaches that it is a Mitzvah to help its owner when an animal or
the burden upon it has fallen. The Torah specifically says “Hakeim
Tokim Imo--you shall surely stand them up with him.” The Sefas
Emes notes that the Torah does not simply use the word “Oso”-help
him, but “Imo”--with him,
because when you are helping another, when you display Rachmanus, compassion
and care for the difficulty of someone else, than you are really not only
helping him, but helping yourself. In fact, while you are helping him
only once, you are helping yourself for a lifetime and beyond. How remarkable! You are not merely picking up a package--you are
raising up yourself!
C. As this week’s
Parasha contains at least one Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh and one Mitzvas Aseh
relating to Shemiras HaLashon, we are happy to advise that the Chofetz Chaim,
in his Sefer Chovas HaShemirah (Chapter 8) writes that if one is
careful with Shemiras HaLashon, then bevadai--with
certainty--in this zechus, Hashem will forgive even his Avos for their sins.
One should pay real and practical attention to these words as he
rededicates himself to Shemiras HaLashon, in order to bring merit not only
to himself, but to his Avos as well!
Hakhel Note: In
this week’s Parasha, we learn how the penalty for being motzi
sheim rah--spreading a bad name (100 zuz) is twice as great as the
penalty for oness (committing a
horrible act) (Devarim
, 29). The Chofetz Chaim explains that the Torah is starkly teaching us how
horrific the ostensibly ‘intangible crime’ of motzi
sheim rah, really is.
D. The Torah states
that one who is to receive makkos--lashes
for his transgression is to receive up to 40, as the Torah states: Arba’im Yakenu Lo Yosif. Why does the Torah use the number
“40”--especially if the maximum is really 39? See Ramban to Devorim
E. The following Shailos
U’Teshuvos relating to the Mitzvah of Shiluach HaKan are excerpted
from the Divrei Siach on this week’s Parasha:
Is there an obligation to perform Shiluach HaKan
every time the situation presents itself to a person?
No, but there certainly is an inyanahl pi kabbalah to
QUESTION: is it better to perform the Mitzvah of Shiluach HaKan by
yourself--or to ask a Shaliach to do so, so that you can study Torah during
ANSWER: “Mitzvah Bo Yoser
MeBeshelucho--it is better for him to do the Mitzvah himself.”
QUESTION: If a katan performs Shiluach HaKan--will it be a
segulah for him even when he becomes a Gadol?
Special Note Three:We provide the following additional Elul points and pointers:
1. “Ashrei Yoshvei Veysecha--praiseworthy are those who dwell in Your
house.” The Sefer Yesod VeShoresh HaAvodah explains that the
‘House’ we are referring to is the House of the King. How
fortunate, how happy we should feel for the privilege that we have of
dwelling in the King’s house. As we move further through Ashrei, we
refer to Hashem’s Malchus several more times. Chazal teach the
importance of an appreciation of Ashrei when they say that one who is
careful to [properly] recite Ashrei three times a day is Zoche to Olam Haba.
Perhaps we could take a great lesson from Ashrei with us throughout the day
by singing the words, or humming the tune to, “Malchuscha
Malchus Kol Olamin, U’Memshaltecha Bechol Dor VeDor--Your kingdom is a
kingdom spanning all eternities, and Your dominion is throughout every
2. An extremely
important Middah to emphasize and develop over the coming month (as noted
above, today is exactly 30 days to Yom Kippur!) is the Middah of HaKaras
HaTov. Chazal (Avodah Zara 5A) teach that both Adam HaRishon, and the
Bnei Yisrael at the Cheit HaEigel, were Kafui Tov--deniers of good.
One would expect that HaKaras HaTov and Kafui Tov are exact opposites…with
one recognizing the good done to him and affirmatively expressing that
recognition, and the second person expressly rejecting and even complaining
about the act or deed done for him or on his behalf. However, Rashi
(ibid.) teaches us otherwise. Rashi writes that one who simply does
not recognize and appreciate the good that was done to him or on his behalf
is already a Kafui Tov. He doesn’t have to actually express his
disdain of, or rejection, of the deed--he simply can be silent or unthinking
about it, and already thereby falls into the terrible abyss of being a Kafui
Tov. If we want to begin to truly appreciate everything that Hashem
does for us, we have to begin to appreciate what everyone else does for us
as well, and not act as a Kafui Tov--someone who does not think or care
about what others do for him and from which he benefits. At the end of
each day, one can look back and think about whether he was a thinking and
thanking “Makir Tov” at work
and at home, or an unthinking and unthanking “Kafui Tov”. There
does not seem to be much middle ground. The choice is yours!
3. Chazal teach:
“Al Tehi Rasha Lifnei Atzmecha--do
not view yourself as a Rasha.” This means that a person should not
get down upon himself, or put himself down, and decide that “this is the
way it is” or “this is the way I am.” Quite the contrary, when a
person realizes his thoughts, words, or actions are deficient in a
particular area, he should view this realization or awareness as unique and
personalized “Hashgacha Pratis”--a message from Hashem to take action
and do something about that particular item or matter. Hashem cares
about you and wants you to succeed in all aspects of your life…you should
care no less for yourself!
4. In fact and in
deed, there are others who care about you as well. One of the
teachings of the Rosh in the Archos
Chaim L’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.
5. Elul is, of
course, an acronym for “Ani LeDodi VeDodi Li.” The word
“Dodi” means not only “My Beloved,” but also “My Uncle.”
Rabban Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, points out that there is a difference
between a Father and an Uncle--for a Father must provide for his child,
whereas an uncle who gives something to his nephew is doing so out of
voluntary benevolence and warmth. Receiving a piece of chocolate from
an Uncle is a more special and treasured experience--and Hashem as our “Dodi”--is
extending that ‘chocolate’ to us now--in the month of Elul! We have to
come up with practical and concrete ways of extending our hand to receive
the chocolate. Remember--the time is now!
Special Note Four: We once
gain provide a brief, sample list of items one may consider improving upon,
and especially working on in the month of Elul.Let us not wait until the last moment--let us take action now!
Coming to Shul on time for davening without having to skip.
Coming to Shiurim on time.
Wearing truly appropriate clothing while davening.
Making Brachos properly-with Kavannah, bentsching from a Siddur, making sure
to make the right brocha on the food; especially being careful with the
brachos of Shehakol and Borei Nefashos which are recited so many times a
day, and can really serve in someone’s stead when recited properly!
Reciting at least the first paragraph of Shema and the first brocha of
Shemone Esrei with Kavannah; spending the time now to properly have the
necessary “quick” Kavannah ready when reciting Shema and Shemone Esrei.
Reciting Modim and Aleinu L’Shabeach with Kavannah.
7. Making a
personal request at the end of each Shemone Esrei.
8. Making sure
to privately thank Hashem during the course of the day for something
specific that you just realized or were made aware of, or that just
occurred--by thinking or voicing the words “Thank You, Hashem.”
Making sure that the Hashgacha you are eating from is truly a good one.
wasting time in frivolous chatter or discussions which are not worthwhile.
11. Not making
sarcastic comments, and not using biting words (Remember: No shtuchs!) .
12. Having Kavannah
for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim and the coming of Moshiach three times a
day in Shemone Esrei.
13. Sticking to the
14. Avoiding a
response based on laziness.
15. Curbing a
particular desire in some way every day; certainly not overeating or
16. Avoiding inane or
impure thoughts which hurt the Neshama.
17. Making proper use
of the eyes and ears.
18. Having a plan in
place to use if you feel you are getting angry or if you realize you are
19. When being
stubborn, stopping to think whether it is for the correct reasons.
20. Showing respect
for elders (actually standing up when they come within four amos of you);
smiling at them and praising them.
21. Showing the
proper respect for Seforim (studying from, straightening out, cleaning and
22. Not being overly
frugal when it comes to Mitzvos and to the needs of others.
23. Not turning the
desire for money (Chemdas HaMamon) into an Avoda Zara.
24. Not doing
something which is disgusting, or at least would not be viewed kindly by
other people--whether or not they see you do it.
25. Not doing
something else in front of someone who is talking to you; showing them a
pleasant countenance, appearance and smile.
26. Looking up/asking
the Halacha when you need to know it or are unsure; or, if it is too late,
at least looking it up now for next time.
27. Making sure that
your Mezuzos are checked every three and a half years; if you are not sure
of the last time you had them checked, but know that it was quite a while
ago--then checking them now--before Rosh Hashana.
28, 29 and 30--These
numbers are reserved for you to add your own personalized reflections.
If you cannot come up with three of your own, then your introspection needs
We very much look forward
to any additional suggestions you may have!
May we each make great and gaping holes in the above
encirclements, so that we are far from surrounded by sin on the upcoming
Days of Din--and instead are surrounded by walls of overflowing mercy, love
WORDS OF GREAT INSTRUCTION FROM THE
SEFER SHA’AREI TESHUVAH(3:145-146):
who speaks libelously against the Torah is one who
has the audacity tosay about the Torah, things which arenot
so, such as, “In vain were these verses and accounts written into
the Torah.” It is his pride and haughtiness which causes
think thus. Because he is incapable of arriving at the essence of these
tells himself that there is no depth to them. Itis said, “For
it is no vain thing for you” (Devarim 32:47),
which our Chazal have said, if it is vain, it is because of
you--because you do not know how to interpret these things.”
Also, one who abandons any Torah
and does not
acknowledge it, is
considered one who speaks libelously against the Torah, as those who say,
“Of what use to us are those who learn Torah? If they have become wise,
they have become wise for themselves,
and we have no share in their reward.” By so saying,
they deny what is written in the Torah, “Venasasi
Lechol HaMakom Ba’avuram--Then I
will forgive the entire
place for their sake.” (Bereishis
The famous words of the Sefer Mesilas
Yesharim: “Kol Kulah Tzarich
Bedikah--every kulah that one wishes to practice requires further
investigation is taught by the HaRav Luzzato, Z’tl,
in the Chapter on zerizus--acting with alacrity. We may derive from this
that even if a person may actively seek a kulah--ultimately the reason for
seeking or practicing a leniency may simply be spiritual laziness, and a
lack of appreciation of the spiritual elevation one has in the diligent
performance of a Mitzvah!
WHERE DO WE BEGIN? HaRav
Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl (Letter 208) writes that the first step in
coming close to Hashem is through improving middos and conduct with other people. If a person recognizes and appreciates the ma’alas
zulaso--the attributes of others, and accords them respect in accordance
with their ma’alos, then, he concludes, how much closer he is to properly
appreciating, respecting and drawing close to HaKadosh Baruch Hu! Additional
Note:On the Mishna in Avos
(4:3) of Ahl Tehi Vaz Lechol Adam--do
not treat anyone lightly…HaRav Levenstein notes that one should think
improperly of anyone, including akum,
for Hashem Himself has ordained that every person has his time, and every
person has his place.
Note One: We provide additional practical ElulEitzos:
Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, suggested that many people fail to do proper
Teshuva because they do not realize how important and honored they really
are; yes, they realize Hashem’s greatness, but view themselves as too far
below and too far beyond. It is really quite the opposite. We
start out in the RoyalPalace.
If we then move out or move ourselves away --does it mean that our Royal
blood has been replaced, and that our ancestry and bearing have been
expunged? No, it means that we must take the first step of
recognizing our Royalty--and then take the time and make the effort to move
back into the RoyalPalace.
The King wants us back--He has told us so. We must put back on the
Royal garments, and head back to the Palace --with longing and with dignity.
Appreciate who you are and do something about it!
B.The Sha’arei Teshuvah
(3:176) actually includes within the category of a leitz
(a scoffer) one who does not accept tochacha,
reproof.Indeed, Shlomo HaMelech
teaches (Mishlei 9:8):“Ahl Tochach Leitz Pen Yisna’eka--do not give reproof to the leitz,
for he will hate you.”One of
the important items to work on in the month of Elul is to listen
to the Drashos, the reproof, the guidance, and the comments of
others--and take it to heart, rather than brush it off.As many of us have or will soon begin to study Mussar Seforim in
preparation for becoming better people, the natural tendency is to believe
that ‘this comment is directed towards him’ or ‘I don’t really
have that problem’.One can go
through life pointing harsh fingers at others, and kind fingers at oneself.
In a sense, if one does so, he is a leitz,
a scoffer--for he is not paying attention to the messages being conveyed
to him through what he is hearing, reading or learning.Instead one should think:“This
is B’HashgachaPratis--it is directed towards me!”
C.During this delicate time of year, one should especially try not to
say or to give a shtuch--a
stabbing witticism which produces no gain other than to demonstrate the
‘quickness’ of the utterer, and to annoy, hurt and poke fun at the one
who is the object of the shtuch.We add that if one witnesses such an event, he should provide proper
careful chastisement to the offender--and benefit all of K’lal Yisrael!
Many (if not all) of us recite Tehillim daily. What is the first Pasuk of
Tehillim? “Ashrei HaIsh Asher Lo
Halach BaAtzas Resha’im U’vederech Chataim Lo Amad U’vemoshav Leitzim
Lo Yashav--praiseworthy is the man who does not walk in the counsel of
the wicked, stand in the path of the sinful, or sit amongst the scorners.”
Dovid HaMelech’s son, Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, provides a
very similar teaching (Mishlei 13:20) “Holeich
Es Chachomim Yechkam Ver’oa Chesilim Yeiro’ah--he who goes with the
wise will become wise, and he who befriends the fools will be broken.”
Many of us have at least one friend or acquaintance who we really believe we
should not be friends or associate with because of how they act or think or
what they say. We should remember that the very first words of Dovid
HaMelech in Tehillim teach us that a person is praiseworthy if he avoids
this kind of relationship and Shlomo HaMelech teaches us that one basically
becomes who he associates with. Now is the time to focus practically upon at
least one relationship that requires some separation, and one relationship
that requires further bonding. We have the literally Sage advice--let us use
it to its fullest!
Yiras Shomayim has true life-sustaining qualities (Tehillem 33:15, et. al).
The reasoning is actually quite simple--if you demonstrate a better
understanding of life, then you deserve more of it. The Chofetz Chaim,
almost at the outset of the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 1,
seif katan 4) provides great advice in the name of the Arizal on a
‘to’eles gadol--a great help’ to attain Yirah. One should
envision in front of him the four letter name of Hashem (Yud Keh Vov Keh),
with the nekudos of Yirah (chirik, sheva, komatz) under the first three
letters. One should certainly try this at a time or in a place where
his Yirah is being challenged by his Yetzer Hora from within or his Yetzer
Hora from without. Nothing, of course, can replace a meaningful Mussar
Seder, but effective emergency therapy or treatment, or a needed boost at a
down point of the day, can sometimes be life-bearing as well.
Note Two: We continue an
exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written
by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An
Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When
Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And
For a fuller
treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer,
which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.
There is a small
coatroom just inside the entrance of our house that measures less than 4x4 amos.
Does our front door actually require a mezuza?
A room smaller than 4x4 amos
does not require a mezuzah. The size of an amah is a subject of
to R’ Chaim Naeh, the size of an amah is 48 cm. (19 in.)
to R’ Moshe Feinstein, the size of an amah is 54 cm. (21¼ in.)
to the Chazon Ish, the size of an amah is 57.6 cm. (222/3
Hence, since your coatroom is less than
4x4 amos, as most coatrooms are, then indeed the front door should
not require a mezuzah.
However there is another halachah that
is relevant. We are referring to the requirement of a mezuzah for a beis
sha’ar. Although a doorway ordinarily requires a mezuzah only if it
leads to a room which is fit for “living purposes;” a doorway, gate or
archway which serves as an entranceway to the home itself also
requires a mezuzah. This is called a “beis sha’ar.”
Therefore, your front door serves as a beis
sha’ar (entranceway) to your real “halachic”
front door – which follows the coatroom.
Nevertheless, the answer is not quite
so simple since the question of whether a beis sha’ar leading into
a room smaller than 4x4 amos requires a mezuzah is also a subject of
dispute among the poskim.
Accordingly, the universally accepted
custom is to place a mezuzah on the front door; but not recite a berachah.
REMARKABLE CALENDAR: To
view and print a concise Hebrew calendar which contains the 5775 daily Nach
Yomi, Mishna Yomis, Daf Yomi and Halacha Yomis, please see the following
this wealth of information to others!
YEARS--120,000 YEARS: Sometimes
we may be faced with the pressures of earning a livelihood or social
pressures and turn aside at least a bit from the Torah’s true teachings. In
a more extreme form, a reader advised us that he was told by someone: “Religion
is religion and business is business.”While none of us may extend ourselves to that extent, we may
nevertheless take an ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach in Choshen Mishpat
(business and shopping) and Yoreh De’ah (Kashrus and Ribbis matters). We
have, for instance, provided notices in the past as to issues with loans
from Emigrant Savings Bank and Quicken Loans, and there may be other
similarly-situated lenders. One
cannot simply ‘turn the other way’ on the assumption that ‘there must
be some heter if it is such a common problem’, or ‘I leave Kashrus to
the Kashrus agencies’, etc. This
world’s temptations last for 120
years; if a person falls prey to them, and rationalizes or simply refuses to
think about or investigate a challenge--then he is giving up 120,000
yearsand more of the oneg of Olam Haba that he could have enjoyed from overcoming the
Nisayon. Whether it is the justification of the need to support one’s
family or the claim that ‘this is my personality’, one must simply be
guided by the golden rule of the Mesilas Yesharim:“Key Im Eino Chas Ahl Atzmo--Me
Yachus Alav--if a person does not care for himself, then who will really
care for him?!”Elul is the
perfect time period for assessment and re-assessment. We owe it to
Special Note One: We provide additional practical ElulEitzos, as
we have just begun the second week of Elul:
In the past, we provided the
idea of a pyramid of Mitzvos, where one’s good deed travels and effects
others, with ramifications reverberating perhaps to the other end of the
world. There is another kind of pyramid that a person can build. During Elul
one searches for thoughts, deeds and actions of his that are in a state of
disrepair. One does not have to look beyond his daily activities for
additional zechusim during this
period--correcting that which he does in the ordinary course on a daily
basis should serve as a great zechus
in and of itself to bring us a blessed and successful year. Eating is
something that one usually undertakes three times a day. If one can correct
some aspect of the eating process--then he is correcting something three
times a day, which over the course of a year amounts to a thousand repairs.
The correction can take the form of committing not to overeating, sitting
when making any bracha over food, eating with dignity--as if there are
others with him even if he is ‘alone’ in the room, not eating the food
unless one is certain what bracha to make over it, or perhaps on a more
advanced level, not making a bracha unless there is someone there to answer
Amen.There are, of course, many
other possibilities in this area--but the commitment bli
neder could certainly be a monumental one for the coming year!
this month we are preparing for judgment--and for mercy. While this
may seem paradoxical, it is really quite necessary. If a person
prepares only for judgment, he will tend to view all of his activities in a
favorable light, explaining this away and that away, and actually leads
himself to believe that he is much better than he really is. Think
about the way a lawyer may prepare a court case--viewing the facts in the
most favorable light to his client. Thus, in thinking about why one
needs mercy over the coming days, he will take a better look at our actions
and inactions--and resolve to do better--which, in turn, makes us much more
qualified to receive the very mercy we seek!
we focus on Malchus, we note an extremely valuable insight from Rabbeinu
Yonah in the Sha’arei Teshuva. Rabbeinu Yonahwrites that if
one brings others closer to service of the King--if he brings the King more
devoted subjects--he is truly proving his loyalty to the King, and
demonstrating how important the King is in his life. If one helps
others--especially this month--in their Torah studies, in their Mitzvah
performance, by teaching them a Halacha that they do not appear to know or
give other constructive, well-delivered words of advice or guidance, and
certainly by teaching an as yet uneducated Jew something about Yiddishkeit
in general or Rosh Hashanah in particular, he will be showing how important
it is to him to bring honor to the King.
Special Note Two:The following are important points on Teshuvah from Rabbi Moshe Tuvia
A. The Levush writes that even if we have strayed, we are like an aveidah
hamisbakeshes--something that is lost which is being looked for. Picture
the sheep who has strayed who wants to be found by the Shepherd--and whom
the Shepherd wants to find!
peasant allows more and more grime to collect until it is difficult to get
out all of the stains, and the shirt loses more and more of its character as
something that can be worn at all. A
city dweller takes a stained shirt and promptly sends it to the cleaners so
that it is clean again.
Shofar itself is a symbol of how we can turn our lives around. Yesterday, it
may have been attached to a filthy barnyard animal--by cutting it off,
cleansing it and rededicating it, we can exclaim “Alah
Elokim BeSeruah--Hashem is elevated with the Teruah of the Shofar.”--this
is Teshuvah--a turnaround!
Elul is an acronym for Ani LeDodi VeDodi Li, we must realize that the process begins with Ani--with
HaRav Yisrael Salanter, Z’tl, would say that even the fish in the water
tremble during Elul--if that is the case, then most certainly the Ani--as a thinking,
rational being--should take action as well. One can begin with Teshuvah
MeYirah. On the Yomim Noraim, we will be reciting “U’vechein Tein Pachdecha--and so Hashem place Your fear…”Imagine a child entering a dental office and hearing the sound of the
drill coming from the next room. The
fear is palpable, although one knows that the dentist means the best. We
must have the same sense of awareness!
E. The Sefer Nefesh HaChaim
teaches that one who is Oseik
B’Torah brings Kaparah upon
himself in a wonderfully cleansing way. One
shows love to Hashem by learning Torah properly-- and Teshuvah through Eisek
HaTorah is Teshuvah MeiAhava. Through Eisek
HaTorah, one is tovel in the
Yam HaTalmud--purifying himself to a previously unknown extent. One
Important Note: The Eisek HaTorah,
must, however, be karaui--befitting.
One should not in the regular course allow interruptions, cell phone
recesses, or treat the study of Torah as just another daily obligation.
The story is told of the Berditchever Rebbe, Z’tl who saw a person eating
a sandwich of chazir near Shul on
you know it is Yom Kippur?”“Yes”
you know that you are eating an unkosher meat?”“Yes”
you know there are hundreds doing Teshuva just a short distance away?” “Yes”
he continued to eat nonchalantly.The
Berditchever looked to Shomayim and exclaimed “Who is like Your
people--even in difficult circumstances, they are careful to tell the
Hakhel Note:This month is
certainly a month for us to place an emphasis on always telling the truth--in
a way which would make the Berditchever much prouder!
THE KEDUSHAS TEFILLIN PROGRAM! This
program is for any young man or man who has a ratzon to wear his tefillin
without talking.To find out more about the rules, rewards and how to join the
program, send an emailto
or text Rabbi
Adler at 216-235-4330.Please
provide your mailing and school information.
WHAT A WARM GESTURE!
The following email was sent by the father of a Kallah a few days before the
chuppah: “If anyone would like to submit names for shidduchim, parnassah,
refuah, chinuch habanim or any other issue for my daughter to be mispallel
under the chupah, please reply to this email.”
Hakhel Note: Let us learn
from the kallah and her father’s thoughtfulness and concern for others!
FROM A READER: “Here
is asimple recommendation: if
you’re going to Shul, do not take your cell phone with you. If you drive,
leave it in the car; if you walk, leave it at home. We do this on
Shabbos every week. Surely we can accustom ourselves to realize that our
phones do NOT belong in Shul.”
KIDDUSH LEVANA NOTE: In the New York area (and perhaps in
other areas as well), due to cloudy conditions, many have not yet had the
opportunity to recite Kiddush Levana. HaRav
Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (Derech Sicha I,
p.44) teaches that for a toothache, it is a segula
mikadmonim--a segula from early generations--which is also brought in
the Siddur Bais Yaakov of HaRav Yaakov Emden, Z’tl, to add several words
in Kiddush Levana at the right moment. After the words that one usually
recites “Kach Lo Yuchlu Kol Oivai Lingoa Bee LeRoa--so should my
enemies not hurt me”, one should immediately add “VeLo Yehiye Lee
Ke’Aiv Shinayim--and I should no longer have a toothache.” HaRav
Kanievsky advises that his father, the Steipeler, recited this Nusach
on his own behalf, and on behalf of others. Once, HaRav Kanievsky’s mother
had a toothache, and the Steipeler felt badly, telling her, “I wish I had
known before I recited Kiddush Levana!” Here is a real and simple
opportunity to try to help others!
Special Note One: The
following lessons are excerpted from Elul: Inspirational Words and
Tefillos For the Most Important Part of the Year by Rabbi Dovid
1. “It is told that
when the Chofetz Chaim heard thunder and saw lightning, he was overheard
asking himself: ‘Vus Vil Der Tatta?
Vus Vil Der Tatta?-What does Father want, What does Father want--since
our Chachomim have said that the only reason thunder was created was to
straighten the crookedness of the heart, what crookedness did the Borei Olam
wish to straighten out this time?’ Likewise, Rabbi Goldwasser
teaches, the days of Elul can not simply slip by without absorbing its real
and important message. There is a great Avodah to be done during this
time--introspection, reflection, and Teshuvah. We are compelled to do
some deeper thinking as to our purpose in this world. Every day we
should focus in on the question: ‘Vus Vil Der Tatta’?”
2. “The way to
increase the utilization of our Kochos in Avodas Hashem is in increments: An
additional bracha with kavannah , an extra call each week for Kibud Av VaEim,
an additional commitment to Shemiras HaLashon every day....”
3. “The Mashgiach
of Yeshivas Bais Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, New Jersey, HaRav Nosson
Wachtfogel, Z’tl, teaches that the main goal of the Yetzer Hora is to try
to make a person forget his special quality--that he is a ben melech--the
son of the King. As a result of this degradation and resulting
misperception, the person sinks to a low level and does things which are not
fitting for his roya1 status. Yosef HaTzaddik. at the time of the
greatest test in his life, argued with the wife of Potifar” ”I
have a connection to my father and therefore, I cannot connect to what you
are saying.” Consequently, he emerged from the test unscathed.
This is the way that a person should conduct himself during Elul--raising
himself to come close to the truth of “Ani LeDodi VeDodi Li.” One
must be aware of his inherent aristocracy, and his actions should reflect
that awareness. A chossid once asked the great tzaddik, Reb Shlomo of
Karlin, Z’tl, ‘What is the greatest aveirah that a person could
commit in his life?’ Reb Shlomo put his face into his hands, thought
for a moment and then said, ‘The greatest aveirah a person could commit is
to forget that he is the son if the King’!”
4. Rabbi Goldwasser
presents seven (7) moving Tefillos on Teshuva (in Hebrew) from various
important sources--to help move you, and put you into a frame of mind for
5. “The Gematria of
Elul (67) is the same as the Gematria of binah, understanding--for when
acquires sufficient understanding, he will be moved to do Teshuva.”
With this awareness, we can perhaps suggest the answer to a question which
may initially trouble many women. Why is it that men have the benefit
of the Shofar being blown every weekday morning in Elul to awaken them to
the special times-while women davening at home have no such fearful
reminder? We may propose that the Shofar is intended to instill the
‘binah’-the understanding in a person to recognize his position and
situation and do Teshuvah. Women, on the other hand, are blessed with a binah
yeseira--a special level of binah, which jump starts them without the
actual need of the Tekias Shofar every morning. Indeed, Binah’s
sharing of the same gematria as Elul, may indicate to us that women are on a
heightened level of awareness the entire year! In a similar vein, the
Yarmulke which men must wear to remind themselves to subjugate themselves to
their Creator is not worn by women--because though their added level of
binah--they are already Yarei Malka--they are a step ahead in the fear of
their Creator. The Shofar, then, is the great equalizer--we all have a
little over three weeks to get the job done--let’s really succeed this
Special Note Two:From the Sefer Yearning with
Fire:“One of the lesser-known Mitzvos, V’halachta
Bidrachav teaches that as Hashem is merciful, we are required to be
merciful; as He is compassionate, righteous, and holy, so must we be. Our
potential to act in Godly ways arises, according to the Nefesh
HaChaim is from our status as a Tzelem Elokim-- a being created in
Hashem’s image.Invested with
this spark of Godliness, man possesses what no other living being
possesses--a capacity for giving and compassion. Because this capacity for
giving is embedded in man’s soul, giving should come naturally. However,
until we apply that capacity, it remains nothing more than potential. V’halachta
Bidrachav goes far beyond a spontaneous impetus to do someone a favor.It is the policy that governs all of one’s interpersonal
relationships, even when one feels overwhelmed, slighted, or wronged.”Hakhel Note:In our Bein Adam L’Chaveiro
this month, let us establish a policy--V’halachta Bidrachav--as the guiding light in all our
interpersonal dealings and relationships!
Special Note Three: Additional
notes on the Yemei Rachamim of Elul:
1. The Brisker Rav, Z’tl,
once related that there were merchants during World War I who would cross
the border illegally, smuggling goods in for a huge profit. The
penalty if one was caught, however, was death. There was one merchant
who wanted to smuggle valuable goods over the border and hired a wagon
driver to do so in the middle of the night. As they moved towards the
border, the merchant became more and more frightened, and as they got
extremely close to the border, even the wagon driver became fearful, for he
too would be penalized, and probably even imprisoned, if caught.
However, the driver’s apprehension could not be compared to the fear and
trepidation of the merchant, who would probably be shot on the spot.
Only the horses were unafraid, for they did not care where they were, as
long as they were fed. One thing us for sure, the Brisker Rav
concluded, is that we are not animals, and not even ministerial wagon
drivers, but human beings with much to accomplish, and with much at risk.
Accordingly, we should take the necessary action to save and elevate
2.We should be focusing on the words “Melech HaOlam” when making a bracha--after all, if we are readying
ourselves for the King of the Universe’s coronation, we dare not come
unprepared. One can also in the course of his Tefillos (especially
Shacharis) focus on the word Melech--King--and be astonished at how often we
use the term in our daily davening. Indeed, if we would appreciate how
we stand before the King as we pray every day, when we proclaim Hashem’s
Malchus over the world on Rosh Hashanah--it will be more like someone
already housed in the royal palace doing so--rather than like a commoner
coming into the palace for the first time and looking around in
bewilderment. Hakhel Note: More about Kingship below!
3. One should review his
affairs, and perhaps go through his home and office, to make sure that he is
not holding on to the property of others. Remember, even if you feel that
the other person ‘does not care’--it is not yours--until he gives it to
4. As we recite every
morning, ‘V’Talmud Torah K’neged
Kulam’. One must definitely attempt to take some action to improve his
Talmud Torah. Even if one is not in a position to learn shishim
dakos retzufim--sixty minutes straight, without interruption--he can
undertake not to be disturbed with interruptions, or by chatter, beeps,
buzzes or the like [unless he knows that he is needed for something urgent]
when studying on his own or attending a shorter Daf Yomi or other Shiur. By
doing so--even when not technically adding on to one’s study time--one is
demonstrating his Kavod HaTorah
and Chashivus HaTorah by guarding
these precious moments for Torah and Torah alone. Another possible Torah tikun
is for a person to make sure that he learns two Halachos in the morning
and two Halachos in the evening (perhaps immediately after Shacharis and
Ma’ariv)--so that he knows that he has definitely learned something
tangible both in the morning and in the evening....
5. Reminder--Peshara and Lifnim Mishuras Hadin!
A READER: “If
you have to choose between being kind and being right--choose being
kind--and you will always be right!”
Note: It is no coincidence (as it never is) that in last week’s Parasha,
the Torah teaches us (Devarim 16:20): “Tzedek
Tzedek Tirdof--Righteousness, righteousness shall you pursue.” Many
ask why the word ‘Tzedek’ is
repeated twice. What kind of righteousness is not righteous? Some answer
that repeating the term Tzedek twice teaches us that we are to go beyond Tzedek--beyond the letter of the law in our financial and other Bein
Adam L’Chaveiro dealings. In just a few weeks, we will be looking for
Hashem’s Lifnim Meshuras HaDin--the Parasha is reminding us that we should
begin our efforts--now!
Last week, we had suggested that one have a fallback constructive thought to
go back to after realizing that one’s mind had wandered into a trite area.
If you are interested in the concept, may we suggest Ain
Lanu Lehesha’ein Ela Ahl Avinu Shebashomayim.
Note One: Additional notes on the Yemei Rachamim of Elul:
There are 22 letters in the Aleph Bais. This means that if one takes a
letter a day for the balance of the month of Elul, beginning with Aleph
today (or even tomorrow) and reviews the Ashamnu
and the Al Cheit relating to that
letter, and slowly proceeds each day with the next letter, he will have gone
through the entire Ashamnu and Al
Cheit, in a continuous and consistent manner over the month of Elul,
concluding before Rosh Hashana! We recall that in addition to the one item
per letter in Ashamnu and the two
items per letter in Al Cheit,
there is also a more extended version based on the Vidui of the Chida, which
can be found in the following link http://bit.ly/9Ybjkx.This is the Aleph Bais of Teshuvah--start today! We provide by the following linkhttp://tinyurl.com/p8ewl7dfor your use a compiled review of the Ahl
Cheits that we have briefly reviewed in steady steps in the past. Please
feel free to print-out, and share the link with
Mending one’s ways is sometimes compared to mending a fence which has been
breached. As the fence gets older, the items needed for the fence to
properly mend may need to be stronger and installed in a better or more
professional manner. As one gets older and continues to mend the areas of
breach in his fence--he should remember that the repair, and the items used
to make it, may be more intricate and complex--but should still be very much
When one wants to rid himself of wrongdoing, he must be sure to destroy the
tools that led him to the wrongdoing to begin with. The Pasuk (Divrei
HaYamim II, 33:15) records that although King Menashe did Teshuvah in the
last 22 years of his reign, he only threw the avoda
zaros outside the city--he did not destroy them. Rashi (ibid.) writes
that as a result his son, King Amon was able to reestablish these avodah zaros and put them back into the people’s minds and hearts.
In a similar vein, in last week’s Parasha, HaRav Shneur Kotler, Z’tl,
brings the words of the Rambam (Hilchos Eidus) who rules that for one who
had loaned money with ribis to once again become a kosher eid--he could not
simply state that he would not collect ribis on his existing notes, or that
he would never charge ribis in the future--he actually had to rip up the
notes in his possession which provided for ribis. Part of the true Teshuvah
process for an aveirah is not allowing the Yetzer Hara to creep back in any
way. One must do what he has to--even if painful and even if costly.
The Chofetz Chaim writes that we should not only be careful, zariz and happy
to perform only the Mitzvah of Shofar--for our great desire and happiness to
perform the Mitzvah of Shofar should apply to all Mitzvos. As we recite
every night, “Ahl Kein Hashem
Elokeinu Beshavcheinu U’vekumeinu Nasi’ach Bechukecha VeNismach BeDivrei
Sorasecha U’veMitzvosecha L’Olam Va’ed.” Just as each and every
limb of our body is necessary to perform a vital function, so too, is each
and every Mitzvah essential to the vitality of one’s soul. Every
Mitzvah--whether easy or more difficult, quick or time consuming--is vital
and indispensable. We should rejoice with each Mitzvah--in making our
Every day in Elul and through Shemini Atzeres we recite the Pasuk (Tehillim
27:4): “Achas Sha’alti Mei’ais Hashem Osah Avakeish…--one
thing I ask of Hashem, and this is what I seek, to dwell in the house of
Hashem all the days of my life.” The Sifsei Chaim pointedly
asks: “How could it be that Dovid HaMelech who was king of a people
and had great responsibilities could even think of sitting in the Beis
HaMidrash all day--if he did so, would he not, in fact be shirking his
responsibilities?! The Sifsei Chaim answers that what Dovid
HaMelech was really asking for was Siyata D’Shmaya to feel every
moment of his life that he was in Hashem’s presence--in Hashem’s house.
He did not want to live a bifurcated life, consisting of his ‘private’
affairs and responsibilities, and his ‘religious’ life, rather he wanted
at all times to feel that--wherever he was and whatever he was doing--he was
doing so as Hashem’s guest, and every action, word and thought would be
with the privileged sense that it was in the King’s presence. Dovid
did not want a weekly, daily, or even thrice daily meeting with Hashem--he
wanted to feel Hashem with him at all times. We, at the very least,
must start with this increased sense of presence during our Tefillos--and
hopefully it will branch out into our ‘everyday’ activities as well.
There is a very direct and very great Middah K’Neged Middah here as
well. The more we strive to be in Hashem’s presence in this world--the
more we will be zoche to feel a greater closeness to Him in the World to
Come as well--and that is forever and ever!
F. As the Mesilas Yesharim concludes, ultimately our role in life is to give
Nachas Ruach to Hashem in everything that we do. Keeping mentally alert of
this fact should be able to guide us in the right direction in a significant
way during the day!
Note Two: We continue an
exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written
by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An
Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When
Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And
For a fuller
treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer,
which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.
NEED A MEZUZAH?
Because of the great variety of
doorway shapes and designs, our obligation to affix a mezuzah is uncertain
in many cases. In fact, an entire sefer would be necessary to
deal with just a portion of them. Consequently, we will limit our
forthcoming discussions to only a few of the most common examples. All other
types of doorways – even similar types which do not exactly match
the ones described here--should ideally be videoed or photographed and shown
to a Rav who is knowledgeable in this area to determine their halachic
status. Needless to say, it would be even better if the Rav
came in person to see the doorway. Verbal descriptions are often inaccurate
Where exactly on the doorframe
should a mezuzah be affixed?
make this determination, the height of the doorway should be divided in
thirds. The actual mezuzah should be affixed entirely within the
upper third (themezuzah case is irrelevant)
top of the mezuzah should be distant at least one tefach from the top
of the doorway
are a number of opinions among the poskim regarding the size of a tefach:
8 cm. (3.15 in.) according to
R’ Chaim Naeh
9 cm. (3.55 in.) according to
R’ Moshe Feinstein
9.6 cm. (3.78 in.) according to
the Chazon Ish
the doorway rises high above the height of average people, most poskim rule
that the mezuzahshould be affixed at shoulder level
Ashkenazim,the top of the mezuzah should be tilted toward the
direction of the room one is entering (some make a slight tilt, others a
sharper tilt); for Sephardim,it should be straight
the doorframe is deeper than one tefach, the mezuzah should be placed
within one tefach of the outer wall
the bottom of the mezuzahshould be affixed just above the beginning
of the upper third of the doorway – or may be placed anywhere in the upper
third (other than the top tefach) – is a dispute among the poskim.
Should one choose to place the mezuzah just above the beginning of the top
third, he must be very careful to ensure that the entire mezuzah is above
that point. If even part of the mezuzah is below that point, it must be
moved up to be within the top third of the doorway