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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin

SEPTEMBER 2015 DAILY EMAIL ARCHIVE

 

4 Tishrei

REMINDER! AN OUTSTANDING CALENDAR: To view and print a concise Hebrew calendar which contains the 5776 daily Nach Yomi, Mishna Yomis, Daf Yomi and Halacha Yomis, please click here.   Spread this wealth of information to others!

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

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

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HILCHOS SUKKAH: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. We present below another two Shailos asked of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as presented in the Sefer Ma’aseh Rav:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

(a) Tzararna--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! 

 

 

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

 

 

Special Note Three:  ASERES YEMEI TESHUVAH ALERTS: 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Additional Note Two:  Can one first ask Hashem for forgiveness of a Bein Adam Lechaveiro activity--by reciting Vidui and only afterwards ask the hurt party for forgiveness--or must one first ask of and obtain forgiveness from  the person--and only then come to Hashem and recite Vidui?  The right answer--which has been bolded for your convenience--will remind you how important asking for forgiveness--especially BEFORE Yom Kippur--really is!

 

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

 

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

 

E.  By now, one should be formulating the Kabbala/Kabbalos that he intends to undertake for the coming year. We asked HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, when one should finalize his Kabbalos. He advised that his Rebbi, HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, would formalize and express it at Neilah on Yom Kippur. Now is the time we should be going through the preparatory and practice stages to make sure the Kabbalos work, and how we can refine and improve on them.

 

F.  The following excellent Kabala is based upon a Shiur given by HaRav Don Segel, Shlita, as related by Rav Yosef Eisen, Shlita.  In the Shiur, HaRav Segel taught about the importance a person should place on making proper brachos throughout the day.  He then gave the following simple yet phenomenal suggestion to permanently improve your bracha recitation:  Divide the bracha into three parts and focus on the meaning of each section separately:  1) “Baruch Ata Hashem”...(This is praise and thanks, and your statement that “Hashem, You are the Source of all bracha, and bring more and more continuously to this world”....);  2) “Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam”...(“You are All-Powerful, and Rule over the Whole World”...); 3) The specific nature of the bracha--Borei Pri/HaMotzi/Asher Kideshanu...specifically appreciating the specific item or event that we are making a bracha over.  Hakhel Note:  Isn’t this Kabala suggestion too wonderful and practical ...to simply let it go by?  If it seems too great an undertaking all the time, perhaps start with a certain bracha, or certain brachos in the day?  Remember, you are in the heart of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva--so there is no better time to start than right now.  If you have a food item in front of you--try it!

 

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

 

 

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3 Tishrei

WELCOME TO 5776! MAY IT BE A YEAR WHICH IS MALEI BIRKAS HASHEM!

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BANECHA HAIM:  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 Banecha 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 seek 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!

 

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

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THE AHL CHEIT LINK: As Yom Kippur approaches, we provide for your use by clicking here a compiled review of the Ahl Cheits. Please feel free to print-out, and share the link with others!

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

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

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REMEMBER TO GIVE TZEDAKAH TODAY--PLEASE!

 

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

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QUESTION OF THE DAY: Chazal teach that during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva we recite HaMelech Hakodosh, rather than HaKel Hakodosh. Why is it that HaMelech must replace HaKel in the bracha? Can’t we just add HaMelech before or after HaKel, so that it is HaKel HaMelech Hakodosh? After all, as we concluded U’Nesaneh Tokef, did we not cry out that Hashem is Melech Kel Chai V’Kayam? Moreover, Kel is even in the Shelosh Esrei Middos that we have been reciting and will continue to recite so many important times through the end of Yom Kippur. Why not continue to include it in the bracha, as we do on the other 353 days of the year?! We look forward to your thoughts!

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HILCHOS SUKKAH: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. We present below two Shailos asked of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as presented in the Sefer Ma'aseh Rav:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Special 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

 

 

Special Note Two:  We provide Aseres Yemei Teshuva Alerts relating to this precious week. We especially note that there are still six days left-- six days of action--which can help us attain the Birkas Hashem and the sweet year that we so long for:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

(a)  He should rectify whatever he possibly can.

 

(b)  He should take steps to distance himself as much as possible from repeating his old patterns of behavior. He should make efforts to avoid situations in which he will be tempted to repeat those wrongs, and should take active steps to ensure that his resolution to change his ways 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!

 

 

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Erev Rosh Hashanah 5775

 

This special edition of the Bulletin is being sent out today, for convenience.

 

 

ROSH!  HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, explains that Rosh means ‘head’ and just as the head of a body contains the mind which controls and runs the entire organism (and if there is a problem in the head, the rest of the body is affected as well), so too, is Rosh 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! 

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HONEY!: HaRav 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!

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SHIRA!  In this 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 our own!  Additional Note:  HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, explains why the Torah is suddenly referred to as Shira in this 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 everlasting!

 

Hakhel Note: Here is Shira in practice--START 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 Motza’ei 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.

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

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SPECIAL 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.

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

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TEFILLAH FOR TESHUVA:  We provide by clicking here the Tefillah, as published in the Sefer Kav HaYashar for one’s self, one’s family members, and one’s friends to do Teshuva--especially invaluable at this time of year.

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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 deserve.

 

B. Specifically with respect to Tzedakah, Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, Shlita, points out that the words ‘miser’ and ‘misery’ are too closely related for comfort.  On the other hand, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that post-dated checks when given to a Tzedakah are counted for your immediate Zechus now before the Yom HaDin.  Let us take the time now to give additional Tzedakah, so that Hashem will, Middah K’Neged Middah treat us with additional Tzedakah on the Yom HaDin. Once again, consider the Yad Eliezer matches for Ofakim, Kiryat Sefer and Tzefat. Please call 718-258-1580 or visit www.yadeliezer.org today!

 

C. We once again reminder you of the following essential teaching: 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!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Special Note Two: NOTES FOR ROSH HASHANAH: 

 

A.  There are several reasons why challos on Rosh Hashanah are round (ibid., p. 206):

 

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

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

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

 

B. 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!”

 

C.  Chazal 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.

 

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

 

F.  HaRav Shlomo 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.

 

G.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, explains that when we ask Hashem to remember the Akeidas Yitzchok, we are not asking Hashem to recall a gigantic event of the past--but rather, a metziyus in Ruchniyus that was created by Avrohom Avinu at that time and continues through our day--it is a metziyus of Mesiras Nefesh of Avrohom Avinu and Yitzchok Avinu to do the will of Hashem.  By referring to it, we connect ourselves to the Mesiras Nefesh of the Avos which still exists in the world. 

 

H. In truth, the Ruchniyus of our deeds--for the good and for the bad--also continue on in the world and do not dissipate after the Mitzvah, or r’l aveirah, has been performed.  When one does Teshuvah then, explains HaRav Friedlander, he is not erasing an event of the past--he is eliminating the current metziyus of negative Ruchniyus that exists as a result of the sin. Teshuvah transforms any inappropriate Ruchniyus that was created and exists into a Ruchniyus that gives Nachas Ruach to Hashem.  It is essential that we realize and act on this on Rosh Hashana.

 

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

 

J.  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 blown!

 

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

 

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.’ 

 

M.  Rabbi 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 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.

 

“Consequently, this distinguished day ensures the endurance of the world.  It is therefore fitting to make it a festival day that it should be in the list of the precious holy times of the year.  However, since it is the ordained time for everyone alive to be judged, it is proper to behave then with reverent fear and awe, more than on all other holy times of the year.  This is the reason for the theme of the ‘memorial of the Shofar—sound’ (Leviticus 23:24) mentioned with it:  for the teruah (Shofar--sound) is a broken call, to intimate that everyone should break the force of his evil inclination and have remorse for his bad deeds.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

TO ALL OF OUR BELOVED READERS:

 

We 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 Yisrael and the lives of the world!

 

Once again, we wish each and every one of you a Kesiva VeChasima Tova, a Year which is replete with Chaim Tovim and Shalom!

 

 

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27 Elul

WELCOME TO THE LAST THREE DAYS OF THE YEAR! May we especially excel and stand out in our honesty, integrity and Kiddush Hashem as we enter and continue this practice into the New Year.  Ask yourself:  Will this be one of my primary Kabballos?  Additional Note:  Because of the great importance of these last three days, the Yetzer Hara will undoubtedly work overtime to make one feel upset, depressed, angry, and even strangely to “get in” those last Aveiros of the year before the awesome day of Rosh Hashana begins.  These days are the days in which we can show our Gevurah, and end the year on a most positive note by not falling prey to his tactics and guile, and instead filling the days with Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim, in a good temperament and in positive preparation…for the first day of the New Year 5776!

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AVINU MALKEINU! 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.

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

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PLEASE CONSIDER! 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 it deserves.

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

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HILCHOS SUKKAH!  We provide two halachos for each of today, Shabbos, Sunday and the two days of Rosh Hashana:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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PARASHAS HATESHUVA!  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 the Shacharis prayers.  It would most certainly be appropriate to recite the Parashas HaTeshuva and the subsequent Tefillah today…leading into Shabbos…and then on Sunday...leading into Rosh Hashana.  We especially note that much of Teshuva has to do with thought and speech.  By reciting the Parasha relating to Teshuva contained in the Torah itself, and then davening to Hashem for help in this regard, you are certainly taking important strides--in both thought and speech!

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Special Note One:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos Series:

 

A.  As 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 when it 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.

 

C. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, 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 Kanievsky 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.

 

D.  With 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 the taking!

 

 

Special Note Two:  Thoughts on Parashas Nitzavim:

 

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 ownusing his own sechel and his own willpower!

 

C.  The Ben Ish Chai explains the Pasuk in Nitzavim: Ki Karov Eilecha Hadavar Meod B’ficha U’vilvov’cha La’asoso, as follows:  It is possible to fulfill all the mitzvos with your mouth (by studying them)--even those mitzvos that you cannot actually perform.  The Kli Chemda (Parashas Tazria) cites a Gemara in Menochos (110a): It is written: This is the law of an Olah.  The Gemara teaches:  Anyone that studies the laws of an Olah is considered as if he brought a Korban Olah.  What would be if a poor person would recite the portion dealing with the rich person’s Korbanos?  Would it be regarded as if he brought the Korban?  The answer may be gleaned from the fact that the Torah concludes the portion dealing with the rich woman’s Korbanos with the following Pasuk:  Zos Toras HaYoledes--This is the law of a woman who gives birthThe Torah is informing us that the recital of this portion is sufficient for anyone, even for a poor woman.  The Chofetz Chaim cites the Gemara in Bava Metzia (114b) that the Amoraim were fluent in Seder Kodoshim in the same manner as Seder Moed, Nashim and Nezikin.  This is because Kodoshim was relevant to them since the learning about the Korbanos was regarded as if they actually brought a Korban.  Implicit in his words is that for some reason this was only true regarding Seder Kodoshim and not to Seder Zeroim or Taharos which also has many halachos that do not apply outside of Eretz Yisrael and after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash.  The Taz in his Sefer Divrei Dovid maintains that the concept applies to all mitzvos and one who studies the laws of Zeraim, it will be regarded as if he gave Terumos and Ma’asros to the Kohanim and Levi’im and it will be considered as if he gave all the presents to the poor people.  This is the explanation in Yaakov’s words to Esav “Im Lavan Garti,” which Chazal understand to mean that Yaakov kept all 613 mitzvos in Lavan’s house.  There were many mitzvos that he was not able to fulfill at that time; it is evident that the studying of these mitzvos are regarded as if he fulfilled them all!

 

D.  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 in Chovas HaShemira (Chapter 3) teaches that learning the Halachos of a Mitzvah removes the Koach of the Yetzer Hara regarding it.

 

E.  The 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!

 

 

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26 Elul

BRACHOS ALERT: Although we had advised that the bracha on Pringles made with potato flakes is Borei Pri Ha’adama, we note that Pringles also produces corn tortillas which are made from corn flour, in which event the bracha rishona would be Shehakol. Another lesson to review the ingredient panel--with a related lesson to follow in the next headnote….

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OU ALERT: The OU issued an alert yesterday regarding Jelly Belly Chocolate Dutch Mints. This product contains dairy ingredients as indicated in the ingredient statement. Some packaging was printed with a plain OU symbol without the D-Dairy designation. Corrective measures have been implemented.

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BARLEY ALERT!  Packaged barley may be subject to insect and worm presence or infestation through November, as the packages may be stored in warehouses for months, and eggs may even hatch within the package. By clicking here, we provide a short video showing evidence of this fact.  For instance, bags of Unger’s barley lot number 05016 from different cases and checked by different mashgichim were found to be infested.

 

We have been advised by a renowned Kashrus expert that the proper manner in which to check barley is as follows: Take a full handful of barley from a bag and check it on a white paper plate (not plastic, which creates a shine) with a very good overhead light which illuminates the plate. Slowly separate and swish the kernels looking for black insects and white worms. Checking on a dry surface, is more effective than placing the barley into water and looking for movement.

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NO SHAILAH?! We all know of the existence of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s Shemiras HaLashon Shailah Hotline. One should take a moment to reflect as to whether over the past year he has used the hotline services to answer a Shailah that he had relating to information about a person for Shidduch, business or other purposes. If one did not, it should give him pause for concern, and one should think further about aveiros he r’l may have done with his speech. Perhaps part of his Teshuvah is to keep the Shemiras HaLashon Shailah Hotline’s numbers handy, and to spread the word further about the Hotline in his Shul or neighborhood.

 

In the United States, the Shailah Hotline’s number is 718-951-3696 and the hours are 9:00 PM-10:30 PM from Sunday through Thursday and Motza’ei Shabbos, and in Europe: HaRav Yaakov Wreschner, Shlita (Manchester) is available between 9:15AM and 10:15AM and between 1:15 and 2:15PM. His mobile number is 07980641399. Dayan Aharon Dovid Dunner, Shlita, is available at 02088008555 (no set hours).

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HASHEM HANICHBAD: Many of us may believe that the word ‘Hashem’ simply means the Name--and refers to our G-d without wanting to pronounce His name. In fact, the word Hashem may actually be derived from last week’s Parasha, in which the phrase “Hashem Hanichbad V’Hanorah Hazeh Eis Hashem Elokecha” (Devorim 28:58) is used in the Pasuk itself. Thus, the one word ‘Hashem’ may simply be an abbreviated way of referring to this entire phrase of the Torah. In any event when mentioning the word ‘Hashem’ we can think of the entire phrase to inspire us with the proper honor and awe!

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IMPORTANT QUESTION AND ANSWER ON TESHUVA: 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Clarification: In a previous Hilchos Sukkah note, we provided the Shevet HaLevi Z’tl’s ruling relating to sitting in a Sukkah while it is raining with a sheet of plastic on top of the schach. A reader asked us to clarify that the Shevet HaLevi’s ruling relates to a sheet of clear plastic--and we hereby confirm that it relates to a sheet of clear plastic only.

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Special Note One:  ELUL ALERTS: 

 

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

 

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

 

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 Kevodecha--Throne of Glory” in the bracha of Asher Yatzar.  Indeed, it may be a good idea to reflect upon this very important notion for a moment every time we recite Melech in  Refaeinu and Kisei Kvodecha in Asher Yatzar!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 Special Note 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 :

 

A.  One must recite Birkas HaTorah before reciting Selichos. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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25 Elul

TODAY, THE 25TH OF ELUL IS THE CELEBRATION OF THE BEGINNING OF THE CREATION OF THE WORLD, AS MAN 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!  

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PRUZBUL! We thank the Business Halacha Institute for providing the following straightforward instructions and Pruzbul forms:

The creditor stands before a three-member Bais Din and declares

מוסרני לכם הדיינים שכל חוב שיש לי בין בשטר ובין בעל פה שאגבנו כל זמן שארצה”

“I hereby convey to you the Bais Din all of my debts, both oral or that have promissory notes, so that I may collect them whenever I desire.”

The Bais Din completes and signs the Pruzbul form.

The custom among Ashkenazim is to permit any three adult males who understand the issues of Pruzbul and Shemitas Ksafim to constitute a Bais Din. The form for Ashkenazim is available by clicking here.

Sephardim require a formally appointed Bais Din, and, in the absence of such a Bais Din, should use a different Pruzbul form in which the creditor notifies witnesses that he is giving over his debts to the Bais Din Kavua remotely. The form for Sefardim is available by clicking here.

If one is executing the Pruzbul on behalf of his wife or another person, he should inform the Bais Din that he is an agent of the creditor and was authorized to execute the Pruzbul on their behalf. The form for an Ashkenazie agent is available by clicking here.

A Pruzbul is only effective for debts that exist at the time the Pruzbul is executed. If a person extends a loan or bills for services after executing the Pruzbul, Shemita will cancel the new debt unless another Pruzbul is written.

For more information, please email ask@businesshalacha.com or call 718-233-3845. 

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FROM A READER: “In relation to your opening call for invigorating our Kavanah in the words of Pesukei D’Zimra as we approach the great day of the King’s Coronation, I would like to bring to the attention of the readership the admonishment of the Sefer Yosher Divrei Emes, an exquisite condensed presentation of the primary lessons of the Ba’al Shem Tov and his direct disciples.  In Kuntres Bais, Chapter 56, the author states that people tend to recite the special Peyutim and Tefillos of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur with great concentration, but gloss over the regular, recurring constituents of the Siddur, Pesukei D’Zimra, Krias Shema, etc.  In truth, these latter Tefillos need to be accorded their primary status, while the Yomim Nora’im-specific Tefillos treated as additions and supplements.  One cannot expect one’s supplementary Tefillos to be accepted if his primary Tefillos are recited in a deficient manner.”

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NINETEEN WEEKS: As we especially dedicate ourselves to the nineteenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei this week, we provide the following words of instruction from the great Praying with Passion Series (in order to go through this entire outstanding series on Tefillah, please visit http://prayingwithfire.org/archives.html):

 

“This nineteenth and final bracha of Shemone Esrei corresponds to the Bircas Kohanim, the blessings of the Kohanim recited by the Shaliach Tzibbur immediately prior to this last bracha: In beseeching Hashem for Shalom, Tova U’Bracha, Chein VaChesed V’Rachamim--peace, goodness, blessing, graciousness, kindness, and compassion upon us and all of Klal Yisrael, the word Sim is used because it implies not only that the blessings should come to us, but that they should remain with us. (Adapted from Sefer Boruch She’Amar) But what is the key to enable the brachos that we request in this bracha to remain with the Jewish people? Peace is the key; as Chazal (Uktzin 3:12; Jerusalem Talmud, Berachos 2:4) teach, Hashem did not find any ‘container’ as effective as peace for the purpose of holding the Jewish nation’s brachos intact. For the other brachos (i.e. intrinsic goodness, blessing, graciousness, loving kindness, and compassion to the Jewish nation) to remain in place, we first must have peace--and we must daven with sincerity that this peace stays with us. (Iyun Tefilah on Sim Shalom)”

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SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: What does one think when listening to the Shofar blast? One suggestion, found in the Sefer Kav HaYashar (Chapter 48) is that one plead: “Chaneinei, Chaneini Hashem…”. One should speak further with his Rav or Posek of the Kavannos and/or thoughts he should have when hearing the Shofar’s unique sounds.

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DON’T RUN AWAY! Over the next two weeks we will be hearing serious and important words of guidance, chastisement and rebuke. One may feel that he really does not need to listen to all of this--as he knows best what he needs to correct and what he must do to implement it. One should, however, overcome these feelings and recognize that whatever he reads and whatever he hears is meant for him, B’Hashgacha Pratis, to read or to hear--and can be applied in some way. HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, relates that the Brisker Rav, Z’tl, was once visiting the town of Mir with one of his sons, who attended the Yeshiva there during their stay. One day, the son came home early from Yeshiva, and the Rav inquired as to why he had come home before seder ended. He replied: “It is now Mussar seder--so I left.” The Rav looked at him and responded: “There may be a disagreement as to whether Mussar should be instituted in Yeshivas to begin with--but once the seder is there, one does not run away from it!” Hakhel Note: Let us take the lesson to heart!

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HILCHOS SUKKAH: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. Our notes today are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah, Volume VI.

 

 1. 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).  

 

2. 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, Z’tl, and yblch’t, 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).

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Special Note One: ELUL ALERTS:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

·                     Have I disturbed another person while he was learning?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

·                     Have I honored reshaim?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

·                     Have I fought with others?

·                     Have I acted deceitfully towards others?

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

 

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

 

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

 

E.  Rebbi Yisrael Salanter, Z’tl, taught that a person should be careful to not walk around in these days of judgment with a forlorn or somber face, for one’s face is seen by others--it is a Reshus HaRabim--and one has a duty to make others happy, not sad.  The Ba’alei Mussar emphasize that one should show Panim Meir’im, a cheerful face, in order to encourage those around him.  In doing so, one can go much further in helping himself by helping others.  One should always serve Hashem in awe--and in joy!

 

 

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24 Elul

PESUKEI D’ZIMRA: As we prepare for the great day of coronation, one should learn about and grow further in his appreciation of the Melech Malchei HaMelochim. One can accomplish this in a simple and straightforward way by reciting Pesukei D’Zimra with more feeling--paying more careful attention to the words. We do not have to travel to the Far East or ends of the globe in order to accomplish our potential and mission in life. Hashem provides the opportunities for us day in and day out wherever we are in our daily actions--and this itself is something else which should make us grow in our appreciation of all Hashem does for us!

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FROM READERS:

 

1. “I get tremendous chizuk every day when, in the first bracha of Shemone Esrei, I recite the words ‘LeMa’an Shemo B’Ahava--that Hashem will redeem us for the sake of His name with love.” As a parent, I know that I do things for my children even when they are undeserving. I do it out of love. This means that Hashem can redeem us even though we are undeserving--at any moment! I love the word B’Ahava!”

 

2. “We will soon say that Hashem is ‘HaTov V’Hameitiv Lara’im V’Latovim--to those who are bad and those who are good’. Shouldn’t it be ‘Latovim V’Lara’im’--with Hashem first doing good to the Tovim and then to the Ra’im?” Hakhel Note: We look forward to readers’ thoughts.

 

3. “HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, teaches that an ikar of Teshuvah is learning b’simcha. I think that before one learns, he should do something to show how happy he is to have the opportunity to do the greatest Mitzvah of all. If nothing else--at least say: ‘Thank you Hashem for the opportunity!’”

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MENTSCHLECHKEIT: HaRav Naftali Kaplan, Shlita, explains that the basic thrust of Mitzvos Bein Adam L’Atzmo is mentschlechkeit. A person must ask himself: “Does it pahs (is it appropriate) for a Tzelem Elokim to do what I am doing or about to do?” We are faced with numerous situations during a day: Should I enter the elevator while talking on my cell phone? Should I eat standing up at a smorgasbord? Should I walk around at home not properly dressed even if ‘I am only going downstairs for a minute’? Should I laugh when a person embarrasses himself? One can think of other examples on his own. One must remember that Hashem did not create him as a rock, ant, deer, ape… One should regale in the fact that he is a Tzelem Elokim--and act the role in a way that our Elokim would be proud!

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LESSON FROM THE TOES: In the sport of football, players are heavily padded and guarded because of the hard physical contact among players. The following lesson was provided by someone who used to follow the sport ‘many years ago’: “I recall that there was a star kicker who would not wear his football shoe when kicking the ball at kickoff. Instead, he would kick the ball eighty yards or so with his bare toes! How in the world was this possible? To this day, I don’t know. However, the lesson to me continues to ring true--if a person can accomplish so much beyond what one would think is possible physically--then all the more so, can we use our millions of neurons L’Sheim Shomayim and develop our Torah knowledge and our Mitzvah performance in ways which we literally didn’t think were possible!”

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HILCHOS SUKKAH: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. Our notes today are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah, Volume VI.

 

1.         If one places a sheet of plastic on top of the schach when it is raining, the Shevet HaLevi, Z’tl, rules one should continue to sit in the Sukkah. Other Poskim hold that when it is really raining, you cannot fulfill Mitzvas Sukkah--even if you do not feel the rain.  (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 629, Dirshu Note 41).

 

2.         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 the Shevet HaLevi, Z’tl, 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 Note 9).

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

 

We additionally provide a sampling of his essential teachings, excerpted from the excellent sefer Give Us Life, collected and edited by HaRav Mendel Weinbach, Z’tl:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9.       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 Shabbos.

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!

 

 

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23 Elul

HELPING MAKE IT A GREAT END OF THE YEAR: One week from today is Rosh Hashana.  This is the last week of the year.  Let us do our utmost to make it a most successful one. To help, we provide by clicking here our flyer entitled HOW TO BE ZOCHE B’DIN.  We urge you to make a real and special project of following Chazal’s ‘sage’ advice especially over the next week, and perhaps turn it into a family or more expanded project as well.  If even only a little bit of Chazal’s guidelines can stick with us  over the coming year--such as being freer with compliments, and in always looking at the flipside before judging someone (would I want to be judged in this way?!)--imagine what a purer person we will be at this time next year!

 

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

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SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT! In our Rosh Hashana Tefillos, we recite Yom Teruah Mikrah Kodesh Zecher L’Yetzias Mitzrayim.  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, posed a straightforward but startling question:  We understand how the Shalosh Regalim are rooted in Yetzias Mitzrayim.  What, however, does Rosh Hashana have to do with Yetzias Mitzrayim--how is it a Zecher L’Yetzias Mitzrayim?!  HaRav Salomon explains 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 Rosh Hashana where the mark will be felt.  The degree, the extent to which one feels that Hashem is omnipotent, and knows and sees all of one’s thoughts, words, and deeds, is the extent to which one has internalized the Yesodos HaEmunah that Yetzias Mitzrayim represents.  Pesach is a time when we learn about Hashem’s power, Sechar V’Onesh and Hashgacha Pratis.  Rosh Hashana is a time when we live our belief.  Incredibly, HaRav Salomon continued 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 Ikrim--and put them into practice in our daily life.  The extent of our awe of Hashem’s Malchus on Rosh Hashana is indeed a direct result and outcome of the lessons of Yetzias Mitzrayim. 

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NINETEEN WEEKS! We are now in the final week of the nineteen week period prior to Rosh Hashana. In past years, we have proceeded weekly, Bracha by Bracha, through Shemone Esrei with a special emphasis on Kavannah on that week’s Bracha. This week’s Bracha is…Sim Shalom!

 

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

 

We provide by the following link additional notes to the Nineteen Brachos for the years 5771 and 5772 http://www.hakhel.info/TefillahArchive.html

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HILCHOS SUKKAH: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. Our notes today are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah, Volume VI.

 

1. The Chayei Adam 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).

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FLOUR ALERT! In past years, after baking challah or kneading the dough, some have noticed insects in the challah or dough, and have had to dispose of the food and their hard work with it. A renowned Kashrus expert in the field of Bedikas Tolaim has advised us that before the heavy challah and cake baking season begins, one must take the following special precautionary measures:

 

1. Especially buy flour from a store that has a high product turnaround so that the flour has not been sitting on a shelf or in storage for while.

 

2. Even if the flour is ‘pre-sifted’--the label may also state that it is recommended to be sifted. One should not treat this recommendation lightly--as in the post-summer period that we are in there are higher levels of infestation.

 

3. The specially packaged ‘Wonder Flour’ is an excellent choice--because of the excellent seal that is placed around the flour when produced.

 

4. Flour should be sifted with a 70 mesh sifter. The electric Pelematic sifter is highly recommended for large amounts.

 

5. Since whole wheat flour cannot be sifted, one should place several samples of the flour on a plate and then scatter the flour around and look for black or crawling objects.

 

Hakhel Note: For any particular Shailos, one should consult with his Rav or Posek.

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

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Special Note One: Notes on Selichos:

 

A. 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. 

 

B. HaRav Wachtfogel teaches that one should not skip Selichos--but one should spend time on those Selichos that arouse him more--for the tachlis of Selichos is to be aroused to Teshuvah!

 

C. 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 clicking here and in English by clicking here of the 13 Midos.  We should study these words and their meanings (made available in the links, and from other sources such as the Artscroll and Metsudah Selichos) so that our supplications have more powerful and effective force.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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20 Elul

LAST CALL!

CONCLUDING WEEK--SUMMER 5775

WEEK 12--PARASHAS KI SAVO

 

Bli neder, at least one time today, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

As we draw closer to the Yomim Nora’im, in which a great emphasis is placed upon our Tefillos, we must make a new and special effort to improve our Tefillos--before the Yomim Nora’im--in some real and tangible way. The Teshuvas HaRashba (5:1), writes that just as the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is the Eis Ratzon of the year, so too, is Tefillas Mincha the Eis Ratzon of the day.  Let us appreciate and utilize each and every Tefillas Mincha for the tremendous opportunity that it is--starting today!

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

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. Try to follow up, at least once a day with a person or project that you had started to assist with several days earlier.

 

Hakhel Note: An important consideration: When a person does Chesed with another, his ‘I’ should be expanded so that it is as if he is doing Chesed with himself, and accordingly one should perform the Chesed in the manner that he would want it done to himself.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

We are all familiar with the famous Ma’aseh reported of the Chofetz Chaim, Z’tl, being given the room in an inn next to Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl. The Chofetz Chaim reported that the whole night he could hear Rebbi Yisroel Salanter repeating the following teaching (Avos 4:28): “Rebbi Eliezer HaKapar Omer: HaKinah V’HaTa’avah VeHakavod Motzi’in Es Ha’adam Min HaOlam--jealousy, desire, and honor, r’l remove a person from the world.” One must constantly remind himself of these three horrendous middos which seek to undermine a person’s very existence in this world. If he can do battle with them, then they will not succeed in removing him from the world--and the great and clear implication is that doing battle will bring  a person further life. As Rebbi Yisroel Salanter did, one should remind himself of Rebbi Yisroel HaKapar’s teaching--and implement it, as Rebbi Yisroel certainly did as well!

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AGRA D’PIRKA HAS OPENED ITS LATEST BRANCH!  Agra D’Pirka has opened its latest branch in MIAMI BEACH, Florida.  Agra D’Pirka is home to hundreds of Lomdei Torah every Monday‑Thursday of every week.  The Miami branch has opened in the Miami Beach Community Kollel (Rabbi Yakov Gross), located at 3767 Chase Avenue, Miami Beach.  There will be shiurim in Gemara, Halacha and Hashkafa by leading Talmidei Chachamim.  A daily shiur will be given by Rabbi Yisroel Ephrati in Gemara, Maseches Brochos.  Rabbi Yakov Gross will be giving the weekly shiur in Halacha.  Rabbi Aharon Dovid Singer will be giving a shiur on Machshava.  Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro and Rabbi Tzvi Neuhaus will be giving shiurim as well. The schedule of daily shiurim will start 9:30 a.m. and will continue until 11:30 a.m., Monday thru Thursday, of very week.  For more information please call Shuli Klein at (732) 363-3712 or call (212) 661-9400 and ask for Ezra Klein.

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AN OUTSTANDING CALENDAR: To view and print a concise Hebrew calendar which contains the 5776 daily Nach Yomi, Mishna Yomis, Daf Yomi and Halacha Yomis, please click here.  Spread this wealth of information to others!

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

 

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

 

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

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

* Keys you found

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

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

* Items which adult guests have left in your home

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

* Misdelivered mail

 

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

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

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TEFILLAH FOR TESHUVA:  We provide by clicking here the Tefillah, as published in the Sefer Kav HaYashar for one’s self, one’s family members, and one’s friends to do Teshuva--especially invaluable at this time of year.

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HILCHOS SUKKAH!  We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. We provide two Halachos per day for each of Erev Shabbos, Shabbos and Sunday:

 

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

 

2. 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)

 

3. HaRav Yaakov Ettlinger, Z’tl, in his great work on Sukkos, the Bikkurei Yaakov, writes that person should act wisely when building his Sukkah so that he can fulfill the Mitzvah of Sukkah with greater ease--and allow himself the ability to stay in the Sukkah, rather than saying that he is ‘patur’--for one who adds on to his kiyum of Sukkah will have bracha added on to him Min HaShomayim. It is well known, for example, that the Chofetz Chaim, Z’tl, and HaRav Chaim Brisker, Z’tl, would bring a heater into the Sukkah in order to make it more comfortable, a more pleasant place to stay in, and a place where one could learn without difficulty. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 639, Dirshu Note 34)

 

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

 

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

 

6. There is a question as to whether one should recite the bracha of Leisheiv BaSukkah when making Havdalah. Even if one is to recite a Leisheiv BaSukkah when reciting Havdalah, there are different opinions as to at what point it should be recited. One should accordingly consult with his Rav or Posek in this area. [HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, would, for example, make the bracha of Leisheiv BaSukkah before he made the bracha of Borei Pri HaGafen and then eat mezonos immediately after Havdalah, so that the bracha of Leisheiv BaSukkah would not only be on the drinking of the wine itself, but on the eating of a mezonos as well.] (ibid., Dirshu Note 37)

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DON’T LET IT HAPPEN! “The harm caused by Rechilus cannot be calculated--it is inestimable--for it increases hatred within the world and causes people to violate Lo Sisna Es Achicha Bilvavecha (Vayikra 19:17). The world subsists on peace and because of hatred, the earth and all of its inhabitants are left to dissolve…” (Sha’arei Teshuvah 3:22) [English translation excerpted from The Gates of Repentance, published by Feldheim]

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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!

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FEEL THE LIFE!  A 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 Hu U’Varuch Shemo they feel the vibrance of, and closeness to, Hashem Yisborach Himself!

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THE TEN DAY 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!

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

 

1. 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.

 

2. 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! 

 

3. 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, 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? 

 

4. 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. Even a person who davens b’yechidus should recite the Pasuk (SA OC 292 Mishna Berurah seif katan 2 and Dirshu Note 1). 

 

 

Special Note Two:  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 “Klal 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 HaMazon. 

 

 

Special Note Three:  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 Uve’Kililoseha--let the year and its curses end,” and let the new year and its brachos begin. HaRav Gedalya Schorr, Zt’l, teaches that we must treat our foibles and faults of the previous year as a seed.  We must plant them in the ground out of sight and touch, and nurture our past experiences into a beautiful and blossoming new fruit during the coming year.  We should most definitely not let the sins of the past, and despair over them, obstruct the beautiful potential from growth that we have in the coming year.  We must realize that much bracha lies ahead--if we follow the path of blessing.

 

Hakhel Note:  In the Tochacha, we learn that one of the punishments we will receive for not properly observing the Torah is “Timhon Laivuv” (this term is, non-coincidently, the last of the Al Chaits).  Rashi interprets “Timhon Laivuv” as “Itum HaLev--having a stuffed heart.”  It is essential for us--especially at this time of year--to open our stuffed hearts--so that we do not suffer from a self-imposed Timhon Laivuv!

 

 

Special Note Four:  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 people  mistakenly 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. In this week’s Parasha, we find the Mitzvah of Bikkurim. 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.

 

 

Special Note Five: We provide the following points and pointers for the last Ten Days of the Year:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

E. Each one of us is really very wealthy in many ways.  Among those ways is that commencing on Rosh Hashana we can begin many different programs which are broken down into daily segments, including: Positive Word Power; Praying with Fire; Praying with Fire II; and The Chofetz Chaim a Lesson a DayWhich treasure will you choose?  Truth be told, you can choose more than one!

 

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

 

G.  We received the following insight from a reader relating to Teshuva in personal relationships:  ”As people interact, they can ask themselves, ‘How would I react if my mother/father did/said this to me?’  This puts a person in a different mindset and can really help a person treat his fellow man with kavod.”   Hakhel Note on this insight:  The Chayei Adam (67:1,3), notes that true Kibud Av V’Eim which is a source of Arichus Yomim (we all need a special grant of that at this time of year!) is fulfilled not only in action and in speech, but also in thought.  If one is blessed with parent(s) who are alive, the Chayei Odom continues, he should view them as “Gedolim V’Nichbedei Aretz--great and honored people in the land,” even if he knows that other people do not treat them with special respect or importance at all.  In fact, the Chayei Odom concludes, honoring parents in one’s thought is the “Ikar Kibud--the most important way of respecting a parent”--perhaps because this demonstrates that you really mean it.  Our reader, with the thought above, has fulfilled the mitzvah beautifully!

 

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

 

 

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19 Elul

AN IMPORTANT REFLECTION. Certainly, a primary Avodah of these days is preparing for the Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim of Rosh Hashana. The Ba’alei Mussar point out that one can appreciate Hashem’s Malchus by reflecting upon all of the (underserved) kindnesses that He showers upon us daily, hourly and even on a minute-to-minute and second-to-second basis. Every aspect of one’s existence--whether it be physical or spiritual, is only by Hashem’s graciousness to us. Moreover, Hashem’s kindness is not just ‘current’--but is provided to us in a way in which we can be zoche to eternity--and receive that too! One easy way that one can reset his thinking from time-to-time to properly appreciate Hashem’s constant and continuous kindness is to repeat a Pasuk that we recite three times a day--even more frequently throughout the day. The Pasuk? “Tov Hashem Lakol V’Rachamav Ahl Kol Ma’asav--Hashem is good to all; His mercies are on all His works. “ (Tehillim 145: 9) Think about the Pasuk as you recite it!

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TRY IT THIS WEEK! SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM! We conclude our Summer Improvement Program, with simple suggestions, on a weekly basis, in each of the areas of Bein Adam LaMakom, Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, and Bein Adam L’Atzmo. Of course, these are only suggestions--but every person has the opportunity to join with others who will be attempting the same successes.

 

CONCLUDING WEEK--SUMMER 5775

WEEK 12--PARASHAS KI SAVO

 

Bli neder, at least one time today, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

As we draw closer to the Yomim Nora’im, in which a great emphasis is placed upon our Tefillos, we must make a new and special effort to improve our Tefillos--before the Yomim Nora’im--in some real and tangible way. The Teshuvas HaRashba (5:1), writes that just as the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is the Eis Ratzon of the year, so too, is Tefillas Mincha the Eis Ratzon of the day.  Let us appreciate and utilize each and every Tefillas Mincha for the tremendous opportunity that it is--starting today!

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

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. Try to follow up, at least once a day with a person or project that you had started to assist with several days earlier.

 

Hakhel Note: An important consideration: When a person does Chesed with another, his ‘I’ should be expanded so that it is as if he is doing Chesed with himself, and accordingly one should perform the Chesed in the manner that he would want it done to himself.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

We are all familiar with the famous Ma’aseh reported of the Chofetz Chaim, Z’tl, being given the room in an inn next to Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl. The Chofetz Chaim reported that the whole night he could hear Rebbi Yisroel Salanter repeating the following teaching (Avos 4:28): “Rebbi Eliezer HaKapar Omer: HaKinah V’HaTa’avah VeHakavod Motzi’in Es Ha’adam Min HaOlam--jealousy, desire, and honor, r’l remove a person from the world.” One must constantly remind himself of these three horrendous middos which seek to undermine a person’s very existence in this world. If he can do battle with them, then they will not succeed in removing him from the world--and the great and clear implication is that doing battle will bring a person further life. As Rebbi Yisroel Salanter did, one should remind himself of Rebbi Yisroel HaKapar’s teaching--and implement it, as Rebbi Yisroel certainly did as well!

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HILCHOS SUKKAH!

 

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

 

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

 

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

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THE BRACHA ON PRINGLES--LATEST UPDATE FROM THE OU: The following is excerpted from the recent June issue of the Daf HaKashrus, published by the OU:  “What is the proper bracha for Pringles and other such foods that are primarily made from potato flakes and potato flour? Rav Belsky, Shlita, said that originally Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, held that on potato flakes one should say Shehakol. When potatoes are turned into powder, they lose their status as a vegetable; therefore even after they are reconstituted, they remain Shehakol. Rema (O.c. 202:7) explains that if a fruit or vegetable is pulverized to the point that it is no longer distinguishable, then it loses its bracha as a fruit or vegetable. Therefore, Shulchan Aruch (O.c. 208:8) says that the proper bracha to be said on corn or bean bread is Shehakol. Based on this pasuk, the Daf HaKashrus (Vol. 22, No.5, p.32) printed that the bracha on Pringles is Shehakol.  However, Rav Belsky more recently clarified, that in later years, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, reversed his position, and said that since reconstituted potato flakes are a common equivalent substitute for mashed potatoes, it is not considered as though they have lost their shape and form, and the bracha on reconstituted potato flakes remains Ha’adamah. Rav Elimelech Bluth, Shlita, and Rav Reuven Feinstein, Shlita, confirmed hearing this change of psak from Rav Moshe, Z’tl, as well. Therefore, Pringles, though they are made from reconstituted potatoes, would be the same as though they were made from fresh mashed potatoes, and the proper bracha would be Ha’adamah. However, it is worth noting that potato starch does not reconstitute back into a potato, and therefore products that are made from potato starch are Shehakol.”

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Special Note One: Of exceeding and primary importance in the Teshuvah process and in real improvement as a human being is the proper and appropriate use of one of man’s great and distinguishing characteristics--his ability to speak. We all know that the Chofetz Chaim, whose tzidkus and teachings extend to many of us on a daily basis, made the absolute need to improve in this area one of his main missions to K’lal Yisrael. Although we all recognize that the proper use or r’l abuse of one’s speech is one of a person’s crucial tests in life--we need reminders of it on a daily basis, because the Yetzer Hara will simply not let up on such a great and eternal task. We accordingly provide a few powerful points from the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah (3:200-210) relating to the primacy of proper speech in one’s life. When considering an area that needs personal improvement, one should spend the extra time to determine what in the area of speech can--and must--be improved upon. Rabbeinu Yonah calls out to us as follows:

 

1. Chazal (Erchin 15B) teach “Kol Hamisaper Lashon Hara Ke’ilu Kofer BaIkar”, as that Pasuk says: “Asher Amru…Mi Adon Lanu--with our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” (Tehillim 12:5).

 

2. Chazal (ibid.) also teach that Lashon Hara is the equivalent of the three sins of Avodah Zara, Gilui Arayos and Shefichas Damim combined. How could this be so? The Sha’arei Teshuvah provides three reasons: (i) one who is not careful with his words will repeat his transgression--word by word--several or even many times during the day. After all, it is easy to do, sometimes entertaining, free and not illegal (or perhaps even immoral) by Western standards; (ii) one’s tongue becomes so quick that it is almost as if his tongue induces his thoughts--and not vice versa. Accordingly, one’s Teshuvah is exceedingly difficult because he has trained himself to speak without thinking--and even when he thinks before he speaks, he will let the statement go--as he has done in past practice; (iii) often a person does not see the effects and hurt caused because the party directly affected is not present. Once the Lashon Hara has been released--just as an arrow--one will not know who it hit and where, and it cannot be retrieved. For all the archer knows, he has done nothing. However, he may really be guilty of murder.

 

3. Remarkably, Shaul HaMelech told Do’eg (who had spoken ill of the people of Nov Ihr HaKohanim): “Sov Attah U’fega BaKohanim--you turn and kill the Kohanim”. (Shmuel I, 22:18) Chazal explain that this means: “You have smitten with your tongue, you should strike with the sword”. Do’eg was made to understand the lesson.

 

4. Chazal teach that one who relates a p’gam Mishpacha--Ein Lo Kapparah Olamis, can never be forgiven.

 

5. Although the Torah usually protects in time of danger, it will not protect one who is a ba’al Lashon Hara, and, in fact, such a person is not worthy of studying Torah. When Chazal teach that an aveirah does not extinguish the Torah that one has learned--it only refers to an aveirah that happened in a sporadic way, and not to one who is not careful with his tongue as a matter of course.

 

6. Chazal teach: “Knesses Yisrael B’Kolah Ahuvah U’V’Kolah Senuah--through its voice K’lal Yisrael is beloved, and through its voice it is despised”. We know the voice of Lashon Hara that is despised--what is the voice that is loved? It is the voice that speaks Divrei Torah, Chochma, Mussar, peace among people, the view of people in a positive light, praising goodness, deprecating evil and defending the truth. With this, one can achieve his potential in life.

 

Hakhel Note: Especially at this time of year, we should take to heart the teaching of Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men (Mishlei 18:21): “Maves V’Chaim B’Yad HaLashon V’Ohaveha Yochal Pirya--death and life are in the hand of the tongue, those that love it will eat its fruit!”

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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18 Elul

TRY IT THIS WEEK! SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM! We conclude our Summer Improvement Program, with simple suggestions, on a weekly basis, in each of the areas of Bein Adam LaMakom, Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, and Bein Adam L’Atzmo. Of course, these are only suggestions--but every person has the opportunity to join with others who will be attempting the same successes.

 

CONCLUDING WEEK--SUMMER 5775

WEEK 12--PARASHAS KI SAVO

 

Bli neder, at least one time today, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

As we draw closer to the Yomim Nora’im, in which a great emphasis is placed upon our Tefillos, we must make a new and special effort to improve our Tefillos--before the Yomim Nora’im--in some real and tangible way. The Teshuvas HaRashba (5:1), writes that just as the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is the Eis Ratzon of the year, so too, is Tefillas Mincha the Eis Ratzon of the day.  Let us appreciate and utilize each and every Tefillas Mincha for the tremendous opportunity that it is--starting today!

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

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. Try to follow up, at least once a day with a person or project that you had started to assist with several days earlier.

 

Hakhel Note: An important consideration: When a person does Chesed with another, his ‘I’ should be expanded so that it is as if he is doing Chesed with himself, and accordingly one should perform the Chesed in the manner that he would want it done to himself.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

We are all familiar with the famous Ma’aseh reported of the Chofetz Chaim, Z’tl, being given the room in an inn next to Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl. The Chofetz Chaim reported that the whole night he could hear Rebbi Yisroel Salanter repeating the following teaching (Avos 4:28): “Rebbi Eliezer HaKapar Omer: HaKinah V’HaTa’avah VeHakavod Motzi’in Es Ha’adam Min HaOlam--jealousy, desire, and honor, r’l remove a person from the world.” One must constantly remind himself of these three horrendous middos which seek to undermine a person’s very existence in this world. If he can do battle with them, then they will not succeed in removing him from the world--and the great and clear implication is that doing battle will bring  a person further life. As Rebbi Yisroel Salanter did, one should remind himself of Rebbi Yisroel HaKapar’s teaching--and implement it, as Rebbi Yisroel certainly did as well!

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NINETEEN WEEKS: As we especially dedicate ourselves to the eighteenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei this week, we provide the following words of instruction from the great Praying with Passion Series (in order to go through this entire outstanding series on Tefillah, please visit http://prayingwithfire.org/archives.html):

 

“In Modim, we thank Hashem for Nisecha, Your miracles, and for Nifleosecha, Your wonders. What is the difference between the two? Nisecha are occurrences whose miraculous nature is

obvious to us, whereas Nifleosecha are Hashem’s “hidden miracles” in which we do not see Hashem’s involvement. (Malbim, Tehillim, 9:2; Eitz Yosef). All of nature is, in reality, the work of Hashem, who performs many “hidden miracles” daily, giving us the capability to breathe, see, hear, walk, talk, use our hands to create and accomplish, and much more. In addition, He equips the world with food for every creature, a perfect atmosphere for breathing and the precise level of sunlight to warm the world; all are miracles. It is no coincidence that the gematria, (numerical equivalence) of Elokim—86—is the same as that of hateva, nature (Sefer Pri Tzadik, on Chanukah, Ose 14, page 82). It all comes from Hashem. Because Hashem’s wonders are all around us every day, we have constant access to a great source of spiritual inspiration. We need only focus for a moment on the amazing complexity and precision of just one gift we enjoy in order to experience wonder and gratitude for Hashem’s kindness. The more often we engage in these moments of recognition, the more we feel ourselves as the fortunate recipients of Hashem’s love and care. (Adapted from “My Father My King” (ArtScroll) by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita).”

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MESECHTA NAZIR! It’s not too late to start an excellent Chazara program for Daf Yomi Mesechta Nazir--the famed Shas Chabura method is provided by clicking here.

 

Hakhel Note: We thank a reader who provided us with it.

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PRAYING WITH FIRE VOL. 2--DAILY EMAIL STARTING THIS SUNDAY! DEVOTE A FEW MINUTES A DAY TO CHANGE THE WAY YOU DAVEN! Praying with Fire daily email with chizuk on Tefillah. Audio by Rabbi Nosson Scherman, transcript by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman (author). Please subscribe by clicking HERE or email “subscribe” to prayingwithfire@ateresshimon.org As a zechus for the Kedoshai Har Nof (with the bracha of the families): Rav Avraham Goldberg, H’YD, Rav Aryeh Kupinsky, H’YD, Rav Kalman Ze’ev Levine, H’YD, Rav Moshe Twersky, H’YD.

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THE BRIS RESOURCE: When the baby cries at a bris, it is a great Eis Ratzon. As we have noted in the past, it is recommended for one to recite Tehillim Chapters 6 and 12 at that time, and make one’s personal requests to Hashem. By the following link--Tefilos Said at a Bris, we provide tefillos that one can recite at this auspicious time. A great moment--a special opportunity!

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REMEMBER THE PASUK! In these few days before Rosh Hashana, as we search for ways to improve and to give Nachas Ruach to the Melech Malchei HaMelochim, we should keep the tefillah of Dovid HaMelech himself with us (Tehillim 86:11): “Horeini Hashem Darkecha Ahaleich Ba’amitecha Yacheid Levavi L’Yirah Shemecha--teach me Hashem Your way that I may travel in Your truth, unify my heart to fear You.”

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

 

1. One must eat at least a kezayis of bread in the Sukkah on the first night of Sukkos MeD’oraysah (in Chutz La’aretz one must eat a kezayis on the second night as well). Lechatchila one should eat this kezayis within two minutes, but in no event should one delay more than four minutes. There is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether we compare the eating of bread on the fifteenth of Sukkos to the eating of Matzah on the fifteenth of Nissan to the extent that one should taste the bread and should accordingly not dip it into honey. The Yad Eliyahu rules that one should not eat it with honey because it takes away the taste of the bread, just as we do not do anything to take away the taste of the Matzah on the night of the Seder. However, HaRav Chaim Brisker, Z’tl and HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rule that we do not take the limud from Matzah that far, as there the eating of the Matzah is the mitzvah itself, whereas on Sukkos the Ikar Mitzvah is sitting in the Sukkah through the eating of the bread. Indeed, to the contrary, there may be room to eat the Challah with honey to show Chibuv Mitzvah and perhaps for Simchas Yom Tov. For one who wants to be choshesh for the shitah not to eat with honey, he may eat a kezayis without honey, and then a kezayis with honey (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 639:1, Dirshu Notes 29,30).

 

2. The G’ra holds that there is a Mitzvah to eat Matzah all seven days of Pesach. The Mishna Berurah writes that he has a safeik as to the opinion of the G’ra on Sukkos--i.e., as to whether there is also a Mitzvah Lechatchila to eat bread on each one of the seven days of Sukkos and to make the bracha of Leisheiv BaSukkah together with it (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 24).

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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17 Elul

 

TRY IT THIS WEEK! SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM--we conclude our Summer Improvement Program, with simple suggestions, on a weekly basis, in each of the areas of Bein Adam LaMakom, Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, and Bein Adam L’Atzmo. Of course, these are only suggestions--but every person has the opportunity to join with others who will be attempting the same successes.

 

CONCLUDING WEEK--SUMMER 5775

WEEK 12--PARASHAS KI SAVO

 

Bli neder, at least one time today, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

As we draw closer to the Yomim Nora’im, in which a great emphasis is placed upon our Tefillos, we must make a new and special effort to improve our Tefillos--before the Yomim Nora’im--in some real and tangible way. The Teshuvas HaRashba (5:1), writes that just as the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is the Eis Ratzon of the year, so too, is Tefillas Mincha the Eis Ratzon of the day.  Let us appreciate and utilize each and every Tefillas Mincha for the tremendous opportunity that it is--starting today!

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

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. Try to follow up, at least once a day with a person or project that you had started to assist with several days earlier.

 

Hakhel Note: An important consideration: When a person does Chesed with another, his ‘I’ should be expanded so that it is as if he is doing Chesed with himself, and accordingly one should perform the Chesed in the manner that he would want it done to himself.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

We are all familiar with the famous Ma’aseh reported of the Chofetz Chaim, Z’tl, being given the room in an inn next to Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl. The Chofetz Chaim reported that the whole night he could hear Rebbi Yisroel Salanter repeating the following teaching (Avos 4:28): “Rebbi Eliezer HaKapar Omer: HaKinah V’HaTa’avah VeHakavod Motzi’in Es Ha’adam Min HaOlam--jealousy, desire, and honor, r’l remove a person from the world.” One must constantly remind himself of these three horrendous middos which seek to undermine a person’s very existence in this world. If he can do battle with them, then they will not succeed in removing him from the world--and the great and clear implication is that doing battle will bring a person further life. As Rebbi Yisroel Salanter did, one should remind himself of Rebbi Yisroel HaKapar’s teaching--and implement it, as Rebbi Yisroel certainly did as well!

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SOME KABBALAH SUGGESTIONS:

 

1. Kissing a Sefer (with thought behind it) before and after learning from it.

 

Hakhel Note:  This is an effective means of affirmatively demonstrating one’s Chavivus HaTorah!

 

2. Being very careful not to disturb another when learning (not unnecessarily going near him or his place in a way in which he will look up; not going out of the way to greet him, and the like).

 

Hakhel Note: By doing so, one not only demonstrates his value for a moment of Torah learning, but also fulfills the Mitzvah of Bein Adam L’Chaveiro of allowing his friend to accomplish another moment of Talmud Torah K’negged Kulam!

 

3. Putting an end to complaining.

 

Hakhel Note: Chazal (Avos 5:6) teach that our forefathers through their complaints ‘tested’ Hashem ten times in the Midbar. The meforshim explain that the last test was that of the meraglim--which brought the devastation of another 38-plus years in the desert. The people had finally learned to stop the testing--there was nothing that amounted to an eleventh test in the next 38 years--but it was one complaint too late. Oh--had there been only nine complaints instead of ten--we would now be, quite literally, in paradise. We should take the lesson--and stop complaints--now!

 

4. Not embarrassing anyone in public for any reason.

 

Hakhel Note: Chazal (Bava Metzia 58B) teach that one who embarrasses another in public joins those who descend to Gehinnom and ‘V’ainom Olim’---do not ascend. Can you name any other aveira of which this is said?

 

5. Not checking email before davening.

 

Hakhel Note One: Perhaps we can add not checking texts as well. After all--doesn’t d’veikus through davening come first?

 

Hakhel Note Two: Additional points about cell phone use--should it be the first thing that I take out when leaving Shul?  Is it right to be looking to see who is calling when talking with someone in person--without saying “Excuse me I am waiting for an important call” (provided it is true!)?  Is texting, and texting, and texting a healthy activity for my soul?  For those with email access, should I be sending or reading emails when walking on the street, when eating, at red lights (perhaps illegal in any event), or when spending quality time with a family member?  What did I do at all these times before cell phones were invented?  Consider the following comment: “The nisayon of a recent previous Dor was the haskala, and the nisayon of our Dor is technology.” Certainly, Hashem has given us many tools and gifts with which to improve our lives and serve him--let us then use them with the gift of sechel granted to us that accompany these gifts.  Elul is the time to re-focus.  Let us make a move to bring back a bit of our own kavod--which will bring with it Kavod Shomayim.

 

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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. 

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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 constitutes Siman #90 of the Sefer: 

 

Do not minimize the significance of even one enemy.”

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THE CONTRAST: In the previous paragraph, we highlighted the avoidance of any enemy. In Lashon HaKodesh, the term for friend is ‘chaver’--very much related to the word ‘chibur’--joining together or attachment. The true feelings we should have towards another are those of joining together with him. His simcha is your simcha because you are joined together, and r’l his pain is yours as well. One should not only feel the ecstasy of the Chosson and Kallah--but that of their parents as well.  One should be more than a participant or bystander--but part of the wedding party! Bond together with others--and don’t lose the opportunity to do so at any Bris, Siyum, Bar Mitzvah.... The famous joy felt by HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl, was that of a mother buying his child’s first pair of shoes....whatever evokes emotion in another--join in and feel it together with him! This is the essence of being a true chaver!

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HILCHOS SUKKAH! Today, we continue to provide two Halachos a day on Hilchos Sukkos. The following notes are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah, Volume VI:

 

1. One is required to promptly remove used food containers from the Sukkah. Although when one finishes Shalosh Seudos close to the end of Shabbos during the year, one generally does not clean off the table so that it is not a hachana for after Shabbos, HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules that it is permissible to remove the used utensils from the Sukkah in such a situation, because it is clear that one is doing so for the Kavod of the Sukkah--and not as a hachana for after Shabbos (ibid., Dirshu Note 7).

 

2. HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that it is permissible to bring a trash container into the Sukkah when cleaning it, provided that he takes it out as soon as he has completed cleaning (SA, OC 639, Dirshu Note 6).

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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 lose 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!

 

 

Special Note Two: Additional notes on the Yemei Rachamim of Elul:

 

A. 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 in!

 

B.  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!

 

C.  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!

 

D.  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!

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