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12 Tishrei




1. By the following link, we provide HaRav Avigdor Miller’s Ten Steps to Greatness



2. Rabbi Moshe Scheinerman, Shlita, teaches that Torah is different than oxygen--for oxygen is what helps us live by breathing it in--while Torah is life itself! We should remember this when we open a Sefer to learn or when a shiur begins…it is life itself, and not only life in this world, but life for eternity!


3. The Targum Yonasan on the Pasuk “Ki Bishrirus Libi Eileich” (Devorim 29:18) writes that the reason a person would do as his heart sees fit, is only because he is depressed (yei’ush) by having sinned. The Torah obviously is severely reprimanding anyone guilty of this attitude and behavior. Indeed, Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, Shilta, teaches that if one made a mistake he must do the proper Teshuvah--and be sure to keep going!


4. After Man is created, the Torah calls the Sixth Day of Creation, “Tov Meod”--very good. Chazal teach that what is “very good” is the Yetzer Hara. This is because the Yetzer Hara provides us with two great opportunities--one to use its strength and capacities for good, and the second to overcome and defeat its urgings to commit an aveira--giving us the ability to exercise our free will--our purpose in life (and great reward!)”


Hakhel Note: We should constantly remind ourselves of the very first word of the entire Shulchan Aruch--YISGABER!!





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


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


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



PLEASE DON’T’ FORGET! Help to be mesameach others for Yom Tov by providing them with necessary food items.  Tzedakah is certainly one of the most primary preparations for Yom Tov (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 135:15).  We once again provide the www.yadeliezer.org for Aniyei Eretz Yisrael.  Yasher Koach!



KAVOD CHAVEIRO! We have spent the first ten (10) days of the month trying to increase our Kavod Shomayim. HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, reminds us that in the same measure that one is mechuyav in Kavod Shomayim--so too is he mechuyav on Kavod HaBriyos--for Kavod HaBriyos is also Kavod Shomayim!



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



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



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



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



FLOUR ALERT! 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.



SCHACH CARE:  Please see the following link on how to properly care for your Schach -  http://tinyurl.com/q2t5bop



SUKKAH REMINDER SHEET! We provide by the following link  http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/SukkahKavanahPoster.pdf  a wonderful reminder sheet that one can keep near his seat in the Sukkah, so that he can fulfill the Mitzvah of Sukkah LeChatchila each and every time!



N’OI SUKKAH!:   We provide by the following link http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/SukkahPoster.pdf a treasure-filled message from the Mishna Berurah to post in your Sukkah or to keep close-by.  Special thanks to Rabbi Hillel Litwack, Shlita, who printed beautiful color posters, and allowed us to copy and distribute. Hakhel Note:  One’s  Sukkah Decorations become Muktzah over Yom Tov, unless he makes a t’nai that he intends to get benefit from them (use them, eat them, etc.) over Yom Tov and/or Chol HaMoed. For the specifics of the appropriate t’nai , please consult with your Rav or Posek



DOVID HAMELECH: On Sukkos, we will be reciting “HaRachaman Hu Yakim Lanu Es Sukas Dovid HaNofoles”At a Hakhel Yom Iyun, Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita, asked: ‘If you had an audience with Dovid HaMelech, what do you think he would say to you?’  He provided a suggested answer.  What do you think it would be?



A SUKKOS OPPORTUNITY! As we dwell in our Sukkos and realize how close we really are to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, it may be a wonderful time during the course of each meal to speak about or reflect upon an aspect of Shivisi Hashem Linegdi Somid. Success in Shivisi the Sukkah can produce special results for the coming year as well!



ANOTHER SUKKOS OPPORTUNITY! If you have the opportunity to be among family or friends at the Sukkos table—perhaps the idea of a family or friends Kaballah for the coming year could be discussed.  Endeavoring to make Brachos loud enough for a person to answer Amen, Brachos while sitting down…an hour during the day in which everyone is careful in Shemiras HaLashon, everyone doing a private Chesed once a day. The possibilities are almost endless, and could achieve truly great—and almost endless--results.  Please consider!



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



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



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



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


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


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


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


3.  The Halachos of Noi Sukkah apply only to something attached to the Sukkah--not to a plant, flowers or the like, which do not have any restrictions relating to taking them out of the Sukkah. 


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


14. If one had used palm tree leaves for Lulav knots (it being clear that they were used for the Lulav), one should not throw them out in a disrespectful way. 


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





A. If one inadvertently left price tags on a new garment--can he remove them on Shabbos? HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that one would not violate the Halacha of Makeh B’Patish if one does so, as these tags are placed on a garment after is has been completed. However, if it is not possible to wear the garment with the tags on it, then HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that one would violate Makeh B’Patish by removing them. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 302, Dirshu Note 17)


B. HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that folding papers and napkins in a special manner on Shabbos (such as in the shape of a boat or other decorative form or shape) is prohibited as Tikkun Manah. Although there may be reason to claim that it is not Tikkun Manah because it is for a one-time use, the Shevet HaLevi nevertheless writes that l’ma’aseh he only permits a simple fold. (ibid., Dirshu Note 21)


C. There is a disagreement as to how one can fold his tallis after use on Shabbos. The Mishna Berurah writes that if one does not fold it on its regular folds, it would be permitted to do so. However, continues the Mishna Berurah, it is vadai adif--certainly better for a person to be machmir upon himself and not to fold the tallis at all. (ibid., seif katan 19)


D. HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that it is permissible to wear rubber gloves on Shabbos while washing the dishes, for one does not intend to wash the gloves, and accordingly one is considered to be washing only the dishes and not the gloves. However, the Minchas Yitzchak is lenient only for a woman whose hands have scabs and the like, and even then she should be careful not to especially clean the gloves after their use (such as by rubbing them together). (SA, OC Dirshu Note 49)


E. With respect to contact lenses, HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules that one should not soak them in cleaning solution on Shabbos, as they may have a din of beged, and the prohibition against cleaning a garment would apply to them (this prohibition would include rubbing them clean as well). However, if one had cleaned the lenses on Erev Shabbos and they remained clean, one could place them in a solution which does not clean them but merely keeps their moisture. This is also the opinion of the Shevet HaLevi and R’ Nissim Karelitz. (ibid.)


F. If one needs to wash a child on Shabbos after he dirtied himself, one should take care not to let the clothes which may have been sullied come into contact with water, in order to avoid kibus--cleaning the beged in any manner. (SA OC 302, Mishna Berurah seif katan 25)





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


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


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


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


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


6.  The four letters comprising the Hebrew word Lulav also comprise the first letters of words we will recite every day of Sukkos--VeTaher Lebainu LeAvdecha BeEmes--purify our heart to serve You in truth (Luach Dovor BeIto).  Let’s take the clear message and work on purifying our hearts in our very own personal way this Sukkos!





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


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


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


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


E.  On Chag HaSukkos, we spend much time and effort in order to properly perform the Mitzvos of Sukkah and the Four Minim.  Many people may forget that there is another great Mitzvah on Sukkos, which is the Mitzvah to be b’Simcha--in a state of happiness.  In fact, Sukkos is known as “Z’man Simchasenu--a time of our bliss.” The Sefer Pele Yoetz writes in the name of the Arizal that one who is truly joyful on Sukkos, and does not allow himself to be pained, is assured that he will have a good year and will merit constant joy.  The Pele Yoetz writes that one can attain this level of joy by reflecting upon how fortunate he is to be so different from all other creations in the universe, by having the opportunity to be close to Hashem through the study of Torah and the performance of Mitzvos. The Rambam at the end of Hilchos Lulav (8:15), explains that the euphoria we should experience on Sukkos is an inner joy which is rooted in the depths of the heart:


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


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


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


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


G. The Sefas Emes writes that we are to observe Sukkos “Seven Days of the Year”, which is meant to remarkably indicate to us that these Seven Days are sufficient to infuse us with all that we need for the coming Year.  It is for this reason that Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh day of Sukkos, is the date when the final ‘notes’ relating to our judgment are delivered.  By then, we have indicated to Hashem whether we have, or have not, availed ourselves of the opportunity to protect the Ruchniyus that we acquired on Yom Kippur and bring it into our homes and our workplaces. 





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


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


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


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


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


6. One should only carry on Yom Tov items which will still be needed for that day, not simply for the purpose of protecting one’s article, or preventing a loss. 


7. It is forbidden to squeeze on Yom Tov; accordingly, one cannot squeeze fruits for their juice, even if one wants to drink the juice on Yom Tov. 


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


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


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


11. One may take milk or soup out of the freezer, and the Issur of Nolad is not violated on Yom Tov.  Similarly, one can bake a cake even though the mixture of ingredients was originally liquid and will turn into a solid, and it is not considered Nolad for Yom Tov purposes.


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


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


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








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


The following highlights are from a Hakhel Shiur, given by HaRav Dovid Zucker, Shlita, author of the Sefer Chol HaMoed (Artscroll 2005), and Rosh Kollel of the Chicago Community Kollel.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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












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



A TIMELY REMINDER:  During the very short period between Yom Kippur and Sukkos in the year that we left Mitzrayim, the Bnei Yisrael were busy donating all the materials that were necessary to build the Mishkan.  The grand generosity of our ancestors during this period brought together all of the great wealth necessary to build the Mishkan before Sukkos even began (see Ba’al HaTurim, Shemos 36:6)!  We must take a lesson, based upon the principle of Ma’aseh Avos Siman L’Bonim, and use this specially endowed time to give Tzedaka to worthy causes-- both in Eretz Yisrael (as the center of Kedusha) and in your own locale. Make it a priority--for the Torah did--during this sanctified time! Remember the needy of Eretz Yisrael for Yom Tov (and to redeem your Yizkor pledges in a worthy way at yadeliezer.org. Hakhel Note: The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 135) writes of the great importance of giving Tzedaka  on Erev Sukkos.  In our day, this may extend to giving it to the Ani or the organization which will help the Ani the day before--so that he can buy, or they can give, the necessary food BEFORE Yom Tov.




YOUR KABBALAH NOTEBOOK--Is everything in check?



TAP INTO TIME! The period between Yom Kippur and Sukkos is so spiritually elevated, it is reported that the Chasam Sofer composed Shiros V’Sishbachos to Hashem during this particular time--let us keep up our spirits elevated-- tap in to time!



POST-YOM KIPPUR POINTS: Our Yom Kippur Tefillos are over for 5779. It is our responsibility for the fervor, passion, or feeling that we experienced (at least at some point!) during the Tefillos to continue on with us through the year. We accordingly provide the following points:  


A. We note that there are several highlights of the Yom Kippur Tefilla which we recite daily.  They include Shema Koleinu, Aleinu, Baruch Sheim Kevod, and the ‘Mah Anu-Meh Chayeinu’ climax of our personal Neilah prayers.  At least when reciting these daily Tefillos we should remind ourselves of the feelings we had on Yom Kippur as we pled for our lives, and for the salvation of a shaky and nervous world. There is no doubt about it, your Tefilla makes a difference—and you better believe it!


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



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


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





A. As we have noted many times in the past, The Sefer Tomer Devorah by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Z’tl, teaches us that each and every one of us, at least in some small way should do “Teshuvah BeChol Yom--Teshuvah every day.”  What a wonderful way to remain elevated--staying in touch with Teshuvah daily--coming closer and closer to the Ikar of your Neshama--to the Neshama at its source! 


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


C. The Rabbeinu Yonah, in the Igeres HaTeshuva (1:22) writes that it is a “Takanah Gedola”, it is of great assistance, to a person to find a friend or even a Rav or other mentor to discuss more heavenly matters with, and give, take, or exchange advice on maintaining and raising our Ruchniyus now and even throughout the year.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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



THE RIGHT FRAME OF MIND:  During this very busy time, we must remember that a prime order of the day is for our intellect to rule over our emotions, and control the situation, rather than be controlled by it.  As the Orchos Chaim L’Rosh urges: “Al Tevahel Ma’asecha” -- do not react with confusion or overreact; rather, be calm and collected.  There is much to do in the next several days, and much of it has to do with Mitzvos and their proper performance.  Let us have the presence to keep ourselves in the right frame of mind.  If we are supposed to be happy on Yom Tov--shouldn’t we be happy when preparing to be happy?! In this regard, may we suggest preparing a checklist now so that important items and activities are not left for Erev Yom Tov!  Family members should have their Yom Tov clothing purchased or cleaned; children should receive the treats that will make them happy; 72-hour candles--which help tremendously if one is in need of fire on the third day of Yom Tov, are now available, and can be purchased. 


To reiterate, rather than falling prey to the Yetzer Hara, we should consider how every little step, how every little act--cleaning this or that, buying this or that, are all precious and irreplaceable Mitzvos which will stay with us forever and ever. 


Additional Note One:  There is another fascinating point about the continuum that we are passing through from Yom Kippur until Sukkos.  On Yom Kippur, we try as best as we can to serve Hashem as Malachim, as angels--no eating, or drinking, the Kittel and dress in white, reciting Boruch Sheim Kevod aloud...  The Sefer Kav HaYashar points out that the Gematria of Sukkah (91) is actually equal to that of Malach.  We were like a Malach just yesterday, and we will be like a Malach again in a few days from now.  We dare not lose this very special semblance over the next couple of days, as we maintain our more enthused and elevated level of Mitzvah performance and conduct--as we had hoped and strove for on Yom Kippur.  



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



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



HILCHOS SUKKAH: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. The following notes are excerpted from the Sefer Nesivei HaMinhagim (Chag HaSukkos):


1. One should contemplate the awesome fact that we have many practical reminders of the Beis HaMikdash on Sukkos--taking the Lulav all seven days as was done in the Mikdash, HaKafos around the Bima symbolizing Hakafos around the Mizbeiach, Aravos on Hoshana Rabba, Simchas Beis HaSho’eiva, in addition to Tahara before the Regel by going to the Mikvah, and Kabbalas Pnei HaRav representing Kabbalas Pnei Hashechina. Hakhel Note: When we recite the words HaRachaman Hu Yakim Lanu Es Sukkas Dovid HaNofales (referring to the Beis HaMikdash)--we should recite it with very special meaning!


2. If one has an esrog that he received as a gift, and one that he purchased, the Sheilos U’Teshuvos Torah Lishma rules that it is better to make the bracha on the one that he purchased, and then take the one he received as a gift--even if the gift esrog is more mehudar. Others may disagree. However, in general, see Chayei Adam 68:16 on the importance of paying for a Mitzvah. In any event, one should avoid buying the Daled Minim on credit so that it is certainly deemed to be fully and unconditionally one’s own property.


Two important reminders, among all others, when purchasing your Daled Minim:


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


2.  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 Hadasim 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 Hadasim and Aravos must stop four inches BELOW the lowermost point of the shedra--which is the point at which the centermost branch last splits.



9 Tishrei

THE 5779 YOM KIPPUR INITIATIVE: By the following link-http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/YKInitiative5779.jpg  we provide the 5779 V’Ani Tefillah Foundation Yom Kippur Worldwide Initiative Flyer regarding  a great opportunity to acquire incomparable zechusim on the Holiest Day of the Year--when we need them most!



TESHUVAH MOMENT! HaRav Pam would always emphasize the need for one to write his Kabbalos in a notebook, and check up upon them as he moves through the year.  As an essential first step today, one should buy a notebook, or establish the method in which he will keep a record of his Kabbalos and his successes on a day-to-day basis. 



FROM A READER: A reader provided us with the Parnassah Tefillah of HaRav Avrohom Danzig, Z’tl, the Ba’al Chayei Adam  http://tinyurl.com/y9r44hd5



THE POWER OF BIRKAS KOHANIM ON YOM KIPPUR: Please see the following link http://tinyurl.com/y9ngzkvq, which speaks for itself as to HaRav Eliyahu Lopian’s teaching on Birkas Kohanim--extremely practical for Yom Kippur:



EIS RATZON: HaRav Mattiyahu Salomon, Shlita, brings a special Tefillah from the Chida to be recited in an Eis Ratzon--to allow all further Tefillos on a daily basis to be connected to the Eis Ratzon. By the following link  http://tinyurl.com/yd6eurj2 we provide the amazing actual text of HaRav Salomon’s teaching from his Sefer Matnas Chaim. Remember--Yom Kippur is an Eis Ratzon!



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



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



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



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


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


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


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



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



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



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



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





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


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


C.  We will be reciting Vidui at Mincha today.  It is essential that a person truly view himself as a sinner in the areas in which he has sinned.  Yirmiyahu HaNavi (2:35) cried out “Hineni Nishpat Osach Al Umreich Lo Chatasi”--I will judge you when you say you have not sinned.  On the other hand, if one truly does Teshuvah, then he has the right to sing the Ashamnus--as the Tiferes Yisroel (end of Mishnayos Ta’anis) writes--one is singing for his Aveiros have turned into Zechuyos! The Chayei Adam (Chapter 143) presents a tremendous number of essential ideas, and we once again urge you to review the Chapter today.   Here, we very briefly summarize just a few of the concepts:  (a) The Pasuk states “Lifnei Hashem Titharu--before Hashem shall you cleanse yourself.’  Accordingly, it is essential that we begin our purification process before Yom Kippur itself--now!.  (b) The sin of Lashon Hara is so horrific that, it leads to the three cardinal sins of Shefichas Domim, Gilui Arayos and Avodah Zara.  We learn this from the Nachash who spoke Lashon Hara against Hashem--which the immediate result of these three cardinal sins occurring. (c)  One who causes pain or anguish to an Almanah or Yasom is liable to Missah B’Yedei Shomayim.  (d) In accordance with one’s increased Torah study will be his increased service of Hashem.  (e) One must remind himself that he cannot recite Vidui on a Bain Adam LeChaveiro sin unless he first appeases his friend. (f) Based upon Tehillim (51:19), reciting Vidui with proper remorse is as if one brought a Karbon in the Bais HaMikdash.  (g) One way to begin one’s remorse is with the words “Ma Assisi--oh what have I done!” A person must truly view  himself as a sinner, and be truly sorry for what he has done for the Vidui to be effective.


Hakhel Note: As we have noted in the past, the Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 1), writes that one’s Kavannah in Vidui should be LeKabel Alav Taharah--to bring purity upon oneself. It is for this reason that Dovid HaMelech in the Tehillim Kepitel of Teshuvah exclaims (Tehillim 51:4):  “Herev Kabseini Mei’avoni U’Meichatasi Tahareini--abundantly cleanse me from my iniquity and from my sin purify me.” When reciting Vidui, one should visualize Hashem cleansing his soul!


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





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


B.  If a person arises before Amud HaShachar, one should wash his hands again after Amud HaShachar even on Yom Kippur, where there is otherwise an issur of rechitza.


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


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


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





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


B.  According to some authorities, Yom Kippur is the Yahrtzeit of Rebbi Akiva, who gave his life Ahl Kiddush Hashem in such an awe-inspiring way.  This may be the reason that we enumerate the Asara Harugei Malchus in Musaf on Yom Kippur.  Undoubtedly, we mention them as well so that their merits stand in our stead.  


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




KABBALOS:   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. We provide below some of the Kabbalos we had suggested in the past. The suggestion was to undertake one item in Bein Adam LaMakom, one in Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, and one in Bein Adam L’Atzmo--and perform it once a day.


Bein Adam LaMakom



1.      HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, writes that when one recites a bracha, he can consciously perform four Mitzvos: Ahavas Hashem, Yiras Hashem, U’Le’avdo Bechol Levavchem and U’Ledavka Vo. Before reciting a Birkas HaNehenin have in mind these four Mitzvos!


2.      Say “Thank you Hashem!” with appreciation when opening up the refrigerator and seeing inside the various nourishing, essential, and even not-so-essential food and drink that Hashem has provided you with.


3.      Actively think of a way that you can make a Kiddush Hashem--and act on it! Remember, it does not have to appear to be something big--just a Kiddush Hashem!


4.      Among the first words of the Rema in Shulchan Aruch are Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid…for one’s actions and business when he is ‘alone’ are not the same as one who conducts himself in front of a great king…most certainly when one is in the presence of the Great King HaKadosh Baruch Hu Whose Presence fills the earth and Who stands and watches him. When sitting down at one’s table or desk one should try to conduct himself for a few moments, feeling that he is in the Presence of the Great King with the thought of Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid.


5.      The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah writes that Mezuzuah is a Mitzvah which brings upon us Kabolas Ohl Malchus Shomayim. The Rambam (in Hilchos Mezuzah) writes that the Mezuzah reminds us that “Ein Davar Omeid L’Olmei Olamim Elah Yediyas Tzur Olamim”--there is nothing that lasts forever except for one’s connection to Hashem! Stop by the Mezuzah, and as many do, place your hand upon it and either recite one of the famous Pesukim (such as Hashem Shomri, Hashem Tzili, Ahl Yad Yemini, or Hashem Yishmor Tzeitsicha U’voecha Mei’ata V’Ahd Olam), or think about Hashem’s love and protection over you.


6.      Answering “Amen” to another’s brachos or Tefillos provides us with the opportunity not only to fulfill a personal obligation--but to reiterate it in a voluntary way. Seek out an opportunity--although not required--to answer “Amen” to someone else’s Tefillah or bracha, so that you can personally exclaim your wholehearted belief in the Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence of Hashem!


7.      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



1.      Smile at someone (especially someone who could use it), or cause someone else to smile.


2.      Look at another person whom you are familiar with, and think about how much behind him there is that you really do not know--his Mitzvos, his life’s experiences, and the reasons he may react to situations and circumstances in ways that are different from you. Then, judge him favorably in something particular that occurred (or keep it in mind for the future).


3.      Perform an unrequested Chesed before breakfast.


4.      Have someone join in a Mitzvah with you--it can include asking someone to answer Amen to your bracha.


5.      One easy but important ‘habit’ we can develop is provided to us in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (183:6): “When one sees someone involved in his work, give him a bracha of ‘Tatzliach B’Ma’asecha--may you have success in your endeavors!”


6.      As the Navi describes, what Hashem seeks of us is ‘Ahavas Chesed’--not only to perform Chesed when the situation arises, but to love Chesed to the extent that it is incorporated into our character and being. Buy a notebook or establish a file for Chesed items--people to daven for; names to add to the Cholim list in Shul; people to help with Shidduchim; people to talk to; new Chesed ideas; confirmation that you have given daily Tzedaka for the sake of the Geulah of K’lal Yisrael….


7.      The Mitzvah of Kibud Av Va’eim is one of the few Mitzvos to which the Torah attributes Arichus Yomim--special reward in this world and the next. The Mitzvah applies both during a parent’s lifetime in this world and after. Every day, be sure to perform some new or different act of Kibud (e.g., an additional phone call, a gift, a donation of a Sefer to Shul in honor, etc.).


8.      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



1.      Rather than taking out a cell phone when walking on the street or traveling, spend time with yourself.


2.      Before reciting Shema at night, make sure your last activity of the day is one of Ruchniyus--either the study of Torah (even for only a short while), an act of Chesed, or the performance of a Mitzvah.


3.      Do not ‘lose your cool’ even though it appears justifiable and may be even correct to do so.


4.      Run to do a Mitzvah (or want to run).


5.      Make an effort to treat your clothing with special respect--not throwing any article down or across the table or room, if disposing of it--wrapping it up, and in any event making sure that it is not stained or dirty.


6.      The Sefer Tomer Devorah teaches that we must all be careful that: “Ve’al Yikaneis Zar U’Mevatel Machshavto”--not to let foreign or inappropriate thoughts to infiltrate one’s mind. If one recognizes that a thought of inappropriate jealousy, anger, dislike, desire, or the like has entered one’s mind--he should quickly banish it, replacing it with the thought of a Pasuk, a Mitzvah or a good deed!


7.      We are all warned .to avoid the attitude and even the feeling of ‘Kochi V’Otzem Yadi’--it is my strength, my acumen, my knowledge that brought me to my position in life, my accomplishments…. Every time one has a feeling of personal aggrandizement or unjustified pride--even if it is in Torah study or Ruchniyus, he should exclaim: “It is not Kochi V’Otzem Yadi” or “It is Hashem’s gift!”


8.      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!


9.      After the hundreds of teachings in Pirkei Avos, the Mesechta concludes (5:26) with the teaching of Ben Hei Hei: “Lefum Tza’ara Agra--according to the effort is the reward.” One should not delude himself into thinking that his personal wisdom, aggressiveness or connections got him anywhere, or will get him anywhere. Hashem looks solely at the efforts of the person in his particular position in life. Mesechta Avos is the Mesechta that is specifically dedicated to how we can grow personally. Its final words to us are: “With Effort”. If something is important to you, whether it be Kavannah in Tefillas Mincha, a Daf Yomi Shiur, helping a certain person find a Shidduch….whatever it may be, remember not to tire of it and instead reinvigorate and revitalize yourself to put your best effort into it--daily!


Additional Note: One may want to consider suggesting a family or extended family Kabalah, which every adult/older child participates in. A choice can be made from the list above, or of course, can be developed by the family itself!


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





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


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


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


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


E.  Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, Shlita, points out that because the Luchos Sheniyos were given on Yom Kippur-and these Luchos stayed with us. Accordingly, Yom Kippur is an especially auspicious time to b’li neder take it upon ourselves to improve in some area in Talmud Torah! Once again, may we suggest that even if one does not have a Yeshiva Mai Chayil El Chayil in his community that he still demonstrate his new goals and aspirations by setting aside time for Torah study after the Seudah.  This is dedication--this is rededication!  



HILCHOS SUKKAH: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. We provide four Halachos--two for today and two for tomorrow, Yom Kippur:


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


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


3.  Although one is not required to drink water in the Sukkah, if one is close to the Sukkah and would like to drink some water, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, teaches that it would appear that he should enter the Sukkah--for a Sukkah must be treated as a home, and just as a person close to home would wait until he gets home to drink, so too, should he enter the Sukkah in order to fulfill the Halacha of Taishvu Ke’ain Taduru--dwelling in the Sukkah as one dwells in his home (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 639, Dirshu Note 13).


4.  If an esrog becomes spotted through much hand-holding, the well-known Chasam Sofer (Sukkah 36A) writes that this is its true beauty. The Chazon Ish, Z'tl,  and Steipeler z'tl, both explain this to mean that the esrog is not more mehudar as a result--rather, it is  to say that because this is part of the esrog's function and use--the spots become part of the mareh esrog--which is an item of beauty. HaRav Elyashiv, Z'tl, and HaRav Vozner, Z’tl, take one additional step and rule that the Chasam Sofer would not want his sevarah relied upon on the first day of Yom Tov, in which the mitzvah of Daled Minim is MiD'Oraysa(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 648, Dirshu Note 89).







8 Tishrei

TESHUVAH MOMENT: The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 606, seif katan1) writes that although one must always ask his friend for mechila immediately after having hurt or offending him, there is a special chiyuv to do so before Yom Kippur--as the Torah requires Lifnei Hashem Titharu on Yom Kippur, and we cannot purify ourselves before Hashem relating to an aveirah of Bein Adam L’Chaveiro without first obtaining mechila from the person offended. Indeed, not even the Se’ir Hamishtalei’ach could affect Kapparah for sins of Bein Adam L’Chaveiro! At a Hakhel Yom Iyun, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl, taught that the way one asks for mechila is simply by saying ‘I was wrong’; ‘I did the wrong thing’; ‘I made a mistake’; ‘I am sorry’--but that one should be careful not to hurt a person or embarrass him when asking for mechila.



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



TZEDAKAH TODAY--IF NOT NOW, WHEN?! We are still in desperate need of matches. Please go to yadeliezer.org, and specify your donation. May it serve as a great zechus for you and your family!



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



YOUR SPECIAL TEFILLAH!  One should make sure to have the personal Tefillah that he composed for Rosh Hashanah (as per the Shiur of HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita), available in his Yom Kippur Machzor to be recited at the end of one’s Yom Kippur Shemone Esrei before Asei L’Ma’an Shemecha as well.



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



I KNOW HIM! As we all know, one of the main topics of our Vidui will be the sins that one has committed with his great gift of speech.  One phrase that one should be very cautious about using, when speaking to another, “Oh, I know him!” This kind of open-ended statement can lead to all kinds of responses…many of which could be Lashon Hara or Avak Lashon Hara.





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


B. The Kabbalah of one Rav: Not to complain, ever!


C. Before starting work every day, begin with a prayer to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. By the following link, we once again provide a Tefillah formulated by a reader, which you are of course free to use or adapt  http://tinyurl.com/cqqbomd


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



HYDRATING!  Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brachos, advises as follows: Drinking water to hydrate creates questions as to whether brachos are applicable. The best advice is to drink juice and recite a bracha rishona and acharona. A better suggestion from a practical as well as halacha standpoint is for one to drink his favorite flavored sport drink (e.g., Gatorade) with electrolytes before the fast. It will hydrate, and there will not be any bracha shailos as a bracha rishona and achrona will definitely be required.





A.  The extremely essential words of the Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvoda relating to Inui on Yom Kippur--and what to think about if one starts to become hungry or thirsty.  The statement can be found at  http://tinyurl.com/pu8a4te   Please spread the word.


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


B.  We received an important message based upon the words of the Chofetz Chaim, which also includes extremely valuable words of Chizuk and encouragement. If one does not have time to read all of the text, we highly recommend that one at least read the words of Chizuk and encouragement, which are so noge’ah lema’aseh. The message is available at  http://tinyurl.com/csvr3fh


C.  A Vidui Card in Lashon HaKodesh with more detailed specification as to possible Aveiros.  http://tinyurl.com/4yzr9u


D.  The Thirteen Middos--The Thirteen Attributes in Lashon HaKodesh.  http://tinyurl.com/2d63u8


E.  The Thirteen Middos--The Thirteen Attributes in English.  http://tinyurl.com/yq9k42 


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


F.  We once again provide a great Tefillah for Teshuvah--which you may insert at the end of your Yom Kippur Shemone Esrei http://tinyurl.com/2dm686  The Tefillah is published in the Sefer Kav HaYashar for one’s self, one’s family members, and one’s friends to do Teshuva--especially invaluable at this time of year!






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


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


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


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


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




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



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


1. It is a Mitzvah to cut one’s hair Erev Sukkos in honor of the chag. One should also cut one’s nails. In fact, the Sefer Mateh Ephraim (525:13) permits one to cut both his fingernails and toenails on Erev Sukkos--even though ahl pi kabalah one should generally not do this. [One should consult with his Rav as to whether this is the followed practice.] One should only eat bread or even Mezonos before Chatzos (some say until the 10th hour). Indeed, Rebbi Avin (an Amora) would fast Erev Sukkos every year in order to ready himself to eat in the Sukkah. Some have the custom of not sleeping on Erev Sukkos in order to sleep b’tei’avon as well! (Luach Davar B’Ito).


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



5 Tishrei

TESHUVAH MOMENT: Rabbi David Ashear, Shlita, astoundingly points out that not only are we gifted the ability to do Teshuvah—which could mean not only making amends for what we have done, but even potentially turning our iniquities into Mitzvos—but on top of it all Hashem made Teshuvah a Mitzvah in the Torah—for which we get sechar for performing!



NOW IS THE TIME TO SETTLE ALL ACCOUNTS. During these Aseres Yemei Teshuva, the Dayanim of the Bais HaVaad will be available daily to answer lingering financial questions and to settle unresolved disputes and financial matters, at no charge. The Dayanim will also be available to review your Heter Iska, Shabbos, Issurei Hana’ah Agreements and other Shtaros, to ensure their compliance with halacha. Available in person, by phone, or via email 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM SUNDAY & MONDAY OF ASERES YEMEI TESHUVAH OR CALL TO SETUP AN APPOINTMENT: 105 River Ave. #301 Lakewood, NJ 08701 | 732.276.1306 | Office@baishavaad.org





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


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


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


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

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

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

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

5. Laitzanus--mockery, poking fun, ridicule

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

7. Halbanas Panim--one reader pointed out that embarrassing another in public causes                  one to forfeit his share in Olam Haba--and then asked if this is so --is this the greatest  aveira--even greater than Chillul Hashem....

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

9.  Divrei Machlokes--fighting, argumentative words

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


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


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





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 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.  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.  We remind our readers of the excellent Kabala based upon a Shiur given by HaRav Don Segal, 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.  The period that we are in is a serious one and should be treated as such.  One should think twice before joking around or acting with levity in order to ‘lighten the mood’.  As we all know, each new day during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah corresponds to one’s intending to do Teshuvah for all of these days in the prior year. 


H. When preparing for Yom Kippur, and certainly on Yom Kippur itself, when one recognizes or brings to mind a sin which he has particularly transgressed, he should certainly stop and feel remorse for it.  In the Yom Kippur davening, we will recite, “K’Dalim U’Chrashim Dafaknu Delasecha.”  This means that we should view ourselves before Hashem as, rachmana litzlan, a poor person knocking on someone’s door and asking for funds that he needs to survive.  This is what we are doing as we stand before Hashem.  Fortunately, though, we are blessed with Someone who will answer the door and receive us warmly and with love.


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


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


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


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



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos, for each of today, Shabbos and Sunday:


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


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


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


3.  The Halachos of Noi Sukkah apply only to something attached to the Sukkah--not to a plant, flowers or the like, which do not have any restrictions relating to taking them out of the Sukkah. 


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


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


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



4 Tishrei

TESHUVAH MOMENT: Rabbeinu Yonah teaches that it is befitting for a ba’al teshuvah to record in a notebook two things—matters which he stumbled in, and Mitzvos which he did not properly perform. However, he continues, it is not enough to write them in the notebook, but to review them in order to ensure that he will not repeat them again.




VIDUI FOR WOMEN: By the following link we provide a nusach of detailed Vidui especially for women based upon the guidance of HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita.





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.



MORNING MACHSOM L’FI BY THE CHOFETZ CHAIM HERITAGE FOUNDATION: To join and receive a daily email reminder, inspirational quote and the Tefillah to recite, email join@morningmachsomlfi.org (write join in the subject line), or call 845-352-3505 ext 116. Join t!



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



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


Hakhel Note: We welcome your thoughts on firming up your Kabbalos!



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



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.



NACHPESAH DERACHEINU VENACHKORA:  The following points are excerpted from Nachpesah Deracheinu VeNachkora--a pamphlet issued in Lakewood, which is available (in Hebrew) by clicking here the Vidui HaGadol:


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


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


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


4.  The Rambam in Chapter 4 of Hilchos Teshuvah brings 24 items which are me’akev (hold back, or limit a person’s ability to do) Teshuvah.  One of them is HaPoresh Min HaTzibbur--someone who separates himself from doing something together with others, for he lacks the collective merit that they have engendered.  Another is Sonei Es HaTochachos--one’s failure to listen to and apply the words of Mussar that are related to him.  A third is somebody who receives honor at the expense of another person (even if that person is not there, and even if the other person is not embarrassed).  The last item listed by the Rambam is HaMischaber LeRasha--one who associates with a person who sins--for they leave a mark whether or not one realizes it.  We all can stay farther away from one person or another of this sort (see the Rambam there for the complete listing of items which are me’akev Teshuvah).  Hakhel Note:  If one’s car would not go over 20 miles per hour and he did a lot of highway driving, would he not take the car in for repair?  The 24 items which are me’akev Teshuvah simply do not let us get up to the speed we need to be at! 



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



3 Tishrei




A TESHUVAH MOMENT: FROM A READER--ROADMAP TO TESHUVAH: By the following link http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/RoadmapToTeshuvah.pdf   we provide a wonderful, thought-through path to Teshuvah!



REMINDER! AN OUTSTANDING CALENDAR: To view and print a concise Hebrew calendar which contains the 5779 daily Nach Yomi, Mishna Yomis, Daf Yomi and Halacha Yomis, please see the following link   http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/MishnaYomit5779.pdf

Spread this wealth of information to others!



A TREMENDOUS NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR THE NEW YEAR! SPREAD THE WORD! VERY IMPORTANT PROGRAM FOR MEN AND WOMEN--IN TISHREI/CHESHVAN/KISLEIV!:  As we begin 5779, we provide our readers with a noble and important project.  By the following link http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/ShaareiTeshuvaScheduleTishreiCheshvanKislev.pdf   we provide a Three-Month Calendar, providing a short daily dose of the classic Mussar Sefer, Sefer Shaarei Teshuva by the Rabbeinu Yonah.  With these short daily installments over a three month period--one will actually conclude the Sefer in graduated steps over the first three months of the year!  Please spread the word…and the link! 


Hakhel Note: Be mezakeh your Shul by printing this out in card form.



 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.





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!     



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!



THE AHL CHEIT LINK: As Yom Kippur approaches, we provide for your use a link of the Ahl Cheits  http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/AhlCheitArchives.pdf  . Please feel free to print-out, and share the link with others!



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


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


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


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


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


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


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



WHEN THE SHOFAR WILL BE BLOWN! 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



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 Vidui 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!”





A.  Last week at this time we were blowing Shofar. In the coming week, we will 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.  We must treasure each opportunity this week to recite Avinu Malkeinu--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 our ‘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!



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!



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.



27 Elul

THE AVODAH OF ROSH HASHANA: By the following audio link, we provide Rabbi Eliya Brudny, Shlita’s recent Va’ad on the Avodah of Rosh Hashana (30 minutes)







Teshuva –  Helping Hashem Return to Us

The actual definition of Teshuva is not repentance, but rather to return to Hashem. Sins distance us from Hashem, and teshuva is the attempt to return to Hashem. Although all aveiros (sins) distance us from Hashem, however, as Rav Shteinman ztz”l points out, the only place where the Torah states specifically that Hashem distances Himself from us is by the sin of lack of tznius, as the pasuk states (Devarim 23, 16), that if there is “ervah” the result is “v’shav mayacharecha”, Hashem will distance Himself from you.

            So when we focus on teshuva – to return to Hashem, how can we not focus on the sin that the Torah specifically teaches us distances ourselves from Hashem – and that is “erva” or lack of tznius.

            It is a grave mistake to define “erva” the way the secular world defines it. We obviously define the word “erva” the way the Torah defines and describes it. This includes: 1) the knee and above the knee. If any part is exposed, even when only sitting, one has violated “erva”. 2) The upper part of the arm (starting from the elbow). 3) the neck (below the collarbone).

            In addition, Rav Ovadya Yosef ztz”l (Y’chave Daas vol 3. Siman 67) states that it is obvious to him that a woman who wears clothing that reveals erva (again, as defined the Torah way), transgresses the Biblical prohibition of “Lifnei Ivar” setting up a stumbling block, for they cause men to violate the law forbidding them to look at erva.

            It is frightening to think the amount of sins one can transgress in one day by not dressing properly. Imagine making a simcha only to find out later you served hundreds of guests non-kosher. One would certainly feel devastated. In the same vein, if one allows erva to be exposed, besides for the sin of erva, one can easily transgress “lifnei ivar” hundreds of times.

            Let’s take advantage of the wonderful opportunity of teshuva and bring Hashem back into our midst! It is said in the name of the Vilna Gaon ztz”l, that just as learning Torah is the greatest mitzvah for a man, so too, tznius is the greatest mitzvah for a woman. In the times of the Bais Hamikdash, a woman (Kimchis) merited to have sons who served as Koheinim Gedolim, due to her observance of tznius. And today, our Gedolim teach us, a woman merits sons and sons-in-laws who will be Talmidei Chachamim in the zechus of tznius.

            So when we say in our viduy on Yom Kippur “Heevinu Vihirshanu” “we have sinned and caused other to sin” and we say, “al chet shechatanu lifanecha al giluy arayos” let’s make a kabbala not to reveal any erva – no matter what the styles and social pressure is. In that way we will truly return to Hashem, and Hashem will truly return to us!



L’ROSH VELO LEZANAV: On Leil Rosh Hashana, at one of the simanim, we are mispallel that we will be a Rosh and not a zanav. We may typically understand this to mean that we daven to be at the top or leaders, and not at the bottom or the end. We actually find the term L’Rosh VeLo Lezanav in Devorim 28:13. There, the Targum translates rosh as takif (strong), and zanav as lash (weak). Accordingly, we should have this Kavannah in mind as well when reciting this Yehi Ratzon. “Hashem, may You please grant us a year of strength and not of weakness!”



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 5779!



LASHON KAVOD: On Rosh Hashana, we will be judged as Torah Jews, and as to how Torah Jews should conduct themselves. Of primary importance is not only what we speak about, but how we speak. The Ba’alei Mussar write that one should speak B’Lashon Kavod--honorably at all times. If one keeps this in mind, he can avoid many volatile and challenging situations. You are an honorable human being--and you speak that way!



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. 



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.



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. 



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.





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.



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!





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!





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!



YETZIAS MITZRAYIM: In our Rosh Hashana Tefillos, we recite Yom Teruah Mikrah Kodesh Zecher L’Yetzias Mitzrayim.  At a Shiur, HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, posed a straightforward but starting 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 is 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. 





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, Z’tl, 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” of the 13 Midos, in both Hebrew by the following link http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/13MiddosHebrew.pdf  and in English by the following link http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/13MiddosEnglish.pdf   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, 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!





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


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


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



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!


Hakhel Note: Every day in Modim of Shemone Esrei we recite Nodeh Lecha U’Nesaper Tehilasecha (we thank You and we relate Your praise). While the thanks may be evident in Modim itself--when and where do we relate Hashem’s praise? One possibility may be…Pesukei D’Zimra!



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!”



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!



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. We provide two Halachos for each of today and Shabbos:



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 MDoraysa.  (See also Yesod VShoresh Haavoda 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!


3. 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.


4. 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)



26 Elul

A TESHUVA MOMENT: Rabbeinu Yona (Avos 4:6) writes that “Mi Shemidaber Tov Ahl HaTovim V’Ahl HaChachomim Muchzakin Bo Ki Hu Tzaddik--one who speaks well of good people and Chachomim is muchzak to be a Tzaddik”. We are all striving to be tzaddikim--following the Rabbeinu Yona’s directive, provides simple and clear guidance!


SPECIAL RESOURCE:  We provide by the following link http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/RH60MinsPinT.pdf  a wonderful Rosh Hashana Handbook for your distribution to the currently less affiliated--as made available by Partners in Torah--Mi KeAmcha Yisrael!!



FROM A READER: “Rabbi Paysach Krohn, Shlita, spoke at a public gathering and brought an idea from the Bobover Rebbe that Elul also stands for “Echad L’Chatas V’Echad L’Olah”.  One person can look back at his past year and summarize it more as a year of “chatas”, a year from which he really must make improvements in the coming year,  Another can look back and be satisfied with how the past year went, it was a year of “olah”, of elevation.  Either way, though, Elul must be a time in which the person is never satisfied with the status quo; the person must be striving to do better.  We all have the potential to be great.  No matter how one looks back at past year during Elul, whether as year of missed potential, or a year of proud achievement, everyone can push themselves to do more.”



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 the Torah, 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!



THE CHEERFUL FACE: Rebbi Yisroel 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!





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 ONCE RECEIVED 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’).





A.  Rosh Hashana is in three 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 the following link  http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/Malchus.pdf 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 the following link -  http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/YSRNefeshHaChaim.pdf 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!



AN ESSENTIAL REMINDER:  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 Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur 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!



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


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


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



25 Elul




TESHUVAH MOMENT: HaRav Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, teaches that seeking to change from bad to good without the study of mussar, is like one attempting to see without an eye, or trying to hear without an ear. (Ohr Yisroel, Igeres 14). 



 AN OUTSTANDING AND TIMELY OPPORTUNITY! We have obtained an entire Sefer, Sod HaTeshuvah (Hebrew), and have permission to make it available to our readers by the following link. The Sefer provides essential lessons in Teshuvah, and has excellent haskamos. You are also free to share the availability of the Sefer with friends by sharing the link! http://tinyurl.com/hp455wj



SMILE! HaRav Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, provides a remarkable lesson: HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, was asked by a student what one’s Avodah is at this time of year. HaRav Miller responded that it is to smile. Noticing the student’s astonishment, he explained that when one smiles he exhibits a feeling of happiness to others, demonstrating that Torah observance is satisfying and meaningful. The Mashal would be to a factory owner who must lay-off workers. The wise factory owner will not lay off a happy worker--for he needs him to inspire all of the workers that are left. Hashem is also looking for those who are joyful--demonstrating to themselves and to others that they truly value their relationship with Hashem, His Torah and His Mitzvos! 



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.



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!





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!



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).



24 Elul

A TESHUVAH MOMENT: HaRav Yitzchok Sorotzkin, Shlita, reminds us that Teshuvah means to return to Hashem, striving to achieve a higher level of deveikus in Him. It is not the perfunctory performance of Mitzvos that will get us there. Rather, it is a sincere drive to elevate one’s neshama v’guf. Whenever possible, before performing a Mitzvah, contemplate why you are about to perform it!”



QUOTABLE QUOTE: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” [As seen on a magnet distributed by Partners in Torah, 1-800-STUDY42]



HE CAN’T STAND-IN FOR YOU!  The Tosfos Yom Tov (end of Mesechta Rosh Hashana) explains that if a person is able to daven for himself, the Shliach Tzibbur cannot replace him: “…it is because one must ask for mercy by himself!” Who better than you and you alone knows the kinds of mercy you are looking for--and how importantly you need it.  As we have emphasized many times, the word rachamim appears so often in our davening—even in places where one may not otherwise expect it.  Especially at this time of year, one should make the effort to have kavannah when mentioning Hashem’s rachamim in Pesukai Dezimra, Birchos Krias Shema, and Shemone Esrei. Remember—not even the Shaliach can stand-in for you!



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



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. 



THREE STEPS IN AVODAS HASHEM! There is a Pasuk in Tehillim (13:6) which serves as the climactic conclusion of the many Pesukim together that constitute the prayer and song of Hodu LaShem Kiru ViSh’mo recited in Shacharis every morning.  The Pasuk reads:  “V’Ani BeChasdecha Votachti, Yogail Libi Bi’Shuasecha, Ashira LaShem Ki Gomal Alai--As for me, I trust in Your kindness; my heart will rejoice in Your salvation, I will sing to Hashem, for He dealt kindly with me.”  The G’ra explains that this Pasuk consists of three parts--representing three different stages or circumstances in a person’s experience. Firstly, there is the complete and absolute recognition and awareness that “V’Ani BeChasdecha Votachti”--I know and affirm that whatever circumstance, event, predicament or situation I am in (including the seeking of continued life in Elul and over the Yomim Noraim)--You can save me with Your loving chesed.  Next, when I actually experience the salvation--such as on Yom Kippur, or upon realization that I have lived through the past year --then” Yogail Libi BiShuasecha--my heart rejoices over the Yeshua--with the recognition that it is You that have brought it about, that You have saved me.  Thirdly, and we have now reached the crucial conclusion--”Ashira LaShem Ki Gomal Alai--even after the Yeshua is complete, the Simcha is over, the medicine worked, the money came in to pay the bills, I have been granted another year of life... I will not forget the Yeshuos that You have graced me with, that which You have wrought on my behalf.  Accordingly, my davening--when I recite Modim, Nishmas, Nodeh Lecha (in Birkas HaMazon) is Kavannah-filled with my tribute and thanks for my health, my life, my possessions,...and all of the Yeshuos around and in between that I have experienced.  As if to get us started (in Nusach Ashkenaz)--the very next portion of Tefillah that we recite is the epitome of our thanks over the past--Mizmor LeSodah--which the Shulchan Aruch itself uniquely rules (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 51:9) should be recited “BeNegina--with melody”.  Let us focus on this essential Pasuk and remember daily these fundamental three steps in Avodas Hashem--and succeed at each one of them!



ACQUIRE MANY NEW FRIENDS!  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Mishlei (19:4), Hon Yosif Rei’im Rabim….  Taken on a simple level, this means that when a person attains wealth, he obtains many new-found friends.  The G’ra, however, understands the pasuk on a deeper level. He explains that through the study of additional Torah, one obtains more and more malachim who are his ‘friends’ when it counts--for eternity--in front of the Bais Din Shel Ma’alah. This is so because with each and every word of Torah uttered, a Mitzvas Aseh is performed and a new and trustworthy ‘friend’ is created!


Hakhel Note One: The Chofetz Chaim, based upon this pasuk in Mishlei and the Gra’s explanation, writes that the great rule is: “HaDibur Hu Ashro V’Hatzlachaso Shel Adam…” speech is the source of happiness and success for a person if one uses it wisely.  If c’v one does not—there is no one organ of the body that could do more damage than the tongue, for with each word of forbidden speech one creates a kateigor, an antagonist in front of the very same heavenly tribunal.  The choice is ours—if we can sincerely focus on the words that we utter—we will most certainly and without doubt be wealthier than the wealthiest person imaginable to us!


Hakhel Note Two:  The pasuk (Mishlei 16:26) teaches “Nefesh Ameil Ameila Lo–a soul that toils, toils for itself.” HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, Z’tl, writes that Shlomo HaMelech is teaching us with the seemingly repetitive term that when one places effort into his Torah study he will not only attain the fruits of his labor—but Hashem will reward him with additional and unexpected Torah knowledge—as if he had toiled in that as well!  HaRav Lefkowitz instructs that the first place to begin one’s efforts in Torah is to physically express the words of Torah that one is learning—and not merely read them with his eyes (see the G’ra’s words above!).  We must look at life practically--air is so important, so indispensable to live in this world--and it is free! Torah is not only indispensable in this world--but in the next--and Hashem will shower us with more and more of it at no cost, if we only put in the effort that we can!   




SIMHON LEVAV:  HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl (in Sefer Ohr Yechezkel--Elul) notes that on Rosh Hashanah all of man is judged relating to his Olam HaZeh and his Olam HaBah--Hashem’s great books are open before Him. However, there are no secret investigations, and we are given a great amount of time to prepare our cases and to rectify our misdeeds.  Yet, so many treat it as if it is only a matter of a few small coins that have, or may be, lost.  How could this be so?!  HaRav Levenstein, Z’tl, answers that this must be part of the curse of the tochacha in last week’s Parasha which states “Yakecha Hashem BeShiga’aon U’VeIvaron U’Vesimhon Leivav--Hashem will strike you with madness and blindness and with confounding of the heart” (Devarim 28:28).  Rashi there explains that Simhon Leivav means Otem HaLev--the essence of the curse being that our hearts become sealed, and we remain thoughtless and thereby actionless in the face of matters of extreme urgency and importance.  HaRav Levenstein concludes, however, that notwithstanding the curse, we can open our hearts--as is evidenced by the period of Elul (Ani L’Dodi where we demonstrate our love of Hashem) and the blowing of the Shofar--which is intended to open the blockage in the face of our awe and seichelHakhel Note:  We add that the Chida, Z’tl (brought in the Sefer Otzros HaTorah) writes that Elul first begins with Ani LeDodi--I am to my Beloved Hashem and then-- Dodi Li--Hashem will be for me!


Hakhel Note: Another interpretation of the calamity of Simhon Levav is approaching matters in a confused or perturbed manner—without clarity and clear thinking.  As we have noted in the past, there are three words in the Sefer Orchos Chaim L’Rosh which were especially emphasized in Kelm and recited in a special nigun- Ahl Tevahel Ma’asecha— do not act in a hurried or disconcerted manner.  Calmness and orderliness are essential to making the right decisions and taking the right steps.  If one has any doubt as to what to say, what to do, or what to think, in a particular circumstance or situation—think about and focus upon what would give Hashem the most Nachas Ruach!





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


B.  As part of taking stock, one should not overlook the items or money he has borrowed or lent to others, who he owes a phone call or apology to, and, perhaps, that thing about him that he knows bothers people most, but that he has failed to correct because it is “him.”  If one realizes that any mannerism or particular attitude really does irk family, friends, or colleagues, maybe it should become part of the “Nachpesa Deracheinu”--the search of one’s ways so essential to steering back to the proper path in life.


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


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


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



HILCHOS  SUKKOS! 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. Some Poskim rule that on the Yom Tov of Sukkos one should place a tablecloth only on his table in the Sukkah, and not on his table in the house--in order to indicate that the house is not his dira over Sukkos. Others, however, hold that one should put a tablecloth on even in the home LeKavod Yom Tov (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 639, Dirshu Note 4).


2. Some have the custom of kissing the Sukkah’s walls when they enter and leave the Sukkah, as a sign of Chibuv HaMitzvahVeAshrei Me She’oved Hashem BeSimcha--fortunate is the one who serves Hashem with joy! (ibid.; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 477, Mishna Berurah seif katan 5, quoting the Shelah HaKadosh).



23 Elul

A TESHUVAH MOMENT: The Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva 2:4) writes that one on the path of Teshuva is ‘Misrachek Harbeh Min HaDavar She’Chatah Bo---stays far away from the thing that he sinned with/in’. Let us keep this in mind as we strive for Teshuva during these precious days.



TEFILLAH FOR TESHUVA:  We provide by the following link http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/TeshuvahTefillah.pdf 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.



THE SOURCE OF INSPIRATION:  From a reader: “Regarding last week’s Parasha, Ki Savo, Rabbi Menachem Zupnik, Shlita, Rav of Bais Torah U’Tefilah of Passaic, based on the S’fas Emes, quoting the Hidushei HaRim, quoting the Rav M’Parshischa, emphasized that at the end of the Parasha, Moshe Rebbeinu, addressing the Dor De’eh, many of whom saw with their own eyes K’riyas Yam Suf and Ma’amad Har Sinai, acknowledges that such spectacular and awe-inspiring nisim and wonders are not enough. No, as Moshe stated it was not until “this day” that Hashem gave B’nei Yisrael “a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear” (Devarim 29,3).  What was “this day”? As Rashi explains, it was the day that B’nei Yisrael demanded their own copy of a Sefer Torah, not being content that Moshe had just given a Sefer Torah to Shevet Levi--for fear that in the future Shevet Levi might try to usurp it only for itself.  From “this day”, we see that B’nei Yisrael understood that the source of their sustained inspiration must be from their own personal connection to our Holy Torah, and not from any other external factors, even those of the most miraculous sort!”



KABBALAH SUGGESTION FROM A READER: “I regularly observe that many people unwittingly allow the tzitzis of their Talis Gadol to trail on the floor, often to be stepped on r’l by themselves or others.  Our tzitzis represent the Taryag Mitzvos, and one should not allow this to become c’v a mitzvah that he is ‘Dash B’akeivo’.  Let us all be mekabel to be cognizant of this aspect of ‘U’reisem Oso’....”



IMPORTANT RECOMMENDATION: We had once asked HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, for a mussar Sefer that could be studied with a Bar Mitzvah-aged child. He replied that the Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim speaks to all people, on all levels.




MORE ON TEFILLAH:  Tefillah is so essential for us to focus upon at this time of year. Set forth below is a listing of important reminders relating to Tefillah, which have been culled from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah to Shulchan Orach Chaim 90:


A.  The Chasam Sofer writes that Chana davened within four Amos of Eili HaKohein because it is a Segulah Nifla’ah to daven at the side of a Tzaddik. 


B.  Although the Shulchan Aruch rules that a person should be Mishtadel (apparently meaning only to make an effort) to daven in Shul with a Minyan, HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim  2:27 and 3:7) writes that it is a Chiyuv B’Ikar Mitzvas Tefillah--it is an obligation going to the essence of the Mitzvah of Tefillah to daven with a minyan in Shul, for when one davens by himself, even if he is a Gadol and a Tzaddik, he is not assured of being answered.  Hakhel Note:  Obviously, women have a different basis and standard in this regard.  Everybody has their duties and their roles!


C.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that children who have reached the age of Chinuch and can answer to Kaddish and Kedusha are included in the principle of BeRov Am Hadras Melech--and their presence in Shul adds to the davening of the entire Tzibbur. 


D.  The Mishna Berurah (seif katan 55) writes that a Bais HaMidrash which is used by the many to learn Torah has greater Kedusha than a regular Shul, and that it is better to daven there with only ten people than in a Shul where there are many Mispalelim--even if one does not learn there at all!  If one does learn there, one should preferably daven within four Amos of the place that he learns, as it has a higher level of Kedusha for him. 


E.  One should not look at or face pictures and drawings (and certainly not a mirror or glass where he can see his own image) when davening.  The Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, would not daven in a Sukkah in front of pictures of Gedolim which were placed there as decorations. 


F.  One should try to be among the first ten of the Mispalelim for a Minyan.  The Machatzis HaShekel writes that within the first ten, the earlier you are, the greater the inyan (and reward).  Even if one is not among the first ten, the Aruch HaShulchan writes, one should try to come as close to the first ten as possible, so that he will draw Kedusha earlier.


G.  The Mishna Berurah (seif katan 39) writes (directly from Chazal) that one who arrives in Shul early for Shacharis and Maariv is Zoche to Arichus Yamim. 


H.  If a person in Shul realizes that he is davening Shemone Esrei in the wrong direction, for example one in New York realizes that he is davening towards the west and not the east, he should pick up his feet and change them to the right direction.  If one is not in Shul, he should keep his feet together and move his head  to the right direction.  If this is not possible, he should keep his heart (his thoughts and intentions)  towards the Kodesh HaKedoshim. 


I.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that when at the Kosel it is not preferable to daven inside the ‘cave’ even though it has a roof and is enclosed which is usually a prerequisite for Shemone Esrei, because the entire area by the Kosel is a Makom Tefillah. Hakhel Note:  In the Zechus of our sincere Tefillos, may we soon be zoche to daven on the other side of the Kosel’s wall!





A.  It is said in the name of a great Rav:  “One should view the entire world as being in a freezer--everyone around seems to be extremely cold, in fact frozen and perhaps even numbed, to that which is truly meaningful and important.  One can warm himself up to the Real World through the study of Sifrei Mussar.” 


B.  The Chofetz Chaim relates that our powers of sight, hearing, and speech, are not bodily strengths or capabilities, but instead truly emanate from our souls.  Let us make sure that we review our acts and deeds especially with respect to these three powers--and literally come to our senses!


C.  The following is excerpted from a truly remarkable book entitled Reb Chatzkel, on the life of Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl, by Rabbi Yitzchak Kasnett (Artscroll, 2007):  “The Chofetz Chaim told several relatives and students that he had a secret to tell them that would reveal a deep and fundamental concept of Torah.  However, he would only disclose it at the end of the “third watch” of the night, just before dawn, and that they should prepare themselves to be present.  The Chofetz Chaim’s intent in meeting at that hour was his desire that his words should make the greatest possible impression upon his listeners.  Anticipating that their great Rebbe would reveal secrets of the future Redemption, all were gathered and ready. The Chofetz Chaim began by reciting the bracha of “Elokai Neshamah...”in its entirety, emphasizing the word LeHachazirah — to return [my soul] to me in the future to come.  The Chofetz Chaim explained that the mapik (dot) in the last hey of the word LeHachazirah indicates that the very same soul taken from a person at the time of his death is returned to him when the dead are brought back to life.  If the soul was befouled by sin during the person’s lifetime, it will be returned to him befouled and sullied with spiritual impurities; exactly as it was taken, it will be returned.  He further explained that the bond of closeness one establishes with Hashem in this world remains forever, as does the distance from Hashem one creates.  This was the great secret the Chofetz Chaim wished to reveal just before dawn that day, when he finished, all of those present said Shema Yisrael with great intensity.”


D.  There is a famous parable of the Dubno Maggid that relates to how one can tell the difference between a regular worker in a factory and the son of the owner who also works in the very same department.  The regular worker is sure to clock in at 9:00, clock in and out for lunch, and clock out at 5:00.  He then goes home to take care of his real business there.  The son of the owner, however, will arrive early, work through lunch, and won’t even realize that it is 5:00PM--after all, it is his father’s business.  We will soon ask Hashem to treat us not only as Malkeinu but also as Avinu Malkeinu--and we well know that we may not be able to make it based upon Malkeinu alone.  If we want Hashem to treat us like His sons--should we not act like a good son acts towards his father?  Do we arrive at davening or to a shiur exactly on time or a little bit late--or a little bit early, without looking at the clock too much in between?  What is our real business--Are we yotzei a Mitzvah--or do we appreciate and even enjoy its sweetness?  Do we feel our Father’s love throughout the day by recognizing His Presence and embrace?  Do we treat our friends and acquaintances the way our Father would expect that His sons will treat each other?  If our Father was to ask us if there is anything that we would not do for Him--how would we respond?  Let us take the time to take the Yiddish expressions which may have fallen out of contemporary practice “Tatteh Liber” and “Tatteh in Himmel”--and try to bring them back into our daily thoughts and vocabulary!


E.  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!


F.  Remember--Tzedaka Today!  As the year draws to a close, we can go only right by using our money, which otherwise presents us with so many Nisyonos through the course of the year, in a way our Father would like us to--helping his other sons--our brothers! 



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. The following notes are excerpted from the Sefer Nesivei HaMinhagim (Chag HaSukkos):


1. The Seder HaYom writes that the reason we are so careful to beautify the Sukkah is in order to demonstrate how happy we are with the Mitzvah, and our special Chibuv Hamitzvah--when one does so, his reward goes beyond that of simply building a Sukkah, for he demonstrates the Simcha V’Tuv Leivav that Hashem desires of us when we perform Mitzvos.


2. The Sefas Emes writes that because of the Shechina in the Sukkah, when one dwells in the Sukkah he himself imbibes Kedusha into his inner being. It is therefore inappropriate to play games in the Sukkah, or to allow other nations who cannot appreciate the Shechina to enter. Indeed, the Sheim MeShmuel writes that the reason we do not recite Shalom Aleichem in the Sukkah on Leil Shabbos is because the Malochim cannot enter the Sukkah because the Kedusha is so great!


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