Daily Email Archives

Bulletin Archives

Summer Archives

Public Announcements

Shatnez Publications

Past Events

Hakhel Recordings



Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin




Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus Z’TL in Shabbos Malkasa (p. 112) points out the amazing parallels between the details of the Beis HaMikdosh, and the requirements of Shabbos:


1.  The 39 Melachos

The 39 Melachos that are prohibited on Shabbos, were, in fact, the 39 Melachos required to build the Mishkan--the Mishkan (as the predecessor to the Beis HaMikdosh) represents the ultimate of Creation--bringing Hashem into this world through these 39 actions of Man.  Shabbos represents bringing the Shechina to this world through **our Inaction**--our total Emunah and Bitachon in the omnipotence of Hashem (as we recite in the Shabbos davening, “Yismichu V’Malchusecha Shomrei Shabbos”--Those that observe Shabbos rejoice in Your Kingship).


2.  Kapara

Just as the service of the Beis HaMikdosh brings forgiveness of all of our sins (recall the last words of Dayeinu), so too does the proper observance of Shabbos bring forgiveness.  The Gemara (Shabbos 119B) teaches that after recitation of “VaYechulu” on Leil Shabbos, the two Malochim (angels) which escort a person place their hands on his head and recite the posuk “And your iniquities are removed, and your sins are forgiven” (Yeshaya 6:7).


3.  Neiros

In the Beis HaMikdosh there is a Menorah which is first prepared for use (Hatava) and then lit (Hadlaka), and on Shabbos, Neiros Shabbos are first prepared on Eruv Shabbos and then lit as well.

  4.  Shulchan

In the Beis HaMikdosh there was a special Shulchan (Table) with 12 loaves, known as the Lechem HaPonim, and on Shabbos, we have special Lechem Mishna at each meal.  (The Zohar actually refers to twelve loaves on Shabbos as well, which the ARIZAL learns is actually twelve separate breads, but which the GRA understood to be the division of each of the two loaves at each meal into two parts).


5.  Achila

In the Beis HaMikdosh, there is a mitzvah to eat from the Kodshim, the permitted Korbanos, and on Shabbos there is also a mitzvah to eat the Seudos, the special Shabbos meals.


6.  Shira

In the Beis HaMikdosh, there are special Shirim, Lofty Songs over the Korbanos sung by the Leviim, and on Shabbos we add additional “Zemiros” in Pesukei DeZimra at Shacharis, and great significance is placed on the Zemiros at every meal.


7.  Rechitza

Just as in the Beis HaMikdosh, a preparatory washing of the hands and feet is required before serving, so too, are we required to cleanse ourselves prior to entering into Shabbos.


8.  Begadim

In the Beis HaMikdosh there are special Bigdei Kehuna, clothes for the Kohanim, which if not worn render the Avodah pasul, unfit.  So too, on Shabbos, we are enjoined from wearing weekday clothing (See Shabbos 113B-114A), all of which demonstrates special honor to Hashem, as we sense His close Presence.


9.  Torah

The Kodesh Kedoshim, the holiest area of the Beis HaMikdosh, contains the Aron with the Luchos.  So too, the “Inner Sanctum” of Shabbos is the study of Torah on this Holy Day (Yerushalmi, Shabbos 15:3 and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 290:2, Mishne Berurah seif katan 5 and 6).


If we can begin to develop an appreciation of Shabbos by understanding that it is more than a day off or even a day of rest, and start reflecting and acting on it as a G-d-given sanctuary in time which is to raise us above where we think we are, B’Ezras Hashem, we will likewise be ready to enter and absorb the Kedushas Beis HaMikdosh--may it be rebuilt speedily and in our days…  

So let’s start working on this tonight!



There is a “Shas Chabura” in Lakewood, with participants in many other locations, which emphasizes remembering what you have learned.  As part of their method of study, they review what they have learned on the eighth day after originally studied (based upon memory research).


Similarly, it is now eight days since the conclusion of Pesach, and as the word Matzah is related to the word “mitz” (juice), let us see if we can squeeze out as much as we can from the Chag.

Chazal teach us (in the Mechilta) that the Maidservants at the Splitting of the Yam Suf saw more (experienced greater spiritual heights) than Yecheskel and other Neviim in their prophecies (see Rabbeinu Bachya to Shemos 15:2).  Nevertheless, the Baalei Mussar explain, the next day the Maidservants remained Maidservants.  How horrible--experiencing realms loftier than the great prophetic visions, and regressing fully to their original status.  Why did they not achieve at least some level of permanent growth from their experience?  Because they did not anchor their lofty status to any particular item or event which could continue in their everyday life.  On the other hand, the Neviim remained Neviim because their special conduct kept them on the plane necessary to continue to receive prophecy.


So what can we do to anchor ourselves--to conduct ourselves more like the Prophets than the Maidservants?


Let us take two basic Midos of Pesach:

Middah 1: Zerizus--Alacrity.

In a few short moments, Matzah suddenly becomes edible, and actually is an important staple of the diets of prisoners and captives (as Bnei Yisrael were in Mitzrayim) because it fills the body’s needs for a longer period.  In its preparation for the Chag, we act with clockwork precision and extreme care and diligence (Shemira).  Chazal derive from this that “if a Mitzvah comes your way, do not delay to perform it.”


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  For a period of time (week, month, until Shavuos, etc.), Bli Neder, take it upon yourself not to come late to Shacharis, Mincha, or Maariv, or to your regular Shiur, or to light Shabbos candles, or to meetings, etc.  Note that being late means coming even one minute late, not ten minutes late.  Remember: we are talking Maidservant as opposed to a Prophet!


Middah 2:  Hakaras Hatov--Properly Recognizing Hashem in Our Lives.

The commentaries on the Haggadah point out that a key reason the Haggadah expounds on the passages of “Arami Oved Avi” from Chumash Devorim, as opposed to the Haggadah teaching the Parshios that actually describe the Servitude and Exodus (Parshios Shemos/Va’Eira and Bo), is because in the former we clearly express our recognition of what Hashem has done for us.  If a person gets to see the best doctor in the world--how thankful he would be.  If he was taught quantum physics by a three-time Nobel Prize winner in Physics, or if he had been served food as prepared and directed by the head chef of the Queen of England, assisted by 15 international master chefs, how special he would feel.  With Yetzias Mitzrayim, we are taught that **We are it**--the Chosen Ones, the Mitzvah Bearers, for whose purpose the world was created and continues to exist.  In short, we are sitting on top of the world.  What thanks we owe to Hashem!!


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  To begin, we should be extremely enthusiastic about our position in life.  It may be difficult to feel ebullient at all times, because even the Prince gets used to being a Prince.  What we can do, however, is from time to time during the day (at a specified time such as while walking, or at lunch, etc.) make it a point to recognize and thank Hashem for what you have by expressing it verbally.  Of course, you need not limit your thanks to the Olam Haba of Torah and Mitzvos, but can include the details of your Olam Hazeh benefits and pleasures which take you to that Olam Haba.


As we enter supermarkets and grocery stores, we notice many items marked “Baked after Pesach 5766” or “Prepared after Passover 5766”.  This action need not be limited to bakeries and commissaries.  We should also be baking and preparing our own “fresh items” after our Passover 5766. Let’s really think about it, talk about it, and give it a try!




QUESTION 1:  During Pesach, the most repeated Posuk in Hallel we recited was “Hodu Lashem Ki Tov, Ki L’Olam Chasdo”--Give Thanks to Hashem for He is Good, for His Kindness is Everlasting.  It would seem that this Posuk is essential to our daily davening, as well.  Do we recite this Posuk at all in our daily Tefillos?


QUESTION 2:  In which Brocha of Shemone Esrei do we ask that Hashem act “Meheira”--quickly **three separate times**?  What does this mean to you?


QUESTION 3:  In the Brocha of “Al HaTzaddikim”, we ask that “Yehemu Na Rachamecha Hashem Elokeinu”--Act towards us with Your Mercy, Hashem Our G-d.  What does “Yehemu” mean--How do we want Hashem to act with His Mercy?



ANSWER 1:  Yes, it appears in Pesukei Dezimra, during our recitation of Hodu Lashem Kiru V’Shmo.  If you did not have the right answer to this question, may we suggest that as you recite Pesukei Dezimra you look for--and spend an extra moment of concentration on--pesukim that you recognize so that you can constantly recharge your Tefillah as you daven.


ANSWER 2:  The Brocha of “V’Hamalshinim”, in which we ask Hashem to deal with our enemies. We are not only asking that Hashem deal with them, but we are pleading that Hashem take action quickly--and we reinforce this by requesting the action three distinct times!  Who knows how many lives our collective inspired “Meheiras” can save?


ANSWER 3:  With the word “Yehemu”, we ask that Hashem not only bring His Mercy upon us, but that His Mercy be “aroused”  (See Etz Yosef and Seder HaYom, based upon Yermiyahu 31:19).  Rav Shimon Schwab Z’TL, in his Sefer on Tefillah, explains that the arousal of Mercy we are referring to is **our own arousal**--i.e., we pray to Hashem that He shower so much mercy upon us that we can actually finally recognize and even feel it.  Rav Schwab analogizes this idea to the air around us, which we all need every moment, yet which gets taken for granted without much further thought.  When a strong wind blows, however, the burst of air is finally understood and appreciated.  So too, we take for granted Hashem’s constant Mercy, and thus ask for a demonstration of His Mercy which is so strong that we can actually tangibly feel and appreciate His love, compassion and boundless kindness.




You must get to the 11th floor and you are already 15 minutes late.  You enter the elevator quickly and press the button for the 11th floor.  Within seconds, six other people enter the elevator.  You watch closely, very closely as lower floors than yours are pressed!  One person presses 7, the next 6, the next 10, the next 4, and the next 8 and…finally, finally, the last one presses a higher floor--16.


“This is worse than a local train”, you think as you look at your watch at each floor.  When you finally reach your destination, and are about to apologize for being late, the receptionist tells you that your meeting has been delayed by half an hour.  As you sit for your half hour (really an hour) delay, you realize that you have time to think.


  • Why all the impatience?

  • Why was I late in the first place?

  • Did it really help to look at my watch at every floor?

  • Did Hashem set that elevator up to test me?  After all, there is something called Hashgacha Pratis

  • What if Hashem didn’t enlighten someone to invent the elevator at all?

  • What if the elevator was not working?

  • How many thousands of elevators go up and down every day without mishap--tens upon tens of thousands of trips each day--maybe this is even a greater miracle than jet travel.

  • Everybody has their own life, everybody has their own destination.

  • Live and let live--don’t look at how he harmed me.  Understand that a person does what he must do, or as he is used to do.

  • Some people’s place is on lower floors, some people at slightly higher floors--and yes, there are people on levels (even) higher than you.

  • The higher you get, the less people there are to accompany you, but don’t feel bad or lonely, because you are getting to your destination.

It pays to sit down and think, because some times, you can turn even an elevator ride into an elevating ride.




Having just left Pesach, we recall the powerful words of the Rambam (Hilchos Brachos 10:26 ):


“The primary rule is that a person should always call out to Hashem for the future and ask for His mercy; and give thanks for the past and praise Hashem, each person according to his strength.  And the more one thanks Hashem and constantly praises Him, the more praiseworthy he himself is.”


Rav Chaim Friedlander Z’TL deduces from this, and notes that, the Rambam does NOT write that the more one calls out to Hashem and asks for His mercy, the more praiseworthy he is.  Rather, the Rambam writes the more one thanks and praises Hashem, the greater he is.  Indeed, Chazal teach us that in the future, the Korban Todah--the Thanks Offering--will be the Korban that continues on and remains with us after the world becomes filled with the knowledge of Hashem.  The Sin Offerings and the Guilt Offerings will no longer have a place in our lives, but thanks always will.


It is amazing to note that the level of thanks and praise to Hashem on Pesach is so high that no Korban Todah can be brought because they must be brought with chometz loaves of bread--which is impossible on Pesach!  This is obviously no coincidence, as the Torah could have either excluded the chometz loaves from the offering on Pesach, or permitted them for the sake of the offering only.  The message is clear--on Pesach, we have grown even above this Korban.


Let us start the Spring/Summer season with our right foot forward, by keeping our Pesach spirit of Thanks and Hallel, so that as we begin to once again recite Mizmor L’Sodah daily, we will merge and blend our joy over the redemption of the past into an everlasting thanks continuing into the future.


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  As you go through davening (especially Pesukei D’Zimrah) focus on and feel the words of thanks--especially considering your being born close to the time of the Final Redemption and your having the tremendous opportunity to contribute to the last stages of Zechusim, putting up those last few bricks on the wall, to bring Moshiach, Bimhera B’yameinu.




The story is told of a man who had obviously grievously sinned and had come to Rav Shach Z’TL a few hours before Shabbos.  The man was sobbing uncontrollably and could barely eke out the following words, “How will I ever be forgiven?”  However, because of his uncontrollable sobbing, he was not able to express to Rav Shach what his sin was, so that Rav Shach could not give him advice.  After an extended period, Rav Shach advised him to go home, get some rest and come back to see him again on Motzei Shabbos.  The man did so, and on Motzei Shabbos, came in to Rav Shach, and sat down calmly, explaining to Rav Shach the aveira he had done.  After Rav Shach gave him his advice, the man left.


Commenting on this incident, Rav Shach noted how “sleeping on it” could cause a person to forget all of the feelings and emotions within him.  He surmised from this that Teshuvah must be done immediately upon recognition of an aveira, and advised his students not to sleep on an aveira without doing Teshuvah.


We can derive a similar lesson from this with regard to any of the strong positive feelings we had over the Pesach holiday.  We should not let them get away over this weekend.  Instead, we should reflect upon (and take some positive action which could maintain) the highpoints, the gained Emunah, the simcha, the thanks, and should try to remember any of the events or Divrei Torah that elevated us--so that they do not escape us during the coming days, weeks and months.


It might pay to review your feelings and experiences with your family or friends at the Shabbos table or at any other time, as one person’s reflections often assist another to grow in their own personal way, as well.




Below are some practical Hagadah notes, which we have culled from Ba’alei Mussar and Magidei Shiur:


1.  Since it is of the essence of the Seder to feel that YOU PERSONALLY left Mitzrayim, you and those around you should consider closing your eyes, putting yourself there,


  • and thinking about/describing the “Avodas Perech” and the pain of enslavement--YOU ARE THERE


  • and thinking about/describing the Makkos, and its effect on the Mitzriim and on B’nei Yisroel--YOU ARE THERE


  • and talking about the miracles, other than the Makkos, that YOU witnessed in Egypt --YOU ARE THERE


  • As you prepare for the Geulah--describe what you took (would take), how you reacted (would react) to the news that the time had come (as you would for Moshiach) and picture and discuss the events of the night and day of the Geulah.  How could three million people gather together so quickly?  What was the scene like?


2.  The night should be emotional.  Everyone can provide their own personal reflections of miracles and/or Hashgacha Pratis stories that happened to them or that they personally know about.


3.  Our focus should be on the salvations commencing with “Arami Oved Avi” through “Rabban Gamliel Haya Omer”--rather than getting caught up in nuances.  We should focus on the order of the Makkos and the Middah K’Neged Middah--How all was according to Hashem’s complete design and control.  Remember, we are becoming Avdei Hashem tonight and we should spend time on recognizing the opportunity of “Cheirus Olam”--the eternal, incredibly incredible position we have claimed tonight.


4.  It is important not be critical or short-tempered.  Remember, the Yetzer Hora is working overtime (past midnight !) to put a wrench into our precious Mitzvos D’Orasaya, Mitzvos D’Rabbanim and Minhagim of the Night.


5.  You may also want to prepare some discussion questions and answers.  Examples include:

  • Why were the Mitzriim told we would only be leaving for three days?

  • Why were items only “borrowed” from the Egyptian homes?

  • Why did we not leave when Paroh told us to--why did the process of redemption start at night and continue on through the day?

  • Why does the first of the Aseres Hadibros say that I am Hashem Who took you out of Egypt , and not I am Hashem Who created the world?


6.  Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’TL, in the Sefer Kol Ram explains “Pesach, Matzah and Maror” in a unique way.  The Korban Pesach represents how we--in Goshen , many miles away from the Makkas Bechoros in Mitzrayim Proper--still appreciated how it was the Hand of Hashem watching over us, notwithstanding that the danger did not appear to be imminently upon us.  In all situations, we realize that it is Hashem who is watching and protecting us, even if we sense no immediate danger or concern.  Further, explains Rav Feinstein, Matzah, symbolizes how things can suddenly change.  Hashem needs no preparation time.  Therefore, though a person might be in the depths of despair, his situation can suddenly change, and he can go from the forty-ninth level of impurity to complete redemption.  The reverse may also be true, and therefore, a person cannot rely on the good by which he is surrounded and expect that it will be there tomorrow.  We must always pray to, and rely upon, Hashem to be our “Ozer, Moshea and U’Magen”--to come to our aid, save us and shield us--at all times.  Finally, Maror teaches us that we cannot rely upon any government, notwithstanding that the current situation may be sweet and good.  The Mitzriim turned upon us, as did the Germans and many others of their predecessors (the Spanish, the English, and the French to name a few).  Once again, we see a great lesson of Leil HaSeder is that we are now privileged to look to, and pray to, Hashem for all of our salvations in every step of our lives.


Have a Sweet and Happy Passover!




As Pesach approaches, we provide the following important notes:


1.                  We recall the story of the man who looked around for “Kulos”, for leniencies, his whole life.  After 120 years, the Heavenly Court reviewed his records, noted that he followed the laws, and advised him that he would be going to “Gan Eden.”  The angels escorted him to his final place, which turned out to be a dark, dingy and rather damp cell. “This is Gan Eden?!” “Yes,” they replied, “according to some opinions.”


2.                  Pesach is a time when we are machmir, where we follow stringencies because of the force the Torah puts into Pesach itself, with 8 Mitzvos D’Oraisa in our time (and 24 in the times of the Bais Hamikdash--may it be rebuilt for this Pesach).  Its tremendous significance is underscored by Yetzias Mitzraim being referred to 50 times in the Torah.  For further elaboration on its relevance to our daily lives, please review the famous last Ramban in Parshas Bo.


3.                  HaRav Yisroel Salanter, Z’TL, shared the following observation: Young non-Jewish farmer boys were drafted into the Russian Army for 20 years.  Prior to their induction, they were care free, not orderly and not particularly concerned with their cleanliness.  During their stay in the Army, they were drilled with discipline, hygiene and orderliness.  Nevertheless, on their return home many years later, they almost immediately reverted to their old habits. After 20 years of constant, professionally supervised drilling and training--how could this happen so easily?  He said that the answer was very simple:  The farmer boys had no interest in internalizing what they were taught--even though they lived it for 20 years.  There had to be a yearning, a sincere desire, to change, to improve their way of life.  This was absent. What they accomplished was only a temporary, external habit.


There is a great lesson here.  When we perform the Mitzvos on the Leil HaSeder we must overcome our satisfaction with only external performance of the Mitzvos, and be Me’orer (arouse) ourselves internally to appreciate that when performing these Mitzvos, we rise to the heights of human existence in this world. Moshe Rabbeinu (who David HaMelech in Tehillim teaches us was one step away from being an angel--Tehillim 8:6) was called an “Eved Hashem” (See Bamidbar 12:7 and Devarim 34:5).  And tonight we too have stepped away from being servants of this world--Avdei Paro--and have instead became Avdei Hashem!  Your appreciation and utter exuberance over this new-found incredible, boundless and eternal gain should run over and flow through to those around you.  For additional elaboration, see Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzva 16.


4.                  What can we think about while we are dedicatedly eating our Matzoh at the Seder, and we cannot talk?  Of course, we should reflect that we are doing the Mitzvah as Hashem commanded.  To further “taste” the Matzoh, you may also reflect upon the following teaching of Rav Chaim Friedlander, Z’TL, (Sifsei Chaim 2:342):  Chometz represents a process by which “naturally” (i.e., without the assistance of outside forces) fermentation will occur--hiding Hashem’s hand in the dough.  To the contrary, the quick preparation of the Matzoh--its sudden production and completion--shows that Hashem’s hand overrides “nature.”  We therefore do not eat Chometz on Pesach in order to distill any notion of “mother nature,” “the laws of nature,” and the concepts of “coincidental,” “by chance,” “as luck would have it” and the like, and in order to enrich us with the appreciation that it is the Yad Hashem--and the Yad Hashem only--that is conducting and directing--as the Master of all masters--all of our affairs, every minute of the day--notwithstanding the “chometz” of nature apparently occurring every day by itself anyway.  In turn, Matzoh is referred to by the Zohar as the food of healing, for it cures us of all of these false notions which are harmful to our existence in this world, and which then perforce harm our existence in the eternal World-to-Come.


5.                  Bedikas Chometz is truly an activity of the body and soul--as we are to simultaneously rid ourselves of the leavened products in our homes, and the “Yetzer Hora B’libeinu”--the leaven that exists within us.  The pre-Pesach toil, sweat, fatigue and enormous costs and expenses indicate our sincerity and dedication to both of these tasks.  At Bedikas Chometz, we are nearing the epitome of our achievement--can we let it go with a perfunctory search of our homes because everything “has already been cleaned ten times anyway?”  How could a serious bedika take less than half hour or an hour--depending on the size of your home?  Indeed, if you merely go around to collect the 10 pieces, your bracha is considered a bracha l’vatala (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 111:8).  Picture yourself waiting on line for two hours to get to the observation deck in the Empire State Building--as soon as you got up, would you ask the attendant where the line was for the down elevators?


6.                  An Erev Pesach Note: For special reasons, Erev Pesach afternoon is unique--we are generally not permitted to perform any melacha that we would not do on Chol HaMoed.  We must, therefore, cut our nails, shave and take haircuts before Chatzos ( midday ) on Erev Pesach.  If however, one forgot to do so, he may cut his nails in the afternoon.  If one was not able to take a haircut before Chatzos, the Halacha permits it to be given by a non-Jew only.  It does not help to be “already waiting” in the Jewish barber shop as Chatzos arrives.



7.                  Don’t Get Stuck With This:  Glue which is on the back of stamps and envelopes should not be licked on Pesach, because the glue might actually contain wheat starch, which would be Chometz.


8.                  Finally, a Chinuch Note:  The Mitzvah of Chinuch on the Leil HaSeder is perhaps at its peak for the entire year. For those who have children below the age of bar/bas mitavah, one should be careful to review his responsibility and his child’s responsibility, as to the different aspects of the Seder--eating of the Matzoh, the drinking of each one of the Four Cups, Heseiba (reclining), Hallel, Marror, and the other Mitzvos, minhagim and halachos of the Night.  See The Halachos of Pesach (by Rabbi Shimon Eider Shlita) and Children in Halacha (by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen Shlita) for further elaboration in these areas.





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 recent Hakhel Shiur, given by HaRav Dovid Zucker, Shlita, author of the Sefer Chol HaMoed (Artscroll 2005), and Rosh Kollel of the Chicago Community Kollel.  This Shiur was broadcast via satellite to 13 locations in the United States and Canada by the Torah Conferencing Network.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




The Mishna in Sanhedrin (37A) teaches that Adam HaRishon was created alone, yet has tens of billions of uniquely different descendents, in order for us to understand that someone who destroys one human life is considered to have destroyed the whole world, and one who saves one human life is considered to have saved an entire world.  Furthermore, the Mishna continues, we learn from this amazing phenomenon that each person is obligated to recognize, appreciate and say, “The world was created for me.”


The Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim (Chapter 28) demonstrates in detail how a human being is, in fact, a world unto himself, explaining how the various parts of the person are analogous to different parts of the universe.  (See there for incredible details).  As the Orchos Tzaddikim writes, each one of us is our own “Olam Katan”--our own little world.  Now, this does not mean that we should be **IN** our own little world, separate and apart from others.  Rather, it means that we should value our lives as Hashem values them, as a world, in and of itself.


Chazal, at the beginning of Pirkei Avos (1:2), teach us what a world **needs in order to exist**--“The world stands upon three things--Torah, Avodah (service of Hashem, which is currently evidenced by Tefillah) and Gemilas Chasodim--acts of kindness”.  We must therefore examine ourselves, as our own little world, to determine whether our world is truly worthy of standing and thriving.  At the very least, at the end of each day we should check--how was my Torah, Avodah and Gemilas Chasodim today?  [An even better approach may be, at the beginning of each day, to plan how you intend to keep your world standing.]


We note that the type of Torah, Avodah and Gemilas Chasodim a person undertakes could change from time-to-time, to help “grow” in your world.


At this time of year, we provide some timely suggestions for your world’s benefit, in daily Torah, Avodah and Gemilas Chasodim.


TORAH:  Since this is a time of Geulah of the past and Geulah of the future, for the purpose of keeping his world going, one could read/learn/study:

  • Midrashim of Yetzias Mitzrayim and Geulah

  • the Laws of Korbon Pesach  IMPORTANT NOTE:  There are 8 Mitzvos that relate to Chometz and Matzah on Pesach.  There are actually 16 Mitzvos that apply to the Korbon Pesach (yes, twice as many), that are missing from our lives until the Beis HaMikdosh is rebuilt.  Let us show our longing for them by studying these laws.

  • the perek of Mishnayos printed in all Siddurim and known as Eizehu Mekoman--which gives the basic parameters of Korbanos, in order to, once again, prepare ourselves for the Third Beis HaMikdosh--hopefully today.  Indeed, the Chofetz Chaim in many writings especially urged the study of Kodshim in our times.  We can start by becoming familiar with this small, but crucial, chapter of Mishnayos, which is published in all Siddurim.


AVODAH (Service through Tefillah):  During this month of Nissan, despite the usual rush at the end of davening, let us try to have special Kavanah, word-for-word, in the second paragraph of Aleinu, known as “V’Al Kein Nekavah Lecha”, in which we beautifully describe, and pray for, not only our own world, but the entire world, at the time of Geulah.  Since many of us may have committed this Tefillah to memory, we can think about it, and its meaning, while walking to the train, bus or store.  Additionally, even if you have this beautified Tefillah memorized, while davening try reading it from the Siddur to increase your appreciation and Kavanah.


CHESED (Kind Deeds):  The Tanna D’vei Eliyahu (Chapter 23) teaches that one of the key reasons we were redeemed from Mitzrayim was because we performed kind deeds to each other.  Indeed, the Chofetz Chaim in Sefer Ahavas Chesed (2:5) writes that our acts of Chesed will be a resounding cause of our future Redemption.  One may speciously claim that, unlike daily Torah and Tefillah, Acts of Chesed (e.g., visiting the sick or comforting mourners) seem not to be keyed in to daily performance.  In fact, however, daily Chesed begins with immediate family and friends--the people you see all the time.  Remember daily to SMILE, PROVIDE A GENEROUS DOSE OF KIND AND COMPLIMENTARY WORDS, PICK UP SOMETHING SOMEONE ELSE HAS DROPPED, DO SOMETHING WITHOUT BEING ASKED, and the list goes on and on ESPECIALLY WHEN SOMETHING MORE THAN “STAYING OUT OF THE WAY” OR “COOPERATION” IS NEEDED BEFORE YOM TOV.  In short, at least with everyone in your immediate vicinity, you can do Chesed, and it can and should be one of a person’s constant DAILY activities.


There is an old debate as to whether the sun revolves around the earth, or the earth revolves around the sun.  At this point, scientists believe that they know the answer.  One thing is certain, though--our world revolves around us.


Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Shlita, renowned Maggid Shiur in Halacha, and Rosh Kollel of the Bostoner Halacha Kollel, recently provided the following valuable information relating to our Pesach observance:


1.  After some research, he knows of only three (3) New York area Shmura Matzoh bakeries which utilized only Shomer Shabbos workers.  This is not to say that other bakeries utilize non-Jews, or that his research was fully exhaustive; however, he asked one bakery (with many employees from the former Soviet Union ) if they utilized only Jews in Shmura Matzoh preparation.  They answered in the affirmative.  He asked them how they knew their employees were Jewish--they responded, “Before we hire them – we ask them:  ‘Are you Jewish?’”


In response to all this, one can say that “I rely on the Hashgacha” (if, in fact, there is a Hashgacha listed on the box).  However, we ask--before purchasing a $100,000 diamond, would you not make some independent investigation as to its authenticity?  For further reference as to the acceptability of non-Jews baking Shmura Matzohs to be used at the Seder, see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 460:1 and the Mishne Berurah and Kaf HaChaim there.


The three New York metropolitan area bakeries with Shomer Shabbos employees he noted are Bais Rochel, Pupa and Lakewood.


2.  In Ponevez Yeshiva, Bnei Brak, tradition has it that there is always supposed to be someone learning in the stately, beautiful Beis Medrash.  At about 3:30 a.m. on the Leil HaSeder, a gentleman walked into the Beis Medrash to see if he could find someone learning even then.  Indeed, he found a father and his sons learning about Yetzias Mitzraim.  Asked why he was in the Beis Medrash with his sons at this hour, the man responded, “You would not ask me this question on Leil Shavuos or even Leil Hoshana Rabbah.  Yet, Chazal themselves actually teach us here, as recorded in the Haggadah, that the more one speaks about Yetzias Mitzraim on this night, the more praiseworthy it (he) is.”  See the Tosefta in Pesachim 10:8 for further elaboration.  Rabbi Pearl Shlita, therefore suggested that, given this is such a rare yearly opportunity, one should use extra special effort at Chad Gadia not to fall asleep at the table or “make it into bed” just as you conclude the Seder. Instead, one should weigh the supernally precious moments and spend an extra little while, let us say one-half hour, just talking more about what you could not get through or look up at the Seder--even if you are only talking to no one other than yourself.


3.  The Mishna (Pesachim 116B) teaches that everyone should view himself as if he individually left Egypt .  The Rambam (Hilchos Chometz U’Matzoh 3:6 and 3:7) writes that in order to personally feel the redemption, a man must lean/recline b’heseiba to the left on this night, which is “derech cheirus.”  In fact, the Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 472:7) and the Mishne Berurah (ibid., seif katan 23) rule that lechatchila not only do eating the Matzoh and drinking the four Kossos require heseiba--but the Seudah--the festive meal--should also be eaten b’heseiba.  We note, however, that the actual recitation of the Haggadah should not be b’heseiba, but “b’eima uv’yirah”--with a special awe (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 473, Mishne Berurah, seif katan 71).


4.  It is said that the Steipler Gaon, ZT’L, had a breakfront with chometz dishes in it.  He did not make anyone cover up the dishes, or even cover the glass on the breakfront.  Instead, he simply tied a cord around the handles as a method of reminding and restricting people from getting into the cabinet.  This is what one may simply do with respect to the cabinets which are labeled “Sold to the Non-Jew”, just put some “heker”--something to remind and somewhat restrict you from entering the area.  However, we note that putting things “in the attic” or “in the laundry room” without somehow otherwise restricting access to them is not enough, as even though you do not plan to go into these rooms on Pesach, somehow the chometz-related items have a way of finding themselves back into the dining room.


- - - - - - - - -


Finally, if you would like a computer-generated calculation of many Halachic times (such as “Chatzos for the Seder”) for your home address or shul’s address, which is based upon the longitude and latitude, you may call Rabbi Mordechai Premock at (718) 851-1314 for your personalized chart.




The Sefer Maalos HaMidos (page 48) incredibly notes that both Sefer Mishlei and Sefer Koheles (both taught by the wisest of all, Shlomo HaMelech, and both of which are known for being the seforim of “advice” in Tanach) conclude with the same advice--that one should have Yiras Hashem--one should fear Heaven (Mishlei 31:30 and Koheles 12:13).


What does this ultimate advice-that the key to life is fear of Heaven-really mean?  According to the Maalos HaMidos, it is the sense that you are in Hashem’s presence at all times (ibid. page 52), which means that you are never alone, and should never feel alone.


The Gemora (Shabbos 31A) teaches that when the posuk (Yeshiyah 33:6) says “Yiras Hashem He Otzaro--that fear of Heaven is his storehouse, it means that no matter how valuable the treasures are in one’s storehouse, they will simply not last without the proper measure of Yiras Hashem.  The sense of closeness to Hashem preserves one’s Torah knowledge, one’s ability to daven with Kavana, and one’s ability to differentiate between right and wrong and to conduct himself properly.  When one pours milk out of its container into a cup, it makes for a good cup of coffee.  If the cup is missing when you pour, the milk gets spilled all over the table, only creates a mess, and you are left with a residual black coffee.  Yiras Hashem is that very cup.  Its absence is the mess, and the bad coffee.


One need not be a Torah scholar to recognize the prime importance of this Midah in everyday life.  The Torah itself, in one of the very few questions contained in the Torah, actually pointedly asks (Devarim 10:12 )--What does Hashem ask of you?  Thankfully, the Torah itself immediately gives the response-the first thing that Hashem asks is... Yiras Hashem.  Indeed, the posuk in Koheles ( 3:14 ) definitively states “V’HaElokim Asah She’Yiru Milfanav”--Hashem made that we should fear Him.  The commentaries there, as well as the Gemara explaining the purpose of lightning and thunder (Brochos 59A), and contemporary Rabbonim explaining September 11, the tsunami, and other current events, all point to this posuk--Look around and “smell the coffee”--in the cup!  If we learn our lesson--if we can properly develop Yiras Hashem, it becomes a “Mekor Chaim”--a Fountain of Life (Mishlei 14:27 ) and **Actually Extends The Days of Our Life**” (see Mishlei 10:27 , and Eben Ezra and Ralbag there).


So how can we grow in this life-giving area?


We present two complimentary approaches:

1)  Try not to feel alone.  Try to feel that you are always with Hashem, which is the absolute truth.  A great Rebbe once told his followers that he does not believe in Hashem.  Shocked more than stunned, the Chassidim heard more.  I do not believe in Hashem--however, I also do not believe that this table is in front of me.  I **KNOW** that the table is in front of me, and I also know that Hashem is in front of me, as well.  In this vein, talking to Hashem helps, even about those areas which may seem otherwise insignificant.  “Hashem, please help me find a parking spot.”  “Thank you for the beautiful weather.”  “I really need help with prioritizing before Pesach--please guide me.”  You can practice and grow by focusing on certain times to put Hashem before you-- Some examples include: during lunch; during a designated telephone conversation; during a Shemone Esrei; or every time you say the words “**MY**” or “**It’s MINE**”.


2)  A second approach is to daven for Yiras Hashem, for although this is ultimately our responsibility, as the Gemara (Megillah 25A) teaches, “Everything is in the hands of Heaven, except for the fear of Heaven”, we can and do pray for Hashem’s assistance even here, as we recite every morning in U’va L’Tzion, “…and He should place in our heart love and fear of Him…”  As the Siddur Beis Yaakov points out, we need Hashem’s assistance in this area (see, e.g., Yirmiyahu 32:40).  Indeed, Dovid HaMelech pleads (Tehillim 86:11) “Yached Levovi L’Yirah Shemecha”--Unite my heart to fear Your Name!


As we approach Pesach, where our Emunah draws inspiration for the entire year, a great and extremely important way to prepare is to begin to tangibly feel and be awed by Hashem’s presence--which is with you throughout the day and every day!


Other email archives