Daily Email Archives

Bulletin Archives

Summer Archives

Public Announcements

Shatnez Publications

Past Events

Hakhel Recordings



Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin



Special Note One:  It is important to note that of the 79 Mitzvos in the upcoming Parshios of Achrei Mos and Kedoshim, at least 23 relate to Arayos--forbidden relationships and immorality.  As always, we must take the lesson from the Parsha as we live through it, and bolster our care in the fundamental area that avoidance of Arayos plays in a Jew’s life.  Especially as the warmer weather comes upon us, and the populations around us act with increased prurience, we must fulfill Hashem’s directive in the Parsha--“You shall be holy, for I am holy…. (Vayikra 19:2).”  Rashi (ibid.) teaches that this Pasuk immediately follows the Parsha of the Arayos, because when one makes appropriate fences and boundaries--properly separating or distancing oneself from Arayos in all forms--this is where Kedusha may be found.


The western world incredibly considers some of the Arayos as “victimless” crimes.  We, on the other hand, believe that not only are the participants and those who encourage them at fault, but that the degenerate mores impact horrendously on the world at large.  We need go no further than the Pasuk “Ki Hishchis Kol Bassar EsDarko Al Ha’Aretz”—for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth (Bereishis 6:12), and the literal destruction of the world at the time of the Flood that resulted in its aftermath.  We must do something to distance ourselves far, far, far away from this behavior.  Each of us (man and woman, young and old, city worker and chareidi neighborhood dweller) can do something to improve his/her situation in this regard--to bring a greater, tangible Kedusha into one’s life.  It is now less than 30 days to Matan Torah--in which the Kedusha from on High--the Torah--was brought down to this world for transmission to us all in each generation.  Let us make ourselves eminently worthy of it--not only by contemplation and reflection--but in deed and in restraint.



Special Note Two: As news travels regarding, rachmana litzlan, a potentially dangerous flu being transmitted around the world, we feel compelled to relate several important points about Tefillah in these times.  As we are in the final Galus of Eisav, symbolized by the chazir (See Vayikra Rabbah 13), we realize that the source/name attributed to and given to the illness is by no means a coincidence.


  1. As we have noted in the past, Chazal (Shabbos 32A ) teach that one should pray not to become sick--and that it is much easier for a person’s tefillos to be accepted before becoming ill, than, r’l, after the illness has already set in.  Rabbeinu Yonah (at the end of the Sefer HaYirah) writes that not becoming ill is one of the things that a person should daven for in his own words every day.  Indeed, this may be one of the Kavannos of the words “Hosheeainu VeNeevoshaya “, which is recited in the bracha of Refoenu during each and every Shemone Esrei.


  1. HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita (Teshuvos VeHanhagos 1:122) writes that we cannot fathom the immense Kavannos that were placed into our Tefillos by the Anshei Kenesses HaGedola, who were imbued with Ruach HaKodesh.  What we can do, he suggests, in order to connect to these higher level Kavannos [in addition, of course, to our own Kavannah at least for the meaning of the words], is to recite a Nussach available by clicking here (which apparently Rav Shternbuch himself wrote and recites) prior to each one of our daily Tefillos.  May our Tefillos thereby realize their great potential!


  1. In the Baruch She’amar that we recite daily (which the Mishne Berurah to Orach Chayim 51:1 brings was instituted by the Anshei Kenesses HaGedolah via a note that fell from Heaven!), the word “Baruch” is repeated thirteen (13) times, corresponding to the 13 Middos of Hashem’s Rachamim.  As we recite these words, let us at least be conscious of the fact that Hashem is the source of all bracha and mercy for the world, with sincere feelings of thanks and appreciation.


  1.  If we consider our daily Shemone Esrei, we may notice that the Kavannah level may be at its highest points at the beginning of Shemone Esrei, and at its end, with the middle brachos perhaps not attaining the same level of focus.  We may refer specifically to the four (4) brachos of Tekah BeShofar, Hosheeva Shoftainu, VeLamalshinim and Al HaTzadikim (which are preceded by the brachos for Refuah and Parnassah, and succeeded by the brachos for Yerushalayim and the Yeshua, all of which may draw our focus by their terms). May we suggest that one dedicate himself (and perhaps encourage others) to have Kavannah for the plain meaning of the words in these four essential (just look at what they are about!)--but potentially lonelier—brachos?  With this dedication, with this additional effort, you will demonstrate how important a complete Tefillah really is to you.


All world events are intended to bring us closer to Our Father, Our King--and there is no way to get closer to Him than by sincerely and meaningfully communicating with Him--which He so much for our own good desires and expects!  Let us do our part, for ourselves and our families--and, quite literally, for the world!!



Special Note One:  Rebbe Elazar Ben Arach (Avos 2:13 ) teaches that “the proper way unto which a man should cling” can be summed up in two words--a “Lev Tov”, translated as a good heart.  Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai considered this two-word response to his inquiry about the choicest path in life to be the most all inclusive of those presented to him.  The Tiferes Yisroel (ibid., note 88) explains in six words what a “good heart” truly entails.  It is **Libo Tomid Sameach U’Mezuman LeHaitiv LaKol**--someone possesses a Lev Tov--a good heart--not necessarily because he swims a lot, drinks large quantities of grape juice, or even gives generous sums to charity from time to time.  The person of Lev Tov is a person whose mindset is consistently a happy one, who does not become quickly impatient or frustrated with himself or the world, a person whom people clearly recognize as a happy person--and who is always ready to help others.  Just remembering these six easy Hebrew words is a wonderful way to constantly test your Lev Tov throughout the day--for, as we see from the definition of a Lev Tov--your inner heart is expressed only through your outer disposition and actions!



Special Note Two:  Before we leave Az Yashir for the time being, we must note a marvelous Peshat from Reb Itzele Volozhiner, Z’tl, on the phrase “Nora Sehillos Oseh Phelleh--too fearful for praise doing wonders.”  How does the first part of the phrase, Nora Sehillos, relate to the second part, Oseh Phelleh?  What do they have to do with each other?  R’ Itzele explains that if we express our great thanks and praise to Hashem for the extraordinary events in Mitzrayim and at the Yam Suf, it may appear that we recognize and appreciate only the astonishing and unexpected events that Hashem orchestrates and conducts on our behalf.  It might, then, be inappropriate--and we should be fearful--to thank and praise Hashem for these events, lest it poorly reflect on our attitude towards the literally hundreds and thousands of daily miracles we so pervasively otherwise bask in.  It is for this reason that at the Yam Suf--as part of the Shira--we proclaimed “Oseh Phelleh!”--Hashem, you are always doing wonders for us--our thanking you now is not a one-time expression--it is just a special expression--of the true thanks and appreciation that we have for You all of the time.  Similarly, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita teaches that he recites Nishmas on the birth of a grandchild or other special event in his life.  The Nishmas tefillah is replete with thanks to Hashem for all of our everyday life’s situations--“the thousand, thousands of thousands and myriad myriads” that we each experience in our lifetimes--which are incredibly not even the same for any two of us!


Additional Note:  We look all around at springtime (or fall, for those below the equator)--the weather, the chirping birds, the flowers, the blooming and blossoming, and for those who can see well--the fine shades of green, orange and yellow--can we not, at least a few times a day exclaim the words of our forefathers, “Oseh Phellah! Oseh Phelleh!”



Special Note Three:  As we proceed through Sefiras HaOmer, we must make sure that these special days are not merely marked by a 30-second bracha recitation in the evening, barber shops with no lines and temporarily darkened catering halls.  A recently published Sefer by Rabbi Yaakov Haber, Shlita, entitled Sefiros provides middos to work on for each day of Sefira, based upon the deeper meaning associated with the day--today, for example, being Yesod SheBetiferes.  In a similar vein, HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, Z’tl, teaches that each day of Sefira one builds a floor in an edifice under construction, and that, accordingly, one must build carefully and wisely, as today’s construction will affect not only the floor being built today, but the integrity of the future floors being built in the coming days.  One must accomplish the goal of “Temimos” which the Torah particularly emphasizes in connection with this Mitzvah (Vayikra 23:15 ).  “Temimos” means, he teaches, trying to complete yourself in some way every day--filling in those unnecessary holes and cracks, getting rid of the unnecessary splinters, and any uneven (and certainly jagged) edges that may exist in, for example, Ka’as, Lashon Hora, daily Brachos, Birchas HaMazon, Torah Study--all of those finishes necessary to make you the first-class person that you really can be.


We still have 30 days left of Sefira--enough time to build a wonderful edifice, not merely substantially completed--but Temimos--all you need is the care, concern and daily attention of which you are eminently capable.  Start today on your 30-day building and refinement plan that you could be so proud of on Shavuos!



Special Note One:  We received the following moving points from readers:


a.                   “Also regarding IYAR, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov writes that the word IYAR is Roshei Taivos of the words "Oyvai Yoshuvu Yaivoishu Roga," thus indicating that the month of IYAR is conducive to see a Mapala for the enemies of Klal Yisroel!”


Hakhel Note: When reciting Tachanun during this month we should have especial Kavannah when reciting these words--that they come to immediate reality!


b. I have the following “reality check” which can really help a person grow.  At the end of your day, try looking back and asking yourself just two questions--“What is the most meaningful thing that I did today?” and “What is the least meaningful thing that I did today?”  By doing this, you begin to encourage and develop some nice activities, and rid yourself of at least the sheer nonsense and waste that you may bring into your day.  By keeping a written record of these two items (in a sentence or two), you can make an ineffaceable mark on your future.  Try it--you’ll see what I mean.



Special Note Two:  We had previously asked why the Shiras Hayam teaches “Sus VeRochvo Rama Vayam”--the horse and its rider were hurled into the sea--why is the horse, which seems to be secondary, referred to for primary punishment in the pasuk, and the wicked Mitzri rider only mentioned as the person attached to that horse?  Many expressed interest in a response, so that they could have proper Kavannah or inspiration in its daily recitation.  Here is a possible suggestion:


The Sus--the horse--symbolizes the might of Mitzrayim.  One of the Lo Sa’asehs of the Jewish King is that he is not permitted to own more horses than necessary “so that he will not return the people to Mitzrayim in order to increase horses” (Devorim 17:16).  The Sus represents reliance on physical power and prowess.  Hashem wanted us to leave that--to cast the concept into the sea, if you will.  As we recite daily in our Shacharis, “Lo Vigvuras HaSus Yechpatz (Tehillim 147:10)--Hashem does not desire the strength of the horses”.  Similarly, we recite “Aileh Varechev, Ve’aileh VaSusim (Tehillim 20:7)--Some with chariots and some with horses, but we in the name of Hashem do call out.”  It is, indeed, fascinating to note that despite all of the great wealth we took out of Mitzrayim--the silver, gold, precious garments, flocks of sheep and herds of cattle (Shemos 12:35-39), there is no indication in the Torah whatsoever that we took--or were allowed to take--even one of the most precious commodities of Egypt and perhaps the world--the Egyptian horse!


We remind ourselves, as we recite the Shira daily, that when we left Mitzrayim, we took it upon ourselves to be Hashem’s subjects, and are no longer interested in, or subject to, the ways and wiles of pseudo-strength and fleeting valor.  With this, we lead ourselves logically into the next section of davening--the Birchos Kryias Shema and Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim.



Special Note Three:  The Medrash Rabba on last week’s Parsha brings the extraordinary story of the peddler who traveled from city to city crying out, “Who wants to purchase the elixir for life?  Is there anyone who wishes to purchase the potion for life?”  The great Rebbe Yannai heard the merchant’s pitch, and told him that he would purchase the concoction.  The peddler then opened up a Sefer Tehillim to the posukim “Mi HaIsh HeChofetz Chaim…Which man desires life…guard your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.” (34:13-14)  Succinctly stated, the elixir is Shemiras HaLashon!  Rebbe Yannai, upon hearing these words, was impressed by the Chiddush contained in the peddler’s teaching.


Everyone who has heard or studied this Medrash (probably each and every one of us) asks the question, what was the point, the nuance, the novelty, that the peddler provided that Rebbe Yannai did not previously know, understand or realize?!


HaRav Shimon Schwalb, Z’tl, based upon his personal audience and experience with the Chofetz Chaim himself, reports the Chofetz Chaim’s understanding of the Medrash:


Unlike other storekeepers or businessman, a peddler cannot extend credit, and all transactions are COD.  Rebbe Yannai learned from the peddler that, for the act of refraining from Lashon Hora one does not receive a “credit” for life.  Instead, he receives **an immediate award** of life!  Moreover, added the Chofetz Chaim, the life we are talking about is not merely a day of life--or even ten days--or even thirty days or a year or two years.  Rather, it is as we recite in the Bracha over the Torah, “Vechayei Olam Nota Besochainu”--it is Chayei Olam--an eternal life.  The Chofetz Chaim, in fact, turned to his student, and asked him, “Do you know where we will be 100 years from now?  In the Mechitza of the Ribbono Shel Olam.  This is the same place we will be in 1,000 years from now--and in 5 million years from now (!!)--with the Ribbono Shel Olam.”  This is what a person who refrains from Lashon Hora merits--an immediate ticket to millions and millions years of being in the Mechitza of the Ribbono Shel Olam--could there be anything greater--could there be?!


So, the next time the temptation of Lashon Hora comes, and to most of us it happens several times a day, remember three things--A) Immediate Payment, B) 5 Million Years and More, C ) In the Mechitza of the Ribbono Shel Olam.  This should help out a tremendous amount with that Nisayon…and convert it into  pristine, eternal  bliss!!



Special Note One: We received an additional important communication from a reader:


“If possible, you can mention to the readers that there is now an English translation of “Shabbos Malkasa” by Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, Z’tl, called "Nefesh Shimshon, Shabbos Kodesh" published by Feldheim. (I'm not sure who translated it.)  It is unbelievable and will definitely change your Shabbos if you read it!!  Feldheim had an advertisement for the book that stated “Guaranteed* to change your Shabbos” and the note by the * said, ‘We will give you a full refund if your Shabbos is not changed after reading this!’ It is so true!”


Hakhel Note--More Good News:  There is another meaningful new volume that has recently been published which will most certainly enlighten and enhance your Shabbos.  Please click here for more information. 



Special Note Two: Following is a short Post-Pesach Quiz, as we bask in the light of Nissan for two more days. We welcome and encourage your thoughts and responses.


  1. According to the Netziv, what was the 50th level of Tumah that we had to be rescued from before it was too late?


  1. In the Az Yashir that we recite daily, we say/sing “Sus VeRochvo Rama Vayam (Shemos 14:30 )--Hashem hurled the horse and its rider into the sea.”  Why is the horse mentioned first--as if it were the ikar--and the rider--the Mitzri pursuer mentioned only second--as if he was the horse?  What is the daily lesson for us here in our recitation of the monumental Shira?


  1. When you don’t receive the thanks for something that you believe you deserve--what is a possible message or lesson for you?


  1. Upon awakening in the morning, one should attempt to keep his thoughts focused on ruchniyus matters for as long as possible (See Piskei Teshuvos 1:1, pp.4-5).  In fact, the G’ra, soon after awakening would state “Hareini Mekabel Alai Ol Torah HaYom.”  How long can you keep yourself focused on plans and thoughts relating to Torah and Ma’asim Tovim in the morning before your thoughts get diverted?  Can you build it up in the same way that you exercise a muscle?



Special Note Three:  As we move towards Kabbalas HaTorah, we provide the following enlightening words of Chazal (Yalkut Shimoni to Mishlei 4):

“There are 248 Mitzvos Aseh in the Torah and 248 limbs of the body--for each limb reminds and cries out to the person ‘Perform the Mitzvah-so that you will live in its merit, and also merit length of days.  There are 365 Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh in the Torah corresponding to the 365 days of the solar year--for each day from the time the sun rises and until it sets, it reminds us and cries out--I direct you not to do an aveira today, which could tip the scales against me and the whole world, chas veshalom, to chovah--in the wrong direction....”


Let us take an important moment now to look at our hands, our arms, our legs--they are Hashem’s messengers to us reminding us to stay focused, do right, and keep the world going.  Every so often we should gaze at these “Chofetz Chaims”--these living teachers--of which we are composed--reminding us to fulfill our mission in life--raising ourselves, and raising the world with us.


Then, we can look at the sun for a brief moment or even at the light it sheds--it is talking to us--communicating essential, life-bearing advice:  Please, Please, no--don’t go there…don’t say that…close your eyes and don’t look…don’t hurt that person with what you are about to do….  If you squint when you are outside on a sunny day, it is not a coincidence--it is merely a stronger message.


Hashem has blessed us with reminders within us and around us.  They are like alarm clocks gently sounding for us throughout the day, and they will only be ineffective if we turn them off.  Incredibly, when we heed their message and do this Mitzvas Aseh here, and avoid that Lo Sa’aseh there--when we throughout the day consciously use Hashem’s gifts for Chazal’s stated and noteworthy purpose, we bring not only life and length of days to ourselves in this world and the next--but life to the entire world, as well--for which the sun and the rest of Ma’aseh Beraishis will be so thankful!



We received the following beautiful thoughts from our readers:


a.  “Yesterday, you referred to Praying With Fire 2.  I just wanted to share with you one of the many, many things I learned from this incredible Sefer.  It taught me that when I have a headache, my first reaction should not be--where is the Tylenol, so that I can take two Extra Strengths and it will go away.  I really had always thought that that was the right reaction.  No, the RIGHT REACTION is “Hashem you gave me the headache--I acknowledge that (do teshuva for something, if necessary), and then daven to Hashem that the headache go away.  Then take the Tylenol and remember that it is not the Tylenol taking away the headache--it is Hashem, and the Tylenol is His shaliach through teva--through nature--and the cures He has provided to us in this world.”


b.  “Thank you for emphasizing the need to leave Pesach with something in hand.  My goal is to make sure I simply say the words “Thank you” much more often throughout the day--first to Hashem (this also makes me much more focused on His Presence), next to my family and close friends, to remind myself about the Hakaras Hatov I owe them (even if I may believe that I do more for them than they do for me--a lot of that may be Yetzer Hora, and not properly or fully thinking things through), and finally to all those who perform services for me even if I pay them for it--we still owed Hakaras Hatov to the Mitzriim (!) for being their guests!  I feel that if I can keep this up a bit, with just these two words (in Hebrew I would say “Todah Rabba”, and in Yiddish, “A Shainem Dank!”), I will have raised the bar in my daily life.”



Special Note One:  Have you made your list yet of lessons from Pesach--and how you will implement at least some of them in your daily life?  If not now, when?  Don’t just go through Pesach--make Pesach go through you!



Special Note Two:  If the Moshiach comes between today and Pesach Sheni (the 14th of Iyar), will each one of us bring a Korban Pesach on Pesach Sheni, or because we missed bringing the Korban Pesach on Erev Pesach will we have to wait all the way until next year to bring the Korban Pesach?



Special Note Three:  Today is the Yahrzeit of the legendary and incomparable HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, so much of whose life was dedicated to helping the lives of others become accomplished and complete.  We provide below three separate examples of his teachings on personal brachos and tefillos, as originally brought by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita, in Rabbi Avigdor Miller Speaks (Volume 1, pp. 227, 234--Artscroll), and as highlighted in the masterful work Praying With Fire 2 by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita (p.172-3, p.186--Artscroll).


1.  When a customer walks in, say a quick tefillah that the customer should buy your merchandise and pay the right price and not complain…HaKadosh Baruch Hu will say, “I see you trusting in Me, as the Pasuk states ‘Blessed is the man who puts his trust in Hashem, and, therefore, Hashem will reward him by becoming his trust.’”


If you are going to see   a customer [at his place of business], before you walk in, say, “Yehi ratzon milefanecha she’tatzlicheni--Hashem, please make me successful!”


Hakhel Note:  Of course, one should analogize to his everyday situations relating to projects, meeting with superiors at work, shopping, eating Kosher, dating, …everything in life!


2.  Even where Tefillas HaDerech is not required, if you are starting up your car, ask Hashem (without making a bracha) for safety and everything else you need on the way… “Believe me--in town you need a lot of help from Hashem!”


3.  “Good Morning” is not merely a trite phrase or pleasantry.  Good morning means that they should have a good breakfast, that they should earn a good living, no colds today, no trouble in business.  “Good Morning” means everything!


Hakhel Note:  Imagine the meaning and power of a sincere “Have a Good Day!”


Thank you, Rabbi Miller, for such truly essential daily guidance!  May we each be blessed with the sechel to implement it!



Special Note Four: As we move closer to Kabbalas HaTorah, we are reminded of the teaching of HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, Z’tl:  Why is it that each Mesechta begins on Daf Bais--what happened to Daf Aleph?!  Rabbi Pincus answers that this is to remind us that we must first “open our eyes” and consider what we are about to learn--something holy, something special, something passed on for more than 3,300 years, something eternal, something that is life-giving--both in this world and in the next.  Could there be anything more worthwhile, more essential, more privileged, more exhilarating?  Perhaps we should hum or sing “Ashreinu Ma Tov Chelkeinu” at least once a day before learning!


Special Note One:  We received the following URGENT COMMUNICATION from a reader.  Although, it is slightly lengthy we have elected to insert it in its entirety because of the magnitude of its contents:  

Dear Friends,

We are facing a situation in Eretz Yisrael that we've never had before.  We've been giving out food for over 30 years and Baruch Hashem, we've always managed to give to those that are truly in need.

This year is different.

Let me tell you about a phone call I just got.  A friend was in the butcher shop buying chickens for Pesach.  A woman came in and asked the butcher for the free chicken wings he usually gives her every week.  The butcher apologized but said he can no longer afford to give her and especially not before Pesach.  The woman left the store with tears streaming down her face.  My friend ran after her and gave her whatever money was in her pocketbook.  This particular incident ended happily but we are facing so many situations that are nearly identical.  People who have lost jobs, people who are in Kollel and haven't gotten paid for 5 months, sick people who cannot work, and the elderly and those who have no support system whatsoever.

Many of you have already given and my first reaction was to just say that we are doing what we can and no more is required than that.

But Hakodosh Boruch Hu works in mysterious ways.  We just got an offer from Kiryat Sefer for a matching grant if we can come up with 250,000 shekels (around $62,000).  This money will go directly to families who will not otherwise be able to make Yom Tov.  Every penny will be used for this.  If you'd like to give, you can call me (718 258 1580) or donate on the website (www.yadeliezer.org) with a comment that this is for the Kiryat Sefer Match.

May Hakodosh Boruch Hu bless you all so that you can always give, never need to receive, and always, always have the capacity to care.

Chag Kasher V'Sameach.

Sori Tropper

Hakhel Response:  At HaRav Belsky’s recent Hakhel Shiur, he stated that the Pesach Chumra and Hiddur that we have to keep during this time of economic difficulty is helping others to enjoy Pesach--especially those who may not have needed some form of assistance in the past.



Special Note Two:  We received the following correspondence from a reader:


“I wanted to share a Halachic point that I personally did not know even after all these years that you may find worthwhile to share.  At a shiur this past week by Rav Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita, he mentioned (I believe using a Sefer by R ' Felder of Lakewood based on the Poskim brought down in the Sefer) that in order to be Mekayem the mitzvah of Hesaiba at the Seder one must lean on something.  This means one cannot just have pillows on the back of his chair and just lean his body back to the left on the pillows as many people do.  Rather, his body should be leaning on something (preferably) to the extent that, if the support is taken away, he will fall.  Thus he should either lean heavily with his elbows on the handles of an armchair or table or if it is a regular chair (without arms) he should turn the chair to the side so that the chair’s back (support) is at his left side instead of his back.”


Hakhel Response:  Thank you for this important point.  Since Hesaiba is performed in the privacy of one’s home, and is often not studied publicly, one must be sure to obtain full guidance from his Rav in the proper performance of this unique Mitzvah.



Special Note Three:  Important Kashering Halacha--HaRav Belsky, Shlita has ruled that one could simply place his stovetop grates into his self-cleaning oven to Kasher them, rather than subjecting them to intense heat via placement of a Blech over them on top of the stove.



Special Note Four: Relating to Bircas Hachama we received a special correspondence from a reader, provided by clicking here, with his wonderful suggestion implemented by clicking here for the kavanos.



Special Note Five:  The newest issue of Halachically Speaking, entitled “Shopping and Doing Business on Chol HaMoed” is now available.  It may obtained by email (free) by sending an email to mdl@thehalacha.com.



Special Note Six:  Tomorrow is the tenth day of Nissan, which is marked by at least three great milestones:

a.       It is the day that the Bnei Yisroel took the Egyptian gods--their sheep--away and tied them to bedposts in order to inspect them for blemishes before Shechita four days later.  This was an act of tremendous faith by Bnei Yisroel, not only in taking them for slaughter, but also in holding them this way for four days--and the Egyptians, in fact, ended up being powerless to stop them or harm them.

b.      Towards the end of our stay in the desert, Miriam HaNevia passed away.  Miriam was so great that, even as a young girl, her suggestion to her father Amram, the Gadol HaDor, was accepted and the decree he had made to have the husbands and wives of Bnei Yisroel separate was annulled.

c.       Just one year after Miriam’s passing on this date, Yehoshua Bin Nun and Bnei Yisroel passed through  the Yarden River which dried up for them to enter into Eretz Yisroel!  Accordingly, some recommend reading from Sefer Yehoshua, Chapters 3 and 4, and reciting Tehillim Chapter 114, in honor of the occasion.

Importantly, the tenth of Nissan this year is Shabbos--which is exactly the same way it was in the year of Yetzais Mitzrayim, in which the Leil HaSeder was also Wednesday night, and we left Mitzrayim on Thursday.  We can certainly now daven that this year we replicate the earlier Geula--once and for all!  Some have suggested that the reason we refer to the Shabbos before Pesach as Shabbos HaGadol, rather than the tenth of Nissan every year being a “Yom HaGadol” because of the major events (described earlier) that happened on the tenth of Nissan, is because Miriam was nifteres on the tenth of Nissan, as well.  However, HaRav Gedalia Schorr, Z’tl, (Sefer Ohr Gedalyahu-Moadim: Shabbos HaGadol) provides a different explanation, and a fantastic insight here.  He teaches that the Kedusha of Shabbos is the source of the Kedusha of all of the Moadim (which is why Shabbos is listed first in the Parshas HaMoadim--Yayikra 23:1-3).  Moreover, Shabbos every week provides the force for the following six days of the week to exist and function.  Thus, this Shabbos is truly a Shabbos HaGadol, for both the existence and the Kedusha of Pesach in the coming week emanates from this Shabbos!  But this would be true of any Shabbos before a Yom Tov--so there is even more.

HaRav Schorr notes that Shabbos, as the last odd- numbered day of the week in Creation, complained that it had had no “Ben Zug” (pair) as the other days of the week (Sunday-Monday, Tuesday-Wednesday, Thursday-Friday).  This Shabbos--the Shabbos in which Bnei Yisroel came close to Hashem through their Mesiras Nefesh in taking the Egyptian god--became the actual day in which Shabbos obtained its “Ben Zug”--Bnei Yisroel!  Because we came close to Hashem on this Shabbos more than 3,300 years ago, Hashem partnered us on this Shabbos with a Kedusha existing from the time of Creation that until then had no match--Shabbos!  It is for this reason that this Shabbos is called Shabbos HaGadol, for on this day the Kedushas HaShabbos now joined with the Nefashos of the Bnei Yisroel--a monumental and eternal uniting of time and matter!  As a result, Shabbos was no longer only a Zecher of the Ma’aseh Breishis (as set forth in the Dibros HaRishonos in Parshas Yisro), but also a Zecher L’Yitziyas Mitzrayim (as set forth in the Dibros HaAchronos in Parshas VeEschanan).

This is our Halacha for this Shabbos--because of the meaning and intensity of the Kedusha of this Shabbos, we must make every effort to especially treat it with the reverence and exuberance that it so specially deserves.  Let us do our utmost to demonstrate our sincere care for our zivug, our genuine Kavod for our partner, and our elation in being chosen to imbibe, absorb and radiate in its Kedusha!


Special Note One:  We received the following thought from a reader:

“Thank you for the Gematria of 5769.  I would also like to point out that the Gematria of "Tof Shin Samech Tes" (769) is equal to the Gematria of "Eliyahu HaTishbi" (769)--the Gemara tells us that Minyan is a Siman--so B’EH, the Minyan of "Tof Shin Samech Tes" will be a Siman for "Eliyahu HaTishbi" to come--perhaps something to keep in mind (especially at the Seder) as we say in Birchas HaMazon, and pray that, HaRachamon Hu Yishlach Lanu Es Eliyahu HaNavi Zachur LaTov, Vi'vaser Lanu Besuros Tovos Yeshuos Ve'Nechamos !”



Special Note Two:  We received the following Kashrus alerts from a reader, as well:

“The following Passover information is from the cRc, the Koshergram and the editor of Kashrut.com for Passover 2009.  Do not assume that when making a purchase at a non-kosher certified store that the products you are buying are free of chometz, or even kosher.  Finding it in “the Kosher Aisle” is meaningless in these stores, as there is no guarantee that the store clerk did not place the product on the shelf in error.  There is also no guarantee that another shopper did not place an item they intended to buy (but changed their mind) in the Kosher section after changing their mind.  Many packages look alike.  Please inspect each individual item that you are purchasing for a reliable kosher and/or Kosher L’Pesach certification.

“Some Kosher brands with almost identical labels for Passover and non-Passover products are Telma soup mixes and cubes, Osem, Gefen, Haddar, Manischewitz, Empire and Aaron's.”



Special Note Three:  We received the following important communication from The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation: NEW AND TIMELY INITIATIVE--As Zeman Cheruseinu approaches, each of us has a profound power to bring Divine merit to the world by guarding our tongues from speaking Loshon Hora.  Right now, there are five Jews desperately need our help.  As we gather with our families this Yom Tov, if we will be careful with what we say about others, we can play a crucial role in redeeming these captives.  Please, this Pesach, open up your hearts and take on this very do-able Shmiras Haloshon initiative!  Together We Can Make Miracles.  Please see the following link for important details.


Special Note Four:

As we move into the tevilas keilim "season", we remind our readers of Hakhel’s Guidelines for Tevilas Keilim available here.


Special Note One:  There is also a Nusach from the Ohr Zarua to be recited at the outset of the day relating to your Kavannah in Amen and Yehei Shmei Raba which we provide by the following linkYou may also obtain this in sticker form (to be inserted into your Siddur), by calling in the United States 718-858-4960, and in Eretz Yisroel 052-263-4391.



Special Note Two:  The following information related to Kedem “Light” Grape Juice, and Kedem “Regular” Grape Juice has been supplied by its Rav HaMachshir: Kedem “Light” Grape Juice may not be further diluted.  Kedem Regular-Concord Grape Juice may be diluted up to one-third with water.  Kedem Regular Muskat may be diluted less than one-third--however, it is unclear as to how much less than one-third would be permissible.  The Rav HaMachshir expressed his opinion that it would be preferable not to use diluted grape juice (which includes the already “Light,” as diluted) for the Seder--as diluted grape juice does not possess as strong a “grape” taste.



Special Note Three:  As we move closer to Pesach, we recall that we should not only be in a “search and destroy” mode for physical Chometz, but in a very similar mode for spiritual Chometz as well.  Indeed, the Yetzer Hora is likened to Chometz, the symbol of arrogance and desire, because it boasts a temporarily beautiful shape, only to spoil or become stale in a short period of time.  Matzah, on the other hand, the symbol of humility, remains even, steady and constant, and is known as the poor man’s or wayfarer’s bread, because it can endure for an extended period of time.


The Sefer Darchei Mussar likens falling prey to the Chometz of the Yetzer Hora to a thoughtless individual who elects to warm himself up on a cold day by rolling in freshly laid hot tar.  He certainly will warm himself up and feel good for the moment--but will most certainly be left with an awful lot of sticky and smelly tar to contend with, which will require much time and effort to remove.  He also likens a person’s relationship with his Yetzer Hora to the relationship between a Cossack and his horse--the Cossack must feed, bathe, and properly take care of his horse--but, has absolutely no ownership rights over it.  That being the case, who is really in control--the Cossack or the horse?  So, too, if we “feed and support” our Yetzer Hora--Who, then, is really in control of our lives?


This is the unique purpose of the time we are in--not only to finish up the macaroni, and carefully eliminate the challah crumbs from underneath the radiator--but to rid ourselves of the Cossack’s plight--and to ensure that we do not act like the careless fool who jumped onto the tar!



Special Note Four: We received the following striking and superb insight from a reader:


“A favorite topic of conversation these days is 'Where were you when you last said Bircas Hachamah?'


“Perhaps the better question is ‘Where were you holding the last time?’  Unfortunately, for many of us, the answer to that question is forgotten or at least very vague.  This year, I think it would be a good idea to write down in detail where you're holding and where you want to be holding the next time.  How much are you learning a day?  How often do you think about dveikus?  Who are you trying to be m’karev?  What are your goals for the next 28 years?  If you put it in a Bircas Hachamah book, it will be like a time capsule.  Better still, put it in your Rosh Hashana Machzor so you can review it each Elul.  And if you are worried that you might not make it to 2037, then it just means that you have to move faster to achieve your goal!”



Special Note Five:  In the newly published Haggada Siach HaPesach, containing the teachings of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (written by his grandson, HaRav Avrohom Yeshaya Shteineman, Shlita), the Mechaber points out that the Gematria of the year 5769 (=774) is the same as Yakrivu BaMikdash--they will bring Karbanos in the Bais HaMikdash (=774).  We are Mispallel that the year live up to its Gematria!


Further related to this point, HaRav Kanievsky, Shlita, in his commentary to Ha Lachma Anya (ibid., p.30), notes that when the Bais HaMikdash is rebuilt, everyone will have to join in with his own group (chabura) in bringing their own Korbon Pesach, so that there will be no poor people who can be invited in the Ha Lachma Anya on the night of the Seder.  It is for this reason, teaches HaRav Kanievsky, that we conclude the Ha Lachma Anya with the words “LeShana Haba’ah Bnei Chorin”-for we will all be wealthy and join in our own Korbon, and there will be no poor to invite to the Seder.  With this wonderful thought in mind, the great Mitzvah of Maos Chittim must now be viewed in a different light--for now we realize that it is truly a rare treasure, an Endangered Species, a vanishing Mitzvah.  This year--today--may be the very last time that you could attempt to perform this hallowed Mitzvah.  Next year, it may very well be no more!  Accordingly, we must do our utmost to fulfill the Mitzvah as best we can now.  As we have noted previously, we must give--and give again.  For your convenience, we supply a link to one of the most reputable Tzedakah Organizations in the world --  www.yad eliezer.org.  Remember--perform the Mitzvah now before we all bring our Korbon Pesach--before we all get rich--and it is too late!


Other email archives