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Isn’t it good enough just to be a good person?  Why must we follow the Torah?



And the answer is, why must you keep traffic laws?  Isn’t it good enough to be a good person?  How many good people go through red lights?  How many good people have killed innocent persons by driving drunk?  Good intentions are not enough to be a good person.  A man must be bound by a code.  And if he is choosing a code, he might as well take the very best code there is.  There is no such thing as a good person without Torah.  A good person can be a mercy killer, he kills his old mother because he cannot see her suffer.  A good person can be a selfish man, who thinks he is doing good, when in reality he is only helping himself, because he is blinded by his own desires.


We have to know that nobody is able to live with standards that he himself creates.  You see 50 years ago the reformers, the reform Jews, had certain standards that they considered good, moral, and today they are changed entirely.  So whatever people consider as standards in one generation can change in another generation.  It’s only those who live by the eternal standard of Torah, who remain good forever and ever.


The above is an example of a weekly email entitled ‘A Moment with Rabbi Avigdor Miller, Z’ tl,’ is available free of charge.  The email provides a Question and Answer transcribed from one of Rabbi Miller s legendary Thursday Night Shiurim.  To subscribe, please contact tikotzky@gmail.com



Special Note One:  If one is following, or will now join, our united quest--as we focus on the word Rachamim in our tefillos, he will note that we sometimes ask for Rachamecha HaRabim--great mercy.  He will also sometimes note that Hashem is referred to as a Rachaman.  The nun at the end of the word indicates an abundance of mercy--just as, for example, the nun at the end of nadvan indicates that one is very generous, or the nun at the end of kamtzan indicates that one is extremely miserly.  In short, when we approach and beseech Hashem, we have surely come to the Father of Mercy, the Merciful King, and the One with Abundant Mercy.  We have the most outstanding “connection”--in fact not just the connection but the One and Only Source.  Let us be smart enough to sincerely and earnestly beseech Hashem for a plentiful share of that wonderful Mercy!



Special Note Two:  Today, the 16th of Iyar, is the first day that Mann began to fall in the Midbar, after the Matzah brought from Mitzraim was completed.  Chazal teach that Moshe Rabbeinu composed the first bracha of Birchas HaMazon in honor of the Mann’s initial falling.  Today, then, would appear to be an auspicious day to rededicate ourselves to the principle of Mann--that all of our sustenance in Min Hashamayim as the Mann indicates--and certainly a day to review and renew our kavana in the very first bracha of Birkas HaMazon (after all--do you know of any other brachos that Moshe Rabbeinu himself composed?).


Special Note Three:  In this week’s Parsha, we find that a Pasuk relating to Tzedaka is suddenly placed among the Pesukim describing our Holidays, our Moadim, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not remove completely the corners of your field; as you reap and you shall not gather the gleanings of your harvest, for the poor and the proselyte shall you leave them, I am Hashem…” (Vayikra 23:22).  Chazal cited by Rashi (ibid.) teach that this Pasuk juxtaposed among the Pesukim describing the Moadim, teaches us that anyone who gives proper charity is considered as if the Bais HaMikdash was built in his time, and he offered Karbanos there, as so much of the Moadim relate to the Bais HaMikdash, our coming there, and offering of sacrifices.


Shavuos is now only three weeks away.  Since it is one of the Shalosh Regalim, it is a time that we travel to the Bais HaMikdash.  It would appear that it is an extremely auspicious time for us to demonstrate how we desire to have the Bais HaMikdash back and bring karbanos as soon as possible.  A superb way to demonstrate that desire is by taking the time now to give something extra, a special gift, now to Tzedaka in order to fulfill the words of our Chazal--and bring Karbanos in the Bais HaMikdash that you have built for yourself--while waiting!  We always recommend yadeliezer.org--with its stellar reputation in collecting money for Aniyei Eretz Yisroel.  Learn from the Parsha--give something special!

Special Note Four:  We continue our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos series: Today, we provide certain Halachos relating to the melacha of Tzad, as excerpted from the monumental Sefer The 39 Melachos by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita (Feldheim Publishers):


1.  Tzad may be defined as the forcible confinement of a living creature.  This includes any method of confining--conventional or otherwise.  Thus, chasing or merely frightening a living creature into a corner or confined area without actually coming near the creature is Tzad.


2.  Animals that can pose a threat of real pain or injury, such as raccoons, rats and the like may be trapped on Shabbos if necessary.  This is especially true where the spread of rabies or other diseases by animals is prevalent.  If a raccoon or similar animal is only in the vicinity, one should not trap or kill it (unless it is known that the particular raccoon is rabid)--instead, a non-Jew should call the authorities.  If a raccoon or squirrel got into the house, the door to that room (if not very small or narrow) may be closed to seal it off.  However, a non-Jew should preferably be asked to do so.  A dog or other animal that has attacked and bitten a person may be captured if it is necessary to examine the animal for rabies or disease.


3. One cannot force a bird that is not completely domesticated into its cage or even simply close the cage door to prevent it from escaping.  If a small wild bird flew into the house, one should open windows and doors, encouraging it to escape.  If one is not successful in chasing the bird out and leaving the doors and windows open will cause the home to become uncomfortable, one may close the doors and windows, as it is a Rabbinic level of confinement which is permitted when one has no interest in trapping the bird and leaving the doors and windows open would impose a hardship.


4. One is not permitted to set any kind of trap on Shabbos (with the exception of addressing dangerous situations), even though the animal only becomes caught later on its own.

However, it is permissible to set a trap before Shabbos even though the animal may become trapped on Shabbos, just as one turns on lights before Shabbos--and then leaves them on for Shabbos.


5. According to most Poskim, the Melacha of Tzad does not apply to capturing and confining of humans.  Thus, one may take hold of an unruly child or place him into a “time-out” room (...without getting into the Chinuch aspects of it!).


In the Parsha this week, we note that Shabbos is placed first--ahead of the description of all of the Moadim.  We should be inspired this Shabbos to realize that although Shabbos comes every week--it is a truly the primary Moed--an especially designated weekly time to come closer to our Creator and raise ourselves up spiritually.  Perhaps you can start this week with extra Zemiros, an extra D’var Torah, or an extra act LeKavod Shabbos Kodesh!



Special Note One:  At the gathering for R’ Sholem Rubashkin in Flatbush, a renowned mechaneches in the crowd stood up after the Kinus, and announced to the hundreds of women gathered that many had taken upon themselves to act with greater tznius in at least one area for the next several days, as a zechus for R’ Sholem.  This was independently confirmed to us from a woman in Lakewood who called to ask us to further promote the concept.  One can reflect upon the mida keneged mida inherent in it, or simply consider that tznius is one of the premier mitzvos of a woman (Kol Kevuda Bas Melech Pnima), with a women’s extra concern in this area symbolizing the highest form of her dedication to action.



Special Note Two:   The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation has produced an extremely credible defense argument (saneigor) for R’ Sholem in the Bais Din Shel Ma’aleh which can, B’EH, help to overturn the terrible prosecution in the human court below.  CCHF is organizing a special nationwide Shmiras Halashon program--for by silencing loshon hora--which is really the prosecution of another--we can evoke, measure for measure, Divine assistance against the kateigor of R’ Sholem.  The program is direct and clear--join the Morning Machsom L’fi, in which you dedicate the morning hour of 9AM to 10 AM to be extra-specially careful in being lashon hora-free.  The concept of Machsom L’Fi is endorsed by Gedolei Yisroel and is also a proven method of improving Shemiras Halashon in general.  What greater incentive do we need than the words of the Chofetz Chaim--who taught and re-taught that Shemiras Halashon has a unique and profound ability to bring Heavenly Mercy into the World?  To take the next step, simply contact join@morningmachsomlfi.org.  You can even receive a daily reminder call by calling 212-444-9898.  What a wonderful accomplishment--helping yourself in such an important way--as you try your best at Pidyon Shevuyim--helping a fellow Jew, who has done so much good, his wife and his ten children from untold suffering and deprivation.



Special Note Three:  Yesterday, we pointed out that, in actuality, each of us asks Hashem for Rachmanus many times a day in our Tefillos.  One of the Kinuyim (secondary names) of Hashem and one of Hashem’s Thirteen Attributes is Rachum--The Merciful One.  Furthermore, Hashem is known as Av HaRachaman--The Merciful Father (as we recite, for example, in Ahava Rabba every morning), and as the Melech Rachaman--The Merciful King (as we recite, for example, in the Musaf of the Shalosh Regalim).  We have to live with the times--if K’lal Yisroel is faced with the Rubashkin trial this week, we are not to roll over and sleep.  In addition to helping R’ Sholem, it is also a reminder than we, too, are in need of this Heavenly mercy at this critical juncture in our (and world) history.  If it is too difficult to truly focus on Rachamim every single time you recite the word or the concept in your davening--may we suggest an attempt to spend an extra second or two with the word the first three times you note it (or perhaps in Shemone Esrei) at each of your Tefillos.  If not now, then when?



Special Note Four:  Halachically Speaking has reprinted its special edition-dedicated to Lag Ba’Omer which contains many important Halachos and ideas. To access your personal copy, please click here.  


Special Note Five:  As many will be able to take a haircut again tomorrow after a longer than usual hiatus, it is a time to reflect anew upon how even a task such as a haircut has meaning and purpose in our lives.  In the Torah itself, we learn that Yosef took a haircut upon his release from prison in order to see Paroh--as a sign of respect.  We similarly find that Haman (who was by trade a barber) gave Mordechai a haircut prior to his ascending onto the king’s horse (Megillah 16A).  Thus, a person can have kavana prior to taking a haircut that he is doing so out of respect for himself and others.  There is more, however.  We can also reflect upon the Kavod Shabbos inherent in the haircut--as we, too, show respect to the royal Shabbos Queen (if this was not the Halachic case, we would not be taking a haircut until Lag Ba’Omer itself, on Sunday).  Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, in his moving words about R’Sholem at the Hakhel Kinus on Tuesday night in Flatbush, noted that R’Sholem has not been able to take a haircut for five months because the authorities only give haircuts in the prison he is in on Shabbos--and the warden would not make an exception for him.  He is now demonstrating his Kavod Shabbos by not taking a haircut.  When you take your haircut tomorrow--remember him with a tefillah that he, too, will soon be able to show his Kavod Shabbos in the usual manner.


There is still more.  Of course, al pi kabala, hair and its growth extending outside and away from the body has profound meaning.  We would, however, like to remind men that before taking a haircut they may have kavana that they are fulfilling two (2) additional mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh--which are Lo Sakifu Pe’as Roshchem and Lo Saschis Es Pe’as Zekanecha--not rounding the hairline and not using a knife-like blade to cut certain areas of the face.  Readers must be on guard that barbers who are not aware of the Halacha may be using cutting instruments in an improper way in the Payos area and above the ear.  Accordingly, we once again provide “The Kosher Haircut Guide” by clicking here, which, although recently distributed, has already made an important impact in our community.  We urge you to send on the Guide to as many as possible--it is so unfortunate for one to violate a Torah prohibition for lack of knowledge--and all the more so when it is so easily rectified.   We have free large, hard-copy laminated posters of the Guide, as well, for pick up in Brooklyn --for use in Shuls, Yeshivos and barber shops.  Please feel free to contact us.  Remember, just as there is much more to a kosher hamburger...there is much more to a kosher haircut.  In everything we do--our kavana plays the key role--let’s do it the way we are supposed to!



A rabbi, educator and counselor advised us that he teaches people who are down, dejected and even depressed about the value of thinking and reminding themselves about three essential life-enriching words--”Ain Od Milvado!”--There is no One but Hashem--Hashem is the Source of Everything, and he is a Maitiv--so that the situations that a person encounters and the people he must meet are all Divinely Ordained--and for a purpose.  No one has been left to his fortune or to the elements; no one has been forgotten about or rejected.  Rather, if one acts in accordance with the Torah as explained by his Rav or Posek, he is fulfilling his purpose in this world, even if it may be different than what is perceived as the normal, usual or ordinary lifestyle.  In truth, no two people--even husband and wife--have the same experiences.  Every person in his own unique way is under Hashem’s watchful eye.  We are never alone, for in the 120 years we are in this world--there is our Father in Heaven who looks down upon us with cherish and endearment--who may simply be asking or reminding us to acknowledge His guiding presence.  In difficult times, when it is hardest to feel it, is when we daven--strengthening our ties and asking our Father for the Yeshuos we know only He can grant.  Over the next day, as we daven for R’Sholem Mordechai Rubashkin, let us feel the “Ain Od Milvado” penetrate through us, as we understand that we are to unite in our Emunah--and hope that we will bring the Yeshuos for him and his family (and for ourselves--as we are all one) that Only He can lovingly shower upon us.



Special Note One:  In this week’s Parsha of Kedoshim, the Torah teaches us “Lo Sa’amod Al Dam Rei’echa--Do Not Stand by the Blood of Your Fellow.” (Vayikra 19:16)  The Sefer Tallilei Oros brings from the Igros Chazon Ish (3:62) that through our human actions and efforts on another’s behalf, we actually arouse Heavenly Mercy in a unique and special way.  Our accomplishments are not merely human--they actually translate into Divine Action!  In fact, our obligation to act, if we can in some way, supersedes even our obligation to daven on the person’s behalf.  Furthermore, if one stands by when there is something he could do, he is guilty of letting his brother’s blood being shed.  Thus, if one can act in any manner to help R’ Shalom Rubashkin over the next few crucial days, he is literally taking the message of this week’s Parsha to heart and deed.  If one is not capable of taking some specific action, then the Chazon Ish rules that the Mitzvah that is upon him is that of Tefillah.


We received the following essential information from KeyTefilla:

For Men, Women and Children

Please Join a World-Wide Tehillim Plea on behalf of Sholom Mordechai Halevei ben Rivka

When: Tuesday April 27 At 1:00 PM NY Time

On The Phone:        212-990-8000   code  6060 #

P’rakim 20, 52, and 150

After that the women will be staying on the line, the whole afternoon, to recite the whole sefer. You can join in at any point.

 Please let everyone know. If you can’t join us over the phone, please try to say the p’rakim at 1:00 p.m. with us.


Additional Hakhel Note:  Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita, explains that when someone takes a trip to another country, he prepares by buying that which he needs, packing, getting to the mode of transportation, etc.  When one is engaged in prayer, Rabbi Wachsman continues, he is taking a trip to Heaven--and that is a lot further than any point on earth.  Accordingly, before getting on the phone line, or reciting these Chapter of Tehillim on your own, on behalf of R’ Shalom Rubashkin, one should spend a moment of pensive thought, contemplating and sharing in the pain and suffering that he and his family are going through, and recognizing that you are Davening to the All Powerful Hashem for a Yeshua!



Special Note Two:  The above not only relates to “Lo Sa’amod Al Dam Rei’echa,” but also to another Mitzvah in the Parsha of “Veahavta Leraiacha Kamocha.”  The following is a remarkable story from a reader:


“I had just concluded negotiating an agreement with another party, a secular Israeli with a short afro hairdo.  He called me over to the side, and said: “I see that you are religious.  I want to tell you something.  I grew up in a town near B’nei Brak.  My family was not religious, but for some reason, I was sent to the Ponovezer Yeshiva Elementary School .  I came home and ate non-kosher, and did not observe the Shabbat.  I learned Chumash, Rashi, and eventually Gemara, but I was sent to public school after my Bar Mitzvah, and do not remember anything I learned.  I’ll tell you what I do remember from my days in Yeshiva.  Every time the Ponovezer Rav would leave on a trip to Chutz La’aretz to collect money, the whole school would line up in the courtyard, and each child from each class would pass by the Rav, one by one, and he would kiss each one of us one tenderly on our head.  I don’t remember anything from school, but I remember the kisses of the Ponovezer Rav.  Now that I am older, I have begun to do a little more.  My wife has begun to light candles for Shabbat.  I still feel the kisses…”


Hakhel Note:  This is an incredible lesson in the after-effects of most simple displays of Ahava.  Credit, too, goes to the reader, for obviously negotiating in a respectful and dignified manner--which opened up his counterpart to share his thoughts and feelings.



Special Note Three:  Yesterday, we noted how the essence of Kedoshim Tehiyu comes from our realization that Hashem is holy--“Ki Kadosh Ani”  It is fascinating that so many of the Mitzvos in tomorrow’s Parsha of Kedoshim are Bein Adam LeChaveiro--indicating that we must act with the proper Kedusha described in the Parsha in our relationships with others.  As Hillel teaches in Avos, “Uchesheani Leatzmi Mah Ani--If I Act Only for Myself, What Have I Accomplished?” ( 1:14 )  The following points are excerpted from the Sefer Tallilei Oros on some of these Bein Adam LeChaveiro Mitzvos in tomorrow’s Parsha:


a.       The term “Lo Signovu--Do Not Steal” is presented in the plural to teach us that someone who watches or knows what a Ganav has done and remains silent is also a thief (Ibn Ezra).  Others learn that one who buys from a thief is also considered a thief.


b.      A Russian soldier passing through Radin stole something from the Chofetz Chaim’s store.  When he was caught red-handed a few days later, he was filled with fear and said that he would accept the greatest penalty that the Chofetz Chaim could mete out against him--as long as the officer in charge of him would not find out about it.  The Chofetz Chaim would tell people to learn from this incident to always be scared of the “Officer in Charge.”  We note that a “Yirei Chait”--One Who Fears Sin--is defined by the Bartenura as one who steers clear of matters which may otherwise be permissible, for the fear that they will lead to sin (Avos 2:8).


c.       On the Mitzvah of “HoChaiach ToChiach,” the G’ra provides a special insight on how to receive reproof from others: “Receiving Tochacha is like a person looking in the mirror carefully before an important meeting, in order to make sure that they look the best that they can.  So, too, should a person want to rid himself of even the smaller specks of Aveira.  Accordingly, even if the Aveira is “enlarged” by the person giving the reproof, it is simply like a high-magnification mirror which enlarges a speck in order for you to become more impeccable--a tremendous benefit for you!


d.      One other point on the Mitzvah of “Vehavta LeRaiacha Kamocha.”  The Arizal explains that Viduy is recited in the plural, because one, as a matter of course, not only pleads for forgiveness of his sins, but of the sins of others, for we are all one.  Similarly, the Kesav Sofer writes that when Rebbe Akiva taught “Vehavta LeRaiacha Kamocha Zeh Klal Gadol BaTorah--A Great Principal in Torah is to Love Your Fellow Man as Yourself”--he also meant that even when we study Torah it is best not to study alone, but to study with another--for together we are a greater “one”!



Special Note Four:  In many Kiruv Seminars, when providing “proofs” for the existence of G-d, the Rav or teacher provides the following challenge:  If there is a G-d and you have acted in accordance with his commands in the 120 years that you are on this earth, then you will enjoy the eternity that will result from it.  On the other hand, if c’v there is no G-d, then you have spent a few passing years doing something else instead of having a little fun.  Some indeed take this failsafe lesson to heart.  Let us try to apply this thought to the times that we live in.  We hear daily that the leaders of Iran , among the most rabid Jew haters on earth, will soon r’l be in possession of nuclear weapons for a singular intention.  Tens of thousands of missiles face Israeli population centers--both in the South and in the North.  Arabs ready to commit atrocities are caught daily in counter-terrorism operations.  The world quivers at the thought of terrorism.  There were more than twenty earthquakes across the globe last year alone.  A remote, never-heard-of volcano in distant Iceland spews forth ash, which affects hundreds of thousands, and costs hundreds of millions of dollars.  Illness still abounds, in spite of incredible advances in medicine and technology.  The economy remains in shambles.  The relationship between the State of Israel and its greatest ally continues (now publicly) to erode, with apparent intended shame and disgrace.  Based on all of this, we may--or we may not--be receiving a Merciful Message from Shomayim to act.  If all of this is in fact, a message to act before the next step in history--and we do act, then we have done right for ourselves, and for the world.  If all of this is not a message--and you have just become a better person, a better Davener, you just learn a few minutes more every day, you just speak more positively, or you just once and for all did Teshuva in something that you have been meaning to correct for a long time--then what have you lost as a result?  Perhaps we should take this great lesson from the Kiruv Seminar--and bring ourselves closer to the Ribbono Shel Olam--and to whom and what we ourselves should finally be.  Before moving on, if you can, please take the time to read this Note again.



Special Note Five:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series.  The Halachos below can be found in Muktzah: A Practical Guide by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita (Artscroll/Mesorah).  One’s rav or Posek should be consulted with any questions or concerns regarding these dinim.


1.      Garments that were not inspected for Shatnez are Muktzah Machmas Gufo because of the possibility that they may contain Shatnez.


2.      Soiled garments are not Muktzah because one would wear them in situations of extreme necessity.


3.      Detached hair is Muktzah Machmas Gufo; nevertheless, one is permitted to remove it from one’s garment.  However, once it is removed, it may not be moved further.  The Halachos regarding dandruff (e.g. on one’s clothing) are the same as detached hair.


4.       Although a clothes brush is not used on Shabbos because it would be an Uvdah DeChol, it is not Muktzah.


5.      Bleach is not Muktzah because one is permitted to use it on Shabbos in order to remove stains from one’s hand.


6.      Scouring powder is not Muktzah because one is permitted to use it to wash dishes on Shabbos.  However, when using it, one must mix the scouring powder with a large amount of water in order to avoid the Melacha of Lisha (kneading).


7.      A door or doorknob that became detached from a door is Muktzah Machmas Gufo.


8.      A Mezuza is included in the category of Kisvei Kodesh and is therefore not Muktzah.  This is the case even if the Mezuza fell from the doorpost on Shabbos.



Special Note One:  We cannot leave the Parshiyos of Tazriya and Metzora without a few additional important points on Shemiras HaLashon:

1.        HaRav Schneur Kotler, Z’tl, provides the following practical insight:  Dovid HaMelech teaches that the first aspect of a person who is a Chofetz Chaim is one who is “Ohev Yamim Liros Tov--loves days to see good,” and only after that does Dovid HaMelech say that he “guards himself from evil talk.”  This means that the first step towards being one who wants life is to love life and see only good.  If one has this positive approach in everything that he does, he will be readily able to accomplish the next succeeding step--which is guarding his tongue from evil.  “Ohev Yamim Liros Tov”--what an important phrase to recall periodically during the day to help shape your life!  Remember, it is none other than Dovid HaMelech himself who is putting you on the track to a successful life.


2.        HaRav Avrohom Pam, Z’tl, remarked that he never heard his mother speak Lashon Hora.  He explained to his students why he felt this was so:  She had so much Ahavas Yisroel--so much love for even the person who acted strangely and unfriendly--that she simply had no room and no time for Lashon Hora.  He once related that there was a scary woman in his neighborhood, who sometimes acted in a crazed manner.  Often his mother would invite her to their home, and simply talked to her, gently stroking her arm and demonstrating love.  When the woman left, she would be calm and collected.  Such is the effect of Ahavas Yisroel.


3.        The Posuk teaches about the Metzora:  “Vetamei, Tamei Yikrah--and he shall cry out I am impure, I am impure.”  Why did he need to cry out?  Chazal teach so that others would daven for him.  We learn from here that one who speaks Lashon Hora cannot effectively daven for himself, for he has contaminated the power of his mouth and tongue, and needs others to daven for him.  A choleh’s tefilla on his own behalf is usually most effective because the Shechina is with the person who is ill.  In the Metzora’s case, however, his hurtful words to others have caused him not to be able to help himself!


4.        Another classic interpretation of the words “Vetamei--Tamei Yikrah” is that one who is himself Tamei--impure calls others “impure”.  If one finds himself referring to others in a negative manner--he should really realize that he is--or should be--giving himself a tongue lashing.


5.        Very often in his Sefer, we find that the Chofetz Chaim describes the punishment for the Lashon Hora that is spoken is proportionate to the quality of the Lashon Hora spoken:  How many people were spoken about?  How many people were spoken to?  Who was the speaker?  What was the caliber of the person spoken about?  The same several words of Lashon Hora could be much more harmful--and could result in much greater culpability--depending on answers to questions such as these.  So, it is not simply the number of prohibitions that may have been violated, but the quality in which they were violated for which a person will be held responsible, for which he, r’l, will be punished in kind.  Of course, the converse is also true, when a person relays positive and kinds words, or words of bracha in a more effusive manner, then he is accomplishing positive commandments in a much more qualitative way--and he will bask in the shining mitzvos that he has created, as well!



Special Note Two:  A special note on emails:  We found the following teaching from the best-selling work The Power of Positive Words (Artscroll/Mesorah-Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation) to be especially meaningful:   “In some cases, people resort to written Ona’as Devarim because they are afraid to face the person with whom they are angry.  They feel that the distance provided by the written word will somehow protect them from the other person’s reaction.  Nevertheless, if the words are hurtful and insulting, they are not permitted.  One would be wise to heed the inner voice that says ‘I can’t say this to his face,’ and realize that this means the words are probably ones that should not be said at all.  In the age of e-mail, the challenge of restraining one’s written words has become enormous.  The spontaneous nature of the medium makes people far looser in their verbiage and far quicker to respond.  At the click of a mouse, their diatribe can travel through cyberspace and assault another person’s dignity within a few seconds.  The time needed for composing a ‘snail-mail’ letter, time devoted to the process of writing, printing, addressing and mailing, can serve as a cooling-off period, at the end of which people often decide that the better choice is to throw the letter away.  With e-mail and text messaging, this barrier is gone.  There is no time for second thoughts.  When used properly, however, writing can offer tremendous help in avoiding Ona’as Devarim.  Even e-mail is less spontaneous than verbal communication.  The writer can take his time in framing his statements.  He can review his words and think about how they will be received.  He can erase and rewrite.  Someone whose goal is to address a problematic situation while avoiding insult to the other party has every opportunity to do so when the written word is the medium.”


Let us take these significant words, and think twice--or even three times--before we make that click!



Special Note One:  After having read the Parshios of Tazria and Metzora, we realize that Shemiras Halashon must play an important part in our lives, and that we must always endeavor and strive for improvement in this area.  For all those who study the daily two Halachos, or any other daily Shemiras Halashon Sefer, may we suggest reading the daily study aloud even to yourself (it can be softly!)--so that you demonstrate affirmatively that you want to use your mouth for the right reasons and in the right way!  We also remind our readers about the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s Shemiras Halashon Shaila Hotline--718-951-3696 (Monday-Thursday nights and Motze’ei Shabbos 9-10:30 PM EST , and for emergencies)--where you can ask expert Poskim your Shemiras Halashon Shailos in the situation (business, shidduchim, friends) that you find yourself in.  What an opportunity to make sure that you do the right thing for all concerned!



Special Note Two:  Today, Yom Ha’Atzma’ut, is celebrated in some of our communities (in various ways), and not celebrated in others.  We all know the different approaches and sentiments on the topic--and note that in the Third Beis Hamikdash described by Yecheskel there will be 12 entrances, for there can be different approaches to the one Avodah.  What we may add is that however one does or does not celebrate, observe or perform--it should be done in accordance with the teachings of his ultimate Rav or Posek.  There can be much misinformation or misguidance, and a person can conduct himself based upon what he believes to be correct, without further consultation--and this is the part that is wrong.  As a case in point, we may mention that HaRav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik, Z’tl, Rav of Boston, and Rosh HaYeshiva of RIETS, was in the Yeshiva on Yom Ha’Atzma’ut 5738 (1978)--one of the latter years of his giving Shiurim in the Yeshiva.  He davened Shacharis in the Morgenstern dormitory minyan, which davened with Hallel.  Later that morning, rather than giving Shiur on Perek HaZahav (the 4th perek of Bava Metziah which was being studied that Zeman in his Shiur), Rav Soloveitchik, obviously upset, instead gave Shiur on the importance of keeping the Tzuras HaTefillah intact.  Shemone Esrei is followed by Chazaras Hashatz, which is followed by Tachanun, and then followed by Ashrei and U’va Letzion--and we do not have the right or privilege of changing that, he opined.  Rav Soloveitchik continued that if one wanted to express his personal gratitude or thanks to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, he could recite the Chapters of Hallel in Tehillim (Chapters 113-118) after davening.  Now, this is not to say that Rav Soloveitchik had a different opinion in earlier years or in later years (we do not know either way)--but it is to say that someone was not following his Rebbe if he knew what his opinion was at that time--and still recited Hallel in place of Tachanun in order to make his own personal statement.  On the other hand, if one’s final Halachic authority is the Rabbanut, his practice should be different.  This ruling will be different than that of the Badatz-Yerushalayim.  What does your ultimate Rabbinic authority say?  A person must look upwards for answers--not to himself, downwards or sideways.


The following is really true:  A person collecting tzedaka on behalf of a yeshiva in France, promoting Torah among more needy Sefardi families, was asked by a potential donor whether his yeshiva said Hallel on Yom Ha’Atzma’ut (we won’t reveal which way he wanted the answer to come out), and the answer would be the determining factor as to whether he received a donation.  The collector gave the “wrong” answer and was promptly escorted out empty-handed.  Would any Rabbinic authority make this one question the sole determining factor as to whether a Torah institution was to be supported or helped, even minimally?  We doubt it, but we suggest that the Shaila should be asked rather than allow emotions or sentiments to override the Halacha one must follow as an Eved Hashem--which, by definition, is always the right thing to do.



Special Note Three:  We are all in agreement that the Geulah Sheleima has not yet come, and that the world would be a much better place if we could bring it.  We know for a fact that when Bnai Yisroel cried out to Hashem (Vayizaku), that Hashem heard their cries (VaTa’al Shavassam), and “remembered” the bris that He had made with our Avos (Shemos 2:23,24).  As our Geulah from Mitzraim is the pardigm of our future Geulah, may we suggest that we begin to take the special effort to cry out to Hashem in the brachos of Shemone Esrei relating to Geulah?  This does not mean that one needs to shout--but rather that his heart cries out--perhaps with an outstretched hand during his tefillah, or with a look heavenward, with a tear, with a sense of urgency and pleading--at least in one of the brachos such as Tekah Beshofar, VeLiYerushayim or Ess Tzemach.  If you really need something--you do more than you say that you need it--you do something about it!  Your newfound sincere striving, your special awakening, will not only help yourself--it will help take the Shechina out of its tza’ar in seeing the state of mankind and bring the Shechina home, it will help cure all those who are spiritually, emotionally and physically ill, it will bring everyone to their proper place in life...in short, you will be able to accomplish more than all the wealthiest people and all of the heads of state joined together cannot accomplish.  Incredibly, all of this is free--just for our sincerity and devotion during one of the most important points of our day--the Shemone Esrei.  Let’s begin to use this opportunity in a new and special way--pouring out our hearts for the few brief moments of a bracha, pleading with feeling, showing that we really want Geulah and really need it--so that just as in Mitzraim the Torah records, “VaTa’al Shavosam...VaYayedah Elokim--and their cries went up and Hashem knew”...so, too, will Hashem look down and understand that our cries are true and sincere--so that once and for all we can all come home, together with Hashem, for good and forever!



In the second chapter of Avos which we studied last Shabbos, we find two simple but extremely all-encompassing and powerful lessons in upgrading our Bain Odom Lechaveiro:


First, “Al Tadin Ess Chaveiro Ahd She’Tagia LiMekomo--don’t judge your fellow man until you arrive at [i.e., because you will never get to] his exact place or situation.”  No matter how close you are to the person--he/she has different life experiences, and may also have a different innate way (even albeit so slight) of dealing with a situation than you do.  That is not to say that ultimately he should not have dealt with the situation differently.  It is to say that this decision is Hashem’s and not yours--barring the limited circumstances in which you can or should be Dan LeChaf Chov as described in the Sefer Chofetz Chaim, and applied in all events under the guidance of your Posek.  A Rav recently advised us that the Chazal (Shabbos 127B) which teaches “Kol Hadan Ess Chaveiro LeChaf Zechus Donnin Osso Lechaf Zechus--anyone who judges his friend favorably --he will be judged favorably”, may actually be explained as follows:  By judging someone else, you--as an important part of this world--arouse judgment against that other person in Shomayim at that time.  If you judge him favorably--then Donnin Osso Lechaf Zechus, your decision will make a difference in the Heavenly Court --and they will value your decision and judge the person meritoriously, as well.  On the other hand your unfavorable judgment could r’l do him not good.  Your thoughts make much more difference than you think--think favorably for everyone’s sake!  We may add that in the first Perek of Avos we were already taught “VeHevay Don Ess Kol HaAdam LeChaf Zechus--judge every man favorably--or, alternatively, look at the Kol HaAdom, the whole picture, the whole person.”  This one basic aforethought should certainly enable and empower you to judge favorably in most circumstances.  Not too may of the lessons of Mesechta Avos are repeated two weeks in a row in a very similar way--obviously this is a very important point for us to apply in our daily lives!  Let’s get going!


A second straightforward lesson from chapter two of Avos which we may want to additionally reflect upon and apply is--”Yehi Mammon Chaverirecha Choviv Alecha KeShelach--let your fellow man’s money be as dear to you as your own.”  Don’t spend his money or act with disregard to it.  After all, his possessions are just as much his pekele from Hashem as your money is yours.  If you disrespect or pay insufficient care or attention to this, you are thereby disregarding the reality of the money’s true source--and the fact that it was placed with its trustee for a reason, not to be squandered, misused or abused--especially by one who was not even entrusted with it to begin with.  Close his lights, don’t ruin his grass, pay him what is due him, don’t be skimpy with him, you can fill in all of the rest of the blanks.  Be careful and concerned with that which belongs to someone else--by this you are showing your care and concern for others--and your Emunah as to where it all comes from.  In just a few weeks, we are going to attest that the Torah came from Shomayim--we are being reminded by Mesechta Avos that we should first attest to the fact that all else that is already in this world came from that very same Source, as well.



Special Note One:  Perhaps the greatest lesson of the month of Nissan is Emunah--acknowledging Hashem’s omniscience, omnipotence and Hashgacha Pratis--and putting our lives and everything about us in Hashem’s sacred trust.  Succinctly stated--”Ain Od Milvado--He is the Source of Everything.”  To reinforce this most basic of our beliefs, and to carry that special feeling of the month of Nissan with you throughout the year, may we suggest that you recite every morning--or at least once a week--the Segula Nifla’ah [“The Wondrous Segula”]--as written by none other than HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl in the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim--which we provide by clicking here.



Special Note Two:  In the Hallel we recited this morning, we refer to “Yirei Hashem--those who fear Hashem.”  Fascinatingly, Rashi defines this very special term in two different ways at two different points in Hallel.  In one place, Rashi defines the Yirei Hashem as the Leviim, and in another Rashi writes that they are the Geirim.  While at first glance, these different definitions of Yirei Hashem appear incongruous, upon reflection we find a remarkable common denominator between the two groups.  The Leviim responded to Moshe Rabbeinu’s call of “Mi Lashem Ailai” with an especial and unique dedication and zeal.  Likewise, the convert leaves his family and surroundings, and the comfort of his Olam HaZeh existence because he, too, feels and senses a greater calling.  So, it is one who responds, who takes action--who doesn’t leave well enough alone, who does not sit back and allow events to happen around him without responding--he is the one who senses that there is something much greater, much more important, much more essential to this world than his own needs, comforts, will and desires.  He brings the presence and fear of Hashem into his everyday existence...  One does not really have to be either a Levi or a Ger to be a Yirei Hashem--but one has to THINK and ACT like them in order to get there!



Special Note One:  In furtherance of yesterday’s thought, we may likewise point to the fact that the Torah specifically testifies that “Ka’asher Ya’anu Osom, Kein Yirbeh VeChein Yifrotz--as they were afflicted so did they multiply.”  The horrific affliction itself was the source of Bnei Yisroel’s growth and birth for all time.  The excruciating pangs gave birth to Nitzchius--eternity for a nation.  Rabban Gamliel Rabinovich, Shlita, likens it as well to the clouds which first darken the sky and bring down the seemingly burdensome rain showers--yet leave the world with food and sustenance in the aftermath for the sunny tomorrows that follow!



Special Note Two:  The Aruch HaShulchan (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 492) brings from the Zohar to Parashas Tetzaveh that the primary reason for which we stand during Sefiras HaOmer is because Sefiras HaOmer is comparable to Shemone Esrei itself(!).  We should realize the extraordinary importance of Sefira every night just from the fact that the one-sentence count is surrounded in the siddur by prayers before and after (whether or not you actually recite them).  With less than five weeks left to Sefira, let us focus on each and every word of the brocha and the Count, and plan in a practical way to move closer to Matan Torah each and every day.


Helpful Thought:  To inspire yourself here, do not allow yourself to count the Sefirah by heart.  Instead, read each and every word of the bracha and count from a Siddur.



Special Note One:  The Sefer Tallilei Oros brings from the following “Eitzah Ne’emana” (Trustworthy Advice) taught by the HaRav Leib Chasman, Z’tl, in the Sefer Ohr Yahel:  “If one finds himself, Chas VeShalom, in a tzarah, he should take a neder to not satiate his desire in a particular manner which is otherwise permissible to him, and with this he will be assured of a having obtained a ‘zechus gadol’ with this to be saved...”  Note:  Rav Chasman is not requiring unrelenting abstinence.  Rather, he is advising to select something permissible and simply not satiate yourself with it--because you--and not your Yetzer Hora--are in charge of your life!



Special Note Two:  Rabban Gamliel Rabinovich, Shlita, makes an outstanding observation regarding the Pesach Seder--which is truly a bold and important lesson for daily living.  The Seder teaches us that there is a seder, an order, to things.  If we follow the Seder as we should, then in the end everything is Nirzah--accepted…and we sing into the night.  However, not everything starts out happy--we begin as slaves, and we experience shame and degradation, physically and spiritually.  We even eat a portion of Marror.  But, if we do what we are supposed to--we will be zoche to a special Yom Tov Shulchan Orech and its joy-filled aftermath.  Olam Hazeh is not meant to be a fountain of delight or a wellspring of contentment.  It is meant to be a place where we learn our lessons and grow from them--where we shape our lives for eternity.  Success begins and is measured through effort, dedication, commitment and strength of character.  The bitterness may be there in different ways--as pure marror, sandwiched with something else (korech), and will have some charoses to take out some of the sting...but, we must recognize and believe that all of this is only a purification agent that is needed for only a short period of time--it is as transitory as a passing thunderstorm in light of the permanent sunshine of Olam Haba that will succeed it.  During the rest of the year we go straight to Shulchan Orech--but we should not be fooled.  It is the order of the Seder night which puts our lives into perspective.  You may have a lot of questions to ask through the course of Galus night--but if you follow through the order and succeed to conclusion--you are guaranteed to come out singing--and with all of the answers.



Special Note Three:  This theme is reemphasized in the Parsha of Shemini, just concluded, as the Torah teaches us that if we attach ourselves to holiness we will be holy, and that if we defile ourselves (or even allow ourselves to be defiled), we contaminate not only our present physical bodies, but our future spiritual existence.  In truth, the kind and degree of holiness and contamination varies from person to person.  The G’ra teaches that a person can determine what his tachlis is in this world by understanding and studying the situations that: (a) he most frequently encounters--for they are new G-d given opportunities to succeed, and (b) the items and events that one has the greatest “cheshek”--the greatest desire for--for these are his key life tests to pass, and if possible, excel at.  Just as our faces are different, so are our roads to Olam Haba.  We are all on the same road with the same method of transportation, but will each get there in different ways, at different times, and will enjoy different lodgings.   The elevated spirit in which we raised ourselves up from servitude and bondage--from the difficulties and tribulations of Olam Hazeh--on the Seder night, should be the spirit that takes us through the year--as we remind ourselves that if we can stay clear of the contamination and instead uplift ourselves to holiness through the process of our Galus, we, as the Chad Gadya, will be left at the end--with the One and Only Hakadosh Baruch Hu!




Special Note One:  Today, the 28th day of Nissan, marked the day that Yericho fell to the Hakafos and Shofar blasts (and not to the military prowess) of B’nei Yisroel.  It was none other than Yehoshua Bin Nun who composed Aleinu at that time in recognition of Hashem’s Omnipotence--and the thanks that we owe Him for our position in this world!  According to the Sefer Chareidim, as brought in the Siddur Rashban, Aleinu was actually recited forwards and then backwards by Yehoshua and Bnei Yisroel, and this was the final blow that caused the walls to fall in.  We had noted the great importance of Aleinu in our most recent Erev Shabbos Bulletin (as this past Shabbos was Yehoshua Bin Nun’s yahrzeit). The second paragraph of Aleinu—“Al Kain Nekave” was composed by Achan after he did Teshuva from taking booty out of Yericho—violating the Cherem to do so. (He then received Sekila to complete his Kapara).   Most certainly then, this week--the anniversary week--we should be most careful to recite Aleinu from a Siddur, and with sincere reflections of thanks.



Special Note Two:  Chazal teach that on Pesach we are judged on “Tevua”--for the success of our crops.  The Gemara there reconciles the concept of judgment on Rosh Hashanah with the judgment that occurs on other days of the year, including Hashem’s judgment of our sustenance on Pesach.  In all events, at this time of year we recognize that Hashem is ultimately in charge of our Parnassa--and it is not our business acumen, gifted intelligence or ordinary or extraordinary efforts that bring about our success, or even the basic food on our plates, or clothes that we wear.  Just as Hashem took us from the Makkos to the Splitting of the Sea, Hashem also writes the script for our livelihood.  Thus, aside from pleading with Hashem three times daily in “V’Seyn Bracha” in Shemone Esrei for Hashem to provide us with prosperity [which bracha we should in any event be reciting with greater Kavana now—as is implied by the need to be careful in recitation to make sure that we are reciting the proper term] we may also demonstrate our absolute awareness of Hashem’s graciousness in another way.  From time to time, when we are thinking about how to be successful on a particular project at work, which investment to make, how to get a customer or client or some other monetary matter, you may want to consciously catch the thought and switch it to a D’var Torah, or think about a Mitzvah that you could perform.  This would affirmatively demonstrate that you fully and ultimately recognize, acknowledge and believe that it is Hashem who takes care of you in Olam Hazeh--and it is you who must take care of your Olam Habah.



Special Note Three:  The Tur (Orach Chaim 417) writes that each of the Shalosh Regalim corresponds to one of the Avos, with Pesach corresponding to Avraham Avinu, whose primary middah was Chesed (See Micha 7:20).  It is certainly no coincidence(as it never is) that Pesach, which symbolizes the Chesed of Hashem in redeeming us, is followed by the Holiday of Shavuos, which is represented by Yitzchok Avinu--and the Gevura of the study of Torah.  The message is clear:  We must first improve our acts of Chesed, in order to be worthy to receive the Torah on Shavuos.


The Mitzvah of escorting a guest out of our home is an act of Chesed which is greatly under-appreciated, to say the least.  The Chofetz Chaim (Sefer Ahavas Chesed 3:2) clearly writes that a guest is protected from harm if you escort him--and that if you do not escort him, it is “as if you shed blood!”  This ruling of the Chofetz Chaim is based squarely on the ruling of the Rambam (Hilchos Aveilus 14:2, 3).  The Chofetz Chaim (ibid.) additionally brings from the Rambam that escorting a guest is “the rule that Avraham Avinu himself established”, and that the reward for escorting is “merubah min hakol--greater than all.”  Although the S’MA to Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 427) writes that one need not escort guests for any specified distance, the Chofetz Chaim explains that it is definitely “assur”-forbidden-for a guest to be mochel the Mitzvah of Liviya--being escorted--by his host, and “cholila--Heaven forbid”--for one to suggest that one is free of this Mitzvah initiated by Avraham Avinu.  If one additionally helps show the way or assists the traveler in any other manner, the Mitzvah is even further enhanced.


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION ONE:  Let us demonstrate an extra level of care and concern for all who visit our home by escorting them, and perhaps guiding them--enabling them to, B’ezras Hashem, have a safe trip.  Let us not forget to give our guests a final brocha (see Moed Katan 29A) of “L’Chaim U’LeShalom” as we take leave of them, as well!


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION TWO:  Now that we have begun Pirkei Avos in order to learn how to improve ourselves before Shavuos, we should try to take at least one lesson from the Perek that especially strikes us and take it with us into the week.  In Perek Aleph last Shabbos, we learned from Shamai to be “Mekabel Es Kol HaAdam BeSever Panim Yafos--to greet everyone with a pleasant countenance”.  It is well known that HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, whose yahrzeit was yesterday, would always teach that there are three elements to this great Chesed.  Firstly--‘BeSever’ means that you have to think about what the other person may need to hear when talking with them.  Secondly--‘Panim’ means that you should be focusing on the person, and not be multi-tasking at the same time, thereby demonstrating to the person that he is important enough to you be receiving your full attention.  Thirdly--‘Yafos’ means that your trials and troubles should not be written on your face--and that notwithstanding the size of your own pekele--the other person should be strengthened, encouraged and be made to feel good as a result of his encounter or discussion with you.  BeSever Panim Yafos would certainly appear to be a significant Tikkun to the difficulty of the Zugos of Rebbe Akiva’s students--and here it is--right in the first Perek of Pirkei Avos, to give us ample time to work on during Sefira, as we climb the wonderfully supernal, yet eminently scalable, mountain towards Shavuos!



Special Note One:  Tomorrow, the 26th of Nissan, it the Yahrzeit of Yehoshua Bin Nun.  Chazal (Shabbos 105B) teach that the elders of his generation were punished for not properly eulogizing him.  Yehoshua instituted two of our great Tefillos:

1.  The first paragraph of Aleinu LeShabeyach, which is a highlight of our Tefillos on the Yamim Noraim, and is recited three times daily as part of the important conclusion of each of our Tefillos (the Rema to Shulchan Aruch [Orach Chaim 132:2] emphasizes that we should be careful to have Kavannah when reciting Aleinu.

2.  The second Bracha of Birkas HaMazon was instituted by Yehoshua upon entering into Eretz Yisroel (Berachos 48A).


We should be especially careful this Shabbos (and every day!) with theses two special Tefillos, both of which express our great thanks to Hashem for the blessings He has bestowed upon us.  Let us take these opportunities to properly remember Yehoshua Bin Nun--and keep some part of his great legacy with us daily.  (If some want to stay especially close to their Rav or Talmidei Chachomim--or keep the Shul or Bais Medrash in order--he can take another part of these legacies as well!)


Special Note Two:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos Series.


1.      The following point is made in the wonderful work Shabbos in My Soul--70 Powerful Lessons to Illuminate the Shabbos Experience by Rabbi Boruch Leff, Shlita:  “U'sefartem Lachem Mimacharas HaShabbos, Miyom Haviachem Es Omer Hatenufah Sheva Shabbasos Temimos Tehiyena --you should count for yourselves from after Shabbos [referring here to Pesach], from the day when you bring the offering of the Omer waving, it should be seven complete weeks.”  In counting the Omer we are counting towards Matan Torah and, in doing so, readying ourselves for Shavuos.  We prepare ourselves by purifying and perfecting our spiritual lives, especially our Middos and Derech Eretz.  Thus, when we count, we are supposed to be tallying up our growth, day by day.  The Nesivos Shalom says that the day that is designated for the most powerful growth that can be achieved during Sefiras Ha'omer is Shabbos.  The Pasuk indicates this: “Sheva Shabbasos Temimos Tehiyena.”  It is only when Shabbos is temimah, when Shabbos is observed and experienced with a potent ruchnius, purity, and spiritual growth, that we can truly develop ourselves properly during this period.  The way to utilize the potential of Sefiras Ha'omer is to make sure our Shabbos days are filled with kedushah.  We are bidden by the Torah to make our Shabbosos temimos, perfect and whole.  Let us not squander the opportunity.


2.      It is a custom of many on the Shabbos following Pesach to have a “Shlissel Challah” or “Key Challah”.  The Sefer Ta’maei Dinim U'Minhagim writes that this is related to the words in Shir HaShirim that we recited over Pesach “Pischu Li Achosi Rayasi--open the gates of love and parnassah for us.”  On Pesach we have been judged for our Tevuah--our Parnassah--and with the Shlissel Challah we demonstrate affirmatively and conclusively that we recognize that the key to every bite of our bread is absolutely and exclusively in Hashem’s loving hands!


3.      During these very days--immediately after Pesach in the Midbar--the Bnei Yisroel received the Mitzvah of Shabbos while encamped at Marah.  The Levush (Orach Chaim 487:1) writes that we accepted the Mitzvah of Shabbos in all of its detail with love, and that is why the word “BeAhava” is especially related to Shabbos.  The Sefer Bris Olam by HaRav Binyomin Zilber, Z'tl,  provides the following potent words of Chazal relating to one who is Shomer Shabbos:

a.       Hashem will listen to his prayers (Medrash Tehillim, Chapter 16)

b.      He tastes 1/60th of the taste of Olam Habah (Bereishis Rabba, Chapter 7)

c.       He is Zoche to Yiras Hashem (Yevamos 96)

d.      He will receive a double reward for his efforts--one for Kavod and one for Oneg (Medrash Tehillim, Chapter 93).

e.       Hakadosh Baruch Hu longs for him, does his bidding, and he is considered as someone who is worthy to testify before Hashem! (Medrash Tanchum to Parshas Re’ai and Mechilta to Parshas Yisro)


Let us take the propitious time we are in--the very time in which we initially accepted the Mitzvah of Shabbos as a nation--and use it to strengthen our personal Shabbos observance in some way.  After all--how many opportunities do you have to enjoy Olam Haba here and now?!





One of the kashrus highlights of Pesach was the discovery by many consumers that three hashgachos could appear on the label of a product in the “Kosher For Passover” section of a Shomer Shabbos grocery store or supermarket, and yet only one of the hashgachos was actually certifying the product for Passover use.  Apparently, the consumer was to understand that when the words “Kosher For Passover” were placed next to only one of the hashgachos, the other hashgachos were not certifying the product for Passover use--but only for the rest of the year.  In some cases, on one side the label said “Kosher For Passover” next to one hashgacha, and “Kosher for year round use” next to the other hashgacha, with the apparent intent that the term “year round” excludes Passover.  In at least one case, the reason one certifying agency called a product Kosher For Passover even though there was no special hashgocha or hashgocha temidis on the Passover run was because the kashrus agency had never experienced a problem with this product in the past, and so its standard did not require it.  We believe, however, when a consumer sees three hashgachos on a product he assumes that it has passed the muster of many--not that he is relying on the “chazokos” in place during the year.  As one Rav HaMachshir told us:  “Households are busy scrubbing their doorknobs for Pesach, and some of the food at their Seder may not have any special hashgacha for Pesach--this is not what they are bargaining--and paying--for.”  Consumers who faced this issue with products they purchased should not either throw up their hands or forget about it now that Yom Tov is over.  Rather, they should express their frustrations to the subject companies and to the hashgachos, with the hope and prayer that next year we will be in Yerushalayim--and that none of this will occur again because we cared so much about it the year before!  If there is particular contact information you are having difficulty obtaining, please write to us, and we will try to help you.


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