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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin



 Dovid HaMelech in Sefer Tehillim (25:18) makes the following request of Hashem:  “Look at my affliction and toil and bear all my sins.”


We note that the seventh brocha of Shemone Esrei, “Re’ah [Na] V’anyenu” (Look… at our afflictions) closely parallels this passage in Tehillim, and it is, in fact, the only brocha in Shemone Esrei where we ask HaKodosh Boruch Hu to “look” at something for us.


It is said in the name of the Apter Rav that if a person is suffering, he should affirmatively acknowledge and state “may my pain and suffering be a kapara (atonement) for all of my sins”.  In this way, a person acknowledges that the purpose of his suffering or affliction is not meaningless or some kind of torture, but to achieve redirection and/or atonement.  With this affirmative acknowledgement, the kapara is achieved.



1.         The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 247:3) rules l’halacha (as a matter of law), that if one has mercy on the poor, Hashem will have mercy upon him.  Indeed, it is a good practice, prior to coming before Hashem in prayer each day, to put money in the pushka (Yoreh Deah 249:14, Shach s.k. 10).


2.         Moreover, tzedaka is “doche” (pushes away) harsh decrees against a person (Yoreh Deah 247:4).


3.         Shlomo HaMelech states two separate times in Mishlei (10:2 and 11:4) that “U’tzedaka tazil mimoves—and charity saves from death”.  Chazal explain that tzedaka not only saves from a “misa meshuna (an unusual death)”, but from any form of death.


4.         The “twenty percent limit” on tzedaka has many caveats.  Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg Shlita rules that the limit does not apply to supporting Torah study.  Rav Avrohom Schorr Shlita cites the Igeres HaKodesh (Chapter 10) as follows: “but as to him who [still] needs to remedy his soul, the healing of soul is obviously no less a priority than the healing of the body, where money does not count.”  For further elucidation of this topic see the Chofetz Chaim’s sefer Ahavas Chesed, Chapter 20.


5.         Everyone agrees that a person may donate in his will as much charity as he desires (Yoreh Deah, Ramo 249:1).


6.         Charity begins at home… and with family relatives.  For priorities and instructions in this area, see Yoreh Deah 251:3 and the commentaries there.


7.         For a Halacha L’maaseh shiur covering many practical questions in these areas by Rabbi Yisroel Belsky Shlita, please call the Hakhel Tape Center at 718-252-5274.



Perhaps the greatest personal void resulting from the churban HaMikdash is our failure to sense that we are always Lifnei Hashem, in the presence of Hashem (Sifsei Chaim III: 339).  Upon a visit to Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash, everyone would witness constant miracles (see Mishnah Avos 5:7), Kohanim and Leviim on extremely heightened spiritual levels, the Sandhedrin, and the “Nikiyei Hadaas” of Yerushalayim, with over 400 Batei Midrashim illuminating the city.  The Torah (Devorim 14:23 ) teaches us that mere visits to the city (for example, in order to eat ma’aser sheni there) would teach a person to fear Hashem “all [his] days”!


Our circumstances have now temporarily and tragically changed.  HaRav Shlomo Wolbe Z’TL once said that he went to see the King of Sweden in order to experience royalty and kingship, and instead walked away from the experience feeling little or no respect for an unglorified human being.  He concluded, therefore, that it is much more difficult for us to appreciate Hashem’s Malchus because we do not have any earthly royalty from which to begin.


What can we do to bring us to some elevated sense that we are before Hashem even in our current downtrodden state?


We suggest the following:

Every brocha contains the word “Ata” (You)—the direct, second person—talking to Hashem as if He is directly in front of you.  Once during each meal—morning, afternoon and evening before making a brocha on your food, have in mind that you are now talking to the Shechina in front of you, thanking Him for that particular food.


If this elevated sense of presence of Shechina is difficult to imagine at first, you may picture the Chofetz Chaim, the Vilna Gaon, your Chassidic Rebbe, or Rashi, or even Dovid HaMelech sitting in the room in front of you as you are making the brocha.


You may try this for a week and see if it improves your level of “Lifnei Hashem”—sensing the Shechina with you each and every day.


The “Lifnei Hashem” we will BE’H soon experience in the Beis HaMikdash will then be all the more meaningful and all the more gratifying.



The Gemara (Megilla 21A) teaches that Moshe Rabbeinu would learn the more difficult laws and concepts of the Torah sitting down.

If we have to sit down this Tisha B’Av, we should take the time out to go over in our mind some of the difficult concepts that we tend to ignore, or at least avoid, during the rest of the year—the chorbons and tzaros that have accompanied us through the ages and into our day.


Can we not shed a tear over:

  • The pain of the Shechina over the chillul Hashem of the Galus (the Father’s pain is greater than the child’s)

  • The void left by the Beis Hamikdosh that is not with us and the concomitant void of sanctity within us (we could be closer to angels, and not closer to animals)

  • The honor of Klal Yisroel that has been cast to the ground and trampled upon

  • The hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews who have been numbed by Communism

  • The sorry hatred of secular Jews, Meretz and Shinui, to Judaism

  • The Aiden Shapiros and Jules Horowitzes of the world who are not Jewish

  • The Sbarros bombing

  • The bombing of Bus Number 2

  • The Crusades

  • The Pogroms

  • The 1648-1649 Massacres

  • The Holocaust

  • All of the unnecessary sickness and suffering for 2000 year (multiplied by each second of pain)

  • The desolation and ruination of the Har Habayis, Har Hazeisim, Chevron, Tevria…

  • Sinas Chinum—smiling at the mishap of another, failing to properly rejoice at another’s simcha, and finding it hard to accept another's honor and success

  • The Jews who do not even know that Tisha B’Av exists

  • The Jews who know that Tisha B’Av exists and do not grow in their resolve to do something to end this Chorban as soon as possible


May our prayers for consolation be accepted by Hakodesh Boruch Hu speedily and in our days—today!


The mother of Rabbi Mordechai Zuckerman, Shlita, a noted Talmud Chochom in Yerushalayim, davened Mincha close to sunset (which is usually preferred, see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 233:1) every day of the year, except Tisha B’Av, when she would daven Mincha as early in the day as was possible.  Rabbi Zuckerman asked his mother why her practice on Tisha B’Av was different than the other days of the year.  She responded that the Mincha of Tisha B’Av is the one time during the year where we add a special Tefillah, asking Hashem to “Nachem”, to console, the mourners of Zion and Yerushalayim.  She simply could not wait to daven Mincha until later, as this would mean an extra few hours of delay in begging Hashem to console us.


HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein Z’TL (Or Yechezkel, Emunah p. 292) states that he remembers the Chofetz Chaim’s mashal as to how we should wait for Moshiach:  Imagine a person who is very unwell and who is waiting for the expert doctor who will give him the medication needed to cure him of his illness.  When will he arrive?  Every knock at the door…Is it the doctor?…And every delay in his coming causes a greater longing for him.




1.  Save Millions

QUESTION:  In a lifespan of seventy years (after one’s Bar or Bas Mitzvah), how many brochos of Shemone Esrei have you recited?

ANSWER:  More than 1,250,000 brochos!

Now is the time to make a special effort to recite the brochos of Shemone Esrei with kavanah of the simple meaning of the words.  Imagine a million brochos like that to your credit!


2.  Even a Regular Yisroel

QUESTION:  What has more shemos (names) of Hashem on it—the Tzitz worn by the Kohen Gadol to bring forgiveness—or the Tefillin we wear daily?

ANSWER:  The Tzitz only has Hashem’s name once, while the Tefillin contain the names of Hashem many, many times.  With this, we should gain a greater appreciation of the kedusha we don daily.


3.  Fast, Faster, Fastest

QUESTION:  In which brocha of Shemone Esrei do we recite the word “meheyrah (quickly)”, three times—obviously asking Hashem to help us in the quickest possible manner?

ANSWER:  This is easy to find, and once you find it, you will understand why we make the “meheyrah” request three times within one brocha.


4.  True or False

QUESTION:  A person should reduce the hana’ah (pleasure) he experiences on Tisha B’Av as much as possible, true or false?

ANSWER:  The Ramo (Orach Chayim 555:2) states that this is true.


5.  A Very Important Thing to Say

QUESTION:  If one has something very important to say, but is unsure as to whether it may be loshon hora, should he say it anyway, because it is very important?

ANSWER:  The sefer Chofetz Chaim rules that if one is in doubt, one should not relate the information.  One can call the Shmiras Haloshon Shaila Hotline at 718-951-3696 to ask a rav for a final resolution of the situation.


6.  Moshiach After Midday

QUESTION:  If the Moshiach comes on Tisha B’Av after chatzos ( midday ) will we continue to fast for the balance of the day?

ANSWER:  Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, in sefer Derech Sicha, rules that we will continue to fast if the Moshiach comes after midday because Teshuvah is an element of the mourning that we are to feel and experience on Tisha B’Av.


May the Moshiach come today!




As our exasperation and tears over the continuing Churban, as amplified by our current tz’aar in Eretz Yisroel, reaches its peak on Tisha B’Av, we must realize that Hashem has provided us with the elixir, the antidote, to resolve and cure all of this.


It is the antithesis of Sinas Chinam (which is the raison d’etre of this Galus), and it is called Ahavas Chinam.


How can we come to Ahavas Chinam—to express it, and accomplish a true, sincere, love?  Is it really anywhere within our grasp?


Rav Chaim Friedlander Z’TL (the great student of Rav Dessler Z’TL) in Sifsei Chaim (3:275) most definitely puts us on the right path:


We should at all times have a pleasant countenance (“sever panim yafos”) and make people smile and feel good inside.  Rabbi Friedlander cites the Gemara (Kesubos 111B) that it is greater to make a person smile than give him a much-needed drink.  This teaches us that the greater chessed is not necessarily one of action, but of thought, respect and positive attention to make a family member, friend or even passer-by, feel good inside.


In fact, in another place, Rabbi Friedlander writes that your smile “should be seen”. . . even over the telephone.


Helpful Point:  Try working on sever panim yafos (pleasant countenance/causing someone to smile or feel good) to someone who do you not necessarily like or know too well, or to a close family member who may often see your negative expressions.


A respected U.S. kashrus organization has provided the following guidelines to us:

“Due to new increased levels of insect infestation in strawberries, we find it necessary to make the public aware that fresh strawberries may l’chatchila be used only when prepared as follows:

1.      Remove the green leaves, being careful not to cut so deeply so as to make a hole in the top of the strawberry.

2.      Immerse the strawberries for a few minutes in cold water containing some concentrated unscented dishwashing liquid (such as Ultra Dawn or Ultra Joy).

3.      Agitate the strawberries for a few seconds in the soapy water.

4.      Rinse each strawberry carefully and meticulously under a stream of cold running water.  Run your fingers down the entire surface of the strawberry while rinsing.


Strawberries from Mexico should be avoided. 

Raspberries and Blackberries are extremely infested and several major kashrus organizations have totally discontinued their use in their certified establishments.  Country-picked blueberries could be problematic, as well."


In the brocha of Modim, we specifically offer “brachos v’hodaos” (recognition that Hashem is the Source of All Blessings and thanks) for the following:

    ·   “Chyenu”-our very lives which are in Hashem’s hands at all times
    ·   “Nishmoseynu”-our souls which are placed with Hashem every night
    ·   “Nisecha”-for the hidden miracles which occur to each one of us on an individual basis daily (“How did that happen?”)

    ·   “Nifleosecha”-for the daily wonders of nature (a shining sun, a cool wind, etc.)
    ·   “V’tovosecha”-for the daily goodness that we are granted (not only can you read the characters of this email message, but also the words put together, and they made (some semblance of) sense!)

In truth, each one of us is inundated, evening, morning and afternoon, with all of the blessings we need for our lives.  Even if we find it difficult to thank, or be beholden to, other people, we should try to take a moment during Modim each day to reflect upon and appreciate something specific with which we have been blessed by HaKodesh Boruch Hu.


Chazal (Shabbos 32A) teach that one should take the time and effort to pray to Hashem that he not get sick, for zechus (merit) is needed to be healed once sickness has set in.

This may be why the Anshei K’nesses HaGedolah, in the brocha of Refaenu, specifically included two special words “Hosheinu V’nevoshaya - Save us, then we will be saved,” asking Hashem to keep us healthy, as He is the Source of All Health.

Let us daven with kavanah for our continued health.

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