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Special Note One:  Chazal teach that “Besora Tova Nosenes Koach--good news gives strength.”  Let us each try to spread good news to each other--so that we all get energized!


Special Note Two:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos Series:


1.      May one place cole slaw or cold vegetables on a plate side by side with chulent on Shabbos morning?  After all, won’t the chulent, as a “dovor gush which is yad soledes bo”--a solid item which is 110 degrees or more--cook the cole slaw or vegetables along side it or under it?  The Sefer The 39 Melachos by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita, writes that this a machlokes of contemporary poskim.  HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita and HaRav Vosner, Shlita, rule that one should be careful not to put an uncooked item next to the chulent.  On the other hand, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that it is permissible, for two basic reasons:  1) A person, who is intending to cook the cole slaw, is only putting the chulent there because that is where there is room on the plate, and in fact would prefer that it not happen, as it probably ruins the cole slaw’s taste; and 2)  The concept of a solid food which is yad soledes bo cooking in a kli sheni (or a kli shlishi) is a machlokes haPoskim.  Thus, one may want to ask a Posek as to whether he needs to clean off his plate before putting chulent upon it, or before putting cold vegetables or the like next to the chulent.


2.      Note on Shabbos Davening:  In the Shabbos Mussaf, the proper reading is “Korban Mussaf Shabbos Ka’raui” (meaning the Shabbos Mussaf offering in accordance with Hashem’s instructions).  There is no stop or pause between the words “Mussaf” and “Shabbos Ka’raui.”


3.      Many sweep the floor on Shabbos (with a soft bristle broom) and seem to sweep up items which would otherwise be muktza, such as dirt, bones, ripped up pieces of paper and the like.  What is the basis for sweeping muktza on Shabbos?  The Chazon Ish (Moed 47:21) brings two possible answers:  1) The muktza items are botul to the ground being swept; and 2)  The muktza items are considered to be as “graph shel re’ei” (an unclean bathroom utensil) and do not fall into the category of muktza because it is socially unacceptable to leave them in a person’s presence.  Based on these explanations, it would appear that one should be careful about sweeping large objects which do not fall into the category of “graph shel re’ei,” such as pens and pencils, unless there is a different heter for their removal.  Of course, one should consult with his Rav or Posek if he has questions regarding this subject.



Special Note Three:  The following insight was provided by Torah Tavlin:  “The Kotzker Rebbe, Zt’l, makes a fascinating point.  He says that the weekly Parsha gives us an insight into what we are meant to accomplish that week.  Thus, the week in which we bench Rosh Chodesh Elul is meant for us to “Re’eh—Look.”  Each Jew must stop and look inside himself or herself and see what needs improvement, this is how we know where to start.”


If you would like to subscribe to Torah Tavlin, a weekly Parsha newsletter, you can contact them at torahtavlin@aol.com



Special Note Four:  Today (28 Av) is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Avrohom Pam, Z’tl.  HaRav Pam once explained how Hashem can be both a Tzaddik and a Chassid at the same time (as we recite in Ashrei daily “Tzadik Hashem Bechol…V’Chosid Bechol”), even though “Tzaddik” implies acting in accordance with the letter of the law and “Chassid” implies going beyond the letter of the law.  The solution to this apparent paradox, Harav Pam explained, is found in the proper understanding of a Pasuk in this week’s Parsha.  After teaching the laws of an Ir HaNidachas (a Wayward City), which includes meting out the death penalty to its inhabitants, the Torah says that “V’Nosan L’Cha Rachamim V’Richamcha…--and Hashem will give you mercy and will be merciful to you” (Devorim 13:18).  Why is there an apparent redundancy in the Torah’s language relating to mercy--“giving you mercy” and “being merciful to you”?


The answer is that when the Torah states “Hashem will give you mercy,” it means that Hashem will give you the opportunity to be merciful to others, and if you then act mercifully, Hashem will then be merciful to you.  This means, then, that Hashem is acting both as a chassid and as a tzaddik, because he is acting as a Chassid by giving us the opportunity to do Chesed, and if we do so, he will reward us as a Tzaddik--middah k’negged middah--according of the letter of the law!


As we approach Elul, which are known as the Yimei HaRachamim, we must be extra vigilant for these opportunities.  Chazal (Pesachim 87A) teach that the Navi Hoshea was punished when Hashem approached him and told him that Bnei Yisroel were sinning, to which he responded--so punish them!  Thus, he was punished for saying “Punish them.”  What should he have said?  Chazal teach that he should have said “Nevertheless Hashem, they are Your children, the children of Your beloved ones, Avraham Yitzchak and Yaakov, heap mercy upon them!”  Based upon this teaching of Chazal, if one does not have immediate opportunities for mercy directly in front of him, at the very least he can daven to Hashem to heap mercy upon His people.  Let us make this a priority in the coming weeks!


May HaRav Pam’s zechus stand in our stead, as we properly apply his essential teaching in our daily lives.



Project Kavey provides a live telephone conference workshop by Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita, who is renowned worldwide for his essential Sefer Chinuch in Turbulent Times.  The telephone conference workshop is available on Monday evenings 9:30PM -11PM or Tuesday mornings 10AM-11:30AM.  Next week, the topic will be “Respect: Where Has It Gone?”  The following week (September 8, 9), the topic will be “Back to School-- Questions and Answers.”  Thereafter, for the following three weeks, there will be three special classes devoted to preparing children to get the most from the Yomim Noraim.  To register for these workshops, one can contact Project Kavey at projectkavey@optonline.net or by calling 732-886-8821.



Special Note One:  As we leave the month of Av, may we suggest that you make a list of twenty things that would change for the better if Moshiach came and the Bais Hamikdosh was rebuilt?  When we fervently daven for the binyan Bais Hamikdosh are we davening for just one thing--for the return of one holy and glorious building?  After studying our list, we will recognize that the kavana we have when we daven for binyan Beis Hamikdosh should be enormous…and hopefully it will be!



Special Note Two:  In his moving shiur “It’s All About Change,” Rabbi Yissochar Frand, Shlita, brings to light that the monumental stages in a person’s life are not brought about by his choice and free will.  The day a person is born, which country, city and neighborhood he will grow up in, which Yeshiva or school he will attend, where and how he/she will be Bar/ Bas Mitzvah, whether or not he will get married, and if so, how many children he will have, his physical well-being (ailments, disorders, etc)., whether he will earn a livelihood, how and when he will retire, and when after 120 he will pass on to an eternal world, all are beyond a person’s determination.


Having said all that, what is left for a person to do?  What does Hashem expect of us?  The answer, of course, is succinctly stated in last week’s Parsha, Parshas Eikev:  “V’Ata Yisroel Ma Hashem Elokecha Shoel Mai’imach Ki Im L’Yirah--And now Yisroel, what does Hashem ask of you…*only* to fear Him...” (Devorim 10:12)  [The Torah Temimah on this Pasuk teaches that although there are other items listed after this, they all emanate from the first item--Yiras Shamayim.]  Chazal (Brachos 33B), accordingly, explicitly teach “Everything is in the hands of Heaven-- except for the Fear of Heaven [which is what we have left to accomplish!].”


At first blush, although “Fear of Hashem” is only one task, it is a huge undertaking.  Chazal (ibid.), in fact, ask, what does the Torah mean by saying the “only” thing we are asked to do is fear Hashem--“is this then a small matter”?  Chazal answer that yes, it is a small matter--to Moshe Rabbeinu. But does the answer really address the question?  We are, after all, not Moshe Rabbeinu.  If fear of Hashem was not a formidable undertaking for him--it still seems to be a great undertaking for us!


So what do Chazal mean when they say that fear of Hashem is easy because it was easily undertaken by Moshe Rabbeinu?  In fact, it is said that the Dubiner Maggid asked this question of the Vilna Gaon.


Various practical answers are given to this question, and they are essential to our every day life--because as the Torah once again teaches, this is what Hashem wants from us. 


1.      One answer said to have been given by the Vilna Gaon is based upon the following mashal.  Picture a large empty vessel with smaller bowls surrounding it.  When one pours oil into a large empty vessel, and it begins to overflow, it will flow into the smaller empty vessels around it.  So too, if one stays around people with Yiras Shamayim (of which Moshe Rabbeinu is the symbol), then the Yiras Shamayim will flow over and affect those close to the one with Yiras Shamayim.  Thus, it becomes imperative upon each and every person to do his utmost to get close to the right people.  It would seem that if a person feels that he does not have this immediate opportunity, he should at least study daily Mussar seforim which impress upon a person the parameters of, and provide the guidelines for, proper Yiras Shamayim.


2.      Moshe Rabbeinu did not fear Paroah, the Egyptians, the rebels at the time of the Eigel HaZahav or at the time of the Meraglim, nor Sichon.  The only reason he had a thought of fearing Og was because of the extraordinary zechus that Og had (see Rashi to Devorim 3:2).  Moshe Rabbeinu’s fear teaches us the type of fear we are to have of Hashem--unique and singular.  Why should we be fearful of a shark, a lion or even a human being, who are the agents of Hashem’s will?  We should only be fearful of Hashem.


3.      Finally, Moshe Rabbeinu was able to build his Yiras Shamayim through willpower--the conquest of his own personal desires in favor of loftier goals.  We, too, can do the same, building ourselves up slowly, just as Moshe Rabbeinu did--preparing for his life’s task in all circumstances--from the King’s Palace to the barren desert.


As we all know, the Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva (5:2) writes that every person can be like Moshe Rabbeinu while engaging in the Teshuva process.  Many take this to mean that just as Moshe Rabbeinu reached his own level, his own potential, every person must reach his own level, his own potential.  We can, of course, apply the same to Yiras Shamayim, and say just as Moshe Rabbeinu went as far as he could in Yiras Shamayim, so should each and every one of us reach his potential.


How can a person aspire to his potential?  We provide a practical suggestion.  He can visualize himself as if he were Moshe Rabbeinu, or the Rambam, or Rebbe Akiva Eiger, or the Chofetz Chaim either while davening, while speaking to a family member, while on the street, or whenever he knows he is being tested in this world.  Thinking of yourself as an outstanding human being could bring you to the level that you really can reach--the Moshe Rabbeinu within you!



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Special Note One: Last week, there was yet another earthquake in China.  How are we supposed to take this?  Just because it was in the Far East, and casualties were “low,” is it still not a sign from our Creator?  We cannot, we must not, “get accustomed to” hearing of an earthquake!  Chazal teach that even thunder is intended to wake us up from our slumber.  When the earth itself shudders (thankfully not here), we must be sure to take it as a reminder to do teshuvah.  In this regard, we provide the following meaningful note from a reader:


“I believe that once a Jew realizes that Elul is coming, he/she should start doing teshuvah immediately--for two reasons.  First, if one is aware that the time for teshuvah will come shortly, the yetzer hora may tell one, ‘Soon it will be Elul, so why don’t you do your sins now as long as you don’t have to repent for a while, and then when Elul comes, you’ll be good and do teshuvah?’  Obviously, teshuvah done in this way is not accepted.


“Secondly, just as a bike rider speeds up before getting to a hill so as to have momentum for an easier climb, we all should “build up momentum” before taking on the task of teshuvah--by beginning now and building up a head of steam.


“I believe that every Jew has the potential to be a tzaddik--you just have to want it badly enough.”


Hakhel Note:  We had previously suggested that everyone (even you) always have pen and paper handy for use at those times when you remember something for which you need to do teshuvah, or some thoughts of improvement or change come to mind.



Special Note Two:  The Alter of Kelm, Z’tl, makes a fascinating observation on last week’s Parsha, Parshas Eikev.  He notes that the Torah warns us that when we achieve success our immediate response (“V’Amarta B’lvovecha”) will be “Kochi v’otzem yodi-- it is by my strength and my might of my hand.”  The Torah (Devarim 8:17) immediately continues and teaches us that when this happens “V’Zacharta es Hashem Elokecha Ki Hu Hanosen L’Cha Koach La’asos Choyil--You should remember Hashem, for it is He who gives you the strength to be prosperous.”


The lesson from the Torah here is clear.  When we have those moments of glory, self-pride and, perhaps, gloating we must remember that everything--our talents, our thinking, our dexterity--each and every detail of our physical and mental capacities and capabilities--all come from and go back to Hashem.  A thinking person once put it wisely when he said, “Imagine if just for one second--one second--Hashem took away from this world the power of nails to function in walls and all other structures.  Remember, just for one second--what would the world look like?!  Would there be a world left?!?...  And this is just for one second!”


Especially now, as we are approaching Elul, we must bring Hashem to mind as a first reaction more and more.  We should find the words “Baruch Hashem”, “Im Yirtze Hashem”, “Please Hashem”, “BeEzras Hashem”, etc. more and more often on our minds and our lips.  Not only at home and in Shul--but wherever we are and whatever we may be doing.  It is not just the CEO of a company, the top physician in the world, or even the greatest scholar…it is Hashem Himself who gives us the breath of life and the Olam Hazeh and Olam Haboh that go along with it…  What a privilege! What an opportunity!  Baruch Hashem!!



Special Note One:  We cannot leave last week’s Parsha, which contains the fundamental Mitzvah of Birchas HaMazon, without several points relating to this special Commandment:


1.      The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 430) writes that one who is “zahir”--careful--with Birchas HaMazon will have sustenance “Kol Yamav B’kavod--all his days with respect.”  What does the Sefer HaChinuch mean by the term “zahir”--careful?  It would appear from the Mishna Berura that a start would be to recite Birchas Hamazon from a siddur or bentcher, and not by heart (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 185: Mishne Berura Seif Katan 1).  The Eliyahu Zuta (the same author as the Eliyahu Raba, HaRav Eliyahu Shapiro, Z’tl) adds that one should recite the words with Kavannah.  The Seder HaYom writes that one should recite Birchas HaMazon slowly, word-for-word, and audibly, so that others can hear and answer amen [reciting the words aloud may also increase Kavannah].  He adds that by looking into a sefer to bentch, one will not gaze around at other things and will thus fulfill one mitzvah from the Torah, “kadin u’khashura--according to the law and appropriately.”  This, in turn, he assures us will bring brocha to himself and to his family(!).

2.      The Kaf HaChaim (Orach Chaim 183:1 and 191:6) brings that the Arizal held that a person’s kavanna and care in reciting Birchas Hanehenin is the most important  determinant of one’s hasaga of Ruach Hakodesh--understanding of the Divine Spirit.

3.      The Piskei Teshuvos brings the Zohar HaKadosh (in Parshas VaYakhel) which teaches that a person should bentch with kavanna and simchas halev--joy in his heart.  The Zohar writes “and in proportion to the joy and ayin tov--positive outlook--with which a person bentches, so too will he be given joy and ayin tov.”

4.      The Piskei Teshuvos (Volume 2, p.585) also writes that according to many Poskim, Birchas HaMazon has the same Halachos as Shemone Esrei relating to permitted interruptions.  Accordingly, one should be careful during bentching not to make gestures with his hands or with his eyes, and certainly not take care of other matters, except that one can gesture in order to eliminate the particular matter disturbing his Kavannah.

5.      One who has guests should endeavor to receive the Birchas HaOreach, for it is a brocha given with a full heart, and is, accordingly, especially effective. (See Derech Sicha, Page 134)

6.      If we would simply focus on the powerful words of bentching, and would take the extra minute or two necessary to recite bentching in the manner described above, we would gain a greater appreciation of its hallowed words.  For instance, just look at the paragraph of “Bamorom Yilamdu Aleyhem V’Oleinu Zechus--in Heaven may a merit be pleaded for them and for us for a safeguard of peace….”  If one properly appreciates it, one will not try to “avoid bentching” like little children do, but rather value it for the great Mitzvah D’oraisa--the incredible privilege and opportunity--that it truly is!


Special Note Two:  At a recent Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, Shlita, provided the following fascinating lesson:


A young man was depressed by the various challenges that faced him in his life, and turned to his Rebbe for guidance.  His Rebbe asked him to join him in his kitchen.


There, he put up three pots of boiling water.  In the first pot, he placed a potato.  In the second pot he placed a soft-boiled egg.  In the third pot, he placed some ground coffee beans.  He then suggested that both he and the student study for half an hour and then come back.


Upon their return, the Rebbe took the potato out, and showed the student how it was soft inside and out.  He explained as follows: this potato was hard and impregnable just a half hour ago.  It is like a person who is tough and unyielding--stubborn and single-minded.  All that is when the going is easy.  However, when he gets into hot water, he softens and softens until his whole character has changed, and he is left as almost mush.


On the other hand, the soft egg represents a person who is kind and soft.  Speaking nicely, giving charity, always available for his friends.  However, when the going gets tough, he gets harder and harder, just as the composition of the soft-boiled egg turns into the resilient hard-boiled egg the longer it is in the hot water situation.  No longer does he open the door to strangers, the friendly demeanor is missing and the warm smile is gone.


Finally--look what happens with the coffee.  The coffee grinds do not become hard, do not become soft, do not get blemished, ruined or spoiled.  Quite to the contrary, instead of the hot water affecting the coffee, it is the coffee that changes the hot water--turning it into an aromatic and delectable liquid and drink!


The Rebbe turned to his student and instructed him:  Your job in life is not to behave like a potato or to act like an egg when a difficult situation confronts you.  You are not supposed to let a situation overtake you.  You are to act like coffee and overtake the hot water--control the situation, and succeed.  If you act like an egg or a potato in hot water, you will naturally get depressed as you feel overburdened and incapable.  If you act like the freshly brewed coffee, you will help not only yourself, but even those around you!


Rabbi Wallerstein’s entire remarkable Shiur (which was presented on Tisha B’Av, but is quite important all-year round) is available here.  (Please note that the file is nearly 7 Meg and may take a while to download.)  The lesson for us now, this moment, as we bridge the gap between Menachem Av and Elul is clear.  We must learn to take control of our lives--putting wisdom and life’s purpose and meaning over desire, fleeting thoughts, trivia and the ephemeral.


Now is the time to begin to take our coffee grinds and brew them.  We can change the world--if we take control of the situations that confront us--and of ourselves!



Special Note One:  We can always take lessons from our World around us--for this is one of the primary reasons that it is here!  For instance, we know that children are associated with playing games.  Perhaps the lesson is that we should not “play games” when we get older.  Similarly, “throwing out the trash” should not be limited to the refuse or waste that may accumulate in your trash can (additionally, have you ever wondered why we don’t throw out the trash can together with the trash?).  This week, as we end the month of Menachem Av, and as we take a look back, we should attempt to understand the events and occurrences that have happened around us over the past year, and use them as a springboard for Teshuva and growth.  A pen and paper in a convenient place when something comes to mind may come in handy.


Special Note Two: The Torah in last week’s Parsha states “V’Haya Eikev Tishma’un-- This shall be the reward when you listen to these laws,” and you observe and perform them…. 


The Ramban provides an extremely important explanation here.  He writes that the laws the Torah is referring to include the laws which many might otherwise not properly regard or even disgrace--including the Torah’s laws relating to money.  The Torah is especially adjuring us here to follow Hashem’s will with monetary matters.  It is no coincidence (as it never is), that the Torah reminds us of this now--immediately before Elul--as if to remind us that we must make sure that our integrity and honesty in all business and shopping affairs is whole; that all of our dealings with hired workers is above board and beyond reproach; in short, that we are not ashamed to have money in our pockets when we begin to daven!


Special Note Three:  Rabbi Paysach Krohn, Shlita, shared a remarkable story in the video presented by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation on the topic Patience and Sensitivity.  Rabbi Krohn’s father passed away when Rabbi Krohn was 21.  As the oldest of seven, it was Rabbi Krohn’s responsibility to fend for the family monetarily.  However, jobs were not easy to come by for a 21-year old mohel.


One day, he was pleasantly surprised when a neighbor of his in Kew Gardens, New York offered his family a $1,500 loan (note that this story goes back about 40 years, so $1,500 was actually a nice sum of money).  He told the neighbor that he would ask his mother about it.  His mother agreed to the loan, and he received the money immediately.


Quite some time later, Rabbi Krohn amassed some money to repay the loan, and came to this neighbor with the cash to repay the loan.  The neighbor refused to take the money.  “How could you refuse”, Rabbi Krohn said, “this was a loan--you said it was a loan!”


The kind neighbor responded, “Yes, it was a loan, and now I would like you to hold the money until you have the opportunity to lend it to someone else.  Don’t pay it back to me--lend the money to someone else.”  The neighbor then continued, “You see some time ago I had hit upon hard times.  Not many people knew about it, but somebody who did, an acquaintance of mine, offered to lend me $1,500, which I readily took.  When I had the money to pay the loan back, he told me to find someone else to lend it to--and that was you!  You, in turn, will lend it to someone else, who will lend it to someone else, who will lend it to someone else…


What a great story!  In this week’s Parsha, Parshas Re’eh, we find the Mitzvah of giving Tzedaka (Devorim 15:8).  The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 249:6) rules that the highest form of Tzedaka is lending someone money (or giving him a gift, or doing business with him), so that he need not come to beg from others.  Rabbi Krohn’s beautiful story above provides those of us with a few hundred dollars, or perhaps a few thousand dollars, to utilize for a special mitzvah, to start a “money lending chain” of our own.  Until after 120, you will never know or fathom the impact it will have on the lives of others (and their families)--who may even thousands of miles away!

We additionally recommend our Tzedaka Fact Sheet, available here.



Special Note One:  A noted Maggid Shiur relates how he came to first put on a Yarmulka in his twenties:  “I went to a class given by a rabbi.  He said, ‘All you out there are mistaken--you think G-d lives in your world.  It’s not so--you live in G-d’s World!’”  With these words, his entire perspective on life changed!  Maybe each and every one of us--those who have ben Torah Jews for awhile--can take this to heart as we walk around on a beautiful (or even a rainy and stormy) Summer day and appreciate all that Hashem has given us in this world.  “Ma Rabu Ma’asecha Hashem--How great are Your works, Hashem!


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


1.      If soup was removed from a K’li Rishon(such as a soup pot on or off the fire) with a ladle and was then poured into a soup bowl, one may consider the soup bowl as a K’li Shlishi and add baked foods (such as matza, soup nuts or chow mein noodles) to the soup. (Halachos of Shabbos by Rabbi Shimon Eider, Z’tl, p. 290)

2.      Cutting or chopping into large-sized pieces is not considered to fall within the melacha of Tochen (grinding).  How fine an item must be ground in order for it to be considered Tochen is questionable.  Therefore, when cutting vegetables into fine pieces, one should not cut them into pieces which are very small; i.e., he should cut them into larger pieces than they are cut in normal circumstances.  Although some Poskim hold that if one is chopping vegetables into small pieces for immediate use it is permissible, others disagree.  One should conduct himself preferably according to this view, and not cut fruits and vegetables into very fine pieces, even right before the meal.  Similarly, some Poskim hold that not only is chopping or cutting into very small pieces prohibited because of Tochen, but even slicing fruits and vegetables into very small slices in length and width is also prohibited.  The size of a slice is relative to the fruit and vegetable that one is slicing.  (Ibid., pages 206 and 213)

3.      When preparing chopped liver, chopped eggs, or chopped fish (e.g., tuna salad or salmon salad), if onions or other vegetables are added, the vegetables must be chopped right before the meal, and should not be chopped into very fine pieces.  The use of a chopping knife is questionable, and one should use a regular knife or fork (Ibid, 217).


Special Note Three:  In the second Parsha of Shema (found in this week’s Parsha), we recite “V’Samtem es divorai aileh al livavchem--and you shall place these words of Mine upon your heart….”  HaRav Yosef Leib Nandik, Z’tl, H’YD (as brought in the Sefer MiShulchan Govoah) derives a great lesson from the Torah’s requirement to put Hashem’s words **upon** our hearts.  A person’s goal should be for his knowledge to rule over the desires of his heart and those not-thought-through whims and fancies.  Thus, the Shema serves as a daily reminder to us, morning and evening, to make sure that we are conducting our lives in a “mind-over-heart” manner, making sure that Torah intellect rules over emotion.


Special Note Four:  Thank you for your correspondence.  We received the following beautiful thoughts from our readers:


1.      “In response to the reader who wrote about blowing your car’s horn:  An even greater level is not to blow one’s horn at all and patiently wait!  True, easier said than done--but working on middos isn’t easy!”

2.      A thought related to this week’s Perek--the Fourth Perek of Pirkei  Avos: “Aizehu Oshir? HaSameach Bechelko--Who is wealthy?  He who is satisfied with his portion.”


One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the purpose of showing his son how poor people live. They stayed with a very poor family.

When they returned, the father asked the son what he thought of their trip.

“It was great, Dad.”

“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.

“Oh yeah,” said the son.

“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.

The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four.  We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.  We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.  Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.  We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.  We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.  We buy our food, but they grow theirs.  We have walls around our property to protect us; they have friends to protect them.”

The boy’s father was speechless.  Then his son added, “Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are.”


Isn’t perspective a wonderful thing?  Appreciate every single thing you have.


3.      “You recently wrote about the importance of “saiver ponim yofos--greeting others in a pleasing manner.”  Much can be said about the impact of a smile as opposed to a frown.  The use of one or the other can and has literally meant the difference between life and death.  A pleasant sincere smile disarms adversaries, can stop someone from committing suicide, fosters sholom bayis--marital harmony--as well as sholom bain odom lechavero--harmony between people--engenders a sense of self-value and boosts self-image.  Many of the ills of the world would be greatly mitigated, if not totally cured, by some well-placed smiles.  Smiles don’t cost anything but they are extremely rewarding.  As you quoted the Mesilas Yeshorim in a recent bulletin, Hashem only loves those who love his children.  What better way to stimulate the latent ahavas Yisroel than to smile at others?  Of course at first one doesn’t feel like smiling but with practice it becomes habit forming.  Rav Yisroel [Salanter], Z’tl, teaches us that our face is a reshus horabim--public property--and wearing a frown on it is tantamount to digging a bor bireshus horabim--an open pit in public!  Falling into a pit can cause bruises, break ones bones and even cause a loss of life.  That being the case, wearing a pleasant smile on one’s face has the opposite effect.  It heals bruises, broken bones and even saves lives! We have no idea what impact our facial expressions have on people.  After 120 it will be revealed to us how many lives were positively impacted by our smiles and how many were harmed by our frowns.


      One last point.  We daven three times a day to be zoche to Hashem’s smile, His ha’oras ponim, when we say “borchainu Ovinu koolonu ke’echod be’or ponecho--Bless us, our Father, all together as one, in the light of Your countenance.”  The brocha proceeds to list the incredible bounty of blessings that we merited, all because of Hashem’s ha’oras ponim.  These brochos include Torah and life itself.  We know Hashem relates to us middo keneged middo.  If we strive to have ha’oras ponim on our faces Hashem will certainly reciprocate and open the portals of blessings that we all yearn so much to have.”



Getting Real: If this year was not a leap year, you would have ten days to Rosh Hashanah!


We received the following from a valued reader relating to our note on not causing pain or anguish to others with our words or actions:  “People should also be aware of the fact that HOW THEY BLOW THEIR HORN, WHILE BEHIND THE WHEEL, should always be considered.  When the light turns green and the driver in front of you fails to notice this, a gentle tap on the horn is the polite way to communicate.  By leaning on the horn for a few seconds, you’re causing some anguish, maybe some pain, and maybe some anger on the part of the driver in front of you.  This way of blowing the horn is not too different from yelling or saying something nasty to the other motorist.  We should all remember that being frum applies 24/7, even when we’re behind the steering wheel!”


Special Note One:  In this week’s Parsha, Eretz Yisroel is referred to as an “Eretz Zovas Cholov U’Dvash--a land flowing with milk and honey.”  Whenever we think of Eretz Yisroel, whenever we walk in Eretz Yisroel, we should visualize this luscious flow in our minds.  We may not be able to see it, but the Torah is making the statement so that we can properly appreciate it!


Special Note Two:  In this week’s Parsha, we find the mitzvah of Bircas Hamazon.  Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita, asks if Bircas Hamazon is only one mitzvah, why is it that there are three brochos required by the Torah (the fourth brocha, according to most, is Rabbinic in origin), one brocha thanking Hashem for feeding everyone, a second brocha thanking Hashem for many other important benefits that Hashem has bestowed upon us (as we have previously noted, HaRav Pam, Z’tl, used to count them on his fingers while reciting them), and a third brocha asking for the return of Yerushalayim and the Bais HaMikdash?


Rabbi Goldberger answers that if we would have stopped after one brocha, we may have thought that the food is actually an end in and of itself.  By the two additional brochos which the Torah requires, we are to remind ourselves that we are nourished in order to properly serve Hashem in all areas, and to reach our greatest potential.  With that, we ask for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim and the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash, so that we can rise to the highest spiritual heights.


Special Note Three:  In this week’s Parsha, we find the second of the three Parshios of Shema, in which one accepts upon himself the performance of all mitzvos, and in which one recognizes the sechar v’onesh--the reward and punishment--associated with their performance or (chas v’shalom) non-performance.


As we recite in Shema twice daily “Heshameru Lachem, Pen Yifte Livavchem V’Sartem--beware for yourselves lest your heart be seduced and you turn astray and serve gods of others.”  Rashi, in explaining the word “V’Sartem--and you turn astray”--writes that this means that you turn away from the study of Torah; and once you turn from Torah you are close to worshipping Avoda Zora.  Upon only a moment’s reflection, the Torah seems to be taking a very big leap once one does not study Torah, he is a step away from idol worship.  However, as we all know, the Yetzer Hora doesn’t seem to work this way.  He works on you slowly and deliberately, nibbling away daily and weekly to make sure that his negative influence grows steadily, so that the changes worked upon you actually stick.  So how here does the Torah describe the jump from lack of Torah study to idol worship (and its contemporary equivalents) so swiftly and conclusively?


The Chofetz Chaim provides a remarkable insight to explain.  Imagine two countries at war.  One day, one country wins a battle, the next day the other country wins a battle, and the battles go back and forth as the war continues.  These back-and-forth victories can only be true and continue if one side grabs a certain stronghold, the other captures some soldiers, the first wins an air battle, the second wins a tank battle, etc.  However, if on day one, one side captures all the ammunition of the other side, then the war, for all intents and purposes, is over.  The second side has nothing with which to do battle.


The Chofetz Chaim says that our Pasuk teaches us the same lesson in a powerful, spiritual way.  If a person forsakes the study of Torah (each man and woman, elder and child, in accordance with his /her own position), he has lost all of his ammunition to the Yetzer Hora.  He has lost the war, because he has nothing to fight back with.  Thus, he immediately leaps to complete defeat--the opposite extreme of Avoda Zora.


HaRav Elchonon Wasserman, Z’tl, H’YD, took the Chofetz Chaim’s (his Rebbe’s) words a step further.  Chazal (Yerushalmi Chagiga 1:7) teach that even if Hashem would forgo the sins of murder, avoda zara, and gilui arayos, he will not forgo the sin of Bitul Torah, of wasting time from Torah study.  Why is this stark statement so?  After all, are these not the three cardinal sins that Hashem would be forgoing versus that of bitul Torah which does not appear to be anywhere near as heinous a misdeed?  The answer, Reb Elchonon teaches, is that, incredibly, the cardinal sins all are capable of Teshuva.  One can overcome these great failings through the Koach HaTorah, through the study of Torah.  However, if the Torah study itself, a Jew’s weaponry in this World, is taken away, then he has nothing left with which to fight.


There is a tremendous lesson here for each and every one of us, as we rapidly approach the days of reflection and introspection.  Do we want to enter Elul as a soldier without arms?  Don’t we want to equip ourselves as much as we can?  Where can we improve in our daily study (even for just a couple of minutes) after Shacharis?  After Mincha?  After Maariv?  On the bus or train?  Before going to sleep?


Also, what should we be studying?  What area of Torah study have we pushed off that we really need to know or in which we need improvement?  What Sefer have we never studied before that we really have been meaning to?  What Mussar Sefer will we be preparing for Elul?  What Halachos should we learn daily (especially that apply to us?).  How can we improve in our study of the Parsha?  There are so many new Hebrew and English Parsha Seforim.  Have we acquired any of them?  After we have made a mistake in Halacha, or we are not sure whether we said or did the right thing, do we learn what the proper Halacha or Hashkafa is in order to make sure that it will not happen again (i.e., Teshuva!).


As we all know, “Talmud Torah K’Neged Kulam--the study of Torah is equivalent to them all” (Shabbos 127A).  Let us take heed of the words of Shema that we recite daily--so that we succeed not only in our daily battle--but in our life’s purpose and goal!



Special Note One:  The Sefer HaTodaah writes that today (the 18th of Av) is mentioned as a fast day in Megilas Taanis (which is actually brought in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 580:2; see Mishna Berura there, seif katan 6), because it was on this day that the Ner Ma’aravi (the “Western Candle” of the Menorah in the Bais HaMikdash, which had never been extinguished from the time that the original Mishkan was built) was for the first time extinguished in the time of King Achaz, because of his extreme wickedness (see Divrei HaYamim II:28).


As we all know, the Three Weeks and Tisha B’Av will be times of rejoicing in the future, for inherent in these days are not only spiraling spiritual downfall, but also mountainous spiritual growth.  Here too, we may posit that within the day lies the power to reignite the Western Candle--the Candle from which all of the other candles were lit.  Since the Menorah’s Candles symbolize the light of Torah (See the Netziv’s commentary , the Ha’amek Davar, at the beginning of Parshas Beha’aloscha), perhaps if we are not fasting we should at least study some additional Torah today to do our part in relighting the spiritually illuminating Ner Ma’arvi (speedily and in our days)!



Special Note Two:  The Alter of Kelm, Z’tl, taught that anything most needed to live in this physical world is most available to us, and is also easy to obtain.  The classic examples are, of course, air and water.  The same is true for spiritual matters, the Alter taught.  Emunah is the most necessary element of spiritual life, for it is the foundation of everything.  This is why the basic principals of Emunah are so accessible and attainable by us all.  One need only read the Pesukim of Bitachon which we have previously distributed, or reflect upon the Thirteen Ani Maamin’s of the Rambam, or study the miracles around him, or note the incredible Hashgacha Pratis which he, each member of his family, and all of his friends are blessed with every day.  Each of these connects us swiftly and directly to Emunah in Hashem.


If we take the analogy of the Alter of Kelm to its conclusion, there are times when even items typically abundant in this physical world are difficult to come by.  On a mountaintop or in the sea, air is in short supply or nonexistent, so one’s breathing may be a bit more difficult or need assistance.  Similarly, in the desert or in land-locked areas, water may be scarce.  What does one do to help himself in these situations?  Where air is limited, he brings along oxygen tanks.  In the desert, he will bring along sufficient containers of water to get him through the desert trek.


In these times, when we are faced with personal and communal tribulations of such great and diverse magnitude, we owe it to ourselves to begin an Emunah-strengthening process now--to build our Emunah to optimum levels so that it is readily available when needed.  What a beautiful goal it would be to study and complete the Sha’ar HaBitachon of the Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart) between now and Rosh Hashana.  The Chovos HaLevavos is available with an English translation (even in pocket-size) by Feldheim Publishers.  At the very least, one should attempt to reflect more deeply upon at least one of the thirteen Ani Maamin’s every day.  It is safe to say that the amount of Emunah and Bitachon that one really has is directly proportionate to the amount of time and effort one puts into what the Alter of Kelm calls the “Yesod Hakol--the basis of everything!”



Special Note Three:  We are all familiar with the concept that events and occurrences that take place around us are messages to us to change, grow and improve.  One of Rabbi Frand’s Sefarim is even titled Listen to Your Messages.  Last week, as we all know, Sifrei Torah were, R’L, destroyed in an arsonist blaze in B’nei Brak.  Just a few days ago, eight Sifrei Torah were stolen from a temple in Queens, New York.


What is going on here?  What message is in this for us?  Can we simply place the blame or the responsibility on the people immediately involved or impacted?  Perhaps each and every one of us can do something to demonstrate greater respect for our Sifrei Torah.  Indeed, there is a separate Siman in Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 282) which relates to Halachos of honor and respect that we are to give to Sifrei Torah.  The Shulchan Aruch writes that we are obligated to show “Kavod Gadol--Great Honor”--to Sifrei Torah, and that one should “Yichabdenu L’Fi Kocho--honor the Sefer Torah in accordance with his strength.”


Perhaps we can translate this respect to other areas of Kovod Seforim--being especially careful with Sheimos, repairing torn Seforim, straightening up Seforim which are in disarray, and not sitting or lying down on the same place as Seforim.  Each and every one of us knows how we can improve in this area.  Let us demonstrate to Hashem that we understand the message, and that we don’t need any more.



Special Note Four:  In this week’s Parsha, Eikev, the Torah writes that Hashem wants us “L’Dovko Bo--to cling to Him.”  The Chofetz Chaim teaches that the reason Hashem asks this of us now is because a person can get only as close to Hashem in the Next World as he gets to Hashem in This World.  It is up to each and every one of us to get as close as we can.


This can be compared to the owner of an inn who is falsely accused of a crime against the government and who realizes that his only hope is to plead for mercy before the King.  He plans to make a trip to the palace before sentencing, but realizes that the task is an almost impossible one, because of the King’s schedule, all of the palace guards, his status, etc.


One day, he is astonished to hear that just the day before the King had made a trip through his city dressed as a commoner.  He is understandably even more shocked when he is advised that he had actually had the King as a guest in his inn, and that he had even served him dinner.  What an incomparable opportunity he had to plead for clemency, for mercy--what an irreplaceable event.  What a lost opportunity!


We must make sure that we recognize the King with us here in our inn, and that we appreciate--and make the most out of--our audience with Him, getting as close as possible to Him as we can.  We can do so--each and every one of us--through our sincere Tefillos, through our enthusiastic Torah study and through our demonstrably special dedication to Mitzvos and Maasim Tovim--each person in accordance with his own inn!



Short Quiz:

1.  According to the Chofetz Chaim, the Mitzvah for every Jew to learn Torah on your own (and remember that Talmud Torah is K’neged Kulam) is found in last week’s Parsha, and is not based upon any Pasuk in Krias Shema.  Which pasuk is it?


2.  Where in last week’s Parsha is there an allusion to the Halacha that one should make one hundred Brachos every day?  (Hint:  See Ba’al HaTurim 4:4)


There is a moving Mashal given by HaRav Yaakov Neiman, Z’tl, relating to our daily recital of the Shema.


The country’s largest army base received word that the King was coming to visit on a particular day, two months hence.  Those in command met for many nights to plan all the details relating to the event, how improvements in the camp could be made, cleaning the base and its personnel from top to bottom, and inside and out--to the point that everyone’s army boots were shining with sparkle.  The preparations reached a climax a few days before, when no one in the camp had time to sleep so that everything that was planned could be properly accomplished.


The day arrived.  The time arrived.  The King was on time.  Every one stood at attention, each person in accordance with his position.  First the commanders, then the captains, the lieutenants, the sergeants, the foot soldiers…all the way to the backline support people at the end of the most remote line.  There were thousands standing at attention.  The King marched through row after row, looking both ways nodding and smiling, without stopping.  Getting close to the end of the last row, there stood the soldiers who worked in the base’s kitchen.  Suddenly, the King turned to one of them and embraced him tightly and warmly, exclaiming with power and sincerity, “I love you, my precious soldier!”


What should be the soldier’s reaction?  If he was intelligent and realized the great import of this moment in his life, he would exclaim, “Thank you Oh Great King--May the King live forever!”  On the other hand, if the soldier would half-heartedly and softly mumble a few words of recognition, almost under his breath, the thousands whose eyes are fixed upon him would think, “What a fool!  What an ingrate!  He missed this golden opportunity to become forever close with the King!”


Every morning , prior to reciting the Krias Shema itself, we recite the Brachos of Krias Shema, in which we refer to Creation and all its glory--Hashem creates the light and the darkness, the Heavens, the Angels, the Earth and all of its depths.  As we affirm in the Bracha of Yotzer Ohr: “For He alone effects mighty deeds, makes new things, is Master of Wars, sows kindnesses, makes salvations flourish, creates cures, is too awesome for praise, is L-rd of wonders, in His Goodness he renews daily, perpetually, the wonders of Creation!”  Because of all of this, we learn how the Heavenly Host reverently and in unimaginable awe proclaim, “Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh…,” and, if that is not enough, how the Ofanim, and the Holy Chayos, with “great noise” raise themselves towards the Seraphim and exclaim “Baruch Kavod….”


When we prepare ourselves to recite the Shema, it is now our turn.  Hashem has passed through all of the other great acts of Creation in a seemingly endless Universe, has come down to Earth, and has passed by all the wonders of the Earth.  He comes to each and every one of us and tightly and warmly embraces us, showing us how much he loves us.  We testify to this when we recite the words “Ahava Raba…” (or “Ahavas Olam…” for Nusach Sefard).


What, then, is our reaction to be to the King who has passed through and by anything and everything--the Whole Universe, All of Creation--and chooses us to hug and express his love to?  Will it be a tired and fast-paced, unthinking response?!  Or will the moment be properly utilized--“I love You too, Oh King, and I am going to show it to You any way I can!  You have singled me out from all the Creations in the World, You have given me what I need to become part of eternity, and I want to show You how dedicated I am to You and how much I love You!”


As we proceed to Krias Shema every morning, perhaps this Mashal should go through our minds.  We have something, we are something, that the Celestial Beings, the Wonders of the World, the World’s Leaders, and the Greatest Minds and Wealth of the World do not have.  Feel the warmth, feel the embrace, feel the privilege, feel the honor…and hold on to it for eternity!


Blessed are you, Hashem, who chooses His People with Love!



Short Quiz:


1.  In last week’s Parsha (always read before Tisha B’Av), Rashi teaches us an incredible fact.  On the words “Baiei Es HaTorah--explaining the Torah” (Devorim 1:5), Rashi brings the Medrash that Moshe Rabbeinu explained the Torah to the Bnei Yisroel in 70 languages.  Why?  After all, the people in the Desert knew Lashon Hakoesh and maybe a little Egyptian, but why teach them in 70 languages?!


2.  How many different names or titles is the Bais Hamikdash given in Sefer Eichah alone?  What does that teach us?


Special Note One: We continue with our Erev Shabbos Hilchos Shabbos Series:


1.  Non-adjustable hot plates which are not used for cooking, but only for keeping food warm, require no blech.  One may, accordingly, leave fully cooked food on them before Shabbos without any covering.  However, if one wanted to place food upon such a hot plate on Shabbos, the conditions of chazara would apply--1. the food must have been fully-cooked  2. the food must still be warm 3. the pot is still in his hand after taking it off the fire and 4. the original intention was to put the pot back.  (The Shabbos Kitchen, by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita, page 60).  It would appear that the last two conditions may be difficult to fulfill in the typical hotplate situation.


2.  Placing a pot of food or liquids, even if previously cooked, onto an electric stove on Shabbos which is connected to a Shabbos clock which would turn on the stove to heat the food, is prohibited (Halachos of Shabbos by Rabbi Shimon Eider, Zt’l, Volume 4, page 322).


3.  Before pouring hot water from a kli rishon into a cup or glass, care should be taken to see that there is no accumulation of liquid in the glass.  Accordingly, if a person would like a second cup of hot tea and there is cold liquid remaining in the cup from the hot tea, one should pour out the accumulation of liquid.  If there is no accumulation of liquid, but the cup is moist from the first serving, according to many Poskim, he is not required to dry the cup before pouring hot water.  However, if the cup is moist from washing with uncooked water, he is required to dry the cup (ibid., page 295).



Special Note Two:  We now approach Shabbos Nachamu, after having just attempted to appreciate the enormity of the devastation that has befallen us.  Shabbos Nachamu is intended to enlighten us as to how great the consolation will be.  There is no Pasuk that says “Eichah, Eichah.”  There is, however, a Pasuk which repeats “Nachamu, Nachamu--be consoled, be consoled...!”


Chazal teach us that “Kol Hamesabel al Yerushalayim--Anyone who mourns over Yerushalayim,” is “zoche v’roeh--merits and sees”--its rejoicing.  HaRav Meir Schuck, Zt’l, notes that Chazal do not teach that the person who mourns over Yerushalayim **will** merit and see its rejoicing, but rather, in the present, **now** merits and sees its rejoicing.  How is this so?  After all, do not Arabs still occupy the Temple Mount?  Is not the Bais HaMikdash still in ruins?  HaRav Schuck explains that if someone truly appreciates the loss of a rebuilt Yerushalayim, he takes action, practical and meaningful steps, towards its rebuilding, just as someone with a tattered roof on his home, or a car in his driveway that doesn’t start, will do in order to fix things--to bring them back to normal.  How does one “fix” the situation in this instance?  He davens hard when he reaches the places in Shemone Esrei asking for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim, and he undertakes special Mitzvos for the sake of the redemption.  His participation in the rebuilding brings him joy, much in the same way as someone still building a house envisions all of the room and conveniences it will provide when completed, or as a woman repairs the hem of a dress hums, realizing that she will be wearing it to a chasunah in just a few hours.


Our rejoicing over the Bais HaMikdash can--and should--begin now!!



Special Note Three:  Tomorrow, we will read in the Torah the first Parsha of Shema, the cornerstone of our faith.  It is, then, no “coincidence” (as it never is) that we always read it on the Shabbos after Tisha B’Av, for it provides focus for our lives at all times and in all places.  It is certainly an extremely auspicious time now to review and renew our connection to the Shema, both as to its proper recitation, and the Halachos and Hashkofos which are associated with, and emanate from, its holy words.


We provide below only a few points regarding Shema, which we hope is only a brief starting point and motivator to improve your daily Shema (remember these words that we are privileged to recite daily are the very same words with which we conclude Neilah--the Final Service--on the Holiest Day of the Year!):


1.  Before reciting Shema, we should have in mind that we are fulfilling the Mitzvah of Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shomayim, and the separate Mitzvah of Kriyas Shema.

2. “Shema” means listen, understand and accept.

3.  “Yisroel” means to include **you**.  Rebbe Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, used to say that while reciting the word “Echad,” we are to think about how Hashem By Himself rules over the Seven Heavens and the Earth, and all Four Directions of the world (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 61:4).  However, when thinking about this vast and limitless expanse--we must never forget that Hashem rules over us, as well, and we should sincerely subjugate all of our will and desires to Him.

4.  When reciting Hashem’s names--especially in the first two pesukim--we should understand what each name--i.e., “Hashem” and “Elokeinu,” mean and represent.  This can be accomplished quickly once you know the meanings well.

5.  When saying “VeAhavta,” one should feel love for Hashem in his heart--at least for all the kindness that He bestows upon us!  See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 25, Mishne Berurah, seif katan 14.

6.  One should recite Shema from a Siddur which aids in the essential understanding of the words and in their proper pronunciation (the various Artscroll Siddurim, for instance, provide lines between words which could be slurred together if a small break is not made, and indicate through horizontal lines on the top of letters which Shevas are Sheva Na’s and which are Sheva Nach’s.

7.  One should not motion with his eyes or hands, even for the sake of a Mitzvah, during the first Parsha of Shema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 63:6).

8.  Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita, teaches that there are seven (!) Mitzvos alone referred to in the first Parsha of Shema.

9.  Additionally, the first Parsha of Shema alludes to four of the Aseres HaDibros--can you find them?  The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, 61, seif katan 2) enumerates them.

10.  When reciting the words “Asher Anochi Metzavecha Hayom--that I command you **today**”--one should refresh himself with the knowledge that he has a new and special opportunity--this time--to acknowledge and properly serve His Creator!  (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, 61:2).



Once again, the above are just a few thoughts to help you get started.  May this week’s Parsha bring with it a reinvigoration of our recitation of Shema--so that we properly fulfill the words of the Navi--”Yisroel Asher Becha Espoer--the People of Israel--in Whom I Glory!”


Special Note One: Just two closing notes on Tisha B’Av, although we most certainly welcome any additional comments or reflections from our readers:


1.  It is interesting to note that the first man landed on the moon just a few days before Tisha B’Av thirty nine years ago.  The Chofetz Chaim teaches us (as we have previously noted) that all of the modern inventions provide us with important lessons--the phone, the phonograph, the automobile, the train, etc.  What lesson do we learn from: (a) man landing on the moon? and (b) its happening so close to Tisha B’Av?


2.  Yirmiyahu HaNavi (Yirmiyahu 2:5), in the Haftora we read on Rosh Chodesh Av, teaches us that the people severely erred because “VaYelchu Acharei Hahevel Va’Yehbalu--and they went after nothingness and turned into nothingness.”


There is a great, yet simple and practical lesson here--you are that which you pursue.  For example, if a person pursues Torah, he becomes a “Ben Torah.”  If, on the other hand, he pursues Lashon Hora, he becomes a “Baal Lashon Hora.”  Everybody has to take a good look at what they really are pursuing.  There is an old quip about an uneducated Jew who came to Shul, and was asked by the Gabbai whether he was a Kohen, Levi or Yisroel.  He responded: “I am none of those.  I am a businessman!”  We, as educated Jews, have to make sure that it is clear to us--and to others--who we really are, and where our primary focus is.


It is interesting to note that HaRav Dovid Kviat, Shlita, (the “Sukkas Dovid,” one of the senior Rabbonim in America today) when asked to make a remark to children (on Torah Umesorah’s “Shanghai Miracle” audio-visual presentation) asked them one thing only--to “Learn with Cheshek”--with enthusiasm.  Are we any different than children in this regard?  May we suggest that at the end of the day, one thinks to oneself--what did I pursue today--what did I do with enthusiasm?


It is up to us whether we pursue nothing and become nothing, or whether we pursue a life of Torah fulfillment--and literally become models for the entire world!



Special Note Two:  By the following link we provide a “Segula Gedola V’Niflaa--a great and wondrous Segula” from the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim (3:12) by HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Zt’l.  This Segulah is said to have been repeatedly used by the Brisker Rav as he successfully escaped from Nazi occupied lands.  Recitation of this Segulah with feeling will most certainly strengthen a person’s Bitachon in Hashem.


In this regard, the Sefer HaMevorech Yisborech, HaRav Yaakov Meir Shechter, Shlita, writes that it is written in the name of the Maharal M’Prague that one should recite Pesukim in Tanach relating to Emunah and Bitachon in order to strengthen his faith, for Emunah and Bitachon are the “Ikar Das HaYisraeli--the main principle of Judaism.”  After reciting these Pesukim, one should pray to Hashem that he be as successful as possible in his Bitachon.


HaRav Shechter reports that the Maharal would also say (in the name of his grandfather, Rebbe Chaim) that we have a Kaballah from Kadmonim, an ancient tradition, that reciting Pesukim of Bitachon are especially effective to nullify evil decrees, and that, in fact, Jewish soldiers would recite Pesukei Bitachon before going to war.  He also suggests reciting these Pesukim before entering into an important business transactions and other matters.


Accordingly, with permission of the author of the Sefer HaMevorach Yisborach, we have reprinted, and provide by the following link many Pesukim of Emunah and Bitachon, most of which are from Sefer Tehillim.  At the end of the link are five Pesukim which a person should recite often, based upon the Sefer Shimush Tehillim attributed to HaRav Hai Gaon, Z’tl.


Chazal (Sotah 49A, 49B) teach that at the end of days the world will be in such turmoil that we will come to realize that “Ain Lanu L’Hishayen Ela Al Avinu Shebashamayim--we will have no one to rely on but our Father in Heaven.”  While only Hashem (and perhaps a select few Tzaddikim here) know whether we are now at the end of the end of days, it is clear that our world is full of turmoil, and that over the last while, when a bandage has been placed in one place, a boil has popped up in another.


It would seem that one of the important Avodas HaYom (orders of the day) is to better and strengthen ourselves in the area of Emunah and Bitachon.  With the attached links (and your ability to delve further into the Nefesh HaChaim, and into each Pasuk and its meaning), we hope we have provided a good start.  Perhaps one can especially choose one Pasuk per day from this especially large collection to reflect upon more deeply.


Remember and repeat the words very well--we only rely upon Avinu Shebashamayim!



In the unparalleled Artscroll Kinos, by Rabbi Avraham Chaim Feuer, Shlita, Rabbi Feuer writes the following in the course of his introduction:


“The tears of kinnos are a never-ending stream.  When I began to translate and elucidate the Kinnos on the day after Succos, I called my rebbe, HaRav Mordechai Gifter, Shlita, and asked, ‘How can I get into the mood of writing about Kinnos just a day after Simchas Torah, while all the happy tunes of joy still resonate in my ears and Tishah B’Av is still so far off in the future?  Who can think of Kinnos now?’


“He replied, ‘You are mistaken. Kinnos are not only for Tishah B’Av, they are for the entire year, except that throughout the year we recite Kinnos in a whisper, while on Tishah B’Av we shout them out loud!  Whoever neglects Kinnos all year long and attempts to start reciting them on Tishah B’Av will not succeed in saying them even then, because he will recite the verses without any feeling and he will become bored.  We must cry and mourn over the Churban all year long, in every season, and then our Kinnos will reach their climax of pain on Tishah B’Av.’


“This concept of regular mourning over the Churban is codified in the very first chapter of Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 1:3).  It is proper for every G-d-fearing person to feel and anguish over the destruction of the Holy Temple.


“The Sfas Emes was once asked, ‘And what should someone do if he feels no anguish over the Churban of the Temple?’  The Rebbe replied, ‘Then he should be consumed with pain and anguish over his own personal Churban.  If a Jew doesn’t feel real pain over the Churban, it shows that his soul is in a wretched, abysmal state!’


“True, kinnos are for all year round--but when does one begin to develop a feeling for them?  On Tishah B’Av.  If one truly comprehends and feels the Kinnos he recites on this day, he will be inspired to refer back to them throughout the year….”



Although Tisha B’Av is a sad and mournful time, it does not mean that we should quickly move away and shut the door on its meaning and import in our daily lives.  Indeed, it is interesting to note that immediately after teaching us the Halachos of Tisha B’Av, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 560) provides us with the Halachos of what we must do Zecher L’Churban, in remembrance of the Churban--every day.


Accordingly, before we leave Tisha B’Av, we provide below only a few lessons one could glean from Tisha B’Av, based in large part on the recent Hakhel Tisha B’Av Program:


1.      Kinah 29 states “Siman Tov L’Adom…--it is a good sign for a person if he is not eulogized or buried properly…. let him not fear the day of wrath.”  The Artscroll commentary explains that death in this way serves to fully purge a person of any stain on his soul caused by sin, and that such a person will be spared the punishments of the next world (Sanhedrin 46B; 47A).  This should serve as a great consolation for all of us who had relatives that perished in the Holocaust in so many diverse and cruel ways.


2.      Dovid HaMelech, in perhaps the most renowned chapter of Tehillim (Chapter 130) begins “Shir HaMaalos Mi’maa’makim--a Song of Ascents.  From the depths I called you…”  HaRav Klonymous Kalman Shapiro, Zt’l, H’yd, (the Rebbe of Piazeczna) taught the following about the word “Mi’Maa’makim” to the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto with him:  Sometimes a person is in a situation from which he cannot extricate himself barring an absolute miracle.  For example, the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, especially after the uprising.  Dovid HaMelech, by using the word “Mi’Maa’makim,” refers to this kind of situation, for he does not refer to only one singular depth (which would be Emek), but to the depth of the depths (Mi’Maa’Makim, in the plural).  The Piazeczner concluded that Dovid HaMelech was teaching us that we cry out to Hashem whether or not we can reasonably be saved--for there are two kinds of prayer.  The first, basic type of prayer is to make requests of Hashem, the Omnipotent One.  The second, more sublime prayer is one in which one prays not to achieve a personal request, but only to connect and cleave to Hashem.  This is the “Mi’Maa’Makim” in which we cry out to Hashem--not only because we realize that He is the only source of our salvation, but also to demonstrate to Him that, when all is said and done, what we ultimately seek is dveykus with Him.


3.      The Telzer Rav Zt’l, H’yd, before being murdered, was beaten by a ruthless Nazi with a hammer.  “Herr Rabbiner! Where is your G-d now?” he mocked.  The Telzer Rav responded, “He is your G-d too--and you will find that out later!”  When we recite Av HaRachamim on Shabbos, we should take the few moments necessary to recite it slowly and thoughtfully (some actually stand, as a symbol of respect, but this is not required by Halacha).  Remember, we are praying not only for the Kedoshim, but also for the honor of Hashem and His People.


4.      The Pasuk in Eichah (1:2) states “Bocho Tivkeh Ba’Layla V’Dimasah…--cry, cry at night, and its tears….”  The Medrash teaches that there are three words for crying at the outset of Eicha to teach us that there are three tears--one for the first Bais HaMikdash, a second for the second Bais HaMikdash, and a third either for the Bitul Torah that the Churban has caused to this very day (we cannot attain our full potential without a Bais HaMikdash), or for the Kavod Yisroel, the honor of our People, which has been disgraced and defiled even by the nations which are friendly to us.  Thus, the last tear referred to in Eichah is being shed for us!


5.      What is left of the great Roman Empire are the many ruins in the ancient city of Rome together with the Arch of Titus, which remains standing, as if to remind us that although Rome and all those like it in history are gone, we are still in Galus, and that we should not forget it.  If we don’t picture the Arch of Titus in front of us to remind us of our plight, then every person can find his own simple method to help put things in perspective daily.  We may suggest:

  1. Reciting Tehillim Chapter 79 daily with feeling.

  2. Thinking about what a small percentage of World Jewry are Torah Jews, and how many Jews are being lost to Judaism **daily** through intermarriage and attrition--for no other reason than the churban we find ourselves in--and davening especially for them every day.


6. Finally, it is important to note that Chazal teach that both Nevuzradan (the Chief General of the Babylonians), and Nero (the first Chief General of the Romans to besiege Yerushalayim at the time of the Churban) realized that the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash that they were involved in was only by the Hand of Hashem.  They each fled and converted to Judaism.  Perhaps this is to teach us that, ultimately, all the nations of the world will have the proper perspective on life.  It is up to us now to live each and every precious day of our life--a day in which we are a step ahead of the rest of the entire world (!)--staying as close to Hashem as possible in everything that we do--so that by next year, when Tisha B’Av arrives, we will experience the greatest joy possible, with the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash and the World in all of its Glory!



Special Note One:  We recently noted the importance of being MeKadesh Shem Shamayim by reciting “Yehei Shmei Raba” with Kavannah.  Rabbi Matisyahu Solomon, Shlita, provides incredible inspiration to recite Amen Yehei Shmei Raba (V’chulu) with especial intensity:  The Gemorah (Shabbos 119B) states that one who says it with all his might (Rashi:  “all his kavana”) will have a bad gezeira against him torn up.  The Sefer Chareidim (Chapter 73) writes that this is actually a segula from Chazal and is a most potent factor in the Teshuva process.


What does “all his kavana” mean?  It means that one must be listening attentively to Kaddish beginning with the words Yisgadal V’Yiskadash recited by the Shatz, and understanding what the Shatz is saying.  He is praying that the Moshiach come as soon as possible (not only “bchayei d’chol bais Yisroel,” not only “ba’agola,” but also “bizman koriv”!) so that Kiddush Hashem will come to the world--so that Kovod Shomayim is reinstated and that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is finally recognized by everyone as the Source of all Blessing.  Our tefillos are not marked by prayers which ask for everything to go back to normal--but rather to go forward, to change.  To demonstrate our dedication to the principle of Kaddish, the Shulchan Aruch itself (Orach Chayim 56:1) states that a person should run to hear Kaddish.  We run for what we really want.


Special Note Two:  We provide a beautiful letter sent to us by one of our valued readers, which may be of help to us in breaking out of the Sinas Chinam that may pervade some of our relationships.  The letter is available by clicking here.  We remind everyone of the great statement of the Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 19, at end) that “HaKadosh Baruch Hu only loves those who love other members of Klal Yisroel.  And, as a person’s love for Klal Yisroel increases, so does Hakados Baruch Hu’s love for him.(!)”


Special Note Three:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos, Hilchos Shabbos Halacha Series:


1.  A Door Opener.  If one’s door knob falls off on Shabbos, it is prohibited to even loosely place the doorknob back in the handle to open the door because (i) it resembles the melacha of boneh--building; and (ii) the doorknob is muktzeh.  There is also the possibility that a person might continue to completely rebuild it (shemah yetokah).  Instead, one should use a knife, bobby pin, handle of a spoon, or, if necessary, a screwdriver to open the door (The 39 Melachos, Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita, Volume IV, page 1090).


2.  Shabbos Bows.  One is permitted to make bows on Shabbos, but only for items which typically would come apart on Shabbos (i.e., are not meant to last more than one day), such as shoe laces.  Accordingly, when one’s trash bag is full, he should not close it by tying a bow on top, since he never intends to open it afterwards (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 317, Mishne Berurah, seif katan 29).


3.  Shabbos Nap.  The Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 8, seif katan 42) writes that if one naps during the day, one should leave his tzitzis on, or at least cover himself with his tzitzis, because there is a Machlokes Haposkim as to whether sleeping is a “hesech hadaas,” requiring a new brocha on the tzitzis.  Note: One should consult with his Rav as to the necessity of making a new brocha of Al Mitzvas Tzitzis when putting back on his tzitzis (and certainly when putting on a specially-designated pair of “Shabbos tzitzis”) after bathing on Erev Shabbos.


Additional Note:  The Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 8, seif katan 26) makes the following incredible statement:  “It appears from Kesuvim that the Jews who will be left at the End of Days will be metzuyanim in the mitzvah of tzitzis, as the posuk states…and as Chazal teach….”  It would seem that there is no better time than now to be especially careful and exacting in the performance of this mitzvah.



The answer to the question we posed last week regarding benching is found in the Tashbatz that the enda pheh (pheh sofis/langer pheh)) is missing, because it symbolizes the Malach Hamoves, who has various names ending in enda pheh (see there).  This teaches that the Malach Hamoves is subject to one who recites bentching in its proper time and with kavana.



Special Note One:  Several additional brief points on the time period that we are in:


1.      Chazal teach us that once Av enters, we are to reduce the amount of our joy.  Many have pointed out that the context Chazal use, even in Av, is one of joy.  We are not instructed to “increase our mourning,” but to “decrease our joy.”  This thought fits in beautifully with the commentary of the Tiferes Yisroel to last week’s Perek, Chapter 2 of Pirkei Avos.  There, Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai asked his five primary disciples, “What is the proper way to which man should cling?”  The first four primary disciples each responded in his own way.  Rebbe Elazar then responded that one should cling to “a Lev Tov--a good heart.”  Rabban Yochanan then said to his students, “I prefer the words of Elazar to your words, for your words are included in his words.”  What is so all-encompassing about the words “Lev Tov” that it per se includes the other responses of Rabban Yochanan’s other four top students?!  The Tiferes Yisroel explains that the phrase “Lev Tov” means “Leebo tomid sameach, u’mezuman l’heitiv lakol--that one’s frame of mind is a happy one, and that he is ready to help every one.”  It is this middah that Rabban Yochanan and Rabbi Elazar instruct us is so primary and all-encompassing.  Accordingly, even in these days of Av, and even as we approach Tisha B’Av, we should not forget these six Hebrew words as the attitude and approach to life that our Sages teach us to cling to.  We especially note that the Hebrew word “Yidbak” (cling) is utilized by Chazal--it is not simply a nice approach or a good thing, but something we should not deviate from--but practice sticking to--as if it were with glue or honey.


2.      Chazal (Brachos 8A) expressly teach us that “from the day the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed, HaKadosh Baruch Hu has only the Four Amos of Halacha.”  This teaching has tremendous implications and repercussions, as it appears to require us to place a primary focus on learning Halacha.  The Hashkafa behind these words of Chazal may be explained as follows:  If we do not live in times when Hashem causes His presence to dwell in this world through His Bais HaMikdash, then at the very least we should demonstrate our utmost desire to follow His Will and His Directives to the greatest extent possible anywhere in the world.  We do this by following the Halacha--that dictates as to how Hashem wants us to lead our lives.  In addition to the daily requirement to study Halacha (whether it be from a Mishna Berurah, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, English halacha sefer, or other means), we should also demonstrate our desire to follow Hashem’s word by asking a Shaila, or looking up a Halacha, as soon as the issue comes up, and not putting it off to another (perhaps more comfortable) time.  Yesterday, we provided one Shaila Hotline available 14 hours a day.  The Bais Din of the Machon HaHora’a (based in Monsey, New York) is also available on a 24-hour basis at 845-HALACHA.  The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shmiras HaLashon Shaila Hotline is available from 9:00PM to 10:30PM on Monday through Thursday and on Motze’ei Shabbos at 718-951-3696.  If HaKadosh Baruch Hu only has Four Amos of Halacha at this time, so should we….


3.      At a Hakhel Shiur, HaRav Shmuel Dishon, Shlita, posed the following question:  “What is the greatest Chilul Hashem in the world today?!  What is the one thing that we should most ashamed of?!”  He answered that the greatest Chilul Hashem, the greatest shame to us today, is that we are still in Galus.  That being said, each and every one of us should do their utmost to rid themselves and all of Klal Yisroel of this Chilul Hashem.  At a time when our personal hygiene may not be on the same par as it is during the rest of the year, we should view the Chilul Hashem around us as spiritual filth, caked in very deeply, which we need to remove with whatever will get it off.  If we feel a little unclean during the Nine Days--imagine how the spiritual world feels throughout the entire year!  Hakhel Suggestion:  The Torah in Vayikra (22:32) juxtaposes the admonition not to commit a Chilul Hashem with the requirement to be Mekadesh Shem Shamayim.  We may suggest, then, that one means of eradicating the great Chilul Hashem is by acts of great Kiddush Hashem.


4.      In this regard, we add that if one finds himself in a situation in which he has the choice between answering “Amen Yehei Shemai Raba…” or Kedusha (which is a Kiddush Hashem), the Halacha is that answering Amen Yehai Shemai Raba actually takes precedence (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 25:13 Mishna Berurah, seif katan 56).  At the very least, then, men in Shul should pay particular attention to answering Amen Yehei Shemai Raba to help create that great Kiddush Hashem that we so desperately need in this world.


Special Note Two:  HaRav Avraham Schorr, Shlita, gave a wonderful mashal on a Torah Jew’s role in this world:


There was once a young prince dressed in his royal finest who took a Royal Walk around the neighborhoods of the city with his entourage.  He came upon a park, and he found young children his age playing in a sandbox, with water, shovels and pails.  The children in the sandbox looked at the prince and said “come and join us, have some fun!”  The Prince’s initial reaction was to jump in and roll in the mud along with them, but then he looked down at the garments upon him, and the people around him, and thoughtfully responded, “No, sorry, I am not going to play with you in the mud.”  The prince left the park smiling from ear to ear.  He did not feel at all that he was a deprived child because he couldn’t play in the dirt with the commoners.  Quite to the contrary, he walked away as the happiest person in the world, for he was close to the King, and lived his life by a higher standard. 


The primary lesson from this Mashal is clear.  Our mitzvos are not burdensome, and by no means should we prefer, or in any manner be envious of, the “fun” that everyone else in the world around us is having.  We wear a badge of honor, which we glorify with every victory over our Yetzer Hora, and with our performance of each and every mitzvah.


There is an important second lesson, as well.  When we look for the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash, what we are really looking forward to is the return trip back to the Palace… where we will stay close to the King… for eternity!!



We would like to make our readers aware of the Bais Hora’ah of Lakewood Telephone Shaila Hotline.  The Bais Ho’raah is under the jurisdiction of HaRav Shlomo Miller, Shlita.  It is available for Shailos from 8:30AM to 10:30PM EST, and its toll free number is 877-451-2021.


As we draw closer to Tisha B’Av, the intensity of our feelings should be growing, as well.  In that connection, we provide the following brief notes, which you may choose to reflect upon or apply further.


1.      Dovid HaMelech composed a specific chapter of Tehillim (Chapter 20), in which he exclaims “…Yaancha Hashem B’Yom Tzora--May Hashem answer you in a day of distress.”  As our appreciation of the utter inappropriateness of Galus for us pervades us as we get closer and closer to Tisha B’Av, we should be feeling the “Yom Tzora” within these days more intensely, and reciting this Chapter of Tehillim (found towards the end of our daily Shacharis in any event), with special Kavannah.

2.      One reader pointed out that it is by no means a coincidence (as it never is), that the recent tractor tragedies have occurred at this time of year.  These outlandish and tragic murders in the heart of Yerushalayim should serve as a wake-up call to us that the contemporary Yerushalayim is simply not the same Yerushalayim that we so desperately need restored.  We should daven from the depths of our heart that the korbonos on the street be replaced with the korbonos that are supposed to be brought in the Bais HaMikdash.  The tragedies over thousands of years marked in the kinos have continued to our own day, and we must do our utmost to prevent any new kinos from having to be formulated.  There is a custom on Tisha B’Av to make hespedim--to eulogize--those gedolim who were niftar in the previous year.  Perhaps we can also add on, at least in our thoughts, the victims of the Mercaz HaRav Massacre and the Sderot victims, among all of the other acts of terror we have suffered, both within Eretz Yisroel, and without, over this past year.

3.      According to Rabbi Aryeh Z. Ginzberg in the June 2002 edition of The Jewish Observer, regarding Rebbetzin Kotler, A’H, “[Rebetzin Kotler] had a sweet tooth, and she loved to have a sugar cube in her mouth when drinking a tea.  From the time the war [World War II] began until the end, she never took a sugar cube into her mouth.  ‘For how could she do so, after she knew what had befallen our people?’”  We may not be on this level of greatness.  However, perhaps at least during the remainder of this week, and through the Tenth Day of Av at Chatzos, each one of us can do something along these lines (personal to us) to demonstrate our attachment and connection to the sufferings of our people--from the churbonos of the Batei Mikdash through the Crusades, from the Middle Ages through the more recent Pogroms, and from the churban of Europe through the modern day terror and nuclear threat that faces our [entire] People.

4.      Kollel Chatzot is a special Kollel in Beitar which commences its studies every midnight with Tikun Chatzos, then followed by learning through the night, and davening Shacharis at Netz (Vasikin) every morning.  The Kollel has forwarded to us an article (available here) written by one of its English-speaking members, appropriate for this time of year for further reflection.  The Kollel can be contacted at www.kollelchatzot.com

5.      The Chofetz Chaim understands that the “Sinas Chinam” for which the Second Bais HaMikdash was destroyed (and for which it has not yet been rebuilt) was the Sin of Loshon Hora (Introduction to the Sefer Chofetz Chaim).  Perhaps there is something more we can do even if we already learn the two Halachos a Day, and otherwise try to be careful.  One additional undertaking, such as confirming every day at the end of the day that you stopped yourself from speaking or hearing Loshon Hora one time that day, might be that final brick that we all need.  A small undertaking from little you could bring the Geulah for our entire nation!

6.      It is significant that the third and last Haftora of Retribution (read on Shabbos Chazon) concludes with a Pasuk (Yeshaya 1:27), which many of us know by heart because of its incredible import.  “Tzion BeMishpat Tipadeh, V’Shaveha B’Tzedaka--Zion will be redeemed with Justice, and those who return with Tzedaka.”  Thus, the Navi concludes with the seeming final condition to the Geulah--Tzedaka.  Indeed, Tzedaka in some shape, manner or form is something that each and every one of us is capable of performing with special Kavannah, at least between now and the Tenth of Av.  Let us go out of our way to give thoughtful Tzedaka during this short period, and let us daven that we too will soon be joined with the Returnees who gave Tzedaka as well!!


The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 551:2), rules that our People reduce the amount of business that we would otherwise undertake during the Nine Days.  The Mishna Berura (ibid., seif katan, 11), writes that the business activities that we undertake in today’s times may be considered within the needs of our immediate Parnassah, and are, accordingly, permissible.  If we otherwise generally go about our daily activities over the next several days, our taking note of the few brief items above may bring us a bit closer to the sensitivities and emotions that should be building within us as we move towards Tisha B’Av and the Tenth of Av--may they be turned to days of rejoicing and celebration--in our days!!


HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Zt’l, writes that the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed not because of our Sinas Chinam, rather, it lost its zechus Kiyum because of our lack of unity.  It therefore behooves us to do something to unite.  Please see “The Prayer for Judging Favorably,” both in Hebrew and in English, as provided by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.


At least this week, let us take the few brief moments that it takes out of our busy day to sit down and recite this Tefillah with Kavannah.


Special Note One:  Today is the Yahrtzeit of Rashi.  Many have noted that the acronym Rashi not only stands for Rebbe Shlomo Yitzchaki, but also for Rabban Shel Yisroel.  We provide below a few reminders of the sheer greatness of Rashi, as related by Rabbi Yaacov Dovid Shulman, in his book Rashi (CIS Publishers, 1993).


1.      “The Chida (in Shem HaGedolim) writes ‘tradition tells us that before Rashi began his commentary on Chumash, he fasted for 613 days, corresponding to the number of mitzvos in the Torah, in order to obtain Ruach HaKodesh.”

2.      “Once, Rabbi Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchshev was invited to a seudas mitzvah celebrating the siyum of a mesechta.  This took place during the Nine Days, when ordinarily one could not eat meat.  Rabbi Levi Yitzchak asked the man making the siyum, “Can you assure me that you didn’t skip even a laaz--a foreign word--in Rashi?”  “No,” the man replied.  “In that case,” Rabbi Levi Yitzchak replied, “I am afraid that I will not be able to join you for the meal.”

3.      Once, a melamed came to Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, the Chofetz Chaim, and asked him for a letter testifying that he is a qualified teacher.  “What is your specialty?” the Chofetz Chaim asked him.  “I am an expert in Rashi on the Torah.”  “In that case,” the Chofetz Chaim said, “come here and sit in my place.”

4.      According to the Sefer Mevoh HaShearim, Rashi went into Galus for seven years, traveling through Italy, Greece, Egypt, and Eretz Yisroel, and only thereafter began to publicize his notes on Tanach and Shas.

5.      Rashi was niftar while reviewing his peirush to Makkos (19B) with his son-in-law. He expired after saying the word “Tahor--pure” (actually found in the commentary there)!

Hakhel Note: HaRav Avigdor Miller, Zt’l, would tell his students to give Hakaras HaTov--to express thanks--to Rashi for opening up Tanach and Shas to us---and especially when they understood something because of Rashi.  HaRav Milller actually adds that when you feel that Rashi has enlightened you, you should give him a brocha that he has a “Lichtege Gan Eden--a lit-up Gan Eden” in reward for helping enlighten you!  Where would we be without Rashi?  Today, let us be careful to express our Hakaras HaTov to Rashi, and to do something L’Iluy Nishmaso--whether it be giving Tzedaka, doing a kind deed, or learning Chumash and understanding a Pasuk because you learned it with…Rashi!


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


We present the following practical Halachos of Muktza as excerpted from the first thorough work of its kind in English, The Halachos of Muktza by Rabbi Pinchas Bodner, Shlita (Feldheim; originally published in 1981).


1. Shells, Peels: Inedible peels and shells are muktza.  Therefore, items such as egg shells, nut shells, and the like are muktza.  Edible peels such as apple peels or pear peels are viewed as regular food and not muktza.  Peels which are only suitable for animals, are not muktza on Shabbos. 


2. Canned Food: According to some poskim it is prohibited to open cans, as well as many types of sealed food containers and bottles on Shabbos.  The poskim rule, however, that all sealed food containers and canned goods are nor muktza.  However, cans containing food which is not edible on Shabbos e.g. popping corn, are muktza.


3. Rain: According to most poskim, rain which fell on Shabbos or Yomtov is not considered nolad and may be used.  These poskim rule that since the moisture existed beforehand (in the form of clouds); it is not considered nolad when it falls on Shabbos or Yomtov.  Thus, according to this view, one may drink, use, and move this rain water (providing that it is not dirty) on Shabbos.


4. The following are the halachos of muktza with regard to medications on Shab­bos and Yom Tov:


a.         Medications which will not be used on Shabbos are muktza.  This applies both to prescription and non-prescription medications, e.g. aspirin, Alka Seltzer, and cough medicines are all muktza.


b.         Medicines as well as all types of muktza may be moved for a sick person, even for a Choleh Sheayn Bo Sakana--a sick person whose sickness does not pose a possible threat to his life.


5. Garbage and Garbage Cans: Usable food items in the garbage are under certain conditions, not Muktza, however, many items commonly found in one’s garbage are muktza.  Therefore: since many garbage items are muktza, it is suggested that one should not move his garbage or his garbage can on Shabbos or Yom Tov [without the guidance of your Rav, as to your particular situation].  Where foul odors from the garbage are causing discomfort to people, the garbage may be removed in accordance with the rules outlined in Chapter 21, part 6 of the book.


6. Frozen Food: Frozen ready-to-eat food is not muktza.  Of course, frozen raw meat has the same halacha as raw meat and is muktza.  The reason that frozen ready-to-eat food is not muktza is that although the frozen food is inedible bain hashmoshos, since it can be defrosted and, thereby, become edible on Shabbos, it is considered regular food and is not muktza.

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