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Special Note One:  In a Bulletin last week, we suggested that one method of improvement in Bein Adam L’Makom is by spiritually improving one’s thought process when waking up in the morning, by directing one’s initial thoughts to matters of Ruchnius, rather than Gashmiyus.  Some may, however, claim that it is not the first few thoughts that are the issue--it is the getting out of bed in the first place!  Therefore, the first thought that you may want to have enter your mind when your alarm clock goes off is “Zerizim Makdimim L’Mitzvos!”  Even if you may get out of bed slowly, you are still getting up because you want to be a Zariz!

Special Note Two:  In another Bulletin last week, we printed several Shailos presented to Rav Belsky, Shlita, relating to honesty.  We present below the following brief exchange with HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (Derech Sicha, Volume II):


QUESTION:  If one receives a letter in the mail with the stamp not cancelled, is it permissible to use the stamp?

ANSWER:  Although the Chofetz Chaim was Machmir in this, it is permissible.


QUESTION:  Shouldn’t the stamp belong to the sender, and don’t you have an obligation to return it, based upon Hashavas Aveida?

ANSWER: No, because the sender assumed that the stamp would never return to him.


We see from the foregoing how careful one has to be when dealing with even the smallest of monetary matters.  Sometimes what one thinks is permissible is really prohibited, and what one believes to be prohibited is really permissible.  It is for this reason that it is essential to consult with a Rav in all monetary matters, and not be your own “judge”.  One thing is for sure.  The Navi Tzefania ( 3:13 ) prophesied: “Shearis Yisroel Lo Yaasu Avla…--the remnant of Yisroel will not commit corruption….”  We all want to be part of that Shearis Yisroel.  The Navi tells us explicitly how to do it--all we have to do is follow it!



Special Note One:  Today (and for Sunday), may we recommend that one look for the word “Avinu--Our Father”--in Shemone Esrei?  Please have particular Kavanna of what an Av does for his child, and try to understand why the word is placed in the particular Bracha and at that specific point in the Bracha.



Special Note Two:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos - Halachos of Shabbos Series.  Today’s Halachos relate to Ketanim (minors) and their performing Melachos on Shabbos.  In fact, there is a Siman in Shulchan Aruch (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Siman 343) relating to this topic, and the following Halachos are excerpted from the Piskei Teshuvos (Volume 3: p.248-250) on this Siman.  Of course, with respect to any particular questions, one should consult his own Rav.  We raise these important issues, and the Halachos presented, for your consideration:


  1. If a child is three years old or older, one should assume that he has some level of understanding (“ Bar Havana”), and should prevent him from any act of Chilul Shabbos that he is about to perform.  In fact, if the child is particularly bright, it is praiseworthy to be Machmir even if he is below the age of three.


  1. If the child is above three (i.e., he is a “Bar Havana”) and is about to do Melacha on Shabbos for his parent, and the parent does not stop him from doing so, the parent has violated the Torah’s directive (actually contained in the Aseres Hadibros!) of “Lo Saseh Kol Melacha Ata U’Vincha U’Vitecha” (Shemos 20:10 ).


  1. Points 1 and 2 above relate to the child doing a Melacha of his own volition.  It is forbidden to actively tell him to perform a Melacha, or to bring him “with your hands” (i.e., physically) to perform a Melacha.  This is forbidden even if he is not the parent of the child, and even if the child is “one-day old”--i.e., even if he is not a Bar Havana.


  1. Nevertheless, according to the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (343:10), it is not Asur to put objects in front of a child from which a Melacha can be performed, if he is not a Bar Havana, you do not tell a child to do the Melacha and you do not bring him “with your hands” to perform the Melacha.  For example, placing a toddler before an electric switch, which will allow him to play with the switch and turn it on or off, or, if one has forgotten to turn off the light in refrigerator to place him in front of the door of the refrigerator, so that he plays with it and opens it, allowing you to take things out.  Note, however, that it is possible to learn this leniency of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav as relating only to an Isur D’Rabanan and not to a Melacha D’Oraysa.  Thus, the examples given above, relating to a light switch and refrigerator may depend on whether turning the switch on or off, or turning on the refrigerator light is Osur Mi D’Oraysa or Osur Mi D’Rabanan.


  1. If the Koton is performing an act for himself and the Isur that will be performed is an Isur D’Rabanan (such as a child bringing a Siddur for himself to Shul in a place where an Eruv is lacking, but would only be required Mi D’Rabanan), there are opinions that allow the Koton to perform the act.



Special Note Three:  This week’s Parsha teaches us the great Mitzvah of honest weights and measures (Devarim 25:13-16).  In fact, the Posuk explicitly provides that one who deals honestly will be blessed with Arichus Yamim--length of days.  Accordingly, we provide the following questions, as presented to HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, which are available through the website honesty@torah.org





I bought a portable phone with a one-year warranty.  It broke several times, and each time the company I bought it from replaced the phone.  The last phone they sent me lasted for 3 months and broke again.  But at that point the one-year warranty had expired.  It seems to me that the warranty should be that a single phone is protected for a year.  When I called, however, they asked me when I originally bought the phone.  Do I have any leeway in what I say so that I can get this one replaced, too, or do I have to tell them the actual date, which would probably mean that the company will no longer replace the phone?




It is unjust and unfair that the phone company supplies one broken phone after another.  But how could you tell somebody a Sheker (lie) and on that basis have him give you something--that if you were to tell him the truth, he wouldn’t give it to you?  This person will be giving you something based on false pretenses.  Getting something based on false pretenses is thievery.


So the general rule is that you cannot lie in order to get something from someone else.  If something is legitimately yours--and the only way to get it is by being guileful, by using some type of deception, that’s permissible.  But you cannot take something that is not yours.  The distinction is clear-cut.





I buy a monthly bus ticket from an Orthodox-owned commuter bus company.  The booklet says that it is not transferable.  Can I sell a ticket to someone else?  Can another person in my family use the ticket?


RABBI BELSKY:  You can’t sell it to someone else.  That is the most obvious thing in the world.  What is the idea behind this monthly pass?  The bus company offers a big bargain by giving 20 or 25 tickets and charging for only 15 rides.  Why?   Some rides may be missed, or it’s a bulk rate for monthly passengers.  But a person certainly can’t go into business by buying ten such books and selling them for the public price.  That’s not what the monthly deal is made for.




Let’s say someone comes over to me and says, “I ran out of tickets. I’m going to buy a monthly book tomorrow, but I left my checkbook at home.  Can I buy a monthly ticket today, and I’ll give you one of mine tomorrow?”




That’s okay.  If you are entitled to the ticket, but you forgot it, you still own the ride.  It doesn’t matter if the ticket is not your ticket; it’s your ride.  You’re using ha’romah (guile) to get the ride that belongs to you.  As we discussed earlier, that’s acceptable.  But if the ticket doesn’t belong to you, that’s thievery.  Thievery is the same whether you’re doing it with a false ticket or if you come in with a machine gun--in both cases, you’re taking something that is not yours.



Special Note Four:  The following is an excerpt from Geulah B’Rachamim, a fascinating compilation of sixty daily lessons to help a Jew yearn for redemption by Rabbi Pinchas Winston, Shlita.  This piece (Day 48) is entitled “Makers and Pawns”:


“History is divided between two types of people, makers and pawns.  Makers are the kinds of people who take up causes, to make things better or worse.  The ones who make things better are righteous in Hashem’s eyes, partners with Him in Creation.  The ones who choose to make things worse are evil, and have no share in Hashem’s Creation, present or future.


“Then there are the pawns, the vast majority of people throughout history who simply minded their own business whenever they could.  Rather than impact history, they are usually impacted by it, often the ‘victims’ of other people’s schemes and plans.  Nothing is by accident (Chulin 7b), and everything is the Will of Hashem, but if someone chooses to play the part of a pawn, then that is the role Hashem allows him to play.  No question, it is easier to be a pawn.  If history is peaceful, one can get away with simply taking as much responsibility for the fulfillment of Creation as is necessary to fulfill his own personal life.  However, reward in the World-to-Come will also be limited, because, as Chazal teach, ‘According to the effort is the reward’ (Pirkei Avos 5:26 ).  And, no effort earns greater reward in the World-to- Come as the ones made on behalf of the nation as a whole.


“Hashem gave some of His glory to man, so that he can be a partner with Him in Creation, building Heaven and its upper realms through all of his actions and deeds that he performs in this world. (Sha’arei Leshem, p. 76).  There is no question that every mitzvah performed brings great reward in the World-to-Come.  We can’t even begin to imagine how much.  There is no question that, when a person performs a Chesed, Heaven smiles.  And, as the Nefesh HaChaim emphasizes in the fourth section, the learning of Torah maintains Creation.


“Nevertheless, there is no better way to prepare for the Final Redemption than by playing a role in it.  What kind of role?  It depends upon the person, the opportunity, the time of history, and the will to get involved.  It may be something as basic as saying one chapter of Tehillim each day, just for the sake of speeding up the Redemption, or something as involving as starting an organization that furthers the cause itself.”  [Hakhel Note: In other sections of this Sefer, having Kavanna in Shemone Esrei in the various Brachos relating to Geulah is very much encouraged as a means to achieve this end].


“The reward is tremendous for a variety of reasons.  First of all, according to the G’ra, though Hashem provides Heavenly help for every Mitzvah we do, the help, when it comes to redemption-oriented activities, can be many times more than the effort we ourselves make.  This means that we can succeed far beyond our expectations.


“Furthermore, by being a partner in redemption, we put ourselves on the inside track.  This means that, rather than simply being pawns in the process, we are makers of it, together with Hashem, and joining all the other people who consciously choose to play a role in the Redemption.  Not only is this very rewarding, but it can very well add an element of safety for all those taking an active role in the Geulah Shleimah.”


Hakhel Note:  Re-read, absorb, apply, and encourage others!



Special Note One:  Now that we have looked for Rachamim, Chesed and Chaim, let us take the time over the next day in Shemone Esrei to look for our "Melech" or "Malkeinu"--the King of the Universe--who cares about our every request!



Special Note Two:  We need not travel to the great Fair in the late summertime, because Hashem, in His great graciousness, brings the Fair to us.  HaRav Chaim Freidlander, Z’tl, (Sifsei Chaim I, page 38) compares the days of Elul to the days of a once-annually fair, through which an industrious merchant could find and purchase/sell the goods that could support both him and his family for the entire year.  Those individuals, however, who remain at the hotel, to wine and dine and enjoy its various and sundry amenities, walk away temporarily happy--but with empty pockets and warehouses.


The interesting thing about a Fair is that all serious attendees have the same goal--to do business and make profit.  Yet, everyone does so for his own unique business and in his own unique manner.  Reuven, for instance, buys gadgets from Levi, and sells them to Yehuda.  Shimon, on the other hand, buys the same gadgets--but with 220V--from Larry, and through his connections sells them to the U.S. government to distribute to third-world countries.  Levi buys a shipload of watches and sells them to Dan who will trade them for a container of Chinese novelties…


The point is that each and every one of us has a specific role, a specific time, and a specific place in this world.  What each and every one of us does at the Fair is--and should be--different.  A five-year old is elated with her new bicycle, yet a grown adult simply cannot sit down on it and try to start peddling.  Over the past year, the Yetzer Hara has tried, sometimes successfully, to obliterate or at least blur, for you where you are and what you should be.  He is quite satisfied--and enjoys--seeing you ride that too-small bike, even though it is embarrassing to you while riding, and will make you sore and limp afterwards.  We should make sure that our spiritual lives take a lesson from our physical experiences.  Would we stoop down to pick up five pennies or fifteen matches that have scattered across the ground?  Why then should we stoop down or lower ourselves to accomplish far less, or even far worse, goals?


So here we are at the Fair, and we have our heads on straight.  We are going to learn from the mistakes that we made last year, the things we shouldn’t have bought, the items we shouldn’t have sold, the people we shouldn’t have done business with, and the people we should have looked to build a relationship with.  Each one of us is here to use his/her own knowledge, talents, particular expertise--and special challenges--to make this year the most successful one ever.  We may have to think and work seriously over the next little while, but the time is precious and the gains to be gotten are oh so great.



Special Note Three:  As we have recently noted, our two “signs” are our Bain Odom LaMakom and our Bain Odom LeChaveiro.  We provide below a simple but monumental way of growing in each of these areas:


A beautiful example of a Bain Odom LaMakom improvement would be one brought in the Piskei Teshuvos (Volume 1, Page 4):  “When arising each morning, let your first thought, words, and actions of the day be L’Shem Shamayim--recognizing that you have a Creator, and a purpose in life, rather than a means to that end, such as thinking about what you will wear or what you will eat, or talking about where will you go or who you will meet today.”


In the Bain Odom LeChaveiro sphere, may we suggest the wonderful words of HaRav Chaim Freidlander, Z’tl, in the Sifsei Chaim (Midos V’Avodas Hashem Volume 1, page 330), in which he emphasizes the importance of feeling and expressing HaKaras HaTov (recognition of all those little and not so little things that are done for you) to those who are close to you--your immediate family members or close friends--whether your HaKaras HaTov is expressed through your kind words, your daily favors, your concern, your “I’ll take care of it”, or even your warm smile--for through a sincere and ingrained middah of HaKaras HaTov, we can release ourselves from the shackles of self-centeredness--and even come to a greater appreciation before the New Year of all that Hashem does for us on a minute-by-minute basis, as well!



Special Note One:  During the month of Elul, we strive to come closer to Hashem in preparation for the Yomim Noraim.  In fact, we add Tehillim Chapter 27 (“L’Dovid Hashem Ori VeYishi”) beginning on Rosh Chodesh Elul.  We all know that the word “Ori” refers to Rosh Hashana, which is light, and the word “Yishi” refers to Yom Kippur, which is salvation.  This being said, what word in L’Dovid  refers to Elul itself?!  Some have suggested that its second word, “Hashem,” alludes to Elul, for it is during this time that we are to feel Hashem closer to us.  Accordingly, we suggest that our special Shemone Esrei project for the next day be to look for the word “Atta”--You--not only within the context of the last words of each Bracha (“Baruch Atta Hashem”), but also within the entire Bracha itself.  Feel the fact that Hashem is in front of you (Nochach) when you recite this word, and try to understand why it was placed at that point by the Anshei K’neses Hagedolah.


To put our goals in perspective, to date we have tried to accomplish a better Kavannah and understanding in Shemone Esrei for “Hashem Elokeinu”, “Rachamim”, “Chesed”, and now “Atta”.



Special Note Two:  It is interesting to note that the Torah requires us to give Ma’aser Sheini in the first and second, and then again fourth and fifth years, of the Shemittah cycle, while requiring Maaser Ani to the poor in the third and sixth years of the cycle--after having brought Maaser Sheini to Yerushalayim in each of the previous two years.  There is a great lesson here.  One first recognizes and realizes through the Ma’aser Sheni that his material possessions are truly Hashem’s--as he goes up to Yerushalayim with the Ma’aser Sheni at Hashem’s command, and is then infused with Yiras Shamayim while consuming it within the Holy City (see Baba Basra 21A and Tosfos there).  After attaining this knowledge and state, he can then give Ma’aser Ani, the tithe to the poor, with the proper feelings and understanding.  Let us attempt to learn from this essential teaching.  At this time of year, we may be asked to give more Tzedakah than usual--perhaps more than in all prior months of the year combined!  That being said, we must be careful to recognize and realize before we express a sigh, or a feeling of incapability or even annoyance, that the Torah teaches us an important order--first there is Ma’aser Sheini, and then Maaser Ani--which means that we must first realize to whom the money really belongs, and then feel the merit of giving whatever we reasonably can--based upon this knowledge.  We must further always remember that it is BeHashgacha Pratis that this particular person came to our door, came over to us in Shul, or sent us an envelope, or that we noticed that ad or flyer, or that we know the person in charge of this parlor meeting, or that our neighbor is involved in the collection for that family or Chasuna.  Tzedakah not only means charity, it means righteousness (the first letters of which are “right”).  Hashem, with His tzedaka opportunities for us, is allowing us to understand the lesson of Ma’aser Sheni and Ma’aser Ani, and of acquiring merit in a unique and particular way, designed especially for us.  Giving Tzedakah over the next month in the right frame of mind and with the right attitude can take us a long way on the “right” path for the coming year!



Special Note Three:  When we hear about people doing a Cheshbon HaNefesh at this time of year, it is not fairy tale, or even for the Tzaddikim of yesteryear, but is an actual and wonderful reality, even for our generation.  We obtained the list [provided by clicking here] of a Ba’al HaBayis, a working man, who had prepared a sheet of his own items to think about or work upon for this month.  Obviously, we are publishing it with a goal of anonymity, and do not know if he reviews the list throughout the day or chooses something different everyday to focus upon, but, clearly, just preparing a list is an important first step.  Everyone can and should do the same in their own unique, personal and wonderful way.



Special Note One:  Rabbi Eliyahu Roman, Shlita, recalled a remarkable and penetrating thought that he had heard from HaRav Shneuer Kotler, Z’tl.  Reb Shneuer brought the teaching of the Arizal regarding the 40-day period between Rosh Chodesh Elul and Yom Kippur.  The Arizal compares this 40-day period to the 40-day period in which a new embryo is formed, for during this time one must recreate himself, one must form himself anew.  Reb Shneuer added that just as each day of the 40 day period is absolutely essential to the embryo’s growth and development, so is each day of the 40-day period until Yom Kippur a vital link in our rebuilding.  Imagine, says Reb Shneuer, if the embryo would take a day off during this crucial period--what havoc it would wreak on the whole system--so, too, the Arizal teaches us, that we must view a day without plan, without goals, without development, without change during this period in the very same light!  Something to remember--every single day during this very special period.


Hakhel Note:  The Sefer Mateh Ephraim, the classic Halachic work on the laws of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkos, refers to the days of Elul as “Yomim Kedoshim”--Days of Holiness.  Let us picture ourselves developing this holy period, and not lose the precious daily opportunities we have to ensure our complete and optimum development.



Special Note Two:  There is a stunning lesson provided for each and every one of us by Rashi in last week’s Parsha.  The Parsha teaches us that before Bnai Yisroel were to go to war, the Kohen Moshuach Milchama was to teach them that it was a Mitzvah not to be scared of the enemy, and to provide words of encouragement.  He would begin his address to the soldiers with the words “Shema Yisroel Atem Kereivim Hayom...--Hear, O’ Yisroel, you are coming close to battle...let your heart not be faint, do not be afraid (Devorim 20:3).”  Rashi (ibid.) brings the words of Chazal:  The reason the Kohen begins his words with Shema Yisroel is to tell the warriors that even if they had only the zechus of Krias Shema, they would be worthy of being redeemed.  The war itself--life and death for the masses, as well as the security of all the people back home--could be decided by the proper recitation of Shema alone!  What a lesson for us at this time of year--life for the individual, life for the people could be gained by properly reciting Krias Shema!!  Let us take a moment before reciting the Shema to reflect upon the magnitude of the event--Kabalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim, Ahavas Hashem, the many Mitzvos mentioned in Shema, and at least try to say the words with the proper pronunciation and with the understanding of each word.  If you do so, you can not only plainly emerge victorious in your own battle--you can literally also do your part in winning the whole war!



Special Note Three:  In our quest to improve our focus on Shemone Esrei, and to better understand where the Anshei Kenesses HaGedolah have placed certain words and why, we have thus far focused on “Hashem Elokainu” and “Rachamim” (did you find the bracha in which Rachamim is requested not once, but numerous times?).  The next word we suggest to focus on is an attribute of Hashem that we truly need in large quantities--”Chesed”--Hashem’s kindness.  You may find it interesting to note how and when we request it, and its relationship to Rachamim in the Shemone Esrei’s brachos.  In all events--be sure to have Kavana when asking that Hashem grace us with his Chesed--even if we may not deserve it!



Special Note Four:  It is interesting to note that the archetypal example of something that is unkosher is the chazir, the pig.  This is so even though, unlike many animals which have no sign of Kashrus, the pig at least has one of the two.  Doesn’t it at least get a 50, instead of a zero--besides all of the negativity and loathsomeness associated with it?  Chazal suggest that the fact it is half-way there turns it into a fraud, a trickster, a deceitful animal, as it displays its “kosher sign,” and hides the truth about itself to the world.  We can perhaps apply the lesson from this one-signed animal in our daily lives.  We are each built of the Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim we perform in this world.  These deeds can be placed into two basic categories--Bain Odom LaMakom and Bain Odom LeChaveiro.  We must be careful to remember that we are to have both of these “kosher” signs, and not display one of them, without really possessing the other.  It is for this reason that we must be careful at this time of year not to choose only one of the two categories at the expense of the other--because together they make us into a complete being.  As we work on improving our Tefillah, our personal relationship with, and understanding of, Hashem, we must also be careful to improve our relationships with people.  The Gedolim have asked that we focus on improving the way we speak to others, eliminating the thoughtless or hasty sharp edges of Ona’as Devorim, and replacing them with thoughtful words of concern, compliment and caring.  The difference could very well be life-giving to the person to whom they are addressed and even to his family--and, ultimately, life-giving to you and yours as well.  With the newly-published sefer from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation on Ona’as Devorim--Positive Word Power, one should bli neder pledge now to study its daily lessons in the coming year.  Until then, one should try his utmost on his own to use that positive, life-giving language that he is so capable of.  How many smiles and good feelings can you generate today?



We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos series.  We present below several Halachos relating to Halachos of Shabbos which may require additional care:


  1. The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach  Chaim 260; seif katan 7) records that “Yesh Mekomos”--there are places, in which  the custom is not to cut your hair or your nails on Rosh Chodesh--even when it falls on Erev Shabbos, because this is the directive of Rebbe Yehudah HaChassid.  Accordingly, it would appear appropriate for one to ask his Rav what the “custom of his place” is in this regard--and that Shaila must happen today!


  1. Games in which points are tallied--where people gain and lose points should not be played on Shabbos (Shemiras Shabbos KeHilchasa, 16:34 ).


  1. One may gently remove food crumbs from one’s hair, but must be careful not to take out hair with it.  It is for this reason that one should stay far away from children chewing gum on Shabbos--if the gum “somehow” ends up in your hair, you will not be able to remove it, because you will undoubtedly pull out hair with it.


  1. The Shulchan Aruch devotes an entire Siman (285) to reading the Parsha “Shenaim Mikra VeEchad Targum”--which, in addition to being a Halacha in Hilchos Shabbos and in Hilchos Talmud Torah, is an incredible Segulah.  Chazal (Sotah 49A) teach that one who is “Mashlim Parshiosav Im HaTzibur” will be blessed with the greatest of brachos--“Ma’arichin Lo Yomov U’Shenosav”--he will have length of days and years.  Especially at this time of year, for those who have not been careful enough with this unparalleled Mitzvah, one should undertake (or re-undertake) it with a special diligence and zeal--after all it involves Shabbos, Torah--and is an elixir for life!  The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (3: p.63) brings that although there are various ways in which to fulfill this Mitzvah, the Chofetz Chaim’s minhag was to recite each Pasuk twice immediately followed by the Targum on that Pasuk.  For further detail on the best time to perform the Mitzvah, please see the Mishne Berurah and Bi’ur Halacha in Siman 285.  Women are exempt from this Mitzvah--but they still can use the time that it would take (approximately ½ hour) to learn about the Parsha.



Kashrus Alert:  We received the following important Kashrus note from a reader:  Kashrus agencies have reported that Alei Katif products from California, with the words “California Grown” on the package, should not be used and should be returned, as they have been found to be infested in such a way that even rinsing and washing the product is insufficient. This does NOT affect Alei Katif products grown in Eretz Yisroel, or in Ecuador , which may be used in accordance with the instructions on the bag.



Special Note One:  One of the main points of focus or change that we hope to undertake over the coming month is some form of marked improvement in Tefillah, which is so essential to the betterment of our relationship with Hashem.  In the hope and interest of our improving all together in some way, we will be providing (bli neder) over the next several weeks, a word or phrase to focus on in Shemone Esrei over the course of the next day.  It will be each person’s responsibility to search for the word or phrase in each of the nineteen Brachos, have Kavannah for its meaning when reciting it, and briefly try to understand why the word or phrase is found in that particular Bracha.  Fascinatingly, you may find that what you would otherwise expect to be key or essential words in Shemone Esrei appear much less often than you think.


Today, we will begin with the phrase “Hashem Elokeinu”--the two great names of Hashem appearing side by side, with the word “Hashem” connoting that Hashem is the Master of All, Who Was, Is, and Will Be, and Who Continuously Creates (Me’Haveh Hakol), immediately followed by the word “Elokeinu” connoting Strength, All-Capability, Omnipotence, and the Hashgacha Pratis of Hashem over us.  These two names of Hashem appearing together in a Bracha conveys a powerful message.  Finding and reciting these two Sheimos consecutively with Kavannah will certainly aid your Shemone Esrei in the Brachos in which they appear--and will keep you alert in other Brachos as you search for this very special term!



Special Note Two:  On Rosh Hashanah, we will be accepting Hashem’s Malchus over us.  How can a person now begin to accustom himself to accepting the Attribute of Hashem’s Malchus?  This is exactly the question that HaRav Moshe Cordevero, Z’tl, asks in his classic Sefer Tomer Devora (Chapter 9).  He answers that the starting point is for one not to feel haughty, conceited or over-confident because of all that he possesses.  Even if one is a man of wealth, he should remind himself that ultimately none of his possessions belong to him and that he requires the constant mercies of his Creator.  Furthermore, HaRav Cordevero teaches, one should humble his heart and act as if he himself is a pauper, especially at the time of prayer--as Dovid Hamelech referred to himself “Ki Yachid V’Oni Ani…for I am alone and poor” (Tehillim 25:16).  Accordingly, an essential element of Hashem’s Malchus is our recognition of who we really are, our powers, and our limitations.  A king is a king only if first he has subjects.  Let’s train ourselves to be loyal and devoted subjects, privileged to have what we have and to be in His Palace only, only because of His beneficence.



Special Note Three:  We will soon be wishing each other a “Kesiva Vechasima Tova.”  When we wish this blessing upon someone else and when we receive it, we must appreciate its true import.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (brought in Sefer Derech Sicha) teaches that the most important part of a Bracha from a Tzadik is our Bitachon and Emunah that Hashem will help in the merit of the Bracha.  Thus, if one does not truly believe that the Bracha will help, it will generally not help.  We therefore remind everyone to give Brachos--especially at this time of year--with sincerity (See Praying With Fire, Volume 2, Days 50-56), and to receive Brachos with the belief that Hashem will fulfill them.  A Bracha such as “Kesiva Vechasima Tova” is especially powerful because it is not specific or limited, but a general Bracha--for all good.  Indeed, at the end of the four Brachos of Bentching, after making many specific requests, we finally conclude with the words “Umekol Tuv Leolom Al Yechasreinu--and of all good things may He never deprive us.”  The all-encompassing conclusion assures us that we have covered our needs in totality.  We can now understand the popularity--and the necessity--of the meaningful Bracha--“Kol Tuv!”



Special Note Four:  We cannot let the last day of Chodesh Av go by without mention of one improvement in Bein Adam Lechaveiro, as well.  The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva (3:231) warns each and every one of us not to be a “Nirgan.”  What is a Nirgan?  The Sha’arei Teshuva explains that it is one who constantly finds fault with others, and does not judge others favorably.  He is one who first views that which his neighbor or friend has said or done in a negative light.  He converts unintentional deeds into intentional ones, and often views himself as the victim, the one who is sinned against.  He complains too often.  Undoubtedly, none of us view ourselves as Nirganim--as complainers--as people who don’t judge favorably, as negative people.  However, the next time you are about to complain or criticize your co-worker, neighbor or friend either verbally, or even mentally, think to yourself--Am I being a Nirgan?  (Even the sound of the word should make us shy away!)  Let us conclude Av in a “Nirgan-less” way!




Rashi in Chumash (Bereishis 15:1, quoting Bereishis Raba 44:5) teaches us the difference between the word Achar and the word Acharei, both of which would seem to mean the same thing—“after.”  What does the Yud in Acharei add?  Rashi explains that Achar (without the Yud) indicates an “after” that is close by-- i.e. that happens *right after* something else.  Acharei, on the other hand, indicates some distance between what is before and what is after.  Based upon this distinction between Achar and Acharei, the Chofetz Chaim asked the Gerrer Rebbe a question which troubled him greatly.  In last week’s Parsha, the Torah (Devarim 13:5) adjures: “Acharei Hashem Elokeichem Taleichu…after Hashem , your G-d, shall you go”  If “Acharei” connotes a distance (and Achar indicates a closeness), why does the Torah use the term “Acharei” and not the word “Achar”?  Shouldn’t we be asked to go closely after Hashem, and not be at a distance?!  The Gerrer Rebbe had apparently contemplated the question, and told the Chofetz Chaim that if a person feels that he is close to Hashem, than he is comfortable with his position, and will not strive to take the appropriate action to come closer to Hashem.  If a person realizes that he is truly at a distance, he will be able to commence an appropriate Teshuva process.  Hashem wants us to feel far--for our own benefit--so that we will come close!



Today is the Yartzheit of HaRav Avrohom Pam, Z’tl.  Rabbi Shimon Finkelman has written an almost five-hundred page biography entitled Rav Pam (Artscroll), which is highly recommended, because it provides so many essential teachings. Set forth below are only a few brief samples from this lesson-filled Sefer:


1.      At a Shmuess on Da’as Torah, Rav Pam said:

“Da’as Torah emerges after decades-long immersion in the Sea of Talmud .  It comes from strenuous, relentless effort to understand the word of Hashem.  It comes from total submission to Hashem’s will, and from a life lived in holiness and purity, unencumbered by physical desires.  It flows from a person whose very essence has been elevated by Torah; everything in his world is based solely on Torah.  The mind of the Talmid Chacham will bring a clear perspective to all that transpires in this world.  Such a person is endowed with    Da’as Torah.”


2.      HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita said the following at a Yartzheit Shiur for Rav Pam, “In the order of Kabbalos for the new year, Kiddush Hashem has to be our first priority.  To make Hashem’s Name beloved is a positive commandment in the Torah.  When a person makes Hashem’s Name beloved, this bears witness that he feels a closeness with the Ribono Shel Olam.  To act in the way of Rav Pam is not beyond the letter of the law.  He merited to teach the Jewish world about its obligations regarding behavior.  And it is quite possible that we are still in Galus because we have been remiss in not learning sufficiently from him.  If he could return and speak to us today, as we stand on the threshold of a new year, this is what he would tell us:  ‘A’ahvaihu Al Habrios--Inspire people to love Him!  I gave my entire life for this purpose, to make Hashem’s Name beloved!’”


3.       One of his Talmidim was questioning whether he should go into Chinuch, or into another profession.  The student recalled this as Rav Pam’s response: “Baruch, some people will tell you Chinuch because this way your portion in Olam Haba will be assured.  And I tell you, Baruch you should enter the world of Chinuch because there is no greater Simcha in this world than to teach Jewish children.”


4.       Rav Pam taught:  The stage at which a child has minimal ability to acquire an object is when he knows to “discard a stone and take a nut,” that he is old enough to understand that a nut has value and realize that a stone is worthless (Gittin 64B).  Life is something that has to be returned at some point in time.  A grown person who ignores this fact and conducts himself as if he will live forever, is like the youngest of children.


5.       Before summer recess, he would tell his students, “If you are going to camp, make sure that you do not make fun of the food.”  He would go on to describe how hard a camp cook works and the pain that he or she is liable to suffer if the food is ridiculed.  He would also remind them to thank the cook for his or her efforts.  He would add some advice for those who were exceptionally dedicated to their studies:  “If learning fifteen extra minutes will mean coming late to lunch and causing the waiter to work harder, it’s not worth it.”


6.       In his last Shmuess in the Yeshiva, he discussed Tzaraas, which was a Divine punishment for the sin of Lashon Hara.  There were two components to this sickness; the physical discomfort it caused and the disgrace the Metzora experienced because of his Tzaraas.  “The physical discomfort,” said Rav Pam, “was a punishment for the harm and suffering that the sinner brought upon those of whom he spoke evil.  The disgrace which the sinner endured, on the other hand, corresponded to the Chillul Hashem which he caused by speaking Lashon Hara.  As the Chofetz Chaim explains, one derives no physical pleasure from speaking Lashon Hara; it is simply a Midah Ra’ah, a wicked carelessness in matters of speech.  This sort of sin, in which one is not tempted by physical desire, is a flouting of Hashem’s will, and a desecration of His Name.  This desecration is compounded when one’s words are uttered in public…ultimately it will be the one disgracing, who is, in fact, disgraced.”


7.       He taught:  It happened that a renowned Rosh Yeshivah visited a wealthy Jew at his office to solicit a donation for his Yeshivah.  The businessman excused himself, saying that at the moment he was busy with a few customers and could not interrupt.  The Rosh Yeshivah said to him, “Do you think that you were sent down to this world for nothing other than to sell dry goods?  We were placed here to accomplish something for K’vod Shamayim!”  It is our obligation to demonstrate the beauty of Torah.  The essence of Torah is “Its ways are ways of pleasantness” (Mishlei 3:17) meaning, a pleasant approach in all  interpersonal matters--within the family, between husband and wife, between neighbors, and a fastidiousness regarding truth and uprightness even  beyond the letter of the law.


8.       Once HaRav Pam told his dentist, “I envy you.  You do Chesed all day.  People come to you in pain and you make them feel better.”  The dentist replied, “It’s a fringe benefit of the profession.”  “You’re wrong,” replied Rav Pam.  “Your profession is to do Chesed with people.  The fringe benefit of it is that you earn a living.”


9.       HaRav Pam related the following after returning from Eretz Yisroel:  Upon my first encounter with the Kosel HaMaaravi, I was enwrapped in lofty thoughts and the tears flowed naturally, as one would expect.  Chazal teach that the souls of the Avos come there on Shabbos eve, so I returned there for Kabbalas Shabbos.  Then, too, I prepared myself mentally as I stood ready to visit a holy site on a holy day, when holy Neshamos would be present.  To my dismay, when I arrived there, it was like coming to the market.  “Shalom Aleichem!” people called out to me.  “When did you arrive?”  “Where are you staying?”  “When are you heading back?  Which airline?”  I saw that people were conducting themselves there the same way they conduct themselves in Shul--the same conversation, the same lightheadedness.  If this is how they act at the Kosel, one can assume that they will act this way as well at the site of the Third Beis Hamikdash?...Prepare yourselves now for how to act then!


10.   Once, HaRav Pam knocked on the closed door of the office of HaRav Moshe Wolfson, Shlita, but would not open the door a bit until he first heard the words “Come in.”  HaRav Wolfson, who did not know who was at the door, said of HaRav Pam, “Whoever is knocking is a Ba’al Derech Eretz.”


11.   He once told his son, “By us, a word is a contract.”


12.   Regarding character development he would say, “It’s not your ‘nature’--it’s your choice,” as the Rambam teaches in Hilchos Teshuva (5:1).  Similarly, he taught that one should not say, “What can I do if I don’t like him?”  For a person can control his emotions and refine his Middos--if he makes the proper effort.


13.  Rav Pam would remind his students to strive to act according to Hashem’s will when going about their daily business.  If this is how we act, then we have the special right to say to Hashem (from time to time throughout the day), “Ribbono Shel Olam--Chazei DeAlayich Ka Somichna-Hashem--see that I am relying on You! (Bava Kamma 100A)”


14.  He once said, “What is the definition of an Am Ha’aretz”?  One who thinks that in order to serve Hashem, one must forgo enjoyment of life in this World in favor of life in the World to Come.  A Talmid Chochom by contrast, knows the truth--that a Ben Torah has the best of both worlds.”



Special Note One: In last week’s Parsha, we find a special emphasis on the Mitzvah of Tzedakah, as an appropriate introduction to the Month of Elul.  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, makes a remarkable point about Tzedaka by simply translating a Pasuk for us.  The Pasuk in the Parsha of Tzedaka states “Lo Se’Ametz Es Levovevca V’Lo Sikpotz Es Yodecha Mai’Achicha HaEvyon (Devorim 15:7)...do not harden your heart and do not close your hand to your destitute brother.”  HaRav Moshe notes that there are *two* Mitzvos here--the first is to be sensitive, to train your heart to feel for your brethren--not only when they stand before you, but also to be ready for them in the right frame of mind and with the right attitude when they do come.  Then, there is a second Mitzvah when you physically encounter a destitute person to not close your hand--to open it and give, as you not only visualize yourself as a giver-but actually give.


With this in mind, we can appreciate a serious question and answer of the Alter of Kelm, Z’tl.  The Alter was very bothered by the Ma’aseh of Nachum Ish GamZu--who told the poor person to wait a moment while he disembarked from the donkey so that he could unload and provide food for him.  In the interim, before Nachum Ish GamZu was able to feed him, the poor person died, and Nachum was so troubled and distressed that he took an incomparable Kapara upon himself.  Based on these facts and circumstances, what, in actuality, did Nachum do wrong at all?  Undoubtedly, as a great Tzadik (he was a teacher of Rebbe Akiva), he proceeded with great alacrity off the donkey, and surely intended to give the destitute person the best of what he had to offer.  What more could he have done?!  The Alter answers that Nachum realized that he should have been prepared--and had something ready--in the eventuality of noticing a famished poor person on the road.  This, perhaps, is the aspect of Lo Se’Ametz Es Levavecha--the preparedness and readiness--to which HaRav Moshe Feinstein refers.  If we have a checkbook ready, dollars or quarters available at a Chasuna or in Shul, a cold drink on a hot day for someone who knocks  at the door, if we give to a poor person before he approaches us, rather than waiting to be approached, if we think about how we can help the poor or those who need help in our neighborhood, if we can join or start Gemachs which turn leftovers from large or small Simchas into food for those who would appreciate it in our neighborhood--then we will not only be giving--but thinking about giving and how to give--which is what  the Torah truly (and, indeed, expressly) seeks of us!



Special Note Two:  As Chodesh Av will shortly leave us, we must now strengthen our resolve not to let the lessons that we have learned ebb away.  Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, reminded us of the following lesson-for-us-all (originally presented in Reb Shraga Feivel, by Yonasan Rosenblum (Artscroll p.110)):


“One day Reb Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz was teaching Tehillim, whose subject is the Jew’s eternal pining for return to Jerusalem and the Temple that once stood there, “Nichsefa V’Gam Kalsa Nafshi--My soul yearns, indeed it pines for the courtyards of Hashem (Tehillim 84:3).”  When he reached the next Pasuk, “Gam Tzippor Matza Vayis…--even the bird finds a home, and the free bird its nest,” the tears ran down his cheeks, as he lamented, “Everything has its place--except for the Shechina (the Divine Presence), which remains in exile.”


When we recite the many brachos in Shemone Esrei three times a day relating to Galus and Geulah, when we recite the words “Ki LiShuasecha Kivinu Kol HaYom,” we should at least be moved to think about what we really need--and how desperately we need it!  Are we no less Jews than HaRav Shraga Feivel?  Let us move ourselves in the same way he did--by simply taking a moment of reflection to think about it!  As the Mesillas Yeshorim (end of Chapter 19) teaches, our thoughts, our feelings, our prayers and our yearnings, mean very much in Shomayim, and it is our great obligation and privilege to bring ourselves, K’lal Yisroel, and the World--to where we are supposed to be!



Special Note One:  A reader pointed us to yet one other (of the thousands of others) profound lessons from the Steipler, with the following story found in the sefer The Rosh Yeshivah Remembers (Artscroll, p.307):  "One time, when an additional volume of Kehillos Yaakov was published, the printer (who was anonymous) neglected to put the Steipler's address in one of the first pages of the Sefer. The Steipler lamented:" I am so disappointed--How will the public know where I live so that they can buy a copy (it was not sold in Seforim Stores).  Someone who heard tried to console him--"Everyone knows where the Rav lives--don't worry!"  The Steipler remained disturbed: "The printing of the entire sefer is not worth it for me if it causes even one person to have to trouble himself to search for my address!"  Hakhel Note:  Causing another person some excess effort or “trouble” was “not worth” even a wonder Sefer as the Kehillos Yaakov--this was the Steipler's P'sak.  How we can learn from this to value the time, patience and efforts of another--and not cause them any undue stress or distress.  Can we act like the Steipler--at least one conscious time a day?!



Special Note Two:  For all that He does for us, it would be only right that we tried to do something to make HaKadosh Baruch Hu happy.  The Zohar HaKadosh  (brought by the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh in last week's Parsha) writes that what makes Hashem happiest is when we study Torah.  In a recent Sefer that was written by a grandson of HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z'tl, he writes that his zeide told him that what he should work on most in contemplating Teshuva is the study of Torah, because with improvement in learning, midos and all else would fall into place (as evidenced by the Steipeler story presented immediately above).  A week from today is the first day of Elul.  Perhaps an appropriate undertaking might be to think about prior or even during learning that you are studying Torah to give Nachas Ruach—happiness--to Hashem, and that you are studying in order to understand the Torah and properly fulfill the Mitzvos.



Special Note Three:  In this week's Parsha, the Torah teaches us that, once we come to the Bais Hamikdash, we will no longer be allowed to behave like the other nations who build alters and sacrifice wherever they may be.  Rather, we will have only the Mizbeach in the Bais HaMikdash with which to offer Karbonos to Hashem (Devorim 12:13 , 14).  At first blush, this is difficult to understand.  After all, "Meloh Kol Ha'aretz Kevodo--Hashem's glory and presence is everywhere.”  Indeed, another way we refer to Hashem is HaMakom--because He is everywhere.  If so, why can't we come close to Him with a korbon anywhere?  Moreover, what does the Jew in Bavel, in Finland , in Manitoba , in Buenos Aires or even in Tel Aviv do--he can't be in the Bais Hamikdash in an instant.  Why can't he grow spiritually with a spiritual tool in his own backyard?  It would seem that for all that would be gained with your own local connection to Hashem, the Torah is teaching us that more would be lost.  As Tosfos (Bava Basra 21A) teaches on the pasuk "Ki MiTzion Taizeh Torah..."--it is only in the hub of the universe--in Yerushalayim and the Bais HaMikdash--that we could achieve the Yiras Shomayim that we needed to reach our true spiritual potential.  The daily open miracles, the tzidkus and chochma of the Kohanim, the Neviim who lived there, the union of thousands and tens of thousands daily who had come for one purpose--to elevate themselves, was simply incomparable.  Getting used to anything less would simply fool the person into complacency and into not reaching his potential.  There is at least a dual lesson here:  First, we must appreciate our Mikdash Me'at--our Shuls--for providing us with at least a reflection of this--the Rav, the Maggidei Shiur, the place where we come together to daven, learn, and join together in chesed activities.  Second, we must recognize how far we are from reaching the potential that lies dormant within us simply because we have no Bais HaMikdash.  LeHavdil, imagine a champion swimmer who has only a small pool in the backyard of his attached house to swim in; consider how the educated lament over the overwhelming number of brain cells that are not utilized in a person's lifetime.  Then think about what your life would be like--how it would be changed--with just a few visits to Yerushalayim.  Isn't it worth some serious davening over?  The Parsha is reminding us!



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


The following Halachos relate to the Melacha of Boneh—building--and are excerpted from The Shabbos Home, Volume 2, by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita:


1.  It is permitted to remove the sink strainer from the drain, and replace it there on Shabbos.  Since the strainer is made to be removed and replaced, it is not part of the structure.  Therefore, one who replaces it has not added to the structure.  Similarly, child safety gates that fit into tracks attached to the wall are made to be removed and replaced; therefore, their insertion is not included in the Melacha of Boneh.


2.  On the other hand, one is forbidden to replace a faucet handle on a sink even if it will be replaced loosely and will not be screwed on.


3.  Similarly, it is forbidden to replace the wheel of a stroller or carriage on Shabbos; to reinsert the leg from a table or chair into its socket (even loosely); or to slide rubber or plastic caps onto the legs of chairs or tables.


4.  It is forbidden to replace a doorknob on Shabbos, even if it is merely inserted into the door without being screwed in.  However, one is permitted to insert a screwdriver (or other metal rod) into the hole of the doorknob, and use it to open the door.


5.  If a Mezuzah fell off the doorpost, it may not be replaced on Shabbos.  This refers both to the Mezuzah holder, and to replacing the Mezuzah itself within the holder.



Today is the Yartzheit of the Steipler Gaon (R’ Yaakov Yisroel Ben R’ Chaim Peretz, Z’tl).  Accordingly, we provide a sampling of his great teachings below:


1.                  The Steipler was Makpid that when a son would lead the Bentching in front of his father, he must recite “B’Rishus Avi Mori”(Orchos Rabeinu 3:109).  Hakhel Note:  How could one show the proper respect to Hashem without showing the proper respect to his parents?


2.                  When Chazal tell us that the Kedusha of Eretz Yisroel has not left it, they mean that the Pasuk (in last week’s Parsha) of “Einei Hashem Elokecha Ba Mareishis Shana V’Ad Achris Shana (Bereishis 11:12 )--the Eyes of Hashem are always upon it from the beginning of the year to the year’s end” still applies even in our day.  Therefore, dwelling in Eretz Yisroel brings a “Hashpa’ah Ruchanis Gedola Meod--a huge spiritual influence” on a person living there (Karyana D’igarda 1: Letter 295).


3.                  He once wrote to students, “People are mistaken when they think that they are not succeeding, and that are not raising their spiritual level.  True success is not recognized on a daily basis, for it happens over time.  Every Daf of Gemara, for example, is a success which leads a person to greatness.” (Ibid, Letter 3)


4.                  One must recognize that chaim, life, is made up of a series of consecutive minutes--minute after minute after minute.  Accordingly, one who does not value his minutes, does not sufficiently value his own life.  When we thank Hashem for our lives in Modim of Shemone Esrei and the second Brocha of Birkas HaMazon, we should have in mind not only life in general, but every minute of our life. (Peninei Rabbeinu Hakehilos Yaakov 1:124)


5.                  It is fascinating to note that, even in Birkas HaMazon, where we thank Hashem for our food, we thank Hashem first for “Torahscha She’Limaditanu--The Torah that You have taught us” and only afterwards “V’Al Achilas Mazon--for the food that we have just eaten.”  Our appreciation for Torah must be so great that it must supersede the gratifying meal that we just have completed! (Beis Rebbe, p. 126)


6.                  The word “Amen” is an acronym for the phrase “Mascheini Acharecha Narutzah (Shir HaShirim 1:24 )--draw me close, and we will run after You.” (Birkas Peretz)  Hakhel Note:  Let us keep this in mind when we recite “Amen”!


7.                  Once, his granddaughter approached the Steipeler and asked if it was permissible for her to chew gum.  He responded that “It wasn’t worthwhile.”  She told him that it had a good Hechsher.  He advised that “It is not enough to only look at the Hechsher--one should look at its purpose and benefit--Is it satiating?  Is it healthy?...”


8.                  In Shemone Esrei, we plead with Hashem to give a “Sachar Tov L’chol HaBotchim B’Shimcha B’Emes--a good reward for those who truly believe in You.”  The Steipler  notes that every Mitzvah that one performs will be rewarded in Olam Habah--why would the Mitzvah of Bitachon be any different?  What are we asking for here?  He answered that we are not requesting reward in Olam Habah with these words.  Rather, as Dovid Hamelech teaches us in Tehillim (32:10), “Haboteach BaHashem Chesed Yesovivenu--one who trusts in Hashem is surrounded by kindness.”  Likewise, as the Navi (Yirmiyahu 17:7) writes, “Boruch Hagever…Vehaya Hashem Mevtacho--blessed is the man who trusts in Hashem, then Hashem will be his security.”  In these Pesukim, both Dovid Hamelech and Yirmiyahu Hanavi are teaching us the greatness of Bitachon--even if we do not merit, even if we are not otherwise worthy of, Hashem’s Chesed or Security, He may in any event save us in the zechus of our true Bitachon in Him!  When one finds himself in difficult circumstances, he should work on his Middah of Bitachon (See, for example, Sh’ar Habitachon of the Sefer Chovos Halevavos). We pray that we reach a madreiga of true Bitachon--and that we may merit to feel the true warmth of Hashem upon achieving it.



This week’s Parsha contains several Mitzvos relating to Tzedaka, the proper giving of charity.  As we have now moved within ten (10!) days of Chodesh Elul, the Days of Mercy, it is important for us to know how we best can demonstrate mercy to others, and actually put this mercy into actual practice.  It is not by “sheer coincidence” that the Torah reminds us of the Tzedakah imperative at this time.  As Chazal teach--even a poor person must give tzedaka (Gittin 7B).  We provide below several important points relating to the mitzvah of Tzedaka from the Sefer Mi’el Tzedakah and the Sefer Pele Yoetz, among others:


1.  According to the greatness of the Mitzvah is the Yetzer Hora which fights it.  Chazal (Eruvin 65B) teach that “Adam Nikar BeKiso”--one can tell much about a person by what he does with his money.


2.  There is a special accomplishment in giving Tzedaka to those who are “Amalei Torah--to those who toil in Torah study.”  Chazal (Shabbos 105B) remind us that “Talmid Chochom Hakol KeKrovov--all are like his relatives.”  Accordingly, he should be given preference in Tzedaka treatment, much as one gives a relative such preference.  When one gives Tzedaka to a Talmid Chochom, he is also supporting Torah study quantitatively and qualitatively (for removing even a portion of his financial burden will give him greater peace of mind to learn), he is honoring the study of Torah, and is considered as if he brought Bikkurim to the Kohen in the Bais HaMikdash (Kesubos 105B), and increases peace in the entire world (for Talmidei Chachomim increase peace in the world).  From a spiritual rewards perspective, Chazal (Pesachim 53A) teach that one who supports a Talmid Chochom will be zoche to sit in the Yeshiva Shel Ma’aleh, and that the currently unfathomable rewards of the future that the Neviim describe relate to one who supports a Talmid Chochom in business and to one who marries his daughter to a Talmid Chochom (Brachos 34B).


3.  One should give more to those who obviously qualify as true aniyim, but one must always remember that “VeRachamov Al Kol Ma’asov--Hashem’s mercy extends to all of his creations”--and so should ours.  If we recite this Pasuk three times a day in Ashrei, we must realize that Chazal are reminding and reinforcing this concept within us, day-in and day out.  Once HaRav Schach, Z’tl, was walking to the Kosel and saw a blind Arab begging on the road.  HaRav Schach, to the surprise of his accompaniment, gave the Arab (who could not even see that he was Jewish) something, and commented these very words--VeRachamav Al Kol Ma’asav.  It is important to put matters in a Torah-true perspective, as the Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 2) writes, “One should say in his heart, if this poor fellow were very rich, how much would I delight in his company as I delight in the company of So-and-So.  If he was dressed in handsome garments like So-and-So, there would be no difference in my eyes between them.  If so, why should he lack honor in my eyes, being that in Hashem’s eyes he is more important than me, since he is plagued or crushed with poverty and suffering, and is therefore being cleansed of sin....”


4.  The value of the Tzedaka is in accordance with the need and suffering of the poor person, and so giving before YomTov, or to help make a Chasuna, or if a child is born, is giving at especially fitting moments.


5.  One of the highest levels of Tzedaka is giving without the recipient realizing that he is receiving--such as buying items from him, or using his services, at a higher than usual price, or selling things to him or providing him with services at a discounted price.


6.  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (34:1) writes that what will walk ahead of a person  after 120 years are his acts of Tzedaka, as the Pasuk (Yeshaya 58:8) states--”VeHalach Lefanecha Tzidkecha Kevod Hashem Ya’asfecha--your acts of tzedaka will precede you and the glory of Hashem will gather you in.”


7.  One should commiserate with the poor person (Iyov 30:25), and then give BeSever Panim Yafos--with a pleasant countenance.  If one has no money to give, one should at least give tzedaka with his words of appeasement and caring.


8.  In addition to the Torah’s Mitzvas Aseh to give tzedaka in this week’s Parsha, the Torah also warns us with a Lo Sa’Aseh in the Parsha--“Lo SeAmetz Es Yodicha VeLo Sikpotz Es Yodicha Mai’Achicha HaEvyon....do not harden your heart and do not shut your hand against your needy brother.”  The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 478) movingly writes, “...but rather train your heart, under all circumstances, in the quality of generosity and compassion, and do not reckon that the matter will result in any lacking for you---because the Torah openly states “Ki Biglal Hadavar Hazeh Yevarechicha Hashem Elokecha (Devorim 15:10 )--because for the sake of this thing, Hashem will bless you.”  The Chinuch concludes, “His bracha for you for a brief instant is better for you than any number of treasures of gold and silver!”



Special Note One:  As the Torah world takes its lessons from the wide-ranging and plethora of monetary events/situations/disasters that have occurred over the past year, we realize that the year has been, R’L, a very poor one in many ways.


We must utilize this realization to grow in areas of Choshen Mishpat (our laws of financial responsibility), which we (man and woman, younger and older), all can and must do in some way.


Indeed, it is no coincidence, as it never is, that the Daf HaYomi has been studying Mesechtos Bava Kamma and Bava Metzia over a substantial portion of this past year, which Mesechtos provide the basis of a good part of Choshen Mishpat.  The Daf HaYomi will soon (Sunday, August 23rd--prepare yourself!) begin the final Bava, Bava Basra, again dealing with essential financial matters.  For all of those who do not learn Daf HaYomi, perhaps they should make the effort to learn it at least for the upcoming Mesechta.  For those who do learn the Daf HaYomi, perhaps one can make the extra special effort to learn at least this upcoming Mesechta with a special emphasis on Halacha L’Maaseh.  A commitment, bli neder, to spend the Year 5770 with an increased vigilance and awareness of how we handle financial situations and difficulties would demonstrate an awareness that Hashem sends messages to us, that we appreciate them for they are for our good, and that we act upon them.  Women can also partake in the essential study of how a Jew acts in monetary matters--when she gains, when she loses, when she earns, when she pays, dealings in the market place and with service providers...and dealings with family, neighbors and friends.  The world of English Seforim is blessed with many special titles, including The Halachos of Other People's Money by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita (Feldheim), The Laws of Interpersonal Relationships by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita (Artscroll) and Business Halachah by Rabbi Ari Marburger, Shlita (Artscroll).  If you enter into your local seforim store, you will find other similar and essential Seforim.  It is important--extremely important--for us to remember that the Meraglim were warned not to speak Lashon Hora by the Ma'aseh Miriam which preceded them.  But, they did not take heed, and world history was forever altered in the aftermath.  As Chazal teach us, "Reshoim Hallalu Ra'u, Velo Lokchu Mussar--they were Reshoim--evil people--for they saw what happened to Miriam, and did not take the lesson to heart.”  They suffered, and the world suffered along with them.  Let us not fall into the same trap--let us review what has happened to ourselves personally over the past year,  what has happened to our neighbors and friends, to our community, to the wealthy, and to the world--and become--really and truly--better people for it!



Special Note Two: Today is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Chaim Brisker, Z'tl. It is said about Reb Chaim that his Gaonus in learning was exceeded only by his Gaonus in Chesed.  In his honor, we present the following two Shailos U'Teshuvos relating to Chesed from the Sefer Chashukei Chemed by HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, Shlita:


a.       What is a more preferred merit for someone to achieve an “Iluy Neshama” for a departed relative(s), to have a Sefer Torah written in their zechus or to establish a Gemach?


Answer: HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, rules that the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah is a great Mitzvah, but is fulfilled with its one-time writing.  On the other hand, one fulfills a Mitzvas Asei every time his Gemach lends out money.  Accordingly, this would appear to be a greater zechus--especially when the Gemach lends out money to Bnei Torah--which results in more Torah being studied, as well!


b.       Is it a mitzvah to visit a choleh who is in a coma, especially if the doctors claim that it is not reversible?

Answer:  Yes, for even if you seemingly cannot cheer him up or assist him with his needs, there is still a mitzvah of Bikur Cholim.  With respect to davening for the choleh, which is otherwise an essential aspect of Bikur Cholim--one must first consult with the choleh's family who will know what to be mispallel for.  In all events, the fact that the hospital staff sees that visitors care will bring them to treat the choleh with better care.  Moreover, we really don’t know what the choleh understands, how the visit makes him feel, and what your visit really accomplishes.


Hakhel Note:  It is said that the Chasam Sofer was asked, “How could Hashem ‘delay’ reward for the Mitzvos that we do until Olam Haba?  Isn't there a Mitzvah in the Torah for a Ba'al HaBayis not to delay payment to his workers?!”  The Chasam Sofer answered that our Mitzvah may not, in fact, be completed by its mere physical performance on a particular day or at a given or set time, because the ramifications and results, the emanations and aftereffects of the Mitzvah can, and do, very well continue.  Accordingly, only when we finally get to Olam Haba 120 years later can we receive the true, actual and full payment for our accomplishment!


Special Note Three:  Baruch Hashem, we present another opportunity to  exclaim “Mi KiAmcha Yisroel--who is like Our People”--and  the opportunity to learn from the Chesed of Bnei Yisroel, and apply it in our own neighborhood or community.  The Ezras Cholim D’Satmar in Williamsburg , New York , provides the following services, among others:


a.       A bus that provides three (3) trips to all NYC Hospitals free of charge;

b.      Shabbos guest apartments near Beth Israel and Mt. Sinai hospitals in NYC;

c.       Blood donors (blood bank) whose blood is delivered to requested hospitals on behalf of designated cholim; and

d.      Arrangement of emergency doctor appointments, assistance with doctor's bills, private duty helpers to stay overnight with a choleh, private transportation and special food upon request, as well as free  weekly blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol tests.

For further information, and to gather more information so that you can help set up all or any part of  this great Chesed elsewhere,  please call 718-387-8700/718-387-0267.



Special Note One:  We received two important reader communications relating to our note last week on properly pronouncing the word “VeAchalta” (with emphasis on the last syllable for the proper meaning of the word) in Birkas HaMazon:


a.  The same required emphasis on the last syllable of the word is true for the word “Ubairachta”--i.e., the second word following VeAchalta (so that one expresses its true meaning--and “you shall bless”--and not “you blessed”).  The only reason that the word in between VeAchatla and U’Bairachta--i.e., VeSavata, has its emphasis on the *va* and not on the *ta* (as the words immediately surrounding it) is because the Ta’amei HaMikrah--the trop, which were given to Moshe Rabbeinu at Har Sinai, and which teaches us the proper dikduk, requires it.

Hakhel Note:  Many of us learned how to bentsch in song or sing-song form as young children.  Unfortunately, the song may have placed emphasis on wrong syllables, pauses in the wrong places, and improper pronunciation of Sheva Na’a and Sheva Nach’s.  Now that we have “grown up,” we should review our Birkas HaMazon to make sure we understand the meaning of the special words we are saying, and to recite them correctly, as privileged and responsible adults.


b.  Another reader asked us to remind everyone that Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, taught in a Shiur that within Kriyas Shema itself, there are four (4) other words, in addition to VeAhavta, in which the emphasis must be on the last syllable of the word, and that if one places the emphasis on the middle of the word, he changes the word’s meaning.  These four words are: in the first Parsha, “VeDibar*ta* Bam;” in the second Parsha, “VeAsaf*ta* Deganecha,” and “Leevhemtecha VeAchal*ta*;” and in the third Parsha, “VeAmar*ta* Aleihem Veasu....”


Kriyas Shema is such a great Mitzvah--let’s use our best efforts to recite it properly.  If it will help, perhaps you can place a mark, highlight or notation in your siddur to assist you in this great endeavor.



Special Note Two: As we live and learn from the Parshios, understanding that it is BeHashgacha, as to why we laining this Parsha at this time, we provide the following additional points on the second Parsha of Kriyas Shema which we lained last week:


a.  The second Parsha reminds us that it is of primary importance that we be Mekabel **ALL** the Mitzvos upon ourselves, whether or not we have the actual opportunity to perform them.  This acceptance is a true accomplishment, as you submit wholeheartedly to Hashem’s omniscient will.


b.  The Parsha also reminds us of our fundamental belief in Sechar VeOnesh--Reward and Punishment.  Although in the first instance one really doesn’t perform Mitzvos for the great reward that awaits him, nor should he avoid aveiros only in fear of the serious punishments that he can receive, the concept of Sechar VeOnesh is nevertheless integral to our Beliefs (See Ani Maamin 11).  Indeed, Rabbi Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, would urge people to reflect upon Sechar VeOnesh, if for no other reason than as an aid in staying honest in one’s daily battles against the Yetzer Hora.


c.  The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh writes that the first word of the Parsha, “VeHaya” is a word which indicates joy, and teaches us that Mitzvos are to be performed with Simcha--with joy--in appreciation of the gifted opportunity that we have to perform them.


d.  Chazal teach that the Pasuk of “VeAsafta Deganecha....--and you shall gather in your own grain”--is an allusion to Lo Signov--not to steal.  Do not act dishonestly, as Hashem will take care of you in an honest way.


e.  When reciting the words “VeSamtem Es Devarei Eilah Al Levavchem...--you shall place these teachings upon your heart,” the Chofetz Chaim would be mekabel upon himself the “Chovas HaShemirah” to renew his daily dedication to Shemiras HaLashon, among all of the other Mitzvos.


f.  With the conclusion of the Parsha, we are reassured that Hashem will once again give Eretz Yisroel to our forefathers (“LaAvoseichem Loses Lohem”), which is one of the allusions in the Torah to Techiyas HaMeisim.  The Parsha thus ends (as the Ani Ma’amins end), with the most comforting of assurances--that in the zechus of our Mitzvah performance, we will be zoche to finally be all together...as the days of the heavens on the earth!


Special Note One: We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos series:


a.  Plastic covers which cover light switches to avoid someone inadvertently turning them on, and plastic covers which cover electrical outlets to prevent babies from touching them, are not Muktza, because as protective covers they constitute a K’li SheMelachto LeHetter (HaRav Shlomo Pearl, Shlita).


b.  The Sefer Pele Yoetz writes that if one speaks about inappropriate subjects on Shabbos, this also falls within the guise of “Chillul Shabbos”, and decries those who use terms  such as “Bilti Amiras Shabbos”, or “Nisht Of Shabbos GeRett”, and then proceed to talk about business, construction and other things  or acts that you cannot do or perform on Shabbos itself.  In a similar vein, Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita, in his Sefer The 39 Melachos writes that one cannot say, “I am returning this food to the refrigerator so that it will remain fresh for tomorrow”, or “Let’s  soak the dishes now so that washing them after Shabbos will be less difficult.”  Rabbi Ribiat adds that Shabbos is also not the time to tell sad stories or recount troublesome events to a friend, which may cause him (or you) anguish or emotional distress.


c.  The Steipeler, Z’tl, (Karyana D’Igarta I, Letter 304) provides the following fundamental insight:  If one would know for certain that if he violated a particular Issur D’Oraysa on Shabbos he would be punished with this kind of infection or that kind of  severe headache, and if he knew that if he sullied that Issur DeRabannan, he would be punished with that kind of virus or that kind of writhing backache, he would be careful to stay away from this Kula or that Kula, and would distance himself from even the possibility of getting close to the Aveira.  If, the Steipeler says, we are scared of one of these illnesses, a temporary illness in this passing world, all the more so should we be concerned of a punishment with much more long-lasting and devastating results.  Shabbos is the “Os”--the sign of our special, eternal relationship with Hashem--and if we abuse it, or do not treat it with the respect that it deserves, we are sadly and regretfully abusing this relationship--a relationship which is intended to infuse us not with laxity and superficiality--but with holiness and depth--as the Torah testifies (Shemos 31:13) the purpose of Shabbos is “Lodaas Ki Ani Hashem Mikadishchem--to know that Hashem sanctifies us!”



Special Note Two:  In a recent Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation video, Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, Shlita, made a great observation:  When one person has a complaint against another person, he wants that person to change.  In his eyes, that person is doing something wrong or inappropriate.  In reality, if you simply complain directly to the person about his attitude or conduct, in all likelihood, he will not modify his conduct, for people resist challenge and change in a negative or confrontational setting.  Indeed, when was the last time that you told a person to change to meet your ideas about what was right--and he listened to you simply because of your demand or request?!  Rabbi Rietti therefore suggests a wholly different approach to an adverse situation or feeling:  Rather than being upset with the person, recognize that Hashem has sent the person or situation into your life--not to change him or it--but to change you!  You have to learn from the experience to grow personally.  If you change, they may change, as well.



Special Note Three:  We provide the following notes on the Parsha:


a.  The Parsha begins with the words “Vehaya Eikev Tishmiun.”  Chazal teach that the Mitzvos that a person treads upon with his Eikev--with his heel, i.e., the Mitzvos that a person deems “relatively unimportant” will surround him after 120 years at the time of judgment.  It may be these Mitzvos that surround him that ultimately determine his fate--and his level in Gan Eden (or chas veshalom elsewhere).  In honor of the Parsha, perhaps we can select one of these Mitzvos in our daily routine and remove it from under our heel, and elevate it to a high position in our head!


b.  The second parsha of Kriyas Shema, Vehaya Im Shomoa Tishmiu, which is found in this week’s Parsha teaches us that we must first feed our animals before we ourselves eat, based on the Pasuk--”VeNosati Esev...Levhemtecha VeAchalta VeSovata...”--first the Beheimos eat--and then we eat.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, likewise rules that fish have to be fed first, as well, so that if breakfast or dinner is around your aquarium’s feeding time, the fish must be fed first.  By analogy, anyone who is dependent on you should be taken care of first as well--after all isn’t Hashem taking care of you?


c.  The mitzvah of Tefillah is also found in the second parsha of Shema--with the words “Ul’Avdo BeChol Levavchem”.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked the following question by friends of a young man who was seriously ill:  They have gotten together several times to recite Tehillim and daven for him.  He is unfortunately still ill.  Is there something else they should do--perhaps take upon themselves a special Mitzvah together?  If so, what should they do?  HaRav Kanievsky answered that Chazal teach:  “Im Ro’eh Adam SheHispallel Velo Ne’eneh, Yachzor VeYispallel--if a person sees that he prayed and that his prayers were not seemingly answered, he should pray again (Brachos 32A).”  He thus advised the friends that, ahead of all else, to make another Kinus of Tefillah on their friend’s behalf.  From this P’sak we should grow in our appreciation of the utter potency of Tefillah.  As Chazal teach, Moshe Rabbeinu davened 515 times to enter Eretz Yisroel and Hashem did not let him daven again, for on that 516th time he would have been answered!


d.  Yet another mitzvah in the Parsha is the Mitzvah of Yiras Hashem. Rabbi Elias Schwartz, Shlita, notes that very often we refer to fearing Hashem not as “Yiras Hashem,” but as “Yiras Shomayim”--Fear of the Heavens.  Rabbi Schwartz explains that this may be so because the heavens have never moved nor changed since the very beginning of creation--the heavens today are the very same heavens of the first and second days of creation!  We must demonstrate that our service of Hashem is also immutable--without faltering or compromise, without being pliable to the winds of time, without being affected by the problems of modern civilization.  Yiras Shomayim means that we will follow the path that Hashem has set for us in this world--and will not deviate, diverge, swerve or sway from our life’s mission.  From time to time, you can look up at the sky and remind yourself that you, too, are blessed with Yiras Shomayim!



As this week’s Parsha contains the Mitzvas Aseh of Birkas Hamazon, we provide below several important points relating to the Mitzvah, much of which has been culled from the Sefer VeZos HaBracha by HaRav Alexander Mandelbaum, Shlita:


1.  The Pasuk which sets forth the Mitzvah is actually recited in the second bracha of Birkas HaMazon: “VeAchalta VeSavata U’Vairachta…”  We note that, just as in Kriyas Shema where the emphasis on the word “VeAhavta” is on the last syllable--the “ta,” and not on the middle syllable of “hav” (which incorrect pronunciation would change the meaning of the word to past tense), so, too, the emphasis on the word “VeAchalta” is placed on the “ta” and not on the “achal” (which mispronunciation would likewise alter the meaning of the word is to the past tense).


2.  Before commencing Birkas Hamazon, one should have in mind or recite that he is about to fulfill the Mitzvas Aseh of Birkas HaMazon--with awe and love.


3.  One should Bentsch with “Simcha Yeseira”--an extra measure of joy, as one would feel after having received a beautiful gift from another.


4.  LeChatchila, in the first instance, one should Bentsch from a Siddur or Bentscher, and bentch out loud, or at least loud enough to hear the words you are saying.


5.  One should be sure to be respectably dressed.


6.  One should bentsch while sitting, to increase Kavanna.


7.  One should leave some bread on the table for bentsching, and if none was left, one should bring bread from somewhere else (but not a whole loaf).  This demonstrates our awareness of Hashem’s beneficence in giving us more than we need, and provides something for bracha to be “chal” on going forward.


8.  On weekdays, any knives left on the table should be removed or covered, for our Shulchan is like the Mizbeach, which brings kapara and extends a person’s life (as opposed to a knife, which can be used as a weapon, R’L).  According to the Kaf HaChaim in the name of the Arizal, knives should be removed on Shabbos and Yom Tov, as well, and this may be the Minhag in some Sefardi families.


9.  If one is thirsty, he should be sure to drink before Birkas HaMazon, for some opinions require drinking if thirsty in order to fulfill the Mitzvas Aseh D’Oraysa to Bentsch.


10.  One should eat a kezayis of bread within a three (3) minute span at some point during the course of the meal, so that he will have eaten the minimum shiur required for Birkas HaMazon “bichdei achilas peras.”  If one does not do so, than according to HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, he should not bentsch.  It is for this reason that many are careful to eat a kezayis of bread bichdei achilas peras (once again, three minutes according to HaRav Feinstein) at the beginning of the meal, rather than nibbling on bread or challah in between courses of a meal.


11.  One must bentsch in the place that he ate.  If one left that place, and it is possible to return within 72 minutes after his meal was completed, he should return, unless there is real reason that he cannot return, in which event, a sheas hadechak or bedieved, he is Yotzeh bentsching elsewhere.


12.  Each guest should bless his host with the Birchas HaOreyach.  If the siddur or bentscher given to him does not have it, he should ask his host for a siddur that does have it.  It should be recited immediately after the conclusion of the fourth bracha (“Leola al yechaserainu”), and before all of the other HaRachamans, as its nusach is found in the Gemara itself (Brachos 46A).  (Sefardim may recite it before “Magdil Yeshuos”).


13.  One should avoid motioning or signalling with his eyes, hands, and the like while bentsching, unless it is to stop something that is disturbing Kavanna.  Similarly, one should avoid moving crumbs, adjusting his clothing, or conducting any other activity while bentsching.


14.  The Pele Yoetz writes that, according to Kabbala, the four Brachos of bentsching correspond to the four letters of Hashem’s ineffable name.  We should especially try to have Kavanna in the words--and most certainly when reciting the opening and closing words of the bracha.


15.  The Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvoda writes in his will to his children that he would daven prior to bentsching that he not be disturbed by a knock at the door or other annoyance, so as not to disturb his Kavanna while bentching.


16.  There is a well-known story that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, once repeated the paragraph of “Nodeh Lecha” (We thank You, Hashem), in which we list many important things that we thank Hashem for.  When he was asked why he repeated it, he responded that he experienced a momentary lapse of Kavanna, and that saying “Thank you” without meaning it is not true thanks.  In a related way, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, teaches in the name of HaRav Pam, Z’tl, that one may put out a finger and count each one of the things that you are thanking Hashem for every time you recite “Nodeh Lecha”.  Example: “Al Yisrael Amecha--one, V’Al Yerushalayim Irecha--two etc.”  If you try this, you will see that it is a great method of focusing your appreciation, and rejoicing in what Hashem has given you.


17.   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’Oraysa--the incredible privilege and opportunity--that it truly is!


18.  Finally, the extreme importance of Birkas HaMazon is demonstrated by the great emphasis that is placed upon it in the Chinuch of children.  It is one of the first subjects taught to children--and in a joyful and singing manner.  We asked HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Shlita, whether it would be better for a newcomer to Torah Judaism to recite the bentching in English or to listen word-for-word to the bentching of another in Hebrew.  He responded that the newcomer should recite the bentching in English.  While a major reason for this may be the difficulty encountered by a newcomer in following the entire Birkas HaMazon in Hebrew, an ancillary reason for this P’sak may be so that the person who has just eaten can truly appreciate the nature and beauty of Birkas Hamazon.


May our recitation of Birkas HaMazon be a time that we anticipate--to express our appreciation with joy--and fulfill a Mitzvas Aseh D’Oraysa on top of it!



As we conclude the week after Tisha B'Av, we leave with two final comments:


a.  In Megillas Eicha ( 2:15 ), Yerushalayim is referred to as “K'lilas Yofi Mossos Kol Ha'Aretz--perfect in beauty, the joy of all the earth".  Similarly, in Tehillim (48:2), Yerushalayim is described as "Yefeh Nof, Mesos Kol Ha'Aretz--the fairest of sites, joy of all the earth.”  Especially during the summer months, we may discover or encounter a beautiful or stunning part of nature--a picturesque waterfall, an astounding mountain road view, an enthralling nature trail, an awesome sunset in a multi-colored sky.  The Kesuvim, written with Ruach HaKodesh, tell us, however, that all of this, and the sheer delight we experience from it, simply pales in comparison to the all-encompassing attractiveness, splendor and magnificence of Jerusalem .  When we see or experience something that moves us because of its utter beauty or elegance, we should immediately recall Yerushalayim, and meaningfully daven that we once again--soon--have the opportunity to bask in that which is the ultimate “joy of all the earth.”


b.  Also in Megillas Eicha (2:9), Yirmiyahu HaNavi describes that "Ta'vu Va'Aretz She'Areha---her gates have sunk into the earth."  Rashi (ibid.) explains that the gates to the Bais HaMikdash were not destroyed, and instead sunk into the ground, because they demonstrated special respect to the Aron when it was brought into the Bais HaMikdash.  There is a great lesson to us here in our demonstration of proper honor for the Torah.  Destruction, havoc, mayhem and bloodshed can be wreaked all around, but because of the magnitude and import of Kavod HaTorah, one who shows the proper measure of respect may be saved from a similar fate to those around him.  We leave it to you to appreciate the Middah KeNeged Middah.  We encounter situations daily with our Seforim--how they are placed or lie on tables, how we carry them, how we treat them when we take them out and put them back.  Do we treat them more like special possessions, or in the same way we may treat other books?  When a Sefer Torah is taken out do we follow it and kiss it--or do we let the little children do that?  Do we appreciate that with the Bais Hamikdash not here for the moment, our connection to Hashem to a very large extent comes from these very Seforim?  Of course, if we improve our respect for the Seforim, we must certainly also improve the respect that we give to the Scholars who are the “living Seforim” as well (See Makkos 22B).  May our dedicated, increased level of value and esteem that we show to Seforim and Talmidei Chachomim serve as a zechus gadol for us--to merit the opportunity to see those sunken gates rise, as we join together to welcome the Aron back into the Bais Hamikdash for one final and everlasting time.




HaRav Sholmo Pearl, Shlita, teaches that he recites the Ani Ma'amin of Bias HaMoshiach **seven (7) times** every day.  Hakhel Note:  What a message this is intended to convey--Bias HaMoshiach really is important to you--and you really are waiting for him to come.  Of course, one can choose other methods to demonstrate this message--but--don't forget to do at least something!!



Special Note One: The International Chesed Helpline has commenced an incredible new service, providing a wide range of Chesed information utilizing contemporary telecommunications technology.  For information on the services it now provides and is planning to provide, please call 718-705-5000.  Mi Ke’Amcha Yisroel!


Special Note Two:  Mazel Tov to all who are completing Megillas Esther today in the Nach Yomi cycle.  May we now see new and greater miracles in our current Galus!  Tomorrow, Nach Yomi begins Sefer Doniel, which, of course, stores the secret of the date of the Geulah--may it not be a secret much longer!


Special Note Three:  We cannot leave Parshas Ve’Eschanan without mention of at least several fundamental insights (English excerpts of the Sefer HaChinuch provided below are from the five volume masterpiece Sefer HaChinuch (Feldheim Publishers)):

1.  On the Mitzvas Lo Sa’Seh contained in the last of the Aseres HaDibros of “Lo Sisaveh--do not desire what belongs to someone else,” the Sefer HaChinuch writes as follows:  “For it is indeed in each man’s power to restrain himself, his thoughts and his longing desires, from whatever he wishes.  It lies in his free choice and in his decision to repel his desire--or to draw it near--in all matters, as he wishes; and his heart is given over to his control; however he pleases he may move it.  Hashem, before Whom all secrets are revealed ‘searches all the chambers of the innards’ (Mishlei 20:27 ), seeing the organs of understanding and the heart.  Not one, large or small, good or bad, out of all the thoughts of a man is hidden from Him, or concealed from the range of his sight.  For there is nothing so good for a man as a good, pure thought, since that is the beginning of all the good deeds and their end....”  Hakhel Note:  If you can, please read this again (and again).


2.  On the Mitzvas Aseh of Ahavas Hashem, the Sefer HaChinuch writes as follows:  “It applies in every place, at every time, for both men and women.  If a person transgresses this and fixes his thoughts on the material interests and vapid vanities of the world, not for the sake of Heaven but only to pleasure himself in them, or to attain esteem in this [lowly] world, to make his name great, not with any intention to do good for good people and to strengthen the hands of the honest--he disobeys this positive precept, and his punishment will be great.  This is one of the constant precepts for a man [i.e., one of the Shesh Mitzvos Temidios--the six constant Mitzvos], forever placed upon him to observe.”  This explanation of the Chinuch provides great insight for us into the backdrop of the Mitzvah of Ahavas Hashem.  Hakhel Note: If you can, please read this again (and again).


3.  HaRav Zalman Sorotzkin, Z’tl, asks why the first Pasuk of Shema must begin with the words “Shema Yisroel--Hear [and understand and accept] Yisroel.”  After all, the essence of the Pasuk is Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim--accepting upon oneself Heavenly Kingship--wouldn’t it have been sufficient to succinctly convey this very primary message with only the four words of “Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad?”  What do the words “Shema Yisroel” add?  HaRav Sorotzkin answers that if we are to properly accept upon ourselves Ohl Malchus Shomayim, we must be sure to advise and proclaim it to others, as well; it is insufficient for us to maintain this unwavering belief without joining in others.  After all, if a person knew the secret of life--would he keep it to himself?!  If a soldier knew how to save himself when surrounded by the enemy--would he not save his comrades as well?  If a person knew the difference between right and wrong--would he smile smugly as others faltered?!  No--we must remember that as a prerequisite to our own Ohl Malchus Shomayim--we must first begin with Shema Yisroel--a real quest for others to know, learn, study, and appreciate, as well!


4.  Yet another constant Mitzvah we find in last week’s Parsha is the Mitzvah of Mezuzah.  The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 285) writes that when a person enters and leaves his home, he should place his hand on the Mezuzah, to be reminded of what is written in the Mezuzah, and that Hashem is watching over him at all times.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, notes that he observed that the Chazon Ish (at least in his older years) would look at the Mezuzah, rather than touch it, as he entered and exited, because by looking at it, his mind was also directed to the Mezuzah, its content and its meaning.


Hakhel Note:  As we enter a room or leave it, let us remember to touch (or at least look at) the Mezuzah that we are blessed with on our doors--so that the two Parshios of Shema contained within it are with us not only at Shacharis, Ma’ariv and before retiring at night, but through the entire day!


Special Note Four:  Although Tisha B’Av 5769 is over, let us resolve this year to truly keep the Bais HaMikdash and Yerushalayim close to us every day of the year.  Our lives are not regular; we are not now “back to normal.”  A normal, regular life for us is a life with a Yerushalayim as the spiritual; focal point of the world, and with the Shechina in all of its glory on earth resting in the Bais HaMikdash.  Accordingly, it is not enough to say that we believe in Moshiach.  We must **anxiously await** Moshiach.  The phrase in Ani Maamin of “Achake Lo” is not a figurative expression, but a literal one.  Thus, when we recite the words “VeLiRushalayim Ircha”--we are pleading that Hashem finally get back to His Home in His City; when we recite the words “VeSechezene Ainainu” we are davening that our very eyes actually see the Shechina’s return; when we say the words “VeSain Chelkainu BeSorosecha” we are imploring that the Torah return to its former glory by our reaching levels in Torah Study that we cannot achieve in Galus.  These special times in Shemone Esrei when we daven for our lives “to really return to normal” should not be brushed over, chas veshalom.  Instead, truth be told, they should be one of the main areas of our life’s focus, one of the highlights of our day.

Let us not leave any of the lessons of Tisha B’Av behind us.  At the very least, let us keep the Shechina, the Bais HaMikdash, Yerushalayim, and the Geulah Sheleima at the forefront of our thoughts and Tefillos.  Let our Tefillos literally come alive as we recite and supplicate over the day that the world will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem, and mankind finally reaches its true goal and purpose.


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