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We conclude today our excerpt from the excellent new Guidelines Sefer, “Questions and Answers About the Laws of Brachos”.  The website to obtain the Sefer is http://www.targum.com.  We present below several important Halachos relating to a meal and to bentching.  Enjoy!


a.  Which foods require a Bracha Acharona before washing?

If there will be a reasonable break before the meal, all foods require a Bracha Acharona.

If the meal will be eaten in a different location all foods require a Bracha Acharona.

If the meal will be eaten in the same location and there will not be a reasonable break, all regular meal type foods require a Bracha Acharona. For example, meat, fish, eggs, vegetables.


b.  Do mezonos foods eaten before a meal require a bracha acharona?

Baked mezonos foods, such as cakes, cookies, and pretzels, do not require a bracha achrona [if eaten in close proximity to the meal, and at the same location], since they are considered to belong to the bread family and are covered by bentching.  It is preferable to have specific intention to include these foods when bentching.

Boiled or fried mezonos, such as pasta and blintzes, require a bracha acharona, since they are not related to bread [and thus will not be covered by the bentching on the bread eaten later].  Rice requires a bracha achrona for the same reason.


c.  In the second paragraph of Shema we read, “And I shall give plants in you field for your animals, and you shall eat and be satisfied” (Devarim 11:15 ).  The Sages derive from this verse that one must first feed his animals before he himself eats (Brachos 40A).  Does this also apply to birds and fish?



d.  Is there an obligation to feed stray animals?

There is no obligation to feed a hungry ownerless animal, but there is a mitzvah to do so out of compassion to Hashem’s creatures.  One may certainly eat before feeding such an animal.


e.  Why do some people avoid eating the ends of the loaf?

The popular view is that eating the very tip of the loaf is bad for the memory, but the source for this is unknown.


f.  May one sprinkle salt on the bread rather than dip the bread into the salt?

According to Kabbalah, one should dip the bread into the salt and not sprinkle salt onto it. Therefore, if he is using a salt shaker, he should shake some salt onto the table or plate before Hamotzi in order to dip the bread into it.  The bread should be dipped in the salt three times.


g.  May one hum a tune after washing but before Hamotzi?

No.  Whenever forbidden to talk, one may not hum a tune or make any type of sound.


h.  May one answer Amen during Bentching?

No.  This applies even if one is between brachos, and even if one hears another person concluding the same bracha of bentching that he has just recited.  Certainly, one must not answer amen to the phrases in the middle of Yaaleh Veyavo, which is of less importance.  The only exception is that one may answer amen to the leader of the Zimun after each Bracha provided that the listener has reached the same place.



Special Note One:  Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita wrote the following: “When Adar begins we increase our joy.  This alone is a great lesson.  HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, explained that we have the capacity to choose to learn how to increase our joy.



Special Note Two:  This morning in Musaf, we recited the words “Roshei Chadashim LeAmcha Nossata--You have given Your people the gift of Rosh Chodesh.”  If someone today had given you a designer’s gold watch, wouldn’t you feel uplifted--perhaps even joy--for the rest of the day?!  Today, not only being Rosh Chodesh, but Rosh Chodesh Adar(!!), we should try to internalize a special feeling of elation for the special gift that, on top of all else, Hashem Himself has given to us directly.



Special Note Three:  If you begin today and study just three (3) Mishnayos a day of Mesechta Megillah, you will make a Siyum Mishnayos on the Mesechta before Purim.  If you continue on with Mesechta Pesachim, you will make a Siyum on Mesechta Pesachim for Pesach!



Special Note Four:  Several sources indicate that consumers should be on the alert for fruits and vegetables from Eretz Yisroel which may still even be from Shemittah--and are being distributed worldwide.  Peppers, tomatoes, avocados, and the usual Israeli fruits may be sold in as large a concern as Costco, and as locally as your neighborhood fruit store.  Your special care is certainly warranted.



Special Note Five:  One of our readers asked us to once again remind everyone about the great service of Torahanytime.com, which currently has available for immediate viewing over 3,000 video Shiurim online.  This is an incredible accomplishment, with a library that is growing daily.  A Torah Shiur that you can view is available to you six days a week!



Special Note Six:  As we have noted previously, the Yerushalmi teaches that the Aserses HaDibros are contained within the Krias Shema that we recite daily.  In fact, Tosfos writes that the reason that we recite these three Parshios is to remind ourselves of the Aseres HaDibros (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 61, Be’er Haitev, seif katan 1).  There is one of the Aseres HaDibros which is alluded to not once, but twice.  Can you guess which one?  Yes, you are right--Lo Sachmod--do not covet that which is not yours--apparently because we need a double reminder of this important guide in life.  The Pasuk in Shema that reminds us of this is “U’Chesavtam Al Mezuzos”--the Mitzva of Mezuzah (which is repeated at the end of both the first and second parsha of show), which teaches us that Hashem is carefully watching over us--and so there is no need for us to “watch over” what our friends and neighbors have and compare them and theirs--to us and ours.



Special Note Seven:  The following questions and answers have been excerpted from the newest volume of The Guidelines Series, “Questions and Answers About the Laws of Brachos” by Rabbi Elozor Barclay, Shlita, and Rabbi Yitzchok Jaeger, Shlita.  This excellent Sefer is published by Targum Press and is available in your local book store, or at http://www.targumpress.com.


The questions presented below relate specifically to Netilas Yadayim before eating bread:


(a)  Which type of vessel should be used for Netilas Yadayim?

The vessel may be made from any type of material, e.g. metal, glass, wood, china, plastic, stone.  However, all of the following conditions must be fulfilled for the vessel to qualify:

-It must hold at least a Reviyis.

-It must be intact.

-It must be capable of standing upright without support.

-It must be designed to hold liquids.

-It must be shaped like a container.


(b)  What is meant by an intact vessel?

The vessel should not be chipped, cracked, or have a hole in its side or base.  In certain circumstances, a vessel with such a flaw may be suitable, but the details of these rules are complex.  It is therefore advisable to always use an intact vessel.


(c)  May one use a disposable cup?

Since opinions differ about this, it should only be used in emergencies.  The same applies to an empty juice carton.


(d)  What if the water has a cloudy appearance?

This phenomenon occurs when high water pressure creates air bubbles in the water.  If the water is allowed to stand in a vessel, the air bubbles rise, leaving the water clear.  Such water may be used for Netilas Yadayim, but according to some opinions, one should wait until the water becomes clear.


(e)  May one use sea water?

If the water is so salty that even a dog cannot drink it, one may not use it for NetilasYadayim.  Nevertheless, it is permitted to purify the hands by immersing them in the sea, despite its being extremely salty.


(f)  May one use seltzer?



(g)  What if a woman forgot to remove her rings before Netilas Yadayim?

If the rings are slightly loose, she does not need to wash again.  However, if the rings are well-fitting, she must remove them and wash again.  If she realized after reciting the Bracha, she should not repeat the Bracha.


(h)  May one say “nu” after having made the Bracha?

No.  It is forbidden to make any sound, especially one that has a well known meaning, such as “nu” or “sha”.  You are also not allowed to say “nu” or “sha” during Bensching.



Special Note One:  The Bais HaVaad L'Inyonei Mishpat has recently produced a fascinating Choshen Mishpat Audio Shiur Series.  Each 15-20 minute shiur, given by world recognized Dayanim, Poskim and Maggidei Shiur covers the practical application of the principles discussed in sugyas throughout each Daf of Mesechtas Bava Kama.  The series, B’EH, will continue through mesechtos Bava Metziah and Bava Basra in the same format.  The Bais HaVaad produced this series in an effort to raise the awareness of the importance of studying the Halachos of Choshen Mishpat especially in today's complex financial world.  They also offer a free Choshen Mishpat consultation line, and various halachic financial services including: contract/iska draft and review, business review, Halachic estate planning and educational seminars.


For more information on the Archives of Ethics Choshen Mishpat Shiur Series or the various services of the Bais HaVaad you may contact their office at 732 276 1344, email info@baishavaad.com or view their website at www.baishavaad.com.



Special Note Two:  We received the following in response to our message about what could go wrong at a Mashgiach-less Shabbos Kiddush or Seudah:


“I was once at a Bar Mitzvah of a close family member, and the cholent was spoiled.  The non-Jewish waitress who had come early to “set the tables,” said that she noticed the plug of the warmer had fallen out during the night and promptly plugged it right back in (although not soon enough to save the cholent).  This was an affair with a supposed “reputable” caterer that is used throughout Flatbush.  Had the cholent not been spoiled no one would have ever known.  So yes, either have a mashgiach at the shul or hall or ensure that all workers are Sabbath observant.”



Special Note Three:  We received the following from an administrator at WebChaver, which had learned of our recent Note on Internet Filters:


WebChaver is a powerful tool that assists people in using the Internet in a safe and effective way.  It allows a person to self-monitor the websites he visits and adds the element of accountability to the Internet experience.  WebChaver has received the endorsement of leading Rabbonim in helping to protect the Jewish community from the dangers of the Internet.


WebChaver utilizes the cutting-edge Covenant Eyes software, which logs all web activity and sends a weekly report to the head of the household or another designated partner (Shomer) for monitoring.  The Covenant Eyes software is user-friendly, reliable, extremely difficult to bypass, and does not affect surfing speed nearly as much as a filter does.  Additionally, the WebChaver Group program allows a designated monitor to oversee that his group members are indeed using the Covenant Eyes software. WebChaver offers this service for a steeply discounted price, by assisting groups and allowing individuals to sign up to a group rate.  Please see www.webchaver.org for more information.



Special Note Four:  The last two issues of Halachically Speaking have related to the Halachos of Kashrus and Medications.  Examples of important items discussed include Gelcaps, chewable tablets, liquid medications and the rules of medications for children.  Here, we simply highlight two other important notes in this important publication.  First, for a listing of medicines with dairy ingredients, please click here.  Second, “Even though many use Scope mouthwash, it is filled with glycerin and is not permitted.”  The only mouthwash that Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, permits without a hechsher is the brown Listerine (original flavor).  Some poskim do not permit even original Listerine, and require a hechsher on all mouthwashes.  As a reminder, Halachically Speaking is now available for free “to your email box” by contacting mdl@thehalacha.com or by clicking on this link.



Special Note Five:  Perhaps one of the longest brachos we recite daily is the last bracha of Birchas HaShachar which begins with “Hama’avir Shaina MaiAinei”, then continues with no less than 15 requests of Hashem, and concludes with the words “HaGomel Chasadim Tovim….”  The bracha--from beginning to end seems so diverse in scope--how/why is it an “all-in-one” bracha?  We invite your thoughts and comments.



Special Note Six:  We are about to enter the last month of the Year, as the Torah teaches that Nissan is the “Rosh Chodoshim” (Shemos 12:2).  Chazal teach us that the last month of the Year is a happy one, as we are “Marbin BeSimcha.”  As we look back over the last 11 months, we realize that many historical developments have occurred.  Today, we should spend just a little bit of time in reflection--what has happened, where is it leading to, and how can I be sure that I will be one of the “happy” ones at the end.  Many out there are clueless.  We really do know what we each can do to meet our personal potential and role in life.  Even if we don’t, we are blessed with Rabbonim, Poskim, and Maggidei Shiur who can share their Torah-imbued wisdom with us.  Let’s work on being “Marbin BeSimcha”--for the month of Adar--and for everything else that follows!



Special Note One:  Kol Haloshon’s 75 daily live shiurim can be viewed by clicking here.  If you know anyone who can’t get out of the house, this information may be doubly helpful.  Please spread the word!



Special Note Two:  By clicking here, we provide a link to an MP3 file of a shiur by Rav Chaim Kohn, Shlita, on the topic of “Market Dynamics according to Torah and Secular Law.” 



Special Note Three:  It is said in the name of HaRav Yerucham Levovitz, Z’tl, that the definition of “Nature” is miracles that happen more often!



Special Note Four:  There are oh so many practical lessons for life to be gleaned from Parshas Mishpatim.  We present in summary form just three of those lessons below, as presented in the incomparable Sefer Tallilei Oros:


a.  The punishment for cursing a parent (skila, or stoning) is a more severe punishment than that of hitting a parent (chenek, or choking).  The G’ra to Mishlei (18:8) explains that hitting only affects the body, whereas speech penetrates through to the soul.  Additionally, the wound from a physical smite can heal, but the effect of those words….


Hakhel Note:  It is no coincidence that three of the seventeen negative prohibitions that a person can violate for speaking lashon hora (listed at the outset of the Sefer Chofetz Chaim) are found in the Parsha!


b.  The story is told of how a Gadol of our generation visited someone in the hospital, who told the Gadol, “I am not worried, Hashem will help.”  The Gadol corrected the patient, “Actually, Hashem will heal you, it is the doctor who will help.”  The Torah, with the words VeRapoh Yerapeh (Shemos 21:19 ), simply allows the doctor to be involved in the process (See Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 336:1).  Modern technological advances test our Emunah in this regard.  Sickness comes from Hashem, who also heals us in the very same way.  The purpose of the sickness may very well be for us actually to come closer to Hashem through Tefilla.  HaRav Yechezkel Sarna, Z’tl, when in the hospital in Switzerland , wrote that all physical ailments are related to spiritual matters.  Through a particular zechus that a person may have he may be healed, but the spiritual cause may still exist--this is called, he writes, a refuah, without a yeshua, and could lead, chas veshalom, to a recurrence of the illness again.  It is for this reason that in the brocha of Refaenu in the Shemone Esrei we ask not only for “Refaenu Hashem Venerapheh”--but also for “Hosheanu Vanevashea”--with the Refuah accompanied by everything we need for it to be permanent--for the yeshua as well!


c.  When someone creates a “bor”--a pit--or stumbling block, in the public domain, he is responsible.  For the Torah Jew, there is a more refined lesson from “bor”.  The Chofetz Chaim was once walking on the street and saw a paper on the floor.  Thinking it was shaimos, he rushed to pick it up.  When he realized that it was not meaningful, he simply discarded it again in its place.  A moment later, he stopped, turned back and picked it up again in order to dispose of it elsewhere.  The onlookers must have been stunned--a Gadol HaDor picking up rubbish in the street!  The Chofetz Chaim explained--If I don’t pick it up, someone else will--why can’t I save the next person the effort!


Hakhel Note:  As we have pointed out in the past, HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, would advise people to do private chesed everyday that no one else knew about.  How about taking the Chofetz Chaim’s lesson and picking up that unwanted item from the floor--in the office, dining room, staircase, etc.--aside from ridding others of a potential hazard--**you** have bent down and exerted the effort instead of the next person.  You will never in this world know the beauty and breadth of your accomplishment.



Special Note One:  Do you want your entire Shul to be a better place to daven in?  Do you personally want to feel closer to heaven when you pray?  You can help implement the Praying with Fire Initiative in your Shul anywhere in the world.  The V’ani Tefillah Foundation, an affiliate of Hakhel, is launching its Shul Initiative in scores of shuls worldwide.  Each Initiative is customized to the Shul’s schedule, and fliers and calendars are provided.  Even the book Praying with Fire is provided at a discount, if necessary.  For further information about a truly outstanding opportunity for your Shul (or organization), please contact: prayingwithfire@yeshivanet.com, or call 201-837-0354.



Special Note Two:  Today is the Yahrtzeit of the Taz (Rabbi Dovid HaLevi Segal, Z’tl) who wrote the great commentary known as Turei Zahav on Shulchan Aruch.  The Luach Bnei Yaakov (5769) brings a special and moving p’sak of the Taz to the Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer, siman 2.  There, the Shulchan Aruch describes what one should seek in a Shidduch, and strongly advises in favor of marrying a “Bas Talmid Chochom” and against a man marrying a “Bas Am Ha’Aretz”--the daughter of an unlearned person.  The Taz rules that the phrases “Bas Talmid Chochom” and “Bas Am Ha’Aretz” used in the Shulchan Aruch here are not to be taken literally to be the physiological daughter of a Talmid Chochom or Am Ha’Aretz.  Rather, the Shulchan Aruch means that one should marry a “Bas Talmid Chochom”--i.e., a woman who realizes that Torah is not only given for the sake of Olam Haba, but also for the sake of Olam Hazeh.  A Bas Am Ha’Aretz, on the other hand, is one who unfortunately believes that Torah is only given for Olam Haba purposes.  Accordingly, she will take her husband away from Torah to spend more time on material concerns--so that she will have what she perceives as “Olam Hazeh.”  The Bas Talmid Chochom realizes that Torah study is the epitome of Olam Hazeh as well--and acts accordingly!


An important p’sak to contemplate and relate to others--not only when you are involved with Shidduchim!


May the merit of the Taz serve as a shield for us and all of K’lal Yisroel.



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


A Ba’al Simcha may think:  What could go wrong at my Mashgiach-less Shabbos Kiddush or Seudah?  After all, my caterer has a good Hashgacha in his commissary, and there will be at least one Shomer Shabbos waiter for sure.  I am also sure they know in the kitchen what a Goyish waiter can do (even though I don’t)--after all they do this every week.  At the recent Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita described the following scenario, of which he had personal knowledge.  The scene is the Simcha hall in a highly reputed Shul with an excellent caterer under a well-regarded Hashgacha.  The Ba’al Simcha, decided to spend the “extra few dollars” on a Mashgiach to make sure that he could sleep well knowing he was providing Kashrus of the highest quality to those relying on him.  The Shomer Shabbos manager for the caterer protested, saying that it was a waste of money, that he knew exactly what to do and how to do it, and in his four years managing of Kiddushim and Seudos in the hall, he never had a Mashgiach overseeing him.


Here are the results:  The Mashgiach found the Manager instructing a non-Jewish worker to turn down the fire on the stove (“What are they there for?”), then trying to take bay leaves out of the soup when on the fire (possible Hagassa and Borer issues), and attempting to put food back into the Shabbos warmer on Friday night for Shabbos day, when he realized he took out too much for the Friday night Seudah.  He also had hired a non-religious Jewish worker to serve as a waiter who was Mechalel Shabbos in traveling there (although this is not necessarily prohibited, the better choice is to use religious waiters or non-Jews).


There may have been other issues, but this was enough of a “flavor.”  The lesson from this to a Baal Simcha:  He should go the extra mile to hire a Mashgiach in order to make sure that the cholent and kugel…is truly Shabbasdik.  The lesson to a Simcha invitee:  Before partaking make sure that you are comfortable enough with the Kashrus situation in order for it truly to be an Oneg Shabbos!



Special Note Four:  This Shabbos is Parsha Shekalim.  We can begin to feel the aura of Purim and Pesach in the air.  Let’s also begin to appreciate it!


In honor of Parshas Shekalim, we provide the following splendid insight on “Parshas Shekalim In Our Time” by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, Z’tl, as presented in the excellent English language version of the Sefer Hatoda’ah, known as The Book of Our Heritage (Feldheim, I, p. 352).  Rabbi Kitov writes:  “There is benevolence in action and benevolence in desire.  Because of our sins, we have no Beis Hamikdash, the sacrifices have ceased, and the mitzvah of half a shekel no longer applies.  Nonetheless, the mitzvah of reading the portion of Shekalim has not been annulled, for the primary purpose of the mitzvah of the half-shekel is to awaken the spirit of benevolence so that man might stand ready to give what he has, to fulfill his Creator’s Will.  This awakening of the heart’s desire is forever pertinent and is achieved when a Jew reads or hears this portion from the Torah.


“Moreover, there are times when the desire to contribute is even greater than the contribution itself.  Though we are not capable of contributing towards the Divine service, we still yearn to do so.  Because we rejoice in this mitzvah and read its details from the Torah, it is considered as if we have fulfilled it.  May we thereby once again merit to perform the mitzvah, speedily and in our days.”


We should read and re-read these very special words.



Special Note Five:  The Torah teaches us in this week’s Parsha that the meat of a treife animal cannot be eaten, and that, instead, “Lakelev Tashlichun Oso--it should be thrown to the dogs for their benefit.” (Shemos 22:30)  Chazal teach that the dogs received this great reward of fresh meat for so many generations because at the time of Makkas Bechoros, as the Torah records, “Lo Yecheratz Kelev Lishono” (Shemos 11:7)--they did not utter sharp or frightful cries when the Makka was taking place.  Many ask the question--but look at the Tzefardi’im, the frogs, didn’t they jump into the ovens--ready to give up their lives for the Makka and the honor of Hashem?  Shouldn’t they have received a special reward such as this--after all, the dogs only refrained from barking!  The frogs were willing to give up their very lives by jumping into the ovens!  Harav Eliyahu Mann (Derech Sicha II, p. 115) writes that one learns a great lesson for life here--sometimes it is harder to remain quiet when you have something to say--than to jump into the fire!


Let us reflect upon the greatness of our accomplishment the next time we remain silent--when we could have said something--and the unfathomable Nachas Ruach we are giving to Hashem when we do so--and then let’s do it more often!



Special Note One:  We are familiar with the Chazal (Shabbos 119B) that “One who answers ‘Amen Yehei Shemei Rabbah’ with all his Koach (‘bechol kocho’) will have the negative gezar din against him torn up.”  The phrase “bechol kocho” is usually explained as either reciting “Yehei Shemei Rabbah” with one’s strength--i.e., with a loud voice--or with all of one’s Kavannah--i.e., with a better understanding of the meaning of “Yehei Shemei Rabbah.”  To this end, we provide by clicking here some detail as to the meaning of this treasured phraseInterestingly, in the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim (Shaar Aleph) in which this Chazal on the importance of “Yehei Shemei Rabbah” is discussed, a third explanation of the words “bechol kocho” is presented.  The words “bechol kocho” can also refer to Hashem’s strength, meaning that when we recite “Yehei Shemei Rabbah,” we should be contemplating Hashem’s infinite and unfathomable power.  See there for a discussion al pi kabbala, if you are able.  In all events, our focus and concentration on “Yehei Shemei Rabbah” daily should be with a very special appreciation of the opportunity of the moment.  Incredibly, the Halacha is that if one is faced with the choice of either answering “Yehei Shemei Rabbah” or Kedushah (in which one fulfills the Mitzvah of Kiddush Shem Shomayim!), the “Yehei Shemei Rabbah” response takes Halachic precedence! (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 109, Mishne Berurah, seif katan 4).



Special Note Two:  Today is the 126th Yahrzeit of Rebbe Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl.  In his memory, we provided the following meaningful incidents, which should serve as practical, lesson-filled teachings for us.  They are culled from Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita.  Even if you are familiar with the incidents, it certainly pays to review--and renew!


a.  Rebbe Yisroel once witnessed someone running swiftly into Shul to recite Kedushah.  In his haste, the man stepped on someone’s newly polished shoes.  After davening, he told the man that he has a financial responsibility to pay for the shoes to be repolished.  He added, “The entire merit of reciting Kedushah is lost if its recital causes someone a loss.” (Tenuas Hamussar, vol. 1, p. 359)


b.  Once, on the day of the yahrtzeit of Rebbe Yisroel’s father, another person had Yahrtzeit for his daughter and wanted very much to say Kaddish (the custom was for only one person to recite the Kaddish).  Although the obligation to say Kaddish for a father takes precedence over kaddish for a daughter, Rebbe Yisroel allowed the other person to say Kaddish to save him anguish.  Someone asked him “How could you give up your right?  Saying Kaddish is an honor for your father and a merit for his soul.”  Rebbe Yisroel replied, “The merit of doing chessed is an even greater merit for my father.”  (Chayai Hamussar, vol. 2, p. 218).


c.  Rebbe Yisroel used to say, “If a person says that a Rav cannot sing and a Chazan  cannot learn, he is guilty of speaking lashon hora.  But if someone says that a Rav cannot learn and a Chazan cannot sing, it is tantamount to murder.” (Tenuas Hamussar, vol. 1, p. 305)


d.  Upon hearing someone making a lot of noise in the morning while going to wash his hands, Rebbe Yisroel reproved him saying, “The obligation to wash one’s hands in the morning was instituted Mid’Rabbanan, while stealing sleep is a violation of Torah law.” (Tenuas Hamussar, vol. 1, p. 357)


e.  When Rebbe Yisroel came to the city of Mamel , Germany , he saw Jewish longshoremen working on the port on Shabbos.  He knew that if he told them to refrain entirely from working on Shabbos, they would reject his advice.  Therefore, he advised the workers not to do any writing on Shabbos.  They agreed.  A few weeks later he told them that they should omit another detail of their work on Shabbos.  To this they also agreed.  A few weeks later he told them to refrain from yet another detail.  He influenced them step-by-step until they finally became complete Shabbos observers. (Tenuas Hamussar, vol. 1, p. 184)  Hakhel Note:  If you would like to undertake something similar, you should be guided by a Rav or Posek as to what may be said or not be said to a non-observant Jew in this regard.


f.  Rebbe Yisroel used to say, “Just as a person always checks his eggs for bloodspots… so, too, he should check to see that his money that it is always ‘kosher.’” (Tenuas Hamussar, vol. 1, p. 304)


g.  Finally, Rebbe Yisroel would say: “It is worthwhile for a person to study Mussar his entire life…if it will save him from speaking lashon hora even once.” (Tenuas Hamussar, vol. 1, p. 305)


May his memory and teachings inspire us all--every day!



Special Note One:  We received the following fundamental insight from a reader:  “I have seen in Sifsei Chaim and R. Pincus, Z’tl, that the way to achieve what you wrote about realizing and admitting that Hashem is the Creator and the Omnipotent One is through 100 daily brochos.  Every time we say the words “Boruch Atoh” we admit that Hashem is the only Source of all.  Each time we say “Hashem Elokeinu” we admit Hashem was, is and always will be, is Master over all, all-powerful, with complete hashgacha protis.... “Melech H’olom”....... The constant repetition of Brachos (which we really do anyway) WITH PROPER KAVONOS can literally change a person and his connection to Hashem….”  Hakhel Note:  The reader is obviously speaking from personal experience.  Even if we are good at making Brachos now--we can always get better.  If not now--when??


Special Note Two:  Perhaps one of the world’s most abused Pesukim is found in this week’s Parsha.  “An eye for an eye” (Shemos 21:24 ) is misinterpreted as the Torah’s allowance for exacting revenge, and may even be taken literally by some malevolent groups or communities.  Chazal, of course, teach us (as we will soon learn in Daf Yomi in the eighth perek of Bava Kamma) that the phrase refers to payment of the value of the eye, in accordance with a specific formula.  We would like to add another dimension to the Torah’s holy words, as there are, indeed, “Shivim Ponim,” seventy faces, approaches, meanings, to each of the Torah’s words.  If Hashem has blessed us with an eye that can see--with all of the ultra-complex physiology, engineering and chemistry underlying the most basic sight, than it is our duty and obligation to use that eye--for its intended purpose.  What is that purpose--what is the eye--for the eye?  HaRav Moshe Cordevero, Z’tl, in the classic sefer Tomer Devorah, Chapter 2, writes as follows:

“One’s eyes should not gaze at all at anything despicable. Rather, they should always be open to watch over unfortunates in order to have as much mercy on them as possible.  And when he sees the suffering of the poor, he should not close his eyes at all.  Rather, he should give as much thought to their predicament as possible, arousing the mercy of both Heaven and man upon them.  He should distance himself from noticing evil, just like the Eye above, which is open, and forever sees only good.”

As we conclude the days of Shovavim this week, we should at the very least come away with the commitment, bli neder, to dedicate our eyes for their intended purpose!


Special Note Three:  We are blessed with 53 Mitzvos in this week’s Parsha, with many governing the laws of our conduct and responsibilities towards each other.  We present below several details, culled from the wonderful Sefer Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, relating to the lending of one’s possessions:

a.       You fulfill the Mitzvah of Chesed when you lend any article to another person, even if it is as minor as a comb or can opener.  This form of chesed is easy for everyone to fulfill, even someone who is not wealthy (Ahavas Chesed II: 22).

b.      One should not view the actions necessary to lend (going down to the basement to look for it, etc.) as a burden, but as a privilege.  A person is willing to walk to shul to daven or hear shofar, he should also be willing to walk to do Chesed.

 c.  It is a very big Mitzvah to lend your seforim.  The merit of the Torah which the borrower gains will be to your credit (Sefer Chassidim).  

 d. You should act in a friendly manner toward someone who wants to borrow your possessions, so the person should not hesitate to ask again.

 e.  Every loan is a Mitzvah, and the greater the bother, the greater the reward for fulfilling the Mitzvah.

 f.  It is a good idea to write down the names of people who borrow your possessions.  One should also write his name on his belongings, so that the borrower will remember who the owner is.

 g. When you lend money, the Halacha requires that you either have witnesses present, or that the borrower sign an IOU.  This is necessary even when the person is beyond suspicion, since he may inadvertently forget that he borrowed the money.


Special Note One:  We provide the following wonderful update on www.kolhaloshon.com:  Kol Halashon now has over 120,000 Shiurim in its archives, available to listen and to download.  75 new Shiurim are added daily!  Topics include Halacha, Tanach and Parshas HaShavua, Mishna and Gemara, and a broad range of women’s Shiurim.  Several languages are also available, and there are local access numbers in Eretz Yisroel, Europe , South Africa and Australia .  For further information, please call 718-906-6400, or 718-701-5157, or email info@kolhl.com.



Special Note Two:  In his masterful Shiur at yesterday’s Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Yaakov Salomon, Shlita, related the following powerful message from HaRav Shach, Z’tl, to Rabbi Noach Weinberg, Z’tl, “If one person can kill six million Jews, one person can also save 6 million Jews.”  Each of us can start on this great project--one Jew at a time.  Project Inspire is giving us the opportunity--for free--to learn how to inspire others--and inspire ourselves in the meantime.  For further information on this incredible opportunity, visit www.kiruv.com.



Special Note Three:  We continue with the words of the Ramban at the end of Parshas Bo (Shemos 13:16 ), which provide such essential guidance on our role in life.  The Ramban writes (slightly paraphrased), “For the ultimate objective of all of the Mitzvos is that we should believe in Hashem and acknowledge that He created us.  Moreover, this is the ultimate objective of the Creation itself…for we have no other explanation for the Creation , and Hashem has no desire for the lower world except for this, that man should know and acknowledge that Hashem created him.  Indeed, the purpose of raising one’s voice in prayer, and the merit of tefilla b’tzibbur, is for people to gather and acknowledge to Hashem that He created them--where we can declare before Hashem: “We are Your creations!”  [See Ramban Commentary on The Torah—Shemos (Artscroll, p.299-300) for the actual, full text, annotations and footnotes].


In a recent shiur, HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, explained the relevance and scope of these words in our daily lives.  The Mashgiach noted that the Ramban here uses the word “modeh”, to admit that Hashem is our Creator, no less than seven times in the course of his advice to us at the end of Parshas Bo.  The more we admit, and admit again, and again and again, that Hashem is our Creator, the easier it will be for us to do battle with our Yetzer Hora who constantly tells the individual that he is a creator and is in control of his life and his goals.  We must, instead, constantly repeat and reinforce the words of Dovid HaMelech (recited in the weekday Shacharis--Tehillim, 100:3), “Hu Asanu VeLo Anachnu--He has made us, and we are His.”  Indeed, the ksiv of the word “VeLo” here is with an Aleph (the word Lo, with this spelling, meaning “nought”)--so that we admit and confess that we are Hashem’s Creations, and that, concomitantly, by ourselves we are simply powerless.  When we daven, as the Ramban cited above teaches, we demonstrate our helplessness, because we ask (or should ask!) Hashem for help in every last detail of our lives.


HaRav Salomon notes that there are really three points included in the words of the Ramban.  First, that Hashem does everything.  Second, that Hashem can do everything.  Third, that everything that Hashem does is for the person’s good.  What man thinks is good for him may not really be good for him at all.  It is interesting to note that the first of the Aseres HaDibros states definitively who Hashem is, and the last of the Aseres HaDibros teaches us not to make or follow our own determinations as to what we should have and what we shouldn’t--seeming to teach us the lesson of the Ramban--that this awareness and appreciation of Who Hashem is and who we are--is the beginning and end of the Mitzvos, and, indeed, of creation itself.  If one reviews these three points at various times throughout the day, he will most definitely feel more at peace, serene, and fulfilled.


Imagine walking boldly over to a King who is sitting on his throne--and swiping away his crown.  The audacity!  The absurdity!  The inanity!  When we act with ga’avah--with haughtiness--when we view or place ourselves in charge, we foolishly take away the very crown that belongs only to Hashem, as we recite in Tehillim (93:1):  “Hashem Melech Gayus Lovesh--only Hashem dons ga’avah, grandeur”.  He is the Creator and the Omnipotent.  He is the One Who can do and does.  And all of this is for our benefit!  It is no coincidence, as it never is, that we recite the kepitel of “Hashem Melech Gayus Lovesh” as the Shir Shel Yom for Friday--the day of man’s creation--to remind us of life’s true purpose, and of our true role.



Special Note One:  In last week’s Parsha, the Torah teaches; “Vayesaper Moshe LeChosno (Shemos 18:8)--And Moshe told his father-in-law everything that Hashem had done….”  There is a fascinating and important lesson derived from these words by HaRav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik, Z’tl, (the Brisker Rav) as reported in the Sefer MiShulchan Govoha.  On the Shabbos of Sheva Brachos for one of the Rav’s sons, the Chosson was saved from an apparently life threatening situation by a miracle.  HaRav Soloveitchik, otherwise known for his assiduous dedication to Torah study, spent the day recounting time and again and again to those whom he met the miracle that had happened to his son and his family.  Relating and reliving the miracle was a kiyum, a fulfillment, of “Sichu  B’Chol Nifliosav--one must speak about all His wonders.”  This idea was first taught to us by Moshe Rabbeinu in the pasuk referred to above when he recounted to Yisro all of the miracles that had occurred for Bnai Yisroel since he had last seen him.  Until Yisro arrived, Moshe Rabbeinu had no outside persons or parties to relate the miracles to, for all of B’nei Yisroel had themselves witnessed and experienced the wonder-filled Nissim.  Moshe Rabbeinu, then, was not simply telling stories--he was thanking and praising Hashem in a new way that he was very eager to do.  If one studies the pasuk (ibid.), he will note that the word “Kol--all” is mentioned twice in describing Moshe’s recounting of the events--Moshe wanted Yisro to know it *all**--every last miracle and yeshua that Hashem had wrought on our behalf!


We are all familiar with perhaps the most famous Ramban in Chumash at the end of Parshas Bo (Shemos 13: 16 ).  There, the Ramban writes starkly and clearly:  “For a person has no share in Toras Moshe unless he believes that all our affairs and experiences are miracles, that there is no element of ‘nature’ or  ‘the ordinary course of the world’ in them at all, whether regarding the community or the individual.”  [Translation from the outstanding English translation Ramban Commentary on the Torah (Artscroll, p.300)].


We definitely want to have a chelek, a portion, in the Toras Moshe Rabbeinu.  It is perhaps for this reason that in the Modim we recite three times daily we say that “Nodeh Lecho U’nesaper Tehilasecha--we thank you and tell the story of your praise , for our lives…for our souls…for the daily miracles, and for the wonders and favors at all times--evening, morning and afternoon.”  We should recite these words slowly and thoughtfully, for, the Ramban teaches, they go to the heart of our faith.


The additional teaching of Moshe Rabbeinu in last week’s Parsha, as understood by the Brisker Rav, is that when those extraordinary situations come up--the miracle beyond miracle, if you will--we must be sure to recognize, appreciate and express the miracle to others in detailed gratitude--thereby teaching yourself and others the greatness of Hashem--and His love for His creations!



Special Note Two:  The monumental occasion of Har Sinai is relived in Shul four times a week at Kriyas HaTorah.  How so?  The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 141, seif katan 16) writes that the Ba’al Kriyah is the Shul’s equivalent of Moshe Rabbeinu, relating the Torah to all assembled--men and women, young and old--at the behest of the Gabbai, who kevayachol, is “in the place of” Hashem, designating whom he wants to call to the Torah to hear its teaching.  The person receiving the aliyah represents K’lal Yisroel, serving as their special, designated representative!  With this in mind, and for the rest of our lives, the Kriyas HaTorah we experience--whether on a Monday or Thursday, Shabbos or Yom Kippur must take on new and precious meaning, as we feel the unique privilege of our participation in an absolutely incomparable event!




Special Note One:  We provide the following Hatzalah Erev Shabbos Alerts--please help safeguard lives!


Erev Shabbos Alerts

  1. Consult a Rav concerning where to light Shabbos candles when young children are present.

  2. Never leave children unattended with burning candles.

  3. After lighting candles, have someone place matches securely away.

  4. Place the spout of a hot water urn away from counter edge.  Do not use an extension cord or leave it within a child’s reach.

  5. Start Shabbos preparations early.  Last-minute rushing causes hazardous and hectic situations.

  6. While drinking a hot liquid, never hold a child.

  7. Take all phones off the hook before bathing children.

  8. Have all necessary equipment with you before putting your child in a bath.

  9. Never, under any circumstances, leave a child alone in the tub--not even for a moment!  If you need to leave the room, take the child with you!



Special Note Two:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos series.  The following practical applications of Hilchos Borer are culled from the great work The 39 Melochos by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita (Feldheim).


1.  When preparing egg salad, chopped liver with eggs, etc., one must remember to peel the eggs just before the meal, because an eggshell is treated in the same way as a nutshell, or the peel of a fruit.


2.  Wrappers that adhere closely to a food and must be peeled off are halachically classified as peels and may be removed for immediate use of the food only (examples include candy and chocolate wrappers, waxpaper wrapped muffins or cupcakes, and kishke wrapping).


3.  Grapes still attached to the stem are likewise considered a Borer combination and the grapes may be detached only just prior to eating.  Only desired grapes (and not spoiled or inferior grapes) should be removed from the cluster.



Special Note Three:  Hallel Hagadol (Tehillim 136), which we recite every Shabbos Morning, contains 26 Pesukim, each of which concludes with the words “Ki LeOlam Chasdo--for His kindness endures forever.”  The kindnesses of Hashem found in this chapter especially focus on Yetzias Mitzrayim and our subsequent entry into Eretz Yisroel.  There appears to be a glaring omission in the kindnesses mentioned--actually, what seems to be the greatest kindness of all--Hashem giving us the Torah while in the Midbar--is omitted, as the Pesukim in the chapter skip from Hashem throwing Pharoh and his army into the sea, to leading us with the Clouds of Glory through the Midbar, and then on to defeating the Mighty Kings, Sichon and Og, followed by our entry into EretzYisroel.  What happened to Matan Torah itself --the great event of this week’s Parsha, and indeed one of the greatest events in History?!  We invite your thoughts.  As a starting point, may we suggest the words of HaRav Avrohom Chaim Feuer, Shlita in his work on Tehillim (Artscroll, p.1608).



Special Note Four:  In the first of the Aseres HaDibros, we are taught that Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim, the House of Bondage.  What does the phrase “House of Bondage” add--we all know what Mitzrayim was, and what happened to us there?  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, explains that it is intended for us to especially focus--at the *outset* of the Aseres HaDibros--on the Hakaros HaTov that we owe to Hashem for His freeing us from bondage.  HaRav Salomon explains that the Kabalos Ol Malchus Shomayim that took place at Har Sinai could not have been based on “Anochi Hashem”, on Emunah, alone.  There is an absolutely essential, second prerequisite--and that is thoroughly and absolutely appreciating Hashem’s gifts to us in this world.  Indeed, HaRav Salomon notes that the Mitzriyim, who “forgot” what Yosef did for them, represent the antithesis of Hakaras HaTov--and that is why Hashem not only literally--but figuratively--took us out of there!  We must accordingly understand that Hakaros HaTov is not simply a Midah Tovah, a good character trait, concludes Rav Salomon, but a precondition to our daily Kabalas Ol Malchus Shomayim!


Hakhel Note: Based upon this essential teaching, we must be careful to have Kavana daily in the brachos which precede Kriyas Shema in Shacharis and Ma’ariv daily, as they are infused with the Hakaros Hatov necessary to boost us to the proper recitation of Shema!



Special Note One:  We received the following important notification from HaRav Y. Jaeger, Shlita:  “I must relay an important reminder regarding bi'ur of esrogim.  If anyone has esrogim from Eretz Yisroel that are still fresh enough to be considered edible, and has at least two esrogim, or esrog jelly made from esrogim, with kedushas sheviyis, bi'ur needs to be done.  Bi'ur is done by taking the esrogim to the street, and being mafkir them in front of three men.  The esrogim keep their kedusha after bi'ur.  The bi'ur should have been done on Tu Bishvat.  If it was not done then, it should be done at the first possible opportunity.  Once bi'ur has been done, the esrogim may be taken back into the house, but one should not intend to acquire them completely, since the time of bi'ur continues for some time.  The complete process is outlined in Guidelines to Shemittah, Chapter Eleven.”


Should you have any questions regarding bi’ur of Eretz Yisroel produce, please consult with your Rav or Posek as soon as possible.



Special Note Two:  Two questions as we prepare for Matan Torah:

a.  Har Sinai has six names.  Can you provide them, and the meaning behind each name? See Medrash Tanchuma, Bamidbar, Piska 7.


b.  The Yerushalmi teaches that each one of the Aseres HaDibros is alluded to in Kriyas Shema.  Can you find them?  See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 61, Mishne Berurah, seif katan 2.



Special Note Three:  We provide two additional important points related to the Parsha, excerpted from Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:


a.  On the fact that Moshe Rabbeinu himself personally served a meal to Yisro, Aharon and the Ziknei Yisroel:  “At the Baranovich Yeshiva, only the very best students were selected by the menahel ruchani, Rabbi Yisroel Yaakov Lubchanski, Z’tl, to serve the meals in the dining hall.  Since the Talmud likens the dining table of Torah scholars to the altar in the Bais Hamikdosh, it follows that those who serve a meal to Torah scholars are in the category of serving at the altar.  This actively also develops the attributes of kindness and benevolence; so Rabbi Lubchanski selected only the most scholarly and disciplined men to wait on the tables.  (Rabbi Chaim Shapiro in The Jewish Observer, January, 1973).”


b.  On the Mitzvah of Honoring Parents:  “Even if a parent foregoes [is mochel] his honor, a child still fulfills a mitzvah by **nonetheless** honoring him, but in such a case he will not be punished for failure to do so.  (Chidushai Rebbe Akiva Eiger).”



Special Note Four:  Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita teaches the following essential lesson in his book Treat Yourself Right (Targum Press, pp. 84-85):  “It is helpful to periodically review the Halachos of eating properly. Rambam states emphatically:  ‘Overeating is like poison to all people and it is a primary cause of illness.  Most illnesses are caused either by eating harmful foods or by overeating even healthy foods.’ (Hilchos De’os 4:15).  This is the meaning of Shlomo Hamelech’s teaching:  ‘One who guards his mouth and tongue saves his soul from troubles’ (Mishlei 21:23 ).  It is essential to guard one’s mouth from eating unhealthy foods and from overeating.  One of the first commandments given to mankind involved food:  ‘From the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, do not eat from it’ (Bereishis 2:17 ).  We see that food temptations have been influencing mankind since the beginning of history.  Perhaps because of this Hashem has given us so many commandments regarding food.  Most of our daily domestic Halachic concerns revolve around food, to remind us that even though we must eat to care for our bodies like the rest of mankind, we are still a holy, special nation.”



Special Note Five:  The following Driver Safety Test was initially published by Hatzalah.  Please make sure that you always, always pass with flying colors:


  1. Are you driving like a mensch, or are you endangering your life and the life of others?  Hakhel addition 1--Do you honk the horn almost every time you drive?  Hakhel addition 2--Do you drive holding on to your cell phone, hoping the police won’t catch you--even though Hashem does every single time?

  2. Are you a speed driver?

  3. Do you signal when necessary?

  4. Do you begin driving when the light is red?  Hakhel addition--Do you make it your practice to speed up a bit to get through yellow lights?

  5. Do you and your passengers buckle up?

  6. Is your vehicle in proper working condition?

  7. Do you watch out for children playing in the street?


Let us take special care of our lives--and the lives of those around us as well!



Special Note One:  What will the World be like when the Moshiach comes?  The Rambam in Hilchos Melochim Chapters 11 and 12 (the last two perakim of the Rambam’s entire Mishne Torah) provides the Rambam’s rulings in this area.  May we soon witness these Pesakim as Halacha LeMa’aseh!


Special Note Two:  Do you want to witness a miracle?  It’s simple.  Close your eyes.  Then open them.  If you are blessed enough to see, you have just experienced millions of cells working in tandem to produce a unique vision of the world in front of you--and the miracle then continues and changes by the millisecond.  Incredibly, over the last several Parshios, we have witnessed nissim veniflaos--miracles and wonders of perhaps an even greater magnitude by virtue of the exclusivity of their occurrence.  This Shabbos, we will perhaps be witness to the greatest miracle of all--the delivery of the infinite Blueprint of Creation--at no charge--to each and every one of us!  The Torah describes in unusual detail the awe of the event, and this description is also a primary focus of the brocha of Shofaros on Rosh Hashanah.  Indeed, Discovery Seminars have used the incontrovertible historical, worldwide knowledge of the event as a proof of the Divinity of the Torah to erstwhile non-believers.  Every morning, when we recite the words “Asher Bochar Bonu MiKol Ho’amim VeNosan Lonu Es Toraso” in Birchas HaTorah, it behooves us to treasure the wonder and awe of the event, for at that irreplaceable moment in history we became forever distinguished as a People, and each of our very souls became infused with the kedusha, the unparalleled holiness, of a Nishmas Yisroel.  We provide below from the Sefer Ma’amad Har Sinai (by Rav Shlomo Rosner, Shlita, Fifth edition, 5765) a small portion of the description of Matan Torah, as culled from the Gemara and Medrashim--which, we reiterate, forever changed world history, our history--and each of our lives.  The import, extent and unparalleled nature of the event is described in and by the Torah itself (Devorim 4:32, 33) with the words:  “Ki She’al Na …--When you ask of the earlier days from the day Hashem created man on the earth, and from one end of the heaven to the other…has there ever been anything like this…has a people ever heard the voice of Hashem speaking from the midst of a fire as you have heard….?!”


Just some of the wondrous events brought by Rav Rosner, Shlita


  1. The lightning bolts and thunder were not uniform and consistent, but were different from each other to add to the reverence and uniquenes of the occasion.  The thunder could be seen, and the lightning bolts heard.

  2. The Shofar sound did not weaken--but strengthened as it continued--and the blast could be heard worldwide.

  3. 600,000 ministering Melachim came to attend, and rested on Har Sinai itself.

  4. Har Sinai was raised from its place, and was suspended in midair with the B’nei Yisroel standing underneath it.

  5. Although many were wounded and maimed from the years of slavery in Mitzrayim, they were all healed.  Moreover, they were healed from spiritual and mental illness as well, and there were no zavim, metzoraim, or shotim.  The zuhama, the spiritual contamination planted in man by the nachash was removed from us, so that we would have the quality of Adam before the chait.

  6. The mountain itself was burning, with its fire reaching the heavens.

  7. The Seven Heavens opened up to the Kisei HaKavod--with more being revealed to the B’nei Yisroel than was revealed to Yechezkel HaNavi and Yeshaya HaNavi in their visions of the Merkava.

  8. The Seven Tehomos (Depths) below also opened , so that B’nei Yisroel understood that Hashem was singular in all worlds, and “Ain Od Milvado--there is nothing else but for Hashem.”

  9. The mountains of Tavor and Carmel in Eretz Yisroel were uprooted from their place and came to Midbar Sinai.

  10. The World was still and silent--the sun remained in one place, seas did not move, birds did nor chirp or fly, the animals were silent.  Even the Serafim did not say “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh….”

  11. Tal, a special Dew, fell to revive the B’nei Yisroel after their souls had left them from the awe of the Dibros.

  12. The letters of each of the Aseres HaDibros could be seen as they were said.

  13. Every nation heard each Dibur in its own language, so that it could not later claim that “had it heard…”

  14. With each Dibur, the World became filled with the aroma of besamim.


We have provided above 14 special details of Matan Torah at Har Sinai.  In fact, there are 14 Azkaros--Hashem’s name is mentioned a total of 14 times--in the Aseres HaDibros.  The Tashbatz writes that there are also 14 Azkaros in the Sheva Brachos that we recite at a Chasuna and the days following in celebration.  Indeed, a Great Wedding is taking place this Shabbos--and **you ** are one of the Ba’alei Simcha--so prepare--and celebrate!



Special Note One:  What a wonderful way to start the work week--with a Rosh Hashana!  We provide by this link the Tefillah of the Ben Ish Chai to be recited on Tu B'Shevat for a beautiful Esrog and a successful Mitzvas Arba Minim.  This truly needs our Tefillos!  We additionally note that many have the custom of reciting the brocha of Shehechiyanu on new fruits in season today.  The recitation of this brocha has become a bit more complicated in today’s times because of the availability of many fruits all-year round, taking them out of a particular season, and also because of grafted fruits (See Piskei Teshuvos II, p. 911-918 for further detail).  We therefore recommend that you consult with your Rav or Posek prior to making a Shehechiyanu for a final P’sak on whether or not to recite the bracha on a particular fruit in your area.  Of course, if one intends to eat dates, figs or carob, he should make sure that he knows how to properly check them for tolaim, and that dried fruits (banana chips, apples, etc.) he is given to partake of “in order to make a Hoetz” have an acceptable hashgacha.  We do not intend to be party poopers--we just want to ensure that it is a party that in which Hashem is honored!



Special Note Two:  We truly value our readers careful reading and comments:


  1. One reader **correctly pointed out** that one can make the special brocha achrona of ‘Al Haetz” only if he has eaten at least a kezayis of a fruit requiring an Al Haetz (grapes, pomegranates, olives, etc.).  If he has done so, than the one bracha of “Al Haetz” will also cover all other fruits such as oranges and apples for which a Borei Nefashos would otherwise have been necessary.  However, if one eats only one-half of a kezayis of grapes, and one-half of a kezayis of apples, then the only after brocha one can and does make is a Borei Nefashos.


  1. We had written that that one should choose a food item which is chashuv to make his brocha rishona on, so that if one apple was cleaner or more pleasant-looking than another fruit he intended to consume, he should make the brocha on the nicer/nicest item.  One reader pointed out that the situation could get complicated if an inferior looking fruit was of the Shivah Minim.  One should, as always, consult with his Rav or Posek on any particular shaila that he has in this area.


  1. Another reader pointed out an additional lesson from Rabbi Soloveitchik’s anecdote:  If one does not know the answer to a question, he should admit that he does not know the answer, thank the questioner for bringing it to his attention, find out the answer…and share his new-found knowledge with as many people as possible!



Special Note Three:  We are only 30 days away from Purim!  If you start with Mesechta Megillah today and learn one blatt a day, you will arrive at the final Amud of Mesechta Megillah on Purim.  You can then complete the extra Amud immediately prior to the Purim Seudah, and make a siyum to start the meal!  In the alternative, you can begin your study of the Megillah itself with any one or more of the wonderful Peirushim--so that you are really prepared for Purim.  Remember, the preparations for the Mitzvah often take longer than the Mitzvah itself--so let us do our part in demonstrating how precious Purim is to us!


We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos series.  The following is excerpted from the monumental work The Shabbos Kitchen by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita (Artscroll).


  1. Borer (sorting) is unique among the melachos in that it applies with great frequency not only in food preparation, but also during the meal itself.  Hardly a meal passes without one being faced with a question of borer.


  1. Instruments of borer which may never be used on Shabbos include: an apple corer, a vegetable peeler, a perforated spoon, and a salt shaker that contains rice (because the cap on the shaker prevents the rice from escaping, thereby sorting salt from rice).


  1. Examples of food/waste mixtures to which borer applies are:


  1. Shelling nuts:  Nuts may be shelled only for immediate use.  After shelling, one may not sort the shells from the nuts, but must select the nuts themselves.


  1. Oil may be squeezed from tuna for immediate use only.


  1. A fruit or vegetable that has fallen in dirt may be rinsed off for immediate use only (but may not be placed in a bowl of water so that the dirt rises to the top or falls to the bottom).


  1. Fat attached to meat:  one must either cut away part of the fat, leaving a thin layer attached to the meat, or remove all of the fat by cutting away some of the meat along with the fat.



Special Note One:  For all those who wanted answers to the Az Yashir Quiz, we refer you to the Mishne Berurah, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 51, seif katan 17.  See how many answers to the questions we posed you can find in just one seif katan of the Mishne Berurah!



Special Note Two:  We continue with our series on the Halachos of Brachos.  The following Halachos are found in the Sefer Pischei Halacha--Hilchos Brachos, by Rabbi Binyomin Forst, Shlita.


  1. If one heard two brachos at the same time, he should respond with the words “Amen V’Amen”.


  1. If one tastes a food in order to determine whether it needs salt or spices, he makes no brocha rishona or achrona.


  1. One should make a brocha on a ma’achal choshuv--on an important dish.  Accordingly, if one believes that the food is lacking salt or spices, he should add them prior to making the brocha.  Similarly, if one intends to eat several fruits, he should make the brocha on the cleanest and nicest one.


  1. If one does not know what brocha to make on an item, and accordingly recites a Shehakol out of ignorance, he is referred to as a “boor”, a halachically ignorant individual.


  1. If one is eating a fruit salad comprised of some fruits whose brocha rishona is a Borei Pri Haeitz, and other fruits whose brocha is a Borei Pri Hoadomo, and both fruits typically come up in every spoonful, (i.e., he is eating and enjoying all of the fruits alike), one should make the brocha on the fruit which is in the majority.  Accordingly, if the fruit in the majority is a cantaloupe, then one would make a Borei Pri Hoadomo.  On the other hand, if the majority fruit is orange, then one would make a Borei Pri Haeitz.  If one eats the fruits separately, and not in spoonfuls, he would make a Borei Pri Haeitz and a Borei Pri Hoadomo.



Special Note Three:  Chazal teach “One who teaches the son of his friend Torah is considered as if he gave birth to him”


Rabbi Herschel Zolty, Shlita, provides his insight as to what Chazal mean by “giving birth” to him.  The Torah that one teaches to another person is not limited by time or matter.  It will affect not only the person who was taught for the rest of his life, but will also be passed on to those who he shares it with, and to his progeny, as well.  Thus, one who teaches another Torah is truly a spiritual grandfather of that person’s descendants.


For example, if one teaches another how to properly wash Netilas Yadayim, and that person has children, his children will know how to wash Netilas Yadayim.  If these children then have children, they, too, will properly know how to wash Netilas Yadayim…and it all started somewhere--with that spiritual great-great-great grandfather!



Special Note Four:  Chazal (Bava Kama 30A) teach that if one wants to be a chossid, he should fulfill the words of brachos.  The Sefer Ben Yehoyada, based upon the Sefer Yaaros Devash (by Rabbi Yonasan Eibushutz, Z’tl), provides a remarkable teaching here.  What brachos are Chazal referring to when they say that if you fulfill them you become a chossid?  Remarkably, he writes, that they are referring to the brachos of Shemone Esrei--each brocha also referring to how we should conduct ourselves, as well.  For instance:  a.  In Birchas Avos--we, too, should follow in the footsteps of Avraham Avinu and pursue Tzedaka and Chesed.  b.  In Birchas Gevuros--we, too, should help Cholim and help to free those who are “asurim.”  c.  In Birchas Kedusha--we, too, should act with holiness.  d.  In Birchas Daas--we, too, should share our knowledge with others.  e. In Birchas HaTeshuva--we, too, should attempt to bring ourselves and others to Teshuva.  You can fill in the remainder of the middle brachos-- just realize how these brachos apply to you, as well.  Jumping to the end--at Shema Koleinu--we, too, should listen to the pleadings of others.  In the brocha of Hoda’ah--we, too, should make sure that we have proper hakaras hatov to all.  Finally, in the brocha of Sim Shalom--we should come to the realization that we must steer far from machlokes and pursue peace.


Every single Shemone Esrei--when you really think about each brocha--includes a Mussar lesson for each and every one of us--until the next Shemone Esrei!



Special Note One:  One of our readers pointed to the Sefer Shmiras HaGuf V'Hanefesh (Siman 70, end of footnote 1), which provides a discussion as to which shoe is tied first if one is left-handed, but not left-footed.



Special Note Two:  Regarding the suggestion on the “one-minute Aleinu” (a total of three minutes a day), one reader wrote:  “Every year I am always struck by this contrast: on Yom Kippur in Musaf we recite Aleinu slowly with kavannah, and bring our faces to the floor, yet by Maariv on Motze’ei Yom Kippur….”  Hakhel Note:  So let’s reduce that contrast!



Special Note Three:  Short Quiz on Az Yashir:


  1. According to the Mishne Berurah, what Kavannah should a person have when he begins to recite Az Yashir in Shacharis daily?

  2. Which Pasuk in Az Yashir has twelve words, and why?

  3. Which phrase in Az Yashir is repeated by Dovid HaMelech in Hallel?

  4. Which Pasuk of Az Yashir has five words in a row which begin with the letter Alef?

  5. What does the phrase “B’Mayim Adirim” mean?

  6. Which phrase in Az Yashir refers to the splitting of the Yarden River ?

  7. With what words does the Shira conclude?


Special Note Four:  A fascinating fact:  The Hallel HaGadol--the Great Song of Praise (Tehillim 136), lists 26 things for which we thank Hashem with the words “Ki L’Olam Chasdo--for his Kindness endures forever.”  Six of the 26 (at least!) are mentioned in this week’s Parsha.  Accordingly, especially this week, let us work on our recognition of “Ki L’Olam Chasdo--for His Kindness endures forever”!



Special Note Five:  We continue with our series on the Halachos of Brachos.

Water:  If one is not thirsty at all, but drinks water because he is going out on the road for awhile, or because it is the evening before a fast day, or, if for health purposes, one must drink water, or to flush down something stuck in his throat, one should not make a brocha rishona or brocha achrona on the water if he is not at all thirsty for it.  It is best in these instances to make a Shehakol on something else to avoid any questions as to whether or not a person is thirsty or can make a brocha.  However, one who drinks warm water on an empty stomach for health purposes must make a brocha, for it is not possible that he will not derive pleasure from the warm drink even if he does not necessarily feel thirsty.  (Piskei Teshuvos 2: pp. 721-722).



Special Note Six:  Another monumental item in this week’s Parsha is the description of the Mon, how and when it fell, and what it tasted like.  Specifically, the Torah states “V’Taamo K’Tzapichis B’Dvash--and its taste was like a tzapichis in dvash” (Shemos 17:31 ).  HaRav Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Z’tl ( Boston , RIETS), once related the following important anecdote relating to these words:


There was once an experienced melamed teaching young children Parshas Beshalach.  When he came to the words “K’tzapichis B’dvash” he realized that he did not know what the words meant, so he fuddled over it in describing how incredible the Mon was.  As he was about to go to the next Pasuk, one student stopped him and said, “But Rebbe, what does ‘tzapichis b’dvash’ mean?”  He responded, “Don’t you understand?  We left Egypt , there was no food in the desert, and Hashem sent Mon down from the Shamayim.  Not only that--it was incredibly delicious like tzapichis in dvash!  Let’s move on to the next Pasuk!”  The student stopped him again, “Rebbe, I still don’t get it--what is a ‘tzapichis b’dvash’?!”  The Rebbe responded, “I’ll say it once more, and only once more:  Our forefathers were enslaved in Egypt for hundreds of years.  Hashem took them out with all kinds of Makkos and Nissim.  When it came to the desert there were even more miracles--even unbelievably tasting Mon that came from Heaven!  “But Rebbe, I still…”  The Rebbe waved off the student, and moved on to the next Pasuk.


For the record, “Ktzapichis b’dvash” is translated in the Stone Edition of the Artscroll Chumash as “Like a cake fried in honey”.  The great lesson here, however, is that each and everyone one of us must be honest with himself and realize that there may be/are words, and, perhaps, even phrases, in the Parsha every single week that he simply does not understand on a simple level, perhaps not even knowing the simple translation of the words.  Before getting to the more advanced Peirushim or “nice vortlich”, he must make sure that he understands all of the **words** of the Parsha.  Even if we are not a Rebbe in front of his young students, let us at least avoid the embarrassment after 120 years of not being able to properly translate before the Beis din Shel Ma’ala every Pasuk in Chumash.  Indeed, the entire concept of Shenaim Mikra V’Echad Targum, supplemented by Peirush Rashi, is intended to give us a complete knowledge of each and every Holy Word of the Torah.


Practical Suggestion:  Take the few minutes that are necessary to go through each week’s Parsha and identify the words that you do not know or understand…and understand them!  There are many basic translations of Chumash and related Seforim that can help us here, including all of the wonderful English Seforim by all of our well-known publishers.  This way, you will not only have reviewed the Parsha--but will have actually **gone through it**--for which you will may very richly deserve--“sweet” rewards!!



Special Note One:  We received the following communication from a reader, and welcome your insights, or insights that you may have heard from your Rav in response to the question:  “I’m curious to know a proper hashkafic perspective on why in the past few years various tola’im issues have come up: water, blackberries, strawberries, raisins, etc.  Of course we have to do ratzon HaShem, but the question is, why all of a sudden within the last few years?”



Special Note Two:  We received the following suggestion:  “Why not try to ensure that such an important and great Tefillah as Aleinu LeShabeach takes you at least one minute to recite?  Typically, because it is at the end of each of our three Tefillos, it is rushed.  It is such a beautiful and essential Tefillah--we must really fight the Yetzer Hora here.  I also try reading this Tefillah from a Siddur to make sure it is not rushed and that it is with some level of Kavannah that it so richly deserves!”



Special Note Three:  We continue with our Halachos of Brachos series--The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (51:4,12) rules as follows:


a. All foods may be accumulated together towards the shiur of a kezayis for a brocha achrona.  Food and drink, however, are not accumulated together for the shiur of a brocha achrona.  If one ate one-half a kezayis of a food which requires a Borai Nefashos, and one half a kezayis of food which requires an Al Hamichya, one recites a Borai Nefashos.  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch continues that it is his opinion that the same is true if one ate one half a kezayis of fruits for which the brocha achrona is Al Haeitz, and one-half a kezayis of food which requires an Al Hamichya--one recites a Borai Nefashos.  The Mishne Berurah does not provide his opinion on this latter ruling of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.


b. If one ate one kezayis of fruits for which the brocha achrona is an Al Haeitz (such as grapes, pomegranates, olives, etc.), and other fruit for which the brocha achrona is Borei Nefashos (apples, oranges, etc.), one recites one brocha achrona--Al Haeitz--on all the fruits together.



Special Note Four:  When a woman puts on her shoes, which one does she put on first and which one does she tie first?  It is interesting to note that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, (Halichos Shlomo-Tefila 2:20) rules that unlike a right-handed/right-legged man who puts on his right shoe first, and then his left, and then ties his left and then ties his right, a right-handed/right-legged woman puts on her right shoe and ties it immediately, and then puts on her left shoe and ties it.  The reason:  The left shoe is tied first by a man because he ties his Tefillin on the left hand; he therefore attributes importance when tying his shoe to the left.  Since women do not put on Tefillin, they put all of their chashivus into the right side.  Of course, one should ask his own posek for a final psak in this area.


Hakhel Note:  A left handed/left-legged man would put on his right shoe and tie it first, since he ties his Tefillin on his right arm.  (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 2, Mishne Berurah seif koton 6).



Special Note Five:  Many of us will undoubtedly receive several emails today reminding us to recite the Parshsas HaMon, it being the third day of the week in Parashas Bishalach.  We would like to remind everyone of the story that we related from HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, just a few weeks ago.  HaRav Matisyahu related:  “I walked into a Shul in which someone was reading Parshas HaMon on the Tuesday of Parshas B’Shalach, as is the custom in some Chassidic circles.  Another individual walked in and noticed that he was reading Parshas HaMon.  He exclaimed, “You might as well stop doing that.  I have been reading it for 50 years on this very day, and nothing has ever happened for me!  HaRav Solomon reprimanded this person.  “How could you say that it hasn’t helped you?!  Have you had what to eat for the last 50 years?  Have you made Shabbos and Yom Tov? You are wearing clothing, aren’t you?”


We must remember, whether or not we recite Parshas HaMon today, that every ounce and morsal of parnassah and kalkala that is gifted to us by Hashem--whether or not we are millionaires or multi-millionaires--is part and parcel of the Mon that began falling for us more than 3,300 years ago!


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