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Special Note One:  Tomorrow is the Yartzheit of HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl.  Rav Moshe teaches (in the Sefer Kol Rom to Parshas Tezaveh) that Amalek educates us not only as to how low a person can sink, but also provides us with a personal lesson--a person should not be certain of his Middos, and must always strengthen himself to be a Yirei Elokim.  In fact, Rav Moshe adds that “Mistama” the Mitzvah of Michiyas Amalek will remain in effect even after the Moshiach comes and we have fought Amalek--so that we can internalize this great lesson now and for all time!


 Special Note Two:  In preparation for the annual Mitzvah of reading Parshas Zachor, we provide the following important points:


1.  The opportunity to read Parshas Zachor is of such great significance that, according to the Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 685, seif katan 16), if one can only come to hear either Parshas Zachor or the reading of the Megillah, one should go to hear Parshas Zachor.


2.  There is a Mitzvas Aseh, a positive Torah commandment, to “always remember the wicked deeds of the people of Amalek and their attack upon us, to arouse our hatred of them”--as they were the first to attack us without fear after the nations quaked and trembled over us (as described in Oz Yoshir, the Song of the Sea).  See Rambam Hilchos Melachim 5:5, SMAG Mitzvas Aseh 115, Chayei Odom 151:2.


The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 603) writes that one of the purposes of this Mitzvah is for us to recognize that one who causes pain to K’lal Yisroel is despised by Hashem, and according to the level of enmity against K’lal Yisroel is their level of destruction.  Since Amalek’s enmity of us was greater than that of all other nations, they are to be obliterated.  Indeed, the Ramban (end of Parshas Ki Setzeh) writes that we should “teach our children and future generations--so did the Rosha to us, and that is why we have been commanded to erase his name.”


3.  There is a Mitzvas Lo Saseh, a Torah prohibition, of “Lo Tishkach”--not to forget the deeds of Amalek.  This means that we should not forget to despise them despite the passage of time, and to remember that Hashem saved us from them, and that we will eventually avenge their deeds and eradicate them.  See SMAK 53 and Sefer Yereim 189.


4.  One should review the words of Parshas Zachor (with Rashi and/or other meforshim) before the laining.  We suggest reviewing it at the Leil Shabbos Seudah in order that you and/or others are prepared for the laining, since the Mitzvah is to arouse within us both a strong reaction to their despicable deeds, and our obligation to eradicate them.  Indeed, the Maharam Shick writes that we do not make a special Brocha on this Mitzvah because we do not make a Brocha on Hashchosa--acts of destruction.


5.  The Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 6:4) writes that an Amaleki who makes peace with K’lal Yisroel and accepts the seven Mitzvos B’nei Noach is not to be hurt.  In fact, some learn that the reason that the descendents of Haman “learned Torah in B’nei Brak” (Gittin 57B) is because they were the descendents of those sons of Haman who did not fight against K’lal Yisroel (Adar U’Purim p. 68).


6.  The Mitzvah of Mechias Amalek, eradicating the Sonei Hashem and Sonei Yisroel--those pure haters of Hashem and His people--began with Moshe Rabbeinu and Yehoshua, continued in the times of Shaul HaMelech, Dovid HaMelech and in the times of Purim, and we will be Zoche to complete it in the times of Moshiach (SMAG-Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh 226).  As these are days of Nissim and Geulah--miracles and redemption, may we be Zoche to do all the Mitzvos of Hashem with Moshiach leading and teaching us, speedily in our days.


For further detail see Sefer Adar U’Purim by HaRav Yoel Schwartz, Shlita, upon which this note is based.  For the enlightening words of the Ramban on the relationship between the war against Amalek and the end of our current Golus Edom , see the Ramban in Shemos 17:9.



Special Note Three:  The Rema concludes Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim (Chapter 697) with the words of Shlomo HaMelech: “V’Tov Lev Mishte Tamid (Mishlei 15:15 )--And the Good of Heart always feasts.”


On a basic level, we can take the words of the Rema to mean that a person can take the joy of Purim with him the whole year if he has the proper frame of mind--to be happy with that which Hashem has allotted him (See Rashi on Mishlei there).


We may extend the thought, however, based upon the Tiferes Yisroel (Avos 2:9) who adds that the “Lev Tov”--the Good-Hearted person--is not only one who is always happy with his chalek (his portion) in life, but also who is “Mezuman L’Hativ LaKol”, one who is ready to do good to others.


Rav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita teaches that the key lesson of Purim is really to be concerned for others, especially for those in real need of your concern.  He cites the Rambam’s focus on this point, as the Rambam writes (Hilchos Megillah 2:17 ):


“It is better for a person to give more Matanos L’Evyonim then to expand his Purim Seuda or give Mishloach Manos to his friends.  For there is no greater and glorified Simcha than to gladden the heart of the poor, and the heart of the orphans, widows and converts, for a person who gladdens the heart of these unfortunate ones is like the Shechina, as the Posuk describes Hashem:  ‘[He] revives the spirit of the lowly and revives the heart of the contrite’” (Yeshaya 57:15).


It is said in the name of Rav Yitzchok Hutner, Z’tl, that the miracle of Purim took place historically during a highly depressing time for K’lal Yisroel--with the Beis Hamikdosh and Eretz Yisroel destroyed, and Achashveirosh mocking that they would never be rebuilt.  With the miracle of Purim, Hashem uplifted a terribly depressed K’lal Yisroel with a great V’Nahapoch Hu (turnabout).  That is why the Mitzvos of Purim revolve around turning others happy, emulating Hashem Who turned us around when we really needed it.


Rav Matisyahu therefore recommends that, as a preparation for Purim, one make the special effort to seek out, assist and give support to the dejected, the depressed, the downtrodden.  The Simcha of a Jew is not a selfish, personal, limited experience.  The Mishna (Ma’aser Sheni 5:12 ) teaches, “I did all that I was commanded--I rejoiced and I caused others to rejoice.”  See also Devorim 26:11--“You shall be happy with all the good…you and the Levi and the Ger…”  When in the month of Adar we are instructed to increase our simcha, it means that each and every member of K’lal Yisroel is to be included, and it is not left for some individuals here and there to be happy.


Purim is almost upon us.  We should not enter Purim without preparation.  Rav Matisyahu has given us guidance.  We should go out of our way during these happy days to give some of our valuable time to practice the lesson of Purim as expressed by the Rambam--to revive the spirit of the lowly, and the heart of the contrite.



Special Note Four:  The Rema (in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 695:2) writes that the Seudas Purim, the festive Purim meal, should commence with Divrei Torah.  The Mishne Berurah (in Orach Chayim 429, seif katan 2) rules that one must begin learning about Pesach on Purim--which is exactly 30 days before Pesach.  Accordingly, putting the Rema and Mishne Berurah together, it is therefore a custom to commence the Purim seudah with a halacha about Pesach.  In this way, one also connects the Geulah of Purim to the Geulah of Pesach (see Taanis 29A, which states that the reason we should increase our simcha to such a great extent in Adar is because it is the commencement of both the miracles of Purim and Pesach).



Special Note Five:  A bit of practical advice:  We may munch candy and nosh in our houses now in preparation for Purim.  One should be especially careful on Shabbos not to tear any of the lettering on the candies and snack bags.  For some reason, many snacks have lettering all over them, and it is difficult to find a way to open the bag on Shabbos.



Special Note Six:  In Al HaNisim, we recite “U'Shelolom Lavoz”--that the evil Haman wanted to loot the possessions of the Jews.  If no Jew would be left alive any longer, what difference would it make to the deceased if their property was taken as booty or not?


In response to this question, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, provides two answers.  Firstly, these words teach us how wicked Haman’s designs were--to obliterate any trace of the Jewish people--even their property would not be remembered--and thus how great our yeshua--salvation--really was.  Secondly, these words teach us that, because the Gentiles had a vested interest in killing the Jews, they could have well only “believed” the first letters ordering the destruction of our People, and ignore the second ones, in our favor.  Nevertheless, the miracle was so pervasive and so resoundingly complete that the nations favored the second letters over the first, even though with it they lost their incredible opportunity to plunder what was the equivalent of billions and billions worth of property, assets and possessions.


One other insight on Al HaNissim:  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky was asked why we thank Hashem in Al HaNissim for “Al HaMilchamos”--the wars.  Wouldn't it have been better for there not to be these wars at all?  He responded that this statement provides us with a great lesson that we must always remember: “Milchamos Ani Asisi She'neemar Hashem Ish Milchama”--Hashem says “I am the One Who makes wars.” It is not, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, the nations of the world that control their fate and enter into conflict or even war.  It is Hashem who is in control of the world and of all of the people in it.  Our role is to pray and work for Shalom--which is another name of Hashem--and is the ultimate in blessing, as with this we conclude in Birchas Kohanim, Birchas HaMazon, Shemone Esrei, the Siyum of every Mesectha.  May the message ring clear to us, and with it may we stave off all future wars, and thank Hashem for **not ** having to make war, and blessing us with peace!



Special Note Seven:  As we move through Purim Day, we should remind ourselves of the words of the Arizal (found in the Pri Eitz Chaim) that EVERY Purim the Neis of Mordechai and Esther is rearoused.  What a day--what an experience!





Special Note One:  Today is the 11th day of Adar--the first day mentioned in Mesechta Megillah (2A) that the Megillah could be read under certain circumstances.  Do you feel greater Simcha coming on?  If not…start working on it!


Special Note Two:  Thoughts for Ta’anis Esther:

1.  There is a special inyan to recite Tehillim Chapter 22 on Ta’anis Esther and Purim, for this is the Kepitel recited by Esther herself upon entering Achashveirosh’s throne room uninvited (See Kav HaYashar 97).  The Kav Hayashar adds that when we gather today in Shul to daven, we are considered to be in the “Chatzar HaMelech”--and “Bevadai”, surely through our Selichos and Tefillos we arouse Mordechai HaTzadik and Esther HaMalka--who will “certainly join” in our Tefillos.  Accordingly, he writes, that Ta’anis Esther is a day which is “MESUGAL ME’OD” for our tefillos to be accepted in the zechus of Mordechai VeEsther.  “One who needs mercy from Hashem should recite Tehillim Chapter 22, and then pour his heart out to Hashem for the mercy he needs--especially mentioning the Zechus of Mordechai and Esther in whose Zechus the Sha’arei Rachamim should be opened and his Tefillos should be accepted.”

Additional Note:  The G’ra holds that this Chapter is actually the Shir Shel Yom for Purim itself.


2.  The Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah (Sha’ar 12: Perek 3) writes that one should increase his Torah study on Ta’anis Esther…maybe you can learn just a little more in honor of this great day?


3.  When contributing Machatzis HaShekel today, one should say “Zecher L’Machatzis HaShekel”--this is the remembrance of the Machatzis HaShekel, so as not to leave the impression that this is an actual contribution to the Bais HaMikdosh, which was given at this time of year. (Luach Eretz Yisroel of Rav Tukchinsky Z’tl)


4.  On Purim, one should endeavor to give Mishloach Manos not only to his relative, his best friend or his neighbor, but also to someone whom you are a little bit “on the outs” with, or with whom you do not speak enough, or with whom you have a somewhat cool relationship for various reasons, or for a particular reason, or for no reason at all.  Now--today--is the time to think about who this person or those people will be…there is no better time to break the ice--or even to warm the cool water--by knocking on someone’s door unsolicited with a smile and a colorful Mishloach Manos.  What better way could there be to dispel the claims of Haman HaRasha that we are “a dispersed and separated people”?  Anyone who dislikes coolness, discord or dispute between two groups or even within one group of our people should also move to eliminate it from within himself and his family, as well.  So…get ready, practice and rehearse--knock on that door…and “PURIM SAMEACH”-“A FREILICHIN PURIM”-“HAPPY PURIM”!


Special Note Three:  The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 690:17) writes “the children’s custom is to make an image of Haman HaRasha on sticks or stones, or to write the name of Haman HaRasha on them, and to hit them against each other, so that his name is erased…and from here comes the custom to make noise at the mention of the name of Haman HaRasha when the Megillah is read in shul--and one should not be Mevatel (nullify) a Minhag (custom) or make light of it.”


The Mishne Berurah there (seif katan 59) writes that this is not only the Minhag of children, but of adults, as well, and adds that the Chacham Tzvi would bang with his leg at the mention of Haman HaRasha.  Although many communities and Rabbonim objected to this custom as disturbing the Megillah reading and perhaps for other reasons, it is indeed reported that the Chofetz Chaim himself stomped with his foot when Haman HaRasha’s name was mentioned (Chofetz Chaim Chayav U’Poalo).  The Piskei Teshuvos (6:554) notes that this was the Minhag of other Gedolei Yisroel, as well.


The Piskei Teshuvos (ibid.) brings the explanation of the Chasam Sofer as to why we have noise and disturbance--so as to demonstrate that we do not want to hear his name.  We may add that we should feel the same way about other Reshoim--past and present.  After all, the Posuk in Mishlei 10:7 states, “V’Shem Reshoim Yirkav--the name of the wicked shall rot.”  It is one thing to take something into your mouth not knowing it was rotten, but would you let your mouth touch something knowing it was spoiled?!  This is something we would most certainly be careful about.  Our noise and stomping at the mention of his name are the equivalent of saying the words “Yimach Shmo” (we just do not want to talk during K’riyas HaMegillah)--which is like ejecting the rotten item out of your mouth.  See Sefer Avudraham 2:230-231.  We must recognize that Haman HaRasha’s despised name had to be written (in various ways) in the Megillah only for the very many lessons and reasons that the Anshei Knesses HaGedola determined with their Ruach HaKodesh.


Now, please make sure that you are sitting down for what you are about to read, for, although it is Torah about Purim, it is not “Purim Torah”:


The Piskei Teshuvos (ibid.) adds from the Ba’al Shevet Mussar, Z’tl, and Rav Chaim Pilagi, Z’tl, that when we hit at the mention of Haman HaRasha’s (and according to some Minhagim, his family members’) name, Hashem makes him actually feel these smites--so that he is in tremendous pain.  Why?  Because the miracle of Purim happened to every Jew in every generation--after all, if Haman HaRasha’s plan had been successful, R’L, we would never have been born.  Therefore, he must feel all of the smites of all Jews of all generations since Purim.


Let us appreciate Purim deeply--and literally rejoice in our salvation.



Special Note Four:  We provide three additional questions that are Kosher Purim and Year Round Use--this time in honor of the One Hashem, and to thank His Two Agents--Mordechai and Esther--for our salvation:


  1. How many words are there in the “Al Hanisim” of Purim?  In Nusach Ashkenaz, there are 68.  HaRav Yaakov Emden in his Siddur writes that 68 is the Gematria of “Chaim”--and we thank Hashem for the life he granted us at that time--which has its life-bearing effects to this day, which will continue forever and ever!


  1. Why did Esther request of the king that the Bnei Yisroel be given an extra day to fight their enemies in Shushan (Megillah 9:13 )?  The Megillas Sesarim (HaRav Yaakov MeLisa--the Nesivos) writes that Shushan had more Kedusha in it because the Sanhedrin was there, and because Mordechai was a Navi.  When Haman’s Gezeira was put into effect the Kedusha was lost, and could not return until the Tumah was eradicated.  Esther saw that the Ruach HaKodesh had not yet come back, so she understood that the Tumah in the city was still there.  Accordingly, the 10 sons of Haman had to be hung, the other Amaleikim in the city obliterated--and the Kedusha then returned!


  1. What happened to Zeresh?  Well, first of all, we curse her every year--“Arura Zeresh Aishes Mafchidi”.  The Targum ( 9:14 ) writes that she ran away with 70 of her sons, and they became beggars.  A Rav taught that this was truly a tremendous punishment--for not only is an Ani considered like a Mais--but she lived to see Mordechai the Jew in control of all Haman’s property and possessions.



Special Note Five:  We continue with several additional Pesakim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, as recorded (with his own approbation) by his close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita, in the recently published Sefer Koveitz Halachos:


  1. One can be Yotzei the Mitzvah of Matanos LaEvyonim with a check even if it is postdated, because one can use the check in payment or otherwise negotiate it to someone else.


  1. A woman can be Yotzeis her Matanos LaEvyonim through her husband’s giving, but it is better for her husband to tell her that he is giving on her behalf.


  1. If a person sends Mishloach Manos before Purim and it arrives on Purim, he is Yotzei the Mitzvah.  Similarly, if one leaves Mishloach Manos at his friend’s door Purim night and his friend discovers it in the morning, one is Yotzei Misholach Manos.


  1. As brought in the Rema to Shulchan Aruch, one should learn Torah immediately prior to the Purim Seudah, since the Pasuk states “LaYehudim Haysa Orah VeSimcha”--the light of Torah must precede the Simcha of the meal because it brings a person to true Simcha.  It is not sufficient for a person to rely on his study of Torah in the morning.


  1. Women are equally as obligated in the Seuda as men.  Drinking should be done during the Seuda.  Women should also drink a little bit (a revi’is or less) of wine, and can also be Yotzeis with grape juice instead of wine.  However, there is no obligation for children under Bar/Bas Mitzvah to drink even grape juice.  It is, in all events, forbidden for anyone to become drunk.  The lesson is clear--our Seudah should be graced only by the Yetzer Hatov and the Torah atmosphere that Mordechai HaTzadik and Esther HaMalka were ready to give their lives for--and would be so proud of!



Special Note One:  We provide by clicking here a flyer relating to The Power of Purim that has been distributed for many years.  Please feel free to distribute and redistribute!



Special Note Two:  What did the G’RA send for Mishloach Manos?  The Sefer Ma’aseh Rav (249) provides the answer: Cooked chicken and cooked fish, and similarly ready-to-eat items.

Special Note Three:  The Sefer Halichos Shlomo, which contains the rulings of HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Zt’l, writes that, according to HaRav Auerbach the definition of an “Evyon” for purposes of Purim is someone who does not have money “l’tzrochim hahechreichim l’farnes baiso--the funds which are necessary to provide for the necessities of one’s family.”  If you have not already done so, now is the time to give Tzedaka to those excellent organizations which distribute Matanos LeEvyonim to the poor on Purim.  Remember--we are required to give only one Mishloach Manos--but we are required to give two Matanos LeEvyonim (that’s twice as much)!

Special Note Four:  Yesterday, we commemorated the 14th of Adar with 14 questions, today we provide six additional Questions which are Kosher for Purim and Year Round--in order to commemorate the six Mitzvos of Purim:  Kriyas HaMegillah two times, Matanos LaEvyonim to two people, Mishloach Manos, and the Seudah:


  1. How many years did Purim occur before Chanukah?  Approximately 216 years (Sefer Targum Sheini by Rav Tzvi Dov Cohen, Shlita).


  1. Why is Charvona “Zachor Latov”?  Some learn that the officer Charvona is spelled earlier in the Megillah with an “Aleph”, and later in the Megillah with a “Hey” (when he tells Achashveirosh about Haman’s tree) because it is actually not the same person.  Earlier in the Megillah (1:10) he is an officer of Achashveirosh.  Later, it is Eliyahu HaNavi, merely posing as Charvona, who we remember for the good.  Others learn that the officer Charvona had Hirhurei Teshuva, and is thus remembered for the good.


  1. Who killed his wife because of someone he loved, and killed someone he loved because of his wife?  Achashveirosh killed Vashti based on Memuchan’s accusation, and killed Haman based upon Esther’s accusation.  ....Yet another reminder that Hashem makes the world go around and around!


  1. Who in the Megillah sought after the peace of one person and was rewarded with being Zoche to seek the peace of his entire people?  The Megillah teaches that Mordechai went “Lidrosh Es Shlom Esther” (2:11).  Chazal teach that Hashem said “You went to seek the peace of one person--in this merit you will seek the peace of your entire nation--Vedover Shalom Lechol Zaro.” (Esther Raba 6:6).  What a great lesson--how great it is to seek someone else’s peace--think about to where it can lead!  Perhaps our Mishloach Manos and Matanos LeEvyonim are to serve as our jump start in seeking the peace of others!


  1. Mordechai was the tenth generation to which great personage?  Shaul HaMelech (Targum Sheni 2:5)


  1. Which son of Haman was hung on the lowest rung of the gallows, hanging just an Amah above the ground?  Vyzasa (Targum Sheini 9:14).  There is a reason for everything--even as to how and where each of our enemies are punished--otherwise Chazal would not record it.  We similarly find at the Yam Suf that the Mitzriyim were punished in different ways (being treated in the waters as lead, stones, or straw, depending upon how they treated the Bnei Yisroel).  Everything has a Cheshbon--Everything!



Special Note Five:  We are excited to advise of a work published just days ago, which has already been sold out and is in a second printing--the Sefer Kovetz Halachos of Purim, containing the Piskei Halachos of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, as wonderfully compiled (with extensive footnotes) by a close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita.  We provide below a small sampling of the important P’sokim contained in this excellent Sefer:


  1. Even if one is exempt from fasting because of illness, he should minimize the amount of food and drink that he consumes on the Ta’anis.  A pregnant woman and a nursing woman may consume regular amounts, as necessary.


  1. If one intends to rise early on Ta’anis Esther and eat before Alos Hashachar, he must start his Seudah at least a half hour before Alos, although it is permissible to eat less than a Kebeitzah within the half hour period.


  1. This Shabbos, a Megillah is not Muktzah (not even Machmas Chisaron Kis) for one can study Torah from it.


  1. Before one touches his Megillah, he should wash his hands (see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 147:1).


  1. When Chazal teach that a person who does melacha on Purim will not see a siman bracha from it, this does not refer to permissible melacha--such as a dovor ho’avad (matters relating to preventing a financial loss) and melacha for simcha.  Additionally, one is permitted to cut his hair and nails and do laundry.


  1. It is best if women go to Shul to hear the Megillah read BeTzibbur.  If one has a wife, a son who has reached the age of Chinuch, and a baby in the house--who should go to Shul--his wife, or the older child?  It would appear better for the wife to stay home (and hopefully hear the Megillah together with ten women later) and that he should bring his son to Shul to fulfill the Mitzvah of chinuch (BeRov Am).


  1. If someone knows that he will not be able to hear every word in Shul, and will have to make up the words he does not hear from a Chumash (which is only B’dieved)--it is better to make a smaller Minyan in one’s home and be yotzeh lechatchilah by hearing every word from a Megillah.  However, if one will be forced to read or hear the Megillah without a Minyan, it is better to go to Shul and make up the words from one’s Chumash when necessary.


  1. If one person didn’t hear the Megillah, and finds nine people who agree to listen again even though they were already yotzeh, it is still called Megillah B’Tzibur.


  1. If a person senses that he lost his focus on the Megillah, he should read from his Chumash from the place where he lost his focus until he catches up to the Ba’al Kriyah.  This holds true for both men and women.  It is for this reason that it is best to have one’s own Kosher Megillah, and to lein the Megillah together with the Chazan.  Indeed, if one is uncertain whether he missed one word of the Megillah (either at night or during the day), he must hear the entire Megillah reading again.


  1. One should drink a little bit of wine at night of Purim and have candles lit at his Purim night meal, as well.


B”EH to be continued tomorrow…. In the meantime, remember Marbin BeSimcha!



Special Note One:  In a recent note, we had suggested that one pay special attention to the Brachos of Gevuros this week, in preparation for the Gevuros that we will experience on Purim--and in fact for the Gevuros that Hashem bestows upon us every day.  There is a wonderful Remez to Purim that we discovered in the Bracha of Gevuros:  “Melech Maimis U’Mechayeh U’Matzmiach Yeshua--King Who causes death and causes life, and makes salvations sprout.”  In the Megillah, we see Haman put to death, Mordechai’s life spared and his rise in power (a Mechayeh!) and the Bnei Yisroel’s subsequent salvation….  It is interesting to note that the word “sprout” or “tzemach” is once again used in the Fifteenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--“Es Tzemach Dovid.”  This teaches us that just as the salvation of Purim sprouted after so many years—so, too, is our Geulah sprouting each and every day.  We should very well appreciate this each and every time that we recite Es Tzemach Dovid!



Special Note Two:  The following questions are Kosher for Purim and Year-Round Use:


1.      Who was the king before Achasveirosh?  Coresh-see first Rashi to the Megillah.


2.      Who brought Mordechai from Bavel to Shushan?  Coresh--see Targum to Megillah 2:6.


3.       Why didn’t Achasveirsosh force people to drink to join in his joy--why was there no “Oness” to drink?  The Megillas Sesorim (Megillah 1:8) explains that Achashveirosh wanted the Jews to sin willingly--“Kedi SheYehenu Beratzon.”


4.      What did Mordechai do during the seven days of Achashveirosh’s party?  He served as a Sar HaMashkim, as did Haman (see Rashi to Megillah 1:8).  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that he did this in order to save Bnei Yisroel from Ma’acholos Asuros.  However, the Targum teaches that he wasn’t there and that he davened, and did not eat and drink, for the seven days of the party (Targum Esther 1:10 ).


5.      The Megillah teaches that Esther told Mordechai that not only should the Bnei Yisroel not eat and drink for three days--but that she and her Na’aros would also fast.  Yet, she said “Gam Ani Ven’aarosai Atzum Kein”--Atzum is in first person singular.  What happened to her maidens--weren’t they supposed to fast as well?  Rav Shlomo Kluger, Z’tl, in the Sefer HaChaim explains that Esther could only state what she knew to be the truth--that she would fast.  She did not know what her Na’aros would do privately and she would not say something that she did not know for certain to be the truth.


6.      Who in the Megillah was smitten BeSanveirim (illusions) and how was he cured?  The Sefer Orah VeSimcha brings the Medrash that Achashveirosh was suffering from Sanveirim--but when Esther came to the Chatzer, Gavriel tilted the king’s head towards her and he was healed.  Achashveirosh therefore put out his golden scepter to bring her closer since he was healed by seeing her.


7.      Why do the unwalled cities and walled cities have different days for observing Purim?  The Shoel U’Maishiv brings the Ramban who writes that the walled city dwellers didn’t sense the miracle as much because they thought that they were secure in their walled cities--and Mordechai and Esther got them to understand that the miracle very much applied to them as well!  Do you think you’re secure because you have an alarm system?...


8.      Why is Haman specifically called an Agagi (8:3) when Esther pleads with Achashveirosh to reverse his decree after Haman was hanged?  The Bnei Yissaschar explains that usually when a ruler dies, his decrees are nullified, as his death is viewed as a sign that the decree was inappropriate.  However, because Haman was an Agagi and not really from the ruling authority of Paras U’Madai, the decree was not nullified, and Esther had to make a special appeal.


9.      What is the significance in the fact that the Gematria of Haman and HaMelech are the same?  One may suggest that that this is to signify that both Achashveirosh and Haman had the same feeling of hatred towards Bnei Yisroel.


10.  According to Chazal, how many students was Mordechai learning with when Haman came in to take him on the royal horse?  Twenty-two Thousand.  This is equivalent to the number of Malochim who escorted Hashem to Har Sinai.  This perhaps demonstrates the new Kabalas HaTorah by Bnei Yisroel of Kimu VeKiblu…we replaced the Malochim when we accepted to Torah of our own free will!


11.  Why didn’t Mordechai and Esther let Achashveirosh be killed by Bigsan and Seresh so that Esther could be freed and go back to Mordechai and her people?  She would have been taken as the queen by the next king anyways, and Mordechai and Esther understood that a special Hatzalah of Bnei Yisroel would result from the unique circumstance of her being taken as queen.


12.  Why isn’t the Shaim Hashem in the Megillah?  Many answer because Hashem’s presence is hidden in the in the subtle events of the Megillah.  We may suggest that this is to teach us that we should not fool ourselves--the final battle with Amalek was not then fought.  Only when the final battle is fought before the building of the Third Beis HaMikdash will Hashem’s name become complete.


13.  How long was Haman hung on the tree?  From 16 Nisan to 14 Adar of the next year.  This was for the world to see that the Bnei Yisroel were not to be killed but respected.  Finally, on the 14th of Adar almost a year later, his sons accompanied him on the gallows below him (Shailos U’Teshvous Torah LeShma 321, based upon the Targum Sheni).


14.  Why does the Megillah go to such great lengths to describe the wealth of Achashveirosh’s palace and party?  The G’ra (Al Derech Hapshat) explains that it is to teach that--if this is how grand Olam Hazeh is – imagine how great Olam Habah will be--after all, an hour of Olam Habah is worth all of Olam Hazeh of all time!  


Can you guess as to why we have presented exactly fourteen questions?  We will not give the answer to this question….



Special Note One:  Yeshivas Mordechai Hatzadik, Torah study in Shul on Purim day, has branches worldwide, with thousands participating.  If your Shul does not yet participate in this noble project (Torah study on such a busy day!), please contact Avos Ubanim (contact information below) to learn how you can join.  Most certainly, it is a special Zechus to contribute towards the prizes given to the children for learning on this day!  For more information please contact Avos Ubanim at ( USA ) 1-718-301-9795 or (Eretz Yisroel) 57-3112-613, or by e-mail at ymh@avosubanim.com



Special Note Two:  We provide one parting remarkable thought as we take leave of Parshas Terumah.  The Shach writes that it is possible that on every utensil made in the Bais HaMikdash, a separate Bracha was made of “Asher Kideshanu BeMitzvosav Vitzivanu Al Asiyas Kli Ploni”  so that kedusha would come on to the Kli not only through its making-but also through the dibbur of the Bracha!  What a great lesson for us--every time we say the words “Asher Kideshanu BeMitzvosav Vetzivanu...” we are *bringing kedusha* on to the Mitzvah we are performing or upon the item we are performing the mitzvah on.  Tomorrow morning, or today if you will be washing for a meal, look at your hands after making the Brach of “Asher Kideshanu...Al NetilasYodaim”--and realize what you have just done!



Special Note Three:  We provide the following astonishing excerpt from The Light of the Ben Ish Chai on Megillat Esther--the commentary of the Ben Ish Chai on the Megillah--as translated by Rabbi Yerachmiel Bratt, Shlita, (as you give your Mishloach Manos with one hand, perhaps you can give this wonderful sefer to your friend with the other!):  “The Chida in the name of Rav Germiza stated that the gematria of the expression Mordechai HaYehudi--Mordechai the Jew--equals the name of Hashem as Shakai (shin dalet and yud)--314.  The name Shakai indicates that Hashem controls all and that he can completely up heave the powers of the spheres of the universe.  As a true Amaleki, after Haman told his family of his honor and fortune, he stated that all was valueless to him when he saw Mordechai HaYehudi.  Haman specifically referred to Mordechai as ‘Mordechai HaYehudi’ because he was really referring to Hashem’s control over the balance of power in the universe.  In one fell swoop, Hashem could shift power from Haman to Mordechai.  Indeed, Zeresh and Haman’s advisors urged Haman to take swift action before the balance of power in the universe shifted in favor of Mordechai.  Their human thoughts fell short and unaccomplished.  Shortly thereafter, Mordechai HaYehudi ascended to power while Haman and his sons were overthrown and hanged....”


Hakhel Note:  Is it no small wonder, then, that this name of Hashem--Shakai--is placed upon our Mezuzos to remind us Who is control of all as we come and go!



Special Note Four:  The word “imanu--with us” appears one time in Shemone Esrei--when we recite the thankful words of “V’al Nissecha She’bechal Yom Imanu--for all of the [hidden] daily miracles.”  So, you think that miracles of this kind happen only on Purim?!  The Hidden Miracles happen IMANU--with us every day as well!  Let us spend the week before Purim getting ready for the grand celebration by focusing in on thanking Hashem for the miracles that He bestows upon us every day of our lives--and let us especially remember to thank Hashem for that which we know about--but also the salvations that we don’t even know about (ranging from the heinous plans of our enemies or even “friends” against us--to appreciatively being saved in the winter from a dangerous slip and fall).  Chazal teach that the days of Purim will never become botel (Yalkut Shimoni Mishlei 544)—so, too, should we never, ever cease to thank Hashem for all that He bestows upon us daily.



Special Note Five:  As Mishloach Manos time draws nearer, we are reminded not to forget the Bain Odom LaMakom when beautifully performing this great Mitzvah of Bain Odom LeChaveiro.  This means that especially meaningful Brachos should be made upon the Manos received.  One point:  If you received a small cookie and a large, but sliced piece of cake, and you intend to eat both, which item would you make the Borei Minei Mezonos on?  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 168:1) rules that it is more chashuv to make a bracha on a shalem--on a whole, uncut item even if it is smaller--than to make a bracha on a non-whole item--even if it larger.  One can also deduce the obvious mussar lessons from this as well!


Now that we have touched upon the topic, we provide the following important P’sokim of HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, relating to Mishloach Manos--as recorded in the new (Hebrew) Sefer Yevakshu MiPihu, which contains hundreds of Pesakim of HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, relating to Purim and is available in many Seforim stores.  (This sefer would make a very special Pre-Purim gift!)  Before we begin, we remind everyone who has not yet conceived of this year’s theme for their Mishloach Manos that to be yotze Mishloach Manos it must consist of at least two ready-to-consume food/drink items--and that, as Rav Schorr, Shlita, taught at last week’s Hakhel Shiur--the real “theme” of Mishloach Manos is the achdus of K’lal Yisroel!


1.  Each portion given should be at least a kezayis, and should be something that is viewed as chashuv.  One could not, for instance, give a slice of bread and an onion and be yotzeh the Mitzvah.  However, one could give chocolates or candies--provided that there is as least a kezayis of them.


2.  A roll and a container of butter (or jelly) are considered two portions and one has fulfilled the mitzvah with them--but if the butter or jelly has already been spread on the bread it is only one portion.  Two kinds of meat (prepared with different spices, or one cooked and the other roasted) would also be considered two different portions.


3.  One can be Yotzeh the Mitzvah by giving two kinds of wine, or two kinds of soda.  However, one is not yotzeh the Mitzvah with water, soda water or mineral water.


4.  One is not yotzeh the Mitzvah with tavlin such as a container of tea bags or coffee.  [The mechaber of the Sefer surmises that one could not be yotzeh with a drink of tea or coffee, for that is only a combination of two items that you can not be yotzeh with:  water and the tavlin of tea or coffee].  One could be yotzeh with a container of sugar, since it is edible as is.


5.  One is yotzeh the Mitzvah even if the food would taste better warmed up--as long as it is edible as is.


6.  It is better to give items which comport with the chashivus of the giver and the receiver--but this is not me’akev, as long as the other halachos (such as those above) are satisfied.


7.  One can fulfill the mitzvah in giving to a parent--for one should be “BeRayus” with them as well!


8.  Children of age should give to their friends.  A child who is 13 years-old may give to his 12 year-old friend (although he is still a katan) and still be yotzeh the Mitzvah--as this is his Rayus.


9.  One must know who sent the Mishloach Manos in order for the sender to be yotzeh (it can not be anonymous!)--otherwise there is no increase in love and friendship.


10.  The two portions do not have to be given at the same time--they can be given one after the other.


11.  It is permitted to eat in the morning before performing the Mitzvah.  However, the Mitzvah of “Zerizin Makdimin--acting with alacrity when performing Mitzvos”--applies to Mishloach Manos as it applies to all others!



Special Note One:  Adar is the only month of the year which can have two months with the same name.  This year, we have only one Adar--which means that we have to compact all of the simcha of two months into one.  So let’s work twice as hard on it!



Special Note Two:  One of the attributes of Hashem that shines forth for all generations in the month of Adar is His Gevura--developing a panoply of events and turning the king of 127 nations, a ruler over hundreds of thousands, in an ostensibly shameful total about-face (cf. p’shat of the Malbim) from a decree to annihilate world Jewry to placing Jewry on a pedestal and elevating Mordechai to the position of a great world leader.  It would appear appropriate that we have especial kavana and hisorerus in the second bracha of Shemone Esrei--as we recite the words “Mechalkel Chaim BeChesed...Somech Noflim...Mi Chamocha Ba’al Gevuros....”  Indeed, our recent effort--an effort of tens of thousands to save only one life did not succeed--so we can only begin to fathom the awesome, wholly unfathomable power of saving hundreds of thousands or millions in the most discreet of circumstances.  Let us especially focus on Gevuros Hashem in the coming week!

Special Note Three:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series.  The following are P’sakim from the Sefer Chashukei Chemed by HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, Shlita:


1.  What is the first melacha that a Ba’al Teshuva must be educated in?  It is quite possible that it is the melacha that is most discussed in Mesechta Shabbos--the melacha of Hotza’ah (carrying)--for many don’t realize the gravity of the melacha involved.  One frequently goes in and out on Shabbos, and unlike most other melachos--the Torah actually alludes to the melacha.  Even if one doesn’t have a Reshus HaRabbim MiD’Oraysa in his locale--his carrying every Shabbos could involve numerous DeRabbanans repeated time and again.  Of course, if one knows of a particular melacha that a person or group is especially nichshal in (such as borer)--he should definitely first start there.  Otherwise, care to guard against the Melacha of Hotza’ah is a real test as to whether one is truly a Yirei Shomayim.


2.  If one’s burglar alarm goes off on Shabbos, and he has neighbors who are not Shomer Shabbos and who may call the police and otherwise engage in public Chillul Shabbos and others to shut off the alarm--is it better for the homeowner to shut off the alarm with a Shinui to avoid Chillul Shabbos of others?  In this case, one should not shut off his alarm even with a Shinui, for it is not permissible to perform even a smaller Issur (a DeRabbanan) in order to prevent another from performing a larger Issur (a De’Oraysa).  However, one should not compare one case to another on his own, and should always ask a Shaileh, for there are many factors that the Rav or Posek will take into consideration which you may not have even considered.


3.  Is one permitted to open a refrigerator on Shabbos if he is unsure if the refrigerator light will go on? (For instance, he was given permission to use someone else’s home.)  This would seem to be a Sofek Psik Reisha in a circumstance where one should have clarified the matter before Shabbos, and which may be prohibited (see Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim 326:9 Bi’ur Halacha D.H. Bedevarim).  Perhaps the best eitzah for the person is to open the refrigerator with a shinuyi and if the light goes on, he should close his eyes so as not to get benefit from it.  He must then not allow the refrigerator to close, for it will extinguish the light.  It is best, of course, to figure out a way to avoid the need to open the refrigerator at all.


4.  Can one place a garment which has chewing gum stuck to it into the freezer on Shabbos in order to dislodge the chewing gum from the clothing?  No, and there may even be an Issur D’Oraysa of Libun involved.


5.  Can one eat sesame seeds or other similar foods which may get stuck in the mouth prior to leaving the house on Shabbos?  The Sefer Chasidim (Siman 265) says that one should not do so [if there is not Eruv in the area].



Special Note Nine:  Of the donations mentioned in this week’s Parsha, we find Zahav (gold), Kesef (silver), and Nechoshes (copper).  The Vilna Gaon teaches that these three items represent three different ways one can give Tzedaka.  The first is Zahav--which stands for “Zeh Hanosein Bari”--this is someone who gives while healthy, out of Tov Lev, his desire to do Chesed.  The second category is Kesef--which stands for “Kisheyeish Sakanah Podeh”--when one finds himself in a difficult situation, he looks to Tzedakah to save him.  The third category is Nechoshes--which stands for “Nidvas Choleh Sheomer Tenu--someone who is very ill and wants to bequeath money as a Zechus for himself in the Next World.


Each of these three categories is obviously great and important.  However, as we all know, Zahav, or gold, is the most valuable.  Let us reflect upon this, and not necessarily wait until Purim to give Matanos LaEvyonim--when we can take the lesson from the Parsha and give Tzedaka today!  This is how a Jew “goes for the gold!”



Special Note One:  Based upon all of the tefillos and hishtadlus of the tens of thousands of individuals and dedicated tzibbur the world over, it would seem to have been Derech HaTeva for Michoel Yechiel Grossman’s a’h life to have been spared--at least for now.  Hashem, for reasons known only to Him did not will it, and the unworthy puppets below performed.  To put matters in further perspective, for those who did not immediately turn there for guidance, we reprint below  Day 77 in the daily program of Praying With Fire, the monumental work by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita (Artscroll, footnotes have been omitted):


“Sometimes, unfortunately, despite sincere prayers, a seriously ill family member or close acquaintance passes away.  There is a natural tendency in such a situation to feel that one’s prayers were for naught.  However, according to the Steipler Gaon, comfort should be drawn from the knowledge that our prayers do have a significant effect; the prayers remain a source of merit because through them, Heavenly compassion was aroused.  These merits will stand by the departed in the World to Come and may also protect their children in the future.


“These prayers may also bring salvation to other individuals and to the community as a whole.  At the End of Days, when all will be revealed, we will see the redeeming power of each and every tefillah that has ever been prayed.


“When Rav Shneur Kotler, Rosh Yeshivah of Beis Medrash Gavoha of Lakewood , was suffering from his terminal illness, a group of his students and admirers journeyed to Bnei Brak , Israel , to implore the Steipler Gaon to intensify his prayers on Rav Shneur’s behalf.  They confided to the Steipler that they were discouraged because prayers were pouring from tens of thousands of Jewish hearts, yet the Rosh Yeshivah’s condition continued to decline.


“The Steipler responded, ‘Do not be dismayed.  There is no such thing as a sincere prayer that goes unanswered.  Any heartfelt request addressed to G-d must be answered.  It cannot be otherwise.  If it is not answered today it will be answered tomorrow.  If not tomorrow it will be answered in a week.  If not in a week, in a month.  If not answered in a month, it may be answered in a year, or in ten years, or in one hundred years or more.  If your prayers are not answered in your lifetime, they will be answered for your children or for your children’s children.  We cannot say for sure when a prayer will be answered, but we can rest assured that every prayer will be answered somehow, someday.’  Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, Shlita, explains that while each prayer evokes a corresponding reply from Heaven, Hashem alone perceives a situation in its full complexity.  One cannot always understand the logic or justice in His response.  Seemingly unanswered prayers are sometimes like the rain and snow.  They appear to sink out of sight, accomplishing nothing, but in fact, they saturate the Heavens just as rain saturates the earth and brings forth its blessings.  The bounty of Heaven, just like the bounty of earth, waits for its proper season.


“Only Hashem knows when that season will be.  For example, a loved one might be involved in a serious accident, G-d forbid.  Nobody in the family knows of the accident as the ambulances race to the scene.  No one is there to pray while the victim hangs tenuously onto life.  In such a case, Rav Pincus says, Hashem “takes out” a heartfelt prayer that a family member uttered years ago--a prayer that was unanswered at the time--and showers its merit upon the current situation.  That prayer, held in reserve for so long, may now become the injured person’s salvation.


“Reuven is a confident, energetic little boy who runs everywhere he goes. One morning, his mother calls him to come downstairs for breakfast, and he dashes to the stairs in his typical, high-speed style.  This time, however, he trips on his shoelace and begins a headlong descent down the stairs.  His mother hears the child’s startled shout and then the sickening thump-thump of his body landing heavily on step after step.  She runs to the scene just as he crashes to the floor.  He lies perfectly still for a moment, and her heart fills with cold fear.  Just as she approaches him, he begins to move.  He gets up, adjusts his rumpled shirt, collects his yarmulke and says, “What’s for breakfast?”


“The boy’s mother has prayed many times for many things, and sometimes, her prayers were not answered as she had hoped.  At this moment, however, she can appreciate that not one word has gone to waste.


“We pray for certain aspects of good to come into our lives, yet we have no real way of knowing if our vision of good is accurate from the true perspective of Heaven.  The man praying to meet his household’s expenses may always have to struggle for money, but his prayers might keep his children securely upon the path of Torah.  The couple praying for children may not ultimately succeed in their quest, but the merit of their prayers may help save their entire community from some terrible decree.


“We do not always know what good a prayer will bring.  We do know, however, that all sincere prayer is answered with good.”



Special Note Two:  The S’forno at the outset of Parshas Mishpatim explains that the entire Parsha is really a continuation of the last of the Aseres HaDibros--which is Lo Sachmod--not to covet another’s possessions.  Once we respect the fact that his possessions are not ours--then the next step is to recognize all of his rights in those possessions.


Hakhel Note:  The Mishna in Avos (4:1) first teaches “Who is a Gibor--who is strong?  He who overcomes his Yetzer Hora”, and only afterwards teaches “Who is rich?  He who is satisfied with his lot.”  One must first vanquish the Lo Sachmod within him (which is so important that it culminates the Aseres HaDibros)--and only afterwards will he properly regard money and possessions in this world.  At the recent Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, taught that people are very mistaken about Jewish Law in monetary matters.  Choshen Mishpat provides us with detailed laws as to what to do in particular circumstances.  We do not follow peshara--compromise--if a person asserts a specious or meritless claim, or a claim that is lacking.  We follow peshara when both sides have relative equities in their positions--which each party may very well be blinded to.  When Dayanim make a decision, their role, Rabbi Reisman explained, is not to effectuate what they may think works out nicest for both sides--it is to rule in accordance with the teachings of Hashem as put forth by Rebbe Yehuda HaNassi in the Mishna, Ravina and Rav Ashi in the Gemara, and as promulgated by the Tur and Shulchan Aruch and their commentaries.  Unlike other bodies of law which are left up to the foibles of fallible mortals, our monetary laws are actually G-d given, developed by extraordinary men imbued with Ruach HaKodesh, and applied by spiritual guides--Rabbonim, Dayanim and Poskim who must realize that being a Yirei Elokim is part of their role in life--as opposed to secular jurists with no pure knowledge of truth, who state what they feel is right based upon their upbringing and own ideas, often resulting in marred conclusions.  When it comes to monetary matters, we must know that Hashem wants us to follow His laws, and we must understand that not everything is based upon one’s good sense, business practices or custom in the community.  We should ask those who know what the right thing to do is.  Rabbi Reisman’s Sefer on Ribbis, Rabbi Marburger’s Sefer on Business Halacha, and Rabbi Bodner’s Sefer on The Halachos of Other People’s Money are starters for everyone’s home.  Rabbi Reisman, in fact, pointed out that when Yirmiyashu Hanavi was exhorting the people to prevent the Churban Beis Hamikdash, one would think he would spend all of his time convincing them to rid themselves of all of the avoda zara that was then being practiced.  Yirmiyahu, however, focused to a great extent on proper dealings with money--honesty and integrity in business matters according to Torah law--in order to try to prevent the Churban.


There are, of course, many, many things that can be said about the events of recent days in Florida .  One of the major lessons we must take with us is that we must do our best to finally rid ourselves and the world of this bitter Galus.  A world being run by secular leaders, without regard for instructions and pleas from men of spirit, is certainly devoid of much of its purpose.  Hashem especially showed us how we have to yearn for Geulah, as he allowed all of the goodness to fall before us.  So, although our achdus over the last week was unmatched by any other people, the Parsha cries out to us that it is time to work on the Mishpatim.  It is no secret to anyone that Parshas Terumah this week follows Parshas Mishpatim of last week--ostensibly indicating to us that if we follow the Torah’s teachings in money matters--then we get to the immediately following step--building the Mishkan!  Let’s get going--instead of being washed-out--we can be mezakeh ourselves and Michoel Yechiel by purifying ourselves and the world.


Special Note One:  We received the following valuable correspondence from a reader:  “Your note on necessary Tefillin adjustment and helping others properly perform their Mitzvah reminded me of a beautiful thought I read.  It asked the question, what did people do before tefillin mirrors?


“For most of Jewish history, mirrors were not cheap to come by.  So what did the Ribbono Shel Olam expect us to do?...  Without the mirror, the only way to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tefillin correctly is through areivus, each person in the Minyan taking responsibility for each other’s Tefillin.  Tefillin actually underscored the unity of the minyan and our brotherhood.  While the mirror is a better solution than trying to catch your reflection in a doorknob, now that we have mirrors, all we can see is ourselves. (from http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2005/02/tefillin-mirrors.shtml)


“Nevertheless, I still find it hard to directly go out of my way correct someone.  So the suggestion to ask someone whether your own Shel Rosh is out of place is a perfect solution which naturally lends itself to an offer to reciprocate.  And, I might add, a valuable insight in general for situations where people need a little tochachah....”



Special Note Two:  Another beautiful insight from a reader:  “Where is the concept of 24/7 alluded to in the Torah?”  If one looks at Shemos 24:7 in last week’s Parsha, he will find the words ‘Na’aseh VeNishma--we will do and we will hear’...this is the 24/7 of the Jew in this world!”



Special Note Three:  It’s not too late to start--you will STILL MAKE IT!  If you start learning three Mishnayos of Mesechta Megillah you can make a Siyum at the Purim Seudah.  Then if you continue with three Mishnayos of Mesechta Pesachim--you will make another siyum on Pesach...Seize the Opportunities!



Special Note Four:  Now that we are at the second day of Adar, we are reminded of the words of Rav Dessler, Z’tl, in Michtav Mai’Eliyahu (Volume 2, p.123).  Rav Dessler teaches that just as there are stages in the aveilus of Av beginning with Rosh Chodesh--which climax on Tisha B’Av, so, too, is there an increase and upsurge in the Simcha one is to feel as he moves daily through Adar, reaching a pinnacle on Purim and Shushan Purim.  This avodah is not something that we wait until the last moment with.  Let us at a minimum now (i.e., today) begin studying the Nissim of Purim with a new commentary or Sefer.  Our joy is never marked by a one-time chuckle at a joke or one-liner, but at the Simcha of our relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu, as the world rotates on the axis of His Hashgacha Pratis over us.  For an incredible perspective on the avodah of Simcha during this month with very practical applications, we once again urge you to obtain a copy of Rabbi Schorr’s Shiur from the past Yarchei Kallah by calling 718-252-5274.



Special Note Five:  “How many Shaloch Manos will you get this year?”  For most Jews in America , the answer is ZERO.  Or worse, “WHAT ARE SHALOCH  MANOS?”  Project Inspire has developed a practical and meaningful campaign to help other Jews by providing an extremely affordable ($4.00) Shaloch Manos in an educational package with a built-in card.  As Project Inspire so eloquently puts it:  “We were saved as one nation, let’s celebrate as one nation.  Do your part to make sure to make that a reality--share the simcha with someone less affiliated this Purim.  You never know the impact that your simple gesture can make.”  All you have to do is identify the acquaintance(s) who you would like to receive this timely gift, and call 646-461-3339, or email cfeiman@projectinspire.com, or visit www.kiruv.com.  Let us especially expand the reality of “Ish LeRai’aihu” this year!



Special Note Six:  As the snow and ice continues to impact upon those in the more northern climates, we must remember the teaching of Chazal (in Avos DeRebbe Nosson) “Pa’am Achas BeTza’ar MiMai’ah Pe’omim She’loBe’Tza’ar--better one time with tza’ar, then 100 times with ease.”  That difficult walk to Shul or to learn, driving someone home or helping someone out under more difficult conditions, attending a Simcha and expending more time and effort in doing so--all of these are not simply part of “the facts of winter,” or even a punishment for something we have done, but may very well really be part of a grand and heavenly calculation with HaKadosh Baruch Hu providing us with super-zechusim.  We know that the Geulah came earlier because of the Avodas Perech we performed in Mitzrayim--with the quantity of the work we were otherwise to perform being replaced by its more difficult quality.  So, if you walk out to do a Mitzvah today in a powerful rain, or in snow, slush or sleet, or perhaps carefully stepping on the old ice covered by something new that has fallen from heaven--daven to Hashem that your troubles and difficulties should be a Kapara--and remember that you are acquiring extraordinary zechusim--and that each and every small or difficult step that you take is quite likely a very large step of zechus towards the eternal Geulah Sheleima--O’ Hashem--may it come speedily and in our day.


Special Note One:  We continue our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series, excerpted from Practical Halachos of Shabbos, Volume I, by Rabbi Mayer Birnbaum, Shlita:

1.                   Blowing a piece of dirt out of food is the Melacha D’Oraysa of Zoreh.


2.                   You may not sort out a pile of mixed dishes to put in a dishwasher.  Hakhel Note:  this may appear as an “easy” case known to all--but one may want to review with his family, friends, or host the situations that arise relating to separating ordinary trash from recyclables, leftover food from food to be disposed of, and dealing with a plate that has a mixture of silverware, food and disposables on it.


3.                   You may not sort out a pile of silverware, even randomly one at a time, to put away [however, if they are wet you may pick up one piece at a time to dry it and then put it into its proper compartment].


4.                   A cluster of grapes that has dirt mixed in it may not be soaked in a bowl for cleaning--even to eat right away.  [Some say that you may rinse them under a running faucet for immediate use (see Piskei Teshuvos 319:10 for all the opinions).]  However, washing off for hygienic reasons only (and not because of visible dirt or the like) is permissible according to all.


5.                   If Siddurim were piled up after a Minyan, you may not sort out the Ashkenaz and Sefard Siddurim to put away.  However, if you read a little from each Siddur, you may put each one into its proper place after reading from it.


6.                   A peeler should not be used to peel fruits and vegetables on Shabbos.  You may, however, use a knife.


7.                   You may not use a slotted spoon which has the effect of separating the solid mass on top of the spoon from the liquid which runs down through the slots--such as while serving coleslaw.


8.                   You may crack nuts with a nutcracker for immediate use.  However, you may not remove the shells from the mixture--rather you must take out the nuts themselves.


Special Note Two:  This Shabbos is Parshas Mishpatim--and Shabbos Shekalim.  We provide the following very meaningful teachings relating to Parshas Shekalim in Galus, excerpted from the Sefer HaToda’ah by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, Z’tl (as translated by Rabbi Nachman Bulman, Z’tl, and published by Feldheim Publishers as that essential-for-the home-work, The Book of Our Heritage):

‘Today, when we no longer have the Beis HaMikdash and we longer bring sacrifices, the mitzvah of the half-shekel is no longer applicable.  Nevertheless, we still read the portion of the Machatzis HaShekel at the appropriate time so that the Torah reading might be regarded as if we had actually fulfilled the mitzvah--as the Pasuk (Hoshe’a 14:3) states:  ‘U’Neshalma Forim Sefaseinu...our words shall take the place of the animals’ which we can no longer sacrifice.  Another reason that we continue to read Parshas Shekalim is because we pray that the Beis HaMikdash will soon be rebuilt, and therefore it is incumbent upon us to be familiar with the proper manner of fulfilling this mitzvah.  This Mitzvah is especially favored, for it teaches us that we are all equal before Hashem--as we all participated (and will participate) equally in the Karbanos Tzibbur--the offering of all communal sacrifices.  There are no rich or poor before Hashem--we are all beloved.  All are close to Him and all of their sacrifices come before Him pleasantly, bringing atonement for all their sins.”


Hakhel Note:  The Half-Shekel that we give on Ta’anis Esther is only a remembrance of the Mitzvah D’Oraysa--may we speedily merit our participation in the Machatzis HaShekel of the Bais Hamikdash.  We have plenty of time, as it is only finally due on Rosh Chodesh Nissan--more than a month away!



Special Note Three:  This Shabbos is the Yarhrzeit of the HaRav Nosson Zvi (B’R’Moshe) Finkel, Z’tl--the Alter of Slabodka--who merited being the teacher of so many of the next generation’s Gedolim, HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl, HaRav Yaakov Kamenetsky. Z’tl, and HaRav Yitzchok Ruderman, Z’tl, to name only a few.  His towering personality encompassed all areas of personal growth. Here is just one incident (brought in the Sefer Me’oros HaGedolim):  The Alter approached a recently married student, and asked him if he helped his wife on Erev Shabbos to prepare for Shabbos. The student proudly affirmed to his Rebbe that of course he did, for after all, did not Chazal teach that the greatest Rabbanim undertook activities LeKavod Shabbos--to honor Shabbos (Shabbos 119). The Alter responded to his student with a teaching from tomorrow’s Parsha.  ‘The Pasuk (Shemos 23:5) instructs us to help even a donkey which is crouching under its burden--’Azov Ta’azov Imo...you should repeatedly help him’.  If this is true regarding a donkey, said the Alter, --all the more so must one provide assistance to a human being, and certainly one’s wife to which one has even greater obligations, and for which it is even a greater Mitzvah.  When performing a Mitzvah Bein Adam LaMakom--one should never forget the Bein Adam LeChaveiro so often very much a part of proper conduct!’ Let us try to apply the Alter’s teaching today and tomorrow (at least!), as we remember all that he did for the generations that succeeded him.



Special Note Four:  We provide several other important teachings from the Parsha:


1.  A Shomer Chinam is one who performs the Chesed of watching an object (including money) as a favor to you.  The Shomer Chinam must treat articles you leave in his possession to a standard of care which may even be higher than he has for his own possessions.  For instance, if he keeps his car door open and leaves his own possessions inside without worry, he could not do so for possessions that you leave with him.  If he did, he would be a poshe’a--negligent, and would be responsible to you if it was damaged or stolen.  What if you give a Shomer Chinam some cash to watch and he put it into his back pocket?  Is this a satisfactory safeguarding--or is he obligated to reimburse you for his negligence if he is pick pocketed?  This question came before the Bais Yitzchak of Lemberg, who ruled that since nowadays people keep money in their back pocket, there was no liability.  He was advised, however, that the Chasam Sofer had ruled to the contrary-and that it was, in fact, negligence.  The Bais Yitzchak thought for a moment and explained as follows:  In the Chasam Sofer’s area, men wore short coats, so that the back pants pocket was easily accessible to a thief--and it would, then, be negligent, to guard someone’s money by placing it there.  However, in Lemberg ( Galicia ), the men wore long jackets, so the back pocket was difficult to access--making it a reasonable place to safeguard another’s money.  Hakhel Note:  Think about what you are watching (or what you have borrowed) from someone else--are you taking *good* care of it?


2.  Unlike the world’s misinterpretation of an “eye for an eye,” Chazal (Bava Kamma, Chapter 8) prove that monetary payment, as opposed to physical blemish, is what the Torah means here as compensation for someone who has injured another.  Yet, the Torah uses this language, which many mistake, for a reason--what would you suggest that reason is?


3.  The Torah  teaches us that we may discard treif meat by “throwing it to the dogs--’LaKelev Tashlichun Oso.”  (Shemos 22:30)  Rashi brings that this is in appreciation for the dogs not barking on the night we readied to leave Mitzrayim.  The Chofetz Chaim brings from the Maharal of Prague that we are to take important lesson from these dogs and control our speech.   HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, adds that there was a Nes--a miracle--involving the dogs here.  What was that Nes?  It was not, teaches Rav Chaim, that the dogs did not bark in spite of the natural consternation and fear arising from the death and yelling and screaming of Makkas Bechoros all around them.  After all, if that was the miracle--why would they be rewarded with meat--they had done nothing, as Hashem had simply sealed their mouths?  Instead, Rav Chaim explains, the miracle was that Hashem gave them the Sechel to understand that if they refrained from barking despite all that was going on around them, they would enhance the Geulah--including the Kavod Shomayim and Kavod Yisroel.  This then is the lesson that the Chofetz Chaim wants each and every one of us to learn--if dogs who were temporarily granted Sechel made the right decision and guarded their mouths--all the more so should we, who are blessed with Sechel all of the time.  Moreover, if the dogs of that generation only, located only in Mitzrayim, and for only one night merited reward to dogs all over the world for all future generations--imagine the zechusim we can build over a lifetime of care--for ourselves and for the world.  It is no coincidence, then (as it never, ever is) that the Pasuk immediately following LaKelev Tashlichun Oso is Lo Sisa Sheyma Shav--forbidding gossip and evil talk.  Chazal teach that one who falls prey to the sin of Lashon Hora is fit to be thrown to the dogs.  Why be thrown to the dogs if you could learn eternal lessons from them instead?  Let us remember that unlike the dogs who had only one night of Sechel, we are blessed with it every day--and it is our sublime duty and merit to put it to the best possible use.  As we are about to say something that we are not sure is appropriate --remember the word -- Sechel!


4.  The Pasuk in this week’s Parsha teaches: “Lo Siheye Acharei Rabim L’raos--Do not go after the majority to do evil.” (Shemos 23:2)  Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, in Growth Through Torah teaches the following vital lesson:


“Rabbeinu Bachya explains that the plain meaning of this Pasuk is that if you see many people doing something that is wrong, you should not follow their example.


“It is very natural for a person to follow the behavior of others, when many people do something that is wrong it is easer for a person to tell himself ‘so many other people are doing this, it can’t be so wrong if I do it also.’  In this Pasuk, the Torah is teaching us the principle that each person is responsible for his own behavior.  Even when many others do something that is improper, you have an obligation to be careful with your own behavior.  It takes much courage and strength of character to be different from others for one’s ideals.  However, anyone who appreciates that the most important thing in the world is to do the Will of the Almighty will not be impressed by the fact that many people are doing something else.  He will weigh his own behavior against the Torah standards and not the standards of others, regardless of how numerous they are.”


The importance of the lesson is clear--let us take common situations in which we may each individually fall prey to following inappropriate leads--such as care in Kashrus and Shabbos observance, proper Kavana in Tefillah and take this crucial message into our everyday lives.



Special Note One:  Two additional notes on the Six Constant Mitzvos:

  1. The Mitzvos are available on Aish.com, where HaRav Noach Weinberg, Z’tl, who dedicated much time to them, also has multiple Shiurim available.


  1. A beautiful poster with the Six Mitzvos is available by contacting: info@thesixconstantmitzvos.com.



Special Note Two:  For those interested in bringing the Hakhel Tefillin Awarensess Project to your community, please contact: shelrosh@comcast.net, or call 718-377-6735.



Special Note Three:  PIKUACH NEFESH REMINDER:  Please ask your friends to email and otherwise be in contact with the Florida governor’s office on behalf of Martin (Michoel Yechiel) Grossman.  The governor’s e-mail address is Charlie.Crist@myflorida.com, his phone number is (850) 488-7146 and he can be faxed to at 850-487-0801.  Please daven for Michoel Yechiel ben Miriam Sorah.


We now turn to the three Bochurim in Japan .  We are happy to announce that one Rav, Rav Hillel Litwack, Shlita, of Brooklyn , New York has undertaken to give Shiurim in Shmiras HaLashon in their Zechus--and already established five new Shemiras HaLashon Shiurim.  One of these Shiurim is at the national offices of Agudath Israel of America , 42 Broadway, 14th floor in Lower Manhattan every Tuesday.  One can daven Mincha and attend the 15-minute Shiur as a zechus for Jews across the world within the half hour lunch period of 1:00-1:30 pm !  You, too, can institute a similar Shmiras HaLashon Zechus in your community for the benefit of our Shevuyim.  Shmiras HaLashon and Pidyon Shivuyim--two very potent Mitzvos!



Special Note Four:  We provide the following short questions and answer relating to this week’s Mitzvah-filled Parshas Mishpatim, which have been gleaned from the Divrei Torah compiled by Rebbe Yissocher Dov Rubin, Z’tl, in the Sefer Shinayim Mikrah, published by his family after his Petirah (a great Sefer, which should be available in local Seforim stores).


  1. Q:  The first posuk in the Parsha teaches us to obtain decisions from Batei Dinim.  Typically, we make a Bracha on a Mitzvah prior to its performance.  Why is there no Bracha of “Asher Kideshanu BiMitzvosav V’Tzivanu Al HaDinin” made?

A:  Many answers may be given to this question.  A simple one we may suggest is that the parties can settle the dispute P’shara (compromise)--obviating the need for the judgment or decision.


  1. Q:  Why does the Parsha begin with a “Vav”--connecting the Aseres HaDibros to this Parsha containing so much of Jewish civil law (relating to monetary matters)?

A:  The civil law of all the other nations of the world is based on man’s own (fallible) reasoning.  The “Vav “at the beginning of our Parsha teaches us that our laws relating to monetary matters emanate from the same divine source as the Aseres HaDibros themselves--”Anochi Hashem Elokecha!” (Alschich Hakadosh in Sefer Toras Moshe).


  1. Q:  Chazal teach that the first question that a person is asked after 120 years is whether he did business with Emunah.  Why aren’t Chazal more concerned with what one spent his money on--such as Tefillin, Shabbos, Chinuch, Esrog, Chesed, etc.?

A:  A person must determine whether the money in his possession is truly his to spend.  One cannot talk about Mitzvos or Ma’asim Tovim that one performs with money--unless it is his money! (Kesav Sofer)


  1. Q:  If a person finds money in the street without any special markings, can he keep it in the first instance--or is it better to put up signs, or otherwise try to locate the person who lost it?

A:  The Chazon Ish (brought in the Sefer Pe’er HaDor) told his students that there is not even a “lifnim mishuras hadin” to try and find the original owner--and that the money belongs to the finder.  The Chazon Ish explained that losing and finding money is part of Hashem’s way of moving funds from one party to another for a particular reason (which could even include residual monetary matters from the losers and finders in their previous lifetimes--the Sod HaGilgul).


  1. Q:  Why does the Torah begin the Parsha of monetary matters with the laws of a Ganav?  Would it not have been more pleasant to start with Chesed such as loans or acting as a Shomer Chinam, etc.?

A:  The Alter of Kelm answers that if a father has several children, with all of them acting normally except for one who is going off the derech, the father is going to put a great deal of attention on the wayward child.  He will spend much of his time focusing on the wayward child, searching for Eitzos and ways to help him.  So, too, does Hashem place His attention on the Ganav and those acting improperly, which alerts us to spend time and help him, as well.


  1. Q:  The Torah teaches that if one person hits another, he has to compensate him with up to five different kinds of payments (nezek, tza’ar, ripui, sheves and boshess).  However, if by striking him, he causes damages of less than a Perutah (let’s say less than a $1.00), then the one who inflicted the damages must get Malkos, as there is really nothing to pay.  How could this be that one who inflicted a $100.00 worth of damage pays $100.00 and does not get Malkos--yet a comparatively light tap which inflicts no monetary damage brings up to 39 lashes on the wrongdoer?!

A:  HaRav Elchanan Wasserman, Z’tl-H’yd, said in the name of the Chofetz Chaim that the Torah teaches us with this law how careful we have to be about showing the proper respect for our friends and not hurting them in even the slightest and even so-called “harmless” way!


  1. Q:  The Parsha teaches (Shemos 23:25 ) that if we serve Hashem, He will bless our food and drink and remove sickness from our midst.  What is the connection between Hashem blessing our food and drink and removing sickness from our midst?

A:  There are two types of foods that we consume--a Ma’achal Mevorach and a Ma’achal which is not Mevorach.  A Ma’achal which is not Mevorach weakens a person and brings impure and evil influence upon him, and sickens him physically, as well.  On the other hand, a Ma’achal Mevorach can actually remove sickness and has great medicinal properties.  What can one do (other than obviously eating the right foods and in proper amounts) to make his food a Ma’achal Mevorach?  Bentching and making proper Brachos with Simcha and Tuv Laivav.  The health of the other nations of the world is dependent on their Mazal--but our health is dependent on our Avodah! (Rebbe Moshe Dovid Valli, Z’tl, a student of the Ramchal, in his Sefer Bris Olam).



Special Note One:  What is the common denominator among a cereal box, a soda bottle and a shampoo container?  They all make their way into your home in one form or another--and they all may contain messages or pictures which are equally inappropriate for your home.  Marketers try to sell product and are adept at finding ways to allure susceptible purchasers to their wares.  While the messages and pictures are certainly not the reason these products found their way into your special home, they will nevertheless be glaringly in front of you, and any family member, guest or friend--whether in your pantry, on your kitchen or dining room table, in the shower, in your bedroom...in short, like the Zefardea all over the house.  Of course, there are other consumables with inappropriate pictures or western-style messages which appeal to prurient interests--we name only a few.  Then, there are other products, circulars and advertisements which you don’t even purchase--but which get put into your mailbox, or pushed through your mail slot.  So, you say, what can you do--this is one of the prices to pay for galus--living in Rome with the Romans, no?  No, not at all.  One should encourage the manager of kosher supermarkets to especially avoid these products as a service to Hashem and his customers.  Alert him to the presence of the alluring picture or the filthy message, and ask him to rid his store of the product.  When women go shopping, they should be on the lookout for products with labels or back-of-the-boxes unsuitable for the household, and especially for men and boys.  If men see a product which is questionable for their viewing, rather than taking a second look, they should ask a woman to take a look at it--or simply discard the label, wrapping or box as necessary.  Circulars delivered to the doorstep for clothing and department stores are especially suspect, and must be treated with great caution.  Some simply put it straight into recycling bin outside without as much as taking it out of its wrapping--with good reason!  We must remember that one inappropriate sight or thought can haunt a person for a long while thereafter--and especially when dealing with young and easily-influenced children and teenagers, the dangers can be especially deleterious.  Perhaps an important method of demonstrating your strong desire for the Geulah is not only by praying--but by actively demonstrating how the mores and desires of the world around us are an anathema to the purpose and goals of our lives--in this world and the next.



Special Note Two:  What is the actual source in the Torah for the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah?  Hint See Rambam, Hilchos Talmud Torah, Chapter1.  As we leave our recent Matan Torah in Parshas Yisro, we note that a short but important thought we can have before our daily study is our intent to fulfill the mitzvah set forth in that Pasuk, and to thereby give hana’ah and nachas--delight and pleasure to Hashem!



Special Note Three:  Of the Shesh Mitzvos Temidios--the Six Constant Mitzvos--two are actually found in last week’s Parsha--1)  To believe that there is only one G-d, Who created everything, through Whose continuing grace everything exists, Who took us out of Mitzrayim, Who gave us the Torah, Who constantly supervises us... and Who was, is, and will exist forever--this is all, explains the Chofetz Chaim from the Sefer HaChinuch, subsumed within “Anochi Hashem Elokecha....”  2)  To believe that Hashem and only Hashem is in control of the world, and that He has not handed over to any authority to a malach, constellation or other figure of authority--this tenet being subsumed under the words “Lo Yehiyeh Lecha Elohim Achairim”...don’t think that there is anything or anyone to whom Hashem has delegated His  power.


The recent groundbreaking Artscroll work, The 6 Constant Mitzvos, based upon the Shiurim on this topic by Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz, Shlita, of Yerushalayim provides a great deal of essential information and guidelines on these Mitzvos and their practical applications--which are or truly should be a part and parcel of our waking hours.  Indeed, HaRav Avrohom Schorr, Shlita, writes in his approbation to the Sefer that “The Six Constant Mitzvos is not recommended reading but **required** reading(!)....”  An alternative to the Sefer is a CD set of Rabbi Berkowitz’s Shiurim (also available in MP3 format).  For more information on this great work and these Shiurim, we refer you to info@thesixconstantmitzvos.com.  See also the flyer available by clicking here.


We may also suggest a small plastic (business sized) card containing the “Six Constant Mitzvos”--to help serve as a constant reminder of your bond to Hashem--is available at no charge for placement on your desk, in your wallet (to remember when you take out your money!), or in any other convenient location, by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Six Constant Mitzvos, c/o Rabbi Shaya, 1213 East 31st Street, Brooklyn, NY 11210.  Cards are likewise available in larger quantities for Yeshivas and Shuls by writing to the same address.


Baruch Hashem, our generation has been blessed with very special opportunities—let’s show that we’re up with the times--by appreciating our advantages and blessings--and using them!



Special Note One:  Today is the Yahrzeit of Rebbe Yisroel (B’R’ Zev Vulf) Salanter, Z;’tl.  Rebbe Yisroel taught that even if the gates of prayer are closed--they can never be shut to our tefillos for growth in Ruchniyus.  Let us show our Hakaras Hatov to Rebbe Yisroel for all he has done for us--by giving tzedaka and learning l’ilui nishmaso--and give him that extra special incredible nachas--with a sincere, directed and meaningful prayer to Hashem today that you grow in a particular area of Ruchniyus!



Special Note Two:  Can you identify the only body organ that can be moved from its position inside of our body to outside of the body?  Why is this so?  What does this teach us?



Special Note Three:  For Men, and For Mothers Concerned For their Sons, and Wives Concerned For Their Husbands:  We received the following important points from Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita, regarding the proper positioning of one’s Tefillin Shel Rosh (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 27:91).


1.  The bottom of the Tefillin Shel Rosh should not be or fall below the point of where the hair roots grow (i.e., the hairline).  This means that the entire Tefillin has to be on the head where hair grows (or used to grow).


2.  It is better to wear the Tefillin a bit higher, so that it does not slip down lower than the hairline during davening.


3.  If your Shel Rosh is placed too low, one does not fulfill the Mitzvah and the Bracha is in vain.


4.  One should try to avoid using very large Tefillin for this reason.


5.  The Mishna Berura states that many people (regrettably) stumble in this matter.  Accordingly, if one helps others whether old or young--especially the uneducated or uninformed--he is performing a true Tzorchei Tzibbur and demonstrating his Ahavas Yisroel.


6.  It is easy to adjust the knot of the straps for the head Tefillin.  It takes about two minutes to perform.  Thus, one should ask someone who is knowledgeable in this matter to adjust it for you.  Or, alternatively, have them show you how you can do it for yourself--and others!


7.  One suggestion of how to affably help others if their Tefillin needs an adjustment is to ask them whether your own Tefillin is centered or in place.  After they help you, if necessary, you can offer to adjust theirs.


8.  The knot on the back of the head should be mostly above the groove and centrally aligned, thereby causing the Tefillin on the front of the head to become spaced equidistantly between one’s eyes.


Hakhel Note:  Hakhel’s Tefillin Awareness Project provides guidance and assistance in this area--with our qualified Sofrim checking positioning of the Shel Rosh and Shel Yad, the Kesharim and the Retzuos.  To be Mezakeh Es HaRabim --bringing this Project to your Shul on a Sunday Morning with incredible results... please contact us at shelrosh@comcast.com



Special Note Four:  Please click here for a useful small poster to keep near you during the day--as a constant reminder of where everything you have--including *your* energy and vitality, *your* brains, acumen and talents, and each one of *your* life’s experience come from--and what *you* can and should do about it throughout the day.  We add only that the Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim writes that it is always better to come close to Hashem by thanking Him, than coming close because of, R’L, pain or suffering.  Let us remember the words of Dovid Hamelech (Tehillim 92:2)--”Tov LeHodos Lashem--it is good to give thanks to Hashem!”


Hakhel Note:  A reader pointed us to a potent Rabbeinu Bachya on the Pasuk at the end of Parshas Yisro.  The Pasuk (Shemos 20:20--giving us the right vision!) teaches: “Lo Sa’asun Itti Elohei Chesef Veilohei Zahav, Lo Sa’asu Lochem...do not make images of silver and gold together with me.”  The Rabbeinu Bachya gives several interpretations to this Pasuk.  His second one is as follows:  “When you are standing in Tefillah with me, do not think about your silver and gold--for if you do, I shall consider it as if you made silver and gold idols.”  What a powerful way of moving yourself not to think about business, work, or financial affairs during davening!



Special Note One:  Now that we have moved through Matan Torah, we should be sure to take some of Matan Torah with us.  Everyone can take his own idea and go with it--we present here two very practical suggestions.  One idea would be to choose a Pasuk to recite before learning in order to better appreciate what you are about to do.  If one would look at Tehillim 119--he would find a tremendous number of Pesukim (176) to choose from--all of which relate to Torah and the observance of its teachings.  Find a Pasuk that especially moves you--such as one that begins with the same letter as your name, or that you find especially touches you based upon your personal experiences.  A second idea would be to record in writing any one special item that you have taken with you from your just concluded study-whether your study was in a Shiur (yes, even a Daf Yomi Shiur), with a Chavrusa or on your own--with a special focus on something that you could apply practically in further study or in your life.  As the Ramban writes in the Igeres HaRamban--after you have completed your learning, search to see if there is something that can have an immediate impact, if there is something that you can fulfill right away.  Let us be richer from last Shabbos’ experience--we do have a “money tree”--or at least a tree of true wealth in our very own backyards--we just have to get a little better at realizing it--and harvesting it!



Special Note Two:  As we begin the regular work week (outside of Eretz Yisroel), we are reminded to “EEK” out our living--make sure that our efforts are especially infused with Emes, Emunah, and Kiddush Hashem...as we move from receipt of the Torah last week to the laws of Mishpatim--taking the Torah to its very practical applications in our everyday week.  Be proud to remind yourself throughout the day that “I am EEKing out my living!”



Special Note Three:  One related very beautiful “non-coincidence” is that after we are taught such a significant part of Torah law and the basis for it in the upcoming Parsha of Mishpatim...and after we are taught in the first Rashi that we shall take our issues and disagreements to Batei Dinin...the Daf Yomi will commence Mesechta Sanhedrin on the very next day--Sunday!  ...A new, meaningful opportunity to learn a Mesechta!



Special Note Four:  We had made the point several days ago that we all could become spiritual inventors---perceiving a need that no one else has and acting on it immediately.  We were advised of a recent Shabbos visitor at a hospital in Brooklyn who had to use the washroom facilities.  There were no Shabbos tissues available there.  He realized that this issue had not been dealt with before.  Through his efforts, within a short period of time, there were weekly Shabbos tissues supplied in the visitors’ washrooms in the three largest hospitals in the area.  You just have to do something!



Special Note Five:  The Birchos HaShachar is an amazing listing of Brachos, thanking Hashem for so many important, life-giving gifts that He grants us daily.  Yet, they are typically recited at the outset of davening, when we are tired, and may not have yet particularly gotten “in” to the davening, or when we are still subject to distraction.  How can we save these very, very special Brachos from not being given their due care and kavana?  We provide a simple and non-time-consuming suggestion:  Before reciting each bracha, simply look at and place your fingers on the words which constitute the end of the bracha, such as “Pokayach Ivrim,” “Malbish Arumim” and “She’Assa Li Kol Tzorchi.”  In this way, you will know what you are making your bracha on--and this will give you a sense of focus and appreciation as you recite the important words of each and every bracha--properly thanking  and praising Hashem for what He gives you--and truly acknowledging that he is the source of this blessing among all others!



Special Note Six:  Rabbeinu Bachya, in his introduction to last week’s Parsha, brings a Pasuk that Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Sefer Mishlei (15:4):  “Marpeh Lashon Eitz Chaim--a healing tongue is a tree of life.”  Rabbeinu Bachya writes that a healing brought about through proper use of the tongue is an infinitely better cure than that of any standard or conventional medicine--because it not only heals, but--as the Pasuk clearly indicates--actually adds life itself to a person who until then had been a choli nefesh.  Now, we all know that sudden, all-encompassing reversals of a person’s conduct or manner of speech are difficult to accomplish.  What we could, however, begin with is taking that one person to whom you are most apt to speak to in a manner of Ona’as Devorim (for he constantly annoys you, says the wrong thing, doesn’t treat or respect you properly, acts immaturely or improperly, etc.)--and work on him alone.  “I will not speak any Ona’as Devorim at all to him for the day or week, no matter the circumstances.  Instead, I will speak with nachas and aforethought--guided by my great desire to effect a ‘marpeh lashon’”.  The same can be true for someone whom you constantly find yourself speaking or hearing a word or sentence of lashon hora to or from--simply eliminate it as a choice for the next little while.  (If you can, tell the person about what you are doing, and it can become a joint project!)  In this zechus, may the words of the wisest of all men--Marpeh Lashon Eitz Chaim--ring true in your life--and may you be blessed with a lot more of it!



Special Note One:  We received the following caring comment from a reader:  “Concerning Sheva Na, just this week I brought home the Chazan’s Siddur from a Shul to highlight each Sheva Na, so it will be noticed and pronounced.  I think the fact that it is marked in many Siddurim with a line is great, but a yellow letter is really hard to miss.  I would like to share it with others who can help themselves and their community with a more proper and respectful tefillah.  How would a king like it if you stood in front of him mispronouncing words?  Where is the aforethought, concern, and consideration?  We should all do something to show that we really do care!”



Special Note Two:  Tomorrow, Shabbos Kodesh 22 Shevat, is the Yahrzeit of the world-renowned Tzaddik--HaRav Yehudah Zev (B’R’ Moshe Yitzhcok) Segel, Z’tl.  He was perhaps most widely known for his great Koach HaTefillah and as the Chofetz Chaim’s successor in promulgating Shemiras Halashon worldwide through daily study.  Let us continue our special adherence to Shemiras Halashon from yesterday--as Asiri LaKodesh--through today and tomorrow in honor of the due the world owes to him.  Who knows what worldwide and personal catastrophes and calamities were averted and eliminated because of our heightened awareness and adherence to Shemiras Halashon?  That is no exaggeration.  On Shabbos, in any event, we are required to be more circumspect and careful in our speech, based on the Pasuk ”VeDaber Dovor,” as detailed in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 307.  Tomorrow, your special concern would show Hakaras Hatov, and would certainly be a great zechus for you.  May HaRav Segel be a Mailitz Yosher, and plead for the Moshiach--for us all!



Special Note Three:  As we move towards Chodesh Adar, we provide a beautiful thought from the Sefer Tiv HaTefillah (Rabban Gamliel Rabinovich, Shlita) on the phrase we recite every morning at the outset of Hodu:  “Yismach Lev Mevakshei Hashem...be glad of heart those who seek Hashem.”  Rabban Gamliel explains that this Pasuk reveals something extremely important to us.  How can a person know and tell that he is truly a “Mevakesh Hashem”--one that seeks Dveikus and Ruchniyus in his life--or whether he serves Hashem outwardly, with his mind and thoughts really not there?  The answer is that if one is a “yismach lev”--if he truly feels joy when he learns, davens, and performs a mitzvah; when he feels pleasure from his Avodas Hashem--then he has reached the level of a Mevakesh.  As the Sha’ar HaKavanos writes about simcha, “And almost the ikar ma’aleh and shleimus...is dependent on the joy one feels during tefillah and when performing mitzvos.”  We suggest that the feeling of joy may begin with the sublime realization of the incomparable privilege one has, with the incredible opportunity one experiences, each and every time he can open a Sefer, recite 19 Brachos in Shemone Esrei (or any bracha at all), or perform any act that Hashem Himself has requested in the Torah that he perform.  Tomorrow, as we receive the Torah in Parshas Yisro, we recall where all of these unique and special privileges-started--so it can likewise be the time to renew our heightened awareness of this privilege--and the special joy you should feel each and every time you put on any one of those literally priceless crown jewels we first put on 3,322 years ago!



Special Note Four:  In this week’s Parsha, as what appears to be a condition precedent to Kabalas HaTorah, the Torah first teaches us that we are to establish a proper system of judges and leaders.  The Torah adjures that they be qualified and capable.  In our days, we have Rabbonim and Dayanim who also issue rulings and decisions in all matters--ranging from whether the animal is kosher to whether Reuven owes Shimon five million dollars.  Yet, there are those who will complain, saying, “The Rav or Beis Din is wrong in saying that this is not kosher--or in ruling that I owe him money--when it is he who owes me the money!”  In fact, the Chofetz Chaim (Sefer Chofetz Chaim 6:8) writes that **even if you are right**, you have no right to openly balk, criticize or complain against a ruling--because it could be that, BeHashgacha Pratis, Hashem has caused this to happen to you (see there for further detail).  We should take a lesson from the fact that the Torah places the administering of Torah before the actual giving of the Torah itself in tomorrow’s Parsha.  Without the due respect for our Rabbanim, Dayanim and leaders, we simply do not get to Kabbalas HaTorah.  It is no coincidence then (as it never is), that in Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 243-246) the laws of respecting Talmidei Chachimim are actually placed before the laws of Talmud Torah itself!  Let us take the lesson closely and seriously for the honor and respect due to Hashem’s designated ones.  Perhaps, to make up for any inappropriateness in the past, we can add a meaningful Kabbalah, bli neder, in this area.  The time could not be better...



Special Note Five:  Another area of high respect we are re-instructed in tomorrow is Kibbud Av V’aim.  By now, we are all familiar with the enlightening words of the Chayei Odom (67:3)--who teaches that the mitzvah is not only to demonstrate your honor physically, but also to mentally contemplate and consider that your parents are nobility.  What if someone‘s parents are or were not well-respected or “good” people--at least in the son’s mind?  HaRav Pam, Z’tl has the easy answer for that--how could they not deserve great honor and respect--after all, they were zoche to have you as a child!



Special Note Six:  In tomorrow’s Parsha we find the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim--visiting the sick.  As Chazal teach “Es Haderech Yailchu Ba--the way you shall go in--this refers to Bikur Cholim.  In order to review important highlights of this great Mitzvah, we provide the following previously published note:




1.  According to the Chochmas Odom (151:3) the ikar (main point) of Bikur Cholim is davening for the sick person while visiting him.  In fact, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (193:3) poskens that one has not fulfilled the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim if he visits, but does not daven to Hashem while there.  This is because the Shechina is present above the head of the sick person, and your tefillos are, k’viyachol, in front of the Shechina itself (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 335, Shach seif katan 3).  In your tefillah, you should ask for Hashem’s mercy for that particular choleh “b’soch cholei Yisroel” (amongst the other sick of Israel ), because, in the merit of the many, your tefillos will be better received (ibid., Shach seif katan 4).


2.  Bikur Cholim should not be performed when it is convenient for the visitor, but when it is best for the choleh.  As the halacha states, one should not visit in the first three hours of the day… the last three hours of the day…, etc. (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 335:4).


3.  In addition to tefillah, there is a mitzvah to give the choleh “nachas ruach” (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 193:3).  This does not mean that one should speak on and on, or even with witticisms.  Statements should as “You’ll now have to take that medicine for the rest of your life,” or “Next time, you’ll be more careful,” or even “How will this affect your life going forward?” may be equated with smacking a poor person across the face and knocking out a few teeth as you hand him a hundred dollars with a smile.


4.  The Chazon Ish (Collected Letters, Volume I:138) writes that everyone has the mitzvah to perform “Bikur Cholilm” upon himself, as well.  This means that he must take care of his body and use the most effective means possible for his personal health.


5.  One should try to tidy up and make the atmosphere more cheery for the choleh, if possible.  The Gemara (Nedarim 40A) relates that Rabbi Akiva himself swept and cleaned the floor for his sick student.  As a result, the student told him, “You have caused me to live.”  Rabbi Akiva then taught, “He who does not perform the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim, it is as if he spilled blood.”  The reverse is also, of course, true.  In fact, the Gemara clearly teaches that one who acts wisely with the ill will himself be saved from “a bad day” by Hashem (see Tehillim 41 and Gemara, Nedarim 40A).


6.  Finally, one should consider a choleh’s status after he leaves the hospital, and even after he returns to shul or to work.  The fact that he has somewhat healed does not necessarily mean that he is not suffering pain or is otherwise in distress.  One should continue to daven for, and inquire as to, a person’s welfare, until he is confident that the choleh has received his refuah shlaimah.



Special Note Seven:  At the outset of the Parsha, the Torah records the names that Moshe Rabbeinu gave to his two sons--and the reasons for those names.  Why does the Torah recount this at this point?  Why is this so timely at this point?  HaRav Simche Zisel Broyde, Z’tl, derives a great lesson for us from this.  Moshe Rabbeinu had just witnessed--and even personally participated--in miracles the likes of which the world has not seen since.  The Makkos, the Splitting of the Sea, the multitude of Miracles in the Sea, the Mon, etc.  Yet, Moshe Rabbeinu did not and would never forget the “smaller” miracles that he personally experienced in his own lifetime--whether it was having a child, staying alive in galus, or being saved from Paroh’s executioner.  One’s personal miracles, one’s daily survival is something that should not be overshadowed even by something as powerful as the Geulah itself!  When we give thanks to Hashem in Modim daily--and thank Hashem for “Al Nisecha Shebechal Yom Imanu--the miracles that are with us daily”--we should (in thought) name some of them just as Moshe named his sons--and realize that we will be thanking Hashem for them forever--even after witnessing the miracles of the Geulah Shelaima--speedily and in our days!



Special Note Eight:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos series.  Today, because the Mitzvah of Kiddush is derived from the words “Zochor Es Yom HaShabbos LeKadsho” in this week’s Parsha--the first words of the Aseres HaDibros relating to Shabbos--we review certain points about Kiddush, as presented in the Sefer Bris Olam by HaRav Binyomin (HaTzadik) Zilber, Z’tl.


1.  One should make Kiddush promptly after coming home from Shul.  However, if one has not recited Kriyas Shema in its proper time in Shul--and its time has now arrived--he should recite it before Kiddush.


2.  A woman could be Motzi a man with Kiddush-but lechatchila this should not be done if they are not from the same household.  All halachos of Kiddush--such as Kiddush Bemakom Seudah apply equally to men and women.  A person cannot hear Kiddush in one place--and then go to another place to eat--because the listener, too, must have Kiddush Bemakom Seudah.


3.  The one making Kiddush should tell the listeners to have Kavana to be yotzei with his Kiddush.  One should not be walking around, and should be careful to follow--word by word.


4.  A person can be Motzi others with Kiddush (who for some reason can’t do it themselves) even if he has already been Yotzei his Kiddush.


5.  Lechatchila, the person making Kiddush (as opposed to another participant) should drink a minimum shiur of a Rov Revi’is--to be safe, 2.5 ounces.  It is best if everone drinks a little bit from the Kos --but if there will not be enough for Kiddush and Havdala tomorrow, they need not drink.


6.  In the morning Kiddush, one should not begin with the words “Al Kein Bairach”--as this is the middle of a Pasuk. One should instead begin with the Pasuk of Veshamru or Zochor Es Yom HaShabbos LeKadsho.


In fact, throughout this Shabbos and every Shabbos, we can remember these inspiring words from the Parsha--Zachor Es Yom HaShabbos LeKadsho--for when we sanctify the Shabbos day--we are most certainly sanctifying ourselves, as well!



Hakhel received information that the Kol HaLashon website, which contains literally thousands of shiurim and which recently had been taken down by its owners, is once again accessible.  It can be accessed at  http://www.kolhashiurim.com



Special Note One:  Today is Asiri LaKodesh, the conclusion of another ten-day period since Yom Kippur. May we sincerely recommend that you remember (and celebrate it) today with extra special care in Shemiras HaLashon?  Be careful--don’t say it if you are not sure that you can--as if it was Yom Kippur--and enjoy the control you can exert over yourself!


Hakhel Note:  As many may know, there is a dispute among authorities as to whether one can open a refrigerator on Shabbos if its motor is not running, for opening the door may/will cause the motor to go on.  See, for example Igros Moshe Orach Chaim II:68.  (Also see Shailos U’Teshuvos Teshuvos VeHanhagos of HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, Shlita II:183).  Someone advised us that he believes that if you open the refrigerator door quickly to take out the soda (for example) and quickly close it--the motor would not turn on.  He felt “a little guilty,” though, when his theory didn’t work last Shabbos, and the motor suddenly went on a few seconds after he closed the refrigerator.  What does “a little guilty” mean?  If a person could prevent being or even feeling “a little guilty”--then why chance it--why bring it on--especially on a day like today--Asiri LaKodesh!



Special Note Two:  A reader provided the following insight on the Pasuk we quoted yesterday--“Anochi Hashem Elokecha Ha’Ma’alcha Mai’Eretz Mitzrayim, Harchev Picha Va’amal'ayhu...I am Hashem who raised you out of Egypt , open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”  “I learned that this Pasuk teaches us that all Hashem asks of us is to open our mouth and He will do the rest!  Just like it is so simple and easy for us to open our mouth, that’s how easily and clear it should be to us to rely on Hashem for everything.  When remembering that Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim, we should remind ourselves that He can do anything, big or small and that all we need to do is something little to show Hashem that we care and that we want to be better, something as simple as opening our mouth which takes little effort on our part.  When we show Hashem that we trust in Him, He will fill our mouths.  He will do the rest!!  We can also take this lesson to heart when it comes to financial matters.  All we have to do is the minimum hishtadlus that we need--opening our mouth and then when we see that we have accomplished, we should remember that it is only Hashem Who is the one who filled our mouth with the bounty that we have!!”



Special Note Three:  Yet another reader provided us with the following extremely meaningful lesson provided by Rabbi Chaim A. Weinberg, Shlita, and published in last week’s consistently excellent Hamodia Magazine.  “The Klausenberger Rebbe had once gone to visit Mr. Moses Feuerstein, Z’tl, the legendary New England philanthropist.  At that long-ago meeting, the Rebbe, who had just endured the horrors of the Holocaust, told Mr. Feuerstein about his plans to build yeshivos in America , as well as a Kiryah in Israel , a model community of Torah and Chessed that would include a state-of-the-art hospital.  Mr. Feuerstein told the Rebbe, ‘I will try my best to help you.’  When the Rebbe heard Mr. Feuerstein’s reply, he said, ‘I appreciate that you will try your best to help me, but do you actually know what your “best” is?  From my experience, it seems that people rarely know the extent of their true capabilities. When I was a young man and first became Rav in Klausenberg, the Kehillah leaders felt that it was beyond their Rav’s capabilities to carry his own Talis to Shul, so they provided me with a “Hoiz Bachur,” a personal attendant whose task it was, among many others, to carry my Talis.  They also felt that it was inappropriate for their Rav to walk a few blocks if he had to attend a Bris, so they provided me with a driver to chauffeur me from Shul to a Simcha.  But when I arrived in Auschwitz , the Nazis forced me to carry 50-kilo sacks of cement for miles.  Then,’ the Rebbe declared, ‘I discovered my true capabilities!  So,’ concluded the Rebbe, ‘Mr. Feuerstein, when you say, “I will do my best,” do you have any idea what you are really capable of?’”


What a phenomenal lesson!  When you think you are “doing your best,” maybe you can give it that little extra, a sincere and dedicated spiritual oomph, a blast of Ruchniyus-inspired energy--which can literally project you to the next step in Torah study, Tefillah, and Mitzvah performance!



Special Note Four:  The Rambam in Hilchos Matnas Aniyim (8:10) issues the following powerful ruling relating to the Mitzvah of Pidyon Shvuyim--helping to free those in captivity:  “Pidyon Shevuyim precedes the Mitzvah of supporting and clothing the poor.  There is no greater Mitzvah then Pidyon Shevuyim because the person in captivity is not only hungry, thirsty and not taken care of, but because of his precarious situation, his life is in danger.  Someone who “hides his eyes” from attempting to save him violates four (4!) negative commandments and at least three (3!) positive commandments” [which are actually listed by the Rambam there].  Let us dare not remain silent and cry out to Hashem for:


Jonathan Pollard--Yehonasan ben Malka

Gilad Shalit--Gilad Ben Aviva

The Yeshiva Bachurim in Japan--Yosef Bando--Yosef ben Ita Rivka; Yakov Yosef Greenwald--Yakov Yosef ben Raizel; and Yoel Zev Goldstein--Yoel Zev ben Mirel Risa Chava

R’ Rubashkin--Sholom Mordechai ben Rivka

Martin Grossman--Michoel Yechiel ben Miriam Sarah Grossman

If anyone questions the Pikuach Nefesh involved regarding the request to change the death penalty of Michoel Yechiel to a life sentence without the possibility of parole, please see the P’sak of the Av Bais Din of the BaDatz Yerushalayim and the Skulener Rebbe regarding this matter available by clicking here.  Such link also contains the contact information for the Governor of Florida, asking him to reverse his decision

Let us dedicate some slow, meaningful Tehillim for them daily--let us help them save their lives.  We can go straight to the Source with our tefillos.  Believe that you can accomplish--and may we rejoice in our success for each and every one of them!


Special Note One:  We received from a reader the following fascinating and practical insight, which one should truly be careful about daily, “Since you have been discussing Shiras Hayam, I wish to provide your readers with an important note on a Pasuk in the Shira we recite daily in Shacharis (which is also a Pasuk that we recite every month in Kiddush Levana)--and the difference it makes if you mispronounce a word in it.  The Pasuk in the Shira (Shemos 15:16 ) reads, ‘Tipol Ahlayhem Aimasa Vafachad Bigdol Zeroahcha...May fear and terror befall them....’ Now, what is the next word?  Is it ‘Yidmu Ka’aven’ or ‘YiDemu Ka’aven’?  What’s the difference--nothing short of the meaning of the word in the Ruach HaKodesh inspired Shira!

If one says ‘Yidmu Ka’aven’, then he is saying that ‘they [i.e., the enemies awaiting us in Edom , Moav, and Cana’an] should be similar (domeh) to a stone.’  However, the Shira is really saying that they should be ‘silent (domum) like a stone’.  How do we know this?  Because the dot in the daleth means that it is a shva na and the letter daleth has to be individually pronounced.  How do we know that this is the true meaning?  By looking in Onkelos and seeing that he translates the word as ‘Yishtikun k’avna’, ‘yishtikun’ as in ‘shtika’=silence.”

We see that dikduk is an integral part of our davening and our learning.  Today, we are blessed with many Siddurim which can help us through with the proper pronunciation of that which we did not learn in school.  An important place to start is care and attention in Shema and Shemone Esrei--taking the time to focus on pronunciation, with the lines above and below letters indicating proper emphasis and pronunciation, and spacing lines in between words preventing a run-on of words, ruining their meaning and import.  Davening and Kriyas HaTorah teach us that it is not only important to think properly--but to recite the words of Lashon Hakodesh--the holy language with which the world was created and the Torah given--with diligent and dutiful care, as well.  Every day, one can build up this care on a Pasuk-by-Pasuk basis, picking up where he left off the Tefillah or day before--so that slowly and over time--he has acquired and accomplished an unspoiled and unblemished--and even pristine--expression of Tefillah!


Special Note Two:  Lest one believe that Emunah is simply a prerequisite to Torah, that one simply does not get to the Torah itself without an underlying faith--but that such a basic and rudimentary concept is not part of the Torah’s essence--we note that the very first of the Aseres HaDibros is “Anochi Hashem Elokecha Asher Hotzaisicha--I am Hashem who took you out of Mitzrayim.”  In fact, the Chofetz Chaim on the very first page of the Mishna Berurah (in the Bi’ur Halacha) quotes this Pasuk as one of the Shesh Mitzos Temidios--the Six Constant Mitzvos--listed in the Sefer HaChinuch which one can fulfill at all times simply by thinking of them.  Below, we provide a further excerpt from the very same Sefer HaChinuch on this Pasuk--which some may consider so simple and easy--but others who are more knowledgeable realize is so important that one performs a great Mitzvah every moment he thinks about it--whether he is a Bar Mitzvah Bochur of 13--or a Torah Scholar who is 105.  The Sefer HaChinuch writes as follows:

“The laws of this precept are, for example, that it is incumbent upon us to believe about Him that all ability, all grandeur, power and splendor all eminence, all blessing, all existence--are through Him; and we have neither the power nor the intelligence to conceive and relate His greatness and benevolence; for on account of His immense degree of eminence and glory He can be perceived by none but Himself alone.  [It is for us] to ascribe to Him, with all our ability, no shortcoming whatsoever and nothing which is in any way the opposite of total perfection and total excellence.  Then there are those matters which derive from it, such as to know that He is wholly perfect, without any body or physical power of a body; for physical bodies are ultimately subject to deficiencies and shortcomings, while He is not subject to any kind of deficiency or shortcoming whatsoever....This is one of the precepts for which there is no set time, since all the days of a man’s life he is required to live with this concept.”

Let us think about this concept often--very often.


Special Note Three:  In furtherance of the previous thought, we note that there is a Pasuk that we will recite twice tomorrow during Shacharis (once in Hodu, and once in the Shir Shel Yom) which beautifully puts together for us the time period that we are now passing through--the bridge period between Yetzias Mitzrayim and Matan Torah.  The Pasuk (Tehillim 81:11) reads as follows:  “Anochi Hashem Elokecha Ha’Ma’alcha Mai’Eretz Mitzrayim, Harchev Picha Va’amal'ayhu...I am Hashem who raised you out of Egypt, open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”  The Pasuk teaches us that we are to apply the lesson of Yetzias Mitzrayim--the Omnipotence and Hashgacha Pratis of Hashem--by placing it into our everyday lives.  Hashem not only took us out as a nation or as a group--He can and will fill each and every one of our mouths if we demonstrate our Bitachon by “opening wide” for Hashem to fill it.  Interestingly, the Targum on the Pasuk explains it to mean that if you open your mouth wide with the study of Torah, Hashem, as the All Powerful One, will fill it with all that is good.  Thus, if we want to bring the force of Yetzias Mitzrayim into our everyday life--we must take the step after Yetzias Mitzrayim, which is dedication and devotion to Torah study--and its practical applications as we live our everyday life, as well.  As you recite this Pasuk daily--don’t forget to remember what it means to open your mouth wide--when you are opening it before Hashem Himself!



Kashrus Alert from the Star-K:  Celestial Seasonings Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Tea was incorrectly labeled with a Star-K.  The tea is certified dairy, non cholov Yisroel, by the Vaad Hakashrus of Denver and should bear the Scroll-K dairy symbol.  Corrective measures were taken.



Special Note One:  An interesting suggestion to move an erstwhile everyday humdrum event towards an increased Ruchniyus standard: Every time your cell phone beeps, buzzes or otherwise sounds--let your first reaction be to recite or think about a Pasuk or theme in Emunah and Bitachon (Hinei Kail Yeshuasi; Kaveh El Hashem Chazak Veya’aMetz Libecha; Ani Ma’amin Be’Emunah Sheleima BeVias HaMoshiach, or She’tehiyeh Techias Hameisim....)  For ease of reference and study, we remind everyone of the Pesukim of Bitachon which are available by clicking here, which one can keep readily available.  With the volatile situations to the north, south and east of Eretz Yisroel and the unpredictability of international event (whether by “nature,” by “terror” or otherwise), there is no better time than to strengthen and reinforce our dedication and sincerity in what is concomitantly most comforting and most important.  We may add that, to those who have a phone which requests that you “Say a Command”--immediately respond with a command--whether it from the Parsha (so many this week--including the Aseres HaDibros!), or perhaps when the message goes off you can look at those around you--and remember the command of “VeAhavta LeRayacha Komocha”.  Our response to the events around us is simply not the same as the rest of the world’s--for we know that everything in this tangible world is to be used for Ruchniyus goals, purposes and growth.



Special Note Two:  At a recent Hakhel Shiur, Harav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita was asked whether one should have a handwriting analysis performed in order to better understand himself and what needed correction.  In the course of his response, HaRav Belsky noted that every person really knows a tremendous amount about himself from within--and if he would only reflect upon what needed change and improvement based upon his self- awareness and everyday conduct, he would be very much ahead of those who need to hear what is wrong from others.  A person’s starting point should be within himself--See the Mishnayos in Avos (especially 2:1 and 3:1) for a contemplation starting point that may be appropriate for you!



Special Note Three:  As we are given the Torah at Har Sinai this week, it is important to make a crucial observation.  The Torah testifies that Avrohom Avinu had already observed the entire Torah before it was given--“Eikev Asher Shoma Avrohom BeKoli... Avrohom obeyed my voice, observed my safeguards, my commandments....(Bereishis 26:5).  The Chofetz Chaim, in his Sefer Ahavas Chesed [as elucidated in the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s masterful work Loving Kindness, published by Artscroll, which presents the Sefer Ahavas Chesed in a wonderful lesson-a-day format] writes that of the 613 Mitzvos that Avrohom Avinu performed, the one aspect of his life that is described by the Torah’s precious words in detail is the Mitzvah of Hachnosas Orchim.  If the Torah provides this detail, it is meant to serve as a template and guideline to us, his children--to pay especial attention and detail while performing this mitzvah.  As the Sefer Loving Kindness puts it, “A Torah Jew focuses on the door more than the walls of his home--for one’s home is not a private fortress--it is, rather, a miniature power plant, producing warmth and light for the world.”  Set forth below are some of the details that the Chofetz Chaim, (as beautifully elucidated by Loving Kindness) provides as to the details we are to learn from Avrohom Avinu in properly performing the great Mitzvah of Hachnosas Orchim:


Detail One:  Avrohom Avinu could have said “I am 99 years old, and have just gone through a Bris Milah--I have proven my devotion, and I most certainly am entitled to rest.”  He did not do that--he sacrificed--for us all to learn from.


Detail Two:  Avrohom Avinu looked for guests--they did not have to be sheiks or sultans--simple people who were dirty from the road would very much do.  Do we get the message?


Detail Three:  Avrohom Avinu rose quickly, ran to his possible guests and even bowed to them.  While we may not be expected to bow--we can show our wholehearted sincerity to our guests in the “little extras” that we provide, in our tone of voice--and in our joy.


Detail Four:  Avrohom Avinu placed his guests comfort above his personal needs or agenda.  Avrohom made bread--an important staple--available to them in case they had to be on their way quickly.  The needs of his guests were placed above what he personally would have wanted to do.  Do they need a shower after a long trip rather than to talk?  Do I have to end the meal (I like to extend) quickly so that they can get some sleep?  Putting yourself into the guest’s position--contemplating what is best for him-- is an important key handed to us by our forefather.


Detail Five:  Avrohom Avinu, as Chazal teach, “said little and did much” for his guests.  In this way, they did not feel they were putting him out--and were comfortable in his presence.  No task should seem burdened, no request too difficult.


This is the beginning of our legacy from Avrohom Avinu--who observed the whole Torah--but whose lessons to us in the Torah for all future generations are focused on Chesed and to a great extent on Hachnosas Orchim.  As we prepare for Kabalas HaTorah this Shabbos--let us recall and begin with the lessons of Avrohom Avinu!



Special Note One:  Our recent celebration of Tu BeShvat brought to light some important Halachos of brachos for the year round.  As the Minhag is to eat Pairos Ha’Ilan--fruits of the tree:


1.  Could one eat cranberries or “Craisins” and be considered as having eaten fruits of the tree--does one make a Borei Pri Ha’Eitz on them?  Although the Sefer Pischei Halacha by Rabbi Binyomin Forst, Shlita, rules that the bracha on cranberries is a Ha’Eitz, the Sefer VeSain Bracha by Rabbi Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, writes (in the name of HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl) as follows, “Technically, the cranberry vine is considered a tree; however, there is a minhag not to make Ha’Eitz on berries from bushes which are less than nine inches high.  Since cranberries grow within nine inches of the ground, its bracha is Ha’Adama.”  The sefer V’zos Habrocha also writes that the brocha is Ha’Adama.  Accordingly, one should ask his Rav what brocha to make over cranberries.


2.  Are candied Esrog slices--which clearly look like Esrog, but which have much sugar on them to make them more pleasant to eat--still considered a Ha’Eitz?  The Sefer VeSain Bracha writes that “the bracha for sugar-coated nuts, such as sugar-coated almonds is Ha’Eitz.  The bracha for sugar-coated peanuts is Ha’Adama.  This applies when the coating is soft and the nut will be eaten in the first bite.”  Based upon this reasoning, it would appear that as long as the clearly recognizable fruit is eaten with the first bite, the bracha would be a Ha’Eitz (and the producers who marketed it as a Tu BeShvat fruit were, Baruch Hashem, not mistaken!).  For further reference, see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 204, Mishna Berurah seif katan 51.


3.  If a tray (such as a Tu BeShvat Assortment) of various fruits is placed before you, and you intend to partake of one of each to appreciate Hashem’s bounty [as we have noted in the past, the Mishna Berurah to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 207, seif katan 5, writes that this is what the words in Borei Nefashos “Al Kol MaShebara LeHachayos Bahem Nefesh Kol Chai” refer to--specifically thanking Hashem for providing us with so many beneficial foods beyond our requirements]--then which fruit from the impressive platter should you place into your right hand (lefties into their left hand) to make a bracha over?  The Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 211:1) rules that one should first take a fruit of the Shiva Minim, the seven species for which Eretz Yisroel is praised--such as a grape, date, fig, etc. and make the bracha on that.  If there are no Shivas Haminim fruits, then he takes a Shalem--a whole (not cut-up or sliced) fruit such as a plum or peach.  If there are no whole fruits, then one takes the fruit he usually likes best.


The common denominator in the above Halachos is that there is more to reciting a bracha then mouthing ten words or so.  Like any Mitzvah, it deserves a moment or two of thought, to ensure that the privileged words one is about to recite are proper and pure.



Special Note Two:  As we take leave of the magnificent Shiras HaYam, we realize that we are blessed with the opportunity of reciting it on a daily basis--including Shabbos, Yom Tov and even Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  Indeed, the Mishna Berurah brings from the Zohar that one should recite the Shira daily BeSimcha and visualize himself as if he is that very day passing through the Sea (ibid. 51, Mishna Berurah, seif katan 17).  Accordingly, although we are nearing the end of Pesukei DeZimra, and may be struggling to keep pace with the Shliach Tzibbur who may not be aware of this Mishna Berurah (don’t be shy--tell him about it!), we should put special effort into the feeling of joy as our personal experience.


In fact, there is a further remarkable teaching from the classic Sefer Chovos HaLevavos (Sha’ar HaBechina, Chapter 5).  The Sefer first notes the miracles that took place at the time of Moshe Rabbeinu--the changes in the normal course of events and nature--the awesome wonders to induce Emunah, which resulted in a newfound and everlasting “VaYa’aminu Bashem U’vemoshe Avdo.”  The Chovos HaLevavos then incredibly continues (translation adapted from the monumental Duties of the Heart, translated by Rabbi Doniel Haberman, Shlita; Feldheim Torah Classics Library) “If a person in our own times would like to witness something similar to these miraculous events, let him simply look at our position among the nations since the beginning of our Galus, at our orderly condition in their midst, though we disagree with them in our beliefs and practices, as they [very] well know.  He will see that, in regard to standard of living and subsistence, our situation is close to theirs....  He will see that their middle class and villagers toil more than the middle and poorer classes among us.  This is as we were promised by Hashem, ‘VeAf Gam Zos...yet for all [the aveiros that B’nai Yisroel may have done] when they are in their enemies’ land, I will not abhor them...as to break my covenant with them’ (Vayikra 26:44); and as the Kesuvim further state ‘Ki Avadim Anachnu...though we are servants, Hashem has not abandoned us in our servitude...’ (Ezra 9:9); and as we recite in Tehillim ‘Lulei Hashem SheHaya Lanu...Had it not been for Hashem, who was for us... (Tehillim 124:1-2).’”  Thus, our daily miraculous existence, as a sheep among the lions and the wolves--the superpowers and third world countries--with some of them being hungrier than others--is an actual and practical example of the sea splitting for us daily.  So, as you rejoice in the Shiras HaYam as the Mishna Berurah instructs--realize that you are not only reliving that grand and glorious moment of passing through the Yam Suf--but that you are very miraculously passing through the Sea of Galus daily, as well--Miracle upon Miracle--day after day anew!


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