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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin



Special Note One:  We received the following comment from a reader relating to current technology:  “The piece on the cell phone reminded me of a true story our Rav told us in a Shabbos Morning Drasha.  There is a fellow in Shul who takes a shower every morning before he comes to minyan.  In the course of his hygiene he cleans his ears with a Q-tip.  One morning he came to Shul with it still in his ear.  He passed many people in the morning, yet no one said a word.  The Rav saw him and said, "Baruch, you have something in your ear."  And he thanked the Rav and took it out.  The Rav asked the Shul mispallim, "How could everyone see Baruch and not mention anything to him?"  I later responded, "Maybe they thought it was a cell phone!"


Special Note Two:  In order to further bring home the point relating to yesterday’s note on Lexus, Hyundai and other car models, we present to our readers the fundamental words of the Ibn Ezra on the last of the Ten Commandments, “Lo Sachmod…--Do not covet…” (Shemos 20:14).  The Ibn Ezra writes, “Many will wonder at this mitzvah--how is it possible that a person should not desire in his heart something that is beautiful in appearance?”  The answer, he concludes, is that this Commandment teaches us, that just as a village dweller who has a head on his shoulders realizes that he will be unable to marry the King’s daughter, and just as a normal human being recognizes that he will be unable to don wings and fly, and just as one realizes that under no circumstances can he marry a close relative such as his mother or sister no matter how much they may think alike and be for each other, so too, should a person of reason and intelligence recognize that the situation he is in, the family that he has, and the property that he owns, is his own personal “chelek”, his own unique portion, from Hashem.  The Ibn Ezra actually calls someone who believes otherwise “meshuga”.  We are given a very special ticket, and a tailor-made train ride, and we are to manage the trip well--and make it as successful as we, personally and individually, possibly can.


In fact, in his commentary on this Ibn Ezra, the Avi Ezer adds that the reason “Lo Sachmod” constitutes the last and final of the Ten Commandments is because in a sense it subsumes within it the prior Commandments, for when one is careful to observe the prohibitions against coveting and desiring, he will perforce be careful with the previous Commandments as well (see there for detail).  Thus, we must be very careful to give this prohibition our most careful attention, and do our utmost to avoid coveting all of those simchas, situations, property and things that he, she, and so many others have--after all, the prohibition against coveting not only concludes a series of prohibitions which include adultery and murder--coveting itself makes no logical sense at all!


Special Note Three: At a recent gathering, HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Shlita, the venerable Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim focused solely on the following words:


“V’Ata Yisroel, Ma Hashem Elokecha Shoel M’Imach…--Now Yisroel, what does Hashem ask of you?” (Devorim 10:12)  HaRav Finkel explained that the Pasuk is teaching us a tremendous lesson.  That is, what Hashem wants from us is--Now!  The Yetzer Hora wants you to do everything later--go to shul later, go to learn a little bit late, put off the mitzvah until tomorrow….  What we have is today, now, this moment--and to use it properly and wisely.  That’s not too overbearing, unwieldy or difficult--so don’t let the Yetzer Hora take it away from you--do what you can and should--NOW!!


Special Note Four:  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.  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 or participating in a conversation which involves loshon hora (you can personalize the topic) and take this crucial message into our everyday lives.


As Hillel taught in the beginning of Avos (1:14), If I am not for myself, who will be for me?!


Special Note One:  We received the following definition from one of our special readers:  Happiness is waking up to breakfast in bed every day; Hashem serves us a fresh day each morning with unlimited potential.


Special Note Two:  As we move up the ladder technologically, we should be careful that our advancement does not impugn upon the purity of spirit in which we serve Hashem.  All would agree, for example, that it is generally detestable for someone to consciously and willingly engage in a business or even friendly conversation on his cell phone while in Shul (whether or not one is davening).  Now, with the “Bluetooth” phenomenon, one may find himself walking into Shul with an added appendage attached to his ear.  Even if the Bluetooth is off, it would seem highly inappropriate for someone walking into Shul so blatantly brandishing the equipment necessary to engage in something else wholly unrelated to his service of the King, for his brief but intensive stay in the King’s palace.


Aside from the unsightly appearance of the unique earpiece in a House of Prayer, we must remember that the Yetzer Hora works by deftly taking a finger, then another finger, getting to your hand, then both hands…  Indeed, a reader recently noted to us his incredulity at his neighbor in Shul (a “nice guy”) who picked up his buzzing cell phone in middle of Shemone Esrei(!) and said “Mmmmmmmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmmmmmm”--incredibly being able to carry on two conversations at once!  Neither we, nor we are sure our reader, are judging this “nice guy”, and of course we must be Don L’Kaf Zechus--judging favorably, but what we have to recognize is how one thing simply leads to another, and that we must do what we can to prevent the Yetzer Hora from taking a stronghold.  Not all of the guidelines in this area will be found directly in the Shulchan Aruch.  It is said in the name of HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Zt’l, that Derech Eretz and common sense **precede** the Shulchan Aruch (as Chazal teach, “Derech Eretz Kodma L’Torah”).


Everything has its time and place.  Far be it from us to improperly abuse the incredible rights and privileges that we are granted daily.


Additional Note:  There are, of course, other times in daily life where one must make a decision as to whether he will respond to a computer beep, a cell phone vibration, or the like when in the midst of a conversation with a friend or a close family member, or even while eating dinner.  Discipline and control in this area is certainly an indication of your belief that man, as a Tzelem Elokim, is still over machine, and that mind, even in our times, remains over matter!


Special Note Three:  It is interesting to find, wherever you are in the world, that where there is one car dealership, there are usually two or three more within the same or next few blocks.  Each one will proudly display their wares, notwithstanding that the first dealership may be for the various Lexus models and the next dealership for Hyundais.  When one approaches these brand new Hyundais without comparing them to the Lexus makes, one will most certainly be impressed by how new, neat, clean, sharp, stylish and up to date they are.  Indeed, these models will probably last the same five years that the Chevy or Toyota driver would expect from his vehicle as well.


There is at least one great lesson to be derived here.  Our People consist of many makes and models.  Some may be Roshei Yeshiva, some Rabbonim, some teachers, some business owners, some workers, some housewives, some students….  Every one was made differently, but everyone is really still very beautiful.  He or she may be the Lexus, he or she the Chevrolet, and he or she the Chrysler.  The make or model really does not make the ultimate difference.  What really counts is the newness, the shine, the freshness, the sparkle in living a Torah life that one exhibits and displays each and every day.


So, every day, drive out of your own showroom with zest and zeal to get to those destinations that you--and only you--are going to reach!!




In last week’s Parsha, we learned how Bnai Yisroel received the Torah for eternity.  According to the Medrash, the world stood still, the nations watched, and the Heavens and the depths opened, so that the Universe and its contents would forever bear testimony to the direct transmission of the Torah from Hashem to His people at Sinai.


Two of the Ani Maamin affirmations that we recite daily refer specifically to the giving of the Torah:


a. (#8) I believe with complete Faith that the entire Torah that is now in our hands is the same one that was given to Moshe Rabbeinu, Olav HaShalom.


b. (#9) I believe with complete Faith that this Torah will not be exchanged, nor will there be any other Torah from the Creator, Blessed is His Name (the meforshim on the Siddur explain that not even one mitzvah will change).


Thus, we reaffirm daily that the gift we have been given is immutable and complete.  It is no wonder, then, that every morning, soon after the Birchos HaShachar, we proclaim “Ashreinu Ma Tov Chelkenu, U’ma Naim Goraleinu, U'ma Yafa Yerushasaynu…--how good is our portion, how pleasant our lot, and how beautiful is our heritage.”  This grand proclamation serves to remind us of the sublime appreciation that each and every one of us should have for what we have been born (or joined) into, and what do we wake up to each and every day.


HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, in the remarkable work Rav Schwab on Prayer (Artscroll p. 60), beautifully explains that this phrase describes for us the “windfall” gift that we have received in three different ways:


1.  “How good is our portion”--this may be analogized to our being appointed a partner in a wealthy man’s business.  The Zohar HaKadosh (3:73) teaches that HaKadosh Baruch Hu, the Torah, and the Bnai Yisroel are one company, one unit.  You cannot do better than being a partner with the One who owns the world!


2.  “How pleasant is our goral--our lot”--imagine winning a large lottery, or imagine a father who is dividing his property who directs one of his sons to his best Midtown property and says “Take this one.”  We have the indisputable winning ticket, today and every day--or at least the winning ticket that really counts!


3.  “How beautiful is our heritage”--when one is the beneficiary in the will of a distant relative and is shocked or surprised, he may have inherited some cash, some jewelry, some real estate or some family-related item.  We, on the other hand, Rav Schwab writes, are astoundingly the beneficiaries of:


*the Written and Oral Torah

*the Mitzvos Deoraysa and Derabonon--both negative prohibitions and positive injunctions

*the Neviim

*the Kesuvim



*Takanos Chachamim--ordinances of the Sages


*Dinim U’Minhagim

*Perushay Risonim V’Achronim--the elucidations of the Rishonim and Achronim

*Poskim--the Shulchan Oruch, and all the decisors of Halacha

*and of the unique character traits that pour forth into our flesh and blood of being Rachmonim, Byshonim and Gomlei Chasodim--merciful, bashful and full of Chesed performance


All of this has been handed down to us as an inheritance.  It is not one, or five, or ten token gifts or even large bequests, but an infinite measure of life-giving, life-guiding and life-fulfilling treasures.  As a heritage, we acquired it all without effort; it was all done for us.


Now, as we move away from Parshas Yisro and into Parshas Mishpotim, we travel from Har Sinai to the basis of much of “Jewish Civil Law.”  To the Torah Jew, Civil Law is not a dry body of rules and consequences made for judges, politicians, police and lawyers, but because of its Divine--and not humanly-legislated origin (as highlighted by Hashem’s placement of these laws directly after Matan Torah) makes it so special and full of life for us.


This week, as we begin the study of Parshas Mishpotim, we should feel, and be energized and rejuvenated, by how good our portion is, how pleasant is our lot, and how beautiful is our Heritage--in each and every one of the 53 Mitzvos that we are about to study in the Parsha!



IMPORTANT MESSAGE from Horav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita:

This message is being distributed by Aneinu, the network of women’s Tehillim groups.


HoRav Kamenetsky, Shlita, gave the following suggestion for women in America:


The Rosh Yeshiva suggests that due to the serious matzav in Eretz Yisrael (in danger from its enemies within and without), each woman should light Shabbos candles at least five minutes before the regular zman (time) of hadlakas neros (candlelighting), for the next three weeks.


Through this, the Rosh Yeshiva said, we will be mosif (bring more) kedusha to the world.  The Rosh Yeshiva also suggests doing what we can to be prepared for Shabbos a little earlier, so that our lighting candles earlier will be without added pressure in the house.


Special Note One: Among the comments we received regarding Rabbi Lieff’s shiur on Tzipisa L’Yeshua, we received the following important insights from readers:


a.       “As a comment, I wanted to add that when I take the subway or the bus (or any time I am surrounded by other people in a shopping mall or the like), I try to look around at all the various nationalities and think to myself, ‘When Moshiach will come, each and every one of these people will acknowledge that Hashem is the One and Only ruler and creator of the universe!’  Then I take a look at each face, each color, religion and nationality and imagine the reactions of each of these people when Moshiach will arrive and they will ultimately come to realize the truth about the world. I feel that this has helped me deepen my emunah in Moshiach!”


b.      “Rabbi Chagai Preschel relates that when Rav Noson Wachtfogel flew to Paris he bought a one way ticket, reasoning that since Moshiach will have arrived before the return trip, why waste the extra money?”  Hakhel Note: While we may be unable to aspire to this level, perhaps we should at least think about it when buying return trip tickets!


c.       “The main reason for Tzipisa LeYeshua is that it reflects our desire for deveikus baHashem, since the Yeshua will remove many of the barriers (Shebud Malchuyos, and even much of ‘Se'or SheBeIssa’, the Yetzer Horah) that separate us from Hashem and His Will.  Additionally, to desire the Geula for Hashem's sake, so that His Will is done in this world (which will give Him a nachas ruach) is the highest level (Mesilas Yeshorim, beBiur Midas haChassidus).”


In response to the many inquiries, one may obtain a CD or tape of Rabbi Lieff’s shiur on “Zipisa L’Yeshua”--awaiting the Redemption, by contacting 718-252-5274.


Special Note Two: Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita, provides the following meaningful question:  Why did Hashem give us the Ten Commandments on two tablets, and not simply all the Commandments on one longer tablet?  He suggests that if Hashem would have presented the Ten Commandments on one board, one could have concluded that Hashem is presenting the Commandments in order of importance.  Now that they are divided in two, we find that the first Commandment of Belief in Hashem is actually on the same level as the Sixth Commandment, which is “Lo Sirtzuch”--not to murder.


There is a similar question raised--Why are the two tablets usually depicted as being rounded, as opposed to being flat, on their top.  The Sifsei Chaim responds that the rounded top symbolizes the heart of the person, and indicates that a person must “put his heart” into the Torah and Mitzvos, and not simply observe and perform them because it is the right thing to do, because his parents did it, or even because he is simply used to do doing it.


Special Note Three:  For those of you around the world who have not yet seen the newest amazing Shmita story, we provide the attached link available here.


Special Note Four: As this is the Shabbos of Matan Torah, it is of utmost importance that we use this Shabbos to reinspire ourselves with Matan Torah--the “Sinaitic Experience” itself.  In this connection, we provide the following excerpt from the Taryag Legacy Foundation’s Introductory Volume, entitled The Ten Commandments.  This incredible volume provides hundreds of pages of extremely important yedios relating to our Aseres HaDibros:


“Since awareness of the Sinaitic Experience is so basic to our faith, Moshe Rabbeinu admonished us never to forget it, Memory lapses are natural enough, but they are disallowed when they concern the very foundation of our beliefs.  This is what the Torah teaches us (Devarim 4:9-10):


“‘Only watch yourself, be exceedingly careful [since it concerns] your very Being, that you not forget any of the events that you witnessed.  Make sure that, throughout your life, they never leave your consciousness.  Moreover, pass them on to your children and your grandchildren.  [Tell them the story of] the day on which you stood before Hashem at Chorev [Har Sinai], [the day] when Hashem said to me:  Bring all the people together so that I may let them hear My words.  [It is imperative that they absorb this well] so that they may learn to fear Me always, and [furthermore] that they may pass it on to their children.’


“Ramban maintains that this admonition actually has a formal place among the Taryag Mitzvos.  The following is a paraphrase of the Ramban’s words:


“'These verses are to be understood as a command, never to forget the Sinaitic Experience and never, throughout our lives, to allow them to pass from our consciousness.  This experience is to remain a constant presence for us…There is a good reason for such stringency.  The underlying theory is that the Sinaitic Experience must be lived by us…  If we were to know of it only by hearsay, even if it was retold by a prophet whose reliability has been confirmed by miracles, there would always be a danger that, at some time in the future, another prophet might arise, one whose deeds might be even more wondrous than the earlier ones.  If he would then attempt to lure us away from our tradition, our convictions might well be compromised.  This cannot occur, now that we ourselves were witnesses at Sinai.  No spurious miracles can ever shake our certainty.  We would recognize the charlatan for what he is.  That is why the Torah commands us so earnestly never to absolve ourselves from the duty to pass these truths on to our children.  They trust us because they would realize that, as parents, we would never pass falsehoods on to our children.’


“Ramban takes this idea further in Parshas Va'eschanan (Devarim 4:9).  We are to remember not only the fact of the Sinaitic Experience but also those aspects of the event--the sound of the Shofar blasts, the flames that enveloped the mountain--which gave the occasion its unique character.  He also maintains that besides the prohibition (Lo Saaseh) to forget what happened there is also a positive obligation (Aseh) to pass whatever we saw and heard to our descendants.


“Although Rambam, unlike the Ramban, does not understand these verses to constitute actual commandments (he does not count them in his Sefer HaMitzvos), he states unequivocally that the principle they express is a cornerstone of the Jewish perspective.  He does this in his Iggeres Teiman, a poignant letter he wrote to the Yemenite community to encourage them when they were faced with the threat of forced conversions.  The following is a paraphrase of what he wrote:


“‘Keep the memory of the Sinaitic Experience alive, never forget it and pass it on intact to your children.  Hashem Himself insisted that we do all this ... You are to describe vividly the glory and the beauty of what happened and you are to do this in public, for all to hear.  Only thus can you lay a solid foundation for our faith, and only thus will you lead your community to the truth.


“’Impress the unequalled greatness of that day upon your children’s mind.  The Torah itself (Devarim 4:32) takes pains to underline its uniqueness.


“‘You, my brothers, must understand that the covenant forged at Sinai between Hashem and ourselves was unique.  Never repeated.  Hashem Himself the most unimpeachable witness describes it as such.  Never before had Hashem revealed Himself [to an entire people], permitting His Glory to be perceived “eye to eye” and never again will this occur.


“‘I will tell you why Hashem did this: To anchor our faith to such mighty pillars of support that no circumstance, be it even the present dreadful situation in which you are being challenged to stand firm in the face of unbearable pressures to convert, would ever be able to move us one whit from the impregnable fortress of our faith.


“‘The Torah (Shemos 20:20) tells us that the purpose of this unique experience was to help us to withstand the harsh tests with which we would inevitably meet up in the course of our history.  Do not waver!  Do not sin!’


“Clearly, Rambam agrees with Ramban that we are obligated to remember the Sinaitic Experience and that we are to pass our memories along to our children, and they to theirs.  Halacha encourages us to remember our Sinaitic Experience.  The Tur (Orach Chaim §47) notes that Birchas Ha Torah, the blessing we make daily thanking Hashem for having given us the Torah, provides an opportunity.  The Bracha reads, “Who has chosen us from among all the nations, and given us His Torah.”  While saying these words, we should bring to mind our national collective memory of having been selected from among all the nations, of having been brought to Sinai, of hearing Hashem’s words, and of having been the recipients of His Torah.”


This Shabbos let us remember “Ashreinu Ma Tov Chelkenu”--how fortunate we are, and think of ways that we can remember and appreciate Matan Torah every day of our lives.  A moment of reflection every day at Birchas HaTorah is certainly a great start!



In this past week’s Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, discussed the Halacha and Hashkafa relating to Tzipisa L’Yeshua--awaiting the redemption.  Among the many important and fascinating points that he made were the following:


  1. Chazal (Shabbos 31A) record that one of the six questions that a person is asked after 120 years is “Tzipisa L’Yeshua--did you wait for the redemption?”  Obviously, if this is one of the first six inquiries made by the Heavenly Court, it must be quite important, and have a special source.  The SeMaK writes that, in fact, its source is in the Torah--and, actually, in this week’s Parsha in the first of the Aseres HaDibros--“Anochi Hashem Elokecha …” (Shemos 20:2), I am Hashem your G-d, who took you out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”  The SeMaK understands from this commandment that just as we believe that Hashem took us out of Mitzraim, so, too, must we believe that Hashem will fully and finally extricate us from our current Galus as well.  Indeed, as we have previously noted, the Ramban writes that our current Galus is actually a mirror, or sister, to the Galus Mitzraim.  Thus, when one yearns for the redemption today, he is actually confirming his belief in the very first of the Aseres HaDibros.


  1. The Chofetz Chaim writes that if one does not live a life in which he demonstrates a longing for the Geulah, then when the Geulah actually does come, he will, incredible as it may sound, not feel it or appreciate it.  In explaining this thought, Rabbi Lieff noted that one may envision himself text messaging his friends that the Moshiach has arrived, and imaging that his friends will share in the same elation and exuberance as he will have.  However, because each person will experience the arrival of Moshiach with a level of joy based upon his yearning before the redemption, this similar level of joy will not necessarily be so at all.  Succinctly stated, the quality of one’s Geulah will be directly proportional to his preparation for it, just as one’s place and position in Olam Habo is determined by his thoughts, his deeds and actions in Olam Hazeh.


  1. We find, in last week’s Parsha, that Miriam together with “Kol HaNoshim” (Shemos 15:20)--all the women, went out with “tupim”--tambourines and “bimcholos”--with dances.  Where on earth did every single woman get a tambourine from at this time?!  How did they all learn how to dance?!  The answer, Rabbi Lieff concludes, was that they were prepared for Geula--they had the tambourines ready and waiting for that swift, overnight, moment that they would be redeemed.  They took dance lessons in anticipation of the ultimate celebration of Geula.  They were ready, and the Torah records it that way for eternity.


We too must demonstrate that we are readying ourselves.  It may not necessarily be evidenced by the suitcase which HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, had packed, or the special clothing that some may have to greet the Moshiach, but it can and should be evidenced in other ways.  When one enters a place, or begins looking at something, talking about somebody, or even thinking about something, he may want to wonder--Is this what I should be thinking of or doing on the hour or the day of Moshiach’s arrival?


When one recites the Brachos in Shemone Esrei of, for example, V’LiYerushalayim Ircha or Es Tzemach, he may want to think about how his Tefillos could be one of those last few of the millions of Brachos made before the requests in these Brachos are granted.  Shouldn’t they be most heartfelt?  Perhaps one can add a five-minute Seder related to his firm hope and belief, such as studying the laws of the Bais HaMikdash in the Rambam, learning Mishnayos Kodshim, or reading books relating to the Bais HaMikdash and the times of the Geula.


It is fascinating to note that HaRav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita (in Da Ma Shetashiv) writes that he heard from HaRav Yecheskel Abramsky, Z’tl, who said in the name of the Vilna Gaon’s students that the last war in world history would last twelve (12) minutes.  In the times we live in, we can well understand and appreciate that these twelve minutes could happen on any day, at any time--and it most certainly behooves us to take some positive steps to be ready.


The Pasuk in Bereishis states, “HaKol Kol Yaakov…the voice is the voice of Yaakov, and the hands are the hands of Eisav (Bereishis 27:23).”  Rabbi Lieff likened this to an alarm clock that wakes us up in the morning.  The voice is the voice of Yaakov waking us up and telling us to get going.  The hand that quickly hits the snooze button or turns the alarm off is the hand of Eisav because it wants to prevent or delay all of the great things that we can accomplish for ourselves and the world.


So, why wait?  Let’s ask ourselves one of the world’s most important questions every day--Tzipisa L’yeshua--did you await the Geula--and if hopefully so--how did you truly show it??!!



Special Note One: In honor of Tu B’Shvat, we provide a link here to a moving Tefillah from the Ben Ish Chai to be recited for your Esrog this Sukkos (courtesy of Mesivta Yochanan Shraga of Monsey).


Special Note Two:  Also in honor of Tu B’Shvat, we provide a link here to a sheet containing interesting detail on this special day, originally published by Keren Hasheviis to help raise funds for the Shemitta-observing farmers in Eretz Yisroel this year.  If we can, let us take a moment to help support our people in our land during this sacred year by sending a donation today to Keren HaSheviis, 42 Broadway, 14th Floor, New York, New York 10275-1107.  What a beautiful gesture for Tu B’Shvat!



Special Note One:  Please note that Israeli fruits and vegetables are being sold in establishments such as Costco and in local fruit and vegetable stores.  One should look at labels when buying vegetables such as peppers and the like.  The “Carmel” trade name represents such a product, which is especially serious in this Shemita year.


Special Note Two:  Today the new cycle of Shmiras HaLashon Yomi begins.  It is very important for us to strengthen ourselves-- and re-strengthen ourselves--in this vital area.  Many have already said that the study of Shmiras HaLashon brings personal Yeshuos and Yeshuos for the Klal.  We all need this so desperately now.  In honor of the commencement of Shmiras HaLashon Yomi, we provide the following helpful guidance and teaching from Guard Your Tongue by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita.



“At times a person finds himself in a quandary:  Is the situation at hand one of those exceptions when it is not only permitted but obligatory to speak what ordinarily would be considered Loshon hora?  There is a simple formula that solves doubtful cases.  When you will be summoned before the Divine Court, the doubtful case will be considered.  If the Court decides that you should have spoken instead of remaining silent, you will easily be able to exonerate yourself.  But, if it decides that you should have kept quiet, and you spoke, you will find yourself in a very difficult position.  The formula?  When in doubt, silence is the best policy.  (Chofetz Chaim, Sefer Shmiras Halashon  Vol. 1, 2: 16).”


Hakhel Note:  The above advice applies when one is not in a position to ask a shaila based on the exigencies of the situation.  Of course, if possible, one should ask a Rav whether the particular information in question should be related or provided.  The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation's Shmiras Haloshon Shaila Hotline, in which experienced poskim in the areas of shmiras haloshon are available to answer your particular shialos in shidduchim, business and personal matters as they arise, is an excellent resource.  The hours are Monday through Thursday and Motze'ei Shabbos from 9-10:30 PM EST, and in emergencies.  The phone number of the Hotline is 718-951-3696.


We provide the following helpful information relating to the various methods by which you may study Shmiras HaLashon Yomi:


  1. Daily email:  Send a subscription request to editorial@chofetzchaimusa.org

  2. Learn by Phone: 11 AM EST—Live Daily Shmiras HaLashon Yomi Shiur with Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro—212-990-8000, Pin Number 3505#.  You can also access the recorded shiur 24 hours a day at 212-990-6023.

  3. Recordings (CD’s or Tapes) of either Rabbi Yitzchok Berkowitz, Shlita or Rabbi Fishel Schachter, Shlita are obtainable by contacting the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation at 845-352-3505.


Special Note Three:  We received the following additional wonderful points from our readers:


  1. “Recently, I went on a business trip, and shared a hotel room with a business colleague who was also frum.  At 5 AM, I briefly heard an alarm ring, and with one eye open, I saw my roommate get out of bed quickly, wash his hands and do about 20 pushups on the floor.  Later that morning, I candidly admitted to him that I witnessed his early morning practice.  He told me that this was the way he energized himself for another day of life in order to ‘arise like a lion.’  We usually do not get the opportunity to view other people’s ideas as to how to arise in the morning, but I think each one of us can personalize our very own pleasant and gratifying awakening to a new day of life and its opportunities!”


  1. “Just like we say ‘Modeh Ani’ every morning when we arise, I believe we should say the Pasuk ‘V’Ani B’Rov Chasdecha Avo Vaysecha’--through your abundant kindness, I enter Your House--every time we enter a Shul or Bais Medrash so that we properly appreciate and truly fathom the great and awesome place we are about to enter.”


Special Note Four:  In this week’s Parsha, we are first introduced to the mitzvah of Shabbos--with the prohibition against violating the Techum Shabbos.  Why do you think the Torah first mentions Shabbos through the concept of Techum, which is not even a Melacha on Shabbos?  Good Shabbos!!



Special Note One:  The Rosh HaYeshiva of Aish HaTorah, Rav Noach Weinberg, Shlita, has been diagnosed with a tumor.  The exact details of the nature of the tumor and how it will be treated will only be determined after further tests and consultations with his doctors.  Please daven for a complete and immediate refuah for Yisroel Noach ben Hinda.


Special Note Two: We have received the following practical and meaningful communications from readers:


a.       “I have some important advice for your readers.  Every once in awhile I get a sense of depression, or feel somewhat overwhelmed by all of the issues and problems that face me.  I personally find it extremely helpful at these times to take out a Siddur and read the 13 Ani Maamins.  It helps me refocus, and put things in their proper perspective.  It allows me to remind myself that things are really not to much for me and not out of control, because Hashem knows everything and is in control, and there can be nothing at all better than that.  Trust me, I am giving everyone good advice!”


b.      “Regarding the Sixty Minute Without Interruption Torah Study Program that you mentioned today, may I also suggest something similar relating to all of life.  We have heard many times how the Vilna Gaon or the Chofetz Chaim could literally count the minutes/hours that they “wasted” in a year.  I don’t think that the average person would hold himself to that standard.  But I do have a helpful suggestion which you can try if you feel awake enough and inspired enough.  It is to take a regular hour during the day (when you are not learning or davening, unless you use that hour to learn intently or daven intently), and consciously try not to waste any time during that hour by keeping on top of yourself and on top of time.  This may be an extremely hard exercise at first, but it is very rewarding and helps you value time, and your life a bit more.  If we can get nowhere near the Tzadikim, we should at least try in some way to touch their deeds.”


c.       “Regarding ‘Crying Out,’ to my recollection the Gemorah says that Shaarei Ha’Shamayim--the Gates of Heaven--have been closed with the exception of Shaarei Dim’ah--crying.  However, Rav Moshe says that crying in our tefillos helps only if it is attached to Teshuva.”


d.      “Regarding tools for having one’s Tefillos answered it is also noteworthy to mention what the Sefer Orchos Tzadikim says in the beginning of Shaaar Ha’Anavah that through humility we find favor in Hashem’s eyes and He is more prepared to answer our Tefillos.  On other hand, He looks with disfavor at the one who is a baal ga’avah, an arrogant person, and on that person’s Tefillos.  For elaboration, see there.”


Special Note Three:  In response to all of the requests for answers to the Hilchos Shabbos questions we raised, Hakhel has numerous recordings on issues of this kind.  We refer you to our Hakhel Recordings listing available here, or you may contact 718-252-5274 for further information.


Special Note Four:  We have pointed out on several occasions that the first thought and words one should have in the morning upon awakening is “Modeh Ani Lifanecha”--I gratefully thank You, Oh living and eternal King….  But what is the second thought that one should have in the morning?  At a Hakhel shiur, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, related how when he was a young man studying in the Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland, HaRav Mordechai Gifter, Zt’l, once cheerfully greeted him in the hallway, and in a heartening tone said, “Shalom Aleichem, Zelig.  How are you today?!”  Since then, Rabbi Pliskin said, this is his “second thought” of the day--putting the day in an uplifting and elevating perspective.  No, your initial thoughts of the day do not have not include the emergencies at work today, the various shopping that has to be done, or any other of the plethora of tasks listed somewhere on a piece of paper, PostIt®, Blackberry® or PalmPilot®.  In fact, the more a person can keep himself focused on his spiritual side and how he can improve himself today (after all, don’t we say “Shehechezarta Bi Nishmasi”--that You have returned my **soul **within me) in his first waking moments of the day, the more power and influence it will have on the remainder of the upcoming day.  See Shearim B’Tefillah by HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, Zt’l, for a discussion of this vital thought.


Special Note Five:  Every night at Maariv, we recite “Ki Haym Chayeinu”--for the Torah and Mitzvos are our life. HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Zt’l, asked us to focus closely on these words.  Torah is not “merely” like oxygen or water--rather, as Chazal teach us, it is life itself!!  How we should value life!!



With the conclusion of the Shiva of HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z’tl, we provide a fascinating thought that he himself had presented in a shiur approximately thirty years ago.


The Pasuk at the beginning of Parshas Vayaitzai states:  “And Yaakov left Beer Sheva and went to Choron” (Bereishis 28:10).  Rashi, quoting the Medrash (Bereishis Raba 68:6) relates that the Torah specifically relates the phrase “And Yaakov left…” to teach us that when a Tzadik departs from a place, he leaves a void--for when he departs, glory, beauty and splendor actually depart with him.


HaRav Berenbaum, Z’tl, asked, why did the Torah wait until Yaakov Avinu to teach us this lesson--didn’t Avraham Avinu travel from place to place, and so couldn’t we have learned this lesson from him as to the importance of a Tzadik in his place?!  HaRav Berenbaum answered that with Avraham Avinu, who was known for his Chesed and dealings with people, it was easy for everyone to know and understand that his departure would leave a mark.  Yaakov Avinu, however, was an “Ish Tom, Yoshev Ohalim”--one who simply studied in the Beis Medrash without the same level of contact with the outside world.  Nevertheless, the Torah teaches us that when a great Torah Scholar leaves a place, the ramifications to that place are just as great, and just as tangible.


Over the last week, we witnessed HaRav Berenbaum’s insight being borne out with his own departure from this world, as scores of thousands attended his levayos both in America and in Eretz Yisroel, and hespedim, and constant repetition of his love of Torah and thoughts about his sterling character continue to reverberate throughout our world.


So, the next time we see somebody involved in intense study in Shul, in the Bais Medrash, or even at home, we should recognize and appreciate the actual and tangible glory, beauty and splendor that emanates from him--and how it really and truly benefits our world!


Special Note One: We received the following note from a valued reader:


“Since you mentioned Rav Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, you may be interested in taking a look at the following site in which his book, Kindness: Making a Difference in People's Lives: Formulas, stories, and insights is used (with permission) to relate some wonderful ideas about how to completely turn around the way we view others.  The site is http://www.TraditionOfKindness.org


Special Note Two: One final note from last week’s Parsha, which provides another significant lesson to us.


The Pasuk records that initially even the Bnei Yisroel did not listen to Moshe Rabbeinu “Because of shortness of breath and hard work” (Shemos, 6:9).  Hashem then tells Moshe to go to speak to Paroh himself to send Bnei Yisroel from his land.  Moshe responds that “…Bnei Yisroel have not listened to me, so how will Paroh listen to me?...”  Rashi, quoting the Medrash (Bereishis Raba 92:7) writes that this is one of the ten Kal V’Chomer (ipso facto or a priori) arguments in the Torah.


HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, wonders “Why is this a Kal V’Chomer?”--i.e., why is it so that if Bnei Yisroel would not listen to Bnei Yisroel, then, ipso facto, neither would Paroh.  After all, the Pasuk explicitly expresses the reason that Bnei Yisroel would not listen to Moshe--because of shortness of breath and hard work.  Paroh certainly did not suffer from these, as he sat comfortably on the throne with everything being performed for him and on his behalf.  While Bnei Yisroel may be unable to listen or accept what Moshe Rabbeinu was saying because of their true predicament, Paroh certainly had the wherewithal, the ability and the understanding to appreciate Moshe Rabbeinu’s message!


We may suggest that the Kal V’Chomer, the ipso facto argument, does in fact work.  The argument simply is as follows: If Bnei Yisroel--the slave people who were to be released wouldn’t accept what I was saying, then why would Paroh--as their master?!  Chazal, by teaching us that this really is and remains a Kal V’Chomer, are teaching us that the reason Bnei Yisroel did not listen (albeit a good one) was simply not important.  For, despite the fact that we can commiserate with their unbelievably difficult plight, they should, in fact, have listened to Hashem and to Moshe Rabbeinu.  So too, Paroh, despite his grand position and erstwhile iron-clad rulership, should have recognized and understood Moshe Rabbeinu’s message to him as well.  Any excuses would simply be unacceptable and downright wrong, as they would more than pale in significance to following the mandate and directive of the Master of the Universe, Hashem and his messenger, Moshe Rabbeinu.


There is a tremendous lesson for us to be learned here.  If we are true believers--i.e., if we truly believe that all of the events and occurrences that surround us, everything that happens to us in life, all of the big and small events, the pain we may suffer and the pleasures and simchas we experience--are personally directed and “micromanaged” by Hashem--then there are certain attitudes and certain phrases which should not have room in our thought process or our vocabulary.  If Hashem has put you in the situation, no matter how stressful or troubling, then he wants you to act responsibly in that situation in accordance with the Torah and the Poskim, which in some instances may require further elucidation by your Rav or your Posek.


Thus, a feeling or a statement of “I cannot do it”.  “It is too hard”, “It is beyond my capability”,” I can’t handle this”, “This situation is impossible for me”, which may come sincerely out of real pain, extreme stress and great frustration, should really in truth be avoided, or overcome.  If one cannot control himself, he must at least realize that his statement should not be taken literally, for his Creator and Maker has determined that this situation or event is needed and/or best for him at this time.  Instead, one should “listen to Moshe Rabbeinu”, despite the “shortness of breath,” the adverse circumstances--even if they are extremely, extremely, adverse--and dig in and try to meet the challenge and rise to the occasion.


Bnei Yisroel, in their pain and misery, did not listen.  Their failure to hear and accept was for naught.  Ten Makkos and a Splitting of the Sea later, they received the Torah at Har Sinai, which made them an eternal people with an eternal life.  Let us take the lesson from the Parsha, and with unfettered faith and complete belief rise up and through the difficult, event, position, circumstance or situation.  In this zechus, in the merit of our pure faith and belief--each person in his own way will be zoche to his own beautiful part and portion in that very unique and special eternal life!



Special Note One:  A noted Rav recently raised the following question:  Every day in Shemone Esrei we pray (hopefully sincerely) three times a day for our brethren to do Teshuva.  How are we allowed to do that--after all, by praying for them in this way are we not attempting to take away their bechira--their free will--the proper exercise of which goes to the core of the very purpose of life?  The Rav answered that the Chazon Ish raised this question and answered that when we pray for another we are not really praying for another--but for ourselves--for we are all part of one whole being called K'lal Yisroel, and we have the right to pray--for ourselves--to Hashem that he help us with our own bechira challenges, confrontations and quagmires.  For additional elaboration of this unique, but concomitantly fundamental, principle, which has such important Halachic ramifications, see Tomer Devorah, Chapter 1, Attribute 4.


Special Note Two:  In last week's Parsha, the Torah records: "Paroh called to Moshe and Aharon and said go and bring sacrifices to your G-d in the Land."  Moshe responded, "It is not proper to do so…for if we were to slaughter the god of Egypt in front of their eyes, will they not stone us?" (Shemos 8:21, 22)


There is a stark question one may ask on Moshe Rabbeinu's statement, which is raised by the Chasam Sofer (and brought by HaRav Pam, Zt'l, in The Pleasant Way, p. 89).  Had not Egypt by this point been hit hard--very hard--with four plagues which had left Egypt and the Egyptian people in turmoil--was Moshe Rabbeinu actually afraid that the Egyptians would or even could stone the Bnei Yisroel?  After the powerful and devastating Makkos, it was pellucidly clear to all that neither Paroh nor the Egyptians could stone anyone anymore.  Wasn't it then an incredulous and even insulting argument for Moshe Rabbeinu to make to Paroh--that the Jews had to leave Egypt to bring sacrifices to Hashem because they were too scared to bring sacrifices in Egypt proper?


The answer provided by the Chasam Sofer is truly amazing.  Let us once again look at what Moshe Rabbeinu told Paroh: "Lo Nachon LaAsos Keyn--it is not proper to do so.”  The Chasam Sofer explains that what Moshe Rabbeinu really meant was that it would not be proper to infuriate and antagonize the Egyptians who would **want** to stone the Bnei Yisroel, but would be powerless to do so.  It would not be proper conduct on our part to act in a manner that would cause unwarranted emotional pain to the Egyptians.  This type of mental anguish and torture was uncalled for and unnecessary.


The lesson to be derived from this is immense.  Causing distress to another--even to someone as dastardly as a Mitzri--is simply inappropriate and unacceptable, unless Halachically mandated.


Recently, we received the following communication from a barber who is a Baal Teshuva, new to Torah Judaism.  As he was closing his shop on an early Friday afternoon a man pleaded with him to give him a haircut--as this would be a tremendous Kavod Shabbos for the man who needed it.  The barber responded that he was very sorry, but that he had to travel home, and that with the bad weather and traffic, it would take him at least a half an hour.  The potential customer told him that "I am a Kohen--and I bless you that you will not have traffic, and that the weather will not be a really great hindrance to you."  The barber, hearing these words, acquiesced.  In fact, the barber related, traffic rarely had ever been that bad, and he was forced to park his car on an exit off the highway, and walk home for an hour on a wintry Friday night.  The patron may have sincerely meant well, but on someone else's cheshbon, causing someone else to be hurt.


Every day, you should consider this very question--is what I am about to do or say "Nachon"--the proper thing--to do or say to the next person.  If I couldn't do it to a Mitzri--why should I do it to an immediate family member, friend or co-worker?  If we did not catch ourselves in time, and we realize it afterwards, we should try to figure out how not to let it happen again.


Perhaps the best way to avoid causing distress to others is by turning the tide--by being busy thinking about how what you say or do could make them happier or more content.  Has not a compliment ever changed your day?  Why would you think someone else is so different?  Hashem gives **you** the supernal opportunity and sublime gift to turn another's misery into happiness and his distress into joy.


Rav Zelig Pliskin, Shlita at a Hakhel Shiur, noted that it is estimated by some that a person has 50,000 thoughts a day.  We should view this as 50,000 opportunities to think the right things, and to properly implement them--especially in our relationships with others in our daily lives.


Let us focus on what is "Nachon"--what is right, proper and appropriate.  At the end of the day today, look back--was it a Nachon day?!



Thank you for all of your tefillos on behalf of the great tzaddik and rosh yeshivah, HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z’tl.  HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z’tl, in Shearim BeTefillah teaches that no tefillah goes unanswered.  Rather, just as rain and snow which fall and saturate the ground benefit us in ways we may not fully appreciate, so, too, do our tefillos have powers and benefits way beyond our immediate understanding and comprehension.  May his memory be for a blessing.


Kashrus Alert: The OU has issued a Kashrus Alert for ShopRite Brand Fat Free, Non-Fat and Light Fat Free Yogurt.  Some of these yogurts have been erroneously distributed with an unauthorized OU-D symbol.  Affected flavors include blueberry, cherry, lemon chiffon, peach, raspberry, strawberry and vanilla.  It is important for a person to realize that rather than being “pleasantly surprised” by a new Hashgacha on a product, one should take the relatively small effort needed to ensure that the new Hashgacha does, in fact, exist.  All of the Kashrus Organizations have phone numbers and websites addresses which are readily available.  The OU, for example, can be reached at 212-563-4000, or at http://www.oukosher.org




Tehillim is being recited world-wide for one of the Gedolei HaDor, HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Shlita, Rafael Shmuel Ben Gittel.  Every day in Shemone Esrei, three times a day, we pray for “Ziknei Amcha Bais Yisroel--the elders of our generation.”  It is well-known that the final p’sak, the last Halachic ruling, issued by HaRav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, Z’tl, before he passed away in 1939, related to a limited number of exit visas available.  Who should they be given to--older Talmidei Chachamim, or young Torah scholars capable of still having families in a new world?  HaRav Chaim Ozer ruled that the visas should be given to the older scholars, who would reestablish Torah outside of Europe, whether they, personally, would have their own children or not.


Similarly, the Chofetz Chaim had expressed his strong interest, and had actually taken steps in his older years, to move to Eretz Yisroel.  The Gedolim in Europe attempted to persuade him not to do so.  The Chofetz Chaim responded that he could no longer take care of the needs of the tzibbur, and so yearned to live his last years in spiritual growth in Eretz Yisroel.  HaRav Chaim Ozer, however, told the Chofetz Chaim that he was mistaken in this regard--because his mere presence in Europe affected the entire Torah world, and would prevent breaches which would undoubtedly open and continuously widen were he to leave.  This is demonstrated with the words of the first Pasuk of Chumash Shemos “…With Yaakov, each man and his household came” (Shemos 1:1).  This indicates to us that the success of “each man and his household” was due to the fact that Yaakov Avinu went along with him (Sefer Tallelei Oros to Shemos 1:1).


HaRav Chaim Ozer told the Chofetz Chaim: “R’ Yisroel Salanter would often say that as long as Saba is sitting by the table, the young children will act with Derech Eretz…”


We have the opportunity now to utilize our boundless power--our incomparable Koach-- as a tzibbur to daven for the Saba to sit at the table, and to continue to lead the generation.  Let us daven, let us say Tehillim, for one who leads us in the ways we may know and recognize, and in many other ways that we do not, and perhaps will never fully, truly realize or appreciate.  To gain a better perspective on how effective your Tehillim recital can really be, we provide the following description of what Tehillim can accomplish, which recently has been circulated in our community.  Even if you have read it, it may pay to read again and again every several days before reciting Tehillim.  Let us appreciate what Hashem has put at our disposal.


“My name is Rina (this is not her real name), and I live in Gush Etzion.  A few months ago, when I was in my car, riding towards Gush Etzion, there was a serious traffic jam.  When I reached the Gush, I saw the reason for the heavy traffic--there had been an accident, and cars were standing in the road.  Out of curiosity, I looked quickly to see what had happened.  I was startled to see a completely smashed car blocking the road, with a body lying on the road, covered with a sheet.


“I wonder who the poor dead person might be, I thought to myself.  Is it a single person or somebody married, somebody with a family or not, a man or a woman?  Will there now be new orphans or perhaps bereaved parents who do not yet know what has happened?  I got out of my car and took out a book of Tehillim, and I prayed with flowing tears and with great devotion.  After a little while, the traffic started to move.  I returned to my car and went home as fast as I could.


“Two weeks later, I was sitting at home, and the phone rang.  At the other end of the line, I heard an unfamiliar voice of a young woman.  She asked, ‘Are you the one who stopped on Tuesday two weeks ago at the side of the road and read Tehillim?’  ‘Yes, I am,’ I replied, wondering what the question meant.  And the girl continued in a voice choked by tears.  ‘Listen, I am the girl who was lying on the road.  Everybody was sure that I was dead, and that is why they covered me with a sheet and waited for the ambulance.  I lay there and experienced what is called “clinical death.”  As it were, my soul left my body, and I was able to see everything around me, from above.  I saw my smashed car, the people who ran around the scene, and the long line of cars.  I could even see my own body, covered with a sheet, lying on the road.  When you started to read the Tehillim, all the letters flew around me, giving me a misty feeling and pulling me downwards.  At that moment, a Magen David ambulance arrived, and the medics decided to try to revive me.  They tried again and again, in an attempt to start my breathing and to get my heart pumping again.  All that time I felt the letters of the Tehillim wrapped around me in a pleasant light, bringing my spirit back to me.  The fact that you read Tehillim saved my life, and I am calling to say thank you!’


“There was nothing I could say.  I was completely speechless.  Before this, I had no idea about the great power of prayer and what could be achieved by reading Tehillim.  And I still did not understand how this anonymous woman knew who I was.


“It turns out that she had not been religious at all.  After this amazing event, she repented (no surprise at all!), and she repeatedly tries to convince people to read Tehillim.  Of course, she recites Tehillim herself.  After the accident, she asked many of her friends if they had been at the scene and if they had seen somebody reciting Tehillim.  Somehow she found my name, and it was then easy for her to get other details, including my phone number.


“Ever since these events I cannot stop thinking about my amazing experience.  One can never know whom she is rescuing by reading Tehillim.  Let us all recite Tehillim regularly, at least five minutes every day.  The Almighty is sitting high above, waiting for us, His children, to ask for what we need.  And He, the merciful Father, is always ready to give it to us and to forgive us for our sins.”


Let us take the time to send our powerful Tehillim soaring for HaRav Berenbaum, Shlita--Rafael Shmuel Ben Gittel.


We received the following from a valued reader:

"Thank you for the Rav Dessler insights.  On the last one, the Chidushei Harim said: 'Hakol Biyedei Shomayim Chutz M'Yiras Shomayim.  Whether a Tefila is answered is in the hands of Hashem, perhaps yes or no, except for a Tefila for Yiras Shomayim which is always answered yes.'"

Short Quiz:

1.      In the Shacharis davening every day, we recite the words "V'Lo Neled LeBeholoh"--what does this mean?

2.      What is the first word that you recite every morning, and the last word you recite every evening before retiring?  Are your words the same every single morning?  Are your words the same every single evening?



Today is the 54th Yahrtzeit of the great HaRav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, Z’tl, who has had such a magnificent influence on the Hashkafa of our generation.  As we have done in the past on the Yahrtzeit of HaRav Yisroel Salanter (his grandfather), Z’tl, and that of the Alter of Navardok, Z’tl, we provide a spiritual sprinkling of his insights as recorded in the Michtav M’Eliyahu.


  1. “The reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah and the reward of an avaira is an avaira” (Pirkei Avos 4:2).  This means that one’s greater attachment to the mitzvah through the toil exerted results in a much greater mitzvah than the one originally contemplated.  Conversely, the impurity that remains with a person as a result of his effort in performing an avaira constitutes in and of itself the punishment.


  1. From the body, one learns lessons for the soul.  When one exercises a limb, the limb rather than tiring, becomes stronger and stronger.  When one puts effort into the study of Torah or in the performance of a mitzvah even when one is exhausted or spent, he is building spiritual muscles.  These muscles are infinitely greater than mere additional flesh on bone.


  1. Chazal teach:  “Fortunate is the one who comes here (Olam Habo) with his Torah study in hand (Pesachim 50A).  Chazal are careful with their words.  It is not enough for the Torah to be in his mind--it must be in his “hand”--which symbolize action or accomplishment, effort and exertion in the pursuit of what is right in life.  One’s place in Olam Habo will not be measured by his wisdom or acumen, but by how much he tried.  That is why Chazal teach that “one on the bottom here will be on top there.”


  1. Chazal teach:  “One must [chayav] say when will my actions reach the actions of my forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov?”  Chazal use the word “must” very judiciously.  A person must view himself as having the capabilities of reaching true heights and spiritual levels, without despairing about his current state.  Ambition and drive must always uplift a person, no matter what his position.


  1. “M’loh Kol Ha’Aretz K’Vodo--Hashem’s glory fills the earth.”  If that is so, how is it that he can ever sin?  The answer is that the entire goal and thrust of the Yetzer Hora is to obstruct and obfuscate one’s clarity of thought and mind, for with true clarity, one’s “choice” or “free-will,” would never be a matter of question--even in our times.


  1. The pristine act of tzedaka or chesed is one performed in a situation in which one gives up his own personal benefit so that another will enjoy or gain.


  1. “For man was created B’Tzelem Elokim” (Bereishis 1:27)--this means that just as HaKadosh Baruch Hu is King of the World, so, too, man must be ruler over his little World.  This can only occur when the soul and spirit rule over one’s body and physical desire.


  1. The true madrega (level) of even a Navi or Ish Elokim is his attainment of truth about himself.


  1. There are various ways to battle the Yetzer Hora; one of them is to “burn bridges” to your connections to him.  Another is to push him off with the words “Just this time…” or “Just a little longer” or “Just a little more”.  It is for this reason that Moshe Rabbeinu told Paroh that the Jews were to travel three days in the desert--not to fool Paroh, but to trick their own Yetzer Hora into believing that they would not be leaving the spiritual filth and disgust of Mitzraim.


  1. The Gra writes that a person does not stay in one place spiritually--he either goes up or goes down.  The reason for this, as explained by R’ Yozel, Z’tl, is that there is a spiritual force of gravity, as well.  That is, the same force that prevents him from rising is the one that brings him down.  We only need to look up and climb, and we will have overcome its force.


  1. There is a Kabala from Rebbe Yisroel Salanter that even if all of the Gates of Prayer are closed--there is always one still open, and that is the Gate of improving your Ruchniyus--growing spiritually.  One should always face to this Gate with emotion and feeling--for your Prayers will then reach their destination!


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