Daily Email Archives

Bulletin Archives

Summer Archives

Public Announcements

Shatnez Publications

Past Events

Hakhel Recordings



Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin



Special Note One:  Today is the 104th yahrtzeit of the Sefas Emes, Rebbe Yehuda Aryeh Leib Alter, Z’tl.  In the Sefas Emes Al HaTorah (Parashas Bo, 5648), the Sefas Emes writes that the stories of Yetzias Mitzrayim actually have the ability to remove yissurin which could come at the time of our future Geulah.  It may be that what we are experiencing these very days are those yissurin.  May we suggest, then, that we take the time and effort to review and relate the stories of Yetzias Mitzraim--the medrashim that we review this Shabbos describing the miraculous events in this week’s Parsha can literally have an important part in our very own Geulah as well!


Hakhel Note:  Yesterday, we mentioned the Tza’vaah of Rebbe Eliezer HaGadol.  We mention it again today, in that it provides a second means to alleviate yissurin which may be attendant to our Geulah.  Rabbi Eliezer tells his son not to close his ears to the cries of the poor--so that Hashem, in turn, will listen to your voice if and when you cry out!  The next time a poor person cries out to you--bring the Geulah that much closer by responding pleasantly!!



Special Note Two:  An innovative and outstanding Chesed may be to help others with all of the last-minute rushes and concerns before making a Simcha.  Typically, last-minute errands become overwhelming, eating and feeding others is forgotten about, and another set of hands is urgently needed in or around the house.  We received the following from a family who received it from a caring family in their neighborhood (names and phone number changed):  “To the Silverman Family:  This is the Goldstein Family’s all-in-one-service.  On the day of or the days before your Simcha, just call 917-555-1234 for babysitting (free) or running to get someone’s Shabbos shoes or anything else at all that you may need (everything should run smooth, Bezras Hashem).  We are here for you.  Don’t buy lunch that day for a special hot pizza will, b’li neder, be delivered to your door.  Anything else--The Goldstein Family is at your service--and we really mean it!”

Innovative Chesed--be the first on your block!


Special Note Three:  We present below an essential insight derived from this week’s Parsha by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, in Growth Through Torah (p. 160):

“U’Lichol Bnei Yisroel Lo Yecheratz Kelev Lishono--To all of Israel the dogs did not bark” (Shemos 11:7).  One can imagine the great feeling of liberation experienced by the Bnai Yisroel when they were finally freed from slavery after so many years.  Would it have been so terrible if a dog had barked at them when they were leaving?  We see from here that even though the irritation experienced would have been slight, under the circumstances, it would have nevertheless still been a blot on their joy.  From here we can learn that when someone is experiencing a joyous occasion, we should be careful not to say or do anything that would decrease his joy.  A person might have just bought a new house and feels very happy about it.  At that time do not needlessly point out the drawbacks of that house.  A person just got married and is very happy, do not voice any pessimistic comments that could cause a tinge of pain.  Some people have a tendency to make statements that deflate a person’s high feelings.  They might be motivated by a bit of envy, or they could be simply insensitive.  Allow others to savor their good fortune.  Don't be like a barking dog and cause others irritation.”

Thank you, Rabbi Pliskin, for these sage and truly meaningful words!


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


Erev Shabbos


The Chofetz Chaim (in Sefer Shem Olam, Chapter 4) brings the famous Chazal that one who was Shomer Shabbos in this world, but may otherwise be required to go through the punishment of Gehinnom for other sins, will have respite on Shabbos, because it becomes Shabbos for him forever--even in Gehinnom.  The Chofetz Chaim then remarkably adds that he heard from a “Gadol HaDor” that the time Shabbos starts for a person in Gehinnom (i.e., the time his punishment stops) actually begins from the time on EREV SHABBOS that he would begin preparing for Shabbos while in this world.  Therefore, the Chofetz Chaim urges us to begin preparing for Shabbos as early on Erev Shabbos as is possible.  In this way, the “Kedushas HaShabbos” will be brought upon a person from early Erev Shabbos--and it will be good for him in all worlds and forever!


Motza’ei Shabbos


The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 299:10) rules:


“It is forbidden to do any work before Havdala [unless one recited ‘Ata Chonantanu’ in Shemone Esrei]…and if one needs to do ANY WORK (including activity prohibited Mi’DRabanan, as explained by the Mishne Berurah there) before Havdala and has not recited ‘Ata Chonantanu,’ one must state ‘Boruch HaMavdil Bein Kodesh L’Chol.’”  This means that women who may not daven Maariv, and men and boys who forgot to recite “Ata Chonantanu,” cannot pickup Muktza items, answer the phone, drive home from shul, open the mail, etc. unless one recites “Boruch HaMavdil Bein Kodesh L’Chol.”


Can you ask a non-religious Jew to do work for you on Motza’ei Shabbos knowing that he has not made Havdala, or would your request fall within the prohibition of placing a “stumbling block in front of the blind”?


HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, (in Derech Sicha) rules that if one does not observe Shabbos, the concept of Havdala, which separates Shabbos from the weekday, does not exist.  Similarly, the Piskei Teshuvos (Volume 3, 299:4) and the Teshuvos V’Hanhagos (2:161) rule that it is permissible, for instance, to enter a cab on Motza’ei Shabbos driven by a non-religious driver, notwithstanding that you know he has not made Havdala.  However, the Piskei Teshuvos does bring the Tzitz Eliezer ( 11:34 ) who records the possibility of saying “Shavua Tov!” or “Have a Good Week!” in order to elicit a response which would provide at least some allusion to Havdala.




This Shabbos, let us try to activate our Kedushas Shabbos as early as possible on Erev Shabbos.


Let us also make a special effort to thank Hashem for the Shabbos as we escort it out with the words of “Baruch HaMavdil” and Havdala.

Special Note Six:  We continue with our series on Brachos.  The following piece is excerpted from the upcoming issue of Halachically Speaking.


As noted earlier this week, Halachically Speaking is now available for free “to your email box” by contacting mdl@thehalacha.com or by going to www.thehalacha.com.  We thank Rabbi Moishe Dovid Lebovits, Shlita for giving us the opportunity to provide the following information to you, prior to publication:


Listerine Pocket Paks®


For years people have been erroneously consuming Listerine Pocket Paks® without a hechsher, but obviously this product needs a hechsher,  [1] especially since it is digested in the stomach.  [2] Recently, this product became available with a hechsher.  The question arises if this product requires a beracha prior to placing it in one's mouth.  Many people do not recite a beracha.  However, even though this product melts in the mouth, it is swallowed and therefore, a beracha of shehakol should be recited before placing it in the mouth.  [3]  Others maintain that a beracha does not need to be recited.  [4]


The company says that there is nothing unsafe with swallowing it since there is no alcohol in the product [5].  If one uses a breath mist (with a hechsher) then one does not recite a beracha on it, instead one should make a shehakol on a different food.  [6]


[1]  See www.koltorah.org quoting the opinion of Rabbi Chaim Jachter, Shlita.

[2]  Opinion of Harav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, as expressed in OU document I-98:page 2.

[3]  Harav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, opinion of Harav Forscheimer, Shlita (personal telephone conversation), and Harav Doniel Neustadt, Shlita.

[4]  Opinion of Harav Pinchus Bodner, Shlita, Harav Ephraim Greenblatt, Shlita (personal telephone conversations).  Harav Forst, Shlita, says if one is taking it for flavor then a beracha is recited, but if for fresh breath but not because the flavor in the mouth then no beracha is recited.  The opinions of Rabbi Wikler, Shlita, Harav Felder, Shlita, Harav Fuerst, Shlita (personal telephone conversations with the aforementioned rabbonim).  This is the opinion of Harav Yisroel Reisman, Shlita (as related by Rabbi Shimon Newmark, Shlita).

[5]  Based on a conversation with Lisa at the Johnson and Johnson Company.

[6]  Harav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita.



Special Note One:  www.Dictionary.com recently distributed its Word of the Day:  “Yielding”--giving in.  Did all those who received the word get the message?



Special Note Two:  Every morning and evening in the Shema, we recite the special words “V’Ahavta Es Hashem Elokecha (note--remember to emphasize the last syllable in V’Ahavta)--and you shall love Hashem...”  What type of love are we talking about?  The Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 19) writes that this love is **not** a love that is related to the riches, blessings and successes that Hashem showers upon us, but rather it is the love that a son has to his father--a “natural” love, if you will--which is not dependent upon anything else.  In fact, the Pasuk goes on to teach that one should express his love to Hashem “B’Chol Nafshicha--with one’s entire life”--and “Bichol Miodecha--with all of one’s money.”  When reciting the word “V’Ahavta” one should truly feel this natural love to his father--who also is King of the World!



Special Note Three:  We continue our notes on the Brachos for specific foods:


  1. Meatballs and Spaghetti:  The Halachos of Brachos Handbook by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita (Feldheim p. 59), writes:  If meatballs are small and eaten in the same forkful with spaghetti, one brocha, Mezonos, is made.  If meatballs are eaten separately, one should make two brachos, first Mezonos on the spaghetti, and then Shehakol on the meatballs.  Two brachos achronos would then, of course, follow.


  1. Cholent:  The Laws of Brachos by Rabbi Binyomin Forst, Shlita (Artscroll, p. 217), writes:  If the cholent contains barley, beans and potatoes, and they are eaten together and not separated, only a Mezonos is required despite the fact that barley is a minor ingredient.  If, however, the pieces of potato are large and are eaten separately, a Ho’adomo would be required, as well.



Special Note Four:  What should be our relationship to another sect or grouping within our community--e.g. Vizhnitz to Satmar, Mirrer to Lakewood , Yeshivish to Chassidish?  The Chofetz Chaim’s son in the Dugma M’Sichos Avi (Section 32) writes that this question was posed to the Chofetz Chaim.  The Chofetz Chaim responded:  “Our Chachomim have taught us that in the future HaKadosh Baruch Hu will take a Sefer Torah and anthropomorphically put it ‘b’cheiko--on his chest,’ and proclaim:  ‘He who involved himself with this should come and receive his reward.’  We see from here that they will not ask a person at all to which group he belonged, but only if he fulfilled the words of the Torah.  If he did, it will be good for him, and, Chas V’Shalom, if he did not, the claim that he belonged to this group or to that group will not help him at all.”



Special Note Five  :In his Tzava’ah, his Ethical Will, to his son, Rebbe Eliezer HaGadol (the Great Rebbe Eliezer Ben Horkonus--the Rebbe of Rebbe Akiva), exhorts his son to properly make the brocha upon his clothing every day--for how can one derive benefit from his clothing every day without having thanked Hashem properly for it?!


We ask every one of you now just for a moment to look down at your clothing (if you can see) and notice if it is respectable and saves you from shame, if it is something that you like, something that you chose, something that keeps you warm, and something that helps identify who you are.  Unlike food, where we are given the opportunity to thank Hashem for his beneficence many times throughout the day, we usually only have the opportunity to make a brocha on clothing--Malbish Arumim--Who Clothes the Naked--one time a day.  Every morning, before we make this very special brocha, perhaps we should look down or at least think about how much we have to appreciate the clothing that we are wearing.  It is no coincidence that the brocha of Malbish Arumim follows immediately after the brocha of Pokeach Ivrim.  We must open our eyes at least once a day and realize how blessed we are with the clothing--sometimes even layers of clothing--protecting and covering our bodies and souls!



Special Note One:  We received the following from a reader:  “I found the shiurim at the following website very helpful during these tough economic times... http://www.bitachon.org/



Special Note Two:  We received notification from Halachically Speaking that their publication is now available for no subscription fee by sending an email to mdl@thehalacha.com or by visiting www.thehalacha.com.



Special Note Three:  Please click here for a complete list of Internet Filters, including an Internet Filter Review.  Please spread the word about this important material.  One of our readers called it “life-saving”.



Special Note Four:  In the coming days, we hope to provide several important points in the laws of Brachos, for it is not only essential to make Brachos with Kavannah, but also to make the appropriate brachos, as well.  The following is an excerpt from the Halachos of Brachos Handbook (Feldheim, p. 33), by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita.


“Crackers with Cheese or Tuna:  The Poskim write that when crackers are eaten with another food (e.g., cheese or tuna), the other food is often used [merely] to enhance the crackers, in which chase a Mezonos on the crackers will cover the other food, as well.  However, if the other food is not being eaten [merely] to enhance the cracker, two brachos are required (e.g., he enjoys both the tuna and the crackers equally, but he eats them together because he enjoys the way they taste together).  First, one should make a Borei Minei Mezonos and eat some cracker, and then make a Shehakol and eat some tuna [or cheese].  Each of the two foods then requires their respective Brocha Achrona, if the shiur of each is eaten.”


Likewise, The Laws of Brachos, by Rabbi Binyomin Forst (Artscroll, p. 222-223), writes that if one desires to eat jam or peanut butter, independent of the cracker, two Brachos must be said.  Additionally, one who uses a bland-tasting cracker merely to hold the jam or peanut butter recites no brocha on the cracker, which is being used in the place of a spoon or fork, and not for food purposes, and thus loses its status completely.



Hakhel Note:  The two-brachos ruling would apparently also apply to one who, at a Kiddush, places a piece of herring on a flat cracker (kichel), in a situation where he really wants to eat the herring, as well, and puts it on the kichel because he enjoys the taste of the two of them together.  As with all other matters, one should consult with his Rav or Posek for a final P’sak.



Special Note Five:  The following succinct and powerful insight is provided in With Hearts Full of Faith by Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, and Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Reinman, Shlita (Artscroll p.124-125) on the topic “Why the Hardships?”:


“The hardships are to bring us to reach up to Hashem with higher levels of prayer and to reach out to our fellow Jews with higher levels of compassion.” 


Thus, we are moved, for our own benefit, to improve in both our Bein Adam L’Makom--our relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu, and our Bein Adom L’Chaverero--our feelings for our fellow man--once again, all for our own benefit--to bring the Geulah Shelaima!



Special Note Six:  In Praying with Fire 2, Addendum 2, pg. 403, we find a truly remarkable P’sak from HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Shlita, as follows:


“In a case where a child sleeps late, he may have a choice of going to pray with a minyan, thereby missing learning, or going to learn, thereby missing the opportunity to pray with a minyan that morning.  If a student has a choice of attending shul to pray or learning Gemara in yeshivah during that same period of time, Rav Elyashiv ruled that he should pray with a minyan because a child must be educated to pray properly.  Further, his success in learning is contingent upon his tefillah.”


Hakhel Note:  What an essential point for us to remember on the importance of Tefillah! The first cycle of Praying with Fire 2 (since its publication last fall) was completed this past Sunday, and a new cycle began on Monday, Rosh Chodesh Shevat.  We urge all readers who have already studied Praying With Fire to now move on to study the new great work, Praying with Fire 2, by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita (Artscroll, 2008).  It is extremely timely, relevant, practical and meaningful.



Question of the Week:  The Makos are split up between two parshios--seven Makos in last week’s Parsha, Parshas Va’era, and three Makos in this week’s Parsha, Bo.  Why are they split up in this manner?


Special Note One:  We received the following comment from a reader: “I wanted to share with you a simple, but meaningful kaballah (b’li neder) that one can undertake:  When davening or learning, do not look around to see who is walking in or what is making the noise (unless, of course, it is for a good reason or sounds serious).  This will indicate that you take your davening or learning really seriously.”



Special Note Two:  For those who would like a wonderful daily Shemiras HaLashon Yomi Shiur (as the new cycle began only yesterday), one can call the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Chazak Line at 718-258-2008, press 5 from the main menu and then 1.



Special Note Three:  We thank Halachically Speaking for publishing its most recent bulletin on the Halachos of Chodosh and Yashan.  To obtain a copy of the Guide to the Halachos of Chadash by Rabbi Yosef Herman (extremely useful information), please call 718-305-5133.



Special Note Four:  The Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 19) provides us with the following concise but powerful teaching:  “With regard to the respect due to a Bais HaKnesses or Bais HaMedrash, it is insufficient for a person simply not to conduct himself with Kalus Rosh--in a lightheaded manner--there.  Rather, one should conduct himself while in any of these Holy Places with a full measure of honor and respect in all of his actions--and anything that he would not do in the inner palace of a great king, he should not do there as well.”



Special Note Five:  In Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer (Chapter 32), we are taught that Yishmael--Hashem will listen--is called by that name not because Hashem will listen to his prayers, but because in the End of Days Hashem will listen to **our cries** from what the Bnei Yishmael will then perpetrate against us.  In fact, continues Rebbe Eliezer, this is what Dovid HaMelech means with the words (Tehillim 55:20) “Yishma Kel V’Yaanem--May Hashem hear [our cries] and humble them!”


There is a well known Chazal (Sanhedrin 89B) which teaches that Yishmael boasted to Yitzchak that he was greater than Yitzchak, because Yishmael allowed himself to have a bris milah at the age of 13, whereas Yitzchak had an “easy” bris at the age of eight days.  Yitzchak Avinu, in turn, responded to Yishmael that he would sacrifice his entire body to Hashem, in his service, and not merely one limb as Yishmael had done.  What immediately followed, Chazal teach, was the proof of this--Hashem approached Avraham Avinu, and asked him to bring his son up on the Altar--the Akeida!


Based upon these blatant, stark, and clear teachings of Chazal, it would appear especially appropriate for us in these times to focus intently on both our cries--on our heartfelt tefillos to Hashem--and upon our recitation of the Parshas HaAkeida--the legacy of our Avos (which the Bnei Yishmael seemed to be unsuccessfully attempting to thwart with their suicide bombings) with extra special Kavannah every morning or at some point during the day.


Although these two points are obvious enough, and do not appear to need reinforcement, Chazal teach us that four things need chizuk, and one of them is Tefillah.  The story is told of a man who was driving HaRav Gedalya Schorr, Z’tl, to a wedding from the Yeshiva to Williamsburg .  Along the way, on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, there was a large billboard with a picture of a cup of Coca Cola reading “Drink Coca Cola.”  HaRav Schorr questioned rhetorically “What is the purpose of such an ad?!  Don’t most people drink Coca Cola anyway?”


Rav Schorr responded, “The answer is simple, they don’t want you to have a ‘hesech hadaas’from it--they don’t want Coca Cola to leave your mind and memory.”  So, too, in these days of danger for us and for the world emanating from the Bnei Yishmael, we must not have a hesech hadaas from the ways in which we can combat--and attain victory over them and their influence.


Let us each do our part--without a hesech hadaas--daily!



Special Note Six:  A man whose wife was having a difficult surgery approached HaRav Yaakov Kamenetzky, Z’tl, and asked him “What is this all about?  What could/should he do?”  HaRav Kamenetzky answered him that he should try to do whatever he does daily “a little better.”  By this, he would clearly indicate that he was directly responding to Hashem’s message.


The story is similarly told of Rebbe Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, who once offered a certain amount to a storekeeper for a product, which was something below the asking price.  The storekeeper responded “Do a little better.”  Rebbe Yisroel immediately took this as a lesson--he had to do a little better!


If we look around at our daily activities there are probably several things, upon little or no reflection, which we find we can do “a little better.”  We certainly have had plenty of reminders over the last six months to do a little better.  Let’s do so!  Let’s remind ourselves throughout the day to do what we’re doing a little better….In this merit, may we be blessed with no more reminders needed--because our actions and reactions will bring the Geulah Shelaima (and you will have had a nice hand in it!) speedily and in our--yes our--days.  Amen!



Special Note One:  We received the following important insight from Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita:  In this week’s Parsha (Shemos 8:15 ), the Chartumim exclaimed: “Etzba Elokim He--It is a finger of Hashem!”  We should take a lesson from the Chartumim, and understand what even a finger can accomplish.  May we suggest that today you look at one of your fingers and EXCLAIM, “This finger is G-d-made!



Special Note Two:  At the recent Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, pointed out that Rebbe Tzadok HaKohen, Z’tl, taught that every person should have a private “Hanhagah Tova”, a special practice, personal and unique to him that no one knows about--no one, that is--but Hashem!  In fact, Rebbe Tzadok teaches that if you tell people about your hanhaga, its value is diminished.  HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, would similarly teach that a person should perform a private Chesed every day that no one is aware of.  It can be as simple as picking something up the floor to save someone else the trouble.  This may be a small--but meaningful--undertaking for a person in these quickly-evolving times.



Special Note Three:  Although we may not be making specific reference to the Gaza War in Re’eh Nah V’Anyeinu any longer, perhaps we should be left with a greater feeling and connection to this brocha in which we plead with Hashem that He take us out in speedy and miraculous ways from the difficult straits we may be in, whether individually or collectively.  Keep up the Kavannah--we need Hashem to fight our battles, extricate us and redeem us!



Special Note Four:  We all know that the times that we live in are times in which we must concentrate on Emunah and Bitachon.  We recently asked HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, which Sha’ar (Chapter) in the Sefer Chovos HaLevavos one should study first--the Shaar HaBechina--The Gate of Reflection (on Creation and Hashem’s wonders)--or the Shaar HaBitachon--the Gate of Trust in Hashem (alone).  HaRav Salomon responded that one should first study the Shaar HaBechina--Reflecting upon Hashem’s Creation and Wonders.  In fact, in the Chovos HaLevavos, the Shaar HaBechina is placed before the Shaar HaBitachon, as an apparent prerequisite to acquire a true Trust in G-d.


Recent events, including the miraculous stories of the Gaza War now confirmed by Rabbonim, and perhaps for the rest of the world as well the “miracle on the Hudson ,” are modern-day, real-life examples of Hashem’s control over nature to the finest detail.  Of course, we need look no further than this week’s Parsha as well, in which seven incomparable Makkos are described.  For each Makka that the Egyptians received, there was a parallel miracle in that the Makka did not affect the Bnai Yisroel.


Rebbe Tzadok HaKohen teaches that we are under the influence of the Parshios from week to week.  It is a time for us to reflect upon and absorb the daily “natural” miracles, together with what could be called the “extraordinary” miracles around us, and exclaim “Mah Rabu Maasecha Hashem--How Great are Your deeds, Hashem” (Tehillim 104:24).  As we walk and look up at the great blue sky, as we realize how we were just saved from slipping on the piece of ice, as we stare at an object two inches wide and four inches long and realize we are talking on it to somebody who is 6,000 miles away, as we join in a live teleconference of a Torah Shiur with thousands of others, as we provide ourselves with a hot breakfast, lunch or dinner in 30 seconds by microwave, as we open up www.hebrewbooks.org and find “23,050 Classical Hebrew Books for Free Download” available at our fingertips, as we personally experience thousands upon thousands of miracles in our personal lives, now and in the future, we must constantly remind ourselves and connect to their Source.


The Pasuk teaches us “Kimay Tzaisicha MeyEretz Mitzrayim, Arenu Niflaos---As in the Days when you left the land of Egypt , I will show them wonders” (Micha 7:15 ).  We must prepare for these very special wonders now--by truly appreciating the unbridled wonders of all kinds and sizes that Hashem showers upon us every hour and every day of our life.  Our Tefillos, our Mitzvah performance, our study of Torah, our acts of Chesed, must be permeated by the recognition that Hashem is here with us, has been with us, and will be with us forever and ever.


Special Note One:  The Nirbater Rav, Shlita, recently issued the following Kashrus Alert:  “As is known, there is a recent world-wide problem of insect infestation in raisins.  Therefore, we had our mashgichim check Mishpacha brand raisins, which are under our hashgacha, and they were found to be part of this problem.  We hereby request that you return this product to the store from which it was purchased for a full refund.”



Special Note Two: We received the following from a reader:  “Regarding making sure to answer Amen before Modim, I would like to point out that (too) many Baalei Tefilah do not pause for even a second for the Tzibbur to answer Amen.  Once the Chazzan begins the next brocha you are not allowed to answer Amen anymore to the previous brocha.”  Hakhel Note: We once again refer our readers to the important message issued by the Committee to Encourage the Proper Recitation of Amein, availabe here.



Special Note Three:  We asked Rabbi Reisman, Shlita, whether we should continue to recite the special Tefillah for the soldiers, and for those who live in the South of Eretz Yisroel, in the brocha of “Re’eh Nah V’Anyeinu”  (available by clicking here).  The Rav responded that since the ceasefire, the Tefillah should be said in Shema Kolainu rather than Re’eh.



Special Note Four:  We are unquestionably living in times which could be extremely perplexing to the average observer.  We don’t know what the effects were or are of the war in Gaza.  We don’t know or understand the meaning of a jet landing in a river, with all 155 passengers surviving.  We don’t know what the plans are of the new president of the United States, and how it will affect America’s existence to date as a “Malchus Shel Chesed” for us.  The economic meltdown, the loss of jobs and money which has sorely impacted on individuals and religious institutions, as topped off by the multi-billion dollar economic scandal within the community….


What are we to do?!


Dovid HaMelech, who lived through so much in his lifetime, provides a Pasuk in Tehillim which we can use to guide us.  Interestingly, this Pasuk is recited every day, twice a day, from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Shemini Atzeres--a period when we know that our lives, and indeed the whole world around us, hangs in the balance.  The Pasuk is the climax--the final and concluding Pasuk of LeDovid Hashem Ori--it is “Kavey El Hashem, Chazak V’Yaametz Libecha V’Kavey El Hashem--Hope to Hashem, strengthen yourself and He will give you courage, and [once again] Hope to Hashem!”  (Tehillim 27:17)


The Pasuk’s lesson is clear: An important part of our nisayon in life (especially during these days of Chevlei Mashiach) is that our Emunah is confronted and challenged.  When this happens, after our initial hoping to Hashem, which may in the ordinary course be followed by feelings of weakness to cope, we must strengthen ourselves and hope to Hashem again.  Of course, improving one’s Tefillah (especially Shema and Shemone Esrei), one’s regular brachos (especially when reciting the word “Ata” and Hashem’s Names), and feeling Hashem’s actual Presence at times of challenge, helps one to reinforce and ignite the initial hope and obliterate depression and despair.


We may additionally suggest that even reciting this very Pasuk when one experiences confusion, dejection or despondency can help a person get back on track to refocus--there is Divine Purpose, and Ani Maamin--I believe with all my heart in the details of the Shelosha Asar Ikarim--the Thirteen Principles of Faith (which can also be recited more than once a day!).


When we strengthen ourselves, we should not forget to strengthen others as well.  Remember--Kavey El Hashem…V’Kavey El Hashem--with Faith--and Joy!



Special Note Five: The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 180:5) rules that when reciting Birchas HaMazon during the week, a knife should not be left on the table, because the metal symbolizes a weapon of war, and our tables are compared to a Mizbeach, upon which weapons of war are not allowed--because it symbolizes and brings length of life and peace to the world.  Based upon this teaching, it would appear appropriate for us to demonstrate our desire for peace by utilizing our own Mizbeach, our own Altars, which are our very own kitchen and dining room tables--to bring long life and peace to us and to the World.  How do our tables serve as Altars?  Here are some suggestions:


  1. Thanking Hashem for the opportunity to eat a normal meal at the table, not the subject of war or terror;


  1. Not arguing or raising your voice;


  1. Making the table a more spiritual place by spending the time by reciting your brachos more carefully, and learning or discussing Torah there;


  1. Inviting guests, especially those who you could help physically or spiritually by being there; and


  1. Eating properly and with dignity.


In the merit of proper conduct at our tables--our place of long life and peace--may we soon behold the Mizbeach of Hashem in the Bais HaMikdash--the place of peace for the world and for eternity--speedily and in our days.




Please click here for some pictures which may be helpful for you to think about for a moment before reciting Shema daily!


Special Note One:  We provide several important notices and sources:


1.      For an excellent and practical article on how you can improve your personal Torah study, please click on this link.


2.      We provide by link with permission of Hamodia (thank you) an essential article on Shabbos and Kashrus which appeared in last week’s publication.  We applaud the Chaburas Mevakshai HaKashrus for its outstanding work in this area.  Contact information for this organization appears at the end of the article.  http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/hamodia/kashrus_needs.pdf


3.      Those who would like to increase their knowledge of Kashrus can click on this link at Kosher Tidbits under Kosher.  There you will find links to such topics as:


Labels: Is What You See What You Get??

Kashrus for Children: How Strict? How Soon?

Housekeepers: The Hidden Traps

Tricks of the Traveler: A Guide for Jews on Journeys - Part I & II

Pizza: A Slice of (Kosher) Life

Kashering Utensils - Part One and Part Two

Over-the-Counter Medicine: Don't Over-look Kashrus!

Bishul Akum: The Written Law About What’s Eaten Raw


as well as many others. All talks are in mp3 format and can be saved to your computer by right clicking on the Download mp3 link and selecting “Save Link As”.


4.      www.minchatime.com provides a free Mincha reminder service by email or text message, and can help remind you to daven Mincha on time and give you that little extra reminder to help pace yourself during your day.


5.      Project Inspire provides Kiruv training at your home or other convenient location.  If you have a group of 10-20 who want to learn Kiruv, they will give you all the training you need for free!  Separate classes are provided for men and women.  You can contact Project Inspire at: (917) 754-7754 or by email to HomeKiruvTraining@ProjectInspire.com



Special Note Two:  On Erev Shabbos, we noted that one must be careful to answer Amen on Leil Shabbos to the Brocha of HaPores Sukkas Shalom, and not immediately begin reciting V’Shamru Bnei Yisroel.  A reader added that a similar issue exists in the Chazaras HaShatz daily, where some immediately respond with the words “Modim Anachnu Lach”, failing to answer Amen to “HaMachazir Shicheenaso L’Tzion.”



Hakhel Note: Especially in these times, who would not want to be careful to answer Amen to the brocha of “HaMachazir Shichinaso L’Tzion--Who restores His Presence to Zion”?!



Special Note Three:  Jonathan Pollard, Yehonasan Ben Malka, should still be in our Tefillos.  We never know from where and when the Yeshua will come.  We must also especially focus on Gilad Ben Aviva during this week, as ongoing “maintaining the ceasefire” negotiations continue.  If not now--when?!



Special Note Four:  During these times of a questionable Peace in Eretz Yisroel and of a new president in the United States, we must be especially careful to pray for Shalom, by having Kavannah for our current situation during each of the four times we mention the word “Shalom” in Sim Shalom and Shalom Rav in our daily Shemone Esrei.  We can surely accomplish much more for Shalom than any group of politicians or negotiators can.  The uninformed world looks to these mortals of flesh and blood (probably more flesh than blood).  We know better--much better--we look to Hashem, and only to Hashem, whose very name is Shalom!



Special Note Five:  The following question is posed in the name of Rebbe Nachman M’Breslov, Z’tl:  Although Al Pi Kaballah, the “Right” of a person is supposed to be more important, we find that the Lev, the Heart, is on the left side of the person.  Why and how is this so?  Is not the Lev one of the most, if not the most, important organs in the body?!  Rebbe Nachman answers that while the heart is on the left side of a person, it is also on the right side of the person who is facing you.  The primary purpose of the heart is in caring and feeling for others.  The Heart, then, **is** on the Right side!  Accordingly, we should continue to daven for the injured soldiers and residents of Southern Israel http://www.tehillimforinjuredsoldiers.org/, and give Tzedaka on their behalf…and may our heartfelt love for our Brethren bring the Geulah Shelaima, speedily and in our days!



Special Note One:  We received the following link to a web site that frequently updates the list of wounded soldiers and civilians. You can access it at: http://www.tehillimforinjuredsoldiers.org/


Special Note Two:  Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, recently taught a tremendous lesson for the times we live in.  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 329:6) rules that if a Jewish city is attacked and the intent of the attackers is only to plunder then we are not mechallel Shabbos to save our personal property.  However, if the attackers come with the intent to kill or with no specific intent, then they can be met with force and we can be mechallel Shabbos to defend ourselves against the enemy.  There is, however, a third halachah (ibid.).  When the city being attacked is a border city, then even if they are only coming to confiscate something as meager as the straw, the inhabitants are mechallel Shabbos to defend against the attackers.  The Mishne Berurah there (seif katan 13) explains the reason for this--if the enemy is successful there, it will then be easier to conquer the remainder of the land.


Rabbi Reisman teaches that we must take this lesson to heart--one must always protect his borders.  With or without the two unilaterally proclaimed ceasefires, we must recognize that we have enemies at our borders, and our borders are at risk.  The same way Acheinu Bnei Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel have borders at risk, so does each and every individual.  They are the borders that we have set up in Torah, Tefillah and the performance of Mitzvos.

Coming to Shul on time to Daven.

Coming to Shul on time to Learn.


Not abandoning our posts--the times or ways we have set aside to do Mitzvos or help others--for any reason.


We must never let our boundaries be encroached.  We must protect these because we are at war.  Rabbi Reisman added that, in fact, defending them properly means coming to Shul a few minutes earlier than the Shiur, a few minutes earlier than Davening, adding a few minutes on to the time that you are doing chesed....


Let us use our heads.  If we keep our ground and move in the right direction, we will, BE’H, surely win the war.



Special Note One:  Today is the 704th yahrtzeit of the Rambam, Rabbeinu Moshe Ben Maimon, who obviously requires no introduction or description.  In honor of his yahrtzeit, we provide the following teaching from his Yad HaChazkah, found in Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah (2:2):


“And what is the path towards love and fear of Hashem?  When one studies Hashem’s great and wondrous deeds and creations and realizes that they are from a Wisdom which has no limit or end--he immediately loves, praises and lauds Him, and desires with a great desire to know Hashem better.  When a person thinks these thoughts, he is taken aback in fear, realizing that he is but a small creature, lowly and in the dark, standing with mere mortal intellect before the One Who Knows All….” 


In explaining the words of the Rambam here, HaRav Shlomo Volbe, Z’tl, tells us that the Rambam is teaching us an essential lesson.  It is not enough to be overawed by the wondrous deeds of our Creator--unless a person also reflects upon who he is in comparison to the Infinite Greatness of Hashem.  This is the nekudah--the point--of Yiras Shomayim which must be understood.  Two people can hear the same shiur, or the same drosha, one will be impressed by it, enjoy it immensely, and that is all.  The second, however, will feel that the speaker’s words were meant expressly for him, applying the entire teaching to himself.  Yiras Shamayim, too, is not simply appreciating Hashem’s infinity, but also who you are and your role in the world as a result.


Additional note relating to this week’s Parsha:  There is an astonishing Pasuk in this week’s Parsha.  The Pasuk states: “But the midwives feared Hashem and they did not do as the King of Egypt spoke to them…” (Shemos 1:17).  How could it be that two women could flagrantly violate and disobey the direct orders of the King of Egypt--the most powerful monarch of his time?!  We could understand if the Pasuk would teach us that they tried saving some babies, or that they pleaded with the King--but to wholeheartedly and completely disobey--would surely mean execution in a matter of minutes!  HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, explains that the basis, the source of the actions, of Shifra and Puah are revealed by the first part of the Pasuk--“But the midwives feared Hashem…”--it was their fear of Hashem that allowed and caused them to overcome all obstacles.  They obviously had devoted much time and effort in developing such a level of Yiras Shomayim.  HaRav Salomon therefore suggests that a great lesson that we each can learn from the midwives is to spend time studying Sifrei Mussar and absorbing shiurim which helps us develop our Yiras Shomayim.  If, as the Pasuk specifically describes them, “midwives”, can stand up and succeed against the King of the only superpower on earth at that time, we, too, can accomplish much in our own personal environments with the proper thought and study--by taking a set time every day and learning how we in our personal lives can  battle--and win against--all those “Kings of Egypt”--all the machinations of the Yetzer Horah--around us so often in our daily lives.



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


  1. With respect to our continuing Tehillim recitation, especially the recitation of Chapters 83,121, 130 and 142 in public, each Shul’s Rav may have a particular Psak about such recitation on Shabbos.  See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 288:9 and Mishne Berura there; see also Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 3:97. 


  1. The Rimzei Shabbos brings in the name of the Sefer Sifsei Kohen that just as the Leviim lifted their voices in Song in the Bais HaMikdosh (holiness of place), so too, should we lift our voices on Shabbos when learning and when singing Zmiros, in honor of the holiness of the time. 


  1. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, teaches in the Derech Sicha, that the “smalos” (articles of clothing) that Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu (in this week’s Parsha, Shemos 3:22) that Bnei Yisroel would leave Mitzrayim with, referred to very precious garments--Shabbos clothing!


  1. We received a word of caution asking readers to be careful to answer “Amen!” to the brocha of Hapores Sukas Shalom that the Chazan makes in Shul on Leil Shabbos before every one jointly begins the words “Vishamru Bnei Yisroel Es HaShabbos.”


  1. The Sefer Yaaros Devash (Chelek Bais) writes that Shemiras Shabbos protects us very much in Galus, as we are the only nation in the world that keeps Shabbos.  Other nations which began from Judaism observe in some way a day of rest, but they are observed on either Friday or Sunday.  This, then, is the matana, the gift, which Hashem has given solely to us in order to protect us from the other nations.  It is for this reason, the Medrash teaches, that the original and immutable Shabbos itself exclaims “Mi Kiamcha Yisroel…--who is like you Yisroel, a Singular Nation on earth.”


  1. The Medrash teaches in this week’s Parsha that when Moshe Rabbeinu went to his brothers and saw their burdens (“Vayar Bisivlosam”) [Shemos 2:11], he went to Paroh, and told him that his slaves should have a day off to strengthen themselves.  Paroh agreed and asked him which day.  Moshe Rabbeinu told Paroh that it should be Shabbos, because any work done on that day did not have a siman brocha…and Paroh agreed!


  1. The Yesod V’Shoresh HoAvodah writes that any time we mention the Kedushas Shabbos--whether it be in davening or in Kiddush--in our thoughts we should feel great joy and thanks to Hashem for the incomparable privileges, opportunities and pleasure that Shabbos Kodesh provides!



Special Note Three:  As noted above, in this week’s Parsha we find that Moshe Rabbeinu went out to his brothers and “Vayar Bisivlosom--he saw their burdens.”  Rashi, quoting the Medrash, writes that the word “Vayar”, which can be simply translated as to “see”, here means something much more.  Rashi writes--“he felt for them and suffered with them.”  There is a crucial lesson for us here.  The Torah is teaching us that our eyes are very much attached to our brain for a reason.  When we see something, it is not supposed to bounce off us, ending with the mere vision.  Instead, we are to internalize it, and use the experience in the proper manner. 


In the current conflict in Eretz Yisroel, we cannot merely see the headlines, or read the stories or the descriptions.  If we do so, we might be seeing, but it is not “Bisivlosum”--the way we are expected to.  When our brothers are being hurt both physically and emotionally, and when haters point fingers at them, we must join in with our brothers as Moshe did, and take action to help.  Our additional Torah studied especially on their behalf, our persistent, unwavering and heartfelt Tefillos, and extending ourselves to do chesed on their behalf, are some of the “Vayar Bisivlosom” that we can undertake.


Moshe took action, and it was an important step towards the Geulah of Klal Yisroel from Mitzrayim.  Let us now take action--and may it be an incredible leap towards our Geulah, may it come speedily (by our rushing it along) and in our days!



Yesterday, we provided an absolutely essential article written by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis, Shlita, based upon a Shiur given by one of the Gedolei Yisroel today, HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita.  Click here for Part 2 of this article, entitled “Miracles to Behold and Respond” as appearing in this week’s Hamodia (reprinted with permission) (please note that the file size is over 5Meg, so download time might be long, depending on your Internet connection).  It is essential reading for each and every one of us at this time--providing us with practical guidance on what we are to be doing.


Hakhel Postscript on the Article:  Perhaps a way to come close to Hashem is to think about the thanks due to Him in Modim during every Shemone Esrei, with perhaps particular events in mind in your personal life, for granting life and well-being to the soldier you are learning and davening for, for at least some of the events that have happened recently in the War, for the misfired rockets and bullets, for the healing of the wounded soldiers and civilians, for the “intelligence” information that the army is provided with…



Many of us have been reciting Tehillim Chapter 121--Shir LaMaalos Esa Einai El Heharim--A Song to the Ascents--I lift up my eyes to the mountains from where will my help come?  My help comes from Hashem, Maker of Heaven and Earth.”  Of the series of fifteen Shir HaMaalos (Tehillim Chapters 120-134), this chapter is the only one that begins “Shir LaMaalos--A Song to the Ascents,” as opposed to Shir HaMaalos--A Song of the Ascents.  Why is this so?


Rabbi Avraham Chaim Feuer, Shlita, in the Artscroll Tanach series (Tehillim, p. 1509), writes that this Kepital “describes the means by which Klal Yisroel finds the strength to attain heavenly heights and ascend to His glorious Presence.  This Divine assistance is granted when Israel forsakes its faith in all earthly powers and lifts its eyes only to Hashem.  Israel is truly secure when it recognizes that all mortal protectors are frail and unrealizable only the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.”


As we recite this Kepitel daily, let us also especially remember the very special message of “LaMaalos” that it conveys!



Special Note One:  We received the following from Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Shlita, of the National Council of Young Israel, and a leader in the Free Jonathan Pollard! Campaign:  “The White House no longer accepts calls.  Now its time to storm the heavens with daily prayer.”  Remember, Jonathan Pollard’s Hebrew name is Yehonasan Ben Malka.


Special Note Two:  Click here for Part One of a vital article appearing in HaModiah written by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis, Shlita (a Rosh Kollel in Yerushalayim), which is based upon a Shiur given less than two weeks ago by one of the Gedolei HaDor, HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita, in Yerushalayim.


Special Note Three:  At the recent Tehillim Kinnus on Sunday night, HaRav Shlomo Mandel, Shlita, raised the following three related questions, for which he, of course, gave answers.  At this time, we will only provide the questions, as food for thought, and as an inspiration in this area.


  1. In Tehillim Chapter 83, which many of us have been reciting several times a day during the War, and which appears so apposite to the situation at hand, we ask Hashem at the outset “Al Domi Luch, Al Techerash, V’Al Tishkot--be not silent, be not deaf, and be not still”--what is the difference between the three requests that we ask Hashem “not to be”?


  1. The Medrash teaches us in this week’s Parsha that Iyov was silent when Paroh asked him to comment on the proper treatment of the Bnei Yisroel, and that as a result he was punished with incomparable Yisurin.  What is the “Middah K’Neged Middah of simple silence resulting in painful suffering?”


  1. Although Kayin was upset at Hevel, Hevel could only be killed by Kayin if Hashem allowed it to happen.  Why was it allowed to happen?



Special Note Four:  In the most recent issue of Halachically Speaking, Rabbi Moishe Dovid Lebovits, Shlita, makes the following two important points (among many other) relating to set seats for davening:

  1. The Halacha of having a set seat for davening applies to women, as well as men.

  2. One should have a set place to daven in the home, as well.



Special Note One:  We had requested our readers to help make us aware of any Shemiras Eynayim program or project of which they are aware. On this topic, one reader requested suggestions on Internet filters that could be particularly helpful to us.  If anyone has a good experience with a particular filter, please let us know.



Special Note Two:  Many have asked us for the Tefillah that Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, mentioned in his Shiur which he has been reciting during the War within the brocha of R’eh Nah V’Anyeinu.  Click here for the text of the Tefillah he is adding.  Perhaps we can all join in together with this moving Tefillah, and may all of our Tefillos be answered bimhera!



Special Note Three:  For those who did not attend the recent Tehillim gatherings, and would like to organize one now that the war is “house-to-house” and “hand-to-hand”, we provide a list of the Tehillim chapters recited at one of the recent Kinussim: 13, 20, 25, 26, 38, 79, 80, 81, 83, 120, 121, 130 and 142.  Readers have pointed out to us that we are not only davening for the lives, well-being, health and safety of our Acheinu B’nai Yisroel who dwell in the south of Eretz Yisroel, as well as our Beloved Soldiers, but that we are also davening that the government which represents the Jewish people become the Malchus Bais Dovid.  Additionally, much property in the south is becoming lost or destroyed, and one must pray for the property of others, as well.  Remember, Hashem cares for each and every one of our requests!



Caution for the Shabbos Table--The following is an Alert from the Chicago Rabbinical Council:  Celestial Seasonings Teas--English Toffee and Decaf Vanilla Maple were labeled incorrectly as pareve with the Star K hechsher.  Products are actually certified by the Scroll K and are dairy (cholov stam).




Special Note One:  One of our readers has asked if we are aware of an established program or project in Shemiras HaEynayim that his shul could undertake.  If any reader knows of a program or project in this extremely important area, please contact us with the details, so that we can share it with others.



Special Note Two:  A new international Shidduch website has very recently been established.  To join as a Shadchan, or to register as a single, please visit www.simchaonline.com.  The site is rich with additional features including the Halachos of Lashon Hora relating to Shidduchim, Suggestions and Tips, and the Halachos of Shadchanim.  Please spread the word.



Special Note Three:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos series.


  1. The Baal HaTurim writes that the Mitzvah of Shabbos is highlighted in Parshas VaYakhel, in order to teach us that on Shabbos we should gather together to listen to Torah Shiurim in public.  The Rimzei Shabbos adds from the Medrash that at the time of these Shiurim, HaKadosh Baruch Hu forgives the sins of Klal Yisroel.


  1. The Be’er Haitiv (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 307, Seif Katan 2) writes that when one says “Gut Shabbos,” or “Shabbat Shalom,” rather than “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon”, he fulfills a Mitzvas Asei from the Torah of “Zachor Es Yom HaShabbos.”


  1. The Chida in his Sefer Avodas HaKodesh writes that it is “Assur Meod--very forbidden”--to arouse machlokes or anger on Shabbos, and it is “twice as bad” to act in this manner on Shabbos than on a weekday.  Instead, one should be careful to exhibit “Shalom, Ahava V’Achva--peace, love, and brotherhood”--in honor of the Shechina.  The Seder HaYom adds that if any dispute has started, one should take the initiative to quell it immediately.


  1. The Sefer Tiferes HaKodesh writes that one should be Mekadesh his Neshama (sanctify his soul) on Shabbos Kodesh more than on other days, which can be accomplished through Kavannah in Tefillah, Chidushei Torah, and by having greater Kavannah in Birchos HaNehenin both before and after food.


This Shabbos is very special, as we conclude Sefer Bereishis.  Let us make it even more special by elevating it in our own personal way, as well!



Special Note Four:  Dovid HaMelech pleads (Tehillim 18:49): “Mefalti Mai’Oyvai Af, Min Kamai Tiromimeini, Mai’ish CHAMAS Tatzilanei--You rescue me from my foes, even above my adversaries, You raise me, from the man of violence (‘CHAMAS’)You rescue me.”  The Kavannah we can have in this Pasuk is truly incredible.  To be startled a bit, we refer you to the Targum on this Pasuk, which can be found in a Mikraos Gedolos Navi.


Hakhel Note:  Another Pasuk in Chapter 18 (Tehillim 18:4) for us to especially focus upon is the Pasuk which teaches, “Mehulal Ekra Hashem, U’min Oyivai Ivasheya--with praises I call unto Hashem, and I am saved from my enemies.”  Rashi there comments that we praise Hashem even while still faced by our enemies, because we express our confidence that Hashem will listen to our pleadings and grant us victory.  Rashi is teaching us a crucial lesson for us in our davening.  We must realize that our Tefillos are not the mouthing of words that we must say, or something that we say because it is a time-honored tradition.  Rather, each and every one of us must believe in the potency of each and every one of our Tefillos. My Tehillim now can redirect an enemy rocket towards an open field, my Kavannah now in “Re’ey (Nah) V’Anyainu” can provide safety and blessing to a battalion, and who knows if it is not the Tefillah that I am reciting right now that could be the one that brings us over the top to salvation.



Special Note One:  Kashrus Alert:The following kashrus alert is from the Central Rabbinical Congress, and was issued effective January 1, 2009: Due to infestation in some raspberry products, the CRC conducted intensive checking and research on all raspberry products under CRC supervision, and after analyzing the results, the CRC came to the conclusion that they are recalling several raspberry jam, cookie filling and topping products, of both seedless and seeded varieties.  Let the raspberry consumer beware!



Special Note Two:  We provide an audio link by clicking here to an outstanding and timely shiur given last Motze’ei Shabbos by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, (author of Praying with Fire and Praying with Fire 2), relating to the current situation in Eretz Yisroel, and the economic meltdown in the world at large  --



Special Note Three:  A reader in Eretz Yisroel pointed us to the Pesukim in Sefer Amos (1:6-9) which make reference to Gaza, Ashdod and Ashkelon.  Although these Pesukim clearly refer to the cities in the current War, the reader did not provide any shiur or explanation given by any Rav as to how they may directly relate to the current situation we are in.  We do, however, note that the word “Azza” (which has become Gaza in English) does mean “strong.”  To us, the word “Az” refers to the strength of Torah, as the posuk (Tehillim 29:11) states, “Hashem Oz L’Amo Yitayn--Hashem will give strength to His people.”  (See Rashi and Yalkut Shimoni there)  Thus, it would appear that we can fight the Azza, the strength of our enemies (which is truly being conducted with “azus” from their perspective--with brazenness and chutzpa) through our strong Torah study.  Many of us by now have received the name of a soldier to learn and study for from maortlmo@gmail.com.  We should remember to do so--with strength!



Special Note Four:  We received the following from Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita, relating to this week’s Parsha: “Some of our Prayers are compared to a sword, and others are likened to a bow and arrow (See Bereishis 48:22, and Targum there).  Both are weapons that can be used for mass salvation, when we pray sincerely to the One in complete control!”


Hakhel Note:  In previous bulletins, we have emphasized, reemphasized, and can never emphasize enough, the importance of EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE of our Tefillos for Yeshuos from the war/terror situation in Eretz Yisroel.  We must be much, much more persistent in our pleas and cries than the terrorist murderers are as they continue to bombard our brothers with what are now hundreds upon hundreds of dangerous and dreadful missiles.  We must fight using the “Kol Yaakov” which has saved us so many times in our long history.


Unbelievable as it may seem, the Yetzer Hora is actually trying to have us “get used” to the horrific drawn-out terror scene we are witnessing daily.  THIS MUST BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS.  We cannot, we must not, become complacent or despairing of the daily injuries, the daily havoc, the ongoing turmoil.  Just as every missile brings with it a new danger of damage and destruction, each one of our prayers must bring with it relief and a prayer for the future.  If your shul does not recite Tehillim after davening at any minyan, make it **YOUR BUSINESS** to go to the Gabbai --or to take charge if no Gabbai is available, and make sure Tehillim is recited--and with fervor.  If no one else is crying out the Tehillim, let it be you!  Those not in shul should use their more private audience to similarly plead.


The Torah teaches that Yosef did not want to marry the wife of Potifar, because if he did so in this world (“Lishkav Etzla”), then that would also be his fate in the next world (“Lihiyos Ima”) [See Bereishis 39:10, and Rashi there].  The Chofetz Chaim explains that a snapshot is taken of all that we do in Olam Hazeh, and is transferred to Olam Haba as well, in perpetuity.  How we conduct ourselves, how we react, how we change, how we improve, during the current War will, of course, be one of those “snapshots” that are taken to Olam Haba with us--and for us!



We received the following from a reader in Kiryat Sefer:


“I was told that R' Shteinman asked we say the following Tehillim for the war:

13, 20, 70, 83, 126, 142.”



Special Note One:  The Luach Bnai Yaakov for 5769 provides important lessons for every day of the year.  A recent lesson was as follows:  Do I learn enough from Creation around me?  For instance, when we observed leaves falling off the trees and drying up--going through  such a humbling experience--did I think about how I too, as a mortal being, should humble myself before my Creator?  Indeed, the humbling experience could have occurred just yesterday, in observing how fragile and  dependent we were upon a cup of coffee, a bowl of cereal, a piece of cake….



Special Note Two:  The Kuntres Shomer Yisroel reminds us of the following:  “Answering ‘Amen Yehai Shemai Raba’ with as much kavannah as possible and in a loud urgent voice, causes the annulling of even the most serious decrees from Heaven (see Shabbos 119B).  This urgent cry stirs up deep Kavannah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Mishna Berura 56, Seif Katan 5), and the pain we express over the lack of awe and honor given to Hashem's name, and our heartfelt yearning for His brilliant revelations at the coming of the Moshiach, are powerful weapons which protect us from all harm.”



Special Note Three: In Rabbi Yisroel Reisman’s, Shlita, shiur, available in WMV file format by clicking here, Rabbi Reisman mentions the importance of having special Kavannah in the seventh bracha of Shemone Esrei, “Re’eh (Nah) V’Anyainu.”  Indeed, by the seventh bracha, a person may be dragged by habit (read Yetzer Hora) into a near Kavannah-less mode.  Accordingly, we must strengthen ourselves in this critical bracha.  As Rabbi Reisman pointed out, and as we must constantly remind ourselves, the suicide bombers stopped not because of any explicable change in Muslim sentiment towards Jews, or any other military, social, political or economic considerations.  The only real explanation is that they stopped because of our Tefillos.


Accordingly, we provide below some important explanations from Rav Schwab on Prayer (the great contemporary Peirush on Tefilla, published by Artscroll), as well as the Sefer Avodas HaTefillah, on the crucial bracha of Re’ey V’Anyainu:


Rav Schwab teaches: “Re’ey (Na) V’Anyainu V’Riva Riveinu--See our affliction, fight our battles.”  Paraphrased, this means:  See our misery; we are weak, we have no real power to guarantee our survival, so therefore we ask that You, HaKadosh Baruch Hu, fight our battles for survival.


“U’Gialeinu Meheira L’Maan Shimecha--And redeem us speedily for Your Name’s sake.”  This does not refer to the eventual geulah sheleimah at the time of Yemos HaMashiach.  Rather, this is a tefillah for protection against the daily assaults, fears, apprehensions, and persecutions that our people face, whether in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere else in the world.


What we refer to when we ask Hashem for “U’Gialeinu” in our bracha, is the constant protection of HaKadosh Baruch Hu against our enemies while we are in galus--the geulah within the galus--which the Gemara calls “aschalta d’geulah”--the beginning of the Geulah (see Rashi to Megillah 17b).  The Sefer Avodas HaTefillah points out that we ask even for this kind of Geulah “Meheyra”--speedily and without delay--and we do so “L’Maan Shimecha--for the sake of Your Name,” because even if we are undeserving, Your Name will be sanctified through our Geulah.


“Ki Goel Chazak Ata--For You are a powerful Redeemer.”  The Sefer Avodas HaTefillah teaches in the name of HaRav Yonasan Eibeshutz, Zt’l, that this refers to Hashem’s salvation in ways which defy nature and the natural course of events.


“Baruch Ata Hashem Goel Yisroel--Blessed are You, Hashem, Constant Redeemer of Israel.”  HaRav Schwab teaches that the words “Constant Redeemer of Israel,” refer to the continuing [daily] redeeming action of HaKadosh Baruch Hu while we are in galus.


HaRav Schwab concludes that throughout our galus, we have existed by nissim.  In spite of the animosity all around us, our nation continues to exist as one sheep among seventy wolves.  So we end this bracha with “Baruch Ata Hashem Goel Yisroel,” thanking HaKadosh Baruch Hu for His continuing geulah throughout our galus, for the many hundreds of thousands of instances where individuals--and whole communities--were saved.


Let us review these thoughts so that when we recite this bracha--especially now in these times of War, we put as much thought and feeling into them as we can for our brothers, the men, women and children, and the soldiers (nice boys and men like those around you and that live in your neighborhood) who would rather be learning Torah, home with their families, or be doing just about anything else in the world than facing the Sonei Yisroel up against them.  Perhaps you can strengthen yourself by keeping a brief written record of your success on your Kavannah for the bracha.  Please spread the word--and may we speedily see all of the Geulos that we are praying for!



On Erev Shabbos, we provided Rabbi Shamshon Rafael Hirsch’s thought (as brought by Rabbi Elbaz, Shlita) on why dibbur and devora have the same shoresh (root letters).  It is because inappropriate speech can sting like a bee.  A reader who attended the Hakhel shiur added that Rav Hirsch also said that appropriate speech can also be--as sweet as honey!



Special Note One:  Click here for a video of approximately 35 minutes in length of Rabbi Yisroel Reisman’s, Shlita, Navi Shiur of last Motze’ei Shabbos, in which he spoke about the situation in Eretz Yisroel, and what each and every one of us can do about it:   


If you have not already received it, we provide by clicking here a Press Release regarding the very special Operation Tefillah, Torah & Troops.



Special Note Two:  Peylim/Lev L’Achim provided the following article available by clicking here in which Lev L’Achim coordinators from the south (Sderot, Ashkelon, Beer Sheva, Ofakim and Netivot) met with Rav Shteinman, Shlita, and asked him various questions as to continuation of their Kiruv work in light of the rocket attacks.  As we see from the questions, the Lev L’Achim staff certainly well represent our heroes of the homefront.



Special Note Three:  How can we properly empathize with our brothers, the soldiers engaged in fierce battle, and close to one million of our terrorized brethren in the southern part of Eretz Yisroel?


Firstly, for those who do not know any soldiers in Gaza, or do not have family in the South, we provide the following short correspondence we received from a couple in Eretz Yisroel:

“Our son Asher Mayer ben Chaya Sara has entered Gaza tonight.  Please say Tehillim for his safety and well-being and keep him and all of the other very brave chayalim in your tefillos.

Shavua Tov to all of Am Yisrael,

Judy and Zev Bar Eitan”


Secondly, we provide the following hadracha from Praying with Fire 2, by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita (Day 111, p. 369).


There are several practical exercises for one who wishes to develop a keener sense of empathy:

1.  Be aware of your own emotions.  This is essential to understanding the feelings of others.  As you connect to the range of emotional experiences within yourself, you build a bridge to the emotions of others.  This enables a person to feel the other person’s need and to offer help.

2.  Reflect on several situations in which you were able to demonstrate empathy.  Then compare them with situations in which you missed opportunities to respond with empathy.

3.  Think of someone who is in a situation for which tefillos are needed.  Imagine that you, Heaven forbid, were in that situation. [1] Contemplate what you would want others to daven for in that situation.

4. When you hear of someone who needs your tefillos, use visualization to create a more vivid image of his difficulties. [2]  Imagine his anguished expression, his fears and hopes, even his family’s feelings.  Keep these images in mind as you daven on his behalf.

5. The Chazon Ish [3] suggests that “one should make an effort to do good and to help alleviate one’s pain and actions influence one’s heart.  Similarly, to pray regarding another’s pain even if the words [of prayer] do not emanate from one’s heart…”

6. As Rav Dessler [4] advises, “Identify with others both in heart and soul.  A person can come to look upon himself and his fellow Jews as one body [5] if he acts with benevolence toward others with all his being.  He will then feel completely united with them.”[6]


[1] See Sichos Mussar, Ma’amar 45, s.v. ‘Asos Chesed’, p. 191.

[2] Michtav M’Eliyahu, Vol. 1, p. 45.

[3] Letters of Chazon Ish, Vol. 1, Letter 123.

[4] Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 89. See also ibid., Vol. 1, Bottom of p. 37.

[5] See Day 107.

[6] See Sefer Sichos Mussar, Maamar 6, ‘Ahavas HaBriyos’, bottom of p. 25.




We received the following list of audio and video shiurim available for download online:


Rabbi Asher Weiss


On Parsha Vayigash


Rabbi Eytan Feiner


Chanukah 1

Chanukah 2

Tzitzis 1

Tzitzis 2



Rabbi Mordechai Becher


Shiur One


Shira Smiles


Reflection and Response



Today is the ninth day of Teves, which connects the eighth day of Teves (the tragic day upon which the Torah was translated into Greek, the Septuagint, which is marked as a Ta’anis Tzadikim) to the national fast day of Asara B’Teves (see Special Note Two below).  Actually, today is also the yahrtzeit of Ezra HaSofer (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 580, Mishna Berura, Seif Katan 13), and is also a Ta’anis Tzadikim.


We received the following from the OU:


The OU Job Board needs your help in implementing Project C.H.E.S.E.D. in your local community or nearby communities. Can you become an Angel of C.H.E.S.E.D.?


Project C.H.E.S.E.D. an acronym for Community Help in Education Social Services Empowerment/Employment & Development is a 14- point plan to empower communities to respond to the growing economic crisis.  This plan outlines immediate action that the Orthodox Union recommends to be implemented on an urgent basis.  The OU Job Board along with the Department of Community Services will help set up this program as well as offer free online services to help communities in their efforts to alleviate the suffering endured by families going through this difficult ordeal.


What we are currently looking for are Angels of C.H.E.S.E.D., volunteers who can lend their services and talents to the communities they live in or local surrounding communities to help those people who are currently in desperate need of services and a helping hand in these trying economic times 


If you are available and capable of writing a good resume we need your help.  We will be running Resume Fairs throughout the USA Canada and Israel, which utilizes volunteers such as you, to work one-on one with people who need to update, re-write or write their resumes to enhance their job prospects.  If you are a writer, teacher, resume writer, career counselor, Project C.H.E.S.E.D. and your community are looking for you. 

We are also looking for Career Counselors who are able to steer people who are locked into a no advancement job or who are unemployed to an alternative situation.  If you are a Career Counselor, Psychologist, and Sociologists and can provide these services we are looking for you as well. 


We are looking to start this program ASAP.  If you want to join us in the very important task, please contact  jobs@ou.org with a brief bio and what you think you can assist in. 



Special Note One: We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos series:


1.      In light of the current situation facing K’lal Yisroel….and what we can do to help, it was suggested by a Gadol in America to do the following:  From now through the Shabbos before Pesach, women should light Shabbos Candles 5 minutes earlier than the standard published candlelighting time of 18 minutes before Shabbos.


2.      The reason that it is a custom for women to daven immediately after Hadlakas Neiros is because Tefillah is more readily accepted at the time one is performing a mitzvah (Rabbeinu Bachya, Parshas Yisro).


3.      It is brought in the name of the Arizal that one should make sure to have Kavannah in the six mizmorim of Kabalas Shabbos beginning with Lechu Neranena, because they are “Mechuvanim” to the six days of the week.


4.      The Sefer Taharas Kodesh writes that when a person enters his home (or his host’s home on leil Shabbos), he should be sure to say Shabbos Shalom in a loud and happy voice, as this is like greeting the Kallah at a Chasunah with happiness--b’sever ponim yafos.


5.      When one begins reciting the words Yom HaShishi at Kiddush, he should look towards the Neiros Shabbos, as it helps bring refuah to the eyes (See Rema, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 271:10) and Magen Avraham there.


6.      Last week we related how the Lechem Mishna on Shabbos is a remez to the Shem Hashem.  The Sefer Meulefes Sapirim also brings that the Lechem Mishna (two loaves), alludes to the Shnei Luchos HaBris which were given on Shabbos, as well.


7.      The Rimzei Shabbos writes that it is befitting for one with Yiras Shamayim, even if he is very wealthy, to not partake of a particular food the whole week, and only partake of that food on Shabbos or Yom Tov, to show special Kavod Shabbos and Yom Tov.


8.      The Kadosh M’Lentche, Z’tl, advised Rebbe Yitzchok Vorki, Z’tl, that the reason we do not say “Laila Tov” on Shabbos (but rather “Gut Shabbos”) is because on Shabbos there is no Laila, but only light.  This is why, when describing the Seventh Day of Creation, the Torah does not say “VaYehi Erev [night] VaYehi Boker” as it does the other six days of the week.

 Special Note Two: We provide below a very brief sampling of some of the beautiful thoughts from the Rabbonim in yesterday’s Hakhel gathering.  Recordings (tapes and CDs) of all of the Shiurim are available by calling 718-252-5274.  A complete list of all Hakhel recordings is available at this link.

a.       From Rabbi Reisman, Shlita:  Hashem has created us from Chomer (Yesh Mai’Ayin), and made of us a Tzura (a form).  It is not our task to create Yesh Mai’ayin, but it is our task to improve our tzura!


b.      From Rabbi Wolfson, Shlita:  The Chofetz Chaim had already stated that the simanim given by Chazal (Sota 49) for the Ikvasa D’Mshicha, for the last stages of the world before Moshiach, have come.  Why did Chazal give us these signs of suffering?  How does it help us to know that people will suffer?  Rav Wolfson answered that Chazal are giving us Chizuk in our times, with all the suffering that we are especially now going through on a global and personal basis from so many perspectives--life-threatening, physical, emotional and financial.  If we can be mechazek (strengthen and fortify) ourselves, recite Ani Maamin, daven and demonstrate our Emunah these days with a special vigor, we will B’EH rejoice in the near future when we realize that we passed the test, that we properly weathered the Chevlai Mashiach--with Bitachon and Avodas Hashem.


c.       From Rabbi Elbaz, Shlita (who brought approximately 100 lessons from Gedolei Yisroel):

i.                     Rav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch, Z’tl, explains that the word for speech (dibur), and the word for bee (devora), have the same root in Lashon HaKodesh in order to always remind us that our speech can be stinging, and that we must not act like bees….

ii.                   HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, told his students that when they took a bite into an apple, they should feel as if quarters were falling out of their mouth.  After all, these little seedlings in an apple can be replanted and produce tree after tree after tree…  Everyone who eats an apple is sitting on a gold mine….

iii.                  When Rav Asher Rubenstein, Shlita, bentches it is with a great smile, almost as if he is laughing, because he feels such great Simcha over the gift of  satiating food that Hashem has just provided to him.  Indeed, it is said that Rav Rubenstein tells people that he will only shake their hand if they smile.  Likewise, it is said of HaRav Abuchatzeira, Z’tl, that of all things in life, what made him happiest was seeing someone else smiling.



Properly Appreciating the Holiness of Reciting Tehillim


Now that our people are at War, our Tehillim recitation has most likely increased in quantity or quality, and hopefully in both.  In order to for us to properly appreciate the great sanctity and power of Tehillim, we provide the following thoughts, as excerpted from the Yalkut Me’am Lo’ez on Tehillim--one volume in a wonderful series entitled The Torah Anthology, published in English by Moznaim Publishing Company:


  1. Everything the Jewish people were to go through in the course of their history: the moments and conditions of light and joy and the long spells of darkness, suffering and exile--all these Dovid HaMelech himself went through in the course of his life and gave expression to them in the words of Tehillm.  Through Tehillim his distress came to reflect their distress, his joys and exultations in cleaving to Hashem became their songs of joy and faith and cleaving to the light of the Divine Presence.  When he pleaded for himself, he pleaded for the entire nation, for he knew his people intimately.  In his darkest moments, Dovid HaMelech did not despair.  Hakhel Note: At a recent Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, taught that whenever the word “Laila” is mentioned in Tehillim, it does not refer to nighttime per se, but to a period of darkness.


  1. The Midrash says that Dovid HaMelech composed the five books of Tehillim to correspond to the Five Books of the Torah.  Because it is meaningless to study Torah without fear of Hashem, Dovid came along to teach fear of Hashem by means of Sefer Tehillim.


  1. Principally it is called Tehillim because this holy Sefer consists of the hymns of praise and thanksgiving to Hashem who created the world out of nothing.  Thus, the letters of Tehillim can be said to stand for “Tehillos Hodaos L’Borei Yesh Mai’ayin--Praises and Thanks, to the Creator of something from nothing.”


  1. When a person recites Tehillim, he possesses a quality of Heaven, as it says, “The Heavens relate the glory of Hashem” (Tehillim, 19:2); and he possesses a quality of the stars, as it says, “When the morning stars sang” (Iyov, 38:7).


  1. When a person recites Tehillim, it is as if it were being uttered by Dovid himself.  Dovid prayed that his own lips should move in the grave whenever Tehillim are recited.


  1. The She’loh writes: “Anyone whose Neshama desires to cleave to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, let him cling to the book of Tehillim.”


  1. When one recites Tehillim, he is offering a prayer and he is also studying Torah, in accordance with Dovid HaMelech’s wish that anyone reciting Tehillim be considered as if he were studying the most difficult subject matter in Gemara (and be rewarded accordingly).


  1. The total number of 150 Chapters of Tehillim is the numerical equivalent of “Hachna’a”--which indicates humble submissiveness, and the same is the numerical value of “Kaas”--anger. That is to say, reciting Tehillim helps to eliminate the sin of anger in a person.


  1. The author of the Chikrei Lev writes that whenever calamity would strike in his community, whether it was a personal tragedy or a common affliction, he would institute no special prayer.  Instead, Tehillim would be recited many times and with devout concentration, and then he would add the words:  “Dovid HaMelech, Alav HaShalom, will be my intercessor.  He will be the mouth that speaks for me, and he will commend me to our Father in Heaven.”


The above should help to infuse within us a greater feeling and even passion for reciting Tehillim in these difficult times that we are going through.  Dovid HaMelech is with us.  The Heavens are with us.  Our soul needs to pour forth in expression.  We should take those extra few moments to recite one or more Kapitalich of Tehillim a day with the feeling, concentration and devotion that it so richly deserves.

Other email archives