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Today is the fifteenth day of Av, which was celebrated as a day of great Yom Tov in the times of the Beis HaMikdosh.  Because of one of the many great events that occurred on this day, Chazal instituted the brocha of HaTov V’HaMativ--Who is good and does good.  Indeed, Chazal teach that there were no days of Yom Tov for Yisroel like the fifteenth day of Av and Yom HaKippurim.  We refer you to Taanis 27B and Bava Basra 121A for further detail.  In English, see _The Book of Our Heritage_ by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov (Feldheim) (Volume III, pages 1021-1034, or in some editions, pages 302-314) for a beautiful description of the events of today.


The Gematria of “Hamisha Asur B’Av”--the fifteenth of Av--is equal to that of “Kasiva V’Chasima Tova.”


May the days of sadness we have seen over the last several weeks be converted, commencing today, into days of great joy, and may we experience once again the great joy of Tu B’Av with the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdosh.


Special Note Two:  In his remarkable new book, _To Live Among Friends: Laws and Ethics of Everyday Interactions_ (Volume 2, page 800, Feldheim Publishers), Rabbi Dovid Castle, Shlita, provides the following essential insight:


It is written in the Torah, and in the last Parasha of Keriyas Shema: “V’lo Sasuru …”--You should not stray after your heart and after your eyes.  Chazal explain: “The eye sees and the heart desires.”  The Telzer Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Mordechai Gifter, Zt’l, commented that since the eye sees and the heart desires, the pasuk should have said not to stray after your eyes and after your heart.  Why did the Torah place your heart before your eyes?  He answers that, although it is true that the eye sees and the heart desires, it is equally true that a person sees what his heart wants him to see.


Many people can look at the same thing, and each one will see something different.  What a person sees tells much about what he wants to see.  Therefore, the Torah places the heart before the eyes.


We should want to see the good in what another individual is doing.  When we attain that basic level, which is quite an accomplishment, we will see much good in most people, and will not see everything in a critical and unfavorable light.  Just as you focus first on your own good attributes, and only later do you face the fact that you also have some faults, so, too, you should first notice the good attributes of others, and not focus primarily on their faults.


HaRav Yaakov Emden, Z’tl, in his Siddur Bais Yaakov, writes that the misfortunes, calamities, death and destruction over all these generations in our bitter exile arise from our failure to properly mourn over Yerushalayim--and this is because we feel  too comfortable in Galus.  HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, in commenting on this, notes that the worst part of our Galus is when Hashem is “Haster Astir” (Devorim 31:18)--completely hides Himself from us.  Indeed, what greater tragedy can there be than to be removed from the Source of all life and goodness—Hashem?  And this occurs when we feel comfortable and complacent with Galus life.  Paradoxically, then the most extreme Galus is reflected by our comfort and satisfaction.  As an example, HaRav Salomon states that during the time of the Cantonists, when Jewish boys were forcibly abducted into the Czar’s army for 25 years, everyone acknowledged and agreed this was a terrible gezaira--decree--of Galus.  On the other hand, with the current “kids-at-risk” situation all over the world, there are those who simply attribute it to community, local or family problems, to issues of a lack of communication or, sometimes, even too much affluence, but many fail to recognize it for what it truly is--the same Gezeiras Galus as the Czar’s Cantonists.

 Similarly, HaRav Salomon notes, we are beset by most severe and serious illnesses in a manner disproportionate to the rest of the population.  This is not happenstance, it does not **ultimately** have to do “with the water”, or “with the family”, or because of other hazardous factors--it is, rather, a stark gezaira of Galus which we all share in and suffer from together.  It is not someone else’s issue or problem--it is OUR tragic situation together…

 Harav Salomon has other examples, but the point is clear.  What we must do, and what we must do now, is rid ourselves of the notion, and certainly of the feeling, that we are currently content with the notion of a two-car garage, the latest technology, the most Glatt Kosher of international cuisine--and even the freedom to privately and publicly study, observe and practice the Torah.

We all know the lessons from our past history as to getting too comfortable in exile.  Hashem, as our loving Father, jolts us back into a recognition that we must strive for the Geulah.  Many note that the name for this month, Av, means Father.  For only a father would “potch” us in the way Hashem has in order to lead us on the proper path.

 Chazal, with their Ruach HaKodesh, recognized that we needed to focus on removing ourselves from a complacency, and even satisfaction, with Galus.  Accordingly when they instituted the final text of Shemone Esrei, they included six brachos in a row (!), commencing with “Tika B’Shofar” and continuing through “Es Tzemach” by which we in various ways pray for, and thus stay connected to, the Geulah.

 Over the next three weeks (in contrast to the previous “Three Weeks”), until Rosh Chodesh Elul, let us make it our job to concentrate at least on the first of these Brachos, “Tika B’Shofar” in each of our daily Shemone Esreis.  As we recite the Brocha, we should picture the personal and communal tzaros and tragedies around us, feel for a loving Father who is forced to leave His home together with His child--and the unbounded everlasting joy and ecstasy it will bring to the Father and His child alike when our sincere prayers are answered--with the ingathering of our exiles, the coming of the Moshiach and the building of the Bais HaMikdash!





Chazal (Bava Basra 165A) teach that while only some individuals may be predisposed to arayos (immorality), and more individuals to gezel (thievery), everyone is prone to “Avak Loshon Hora”--which is defined as making statements or taking action which **lead to, cause, or result in** Loshon Hora.


The Maharsha (ibid.) explains that while arayos is a sin which most directly relates to the body, and gezel is a sin directly involving money, Avak Loshon Hora is an iniquity impacting most directly upon a person’s soul.  Accordingly, the Yetzer Hora is especially focused on Avak Loshon Hora and urges **everyone** to falter here.


In order for us to more fully comprehend the gravity of Avak Loshon Hora, the Sefer Marpeh Loshon (HaRav Raphael Hamburger, Zt’l, p. 29) brings the words of the Shelah HaKadosh:


“The Tzaros that have occurred to us since the world’s creation all emanate from Loshon Hora.  And behold, with respect to this sin, the Yetzer Hora has to begin with an easier form, so he begins with Avak Loshon Hora.”


Thus, according to the Shelah HaKadsoh, Avak Loshon Hora is the starting point…for all Tzaros--calamities(!).


Now that we have been introduced to Avak Loshon Hora as being more tempting than even arayos and gezel, as being the sin of the soul and not of the body or the pocketbook, as being the deceitful means by which the Yetzer Hora attacks us--we may pointedly ask ourselves--what is it exactly that I should not be saying or doing?


The Chofetz Chaim (Hilchos Loshon Hora, Chapter 9) provides us with seven statements or expressions of Avak Loshon Hora:


  1. “Who would have thought that Ploni (Mr. X) would be where he is today…”  The implication to be gleaned is clear.

  2. “Don’t talk about Ploni--I don’t want to discuss what happened or what will be with him”. Or saying, “I don’t want to speak about Ploni because I don’t want to speak Loshon Hora.”

  3. Praising Ploni in front of those who dislike him (this includes his business competitors)--for we all know where this will go.

  4. Praising anyone excessively (for you will end up saying--“except for this” or “besides that…” or because the listeners will respond--“why do you praise him so highly? What about….”

  5. Praising anyone in public unless: (a) he is known as a Tzaddik, for anyone who tries to attack him will not succeed because of the Tzaddik’s reputation; or (b) you know that the listeners will not disparage him, for they do not know him.

  6. A praise that implies a deficiency--“when he actually does something, he does it properly.”

  7. Praise that will result in harm or loss to (or ill will by) the individual spoken about.  For instance, “Ploni likes to cook a lot”--and, as a result, riffraff come knocking on his door, looking for meals.


Interestingly, the Chofetz Chaim adds that it is also Avak Loshon Hora to speak about someone in a manner which appears to be Loshon Hora (even though it really is not) so that others suspect him of speaking Loshon Hora.  Thus, when speaking in a deprecatory manner about someone, one should explain to them why it is not Loshon Hora.


We must be especially careful with these Halachos at this time of year, as the Chofetz Chaim writes on the **very first page** of the Sefer Chofetz Chaim that when Chazal state that the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed because of Sinas Chinam, they actually are referring to Loshon Hora!  What better way is there to begin the process of ridding ourselves of the Churban Bais HaMikdash and the Loshon Hora from whence it came, then by starting with what the Shelah HaKadosh calls the “easy part”--the beginnings of Loshon Hora--Avak Loshon Hora!




One of the six questions a person is asked after his 120 year stay in this world is “Tzipisa Li’Yeshua”--did you sincerely await the Redemption (Shabbos 31A)?  Indeed, the Rambam writes in the 12th Foundation of Faith that we must await Moshiach every single day.  Further, as we all know, in the 15th brocha of Shemone Esrei we all plead “...for your salvation we hope every day.”


We asked HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, for the Makor, for the source, in Torah that we must wait for this fundamental principle.  HaRav Belsky, Shlita suggested two possible sources.  First, the Pasuk in Beraishis (49:18): “LiShuasecha Kivisi Hashem”--for Your Redemption I wait, Hashem.  It is well known that the Brisker Rav, Z’tl, could recite this Pasuk several times during any given day.  Various explanations may be given for his practice.  We suggest that perhaps he was careful to constantly remind himself throughout the day to await redemption--by reciting its Makor in the Torah.  Moreover, it is interesting to note that the nusach of the 15th bracha of Shemone Esrei seems to indicate that our longing for redemption should go on throughout the day (“KOL HAYOM”), and not necessarily be limited to our thrice daily recitation in Shemone Esrei.  Although the Avudraham and Radak in Tehillim seem to learn that “KOL HAYOM” simply means ever day and not throughout the day, it is conceivable that the Brisker Rav felt that the literal translation of the words “KOL HAYOM” mean that one has to await Moshiach throughout the day, and not necessarily at a formal or fixed time.


The second possible source for this fundamental principle of our faith suggested by HaRav Belsky, Shlita, is the Pasuk in Chabakuk (2:3) “Im Yismahmeah Chakeh Lo”--if he be delayed await him--which is the phrase utilized by the Rambam in the Ani Maamin mentioned earlier.  For further explanation on the meaning of this Pasuk, see the Malbim there.


Now that we have identified Torah sources for our longing, WHY is it that we are to long in this way?  HaRav Belsky, Shlita, explains: “The main reason is that no one should come to terms with a world that is devoid of Kedusha [holiness], Chochma [knowledge of Hashem] and Gilui Shechina [revelation of His Presence] and a host of other attributes.”  HaRav Belsky, Shlita, referred us further to the words of the Rambam which immediately precede the 13 Foundations of Faith, which are presented by the Rambam in his Introduction to the 11th Perek of Sanhedrin.  There, the Rambam writes that we strive for the times of Moshiach not for the resulting glory, grandeur or riches, but rather for man’s resulting advancements in wisdom, proper conduct and closeness to Hashem...so that at long last our hearts of stone are replaced with hearts of inspired and sincere, truly righteous behavior, from young to old.


Is this not worth thinking about more than in a flashing moment or two in the course of a day beset by the problems, or at least issues, of this world?


We are now in the heart of the Three Week Period.  We must recognize that the times and dates in the past which have been so extremely unpleasant for us and our people could provide just the opposite experience for us.  Have you thought about what would have happened on the 17th of Tammuz had B’nei Yisroel not made the Eigel--we would have forever possessed the unbroken, original first set of Luchos!  Similarly, if the spies would have come back with the right report on Tisha B’Av, it could have been a day of rejoicing--and not crying--all these years!  These days are days of happening.  Let us break away from the estrangement and void that we have brought upon ourselves--and strive to draw closer to man’s true fulfillment.


Perhaps we can start by especially thinking, hoping and praying for the Yeshua just a little bit more during these days--from time to time through the day.  In this zechus, may we directly see and experience the Kedusha, the Chochma, the Gilui Shechina we so sorely, sorely lack--speedily and literally--in our days!


Sent July 11:


Special Note One:  We recall that during this time of year, just one year ago, our people were in the midst of a heart-wrenching war in the northern part of Eretz Yisroel with rockets pounding upon civilians and homes in Tzefas and Chaifa.  Although there may be many other issues with our enemies in Eretz Yisroel, we are not now in the same throes of a terrorist war.  This is not to say that we should not think about our brothers in Sderot in our Tefillos.  We should, however, recognize that the level of war is not the same as it was one year ago, and thank Hashem in our minds for this when reciting Sim Shalom or Shalom Rav in Shemone Esrei.


Special Note Two: Readers have asked us for the currently acceptable method for checking strawberries.  Perhaps the most world-renowned Halachic authority on Hilchos Tolaim (insect infestation of foods) is HaRav Moshe Vaye, Shlita.  We have obtained an English translation of his current recommendation for strawberry checking.  It is available on the Internet at  http://tinyurl.com/yokjbf


Special Note Three:  Perhaps the greatest personal void resulting from the churban HaMikdash is our failure to sense that we are always Lifnei Hashem, in the presence of Hashem (Sifsei Chaim III: 339).  Upon a visit to Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash, everyone would witness constant miracles (see Mishnah Avos 5:7), Kohanim and Leviim on extremely heightened spiritual levels, the Sandhedrin, and the “Nikiyei Hadaas” of Yerushalayim, with over 400 Batei Midrashim illuminating the city.  The Torah (Devorim 14:23) teaches us that mere visits to the city (for example, in order to eat ma’aser sheni there) would teach a person to fear Hashem “all [his] days”!


Our circumstances have now temporarily and tragically changed.  HaRav Shlomo Wolbe Z’tl, once said that he went to see the King of Sweden in order to experience royalty and kingship, and instead walked away from the experience feeling little or no respect for an unglorified human being.  He concluded, therefore, that it is much more difficult for us to appreciate Hashem’s Malchus because we do not have any earthly royalty from which to begin.


What can we do to bring us to some elevated sense that we are before Hashem even in our current downtrodden state?


We suggest the following:


Every bracha contains the word “Ata” (You)--the direct, second person--talking to Hashem as if He is directly in front of you.  Once during each meal--morning, afternoon and evening--before making a bracha on your food, have in mind that you are now talking to the Shechina in front of you, thanking Him for that particular food.


If this elevated sense of presence of Shechina is difficult to imagine at first, you may picture the Chofetz Chaim, the Vilna Gaon, your Chassidic Rebbe, Rashi, or even Dovid HaMelech sitting in the room in front of you as you are making the brocha.


You may try this for a week and see if it improves your level of “Lifnei Hashem”--sensing the Shechina with you each and every day.


The “Lifnei Hashem” we will BE’H soon experience in the Beis HaMikdash will then be all the more meaningful and all the more gratifying.




As we commence the Second Week of the Three Week period, we may address a fundamental question.  Every year, for almost 2,000 years, we have been observing the very same Three Week period, beginning with the calamities that befell us on Shiva Asar B’Tammuz, and ending with the catastrophes that occurred on Tisha B’Av.  There may be differences of Minhagim among the different communities, but the sullenness and solemnity of the days are common to them all.  One may legitimately ask his Rabbi whether it is permitted to eat peanut butter ice cream with chocolate fudge topping and colored sprinkles during the Nine Days, and even receive a definitive response that it is not prohibited.  However, a question of this sort emphasizes the “tofel” (even ice cream can be tofel, secondary), and disregards the “ikar” of the period that we are in.


So here is the fundamental question:  Do we simply continue observing the period that we are now in the same way as we did last year--10 years ago and 20 years ago--or do we do something different?  After all, on the one hand, we have been and are doing everything that we thought was, and is, right according to Halacha during this time--to the point that when we are doubtful, we ask a Rav.  On the other hand, it does not appear that we have succeeded, for the Bais HaMikdash is still in ruins and we find ourselves in a world pervaded by terrorism and materialism, and with a value system completely incongruous to Torah.  So perhaps we should try something different, something else, and something we have not done before.  Perhaps we should approach the Churban and exile from a different angle.  After all, in the business and professional world, if something does not work one way, you try another way, before giving up.


In order to deal with this dilemma, in order to determine whether we should continue doing the same (proper) things we have always been doing, and that our fathers and forefathers have been doing for hundreds upon hundreds of years--or whether we should do something else--we look to the analogy of our Gallus existence, as taught to school children.  You may recall being taught that while in exile, we rebuild the Bais HaMikdash brick by brick, with every Mitzvah that we perform being at least one brick in the new, magnificent, everlasting, Third Bais HaMikdash.


Thus, as we continue to do what we are supposed to do, and as our ancestors have done over all these years, we are continuously building and building and building an edifice that we can simply not currently fathom.  However, to continue the analogy, sometimes one can build faster if he has the right equipment, the right tools and the right skill.  Yet at other times, the construction process may be quickened simply by pure effort, toil and exertion.  In Egypt, for example, Chazal teach that the bitterness of our toil significantly curtailed the decreed term of our exile (the “quality” of the labor making up for the additional time that had to be spent there).  It is for this reason, many teach, that Maror, the bitter herbs, are eaten **after** the Matzah on the night of the Seder--for through the Maror the redemption was hastened.


It is no secret that Tisha B’Av always falls on the same day of the week as the Night of the Seder (which is the reason, some explain, that we have the egg symbolizing mourning on the Seder Plate, and that some actually eat the egg at the beginning of the otherwise festive Seder Meal).  Obviously, we are to learn from the Exodus from Egypt how we are to accomplish the Exodus from our current exile as well.


We may therefore suggest that while we can and should continue to build the Third and Final Bais HaMikdash in the same manner as we have done in the past; there is room for us to perhaps further hasten the redemption by taking some new and different action so that those bricks are put up faster and faster.  Picture the difference between viewing a bricklayer building a wall in regular motion, and watching him build that very same wall in “fast-forward.”  It will most certainly take a much shorter time for the wall to be completed.


Let us try to avoid the Maror, the bitterness, as the catalyst for a speedy redemption if at all possible.  Instead, perhaps we should look at what caused the initial walls to fall in such a short period, as taught by Chazal.  Over the next several days, b’li neder, we intend to mention some of these causes of destruction, which, if rectified, can be the means of redemption.  We are assured in the “Nacheim” Tefillah that we recite on Tisha B’Av--for You, Hashem, with fire You consumed her, and with fire You will rebuild her…The same fire that destroyed, can and will rebuild.


Today, we will begin with the Chazal (Nedarim 81A) teaching that the reason we lost Eretz Yisroel was that:  “They did not make the Bracha before studying Torah”.  Many find it difficult to learn that this means that the appropriate Bracha was not actually recited by the masses prior to Torah study.  Rather, it is suggested that the Bracha was not recited with the sufficient feeling and thought, as is befitting Torah and all that it is and that it represents.  After all, what makes me different from all of the nations, all other peoples, all of the beings around me?  It is the Torah--with its Divine source, and the Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim that emanate directly and unabatedly from it.  If we do not appreciate this, if we recite the Brochos hastily and/or sleepily, while walking in the home or to Shul, and not from a Siddur, then perhaps we ought to go out to (or stay in) Exile--among the nations--to study and finally appreciate what makes us different.


One tikun, one improvement that we can undertake over the next two weeks is to recite Birchos HaTorah a little more properly--from a Siddur, understanding the meaning of the words, and with an appreciation for what the Torah means to each one of us individually, and to us as a people.  If we do, we may be laying some of those last rows of bricks--at a “fast-forward” pace!

Sent July 9:

Special Note One:  Today is the beginning of another “work week.”  At this point, each one of us can ask themselves--what will I do this week that is going to be different--something that I know is right, that I have to improve upon--but that I just haven’t worked into my daily life as I should, or as I may be able to.


Here are some suggestions for Monday through Friday of this week.  Now is a good time to try this, as the beginning of the next work week is Rosh Chodesh Av, which reminds us that there will be only 60 days left to Rosh Hashanah!


Please feel free to try any one of the following quick ideas, or any one of your own.  We always welcome suggestions:


  1. Not yell once (well, maybe not twice).


  1. Give Tzedakah every day.


  1. Think about how you can help someone, and actually try helping them that day.


  1. Recite Ashrei at Mincha a little more slowly while sitting (For Men: if necessary, come a minute or two early to Mincha, so that you will finish before Kaddish).


  1. Or, alternatively, say Aleinu with Kavannah as to the meaning of the words, and reading the words from a Siddur, even if it means that you will have to recite from Al Kayn Nekaveh on after Kaddish [suggestion Numbers 4 and 5 are from Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Shlita].


  1. Study something about the upcoming Parsha (even Chumash with Rashi) for at least ten minutes.  It is a double Sedra this week, and there is so much to learn!!


We have been told by many that any project of this kind is more successful, if you take an extra minute to keep a record of your accomplishments.  Let us do what we can to make sure that the Chazak Chazak V’Nischazek that we are to recite this Shabbos applies personally to each and every one of us!


Special Note Two:  We received the following comment from a reader:


“I recently purchased a Global Positioning System (colloquially GPS) which helps me with directions in my car.  I put in a destination and the navigational satellites tell me when and where to turn.  Even if I make a mistake, it corrects me.  I had a tremendous hisorirus [inspiration] from this.  Just as the cell phone teaches you how what you say anywhere can be heard everywhere, so too does the GPS teach me that it is more than the satellite that sees from above where I am going.  Hashem is always watching me and mine with a bird’s eye view, and Hashgacha Pratis guides my life.  When I make a mistake and turn the wrong way, I should correct my direction before I go too far!”


Hakhel Note: Yasher Koach!  We should always do our best to squeeze as much spirituality as we can out of modern technology--for that is its true purpose.  The Chofetz Chaim wrote about the telegram, car and train, inventions in his day, and the important lessons he learned from each one of them.


Special Note Three:  During the Three Weeks, we do not make or attend chasunas, may this be soon reversed and the Bais HaMikdash rebuilt speedily and in our days.  In the interim, we can, however, experience some aspect of a wedding while eating a regular weekday meal in our own home.  The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 170, Seif Katan 45) brings from the Shelah HaKadosh that one should be glad of heart at all of his meals, whether large or small, and eat “b’simcha” in happiness [reflecting upon all of the goodness from Hashem, that the simple meal involves].  Moreover, the Mishna Berura continues, if one eats and drinks in a healthy manner, with the purpose of energizing his body for the sake of his soul, then his Seudah, his meal, is actually L’Halacha, deemed a “Seudas Mitzvah.”  Thus, just as at a wedding one is happy and partakes in a Seudas Mitzvah, one can make his own little “chasunah” at home at every meal!


Your thoughts and your feelings--these are what Hashem leaves up to you.


The following are excerpts from a truly remarkable new book entitled Reb Chatzkel, on the life of Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl, by Rabbi Yitzchak Kasnett (Artscroll, 2007).  This book is highly recommended. These excerpts (footnotes omitted) provide us with extremely important insights for our daily lives:


1.      (Page 16) “The Chofetz Chaim told several relatives and students that he had a secret to tell them that would reveal a deep and fundamental concept of Torah.  However, he would only disclose it at the end of the “third watch” of the night, just before dawn, and that they should prepare themselves to be present.  The Chofetz Chaim’s intent in meeting at that hour was his desire that his words should make the greatest possible impression upon his listeners.  Anticipating that their great Rebbe would reveal secrets of the future Redemption, all were gathered and ready. The Chofetz Chaim began by reciting the blessing “Elokai, neshamah...”in its entirety, emphasizing the word l’hachazirah — to return [my soul] to me in the future to come.  The Chofetz Chaim explained that the mapik (dot) in the last hey of the word l’hachazirah indicates that the very same soul taken from a person at the time of his death is returned to him when the dead are brought back to life.  If the soul was befouled by sin during the person’s lifetime, it will be returned to him befouled and sullied with spiritual impurities; exactly as it was taken, it will be returned.  He further explained that the bond of closeness one establishes with Hashem in this world remains forever, as does the distance from Hashem one creates.  This was the great secret the Chofetz Chaim wished to reveal just before dawn that day, when he finished, all of those present said Shema Yisroel and accepted upon themselves Ol Malchus Shamayim, the Yoke of Heaven, with great intensity.”


Hakhel Note: At a recent Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Shlita, recommended that we take the fourth word of every Shemone Esrei—“Elokainu”—and spend five seconds letting the Ol Malchus Shamayim pervade us.  This would then assist us with a greater sense of Hashem during the recitation of at least the first Bracha, and hopefully would improve even more of our Tefillah.


2.      (Page 34) The following was one of the rules that were in effect in the Kelm Talmud Torah:


“To be careful not to say a Bracha hastily; therefore before making a Bracha, one must think:


What Bracha do I need to make?


Before Whom am I making this Bracha?”



3.      (Page 142) “On the way to Japan, the Mashgiach (Rabbi Levenstein, zt’l) expressed to the Mirrer talmidim the following thoughts about the impending exile:


The decree of exile is an unnatural state that was expressly created for Klal Yisroel.  When we consider the consequences of exile, we find that no nation other than Klal Yisroel remains in existence after any appreciable time in exile.  The Midrash relates that Hashem Yisborach asked Avrohom Avinu what punishment he chooses for his children when they will sin and there is no Beis HaMikdash to atone for their wrongdoing--exile or purgatory.  According to one opinion quoted in the Midrash, Avrohom was unable to answer. [Thus,] In practical terms, the consequences of exile and purgatory are strongly equated.  Contrary to our understanding of exile, the deleterious effect of exile upon our spiritual growth and well-being can not be overstated; we have no appreciation of the great measure of Divine mercy needed as we pass from one regime to the next.”


Hakhel Note: As we are in the Three Week period, we should contemplate how displaced we really are in exile, the detours we take, and the unfortunate compromises we may mistakenly make.  We should wish, and pray, for things to get back to normal.  As we will experience Shabbos tomorrow, we have a sense of “Maiayn Olam Haba”--what things could and will really be like.  May the Shabbos inspire us to properly and constantly yearn for “Yom Shekulo Shabbos”--the days of the ultimate redemption from this bitter exile…and of Olam Haba!

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