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Special Note One: Chazal teach that the Moshiach will come when we are “Nisya’ashu Min HaGeulah--when we despair of redemption.”  The Baalei Mussar all ask: Are we not supposed to wait for Moshiach every day--Achakeh Lo Bechol Yom Sheyavo.  How can it be that we will despair?!  The answer given by many is that Chazal do not mean that we will despair of Moshiach’s arrival.  Rather, they mean that we will despair that our Yeshua will come from foreign governments, wise scientists, or even from our own wisdom or strength.  Rather, we will once and for all realize, and put into real practice, that we have no one to rely on, no source of yeshua whatsoever--except for Our Avinu SheBashamayim.  It may be a very worthwhile endeavor for you to repeat this several times a day--every day of the year!



Special Note Two:  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked whether we will continue to fast if the Moshiach came on Tisha B’Av.  He answered that it will depend if the Moshiach came before Chatzos or after Chatzos (1:02 New York time).  If the Moshiach comes after Chatzos, we will complete the day in fasting, for Tisha B’Av is not only a day of mourning, but a day of Teshuva, as well.  Let us not forget to do Teshuva on Tisha B’Av--wouldn’t it be so remarkable and special if the Moshiach actually came while you were doing Teshuva?!


Several brief, additional notes relating to the time period we are in:

 a.       The Gedolim of the previous generation determined that Tisha B’Av is the day to express our mourning over the Churban Europe.  As we cry over the Six Million Souls that were lost to us and all of the related harm, injury and destruction to those who survived, we must remember not to get lost in the numbers of hundreds of thousands and millions, but to remember each Neshama, and multiply it by millions.  A Holocaust Survivor, who had approximately 13 uncles and brothers who were murdered, observed one Yahrzeit for them all on Asara BaTeves, since he did not know the specific dates upon which each of them was killed (this is a practice among many, picking a date that a ghetto was liquidated, or that a transport arrived in a death camp).  He approached HaRav Chaim Baruch Faskowitz, Z’tl, on Asara BeTeves and asked if a Kel Moleh Rachamim could be made for them.  HaRav Faskowitz himself took the Sefer Torah and began to recite the Kel Moleh.  As the man was about to give him the list of all of the names to be inserted in the one spot, HaRav Faskowitz stopped him and advised him that he would making each one a separate Kel Moleh, for each of them had his own life, and that there would be no wholesale prayers or rememberances.  About half way through the Kel Molehs, HaRav Faskowitz could no longer bear reciting brother after brother, name after name, which concluded with the same father--“Ben Noach”--and with the Sefer Torah in hand, sat down crying, as his Kehilla cried with him.  Hakhel Note: HaRav Faskowitz’s Yahrzeit is on Tisha B’Av.

b.      The Rambam rules that one could r’l be chayav kares for entering certain areas of the Har HaBayis even in our day.  This is because “Kedusha Rishona Kidsha L’Sha’ata, V’Kidsha L’Osid Lavo”--the holiness initially instilled there never left, notwithstanding the destruction, devastation and defilement of the Makom HaMikdash.  This is an incredible teaching!  The area of the Bais HaMikdash is holy now--and we are missing it!  To analogize (lehavdil), in a material sense, imagine if someone was handed the title and keys to a brand new Lexus (with all gadgetry) and was told that he could not drive it, or that the most sumptuous steak and wine dinner was placed before him, with the reservation that he could look at it as much as he pleased, but that he could not eat it.  This kind of reality is even more painful in the spiritual sense, because unlike materialism which is fleeting, ruchniyus is, in fact, eternal--and every moment that we miss is a missed opportunity of eternity.

c.       With this understanding, we can appreciate an important teaching of HaRav Meir Schuck, Z’tl.  HaRav Schuck poses the following question both with respect to the brocha in Shemone Esrei relating to the rebuilding of Yerushalayim, and the third brocha of Birchas HaMazon relating to the rebuilding of Yerushalayim.  Each of these brochos request “U’Venei”--that Hashem rebuild Yerushalayim for us “B’mheira B’Yameinu--in the near future.”  Yet, each brocha concludes with the words “Boneh Yerushalayim”--which means that Hashem is building Yerushalayim now.  Which is it?  Will Hashem build Yerushalayim soon--or is Hashem building Yerushalayim right now (in the present tense)?  HaRav Schuck answers that if we sincerely look for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim than Hashem is, in fact, building it now.  It really is dependent on our feeling, our sensitivity, our desire, our will.  How great!  When we recite the words “U’venei Yerushalayim”, or “HaMachazir Shechinaso L’Tzion” with real sincerity, Hashem is building Yerushalayim as we meaningfully pray for it!  This is something for us to remember every day--three times daily!  Hakhel Note: HaRav Schuck's Yahrtzeit is on Tisha B'Av.



Special Note One:  We received the following important correspondence from a reader in response to our note on the proper pronunciation of E-loah in Hallel.  “The word E-loah is not so uncommon.  It is actually said in V'Hu Rachum, every Monday and Thursday.  It is also said in Kaveh--every day for S'fard and every Shabbos for Ashkenaz.  It is also said when the Torah is taken out on Shabbos and Yom Tov in V'al Hakol, at the end of when the Torah is taken out.  We also have this word numerous times on Yom Kippur--between each section of Al Chet.  One other point, the emphasis should be on the 'ah' part of the word--as it is a mapik heh.  There are also other words, which are not the Shem Hashem that end with the mapik heh at the end pronounced 'ah’ instead of 'ha'.

Hakhel Response:  Thank you for this very informative message.



Special Note Two:  The Ben Ish Chai explains that one of the reasons that our month is called “Av” is because it will be the Av, the Father, of a new joyous period which will commence in Av, and continue for a long period thereafter.  May it commence this Av!



Special Note Three:  Now that, Be’Ezras Hashem, one of the three bachurim incarcerated in Japan will be coming back to Eretz Yisroel, we should continue to be mispallel for the remaining two boys still in Japan , whose trial dates, we understand, are to be set soon.  A Posek in Shmiras HaLashon asked us to urge people to take upon themselves, B’li Neder, to learn a Halacha or two of Shmiras HaLashon every day as a zechus for these bochurim.  He felt that this would be a tikun for them, based upon his understanding of the Torah and Chazal relating to Mechiras Yosef, and what caused it.  Even if you are currently learning Shemiras Halashon, you can have the captive boys in mind--especially if you learn something special that day in Shemiras Halashon.

Hakhel Note:  One extremely important Shemiras Halashon point relating to the New York/New Jersey public arrests made yesterday:  Please do not assume that anyone accused is guilty--it often happens that prosecuted cases end up very differently than the way in which they started.



Special Note Four:  If we take a moment to engage in a Reality Check we will note that two months from today’s date will be the third day of Tishrei, the day *after* Rosh Hashanah!  Of course, another aspect of the Reality Check is that we are in the Nine Days.  Rather than being depressed or gloomy, we should recognize the current daily situation as a series of opportunities--opportunity after opportunity for growth and advancement.  In last week’s Haftorah, the Navi exorted us with the words “Vayelchu Acharei HaHevel Vayehebalu--they went after nothingness, and they became nothing.” (Yirmiyahu 2:5)  If we can make the effort to recognize and act upon opportunity after opportunity, we can convert nothingness into something very, very huge and important.  HaRav Avraham Davis, Shlita, (of Metsudah Publications) said in the name of HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, Z’tl, that if an adult would play ball like a child, he would be unfortunately viewed as an adult playing like a child.  However, if he would have continuously developed his talents since childhood, he could even become a professional.  LeHavdil, the same is also true in everything that we do.  It is up to us to determine whether, as adults, we are just playing like children in the way we learn, the way we daven, the way we speak, and the way we behave towards others.  In which direction are we moving--are we moving away from nothingness, or are we using our opportunities--are we trying to grow (up)?  Let’s learn from the Navi--and make something of ourselves.  HaRav Avrohom Chaim Feuer, Shlita, in his Shiur on the Three Weeks, taught that Hashem leaves His Palace during the Three Weeks looking for us--may He find us and be happy with His find!



Special Note Five:  Notwithstanding the current comforts that we may enjoy in certain countries, we are still very much in Galus--and we are reminded of it every day.  We cannot, and must not, however, ignore the reality of the relative comforts that we do experience--to the point that, Baruch Hashem U’Bli Ayin Hora, we cannot even fathom how one could survive though the Holocaust circumstances that our grandparents and parents actually lived through.  Just as we are reminded that we are in Galus daily, we must likewise remind ourselves of the Chesed that we are currently experiencing in this Galus.  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches (Koheles 7:14 ) “Beyom Tova Heyeh Vetov… On a day of good, one should recognize and be happy with it.”  Particularly during this time of year, when we emphasize our lament over the Galus and take concrete steps to end it--we should also express our genuine and heartfelt Hakaras HaTov and thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, for His chesed in easing the pain of Galus for us.  May it get no worse--only better for us--until the Geulah.  One should think about this during Modim, at the end of Shemone Esrei, or in his personal conversations with Hashem.

Hakhel Note:  With the reference above to the Pasuk in Koheles of “Beyom Tov Heyeh…,” we note that the Nach Yomi cycle today concludes Koheles, and begins Megillas Esther tomorrow, on Shabbos Kodesh.  Would it not be splendid to learn of the Moshiach’s arrival--as you are taking the time and making the effort to study the Sefer in Tanach which relates the Nes of Purim in our previous Galus —with all that it means and symbolizes! Start Tomorrow--Please!



Special Note Six: We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos Series:


This Shabbos, Shabbos Chazon (as we eat meat and drink wine during the Nine Days), we should be especially aware of the Kedushas Shabbos, with the knowledge that as great as the Binyan Bais HaMikdash is--and what it would accomplish for the whole world--it is still not doche, does not push aside, the Shabbos…and must wait until after Shabbos has concluded!  Indeed, even if Tisha B’Av would occur on Shabbos, we still celebrate Shabbos--with the gefilte fish, the cholent…the Oneg Shabbos in its honor!  The Sefer Toras Shabbos asks, Oneg Shabbos--properly celebrating Shabbos--is such a great Mitzvah--why don’t we make a bracha on it?  He suggests as one answer that each person participates in Oneg Shabbos in his own particular way--so it is not like the KeZayis Matazh that we eat on the Leil HaSeder, and so is not subject to a particular bracha.  The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (III:1) brings other possible answers as well: (a) The bracha of MeKadesh HaShabbos in Kiddush includes the mitzvah of  Oneg  (have it in mind!), and (b) the words of “Baruch Hashem Asher Nossan Menucha LeAmo Yisroel” in Kol Mekadesh Shevii allude to a bracha over the Oneg and Menucha of Shabbos (pay attention to your Zemiros!).  Our dear readers, Mekadesh HaShabbos…Kol Mekadesh Shevii...let us especially feel and appreciate it tomorrow!



Special Note One:  We note that HaRav Yaakov Tzvi Emden, Z’tl, writes: “If it was only this sin alone that we had in our hands, that we do not properly mourn over Yerushalayim, it would be enough to lengthen our Galus.  In my eyes, it is the most likely reason for all of the ‘Hashmados Hamuflagos Hagedolos--the horrendous and horrific pogroms and destructions’ that have found us in Galus wherever we may be.  We have been chased, and chased and chased some more because mourning over Yerushalayim has left our hearts.”  We must--we must--make the effort to bring Yerushalayim back into our hearts.


Note:  We provide Tikun Chatzos by clicking here.  If one has never, ever recited Tikun Chatzos, he may simply sit on the floor and go through it at least once to gain a familiarity with it. During the period we are in, some have the custom of reciting the Tikun during the day, as well.  HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, teaches at the very least one can get down on the floor and reflect upon Yerushalayim and the churban for a minute!  If not now, when?  As Chazal teach, “Kol HaMisabel al Yerushalayim--All Who Mourn Over Yerushalayim Will Be Zoche and See It Rebuilt.”



Special Note Two:  In his explanation of the Siddur (in the monumental work HaRav Schwab on Prayer, published by Artscroll), HaRav Schwab, Z’tl, asks why the brocha of “V’lYerushalayim Ircha” begins with a Vav (“And”).  What is the meaning of “And” here--to what is the beginning of the bracha connecting?  HaRav Schwab suggests that the Vav alludes to the Yerushalayim Shel Ma’alah, where thousands, and perhaps millions, of Tzadikim who hoped and prayed for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim over the past 2,000 years now reside.  When the time comes for Yerushalayim to be rebuilt, these neshamos will experience it B’shamayim together with the people who are physically experiencing the rebuilding here on earth.  Moreover, HaRav Schwab teaches, although we do not really understand what it means at this time, Chazal teach that Hashem will return to the Yerushalayim Shel Ma’alah only after He has returned to the Yerushalayim Shel Matah, for He has been “absent” from the Yerushalayim Shel Ma’alah since the Churban, as well.  We are thus mispallel for Hashem to return to both cities of Yerushalayim.


HaRav Schwab concludes his explanation of the Brocha with the following comforting words:


“Just as a deep foundation must be placed in the ground before a very large structure can rise, so, too, have the historical events of the Galus been the foundation for the rebuilding of the future Yerushalayim.  Our entire Galus experience--and it is longer than we have hoped and thought it would be--is the deep, dark, underground pit into which the foundation of the future city of Yerushalayim is being placed.  This can be compared to a construction site of a large building, which is enclosed by a wall.  If a man manages to peek behind that wall, all he will see is a huge hole in the ground for the foundation.  The higher the planned structure, the deeper the foundation must be.  However, eventually the structure will begin rising above the wall until it reaches its completion.  Similarly, HaKadosh Baruch Hu, the Boneh Yerushalayim, has been digging the foundations of the future Yerushalayim ever since the Churban Bais HaMikdash, and the rebuilding process has never ceased throughout the Galus. At the time of Bi’as HaMoshiach, the structure will be completed.”



Special Note Three: There are particular undertakings one can attempt over the coming week which could speed the building process along.  From what we have gleaned from readers and others, a very practical Kabala (Bli Neder) revolves around extra special care in the area of Ona’as Devorim, making sure not to harm others in the way you express yourself, and in the way you don’t express yourself.  As part of your own personal campaign against Ona’as Devorim, you should also be careful to show a “Sever Ponim Yafos”--a warm and pleasant countenance--to all.  One should also be careful to be attentive to others, and show that you are listening to what they have to say.  One should not be part of those people who say, “It’s a matter of opinion, and your opinion doesn’t matter.”


Along these lines, a reader supplied us with a simple and straight-forward sign he printed and has posted in Shuls, with the language approved by Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita: “Frum People Don’t Honk.  Be Patient With Others And G-D Will Be Patient With You.  Please Spread The Word.”


If Ona’as Devorim is not one of your weak points, you should make the effort to find a weak point--and make a special point of improving upon it in the coming week!



As the Nine Days have now commenced, we provide the following thoughts for reflection--and action.  They involve matters relating to matters both Bain Odom LaMakom and Bain Odom LeChaveiro which are timely to this period:


  1. In the recent Torah Video Shiur given on behalf of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation, HaRav Avraham Chaim Feuer, Shlita, noted that one should be “Meitzar VeDoeg” over the Churban Bais HaMikdash and our exile.  He explained that the word “Meitzar” refers to a feeling of suffering for the past, and that the word “Doeg” refers to worry for the future, as we continue to spend our precious lives in Exile and do not know what the next day will bring politically, socially, economically, or otherwise.  Although we may currently, B’li Ayin Hora, be living through our most comfortable Galus in almost 2,000 years, the fact of the matter is that it is still Galus.  Accordingly, any brick homes, cinder block buildings, wrought iron construction, which may appear quite permanent and everlasting, is only, in fact, being looked upon with Olam Hazeh-type of eyes.  Rabbi Berel Wein, Shlita, relates that when he was building his Yeshiva in Monsey , New York , the contractor asked him whether he should use Canadian wood or Swedish wood in its construction, and explained to Rabbi Wein that although the Swedish wood was substantially more expensive, it could last hundreds of years.  Without hesitation, Rabbi Wein opted for the cheaper Canadian wood, and asked the contractor in amazement “Hundreds of years?! Who do you think I am building this building for?  The next ethnic group to take over Monsey?!”  If world leaders (including leaders of the “free countries”), have not reminded us of it enough recently, we must remind ourselves that we are and remain Wandering Jews, chased, persecuted, and cursed in Galus.  Rabbi Feuer compared Yerushalayim to the Sun.  Just as the Sun is the center of the solar system, exerting a gravitational effect on planets even hundreds of millions of miles away, so, too, Yerushalayim was a place to which our bodies and souls were (and will be) directed spiritually.  With the building of the Third Bais HaMikdash, our goals and directions will be clear.  We will no longer be blowing in the wind.  Rabbi Feuer referred to the Chazal (Brachos 3A) which teaches that when K’lal Yisroel answers “Yehei Shemai Raba Mevorach…” with Kavannah, when they daven for Kavod Shamayim to return, and for the removal of the Chilul Hashem which exists with the King’s children in Galus, then Hashem Himself laments over the Galus, and desires to bring us back to our natural existence in Eretz Yisroel.  Of course, when we sincerely pray for the Geula in the many places it is referred to in davening (in many of the middle brachos of Shemone Esrei, as well as the Yehi Ratzon at the end of Shemone Esrei), we are similarly davening for the return of Kavod Shamayim and Kavod Yisroel.  This then is a very important avodah for the Nine Days.  Indeed, a more emotional person should be able to bring himself to cry a few times during this period, because in this Galus, there is plenty to cry for, plenty to cry about.


  1. From a Bain Odom LeChaveiro perspective, we all know that Sinas Chinam was a primary cause of the Churban Bayis Sheni and this Galus of almost 2,000 years.  Many of us undoubtedly plan to attend the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s Worldwide Tisha B’Av Event “What Tisha B’Av Should Mean to You” together with our local communities, which is undoubtedly a Kiddush Hashem of great magnitude.  There is an entrance fee associated with the event, which helps support the Foundation’s outstanding and unparalleled activities throughout the year.  We suggest, however, that it is a payment in exchange for making your Tisha B’Av, and ultimately your life, a more meaningful one.  We would like to therefore propose that sometime in the Nine Days before the event, you also make a separate, stand-alone donation to the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation for its activities on K’lal Yisroel’s behalf in fostering Ahavas Yisroel and Bain Odom LeChaveiro throughout the year.  You will then have a real chelek--you will be a partner--in the Foundation’s holy activities, and, BE’H, in the speedy rebuilding of the Third Bais HaMikdosh.  You will demonstrate that Ahavas Yisroel is of primary importance in your life, that you know the lesson of the Churban, and that you want to improve in this area, together with the rest of K’lal Yisroel.  Take the  effort, and make the donation.  Please click here to exercise the opportunity.


May the upcoming days be very meaningful ones for us--and may we do our part--from a Bain Odom LaMakom and a Bain Odom LeChaveiro perspective--in making them so!



Special Note One:  In last week’s Parsha, we learn about the importance of making promises and the dangers involved in breaking them.  Indeed, the Torah goes out of its way to add that if a person merely thinks they are breaking their promise, even if he is not in fact doing so, he still requires a “V’Hashem Yislach Lah”--Hashem’s direct forgiveness--a phrase not often mentioned in the Torah.  Accordingly, while we learn from many instances in last week’s large Parsha how careful we have to be about our speech in general, we learn in particular how vigilant one must be about using words like “promise,” “commit,” “swear,” or “guarantee,” all of which indicate an absolute commitment to act in a particular way.  In the Sefer Derech Sicha, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that it is not sufficient to respond on a wedding or bar mitzvah invitation that you are coming “Im Yirtze Hashem”--one must specifically add the words “Bli Neder”.  He adds that if one stated that he was coming to a simcha (without saying bli neder) and could not attend, he should ask mechila from the baal hasimcha.



Special Note Two:  Sometimes we lose sight of how important our simple daily acts are or can be.  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Mishlei ( 19:17 ), “Malveh Hashem Chonen Dal, U’Gemulo Yishalem Lo…--he who is gracious to a poor man lends to Hashem, and Hashem will repay him his reward.”  In explaining the Pashut Peshat of this Pasuk, Rashi writes that when a person becomes very sick and may otherwise be close to his end in this world, the Tzedaka that he gave may protect him--as the Heavenly Court may then rule that because he saved a poor man’s life, his life will now be spared, as well.  Even if you are not a member of a great organization like Hatzala, you can do your part saving lives, and be credited for it, in ways you cannot fully know or appreciate when you give Tzedaka to the poor and revive their bodies and souls.



Special Note Three:  In addition to the daily Tzedaka envelopes that we receive or the indigent people we may meet daily, we must also remind ourselves that anyone we meet, any situation we find ourselves in, any Sefer that makes its way in front of us, has a reason for it occurring to us personally.  This is called Hashgacha Pratis.  One should try to feel the Hashgacha Pratis, and act upon it.  The actual situation may be a Nisayon, a reward, a punishment, an opportunity, but whatever it may be--it was designated for me!


The Rishonim and Acharonim write that the more Hashgacha Pratis one feels, the more passionate his relationship with Hashem will become, and the more intense his Hashgacha Pratis will be.



Special Note Four: As tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh, we will be reciting the Half-Hallel.  One reader asked us to remind everyone that in the second Kepital of Hallel which begins “B’tzais Yisroel M’Mitzraim,” one should be careful to properly recite a rarely occuring name of Hashem which is unfortunately mispronounced by many.  In penultimate Pasuk of this Kepital, the proper pronunciation of the phrase is “Milifnei E-loah Yaakov”--and not “Milifnei E-loha Yaakov”, as the vowel underneath the Heh is here pronounced before the Heh itself.



Special Note Five:  We received the following moving message which was written by someone who is very ill.  May our understanding and application of the message be a zechus for a refuah shelaima for him (Refael Zalmen Yehuda Ben Yospa):


“As we have strived for independent wealth, to be set in life, we have failed to realize that our tachlith in olam hazeh is to be dependent on the Ribbono Shel Olam not to be independent.  As I sit in the hospital here…they are fighting with me for my life, I recall thinking to be independent financially but still dependent on Hashem for health, sholom bayith, chinuch yeladim, etc…sorry it does not work that way….”


As Rav Gifter, Z’tl, taught: “We don’t make a living, we take a living.”  Let us internalize the message.



Special Note Six:  We provide below an important brief review regarding some aspects of the Amen response:


1.      Chazal teach that if one is careful to answer Amen properly in this world, his Soul announces his presence in the next world, and gate after gate is opened for him.  This is a Midah K’Neged Midah, for just as he opened the gates of Hashpa’ah (Divine Influence) and Kedusha in this world, so too, will Gate after Gate be opened for him as he ascends in Gan Eden and Olam Haba (Shelah HaKadosh).

2.      One should not answer Amen to a bracha until the reciter concludes the last syllable of the last word--the entire bracha.  Answering Amen too early, whether it is a sign of impatience or overzealousness, results in an “Amen Chatufa” for which one r’l can receive a punishment and not a reward.  Accordingly, any person reciting a bracha--including a Sheliach Tzibur, MUST be careful not to stretch out the recitation of the last few words or word of a bracha.

3.      Once a person reciting a bracha begins reciting a new bracha (such as the Shatz  in Birchos HaShachar or in Chazoras HaShatz of Shemone Esrei), one may no longer answer Amen to the previous bracha, and any such Amen is referred to as an “Amen Yesoma”.  Once again, this kind of Amen is not a Mitzvah.  It is therefore important for the Sheliach Tzibur (or anyone else reciting a bracha), to be careful to allow time for people to answer Amen to each bracha before continuing.  No matter the hurry you or anyone else is in, nobody should be placed in the position of answering an Amen Yesoma, and, of course, if placed in such a situation one is prohibited from answering Amen.

4.      The length of the Amen response should be the length of the time it takes to recite the words “Kel Melech Ne’eman--Hashem, Trustworthy King,” for which the word Amen is an acronym.

5.      When one hears someone davening for something or giving a bracha to someone he should answer Amen.

6.      If one finishes a bracha simultaneously with someone else making the same bracha, one does not answer Amen to the other person’s bracha.  (However, he would if the other person is making a different bracha).

7.      If a person hears two different brachos ending at the same time, he should answer “Amen V’Amen”, relating each of the two Amens to its corresponding bracha.


The foregoing Halachos are only some Halachos from R’ Hillel Litwack Shlita’s work, Chovas Aniyas Amen, which was recently published.



Special Note One:  A New Blog for Job Postings:  Due to the current job crisis, Hashevaynu has created a blog to connect those who need a position with those who need a position filled.  Please visit the blog at hashevaynujobs.blogspot.com to view the job listings.  If you know of a job opening that you would like to post on the blog, please email hashevaynu4u@gmail.com  Please include a job description and contact information for the applicant.  For all those who are searching for the right fit, we wish you much success and strength during this trying time; and for those who are in the fortunate position to be of assistance, we thank you.



Special Note Two:  Today is the Yahrzeit of Rebbe Elazar of Lizhensk, Z'tl, the son of the Holy Rebbe Elimelech MiLizensk, Z’tl.  Rebbe Elimelech's great instructional work the Zetel Katan guides many through their daily lives.  While discussing eating in the Zetel, Rebbe Elimelech writes that the word “Ma'achal”--food, non-coincidentally, has the same Gematria as the name of Hashem as it is written and pronounced by us (Yud Key and Aleph Daled), which is also the Gematria of Amen and Sukkah!  We therefore must conclude that when eating we are performing much more than a physical act.  What more are we doing?  For starters, we are making ourselves strong and healthy to serve Hashem, and we are also extracting the inner Kedusha from the food item itself, bringing beautiful Tikkunim into this world.  While we may not understand this latter concept very well, we can appreciate it enough to know that eating is a sublime and meaningful act, and that it should never be disgraced by grabbing, gulping, and the like.  Indeed, Rebbe Elimelech writes that while eating one should even picture the word “Ma'achal” as if it is written in K'sav Ashuris (as in a Sefer Torah), reminding us of the sublime nature of the event.  Merely thinking about what we are doing makes all the difference in the world.  For a famous tefillah of Rebbe Elimelech, click here.



Special Note One: We are pleased to advise our readers that the Bais HaVaad L’Inyonei Mishpat has begun distributing, by email (free), a unique note on the Parsha of the Week relating to the Halachos and Hashkafos of Choshen Mishpat.  We provide by clicking here this week’s publication.  To join the email list for weekly Choshen Mishpat Perspectives on the Parsha, please contact info@baishavaad.com.



Special Note Two:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Hilchos Shabbos series:


  1. A lid is manufactured for hot cups with perforations which make it easy for you to lift a small portion of the lid and sip the hot tea or coffee, without spilling it on yourself, while keeping the drink hot.  Based upon the Seform Orchos Shabbos, Shabbos K’Hilchasa and Minchas Ish, it would appear that HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, rules that by opening the lid along the perforation, one is involved in the melachos of Mechatech and Korea as well as Makeh B’Patish.  It is amazing how one small act could possibly result in three (3) melachos D’Oraisa!  There are at least two vital lessons from this--how important even our slightest actions are--and how careful we have to be with our actions on Shabbos Kodesh!


  1. During the week while making Hamotzi, we cut somewhat into the bread before making the Bracha, so that it is ready to be quickly eaten after making the Hamotzi.  On Shabbos, we do not do this; because we want to be sure we are making Hamotzi on Lechem Mishna which is whole.  However, we note that the Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 274; Seif Koton 5) brings from the Magen Avraham that one should make a mark on the Challah with his knife on Shabbos, to demonstrate that you are readying it to be cut.  Also see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 167, Mishna Berura Seif Koton 10 for further detail.

Special Note Three:  At the beginning of Parshas Masei, Rashi teaches us that all of the travels of Bnai Yisroel are listed in the Parsha to show us the great Chesed of Hashem, in that the Bnai Yisroel had to travel only 20 times in 38 years, and not twice every month or even twice a year.  The Luach Bnei Yaakov (5769) provides a fascinating insight here:  What does Rashi mean by the “Chesed” provided in moving only 20 times in 38 years?  Would anyone like to move his home 20 times in 38 years?  If one has to move every four or five years, it is considered burdensome.  People don't like to move even once in ten years. The Luach answers that Rashi is providing us with a great lesson.  We have to keep things in perspective.  In truth, it could have been so much worse--we could have been required to move in the Midbar 60, 70, or even 100 times during the 40 year period.  Yes, it could have been much, much worse.  A person has to look at the positive, and not focus on the negative.  Look at all of our daily Chasodim which you receive, not at the Chasodim that you want to receive (which may or may not be best for the tachlis of your neshama in this world).  When saying the words in Modim “VihaMerachem Ki Lo Samu Chasodecha--and the Compassionate One for your kindnesses never end” think of several kindnesses you recently experienced, and several kindnesses that you receive “as a matter of course” every day, day-in and day-out.  Recognize that although you may be traveling, and that the road may be a long one, you, like the Bnai Yisroel heading towards Eretz Yisroel, are traveling towards a great and lofty destination--and that destination is the ultimate and eternal Chesed!



Today is the Yahrtzeit of HaRav Yaakov Yosef, the first and only Chief Rabbi of New York over 100 years ago.  His kever in Brooklyn, New York is known as a makom of Tefillah.  We provide directions by clicking here.


Tomorrow, 25 Tammuz, is the Yahrtzeit of the HaRav Meir Mai’Apta, the Ba’al Ohr LaShamayim.  A reader has provided us with a beautiful copy of the Tefillah that the Ba’al Ohr LaShamayim composed, which would most certainly be appropriate to recite on his Yahrtzeit.  The Tefillah is available by clicking here.


Special Note One:  As we continue through the Three Week Period of change, trying now to turn it into a change for the better, we provide the following meaningful teachings from the classic Guidebook of Change, the Sefer Sha'arei Teshuva by Rabbeinu Yonah:

1.  One should always (“Tomid”) daven to Hashem to help him do Teshuva, and to save him from his Yetzer Hora (ibid. 1:20 ).

2.  It is fitting for a Ba'al Teshuva to write in a "Megillas Sefer", to keep a written record, in the areas in which he needs improvement both in terms of the better performance of Mitzvos, and in noting aveiros which he must avoid (1:8).

3.  The righteous person respects and honors a person for any good character trait he can find in him, and the wicked look at the blemishes of a person, and their mistakes, to denigrate them, and to bring them down (1:18).

4.  The loftiest Ma'alos (“Ma'alos HaElyonos”) are found in performance of the Mitzvos Aseh such as the Mitzvah to choose life, the Mitzvah to study Torah, the Mitzvah of VeHalachta BeDrachav, the Mitzvah of thinking of the greatness of Hashem and the kindnesses He performs for us...and attainment of these Ma'alos is the purpose of our creation.  Man should strive to excel in the performance of Mitzvos Aseh, so that he accomplishes the goals for which he was created ( 3:17 ).

5.  The Torah, by teaching us not to be fearful in war (Devorim 7:17,18), is teaching us that if a person sees that a tzara is close by, he should place Yeshuas Hashem in his heart, and have bitachon in Hashem, as the Pasuk teaches in Tehillim, “Ach Karov LeYereiav Yisho--His salvation is close to those who fear Him….” (3:31).

6.  One is obligated (“chayov”) to think about good advice and ideas that he can give to his friends, and this is truly one of the Ikarim, the main methods of Gemilas Chesed, as the Pasuk teaches (Mishlei 27:9): "U'Mesek MaiRayaihu Mai'atzas Nofesh... sweetness of one's friend from sincere counsel gladdens the heart” (3:54).

7.  The following is from the Sefer HaYirah (also written by Rabbeinu Yonah, a wonderful short Sefer which takes you through a day in your life--which is also short!):

a.  If a person is not “makpid” on others, they will never be “makpid” against him; and

b.  A Mitzvah that you notice is not being pursued, you should pursue [there is a reason that you are noticing it, and not others].


Special Note Two:  The following wonderful Mashal is provided by Rabbi Hillel Litwack, Shlita, in his recent work on The Amen Response:  A great and joyous event!  The King actually visits the city, and everyone lining the streets is shouting in unison "Yechi HaMelech, Yechi HaMelech"--Long Live the King--as the King and his entourage pass through the streets.  There was one person, though, who threw a small rock at the King's carriage, and it actually landed near the King's feet.  The Secret Service immediately investigated, and without much effort found a young Jewish boy to be the culprit.  The audacity!  They wanted to execute the boy right then and there on the spot, but the witnesses standing there said that the boy had been shouting “Yechi HaMelech” in sincerity, together with everyone else.  “He must have thrown the stone because that is what boys like to do when they are happy and playful.  He obviously meant to hurt no one.”  The Secret Service explained what had happened to the King, and the boy was exonerated, with a stern warning to ask adults how one should behave in the King's presence.  That is the Mashal.  The Nimshal is that one who answers Ámen, Yehei Shemai Rabbah with sincerity--with his Koach--Kavana and/or forcefully, demonstrates that he very much wants to honor the King, and the acts he may have done which appeared to dishonor the King were simply childish acts--like the child throwing the stone.  For this, he will be exonerated--but he must remember that he is an adult and endeavor to behave accordingly in the future!



Special Note One:  We received the following interesting note from a reader who observed one of the leading Rabbonim in America today as he davened:  “When I saw Rav______, Shlita, davening Shmoneh Esrei, I noted that he was tracing his fingers over each word in the Siddur.”


Hakhel Note:  The Rav was attempting to stay alert despite the many conflicting thoughts and thought processes that he had.  Some people make sure to follow with their fingers during Kriyas HaTorah, as well, because it is more passive (unless one actually lains along with the Ba’al Kriyah).  We provide three other interesting and important notes on Tefillah:


a.  The Luach B’nai Yaakov brings that HaRav Sholom Schwadron, Z’tl, would specifically state the Pasuk “Hikon Likras Elokecha Yisroel--prepare yourself  to greet Hashem”, as he readied himself for davening by washing his hands, making sure he was dressed properly, etc.  Preparing for davening with aforethought can certainly help a person with his thoughts during davening itself, because you have already begun focusing in advance.


b.  At the recent Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, Shlita, referred to the famous Chazal (Bava Kamma 92A), ”One who asks for mercy for his friend, and he also needs that thing, is answered first.”  Rabbi Goldwasser brought the teaching of Rebbe Yitzchok of Vorki who explained that Chazal are telling us that when praying for your friend, you must daven as if **you need** [“and he needs that thing”] what you are praying for your friend for.  You must take your Tefillos for your friend personally and to heart--as if it was for you and you alone--this is the kind of Tefillah that Chazal teach is answered first!


c.  This point also reminds us to personalize our Tefillos on our own behalves, as well. For instance, many of us go to work for a considerable part of the day.  Should we not first instill this significant element of our lives with the proper focus before beginning the workday?  By clicking here, you can view a Tefillah which was not composed by a Rav or a Rebbe, but by a working man which he recites before he starts working every day.  Of course, you are not bound by his formulation, but it may help you consider and formulate your own thoughts about work--and about life.



Special Note Two:  In a recent Shiur sponsored by Irgun Shiurei Torah and Agudath Israel of America, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, provided important guidelines to avoid Issurei Ribbis, the prohibitions against paying, taking, and indeed even being involved in  a transaction which calls for the payment of interest, unless properly planned and structured, with a Heter Iska or otherwise.  Importantly, Rabbi Reisman noted the following:


1.  If you lend someone money, not only can’t he pay you interest directly, but he can’t provide you with a benefit--he can’t pay your bills either.  This means that if you lend someone your credit card, or are holding a mortgage for someone else, they can’t pay the credit card bill (for the debt that they incurred), or make the mortgage payment (for the house that they live in)--because they are paying interest on your behalf.  Yes, once again, this is so even though the debt or the mortgage loan was incurred by them or for them--because the credit card company or bank considers it to be your loan--it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY--and they are paying you Ribbis when they pay the interest on your behalf to the company or bank.  This is not a Chumra, but the actual Halacha.  Accordingly, consult your Rav before engaging in credit card lending, mortgages in your name and the like.


2. Any transaction in which one person takes responsibility for another’s financial loss as part of the transaction is a loan, and not a partnership.  This means that if one partner (or someone else) guarantees the investment of another partner in a business or other financial transaction, this is Halachically considered to be a loan--even if the parties call themselves “50-50 partners”, and even though their written agreement calls them shareholders, joint venturers or partners.  According to Halacha, to truly own something, to truly be a partner, you must take full responsibility for your investment--you must take the risk of its loss.  If you ask anyone for a personal guarantee--you are a lender.


Rabbi Reisman then went on to explain how Heter Iskas developed, and when they can be used.  He noted that a Heter Iska cannot be used retroactively, and that if someone knows he has an interest problem based upon a past event, he must consult a Rav immediately.  Rabbi Reisman added that even if everyone in the transaction believes the interest payment or the guarantee is “fair,” it is the Gezeiras HaBorei--the decree of the Almighty--that we must follow, and not the agreement of the parties.


Rabbi Reisman’s Sefer, The Laws of Ribbis, written in understandable English, is now being reprinted by Artscroll, and is a must for the office--and the home (just look at its Table of Contents!).


Special Note Three:  We provide one simple--actually two word--method of dealing with the Yetzer Hora.  The Sefer Tomer Devorah writes that the Yetzer Hora should be “Kashur VeAssur--tied and bound.”  If one ties and binds his Yetzer Hora, the Yetzer Hora simply is not free to move and motion as he pleases.  If one feels a desire, a wish, a passion, coming on to do the wrong thing--put him back in prison--make him powerless.   If you visualize your control over him, you will exercise your control over him. Remember--Kashur VeAssur, Kashur VeAssur.  It’s either you or him that is going to be the prisoner--may the better one win!



In the Haftorah of Teshuva, Shuva Yisroel, the Navi Hoshea teaches us that we are to do Teshuva “Ki Koshalta Ba’avonecha”--because you have stumbled in **your sins.** The Navi is careful to point out that one person’s sins may be quite different from the sins of another, and that a person must personalize the process.  Moreover, the Navi is enjoining us not to merely blame the world’s ills upon the “real resha’im,” or even on the “tinokos she’nishba’u” worldwide (including those who may be in so-called powerful positions in Eretz Yisroel itself and worldwide).  Instead, if the Bais HaMikdash is not rebuilt, if the swine flu and dreaded machalos continue to afflict the old and young, if the worldwide nuclear threat is real, if a world racing ahead technologically is being terrorized by madmen based upon so-called religious precepts, if the international economy (and peoples’ individual Parnassahs) are sorely hurting, then we have to look not outward, then our fingers are not to point here and there, but we are to look inward for the “avonecha” that we should be healing our bodies and souls of.  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us in Mishlei (21:2) “Kol Derech Ish Yoshor B’Ainov--a man views his actions as upright.”  The Rabbeinu Yonah explains that the Pasuk teaches that it is natural for a person to justify his Middos and his conduct.  Therefore, the Pasuk cited concludes “VeSochen Libos Hashem--but Hashem enters our hearts.”  The Rabbeinu Yonah explains the end of the Pasuk to mean that Hashem intervenes in our lives in order to inspire us to rectify our mistakes (translation and commentary from Artscroll Tanach).  The events surrounding and, indeed, pervading us today appear to be that direct intervention--the Sochen Libos Hashem.


In one of the shortest Pesukim in the entire Torah, we are taught in last week’s Parsha (Bamidbar 26:11) “Uvnei Korach lo maisu--and the sons of Korach did not die.”  Chazal explain that they did Teshuva and that, accordingly, a place was designated for them at the apex of Gehinnom.  There is an obvious question here--if they did Teshuva, why did they still end up in Gehinnom, albeit at a high point ?!  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita answers that their Teshuva was done **after** the earth had already opened.  If their Teshuva had been done literally MOMENTS earlier, they would have remained alive in this world!  Indeed, at the outset of the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva, Rabbeinu Yonah alerts his readers to the folly, naivete, and recklessness of one who delays Teshuva.  It is for this reason that we wait not until Elul to remind ourselves and our readers of this life-giving need.


We each have to start somewhere.  As we have mentioned in the past, HaRav Moshe Cordvero, Z’tl, in the classic Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 4) writes that one should remind himself to do Teshuva in some way every day.  If you really need a jump start, we can mention that a reader advised us (THIS IS UNCONFIRMED) that he had heard in the name of one of the Gedolei HaDor that current world conflict and turbulence is directing us to improve in the area of Ona’as Devorim ( to rectify bad relations among people).  The reader added that he heard in the name of another Gadol that to improve our current plight talking in Shul must be curbed (as the Tosfos Yom Tov had commented in light of the 1648-49 Pogroms).  Our note is that the common denominator between the two is improvement in the area of speech and silence--knowing what to say--and when and where to say it.


Let us take the Three Week opportunity in which we are currently enveloped to demonstrate to Hashem--and to ourselves--that we understand what we have to do, and that we are acting upon it!



Special Note One:  It is obvious that one should avoid getting angry, even if one is easily pacified.  What, however, is the second best Middah--to anger easily but be pacified easily, as well--or to be hard to anger, but once angered to be hard to pacify?  As many of you know, the answer is clearly spelled out in the Mishne in Avos (5:14): “One who is angered easily and pacified easily, his gain is offset by his loss. One who is hard to anger and hard to pacify, his loss is offset by his gain.”  Thus, we see that IT IS MORE IMPORTANT NOT TO GET ANGRY than to have a temperament which is quickly calmed down and be appeased.  What an important point to remember during the coming weeks, in which we try to appease Hashem for having borne close to 2,000 years of iniquity.  Today (the 18th of Tammuz) is actually very meaningful in this regard, because it is the day that Moshe Rabbeinu went back up to Shomayim to plead our case.  Since this day, and the following weeks, are essentially a reliving in time of this experience (just as  the aura and spirit of Pesach, Shavuos, Tisha B’Av, Sukkos, etc., repeat themselves in their times) in which our future was in the balance--as Moshe quieted the anger we had brought to the World.  What we can do during this time is QUIET OUR ANGER against others, situations, and even against ourselves.  A very effective program for the next Three Weeks may be to TRY NOT TO GET ANGRY at any time for any reason, no matter how justified, and no matter what the circumstances--even if it really truly is “right” to get angry.  May it be Zechus for us all--and please start today!



Special Note Two:  Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita, has recently published a new Sefer entitled Secret Steps to Greatness, providing lessons from the Akeida.  Among the Sefer’s many insights, the author brings the fascinating teaching of the Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer (Chapter31) regarding the Ayil--the ram--that Avrohom Avinu used to “replace” Yitzchok:


Every part of the ram which Avraham used was significant in history:


<>The ashes became the foundation of the top of the inner Mizbeach.


<>There were 10 gidin (veins) which correspond to the ten strings of the harp David used.


<>The ram’s hide was used for Eliyahu’s belt.


<>The left horn was used at Mattan Torah.


<>The right horn, which is larger, will be used in the future to gather us from Exile!


With this great teaching, we can begin to get an appreciation of what the Avos have accomplished for us.  If this is just the Ayil--then how great are their personal deeds on our behalf.  Each and every time we recite the words  “Elokei Avrohom, Elokei Yitzchok, Vailokei Yaakov” and “VeZocher Chasdei Avos,” we should regale ourselves with thanks and pride over the bracha the Avos have brought into our lives, and consider with glee what the “right horn” will be--how their zechusim will provide for us in the future.


May our merits join with the merits of the Avos, so that the coming period is, after all of these years, raised to the period it would have been had Moshe Rabbeinu come down from Har Sinai on the 17th day of Tammuz, and not seen the Egel and not broken the Luchos--a period of eternal Geulah and Light!



As today in particular is a day of Teshuva, we provide an additional essential teaching from the classic sefer on Teshuva, the Sha’arei Teshuva (I:38):


“A person  should view Aveiros Kalos--lighter Aveiros--in his eyes as Aveiros chamuros, for four (4) reasons [which one should have memorized, to avoid the tragedy of unnecessary momentary indiscretion--that one word, that one bite, that one turn over in bed, that one sharp word, that one moment of anger, that one act which may disgust another, that one ‘nisht uff Shabbos gerett”, that one wrong look, that one falsehood, that one…..] :


“Reason 1:  A person should not look at the smallness, the ‘minimal nature’, of the Aveira, but should instead look at the greatness of the One who warned against it;


“Reason 2:  We must realize that the Yetzer Hora rules over Aveiros Kalos, and that the Yetzer Hora’s intent may indeed be to simply and surely put all of the Aveiros Kalos together into a large and potent grouping of Aveiros [which could end up being the equivalent of many powerful aveiros].  Just as one strand of silk is strengthened manifold when strand upon strand is twined to it, so, too, is aveira upon aveira heaped upon a person until he finds himself buried under layers of filth seemingly too difficult to extricate himself from.


“Reason 3:  When one repeats an aveira again and again [when he finds those moments of indiscretion, laxity or negligence repeating themselves], the act, word, or thought, as the case may be, becomes ‘permissible’ in one’s eyes, and one will no longer guard himself from it, and one can and actually be considered a ‘kofer’ or ‘meshumad’ [this is scary language, but we must realize that if one keeps digging shovelful after shovelful, he can dig an enormous ditch in the ground ] as to that item; and


“Reason 4:  If the Yetzer Hora sees that he can best you in smaller things, he will work on you to get to larger matters as well. Chazal  (Shabbos 105B) teach that ‘One who breaks utensils in anger should be viewed as one who worships idols,’ for this is the way of the Yetzer, today he persuades you to do this, and tomorrow he convinces you to do that, until he gets to Avoda Zara, idol worship itself.  You should be busy trying to raise your bar, but he is at least as busy as you trying to move it down to childlike proportions.”


In the end, we can rule over our Yetzer Hora, as the Torah adjures and assures us almost at its outset (Beraishis 4:7) “V’Ata Timshol Bo--and you shall conquer it.”  Let us begin with Teshuva on those “little things” that we fall prey to every day, every week.  Let us see how much we can accomplish over the next Three Weeks.  Just as the little aveiros are terribly significant and hurtful, as the Sha’arei Teshuva describes, so, too, and all the more so, will our Teshuva from them build a huge and eternal edifice for us, leading us not deeper into the ground--but skyscraping towards Shomayim!



Special Note One:  At last Motze’ei Shabbos’ Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Torah Video Shiur given by Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita, Rabbi Wachsman spoke about Nisyonos, and their essential role in a person’s life.  In fact, he pointed out that Nisayon is a combination of two words:  1)The first word--NES--being raised up (As we saw in last week’s Parsha--the figure of a snake was put on a Nes--a pole for the people to look up; a miracle is also referred to as a Nes--for it is also intended to lift us up spiritually); and 2) The second word--YON, consisting of a series three letters of the Aleph Bais--Yud, Vav and Nun--with each letter moving further downwards than the previous letter.  A Nisayon, then, is a very meaningful part of life--for it indicates your direction--are you going up now, or are you going down?  In this connection, Rabbi Wachsman brought the following teaching of the G’RA:  Although a person is not born with an instruction booklet as to what he is supposed to accomplish in this world, although we currently have no Navi to turn to for express personal guidance, what we do have are those seemingly identical or similar Nisyonos that appear or occur to a person each person in his own way time and time again.  Anger.  Jealousy.  Coming Late to Shul.  Lashon Hora.  Bitul Torah.  Being critical when you could be complimentary.  Being makpid.  Not being a good listener.  Desire.  Overeating.  Too much Gashmiyus--getting more and more toys.... You know your constantly-exposed weaknesses, and if you don’t, better now than later to figure them out.  These, the G’RA teaches, present themselves to you because it is your purpose in life to correct them, and achieve your true place in Olam Haba.


May the Nisyonos we face from here on serve as a true Nes for us--lifting us up to the heights we can, should, and must attain!



Special Note Twp:  We remind our readers that according to some, Tammuz is an acronym for “Zerizin Makdimin V’Osin Teshuva--those who act with alacrity begin to do Teshuva now!”  We know, of course, that the Ikar, the material reason for tomorrow’s fast is not a feeling of weakness or hunger pains, but the Teshuva that it is to engender.


We therefore provide the following essential teaching of the Sha’arei Teshuva (1:35), so important for the Teshuva process, and which we recommend that one repeat several times to himself, or perhaps even once or twice every day, and personalize for himself:


“One should improve his actions in the very area in which he committed iniquity.  If he looked at forbidden things, he should lower his eyes so that it does not happen again; if he spoke Lashon Hora, he should engage in speaking words of Torah; and in any limb with which he sinned, he should attempt to fulfill Mitzvos with it instead.  If one has committed bundles of Aveiros, he should perform bundles of Mitzvos.  Legs which ran to do a bad thing should run to a Mitzvah.  A tongue which has spoken falsehood should speak words of truth, wisdom and chesed.  Hands which have hurt others should be opened to the poor.  Eyes of haughtiness should act humbly.  Thoughts of sin and nothingness should be replaced by thoughts of Torah.  One who has instigated arguments among people, should bring peace among people….”


You are to take it from there.  Remember--Teshuva is not for the “big sinners”--it is for each and every one of us.  In fact, Teshuva may be your biggest Nisayon, so why not overcome it--now!



Special Note One:  At the recent Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, spoke on everyday Brachos issues.  Perhaps the most common Bracha issue is how exactly we make a Bracha.  Rabbi Bodner related that he had once witnessed the changing of the guard in front of Buckingham Palace , and was enthralled by the exactitude, precision, cost and effort that went into its performance.  Why?  For the sake of Malchus--in honor of and in tribute to the mere figurehead of royalty behind the palace doors.  Indeed, when one has an audience with a king, the protocol officer may well show him the place at which he is to stand, what he is to do when entering and leaving, and what words can and cannot be said.  Now, let us look at a Bracha, with words specially designated by Chazal, in which we give honor and praise to Hashem by stating that He is blessed and the Source of All Blessing, and are permitted to  refer to Him as  “Atta”, then  with the Holy Name both as written and pronounced, and as “Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam.”  What an awesome experience!  What a privilege!  This is not a mere figurehead--this is really the Melech Malchei HaMelochim!!  On top of all of this, we “change the guard”--we make brachos--many, many more times a day than any one granted an audience with a mortal king could fathom.  We should view the Brachos we make every day as lifetime opportunities, for in truth they really are!


Rabbi Bodner discussed the brachos on specific foods, as well.  He stated that the bracha on a granola bar was a Ha’Adoma, and that it fit into the category of K’layos mentioned by Chazal (Berachos 37A).  Although the bracha rishona is clear, Rabbi Bodner stated, the bracha acharona on granola bars is problematic.  Since it is toasted grain, it would really require a bracha of “Al Ha’Adama V’Al Pri Ha’Adama” which does not exist.  Accordingly, the after bracha by default is a Borei Nefashos.  However, the Shulchan Aruch itself writes that one should eat K’layos in the course of a meal to avoid the bracha acharona problem (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 208:4, Mishne Berurah Seif Katan 18).  Rabbi Bodner also suggested the possibility of eating less than the shiur required for a bracha acharona (since unlike a bracha rishona which is required on even a minimal amount, a bracha acharona, which is based on satiation, requires consumption of a kezayis within a few minutes).  Rabbi Bodner calculated that if a person ate 2/3 of a granola bar (of the two in a package size), he would not have eaten the shiur, and would not make a bracha acharona.  He could then eat more of the granola bar later (he should wait at least six minutes to avoid connecting the two).  A similar issue is found, Rabbi Bodner stated, with the product known as MultiGrain Squares, which are K’layos, as well, requiring a Borei P’ri Ha’Adama, and having the same bracha acharona issue.  The lesson for all products: before eating the product, make sure that you know what the appropriate bracha on the product is.  Don’t just “GRAB” the product--you, what you do, what you represent, and what you accomplish, is far, far too important.


Now that we can appreciate what a bracha is—Malchus.  Let us put more effort not only into making the bracha properly--but into making the proper bracha.  With this, we will become closer--in a very important way--to that classic adage and goal of not only making the bracha in order to eat the food—but  eating the food in order to make the bracha!


Hakhel Note: Do you remember when you were younger that you would not eat bread because you did not ‘want to have to bentsch’? Hopefully, we have grown far beyond this attitude—after all, not only does Birkas HaMazon involve three Brachos Min HaTorah(!) if one is  satiated, but it also gives one the opportunity to recite those very special and precious words “Asher Kidshanu beMitzvosav” (in the bracha of Al Netilas Yodayim  before Hamotzi)  another wonderful  time that day!



Special Note Two:  At the same Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, Shlita, mentioned many Shailos and Teshuvos relating to a struggling economy.  He related a fascinating incident (not to be relied upon for Halacha LeMa’aseh without asking a shaila in your circumstances first) in which the Arizal is said to not have davened Mincha one day because he owed a worker money for a service performed and was busy obtaining money to pay the worker on time.  He determined that it was Halachically more important to pay his worker on time (one who had performed services at night by the end of the day) and not violate positive and negative commandments--Mitzvos DeOraisa which apply in our times, as well, requiring us absolutely to pay our workers on time.  Without Mechila, one cannot tell a worker who has performed services for him that he cannot find his checkbook, does not have the cash, will pay him next week when he gets paid, etc.  This is a Torah requirement, and cannot be obviated.  Even if one obtains mechila, it should be sincere.  Moreover, we note that a babysitter under Bas Mitzvah cannot be mocheles because she does not possess the Halachic mindset to do so.


Hakhel Note:  In fact, Rabbi Bodner, Shlita, has written a sefer entitled The Halachos of Other People’s Money (Feldheim), and a good portion of the sefer deals with the practical halachos of Bal Tolin in our daily lives.  It’s a must read!



Special Note One: We received the following wonderful and extremely timely notice:

Join Ahavas Yisroel groups-- for women:


With the Three Weeks coming, our thoughts turn to increased efforts in Ahavas Yisroel and improvement in the way we treat one another.  This is a great time to form a Ahavas Yisroel group, as part of the international Ahavas Yisroel effort.  This is a grassroots effort and each group creates the format that works best for the group.


Gedolim are endorsing these groups (including haskama from HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Shlita).  Rebbetzin Tzipora Heller has written about them in her Hamodia column and she and others in Eretz Yisroel are in the process of creating curriculum for these groups.  There will soon be a DVD available to groups, IY"H.


Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz, Shlita, of Yerushalayim and Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, of the Five Towns will be overseeing all of the Ahavas Yisroel Projects.  Shortly before his petira, Rav Noach Weinberg, Z’tl, urged women to start and join these groups.


To join, contact Rebbitzen Tzipora Harris at tharris@aish.com, 212-864-3477; or shulikleinman@yahoo.com.  Contact either of them and you will get simple instructions about how to begin.  You can have a small group with just a few friends or a large group or add this effort to your existing shiur or Tehillim group.  This is a terrific effort for a bungalow colony or group of local women over the summer.


BE"H we should see the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash and the coming of Moshiach, bimhera b'yameinu.


Hakhel Note: May we once again merit to see BeZechus Noshim Tzidkanios….



Special Note Two:  As the Daf Yomi continues through the chapter dealing with issues of Ribbis--various situations in the home and business in which interest charges in various forms are prohibited (and, in some cases, permitted), one of our readers provided us with a link to a video-recorded Shiur (in Windows Media format) by a foremost Rav and Posek, HaRav Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Shlita, on the topic of Ribbis.  The shiur is available by clicking here. 



Special Note Three:  Torah Connections will be presenting a special Shiva Asar B’Tammuz Program at Merkaz HaSimcha in Flatbush this Thursday, beginning at 6:45 PM with Mincha, followed by inspiration from the renowned author Rabbi Yechiel Spero, Shlita, (shiur entitled “A Time of Sadness, Suffering and Strength”) and the renowned educator Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, Shlita, (shiur entitled “Preparing For The Geulah”).  Ma’ariv follows the Shiurim.  For further information on this meaningful Kinnus, please call 718-998-5822, or see the flyer provided by the following link.. http://tinyurl.com/omfu2y



Special Note Four:  Last week, one of our readers pointed out for everyone’s benefit that in responding to the Shaliach Tzibbur one must pause between the word Amen, and the next phrase, Yehei Shemei Rabbah, because the Amen refers back to the previous paragraph, and the Yehei Shemei Rabbah is a new request.  Another reader has now added that the same is true in Chazaras HaShatz, when responding to HaMachazir Shechinaso LeTzion one should respond Amen, and then pause for a moment before beginning his next response of Modim DeRabbanan (Modim Anachnu Loch).



Special Note Five:  Last week’s Haftorah (Micha 6:8) concludes with the famous question, what does Hashem ask of you…and ends the answer with the words “VeHatzne’ah Leches Im Elokecha--walking with Tznius.”  Is it mere coincidence that this Pasuk is the Gateway to our Summers?  Let us always remember what Hashem asks of us.  If we do, it will be much easier for us to fulfill His request with beauty and dignity!



Special Note Six:  Many of us were enthralled by the recently-published story of Rabbi Moshe Haturi, a former Japanese Protestant minister who converted to Judaism together with his wife as Gerei Tzedek.  Rabbi Haturi lives in Shaarei Chesed and has traveled back to Japan to help the two imprisoned bochurim who have yet to stand trial.  Particularly moving is Rabbi Haturi’s statement as to his initial indecision as to whether to remain a righteous gentile-or to become a Jew.  Rabbi Haturi‘s intense desire to be able to recite the words “Asher Kidshanu BeMitzvosav--Who sanctified us with His Mitzvos” when reciting a bracha is what made his decision to become a Ger.


What a lesson for those who are born into Judaism--those who are already blessed with ‘Asher Kidshanu BeMitzvosav’.  Do we properly appreciate it when **we** recite these words?!  When we walk into shul ten minutes after davening has started, do we have the feeling that we will never let this happen again--or a subconscious feeling of success in having shaved ten minutes off davening time today?  When we miss a Shiur for a good cause, have we beaten the system, or is there a sense of responsibility and privilege in making up the lost learning time in an adequate and satisfactory way?  When we do a Chesed is it because our hearts tells us that it’s the right thing to do under the circumstances--or is it because it is a foundation of the world, an emulation of Hashem, a fulfillment of loving our fellow man as ourselves, and because we want to personally improve and reach our purpose in this world--perhaps all of which can be summed up in that powerful phrase, Asher Kidshanu BeMitzvosav!



Special Note One:  The bracha on hearts of palm, if cultivated for consumer consumption purposes, is a Borei P’ri Ha’Adama. We asked the OU, which gives the Hashgacha on Gefen Brand Hearts of Palm, what the bracha was on that product, and they responded that it was, in fact, a Borei P’ri Ha’Adama.


Special Note Two:  Chazal (Sanhedrin 90A) teach that four distinguished “Hedyotos”--important personages (as opposed to kings) have no chelek, no portion, in Olam Haba.  One of them is the wicked Bila’am, whose character is recorded for posterity in this week’s Parsha.  HaRav Chaim Kanievski, Shlita, notes that the common denominator among all of the four Hedyotos (the other three are Doeg, Achisofel and Gechazi) is that their Middos were nefarious.  What an essential lesson in the importance of simple Middos Tovos.  One can be the top prophet of the gentiles, one can be on the Sanhedrin, one can be the teacher of Dovid HaMelech, one can be the confidant of a King or Navi…but if one doesn’t work on his Middos--not only does he miss out on enjoying Olam HaZeh--he has no Olam Haba either!  Improvement in Middos requires effort, concentration and dedication.  Each one of us knows the areas in which his Middos are good, and those which need improvement.  There are many Mussar Seforim dedicated to the improvement of one Middah at a time, perhaps the most preeminent being Orchos Tzaddikim and Ma’alos HaMiddos.  The summer is a great, defined time to grow in a defined area--use the opportunity for your own unique growth wisely and well!


Special Note Three:  HaRav Chaim Kanievski also reports that he asked his Rebbe, the Chazon Ish, what the source in the Torah would be for the proscription against Tzaar Baalei Chaim--prohibiting the infliction of pain upon other live creations of Hashem.  Although others may bring other Torah sources, the Chazon Ish taught that it was from this week’s Parsha, in which the donkey castigated Bila’am, “What have I done to you that you struck me three times?”  We derive from here that Bila’am had no right to hit the donkey without justification.  His weak response to the donkey, “For you mocked me” underscores his lack of a defense to the claim.  It is significant that the Torah teaches us this lesson through a donkey, which is generally not held in high regard by the more “sophisticated” elements of mankind.  We must seriously consider how we treat other creatures.  Even insects or rodents which may bother or hurt a person should not be abused.  Many Poskim, for example, rule that one should not use sticky or glue paper to catch and exterminate them, because it causes undue tzaar.  Likewise, we should appreciate and understand that we need not kill every ant, caterpillar or praying mantis that finds its way into our home.  What is so wrong in showing your regard and value for Hashem’s creatures by capturing--not killing--one that you find in your home (in a plastic cup, for instance) and bringing them out to their natural habitat?  One need not slap his hands wildly together at the sighting of every mosquito, or bring out the Raid because of a noisy fly.  It would be especially nice if you could make it a point of showing this to children, who do not yet fully appreciate the value of life breathed in to any creature.  Indeed, on Shabbos if one kills or takes blood out of the smallest of animals, he is Chayav, he is responsible for the Melacha of Netilas Neshama in just exactly the same way as if he killed a human being--and even the greatest among them.  Especially in the summer months, when we encounter more creatures of all kinds inside and out, we should take note of a role that we have inherited from Odom HaRishon who named all creatures, and Noach who preserved them in the Taiva, and do our own personal part in demonstrating our commitment to the words of Dovid HaMelech which we recite three times daily in Ashrei (Tehillim 145:9) “VeRacahmav Al Kol Ma’asov--His mercies [and his love] are on all His works!”


Special Note One:  We provide the following important insights from a reader:


  1. “In Kriyas Shema, the first word is pronounced as VeAhavTA--with the stress being on the last syllable, meaning ‘And you shall love,’ instead of VeAHAVta, stressing the middle of the world, meaning ‘And you loved’--which is simply not the meaning of the Pasuk!”


  1. “It is common to see people let their Retzuos down on the floor while putting on the Tefillin Shel Yad.  The Retzuos have Kedusha and should be put on a table or chair while putting them on.  In Halichos Shlomo, it is recorded that HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, would actually come over to people and lift their Retzuos off the ground to teach them this Halacha for the future.”


  1. “The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 56, Seif Katan 2) writes that when answering ‘Amen, Yehei Shemei Rabbah,’ one should make a short pause between the Amen and the Yehei Shemei Rabbah, because they are two separate ideas.  The Amen refers back to the previous concept commencing with Yisgadal VeYiskadash Shemei Rabbah, while the Yehei Shemei Rabbah is a new declaration.”


Hakhel Note: Thank you for sharing and caring!



Special Note Two:  Chazal teach that if a person feels that the Yetzer Hora is pulling him, attracting him, working on him, then one should pull the Yetzer out of his territory--out of his stomping grounds--and into the Bais Medrash, and that the new, spiritual surroundings will thwart the Yetzer Hora’s cunning and designs.  We can assume that women, too, who do not attend the Bais Medrash, can also overcome the Yetzer Hora through the study of Torah itself--which safely and securely shields and protects us.  HaRav Avrohom Schorr, Shlita, posits, however, that if one comes to the Bais Medrash, or sits himself down to study Torah or listen to a Shiur with a cell phone on--then he has not really left the outside world and entered the Beis Medrash.  Instead, he remains connected to the outside world in a way which brings about Bitul Torah, wasting time from Torah study--thereby broadening the Yetzer’s territory--even into the Bais Medrash.  The Shaarei Teshuva writes that Bitul Torah is the most severe of transgressions (KeNegged Kulam).  May we suggest that anyone who sports a cell phone (and especially if you sport two) should make at least some form of Takana or Tikun for himself/herself as to limitation or restriction on use of the cell phone (yes, even for an email) while in the confines of a Makom Kadosh, or while in the midst of a scheduled time for study.  For that very important phone call which for legitimate reason you can not miss, perhaps you can set a specified calling signal, and walk out of the room--to keep the outside world truly out  at this very special time of your day!  One should not wait until Elul or Erev Yom Kippur to make the commitment (bli neder)--when he can make it today!!



Special Note Three:  At the outset of this week’s Parsha, the Torah writes “Zos Chukas HaTorah Asher Tzivah Hashem…this is the law of the Torah which Hashem has commanded,”--and then the Torah adds, Laymor, to say.” The Chasam Sofer teaches that there is a remarkable lesson here.  The chok--the decree--of the Torah is Laymor--to say it, repeat it, tell it over.  Whatever Hashem commanded, Laymor, say it, tell it, and proclaim it to others.  Were it not for this great teaching to aid, assist, and guide those who transgress, every Tzadik would sit quietly at home and worry only about his own elevation.  There would not be any responsibilities for the ills of mankind.  No Tzadik would be responsible for anyone but himself.


No one is to be satisfied if he perceives himself as good.  Rabbi Elias Schwartz, Shlita, of Yeshivas Toras Emes, writes:


“American people love to say: ‘Mind you own business.’  Our business is the spread of Torah and Mitzvos.  Accordingly, mind your business well.  You dare not and must not keep quiet if you can rectify a wrong doing.  Help someone become a better person.  Remember—Laymor--spread Ruchniyus by constantly talking about it to others.”


Hakhel Note:  We add that a person can be defined by what he talks about.  Try working on your Laymor--follow your speech, for it is a preeminent Torah principle--a Chukas HaTorah!


Special Note One: Hakhel, in conjunction with the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation, will be presenting a free Motze’ei Shabbos Torah Video Series in Flatbush, starting this Motze’ei Shabbos, July 4th, and continuing for nine Motze’ei Shabbasos through the summer.  The Series is part of a joint effort with 60 communities and colonies throughout the United States and Canada.  The first Shiur will be given by the renowned Rabbi E.Wachsman, Shlita, entitled “Nisyonos: The Uphill Path, The Measure of Your Worth”, and will begin at 10:15 P.M.  Host Location: Agudath Israel Bais Binyomin, 2913 Avenue L.  For further information please see the following link -- http://tinyurl.com/metpxk



Special Note Two:  We received word that a high school in New Jersey has approximately 100 or more new or like-new Gemaros--Mesechtos Moed Katan, Sanhedrin, Bava Kamma, Shabbos, Sukkah, and perhaps other Mesechtos to give away for free.  If you are interested, please contact Zahava Stern at (201) 267-9100 ex. 281.



Special Note Three:  Today is the ninth day of Tammuz.  According to the Pesukim in Navi (Melachim II 25:3, Yirmiyah 39:2) today is the day that Nevuchadnetzar’s army, which had been besieging Yerushalayim, actually breached its walls.  King Tzidkiyahu and his Anshei Chayil fled from Yerushalayim that night, and were captured escaping through a cave in the Plains of Yericho.  Accordingly, today was a day of fasting during the 70 years of Churban Bayis Rishon.  Because the walls of the Second Bais HaMikdash were breached on the 17th of Tammuz, we have fasted on that day since the Churban Bayis Sheni.  The Talmud Yerushalmi (Ta’anis 4:5) records that it was actually on the 17th of Tammuz that the walls were breached in the first Bais HaMikdash, as well, but the people were so confused and perplexed--there was such upheaval--that the populace mistook the day for the 9th of Tammuz, and accordingly the Pesukim reflected it that way for posterity, as well.  Undoubtedly, if the people believed it was the 9th, and if the Pesukim in fact specifically refer to the 9th, the force and influence of the 17th must rest in and with the 9th, as well.


We posit that a day which has destruction inherent within it also has the concomitant power of building and healing contained within it.  The greatest example is the “Moed” of Tisha B’Av itself--which in the time of the Meraglim could have been--and ultimately and soon will be--a time of great celebration.  Even though we will not be fasting today, we can certainly find it within ourselves to pray for the building of the Bais HaMikdash, and act in a manner which demonstrates that we truly desire its rebuilding.  In this regard, we provide the following thought:


Chazal teach that “Pischu Li Pesach…”--open for me an opening the size of the point of a needle, and I will open for you an opening which is the size of the Ulam’s opening in the Bais HaMikdash (the Ulam’s opening was 40 Amos, or at least 60 feet, tall and 20 Amos, or at least 30 feet, wide).  The Kotzker Rebbe comments as follows:  Hashem asks of a man to open his heart to the extent of a needle’s point.  However, small as this may be, it must still be a needle’s point--needle-sharp--piercing through the material in its entirety.  Whatever Teshuva we do must pierce through the very insides of our being--it must penetrate through and through.  Hashem, in turn, will help us, so that our Teshuva will become more profound--to the point of an Ulam!  We add simply that the opening of the Ulam is not only the largest opening that we can think of--but it is also the largest opening of the Bais HaMikdosh.  Through sincere Teshuva--we will see the opening of the Ulam in the Bais HaMikdosh itself!  (The source for the Kotzker Rebbe’s teaching is the Sefer VSheeNonTom, by Rabbi Elias Schwartz, Shlita).



Special Note Four:  Another major manner for us to bolster our worthiness is through specific improvement in areas of Chesed--our Bain Odom LeChaverio.  The Sefer Pele Yoetz provides some meaningful and wonderful pointers on Chesed for us to learn:


  1. A person can perform acts of Chesed with a minimum of effort--providing change of a dollar or other bill to someone, passing something to someone who cannot reach it, opening the door for someone knocking…  None of these opportunities should be negated or missed.  In fact, the Pele Yoetz writes that he wonders at people who spend much money for Pesicha in Shul, or to be Sandek at a Bris, which are not Mitzvos in and of themselves per se, while Mitzvos D’Oraisa, which cost no money, such as Gemilas Chesed, Kibud Av V’Aim, or standing up or showing the proper respect for an elderly person or scholar, are not as properly regarded.


  1. One  should purchase objects to lend to others, and one should lend the objects that he owns to help another, provided the borrower is responsible, and you keep a written record--so you get it back (and can lend it again!).


  1.  One should consider how he would feel, and what he would need, if he was in the other’s position, and act accordingly.  This is V’Ahavta LeReyacha Komocha at its finest!


  1. The “Ikar,” **the main** Gemilus Chesed that one can do for another is with his neshama--his main component, as well.  One should help him with guidance, instruction and teaching, by sharing, for example, halachos and hashkafos which it is clear that the other person does not know or understand.  One can likewise daven for the person, even after they pass on, that he reach his proper resting place in Gan Eden.  By helping the surviving children spiritually, you may be simultaneously saving the deceased from Din, as well.  Could one perceive a greater Chesed?


  1. There is even a greater obligation to do Chesed with one’s parents, spouse and family--the closer the relative, the greater the obligation.


  1. Chesed is multiplied by the number of its recipients--when one does Chesed to the Rabbim--to those in Shul, to those on his block or in his building, etc., the one act of Chesed multiplies many times over.


We should especially begin on this propitious day to begin with the point of a needle of Teshuva, and to pensively consider how we can actually and readily augment and enhance our Gemilas Chesed.  May our Teshuva’s point--and our Chesed--allow us to see the Ulam speedily, in our day, this year!

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