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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin



Hakhel has personal knowledge of, and authenticates, the following:

Dear Friends,

We just got an offer that is truly incredible.  If we can match a $15,000.00 grant, a donor in California will give Yad Eliezer the same amount for Baby Formula.  What is incredible about this is that it makes every dollar you give worth $4!!  That's because each dollar will be matched and we buy the formula at 1/2 the price of the supermarket price. 

You can feed a baby for about $1.75 a week with this match!!!

What is this baby program?  Yad Eliezer feeds approximately 1,400 of the poorest infants in Eretz Yisroel each month.  We have a special deal with the manufacturer to sell us this "Powdered Gold" for half the price that an impoverished Mother would pay.

Normally it costs $360 to feed a baby for an entire year--you can do it now for $90!

And may the Ribono Shel Olam repay you as only He can.

Tizku L'Mitzvos!

Sori Tropper

Please call me at 718-258-1580 to participate, or if you would like to give online at yadeliezer.org., please specify Baby Formula and write "Matching Grant" in the comment.


Hakhel Note: For $90.00 for the year, you can help feed a baby from an impoverished family.  This is true opportunity.




Special Note:  In the expanded Vidui supplied in Sefer HaDerech LeTeshuva by HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita, each letter of the Aleph Bais Vidui has extended food for thought under that letter.  Under Tzadi, HaRav Shternbuch writes: “Zorcheinu Hikdamnu LeZorchei HaMakom”--We have placed our “own needs” ahead of Hashem’s needs.  Obviously, Hashem has no needs--His only need is for us to live up to our potential and be successful.  What we must do Teshuva for is convincing ourselves that our physical needs and worldly wishes and desires are more important than our spiritual ones--thereby placing what is perceived as “ourselves” first, and Hashem second.  This is particularly true in the summer months, in which there is a global feeling that the bodily aspect of our existence must be emphasized and indulged, particularly after a winter of hibernation.  It should come as no surprise to anyone, then, that the two Batei HaMakdish were destroyed in these months, starkly reminding us that our spiritual existence remains the primary emphasis--especially in this period.  Days are longer in the summer to accomplish more--not to lose track of.  When we make decisions as to vacation plans and days off, and as we engage in everyday dialogue, interaction and events in the summer (things to do, items to eat, places to be, and people to be with), let us remember to place the noble “Zorchei HaMakom” within us before the ignoble Zorcheinu, vying so cunningly for our primary attention.  In doing so, by electing steadfast and unwavering allegiance to our true needs, to the Zorchei HaMakom, we will be a giant and sure step ahead when we find the summer behind us, and the Yomim Noraim in front of us!



Special Note One:  We present several questions relating to Parshas Korach, and welcome your thoughts and responses:


  1. Korach is not the first person called by this name in the Torah.  See Beraishis 36:5 and Rashi there.  Based upon this nefarious predecessor to the name, why/how could Yitzhar have given this name to his own son?


  1. The Torah teaches us that “U’Vnei Korach Lo Maisu” (Bamidbar 26:11)--the sons of Korach did not die in the unique earthquake of Korach.  It is interesting to note that this Pasuk--distinguishing them from their father and his followers is not found in Parshas Korach at all but later in Parshas Pinchas, and that the actual names of  Korach’s sons, Asir, Elkanah and Aviasaf, are found back in Parshas Va’eira (Shemos 6:24).  What is the Torah teaching us by this?


  1. Moshe Rabbeinu composed several of the Kepitelech--Chapters of Tehillim, and the sons of Korach composed several Chapters, as well.  Who composed more chapters found in Tehillim, Moshe Rabbeinu or the sons of Korach?  Which Chapters did the sons of Korach compose?  What does this teach us about the power of Teshuva and Tefilla?


  1. Chazal teach us that Korach was extremely wealthy.  His followers had also obviously brought much wealth with them from Mitzrayim.  Why was Kol HaRecush--all of this great wealth--(Bamidbar 16:33 ) swallowed up in the earthquake?  After all, the wealth didn’t sin--couldn’t it have been given to Tzaddikim, to the Mishkan, or used as a fund for a very good purpose?!


  1. Towards the end of the Parsha, the Torah introduces us to the 24 Matnos Kehuna--the 24 different gifts given to the Kohen (Bamidbar 18:8-20), 10 of which were in the Bais HaMikdash, 4 in Yerushalayim, and the remaining 10 in Eretz Yisroel and some even beyond in Chutz La’Aretz.  Immediately following the Matnos Kehuna, the Torah teaches us that the Leviim also receive a gift in consideration for their service in the Bais Hamikdash--Ma’aser Rishon, or 10% of the crop left over after Teruma has been given to the Kohen (Bamidbar 18:21-24).  However, this appears to be it--in comparison to the 24 gifts to Kohanim, the Torah immediately provides us with only one gift to be given to the Leviim.  The disparity appears very stark--both the Kohanim and the Leviim receive gifts from the people in recognition and in payment for their services in the Mikdash on behalf of the people, yet the Kohanim’s benefits appear much more diverse, if not much greater.  How can we explain this blatant contrast between the Kohanim and Leviim?



Special Note Two:  This past Shabbos, some of our readers were caught by great surprise and viewed a fully-arched rainbow, and some even viewed one on Erev Shabbos, as well. Because, Baruch Hashem, of the infrequency of this event (which symbolizes that Hashem is not taking out his wrath upon us because He is remembering the Bris that He made with mankind not to destroy the world with a flood again--See Beraishis  9:12-17), many are not familiar with the Halachos  relating to rainbows and the Bracha on rainbow recital.  Accordingly, we provide several Halachos below, with the hope and prayer that in the zechus of our knowing these Halachos this will be the last rainbow seen by a member of K’lal Yisroel until the Final Redemption, may it come speedily and in our day:


  1. The Seforno (ibid.) writes that a rainbow is specifically intended to remind the one who sees it of the Mabul, and for those who see it to be moved to Teshuva and move others to Teshuva.


  1. One of our readers reported that a high school girl who had seen the rainbow was running around, telling people to look at the sky and recite the Bracha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Beraishis”.  Sadly, this young lady was incorrect in two respects.  Firstly, the Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 229:1) writes that one who sees a rainbow should not go around telling others about it (since it is a negative sign), as the Pasuk teaches “Umotzi Diba Hu Kesil--someone who spreads negative news is foolish (Mishlei 10:18)”.  Secondly, the correct Bracha to be recited is not Oseh Ma’aseh Beraishis, but a special Bracha of “Zocher HaBris VeNe’eman BiVriso VeKayam BeMa’amaro--Who remembers the Bris (i.e., not to destroy the world even if we may not be currently deserving), Who is faithful to his Bris and Who fulfills His word.”


  1. Once someone mistakenly spread the word, you are allowed to go outside or find the rainbow to make the Bracha, but you should not, of course, continue to spread the word.  If you are in the middle of learning or davening, you should not in any event go out to make the Bracha (Sefer Piskei Teshuvos, Volume II, p. 937).


  1. The Bai’ur Halacha is in doubt as to whether one must see the entire arch in order to recite the Bracha, or even viewing a piece of the arch suffices.  Accordingly, the Sefer Teshuvos VeHanhagos and the Sefer Vezos HaBracha both rule (based upon the principle of Sofek Brachos LeHakel) that one should not recite the Bracha unless he sees the entire arch (although one should in the instance of seeing only a piece of the arch think the words of the Bracha without reciting them).


  1. One should preferably stand for the Bracha, but it is not required.


  1. One makes the Bracha upon viewing only one time (even if there are two rainbows simultaneously in the sky) and not every time he sees the same rainbow(s), unless the clouds have scattered, or unless one has slept at night only to see the rainbow again in the morning, in which case a new Bracha is recited (similar to the Halachos of lightning and thunder).


  1. If one did not make the Bracha immediately, he can still recite the Bracha as long as it can be seen, provided that he quickly looks at it again immediately before the Bracha.  One should not stare at a rainbow, as it causes the eyes to dim (Mishne Berurah, ibid., seif katan 5).


  1. The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (ibid., p. 936) brings the words of the Shelah HaKadosh:  “Although rainbows could be viewed as a natural occurrence brought about after the suns rays follow a rain, the truth is that Hashgacha Pratis has brought this about (for instance, it could have just as easily rained at night, or not become so sunny after the rain). Hashem is telling us that He must ‘remind’ Himself of the covenant.”  We should take the message--and do what we can to be Me’orer Rachamim--to shower Heavenly mercy upon us from our end!



Special Note One:  In this week’s Parsha, we find a series of remarkable Mitzvos relating to Shemiras HaMikdash--guarding the Bais HaMikdash.  To the unitiated, the concept of a frail human being watching or guarding the House of Hashem, the earthly Abode of the Creator of this World, a Building which is actually mechuvan, parallel, to the Bais HaMikdash Shel Ma’aleh, would seem superfluous and unnecessary.  Yet, we find no less than two Mitzvos (a positive commandment and a negative commandment)--in our Parsha relating to its absolute necessity.  The Sefer HaChinuch explains that watching or guarding something is a clear indication that the item has value to you.  The vigilance and attention you give to a place or thing attaches special importance and significance to it.  In the case of the Bais HaMikdash, it is actually Kohanim and Leviim who are given the noble task of providing the appropriate dignity and stateliness to the Holy Place .  They are obviously unarmed, boasting not even a bow or arrow, but Chazal teach that if they were caught asleep on their job at night they would be corporally punished (Mesechta Middos 1,2).


There are practical and important lessons for us here.


Firstly, we know that our own Shuls are referred to by the Navi as a Mikdash Me’at--a form, a sample, a replica, of the Bais HaMikdash itself.  It is our job to ensure that this Mikdash Me’at is accorded the Shemira--the honor, dignity and distinction it deserves.  Does it have to be the janitor who picks up tissues or papers from the floor?  Is it only the fanatical fellow who puts together papers strewn over the tables?  Isn’t it very wrong to yell across the Shul to a friend even when it isn’t so full--or to telling a joke after davening?  Guarding the Palace--being vigilant to safeguard its sanctity and to display its uniqueness and holiness--would seem to dictate otherwise.  The person caught sleeping on the job was not given an automatic “second chance,” because a lapse in sanctity is a void in sanctity.  We have a special relationship with Hashem, and a special place to especially forge that relationship.  We should not allow ourselves to forfeit it to indiscretion, carelessness, and failure to appreciate and make the most of our opportunities.  Could you imagine one of the Queen of England’s Honor Guard yawning in front of a huge crowd?  Even if it only happened once, where do you think he would be the next day?  We are honoring Royalty of an infinitely greater nature, and we are more significant and capable than any man with a rifle in his hand.


Secondly, let us consider how we treat our wallets, our jewelry, and our “special papers” like birth certificates, passports and the like.  They are safely placed away in a specially-considered, or otherwise secure, place.  No one is spilling coffee on them, and no one is leaving them in his car unattended, or at least carefully locked away.  We should consider, in this vein, how our Shemira is for our spiritually valuable items.  Do we leave our Tallis and Tefillin in our cars, or overnight in Shul, exposed to any character or situation?  How do we treat our Seforim--are they spotted and stained, are the covers or bindings ripped or frayed from use--or from abuse?  How do we pick up a Siddur or Chumash, and how and when do we put them away?  Do we allow Seforim to be strewn about or interspersed with secular books or objects?  A Shomer is responsible for the precious items he is entrusted with--he wouldn’t have been hired if he wasn’t capable of performing the job!



Special Note Two:  We received the following  keen thought from a reader, as excerpted from HaRav Avigdor Miller’s Sefer Journey Into Greatness:


“Vayichar LeMoshe Me’od--and Moshe was very wroth and he said to Hashem: Do not turn to their offering” (Bamidbar16:15).

Rabbi Miller, Z’tl, writes:


“This seems to be an entirely unnecessary request.  Why would Hashem honor the offering of those that rebelled against Moshe the servant of Hashem?  But we must note that the usual ‘Vayiktsof-And he was angry’ (Shemos 16:20 , Vayikra 10:16 , Bamidbar 31:14) is not used.  Because ‘Vayiktsof ‘ expresses a superficial anger which Moshe displayed externally.  However, ‘Vayichar’ expresses genuine distress because these opponents were men of worth and good deeds.  Accordingly, Moshe actually feared lest Hashem might respect their offering.


“We see that Korach and his party were sterling personalities.  And here we learn an invaluable lesson.  Not as generally thought by most men, that if they would be convinced of the truth by open miracles, they would surely be perfectly righteous men.  But here we see that even more than the test of belief in Hashem and in His management of men’s lives, there is still a more difficult test of overcoming one’s own character traits such as jealousy and the desire for glory.


“Korach saw all the miracles.  He stood on the shore of the Sea as it was split and sang together with the entire Nation.  At Har Sinai he heard the Voice of Hashem and had shouted ‘We shall do and we shall listen!’ together with all of Klal Yisroel.


“Belief was no obstacle.


“But the test of Envy and the desire for Glory, this was overpowering.”


Hakhel Note:  These two related Middos--Envy and Gloryseeking--comprise some of the core character traits we are tested on in this world.  The Torah, by presenting them in such a stark and powerful way in the Parsha, is reminding us to work on them now.  In the coming week, we should try to work on these two allied flaws of character.  The Torah is presenting them to us--not only to read and be shocked by--but in order to improve ourselves in our personal lives in ways we are truly capable of.  Of course you believe in Hashem--but this belief must be evidenced and enhanced by how you view the wealth and talents of others--and of your own!



Special Note One:  We received four interesting and important comments from readers relating to the words found at the end of last week’s Parsha, Shelach, which many of us recite two and even three times a day: “VeLo Sosuru Acharei Levavchem V’Acharei Eineichem--And do not go after your hearts and your eyes” (Bamidbar 15:39).  Here is their food for thought:


  1. One reader commented that she heard in a Shiur that the Mitzvah of not following your eyes applies only to men.  She added on her own--that is why this Mitzvah is in the parsha of Tzitzis, which applies to men.  Perhaps she did not hear correctly, or the speaker was making a different point, but the Mitzvah of not following and falling prey to the desires of your heart and eyes applies **EQUALLY** to men and women, as the Sefer HaChinuch clearly writes in Mitzvah 387.  We all must control ourselves, and nobody can make an exception of himself--or herself!


  1. Another reader commented that it is “no coincidence” (obviously, one of our avid readers!) that these words--enjoining us from following our hearts and eyes--are taught immediately before the summer when the desires and temptations of the world around us come more to the fore.  The Torah tells us that if others are sinking, it is a time for you to raise yourself up.  Look in to yourself and not out to the mistakes of those around you. 


Hakhel Note:  The Torah, in fact, takes it a step further.  The next Pasuk after Lo Sosuru continues with “LeMa’an Tizkeru Va’Asisem es Kol Mitzvosai--If you control yourself you will remember and perform all of the Mitzvos, and will be holy to Hashem”.  Controlling passions and drives is not only an end in and of itself--it is the path to all of the other Mitzvos--and to your being considered holy by Hashem, even if you are not a Kohen, Levi, Rosh Yeshiva or Posek!


  1. Another reader wrote that the Mitzvah of Lo Sosuru is actually not written in the Lashon Yachid--the singular, but in the Lashon Rabim--the plural (Sosuru, Levavchem, Eineichem) to teach us that one cannot justify his actions because “everybody eats there, says that, or thinks those thoughts.”  Your Creator, through the Torah, tells you that you cannot lose yourself in the crowd and that Hashem thinks very highly of you individually and knows your capabilities.


  1. Finally, a reader wrote that he had read in the name of the G’RA that the reason the heart is mentioned before the eyes in the Pasuk is because when it comes to Arayos (forbidden relationships), the Yetzer Hora in thought is working even before the eyes see anything.  Accordingly, the first step is to control the thoughts in this area--even before the eyes.


Hakhel Note:  We only would like to point out that our thought process could be replaced and filled with proper thoughts of Avodas Hashem in lieu of the inappropriate thoughts that could creep in.  Accordingly, it would seem especially appropriate to have a Pasuk or thought ready when one senses the wrong environment or feeling entering his thought process.  As Hashem separates the pure from the impure, so must we.


Special Note Two:  Today, the Third day of Tammuz, is the day that Yehoshua Bin Nun’s Tefillos were successfully answered, and the sun remained out for 36 hours straight so that Bnai Yisroel could vanquish the Emori (Yehoshua 10).  Yehoshua’s famous Tefillah of “Shemesh beGivon Dom VeYarayach BeAyalon” lives on to this very day.  (Source: Sefer HaToda’ah by Rabbi Eliyahu KiTov, Z’tl).  As we live through this special time again today, let us take the time to daven to Hashem that we, too, be successful against those who seek to hurt, maim and destroy us--and especially those who overtly and proudly make these claims daily.  The day is mesugal--it is tried and tested--so let us follow Yehoshua’s lead and plead to Hashem for success today!



Special Note One:  Welcome to a new month, with new potential for incredible growth.  As we all know, if the Meraglim would have come back with the proper report, Tisha B’Av would have been marked as a day of eternal celebration, rather than a day which now lives in infamy.  In the time of Bayis Sheni, Tisha B’Av was, in fact, celebrated.  As it is referred to as a “Moed”, it will be certainly celebrated again--may it be this year.  The Targum Yonasan on last week’s Parsha explains that the Meraglim set out on their journey on 29 Sivan--just two days ago.  Thus, these very days--i.e., the next 38 days ahead of us until Tisha B’Av, which are perfectly parallel to the Meraglim’s 40-day trip (as Rav Dessler, Z’tl, explains, they are more than points of recollection in time, but an actual reliving of these times), are full of the potential to bring us a happy Tisha B’Av, if we reframe and recharacterize these days into days of building rather than days of destruction; days of finding the positive instead of the negative; days of compliments and not of snide or hurtful remarks; days in which we show our love towards Eretz Yisroel and its inhabitants in some unique and special way.  Yesterday, on the first day of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, the Daf Yomi began the Sugya of Ona’as Devorim (the Prohibition Against Causing Pain with Words), which will continue for the next two days.  To the non-believer, this is a “coincidence.”  We know better.  We know what we have to do.  Like the Meraglim, we have a mission.  Let’s succeed with flying colors--it is well within our capabilities, and the benefits and rewards will far exceed the investment and effort--as we will see when the Moshiach comes, Bimheira VeYameinu.

Hakhel Note:  To get us started in the proper framework of positive outlook and appropriate speech, we provide below the following excerpt from “The Power of Words”, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:

Ona’as Dvorim: “So your teeth hurt you, big deal.  Stop complaining.  You called the dentist and he gave you an appointment, now be quiet about it.  You're an adult already, why do you keep asking for sympathy?”

Positive Approach:  I'm very sorry that your teeth hurt you.  A toothache can be very painful.  It’s a good thing that the dentist was able to give you an early appointment.  Is there anything I can get you that might make you feel better right now?”

Ona’as Dvorim:  “You’re making a big fuss over nothing.  So what if the meal you cooked was ruined and the guests had to eat canned food?  They still had something to eat. You're making a mountain out of a molehill.”

Positive Approach:  “I realize how frustrating it must have been to have made an entire meal and then had it ruined because someone forgot to turn off the oven.  Most people would feel upset.  But I noticed that the guests enjoyed the wonderful words of Torah that were spoken.  Nobody went hungry since we had canned food that we were able to serve.  It wasn't as good as your cooking, but it served its purpose.  Everyone had a very pleasant evening.  I even heard a few people comment on what a fine hostess you were.  They were impressed by how well you dealt with the entire situation.”

Let’s get going--we have 38 days to move ourselves--and, quite literally, change the face of the world!


Special Note Two:  We provide on the front page of our website at www.hakhel.info a video link to a minute of thought, which, B’EH, will hopefully change the way we look at apples (and, hopefully, many other creations) for the rest of our lives.



Special Note Three:  A reader supplied us with a fascinating compilation prepared by Project Tefilah of Cleveland, Ohio.  According to the compilation, a person who davens Tefillah BeTzibbur over the course of a year accumulates 86,789 Mitzvos.  We provide a link to this compilation by clicking hereThis means that a young man who has been assiduous in Davening BeTzibbur even when traveling, on vacation and otherwise, and who comes to Shul on time, has accumulated over 1 million mitzvos by the time he reaches 25!  A millionaire at 25 from just one investment!  What may be even more incredible is that women and girls, who are not required to daven Tefillah BeTzibbur are equal Avdei Hashem in doing what they are supposed to do--personal tefillos, tznius and chesed, among others, count in ways we never thought imaginable!



Special Note One:  In last week’s Parsha, Shelach, Rashi teaches us that the Meraglim began their argument with something true (the land is “zavas cholov u’devash”), for without some truth the falsity could never have taken root (Bamidbar 13:27 ).  If only the Meraglim had continued with the truth…world history would have been so different--imagine (in fact, it is beyond our imagination) all the wars, tzaros, strife and travail we have gone through for over 3,300 years.  We would not have had to.  What can we do now to stop it?  Many things are possible.  Here is a simple exercise which you may not have tried before--pick a day (today or tomorrow, so as not to forget) in which you will be especially careful to speak the truth--and only the truth--no exaggerations, no stretches, no “you know what I mean,” and certainly no white-lies.  Perhaps we can do our part to demonstrate to Hashem that, once and for all we want to overturn the Chait HaMeraglim--and get us all out of this Galus.  See how you do--and--thank you from all of us!



Special Note Two:  Rabbi Avrohom Lefkowitz, Shlita, points us to a fundamental teaching which is found in the monumental work Rav Schwalb on Prayer (Artscroll).  Once, when HaRav Shlomo Zalman Breuer, Z’tl, met his very good friend, HaRav Shimon Sofer, Z’tl (the Rav of Cracow), Rav Sofer asked Rav Breuer to relay a teaching to him from Rav Breuer’s father-in law, HaRav Shimshon Refoel Hirsch.  Rav Breuer responded as follows:


“Rav Hirsch would point out that while Adon Olam describes the unfathomable eternity and omnipotence of Hashem (Beterem Kol Yetzir Nivra …), it nevertheless makes reference to Hashem in a very personal way, VeHu Kaili--and He is **my** G-d.  Each person in his tefillah says, “I have a personal relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu--He is my personal G-d.  Thus, whenever a person says the Ado--Shem in a bracha or otherwise in his tefillos, he is saying that no matter how small he thinks he is, Hashem is **my** Master (that is what the word Ado-Shem means)--one is in direct contact with Hashem.  This thought is the introduction to any Iyun Tefillah-to any concentration on Prayer.  There is nothing mystical or supernatural about it.  It should be the most natural thing in the world.”


Rav Shimon Schwalb, Z’tl, in further elucidating this thought, explains:


“Someone once asked me how one davens with Kavannah--for he simply cannot concentrate for so long.  I advised him to simply start by saying Baruch Ata Ado-Shem, (My Master) and to concentrate on its meaning.  He should continue this thought every time these words occur.  If a person practices this often enough, his Kavannah will eventually flow over into the rest of his Tefillos.”


Rav Schwalb concludes:


“We can now understand why our days both begin and end (Krias Shema Al HaMitah) with Adon Olam, which expresses the most basic concept of our Tefillos--no matter how insignificant we may be, no matter our temporary shortcomings, we still have the personal right to approach HaKadosh Baruch Hu directly.  The Adon--the Master--of all creation is incredibly ‘Kaili’--my personal G-d, as well.  We start our day and end it with the warm and comfortable words, Hashem Li VeLo Ira--Hashem is with me, I will not fear the unknown, the dangers of the night or day, for I am entrusting my life to Hashem’s loving care!!”


Let us try to make this a month of developing our relationship with Hashem through our Tefillos.  Focus on Kaili and Ado-Shem.  One important reminder--the new and final cycle of Praying With Fire (Measured Lessons in Improving Tefillah) starts tomorrow--and will take you straight to the portals of Rosh Hashana, in a unique and wonderful way!


Special Note One:  We recognize that in the coming week, many will be making their way up to the Catskills Mountains, and will fill this mountain range with much Kedusha that it misses in the wintertime.  A reader has informed us about some construction n the normal route and has supplied us with alternate directions, to avoid traffic delays associated with the construction.  Please click here to see these directions.


Special Note Two:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos-Hilchos Shabbos Series.  We continue with our discussion of Tochen. The following Halachos are excerpted from The 39 Melachos, the monumental work by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita:


1.  Because, as we learned last week, there is no Tochen after Tochen relating to items which are consumed, one may crush a medicine tablet (to dissolve it in sugar and water) for a child who is permitted to take this medicine.  Similarly, one could crush a saccharin tablet.


2.  Because the preparations of medications involved the Melacha of Tochen, Chazal forbade taking medications or undergoing therapies on Shabbos, unless such medications were permitted based upon specific Halachic factors.  Accordingly, in general, on Shabbos one is not permitted to ingest pills, take liquid medications, apply topical therapies including medicated powders, apply herbal preparations, undergo acupuncture, or exercise to improve his physical constitution.


3.  Ordinary foods or activities are not prohibited.  For example, one is permitted to drink a hot tea with honey on Shabbos to sooth a sore throat, or take a Shabbos walk (not speed walk) to improve digestion.


4.  One may remove an insect sting or splinter on Shabbos, because it is not considered curative, but only the removal of an outside affliction is permitted.  If the removal will cause bleeding, however, a Rav should first be consulted.


5.  Similarly, talcum powder (unmedicated) may be used to relieve discomfort from feet, because it only serves to absorb troublesome moisture, but has no therapeutic effect upon the feet or skin.


6. One may insert cotton in his ear, or cover a wound, because the covering protects from detrimental effects, but does not aid in the healing process.


7. One may put an ice cube, or press a spoon on a bruise to prevent swelling.  Similarly, one may put on and wear a removable dental brace on Shabbos to straighten out his teeth.  These therapies are not forbidden, because they are never achieved by use of medications forbidden by Chazal, lack the characteristics of medications and never otherwise entail the use of medications.


Of course, when one is unsure about the application of these principles to his  situation, he must consult with his Rav or Posek.



Special Note One:  Some feedback on improving your driving:  One reader advised us that at traffic lights--when conditions are right, and there is no one inappropriately dressed in his view--he recites the Shesh Zechiros--and tries to come up with new thoughts or reflections when reciting them.  Hakhel Note: Over time this translates into many, many Mitzvos.  Yasher Koach! We welcome your additional thoughts and practices….



Special Note Two: We are familiar with the famous expression that “Devorim HaYotzim Min HaLev” are “Nichnasim El HaLev”--words which leave the heart enter another’s heart.  Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, beautifully explains that for the words of a speaker to be truly effectual, his sincerity must be evidenced by others sensing that the words are actually leaving his heart…for how can they enter someone else’s heart if they have not left your own?  We had previously published certain recommendations to combat the swine flu.  Unfortunately, the swine flu has left its mark on our community, and the world at large.  Aside from the sickness and havoc it has wreaked on whole families, and all of the Torah that has been lost, Chaim Dovid ben Leah (please daven for him) is in extremely serious condition in its wake.  Individuals with medical conditions, the elderly, and the very young are particularly susceptible to the dangers of this illness.  We hope that the following words are leaving our heart--so that they enter yours.  If the previous suggestions we had made are not taken, at the very least we ask that you daven in Elokai Netzor at least once a day with genuineness and feeling that Hashem remove this r’l epidemic/pandemic from us, and, if possible undertake one small act daily as a zechus for the sick and for the susceptible--for those with conditions, for the very young and the very old.  Let us demonstrate our love and our achdus for each other, which will surely provide a zechus of infinite proportions--and indeed may be the only--only--thing that Hashem is waiting for!


Additional Note:  The newest wave of bus signs read “Be Better”--perhaps the lesson striking us in the face is that the state of our physical beings would improve if we would “Be Better” spiritually.  Instead of our bodies carrying our souls--let our souls carry our bodies!  After all, did not the Aron, in fact, carry those who looked like they were carrying it?  Why should our bodies and souls--really our souls and our bodies--be any different?!



Special Note Three:  Our personal computers are blessed with email programs (or webmail clients) containing a feature called a “spam filter” which filters out the items which we need not see, deal with, think about, or which do not even take up one second of our time.  It is rejected prior to having any effect--prior to making its mark.  We should take this important lesson into our lives.  Just one moment of indiscretion, a rare minute of Lashon Hora, a minute or two of truly interruptive Bitul Torah in the middle of precious learning time, a decision to let the Shemone Esrei get away because some of it was already lost, another few bites of food taking you into the “Achila Gassa” mode, another few, short blasts of angry words…all of these have to be filtered as Spam before they start.  How much more valuable time you will have gained and used productively--the moments turn into minutes and hours, the aveiros translate into Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim.  What more need be said?  If a computer can do it--and it does not even have a neshama--you certainly can!



Special Note Four:  In this week’s Parsha, the Torah teaches us that the Meraglim took from the fruit of the Eretz Yisroel and brought it with them to show the B’nai Yisroel.  This appears problematic--did not Avrohom Avinu separate from his student and close family member, Lot , because Lot ’s shepherds were grazing on land that would belong to Avrohom--but did not belong to him yet?  How could the meraglim have the license to do so?  One can not simply answer that what they did was wrong--for Moshe Rabbeinu himself had advised them--“U’Lekachtem MiPri Ha’Aretz (Bamidbar 13:20 )--and you shall take from the fruit of the land.”  How was this possible--it was not ours yet?  Your insights are most welcome!



Special Note One:  We received details on a great new project for women, entitled “Perek Echad L’Yom”.  In an effort launched by women in Eretz Yisrael, women worldwide are being asked to unite with just “One Perek a Day” of Tehillim--“Perek Echad L'Yom.”  It is so simple to participate--you just recite one perek a day.  To see which chapter women are saying each day, just click here and find today's date.  (You can also print the calendar of which chapter to say when from the website.)  For questions, contact  keytfilla@aol.com or Aneinu at shkappel@verizon.net.  B’EH, an English translation of the calendar will be available shortly on the website.  May our joint efforts show unfathomable results!



Special Note Two:  You are moving towards a traffic light, and you see it turn yellow.  You know that it will turn red either right before or as you are traveling through the intersection.  You have to make a split-second decision--go through the light (perhaps honking loudly to be on the safe side), or stopping for yet another one of those one- or two-minute lights keeping you from home, shopping, your appointment, your destination.  The question we pose is--Is it really your decision, is it really your choice?  After all, if you feel the Hashgacha Pratis in your daily life, isn’t the yellow light a message to you that the light is no longer green, and that you should be cautious?  Perhaps you are really better off waiting at the light, than  being a mile down along the road…  Is it really up to you to take matters into your own hands?!  We do not bring any Halachic rulings on this matter--we simply raise the point for your consideration, and if warranted, discussion with your Rav.



Special Note Three:  In just one week from today, we will celebrate Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, inaugurating the last three months, or final calendar quarter, of the year.  In a financial framework, the last quarter of the year is a time when people begin a review of the year, think about tax planning techniques, and consider what they can do to improve the year’s final quarter, so that it ends more successfully, and they can start the next year off on the right footing and in a positive mode and direction.  All the more so, of course, should we prepare ourselves for the last quarter of the pivotal year we are living in.  We have a week to ponder and reflect--what have we accomplished thusfar; where our goals are; what can/should we attain in the coming months.  It is no coincidence (as it never is) that as the world slackens off in the summer, we energize ourselves and achieve--for our calendar--and our agenda, is simply very different!



Special Note Four:  We present several excerpts from A Treasure for Life by Rabbi Avraham Yachnes, Shlita (Feldheim Publishers) which provides an excellent translation, commentary, and insights into the classic sefer Orchos Tzaddikim.  Each of the following excerpts provides a real, practical, and poignant lesson which each one of us can use to grow from:


  1. “It is told about HaRav Yehoshua Leib Diskin, Z’tl, that he was forever whispering to himself the words ‘Shivisi Hashem L’Negdi Samid--I have set Hashem before me always’ (Tehillim 16:8), to remind himself constantly that all of his actions and thoughts are always in the presence of Hashem.”


  1. “If one were blindfolded and tried to walk through even the most familiar of rooms, he would certainly stumble and fall many times.  Now imagine traveling through the unchartered waters of life, blindfolded by the desires and passions that have been allowed to rule over one’s wisdom.  The more a person’s desires control him, the thicker the darkness--even to the point of being spiritually paralyzed.”


  1. “People often say ‘I’m doing the best that I can.’  What is considered doing the best that you can?  I remember hearing from my Rebbe, HaRav Henoch Leibowitz, Z’tl, that on any given day, when you feel that you have reached the level of doing the best that you can--that is, you have invested all of your resources and every ounce of energy--then you should do a bit more.  This way, when you begin the next day, your starting point is from that extra bit.  Then there will be growth.  Otherwise, every day is a repeat performance of the day before with no real growth.  This same concept was expressed differently by Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt, Shlita, Rav of the Queens Jewish Center in New York .  He said that when people work in a profession for ten years, they often claim to have ten years of experience.  They need to understand that if they have been doing the exact same thing on the exact same level during those years, it does not mean that they have ten years of experience, it means they have one year of experience ten times.  Only if there had been a broader commitment and a deeper level of responsibility every day during those ten years, can one say that he has ten years of experience.”


  1. “A few years ago I had the opportunity to be a Kashrus supervisor at a soda bottling plant.  Standing there in amazement, watching 3,200 soda cans filled and sealed per minute, something interesting caught my eye.  An inspector wearing a long, white coat, who was overseeing the operation, randomly plucked a can off of the speeding conveyer belt.  I followed behind as he walked into a laboratory and began performing all kinds of experiments with the beverage.  He placed some of the liquid in test tubes, poured some into a decoding machine, and also drank some to check the taste.  Finally, I asked what all of these procedures were about.  ‘I’m checking for the right amount of sweetener, the proper measure of syrup, and the correct balance of carbonation to flavor,’ he said.  ‘Quality control, Rabbi, quality control.’  It struck me like a ton of bricks.  So much research, so much checking; so much investigation, effort, and exactness for quality control of a can of soda.  How much more so must one measure the exactness of his thoughts and actions for the quality control of his Middos!”



Special Note One:  We received the following note from the CRC:  Please be advised that a limited quantity of Snapple Summer Peach (Snapple Beverage Corp.) was inadvertently labeled "OK Pareve".  This product is NOT KOSHER.  Labels are being corrected.



Special Note Two:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos–Halachos of Shabbos Series.  In this week’s Parsha (Bamidbar 11:8), the Torah describes that the Mann was gathered and then it was “Tochanu VaRaychayim Oh Dachu BaMeducha-- ground in a mill, or pounded with mortar.”  Accordingly, we provide below several Halachos of the Melacha of Tochen, which apply to those who do not necessarily work with mills or mortar, but do find themselves in the kitchen or at the dining room table from time to time.  The Halachos are culled from the Sefer Meorei Halacha on Hilchos Tochen (in Hebrew), which is published by the Merkaz HaShabbos (under the leadership of HaRav Yechezkel Feldberger, Shlita).  The Sefer is beautifully illustrated, so that even children can “see and understand” these Halachos.


1. The Melacha of Tochen may be defined as taking a “Guf Echad”--one body or entity, and dividing it into many or smaller pieces.


2. Tochen can occur with a grinder or grater, or with a knife, fork, or even one’s hand, because Tochen includes not only pounding, crushing, mashing and grinding, but also crumbling or separating into “very small pieces” (“dak dak”).  One can never use a grater, grinder or masher on Shabbos, as even if one would not violate Tochen, it would constitute an “Uvda DeChol--a weekday activity forbidden on Shabbos.”


3. A.  One is not permitted to cut onions, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers or the like into “very small pieces.”  What is considered to be a “very small piece?”  There is a difference among the Poskim.  Some (Chazon Ish; Teshuvos VeHanhagos of HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, Shlita) hold that if you would cut pieces to the size that you would cut them during the week when you want to cut something into small pieces, then they are considered “very small pieces.”  Others (Shemiras Shabbos KeHilchasa) rule that the size of a “very small piece’ is a size that you would no longer need to chew with your teeth--which is a more lenient measurement, as it would allow you to cut to a smaller size before reaching the prohibited size of “very small pieces.”  One should ask his Rav or Posek which line of authorities he follows.  In all events, one should prepare his salad immediately prior to the Seudah, since it is difficult to determine or gauge what is L’Halacha a “very small piece.”  By preparing it immediately prior to the Seudah, one can additionally rely on the opinion that there is no issur of Tochen on foods (provided a grinder, pestle, grater, nutcracker, cleaver, masher, etc. is not used) if the act is done immediately prior to consumption.


B.  There is a difference of opinion as to whether narrow, long strips (e.g., a cucumber or carrot cut thinly, lengthwise) is considered to be a “very small piece,” as well.  It is therefore suggested that this be done immediately prior to the Seudah, as above.


C.  Foods which can be eaten without grinding and which do not grow from the ground may be cut into “very small pieces.”  Therefore, one may cut cheese, eggs, cooked fish or meat into very small pieces, and one may certainly use an egg slicer or cheese slicer on Shabbos.


4. Even if after grinding or mashing the particles remain as one general mass (such as mashed potatoes), one cannot begin mashing them in the regular manner (even with the teeth of a fork), for the issur ofTochen still applies--L’Halacha the particles have in fact sufficiently separated to fall within the prohibition of Tochen .  One may, however, use the handle of a fork, spoon or knife to mash, as this constitutes a “Shinui Gamur”, and in this context is permitted even LeChatchila, in the first instance.


5.  If a food item has already been ground once or is already in a ground state, we apply the principle of “Ain Tochen Achar Tochen”.  Accordingly, it is permissible to crumble bread, biscuits, or salt or sugar that is clumped together.  Likewise, one can cut finely or crumble a bar of chocolate.


6.  One cannot remove dried dirt or mud from shoes, socks or boots where the earth or mud will crumble as a result (even by rubbing it against a step or wall), as the prohibition of Tochen applies to the earth, as well.



Special Note One:  In the past, we have provided suggestions for making the car driving or car riding experience a more worthwhile and spiritually rewarding one.  We have mentioned, for example, the practice of someone from Atlanta , Georgia reviewing the Six Constant Mitzvos upon entering the car (click here for the original message) , utilizing the car mirrors.  Others may recite Tehillim Chapter 130 as a Tefillah for a safe local trip.  Parents doing carpool may have in mind that they are assisting others study Torah, or especially fulfilling the Mitzvah of assisting children in the study of Torah.  Yet others may use the time to practice patience by not honking or complaining in situations when others may do otherwise.  A person can look for opportunities for Hachnosas Orchim for people who need a ride home after shopping.  The car guest can share unique, complimentary words and/or a Devar Torah.  Red lights can be special opportunities reserved for thinking about improvement in a particular area.  After 120 years, each and every one of us would all like to say that we used modern transportation well and to our advantage.  We are compiling a more complete list of “Automobile Opportunities for the Torah Jew”--and look forward to your recommendations and suggestions!



Special Note Two:  In this week’s Parsha, Be’haalosecha, we are taught that Aharon HaKohen performed the Hadlakas Haneiros of the Menorah “KaAsher Tzivah Hashem Es Moshe--as Hashem had commanded Moshe Rabbeinu that it should be done” (Bamidbar 8:3).  Rashi, quoting the Sifre, writes that this constitutes a praise of Aharon, who did not change or deviate from Moshe’s instructions.  Upon reading this Rashi, everyone asks--I myself wouldn’t change what Moshe Rabbeinu told me that which Hashem had commanded--why would--how could--the great Aharon do otherwise?  Why would he even consider such a thing?


We may suggest an answer based upon the apocryphal story of the woman who petitioned the court for a divorce after 58 years of marriage.  “Mrs. Stein,” asked the judge, “you have been married for 58 years and you want to get divorced?!”  “Your Honor,” she responded, “Enough is Enough!”


Aharon HaKohen, although older than Moshe Rabbeinu, and the leader of B’nai Yisroel prior to Moshe coming back from Midyan (See Rashi to Shemos 4:13 ), initially greeted Moshe upon his return to Mitzrayim with joy of heart (ibid, 14).  However, after two years with his younger brother, Moshe Rabbeinu, as the ultimate leader and in charge of Kriyas Yam Suf and Kabbalas HaTorah, and after finally getting the opportunity to be a leader on his own as the Kohen Gadol, Aharon might have wanted to demonstrate that he was a somebody too--by lighting the Menorah in some special or distinctive way (which would not even have contradicted any of the specific instructions of Moshe).  Nonetheless, Aharon followed the instructions of his younger brother Moshe to the letter--without adding, subtracting, modifying or deviating from his word.


There is a great lesson here for us.  We may have accustomed ourselves to act and speak properly and/or with patience with a particular person, understanding either that the person has his own idiosyncrasies, or that the person is a close relative, and that peaceful family relations, calmness and breaking one’s middos, is of paramount importance.  Every once in a while, however, a person may have a feeling to let loose--after all, he has controlled himself dozens, scores, even hundreds of times--now it’s his turn!  An infrequent indulgence, a brief “lesson” to him, a rare demonstration of what his is otherwise capable of….  Aharon HaKohen, who was the role model for us in Ohaiv Shalom VeRodeph Shalom--in perfection of human relations--teaches us not to let it happen--even once.


It is interesting to note that the Torah gives us no temporary dispensation for any aveira.  One could make the argument that if he were given one day a year to do any and all aveiros that he wanted to for the year, to get it out of his system, that he would have 364 days of real control and greater success in Kiyum HaMitzvos.  Even if all aveiros weren’t permitted--maybe a day without Kashrus or without Lashon Hora restrictions would take care of the animal within him, and allow the vast majority of the year to be celebrated in Ruchniyus.  Yet, in fact, the Torah makes no such allowance.  Quite to the contrary, the Torah provides for one day a year of **greater Ruchniyus**--Yom Kippur--to raise our level for the coming year.  What a perspective!  We are not to look down for the one-time capitulation--but to look up for those special one-time opportunities for growth.


Rabbi Shlomo Yisroel Gelber, Z’tl, taught that “A Mensch Darf Altz Hubben Seichel Far Zich--a person has a full-time obligation use his mental abilities to benefit himself.”  If he turns away--even temporarily--he is disregarding his capabilities as a human being, and the true potential for greatness that he really does have.


The Torah goes out of its way to praise Aharon HaKohen--not deviating even for a good purpose, a real reason, just that one time….. By doing so, the Torah teaches how we can, and should, follow in his footsteps consistently and at all times in those circumstances, situations, relationships and challenges that give us the good opportunity to do so!



Special Note One:  Today is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Yerucham Levovitz, Z’tl, the renowned Mashgiach of the Mirrer Yeshiva from 1910 until his passing in 1936.  His talmidim included HaRav Chaim Shmulevitz, Z’tl, HaRav Dovid Povarsky, Z’tl, HaRav Shlomo Volbe, Z’tl, HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, and HaRav Shimon Schwalb, Z’tl.  HaRav Levovitz was known for his great seder--organization.  He taught that “if a knot that ties a string of pearls falls apart, the entire necklace falls apart with it--and the pearls are lost!”  If a person is organized (or makes himself organized), his Torah study, his Tefillah, and his Mitzvos are performed in a timely manner and with care, and are safely guarded and secured.


HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, related that when he first met HaRav Levovitz, he studied how the Mashgiach ate a meal--not because he wanted to be rude or intrusive--but simply in order to understand how a Mashgiach treats the entire eating process.  For a short while, he was puzzled.  There was something that was different about the way the Mashgiach ate, but the young R’ Nosson could not put his finger on it.  The physical motions appeared a bit different, but the food did enter the mouth and was swallowed.  What was it that the Mashgiach was doing different?  Then, it dawned on him--he realized what was singular and special about the manner of eating!  When HaRav Levovitz ate, it appeared as if he was not feeding himself--but that a third person was feeding him.  It was as if his soul was the party in action--doing the Chesed of feeding his body, to which it was so connected, and in appreciation of the dedicated lodging provided to the soul in this world.


While we obviously cannot approach the great thought processes and levels of accomplishment inherent in HaRav Levovitz’s daily meals, we should at least, from time to time, recognize that our act of eating, which to most of the world is unfortunately only a “same-action-as-animal” time, can be lifted to a more exalted plane, simply by putting some thought into what one is doing before and while he is doing it.  The recital of Kepitel 23 before the meal, slow and caring brachos on foods, a dignified rather than ravenous approach, a brief thought as to what you are eating and why, can raise the bar for you and those around you.  You may not be a Mashgiach, but you certainly can distinguish yourself as a noble human being.



Special Note Two:  Why do we cover our eyes when we recite the first Pasuk of Shema?  At a recent Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, taught that with their closure, our eyes are taken out of the virtual reality of the world around us, and are brought to the inner reality of who we are, and what we are to accomplish.  As the Sefer Tomer Devorah teaches (Chapter 2 ), the eyes are not meant for us to learn and absorb the negative from the world around us:  “One’s eyes should not gaze at all at anything despicable.  Rather, they should always be open to watch over unfortunates and have as much mercy upon them as possible…  One should  distance himself from noticing evil [by employing proper safeguards to avoid the “wrong” places, or keeping one’s line of vision in a different direction], just like the Supernal “Eye,” which is open, and forever sees only good.


The Yetzer Hora, Rabbi Lieff continued, works through sudden impulse, temporary confusion and quick compulsion.  If we can likewise “close our eyes” for but a moment to recognize and realize who we are and what our job is, the Yetzer Hora will be summarily surmounted and overcome.  The Komarna Rebbe, in a sefer of instruction to his children, importantly taught them that when a person feels an urge, a desire, a seemingly irrepressible need, he should tell himself (read: the Yetzer Hora within him):  OK, but before I do it, I just need an instant of “Yishuv Ha’Daas,” a moment of cogent thinking.  With this response, the Yetzer Hora will flee--to a more naïve and susceptible client.


As we move closer and closer to the summer months, months in which the rest of the world “lets their guard down,” it is a time when we put our guard up--we close our eyes at least three times daily at Shema (we can do so more often, if we would like) to appreciate the true reality, and we proceed with a Yishuv Ha’Daas known only to those with a special mission and purpose in this world--and a true goal to accomplish it!



Special Note Three: We received the following warm and enlightening insight from a reader:


“In the womb of a pregnant woman two embryos are talking. One of them is a believer, the other a non-believer.

Believer:  What an incredible world we are going to!

Non-believer:  What! Do you really believe in life after birth?

Believer:  Yes, sure.  Of course there is life after birth.  We are only here in order to prepare and ready ourselves--for what is awaiting us after this.

Non-believer:  This is stupidity!  There can't be any life after birth!  Can you even imagine what that kind of life could look like?

Believer:  I don't know all the details, but I believe that there will be more light and we will walk by ourselves and eat with our own mouths.

Non-believer:  Such nonsense!  It's obviously impossible to walk by ourselves and to eat with our mouths!  It's simply ridiculous!  We have an umbilical cord which feeds us.  You know, I want to tell you:  It's impossible that there will be life after birth, because our life, that is, our umbilical cord, is simply too short.

Believer:  I'm sure that it’s possible.  Everything will be a little different.  It is possible to at least imagine.

Non-believer:  But nobody from there came back!  Life simply ends with birth.  And, generally, life is one big suffering in darkness.

Believer:  No, no!  I don't know exactly, how our life will look like after birth, but, in any case, we'll see our mommy and she will take care of us.

Non-believer:  Mommy?  You believe in Mommy?   And where, do you think, she is?

Believer:  She is everywhere around us.  We are in her and thanks to her we are moving and living.  Without her, we simply cannot exist.

Non-believer:  It's totally nonsense!  I don't see any Mommy, and that's why it's obvious that she simply doesn't exist.

Believer: I can't agree with you, because sometimes, when everything around is silent, it's possible to hear her singing and to feel how she is filling our world.  I firmly believe that our real life will start only after birth.”


Hakhel Comment:  Thank you.  May we all prepare well--and may we all soon see the great light that even we--as Believers--cannot even fathom or imagine!



Special Note One:  We bring you a special opportunity.  A tape library in the New York metropolitan area with over 1,000 Torah Tapes (and some CD’s) of renowned Maggidei Shiur in English has advised us that it is closing its doors--and is looking for an institution or appropriate individual who will take the tapes (free) to open a new, or expand a current, library.  For further information, please contact us as soon as possible.  Bring great zechusim to your Shul or neighborhood!



Special Note Two:  As world events continue to spin around us, as we turn from Far East nuclear testing, to the Afghan war, to the still amorphous swine flu, to a new and probing threshold in American-Muslim (Esav-Yishmael?) relations, to joblessness, foreclosures and bankruptcies of previously unknown proportions--in sum, nothing short of turmoil and crisis in areas of economy, politics, health and war worldwide--we must sense a greater need to long for the Moshiach’s coming.  HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl, would relate the now famous Mashal of a very ill person in the home for whom the doctor had been summoned.  Every time there was a knock at the door, every time the phone or doorbell rang, the family members jumped--was it the doctor?!  Even though it turned out to be a well wishing neighbor, a repairman, or someone else, the family was courteous and did not despair--the doctor would still come with the next knock--and would come on time, for he had to.  They knew it because they believed it.  This, HaRav Levenstein taught, should be our anticipation for Moshiach.  Even though the knocks on the door until today have not been what we have been waiting for, the real knock will most certainly come--and hopefully it will be the next one--literally, the next one.  The Six-Day War and no Moshiach, the Yom Kippur War and no Moshiach, the Lebanese War and no Moshiach, the Gaza War and no Moshiach.  What will the next knock be?!  There is certainly no cause for despair--only for hope and anticipation.


HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, teaches that our redemption is actually dependant upon our level of “Tzipiya”--our sincere longing for redemption.  As we recite every Shabbos in Kedusha, “Mimkomecha Malkeinu Sofea, VeSimloch Aleinu Ki Mecahkim Anachnu Loch--Hashem from Your Place, appear--for we await You”.  This is the madreiga, Rav Dessler writes, that we must all reach--of at least anticipating the Yeshua.  Even if we feel that we are personally unworthy of bringing Moshiach with our deeds (a matter of debate in and of itself)--at the very least everyone--*e*v*e*r*y*o*n*e*--should await, anticipate and long for his coming--in our thoughts, in our Tefillos, and in our reaction and understanding (not in the press’ explanation) of world events.


It is within the nature of people to hope and wait for good things.  If a person does not do so, it must be that he feels that his situation is better now than it would be if that “good thing” were to occur.  If one is not longing and yearning for Moshiach, concludes Rav Dessler, it must be that the Olam Hazeh kind of world we live in is more to his liking than the Ruchniyus of Redemption.


Perhaps we can now understand why the Brisker Rav was heard to say the three-word Pasuk “LiShuasecha Kivisi Hashem (Beraishis 49:18)--For Your salvation do I long” several times throughout the day.  It is no coincidence (as it never is) that this Pasuk is placed in the Siddur at the end of the 13 Ani Ma’amins that we recite daily.


We all know that the Redemption will come; this is part of world history, established by Hashem at the time of the world’s creation.  Our Thoughts and our Tefillos should be permeated by a sincere and unrelenting want and desire that we ourselves be zocheh to see it “Bechayechon U’Vyomeichon--in your lifetimes, and in your days.”  We owe it to ourselves and to our destiny to be able to answer the question “Tzipisa LiYeshua?” with a clear and truthful--better yet--a resounding and resourceful: “Yes, LiShuasecha Kivisi Hashem!!”



Special Note Three:  When we see a baby or child so small and helpless, we may reflect upon how much kindness Hashem bestows upon this infant in keeping it alive, in finding loving family members to care for it, in taking care of all of its needs--although it can offer nothing in return.  It appears, in fact, that the Chesed of Hashem is inversely proportional to the age of the child:  the smaller he is, the greater the Chesed, and the older he is, through adulthood, the lesser the Chesed.


In reality, however, and upon refection, it may very well be that the baby, the small child, the toddler, actually serves as a great lesson for us.  Hashem provides the young child, unsullied, untainted, and closer to the Ruchniyus of the previous world, with Chesed that is clear for all to see.  Imagine, then, we--who may have heard a word of Lashon Hora in passing, who may have missed davening with the Kavana of which we were capable, who may have not behaved properly to a family member, who may have missed or abused a clear chesed opportunity…--how much more so do we experience the Chesed of Hashem with every life-filled moment.  Is it you who “can take of yourself’ because you make your own meal, buy your own clothes, go to your shiur on your own, put yourself to bed--or is it Hashem who bestows much greater Chesed upon you than He bestows upon a young child--as He keeps you alive and running despite some really noisy skeletons in your closet--in order for you to have the opportunity to accomplish your role, and fulfill your true potential and purpose in this world of opportunity?


Chesed to the baby--certainly.  Chesed to you--incredible!



Special Note One:  We are all familiar with perhaps the most pronounced question in last week’s Parsha--why does the Torah spend so many Pesukim on the Karbanos of the Nesiim, when instead the Torah could have simply stated: “These are the Karbanos that each and every one of the Nesiim brought…”, and save scores of Pesukim?  After all, every tip of a Yud in the Torah requires investigation--all the more so an additional 65 Pesukim?!  An original and beautiful lesson is taught by the Alter of Kelm, Z’tl.  The Alter teaches that if a person does something together with the community, he may justifiably feel that he is simply part of a communal mitzvah, a most noble group effort, but that neither he, nor his mitzvah is separately identifiable within the Tzibbur’s wonderful actions.  However, the Alter teaches, this is not so at all.  While one may have performed a mitzvah in a more beautiful way by being part of a group, he, in fact, still retains his individuality in the mitzvah’s performance.  His mitzvah is not clustered together with that of others in a huge, undefined forest, but rather the tzibbur is viewed by Hashem as a gathering of distinctive trees making up a wonderful forest together.  Hashem does not only love the group as a whole for what they have done, but, the Alter says, **He loves each one individually** for his effort and participation.  To Hashem, it is not a large crowd, but a gathering of His “Ben Yachids,” who not only share Hashem’s love together, but get a full measure of it separately and individually.  Whether one davens in a Shul with 500, 100 or 10; whether one learns in a shiur with 20, or with 2, and whether one is part of a large Chesed organization, or has a Gemach in the privacy of his own home or with a friend or family member--Hashem identifies you and loves you for what **you** are doing.  Just as no one can hide from Hashem when doing an Aveira, for His glory fills the world, so, too, must one realize that his doing what other people are doing  together with him is clearly and uniquely recognized and cherished by his Father in Heaven.  Your Shemone Esrei counts, your staying up and thinking at a late night or early morning Daf Yomi shiur counts, the $100.00 that you put into your Shul’s Gemach counts…it all counts.  It is all individually treasured by Hashem.  And, if you think this is a small matter, the Alter of Kelm tells you that 65 Pesukim in the Torah teach you that it is something very important to remember.  We each receive unique and individualized attention, appreciation and love from the Master of the Universe…as if we were His only son!



Special Note Two:  In the remarkable Haftorah of last week, we learn of the preparations that Manoach and his wife had to make to have a son like Shimshon, who was destined to be a Shofet BeYisroel.  The very obvious lesson is that we must all recognize that every person that we encounter has a specific task in this world, and, by virtue of Hashem having put us in contact with them, we should attempt to help them in fulfilling their life’s mission.  If it is not so clear to us as to what that may be, we can in all events help them perform Mitzvos in which they may need help, guidance or assistance--as Mitzvos are our collective duty--each person in his own way (as above).


We would like to briefly highlight another point, however.  Within the Haftorah, you may have noticed two words that are familiar to you, but in a totally different context.  The Pasuk states that, upon hearing the news from the angel that Shimshon would be born, Manoach brought a Korban.  The Pasuk continues “U’Mafli La’asos--and a wondrous thing happened,” as fire came out of a rock to consume the offering that Manoach had brought (Shoftim 13:19 ).  The Metsudos and other Meforshim there explain that the word Mafli is rooted in the word Peleh--an amazing and phenomenal event had just occurred--something shocking, astonishing and miraculous--fire out of a rock!!  Chazal then remarkably “borrow” this two word phrase “UMafli La’asos,” as the conclusion and climax of the Asher Yotzar Bracha, which we recite several times a day in recognition of Hashem giving us the capability to take care of our needs.  By using this phrase, Chazal may want us to understand that it is the same “Mafli La’asos” that Manoach and his wife witnessed as they saw fire coming out of a rock to consume a Karbon--as we witness every time we successfully take care of our bodily needs.  It is a Peleh--wondrous and extraordinary--like fire out of a rock!


We should not, chas veshalom, have to wait for an occasion when it is difficult or temporarily impossible for us to witness the daily Peleh we experience in ourselves in order for us to appreciate the miracles inherent in the Asher Yotzar.  Each and every time we conclude Asher Yotzar, it should not be with a feeling that we are just about ready to move on to something else…  Rather--it should be with a huge acknowledgment--with a climactic recognition and blissful declaration--“UMAFLI LA’ASOS!”



Special Note Three:  One other point in last week’s Parsha.  In carefully following the Kriyas HaTorah, one may have recognized that the Nasi of Shevet Gad was Elyasaf ben Deu’el (Bamidbar 7:42 ).  Elsewhere, the Torah refers to his father’s name not as Deu’el, but as Reu’el (Bamidbar 2:14 )--with the Raish and Daleth being interchanged.  If one follows the Raish-Daleth interchange elsewhere--then what word would one discover within the word Torah?  Todah—Thanks--for ultimately the Torah teaches us the Great Thanks we owe to Hashem for each and every moment of opportunity in our lives--and for the Torah itself which guides us through each and every step of the way!



We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos Series:


  1. Many individually wrapped candies, lollypops, ices, and other “Shabbos Party” type treats have lettering and/or designs just at the spots that you would open them to take out the candy or treat.  This constitutes an Issur DeRabbanan of Mochek (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 340; Mishne Berurah, seif katan 17).  We note that this problem is true of “heimishe” products as well, as the manufacturers do not assume that you or your children will necessarily be opening these items on Shabbos.  Perhaps we should add to the list of Erev Shabbos things to do--checking packaging of this kind!


  1. According to the Sefer HaShabbos BeTifarta by HaRav Avrohom Adas, Shlita, reattaching a broomstick back to a broom either by screwing it back in, or by pushing it with force back into place, constitutes an Issur D’Oraysa of Boneh.  He likewise rules that one may not return a belt buckle to a belt on Shabbos.


  1. Several important Borer points  from the Sefer “Pnei Shabbos--Halachos HaSchichos” by HaRav Yosef Glick, Shlita of Yerushalayim, which provides the answers to many common Shabbos Shailos:  (i) One may not pour off the liquid from cholent unless he leaves some amount of liquid in the cholent, or eats a little bit of the liquid that he poured off--so that he is selecting the Ochel (that which he now wants) from the Pesoles (that which he does not now want) for immediate use; (ii) When clearing the table, one should make sure that the dirty plates are somewhat separated from the plates with remaining food on them that he wants to put away, in order to avoid  the potential borer of separating plates mixed together--removing  dirty plates from the table to discard their contents while removing plates with food to store their contents.  Likewise, there should be distance kept on  kitchen counters between the dirty plates and plates with items to be discarded, and the remaining clean plates, or items to be stored, in order to avoid borer issues of selecting Pesoles from Ochel--or even Ochel from Pesoles for non-immediate use; (iii) One should not remove noodles from chicken noodle soup simply because he does not want to eat them (and vive versa, one may not  pour out the chicken  soup in order to eat the noodles only), as this constitutes borer--selecting the Pesoles from the Ochel; (iv) One should not remove the frosting or cream layer from a cake, unless he also removes some of the cake along with it, or leaves some of the cream on the cake; (v) If one took a fruit out of a bowl to eat, and then did not like the way it looked, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, writes that it may be best to put it back into the same bowl and not somewhere else, so it does not appear as borer; (vi) One is permitted to take the peel off fruits and vegetables immediately prior to consumption--even if the outer layer is inedible (such as a banana peel), because this is deemed to be its “derech achila.”  If a peel is otherwise commonly eaten, such as an apple peel, there is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether one can peel the apple for non-immediate consumption.  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, forbids it; (vii) If a candy wrapper is stuck to the candy, one should only remove the candy close to its consumption, as the wrapper would then be treated as the peel of a fruit; (viii) If one has different flavors of soda in the pantry mixed up together, and wants to select a few flavors to put into the refrigerator for the Shabbos Seudah in a few hours, there is an issue of borer, as he is selecting for non-immediate use.  Accordingly, one should keep the same flavors grouped together so that he is not selecting one flavor from another, or, in the alternative, not be selective about the soda he is taking but simply pick up two or three bottles of whatever may come to his hand.  Another alternative may be to immediately drink a little of the soda one selects before putting it in the refrigerator, so that he is selecting the soda for immediate use; (ix) One should avoid peeling corn directly off the cob unless it is close to the meal (even then there may be a separate issue of Dush--although one may eat corn directly from the cob); (x) There are various opinions as to how close to the Seudah one is permitted to peel vegetables, set the table, and perform other Ochel Mitoch Pesoles activities.  Although many Poskim rule one has a half-hour before the Seudah, HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, rules that it is less time than that if one in fact needs less than a half-hour.  The situation may also be different if one has many guests, and may depend upon what else has to be done before the meal.  One should definitely not rely upon his own “common sense” in this area, which could involve several Issurei D’Oraysa within the preparation of one Seudah.  Instead, one should most definitely consult with his Rav or Posek in any case of doubt.  If one never has any issues or doubts in this delicate area--than he is either being extra-specially superbly careful--or he should immediately commence the study or review of the Halachos of borer, to help himself and others properly observe Shabbos Kodesh!



Special Note One:  As the summer fast approaches, many become thirstier (we should, of course, take physical thirst as an immediate need for spiritual thirst, and fulfill that as well).  “Slurpees” products are available across the country in Seven-Eleven convenience stores, and these stores do not have any hashgocha that we know of.  The Star-K of Baltimore has done research on these products, which is provided by clicking hereWe thank the Star-K for their efforts.  Every person should consult with his Rav or Kashrus expert regarding the consumption of “Slurpees” or similar products--notwithstanding the (seemingly incessant) nagging of children for them!



Special Note Two:  As we continue through the Shivas Yemei HaMiluim, we must continue to feel the spirit of Shavuos, and ensure that the Kabbolas Hatorah that we experienced leaves an important and indelible impression upon us.  We provide below two brief insights which we can keep with us each and every day:


a.  HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z’tl, notes that the only bracha in the brachos of request in Shemone Esrei which does not begin directly with a bold request of ours--but instead first describes Hashem’s power in that area--is the bracha of “Ata Chonen LeOdom Da’as--You graciously endow man with wisdom”.  Why does this particular bracha begin in this way?  Based upon the words of HaRav Pincus, we may suggest that it is because when it comes to Torah study, we must first recognize that not only is the Torah Min Hashamayim, but that our ability to study it is only because Hashem infuses us with the ability and the wherewithal to do so.  LeHavdil, unlike other teachings and disciplines, we have no separate teacher and separate textbook--Hashem is the Author and He is the Melamed and the Nosain--giving us the ability to study, understand and absorb the words of Torah into our very being.  We must pray in Ata Chonen to Hashem based upon this realization--whenever, however, and whatever we actually study daily--young and old, man and woman--and we must daven to Hashem that He guide us and maximize for us that which we do learn so that we truly aspire to our potential in Torah study.  We have the Source of eternal blessing on our side--it is up to us to have the sechel to use it!


b.  Chazal (Avos 6:9) bring the story of Rebbe Yosi ben Kisma who was asked to take a lucrative position in a city devoid of Torah scholarship.  The person making the offer was obviously doing so not because he wanted Rebbe Yosi to become mayor or chief of police--but because he wanted Rebbe Yosi to bring some level of Torah into the town.  Yet, Rebbe Yosi insisted that he would only live in a place of Torah.  Undoubtedly, Rebbe Yosi knew enough to learn and grow on his own in a distant city, and could have probably used the endowment he would have received to write dozens of seforim and learn on his own 24/7 for the rest of his life, yet none of this--**none of this**--could replace being in a Torah atmosphere.  Of course, Rabbonim, teachers and Kiruv professionals fulfill their roles and goals in far-flung places in fabulous and unfathomable ways, but there is a special lesson here from Rebbe Yosi for each and every one of us in our daily lives.  We must endeavor to the extent that we can to put ourselves in a Torah atmosphere.  We must make the effort to acquaint ourselves with those above us in Torah scholarship…to sit in the right locations, to stand among the right people in Shuls, at Simchas, where shopping, when commuting or traveling.  We must make sure we are “living” in a place of Torah when we have the choice between this block and that block, this friend or that friend, this conversation or that conversation, this situation or that situation.  A very important part of the Torah is our Torah atmosphere.  We should recognize the situations in life--and they come up often enough--where we have the choice--and make the right one.  At any such time or occasion, we need only think--what does the Rebbe Yosi ben Kisme within me say?!



Special Note One:  We received the following insight from a reader:  “In the days when there was minimal communication between Eretz Yisrael and Chutz L'aretz, the six-week period when the Parsha reading is out of synch wasn't noticeable.  However now, particularly with advanced communications, that difference is very real.  We should use this period which, interestingly, ends just before the Three Weeks, to increase our Tefillos that our golus should end and we all achieve a true achdus in Eretz Yisroel!”



Special Note Two:  We are pleased to provide our Flatbush Vasikin Schedule for the upcoming Summer months by clicking here.


Special Note Three:  Yet another great opportunity knocks this Sunday evening in Flatbush—Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Shlita, will speak for The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation:  “The Economic Downturn:  What Should Our Response Be?”  The shiur will take place, B’EH, this Sunday, June 7th, at 8:30PM (Mincha 8:15PM ) at K’hal Zichron Mordechai, 2645 Nostrand Avenue , between Avenues L and M.  For further information, please see the flyer for the event by clicking here.



Special Note Four:  We constantly refer to the Torah as “Toras Emes.”  Indeed, we thank Hashem in the Birchas HaTorah (after the Torah reading) for giving us a “Toras Emes,” and we plead to Hashem daily that He give “Emes L’Yaakov--the Truth to Yaakov”, and his descendants (see Micha 7:20).


What does this really mean?  Does Hashem need our confirmation of the Torah’s truth?  Why is it that we ask that the “Truth,” and not the Torah itself, be given to Yaakov?  The following story may shed some light for us:


An affluent Jew once came to the Alter of Kelm with a strange request.  He had been offered a potentially enormously rewarding tract of real estate in Czarist Russia for a very large sum, but for a fraction of its true worth.  There was just one hitch.  Jews were not allowed to own any real estate there.  However, this wealthy Jew had a solution:  He would pay for the land but have its legal ownership written under the name of a non-Jewish Poretz (land baron) with whom he was on good terms.  The Poretz had told him that in return for a small partnership interest, this transaction would be no problem.  However, the Jew would have to put up all of the money required.  The money required was a small fortune and would almost totally deplete the Jew’s resources, but the money to be made could make the Jew one of the wealthiest people in Russia.


Now, he had come to the Alter for advice. Should he go ahead with the transaction?  Should he risk his small fortune for a much greater fortune?  Could he trust the Poretz?


The Alter responded that in all life situations, one is to look to the Torah for **true guidance.**  The Alter noted that that week’s Parshas HaShavua was Parshas Chaye Sora, in which Avraham Avenue asked Eliezer, his trusted servant, to find a wife for his son Yitzchok.  Although Eliezer was so loyal that he bowed down to Hashem (even while not in Avraham Avinu’s presence) when he realized that he had found Yitzchok’s “Bashert,” and although Avraham made Eliezer swear to him that he would not go elsewhere for a shidduch for Yitzchok, we are taught that if Avraham could have gone to Charan himself, he would never have sent, nor relied upon, his “trusted” servant.  The lesson from this, the Alter concluded, was that one could not take something of primary importance to him, and entrust it to someone who, albeit close, was not of his ilk.


Needless to say, the ambitious and aspiring individual did not follow the Torah-true guidance provided by the Alter.  The Poretz took the land in more than name only, and the once wealthy individual became groshenless.


So, the Torah is called Toras Emes, the Torah of Truth, not simply because it is true, because Hashem, who is Absolute Truth, does not need us to opine as to what truth really is.  Rather, when we call the Torah true, we acknowledge and affirm that we will look to the Torah for true guidance in all of our affairs and concerns.  It is said in the name of the Chazon Ish that one who named his newborn child after a person in the upcoming week’s Parsha was zoche to a special brocha for that child, for he showed that he looked to the Torah for guidance in the life of his new, precious possession.


Unlike Pesach and Succos which are seven days of Yom Tov, followed by one day of Isru Chag, Shavuos is one day, followed by seven days in which the Karbanos, the sacrifices, which could not be brought in one short day, were permitted to be offered in the Bais HaMikdosh.  Thus, we have seven, and not one, day to attempt to draw as much as we can out of the Holy Day.  One very important lesson is that we look and listen to the Toras Emes--so that the truth so inherent in Torah, as explained to us by our Rabbonim and teachers, overflows from the Torah into our everyday lives and situations!



Special Note Four:  In order to help implement Toras Emes in your daily life, we provide, for example, the following two Honesty Questions and Responses of HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita (as provided by www.torah.org).



If a person is going on a trip, and he wants to inform someone that he's arrived safely, is it permissible to make a call with a fictitious name as a signal to the other person?





I really dislike this sort of thing, and don't think it's permissible at all. It's gezel, thievery, in my eyes, and I don't see any way to permit it.




Some software that can be downloaded for free from the Internet comes with a provision that it is free only for an "evaluation period", let's say for thirty days, after which the software must be bought or destroyed. How strictly must one abide by this provision?





If a person needs more time for the evaluation period, I'm sure the company will not mind. It can be thirty-one days, or thirty-five days -- as long as it is still an evaluation period. When a person takes something for evaluation and keeps it, it is, as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein said, echt gezel (genuine theft).


I tell people constantly that no real success will come from something a person takes -- a book, or anything else -- that a person could buy, but which he figured out a way to get without buying. The person who produces the item wants to sell it. Typically the justification that the person who wants to use it gives to himself is that he wants to use it for some grand purpose. But think: what value does a grand purpose have that was achieved through gezel (theft)?



There's something called "share-ware" where a person is supposed to pay a $20 registration fee. I think the estimate is that not more than 5% of the people who use shareware actually pay for it.





But that doesn't make it right not to pay for it. If a person steals, he affects himself; the act affects his soul. You can't steal something and then hope to be the same person afterwards. It is important to appeal to people on the basis of themselves.





So it is also between a person and himself?







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