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Special Note One:  In order to begin to appreciate the great number of issues that these times generate, we provide below several Halachos from the Sefer Ashrei HaIsh, written by Rabbi Yechezkel Feinhandler, Shlita, containing the Pesakim of Rav Elyashiv, Shlita, and from the new (published last week) Sefer Koveitz Halachos which contains the Pesakim of HaRav Shmuel Kaminetzky, Shlita on the Bain HaMitzarim Period, as written by his close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita:


Pesakim of HaRav Elyashiv:


a.  It is permissible to make Sheva Brachos and to dance at them.


b.  An Askhkenazi may attend the Chatunah of a Sefardi after Shivah Asar BeTammuz because the Chattan is following his Minhag according to Halacha--therefore, there is a Mitzvah of Simchat Chattan V'Kallah. 


c.  HaRav Elyashiv rules that one cannot play an a capella tape during this period, because turning on the recorder is like turning on a musical instrument.  He also rules that it is assur to listen to Chazanus during this period.  One need not change the 'hold music' on his telephone line, however.


d.  Until Rosh Chodesh Av, one can buy and use utensils or clothing, but only if a Shehechiyanu need not be recited.


e.  During the Nine Days, it is permissible to travel to relatives for Shabbos, and this is not considered a 'tiyul'.


f.  One should avoid any activity which involves 'me'at sakana'--which may be a little dangerous.  If at all possible, one should not schedule non-emergency surgery during this period. 


g.  While it is permissible to purchase Seforim during the Nine Days, it is better to buy them beforehand. 


h.  One should not give gifts, or even send flowers during the Nine Days, but one can be lenient with a Bar Mitzvah gift.


i.  For Havdalah, it is best to give the wine or grape juice to a katan who knows how to make a bracha, but is not yet capable of mourning over Yerushalayim (i.e., until the age of approximately eight years old).  If there is no such katan available, it is still better for one to give the wine or grape juice to a katan under Bar Mitzvah, than drinking it himself.  However, if no such katan is available, even though a girl under the age of twelve is available, one should drink the wine himself.


Pesakim of Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky:


a.  One need not change the ring tone on his phone to a regular ring.


b.  If one has non-Jewish workers in his home, he need not instruct them to turn off their music.


c.  One is permitted to sit in a waiting room or to enter a store, where music is 'piped in'. 


d.  One is permitted to recite Shehechiyanu on Shabbos.  If one was Mekabel Shabbos early, one can recite Shehechiyanu even if it is still daylight outside. 


e.  One should not purchase a new Tallis during the Three Weeks, as it would require a Shehechiyanu.  However, it one's Tallis was lost, one can buy a new one and make a

Shehechiyanu even during the Three Weeks--he need not bother his friend to borrow his Tallis.


f.  One should not begin painting his home during the Three Weeks.  Similarly, one should not have 'body work' on his car during the Nine Days, if its purpose is to enhance the car's appearance.


g.  It is permissible for a woman to wear her regular, everyday jewelry during the Nine Days.


h.  It is best to be mechanech children to be 'me'ma'ait BeSimcha' during the Nine Days. For instance, they should not go to an amusement park or build a clubhouse.  Generally, one should also not make a 'birthday party' during the Nine Days--but if there is a specific situation one should ask a Shaila.


i.  One should not plant flowers for beauty's sake during the Nine Days.


All of the foregoing Pesakim highlight the serious nature of this period.  We urge you, if at all possible, to attend Rabbi Ribiat’s Shuir.  For further detail see the flyer linked near the outset of this Bulletin.



Special Note Two:  We continue with our series of special Chizuk and Care in Shemiras HaLashon during the Three Week Period.  The following Halachos are excerpted from the valuable Sefer Journey to Virtue by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita, (Artscroll, p. 42-44):


a.  Even if one is ordered to speak lashon hara by his father or Rebbi, it is forbidden to obey.  This applies even to avak lashon hara.


b.  One is even required to give away all his money to avoid transgressing the prohibition against lashon hara, as is the case with all other prohibitions in the Torah.  Clearly, then, it is also forbidden to speak lashon hara simply to avoid being insulted or branded a fool.   In this connection the Sages have said that “it is better to be thought of as a fool all one's life than to be wicked in Hashem's eyes for even one moment.”  Example: After school the boys were making fun of the math teacher.  Shimon refused to take part in this "rap" session and was branded "Frumie," "Tzaddik," etc.  In reality, Shimon was following the halachah, and will receive an unimaginable reward.


c.  Even if the speaker is merely joking and does not intend to disparage the subject his words are forbidden as lashon hara.  In addition, if one's intention is merely to "make the truth known," not to denigrate the subject, his words are still forbidden as lashon hara."  Example:  "He never lifts a finger to help anyone; I think you should know the truth."


d.  All forms of lashon hara are equally forbidden, whether it is spoken outright, expressed in writing, or simply hinted at indirectly.  The same applies to lashon hara conveyed by facial expressions, body language, or any other means of insulting or belittling someone.  Example:  Yaakov: “When Reuven comes, he will help you.” Yitzchak: (with cynical smile): “Sure, Reuven....”


e.  It is forbidden to belittle someone even if the subject's name is not revealed; as long as the listener can discern his identity (either at that time or at a later date), such speech is forbidden as lashon hara.  Example:  Teacher: Why did you speak lashon hara?  Leah:  I didn't say anyone's name.  Teacher:  Are you sure that they will never figure it out?


f.  Even when a statement contains no derogatory information, it is still prohibited as lashon hara if it will somehow cause harm or embarrassment to the subject or to anyone else.  Example:  Reuven related the information that Shimon was contemplating opening a business.  When Shimon found out, he was upset because he did not want the news known yet.


g.  It is forbidden to speak lashon hara when including oneself along with others even if he is more critical of himself.  Since he criticizes them as well, his statement is still considered lashon hara.  Example:  “Reuven and I were both speeding on the highway, but I was going faster.”


h.  Even if disparaging information is well known, it is still lashon hara to repeat it if one’s intention is to inform those who were unaware of the situation or to add further details.  Example: “You didn’t hear about it yet?  It was in the papers, so I can tell you.”


Let us take an extra moment of caution and care…so that we can be Zoche to the Geulah Sheleima.



Special Note One:  Today is the Seventeenth day of Tammuz, a fast day by Takanas HaNeviim, which is no small matter.  If we look at the number 17, we will soon realize that it is concomitantly the Gematria of each of “Oy”, “Chait”, and “Tov”.  Thus, we see that the power of the day need not only lie in the negative, but can and must extend to the positive and good, as well.


We typically remember that the first frightful event that happened on this day was Moshe Rabbeinu’s breaking of the Shnei Luchos which contained the Aseres Hadibros, as a result of the sin of the Golden Calf.  If only the people had shown enough faith to wait one more day for their venerable and venerated leader, their happiness and dancing would have resulted in the greatest Simchas Torah ever(!).  Instead, we still feel the pain from the torturous event.


In fact, there was one prior significant event on this fateful day which preceded the breaking of the Luchos.  The Luach Dovor B’Ito writes that the Yona, the dove sent by Noach out of the Ark, could not find a place to land and so returned to the Teiva (Bereishis 8:8).  The obvious question is, why would Noach bother sending the dove out without any indication whatsoever (from Hashem directly, or otherwise) that the waters had receded?  Was he taking a stab in the dark?  We may posit that Noach sensed or knew that the day was right for renewal and joy.  The fact that the dove returned indicated to him that it was he and his family, representing all of mankind, who were the ones not ready for this renewal.  The same lesson carried through on this date to the Golden Calf, and thereafter the subsequent tragedies on this day in which our people’s spiritual growth was stunted rather than cultivated.


Today and the three weeks in front of us should not be viewed as a burden to be overcome, evidence by our expression to others to have “an easy time of it.”  Instead, it should be a meaningful and important time in which we hope, pray and take action.  Depression and despair should not be the hallmark of these days, for they may evidence a breach or lack of faith which is the antithesis of spiritual growth.  We should learn from the gift of gravity that Hashem has given us to always keep both feet firmly on the ground despite the forces working against us.


It is the custom of some to recite “Tikun Chatzos” during the Three Week period--some even in the middle of the day.  We may not as yet be on this level.  However, we should remember that every day, three times daily in Modi’im, we thank Hashem “for the goodness given to us in the evening, in the morning, and in the afternoon.”  What goodness is it that Hashem gives us at these especially designated times?  We suggest that it is Tefillah itself.  If we can conclude the Yehi Ratzon at the end of Shemone Esrei with Kavana during these three weeks, three times a day, we will have sincerely davened for the Beis Hamikdash and our redemption more than 60 times during this short period!  Rather than wallowing in self-pity, we will demonstrate a renewal of our faith and have beautifully affirmed our supreme goals.


In the merit of our prayers, may we see with our own eyes the ultimate redemption at the beginning of the short period of special thought that lies ahead.



Special Note Two:  One of the wonderful side benefits of the Geulah Shelaima is described in the bracha of Hoshiva Shofteinu in Shemone Esrei with the words "VeHoseir Mimmenu Yagon Va'Anacha--and remove from us sorrow and groan."  Some explain this to mean that at the time of Geulah we will no longer feel the various pains associated with the Galus of the past (yagon) --nor will we experience any such pains going forward (anacha).  HaRav Schwab, Z'tl (in the monumental Rav Schwab on Prayer (Artscroll, p.473), explains a bit differently, as follows:  "the term yagon means the grief that one carries inside of him, while anacha is the loud sighing or moaning that one expresses (such as 'Oy') when the grief cannot be contained any longer."  How great will these days be!  Because, as the Chofetz Chaim explains in his introduction to the Sefer Chofetz Chaim, our Geulah Sheleima is inextricably intertwined with our Shemiras Halashon, we intend to provide a short daily reminder in Shemiras Halashon over the next Three Weeks.  To get a glimpse at the severity of the aveiros associated with Lashon Hora, we look to the Chazal (recently studied in the Daf Yomi) who teach that one who speaks and accepts Lashon Hora is fit 'to be thrown to the dogs' (this is derived from the juxtaposition of the Pasuk 'Lo Sisa Sheyma Shav' with the Pasuk 'LaKelev Tashlichun Oso').  Indeed, the Arizal comments (once again, based upon this very juxtaposition) that the tikun for a person who speaks Lashon Hora may be his gilgul into this world again as a dog (i.e., he is 'thrown to the dogs' in different kind--but more horrifying-- way).  We can surely conclude that *nothing*--no intellectual benefit, no feeling of revenge, no monetary gain, no temporal joy, could ever be worth the Lashon Hora spoken if its G-d Given consequence is 'being thrown to the dogs' in one extremely unpleasant way or another. On top of all that--look at all the people who want to be saved of yagon and anacha--and who may be denied of this wondrous benefit because of this or that inconsiderate person's few evil and fleeting words.


Rabbi Shimon Finkelman, Shlita writes in The Chofetz Chaim -A Daily Companion that "One can compare Lashon Hora to toxic waste, and the laws of Shemiras Halashon to the protective suit of people who must handle it.  Properly protected--one can save others from harm--and not hurt oneself in the process!"  Let us strengthen ourselves now and be especially vigilant to keep out even the harmful 'second-hand Lashon Hora' --for if not now--then when?!



Special Note Three:  Today at Mincha we recite Sim Shalom, rather than Shalom Rav.  The reason for this is that we Lein the Torah at Mincha, and Sim Shalom refers to the Torah and its greatness (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 127:2 and Rema there).  HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, rules that one should recite Sim Shalom even if he is not able to be in Shul for Mincha, and that women too should recite Sim Shalom on the Ta'anis.



Special Note Four:  Please remember to give Tzedaka today on the Ta'anis for as Chazal teach 'Igra DeTa'anisa Tzidkasa'.  If you need an address--we provide yadeliezer.org --which has been helping the poor in Eretz Yisroel for decades with true honor and real distinction.  Add the Navi's teaching that "Veshaveha BiTzedaka--those who return to Tzion will return with tzedaka" to the need to give on a Ta'anis itself --and we appreciate how much we can accomplish with some well placed funds on this very significant day.



Question of the Week:  Chazal (Sanhedrin 105A) teach that Bila'ams father, Be'or, was none other than Lavan himself.  What does that make the relationship between Bila'am and the 12 Shevatim (and their descendants) that Bila'am sought to curse?  What lesson can you derive from this important and incredible fact?



Special Note One:  As the fourth anniversary of the captivity of Gilad ben Aviva is observed, we must take a moment to feel his tza'ar and the tza'ar of his family.  May we suggest reciting Tehillim Chapter 20 with feeling?  No army or tanks, no money and no diplomacy can really free him--it is to Hashem that we turn for each and every salvation--and we turn to Hashem for his salvation as well.  One is hard pressed to think of other more difficult life situations than Gilad's--living among blood thirsty haters who would like nothing more than to do him harm.  Acheinu Kol Bais Yisroel.


Hakhel Note:  HaRav Eliashiv, Shlita, once visited someone very ill and told him that-- in spite of his very difficult illness--he must continue to follow Hashem's directive of U'Vacharta BaChaim--to choose life.  We simply don't understand the meaning, import and accomplishment of a moment of life in this world.  If Hashem tells us to be Mechallel Shabbos for an extra minute, if Hashem tells us that it is our obligation to "Venishmartem Me'od Lenafshoseichem--to *very much* guard our lives"--than we must take great heed of the One who created life--and knows its true meaning to us and to the world, no matter how grave the circumstances--or how difficult the situation.  U'Vacharta BaChaim--there is nothing comparable to a moment of life.



Special Note Two:  We provide the following essential teaching from Growth Through Torah, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita (pages 350-352). Although the general concept described below may be familiar to us all, we note the important conclusion--which is there for all of us to put into daily practice:


Chazal (Makos 10b) take note that Hashem initially told Bila'am not to go with Balak's messengers, who requested that he accompany them to curse Bnai Yisroel.  Hashem later told Bila'am that:  'If these people came to call you, arise, go with them.' 


From here Chazal derives the principle, "In the way a man wishes to go, he is led." 


If a person wants to do evil, he will be able to do so. Of course, he will have to pay a heavy price for the successful completion of his evil wishes. Conversely, someone who wishes to study Torah and fulfill the Hashem's commandments will be successful. For this, he will be greatly rewarded. When you wish to travel along the proper path in life, you will be Divinely assisted. Nothing stands in a way of a strong will. There are many things that you may wish for half-heartedly, but when you strongly set your mind on a particular goal, you will have the strength and abilities necessary to meet that goal. What a person truly wants in life, he will usually obtain (Alai Shur, pages 120-121). 


Rabbi Avigdor Miller (Rejoice O Youth, page 1) comments that Hashem guides that person who seeks wisdom, and the amount of guidance is in proportion to the earnestness of the seeker. 


When you feel a strong need for something, you will not feel the difficulties which you encounter insurmountable, even though you might have to work very hard to accomplish your goals. On the other hand, when you are not strongly motivated to do something, you will procrastinate and it will take you a very long time. Moreover, you will not do a very good job (Chochmah U'Mussar, Vol.2, p.180). 


It is up to you to intensify your will to do good. The stronger your will, the more you will actually accomplish. Lack of spiritual accomplishment does not come from lack of ability, but from lack of will. Work on developing a strong desire for spiritual growth and you will be amazed at the positive changes you will experience. 


Rabbi Ben Zion Yadler used to quote the Alter of Navardok, "There is no such thing as 'I cannot.' What happens is that a person is missing the will and then he claims that he cannot" (Betuv Yerushalayim, p.116).



Special Note Three:  With the crisis situation and defeats of the previous weeks, we experience a feeling of fear and strict justice.  Bila'am himself exclaimed, "Oi-Mi Yichyeh M'Sumo Kel-- OH!  Who will survive when He imposes these?" (Bamidbar 24:23)


It would seem appropriate, especially as we enter the period of the Three Weeks, for each one of us to do what we can to avoid this din, this strict justice, upon us individually and upon our families.  After all, Hillel teaches in Avos, "Im ain ani li mi li--If I am not for myself who will be for me?" (Avos 1:14 )  Last week, we wrote about the importance of  Chessed, especially Chessed which is infused with Rachamim--True Mercy.  The following are three additional recommendations--life vests supplied in turbulent waters:


1.  The Gemara (Rosh HaShana 17A) teaches "For one who passes over his Middos (e.g., does not anger, does not take vengeance, and does not react--even when the situation may completely justify it)--Hashem will, in turn, pass over his sins.  The Cheshbon is simple-you control yourself even when justified, and Hashem likewise controls His anger against you--even when justified.


2.  The Gemara (Sotah 21A) teaches that the study of Torah does not only save one from punishment once punishment has commenced--but actually even shields and protects one before the onset of any new punishment, as well.  The Gemara explains (based upon the Posuk in Mishlei (6:23)), that Torah is compared to the light of the sun, which unlike the light of a candle that eventually is extinguished, successfully provides light for a person day after day.  In the summertime, when the Tinokos Shel Beis Rabban--the schoolchildren--study less than when in school, we should try to make up the slack by learning a little more ourselves.


3.  It is said that in the name of Gedolim, that one should make Brachos aloud in order to cause others to answer "Amen."  This special level of gratitude and faith serves as an affirmation and reaffirmation of Hashem's control over the world, obviating the need for Hashem to remind us personally in other ways.  For an excellent review of this concept, you can order the tape "Attitude of Gratitude" (Rabbi Jonathan Rietti and Rabbi Yechiel Spero) from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation at 845-352-3505.


As is evident from all of the above, Hashem is not asking that we stand on our hands, stretch or shrivel, or do 180 degree flips!  Some nicely-made Brachos, some additional Torah study, some self-control in situations which last only a fleeting moment anyway, can be literally life-saving--and as troubles reach from Teheran to Emanuel, and from the Mediterranean Sea to Iowa, we must light up the darkness long enough and strong enough for us to survive until daybreak.



Special Note One:  We are pleased and excited to announce that Yearning with Fire--Longing for the Geulah and Enhancing Your Life in the Process (published by our affiliate The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation and Artscroll) is now available in Seforim stores.  We urge you to purchase this wondrous work by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, before the first printing is quickly exhausted.  Your learning through its practical and meaningful pages over the summer would be an especially significant and special goal.  If possible, try to get to the Seforim store on Sunday--or order the book directly from Artscroll.  You will most certainly not be disappointed.



Special Note Two:  We are excited to provide by the following link http://www.prayingwithfire.org/images/Newsletter6.pdf   the sixth issue of the Praying with Passion Series, produced by The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation.  Please spread this especially useful and inspirational publication to others.



Special Note Three: Because yesterday’s Daf referred to the Mitzvah of Peyos we once again provide an important link to The Kosher Haircut Guide Poster. We once again urge you to distribute this poster, in order to help many others in your community as well.



Special Note Four:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series.  The following Halachos are P’sakim of HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, which are excerpted from the monumental work, Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Hebrew) recently published by HaRav Yechezkel Feinhandler, Shlita.  Below is an “expanded version” of our Halachos of Shabbos Series:


a.  It is preferable to make Kiddush on wine than on grape juice, even if the wine is Mevushal and mixed with sugar, because it is more chashuv than grape juice.  Additionally, if one uses grape juice, it is preferable to add enough wine to it to make the wine taste tangible.


b.  If one wants to dilute his wine, it is preferable to dilute it with grape juice rather than water.  If there is more wine than grape juice in the cup, it is considered as if it is wine. 


c.  One must be Koveah Seudah Shabbos morning after Kiddush.  One may use a Yerushalmi Kugel for this purpose. 


d.  In the Bracha of Mai’ein Sheva in Shul on Friday night, one bows at the outset as if he is beginning Shemone Esrei. 


e.  The Mishna Berurah brings two opinions as to whether women are obligated to Daven Mussaf.  The first opinion (T'zlach) brought by the Mishna Berurah is that women are exempt from Davening Mussaf.  The Mishna Berurah then continues with the words “but the Magein Giborim rules that women are obligated to Daven Mussaf.”  HaRav Elyashiv states that the rule of the Mishna Berurah is that when he first quotes one opinion, and then states ‘Avol’ or ‘Achein’ (but) and brings a second opinion, the Mishna Berurah rules in accordance with that second opinion.  Accordingly, women are obligated to Daven Mussaf (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 106; Mishna Berurah seif katan 4).


f.  One must be wary of a Bar Mitzvah Bachur reading the entire Parsha for his Bar Mitzvah Parsha--because he is not accustomed to laining and is nervous, so there will be words which he recites from memory and does not read from the Torah itself. 


g. It is permissible to praise the Ba’las HaBayis for the Shabbos food that she prepared, even if it is not tasty, and it is indeed a Mitzvah to do so.


h.  If one does not have whole loaves of bread, he can take whole cakes.  If one has only pieces of bread, he should take two pieces, with each one being at least a K’zayis.


i.  It is permissible to use a frozen Challah for Lechem Mishna, even if it may not defrost during the Seudah.


j.  One should not discard a Havdalah candle directly into the garbage.  Rather, to show Kavod for the Mitzvah, one should first wrap it 9just as with the Shabbos candles, as we had mentioned last week). 


k.  In case of need, one may move a Muktzah object by ‘Tiltul Begufo’ such as with his legs or the back of his hands.  By ‘the back of the hands’, we do not mean that one can actually lift the object on the back of the hands; rather, we mean that one can push the item with the back of his hands.  Lifting the item with the back of one’s hands is the same as directly carrying the muktzah item, and this is not permissible. 


l.  If a lense or a sidepiece broke off one’s glasses, the glasses and the pieces are Muktzah, because one may come to fix them on Shabbos.  If, however, a piece broke fully or was totally destroyed, the glasses are not Muktzah if they can be otherwise used as is--because we are not worried that you will come to fix a piece that is totally broken or destroyed.


m.  A person can place a Siddur or Sefer on table in order to ensure that the table will not become a Bosis to the Shabbos candles.  However, it is a Bizayon to the Sefer if one takes it only for this purpose and puts it on the table.  Rather, one should learn from the Sefer a bit, and then one may leave it on the table.


n.  There is no problem utilizing thin, plastic tablecloths, plastic cups and other plastic utensils, or tissues, on Shabbos even though they are used once and discarded.  This is not considered to involve “Bitul Kli MeHeichano” because this is the object’s purpose to begin with.  However, an object that could be reused should not be used on Shabbos for something that will require it to be discarded.  For instance, a dirty diaper should not be placed into a bag that could be reused and was not otherwise set aside for this specific purpose.  Accordingly, it would be advisable to set aside bags for this purpose on Shabbos, so that there is no issue of “Bitul Kli MeHeichano”.


o.  A telephone book is not Muktzah, for it can be used to look up addresses.


p.  One should not place a pickle immediately adjacent to hot kugel if they will touch each other. However, there is no problem with their being close to each other on the plate, as the kugel may not be Yad Soledes Bo, and it is not a Pesik Reisha.


q.  If one must search for an article of clothing among articles of clothing, and one picks out the wrong article, he should put it back into the mixture--for when it comes to Borer in clothing, one can rely on the Maharshag, who rules that you can be lenient in this area.


r.  One may walk on a wet mat in front of the house, and it is not considered Sechita.  Similarly, one may walk with socks which are wet from rain--for it is a Pesik Reisha Delo Neicha Lai, not a the Derech of Sechita, and for other reasons as well.


s.  One should not drink water that has melted from ice, unless one has no other water.  However, if one has a cup of water and ice inside it, one may shake the cup so that the ice will melt more quickly, because it is already mixed with water.


t.  One who follows the opinion that it is forbidden to open bottle caps on Shabbos cannot ask a person who does open caps to open the bottle for him.  If the bottle was already opened, it would be permissible to drink from it--for the one who opened it relied on his Rav who permits it, and so there is no reason to penalize anyone.  Additionally, since one could have opened the bottle in a permissible manner, this is not considered as if one is obtaining benefit from a Ma’aseh Shabbos.


u.  An Uvdah DeChol may be defined as either something that appears to be a Melacha, or something that involves a Tircha MeRubah--excess effort.


v.  A Ba’al Teshuva had a son, and the Bris was scheduled for Shabbos.  The Ba’al Teshuva’s father told him that if he would make him Sandek, he would observe Shabbos that week.  The Ba’al Teshuva wanted a Gadol to be the Sandek.  HaRav Elyashiv ruled that it was “Poshut” that the grandfather should be the Sandek, in order to prevent him from Chilul Shabbos for one week.


w.  If one finds something on Shabbos which is not Muktzah, he can be zoche in the metzia on Shabbos, because it is Hefker and so there is no prohibition of Maseh Umatan, since it belongs to no one.


x.  One may forgive a debt on Shabbos, because it is not considered a Ma’aseh Kinyan.  Similarly, one can be Mafkir an object on Shabbos if there is a purpose in doing so (such as using a Kli which has not been Toiveled).


y.  When crossing the street on Shabbos, one may encounter a car which must stop or beep because of you.  One need not consciously avoid this, such as by crossing only when there are no cars.  However, one should not intentionally stand in the street with a car coming, which will result in the driver doing a Melacha DeOraysa.   


z.  If a person is Mechalel Shabbos BeShogeig, he must bring a Korban Chatas.  Until the Bais HaMikdash is rebuilt, one should read the Parshas Chatas (Vayikrah 4:27 -35 and 6:17 -23) and should make an effort to understand the way in which the Korban was brought.  If one was Mechalel Shabbos BeShogeig more than once, he should recite the Parsha separately for each time that he is aware of.



Special Note Five:  In Parshas Balak (Bamidbar 23:9), we find the prophecy of Bila'am come to life before our eyes:  "Hain Am Levodod Yishkon U'VaGoyim Lo Yischashav...behold, it is a nation that will dwell in solitude and will not be counted among the nations."  As we see how the nations have turned --to the point where they have championed the cause of terrorists (really out to kill them too) against us--we see how disregarded and despised we really are to them--because of who we are.  Perhaps one simple lesson we should take and apply for our times is to recite the bracha of "SheLo Asani Goy" with added kavana.  Would we ever want to act like this?!  Indeed, the joining of countries otherwise unfriendly with each other towards the common goal of hurting the Jew is reminiscent of the Midyan-Moav alliance for the same purpose, as described by Rashi in this week's Parsha.  One thing is for sure, just as the foregoing Pasuk in the Parsha was fulfilled--so too will the later words of Bila'am to Balak in the Parsha also be fulfilled: "Lecha Iatzecha Asher Ya'aseh Ha'am Hazeh LeAmecha B'Acharis HaYomim--Come and I will advise you what this people will do to your people in the end of days....May it come speedily and in *our* days--after all--it is all in one and the very same Parsha!



Special Note One:  In one of the most famous Tefillos known even to the uneducated, we chant that Hashem is a Kel Moleh Rachamim--that Hashem Himself is full of mercy.  Moreover, since Hashem is also known as 'HaMakom' because He fills the world--it means that *the world* is filled with His mercy.  It is therefore well within the realm of reason that yesterday's 'minor' earthquakes in the United States and Canada were mercy-filled reminders to us that earthquakes--and their quivering message--are not limited to the 'rest of the world' --whether it be the Indian coast, China, Haiti or even San Diego.  A good alarm clock will remind you even after you 'snooze' to get up.  A responsible person will arise with the gentle snooze-button reminder, without needing a foghorn or fire alarm to be awakened.  Let us take action now--and not wait until c'v' the noise gets (unnecessarily) louder.  Two days ago, we presented the Sefer Sha'arei Teshuva calendar--which divides the Sefer up into a few paragraphs a day through its completion in a three month period.  Taking this step by starting today if you have not already begun is certainly a sign that you have opened your eyes, and are saying “Modeh Ani”--I realize Hashem that you are the Source of everything, that I have a personalized purpose in life and immediate goals to accomplish--and I am getting Your Message loud and clear....Once again, click here for the Sha'arei Teshuva Schedule.


On this point:  In a recent Shiur, Rabban Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, provided a modern-day lesson as to why the ‘Waters of the Parah Adumah’ had the effect of purifying the impure and rendering impure the pure.  He explained (based on a teaching of the Ba’al Shem Tov) that after one obtains a level of purity, he must feel impure again, and then re-purify himself, recognize a new impurity, purify himself once again, and so on.  In other words, a person must feel the need to grow better and better.  After reaching one level, he should feel an inner need to progress further and go up another rung on the ladder.  For example, after one has become accustomed to davening every word of Shacharis only from a Siddur, he should move on to reciting Birkas HaMazon only from a Siddur, and then to reciting Kriyas Shema Al HaMitta only from a Siddur.  The growth process is clear, both internally and externally.  Rabban Gamliel added that the ‘externalities’ may also be important because others can (and do) subtly take note and learn from you as well.  When you stop talk during davening, for instance, the idea will impact upon your neighbors as well. 


The Medrash tells the story of a man who made a hole in his cabin in the boat, through which ocean water began to enter.  The startled other passengers viewing the event excitedly asked him what he was doing and rushed to close up the hole.  He told them to remain calm, as he had made the hole only in his cabin.  The absurdity of his claim was remarkably clear for all to see, as they waded in water knee deep.  Conversely, the actions of one person, whether it be the plugging of a hole surprisingly discovered in his own cabin, or the removal of the dangerous item from on the ship’s deck, can have a real and lasting effect on the others around him.  Rabban Gamliel urged everyone to realize that others, whether consciously or subconsciously, notice your actions and learn from them.  Just as we learn in Pirkei Avos that every person can be a ‘judge’ of others, we should also realize that every person is a‘melamed’, a teacher--as he teaches and instructs by his words, by his Middos, and by his conduct and actions as well.  So, as you improve yourself…get ready to improve the world along with you…all in your merit!



Special Note Two:  For the last 234 years, July 4th was a particularly meaningful day only to residents of the United States , as its independence day.  As we move ever closer to Moshiach's time, the day takes on new and significant meaning this year, for it is the day that the Torah community worldwide commences a new cycle of Mishna Yomis.  The incredible program of Mishna Yomis allows one to study just two (2) Mishnas a day-and finish all of Mishnayos in 5 and one-half years.  Many Mishna study aids are now available--including Mishnayos on line, Mishnayos on mp-3, Mishnayos on the Phone (718-436-4999), etc.  Here is one case in point on how you can accomplish so much in such little time:  In 1999, Rabbi Simcha Kallus, Shlita began the Mishna Yomi program at the Agudath Israel Bais Binyomin, 2913 Avenue L in Flatbush after the last Ma'ariv in Shul (together with Halacha Yomis), and will now be finishing Shas Mishnayos with his Shiur for the second time (the Shiur--including Halacha Yomis--is now from 10:30 to 11pm every night, with Ma'ariv preceding at 10:15, and another minyan for Ma'ariv after at 11pm).  One who joins the Mishna Yomi program will realize that, as days pass and time goes by, his Torah study and breadth of knowledge (yedios) will accumulate in an unassuming but extremely significant way.  A Mishna Yomi calendar is available at hakhel.info in our Resources section.  Mishna Yomi is an especially meaningful project to begin at this time of year--by Rosh Hashanah alone, you will have learned *over 100 Mishnayos* in a short period of time every day!



Special Note Three:  Summer is a time when people get up and go--hopefully not only physically but spiritually (as above).  For those physically traveling to parts where a Rabbi or Kashrus certifying agency is unknown, you may contact us and we will attempt to supply the name and contact information of a local or regional Kashrus certifying agency.  Hakhel Note:  At the recent gathering on Halachos and Hashkafos of the summer, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita taught that Halacha makes no allowance for vacationing in a location where there is no minyan (unless a specific Shaila is asked, in which other factors may be taken into consideration by the Posek).



Special Note Four: In his classic commentary on the Mishna, Rabbeinu Ovadiah MiBartenura teaches that upon entering the Azarah, when bringing Bikkurim, one would recite the last Chapter of Tehillim (Tehillim 150)--“Halelukah Hallelu Kel Bekadsho.”  In fact, we recite this very chapter daily as one of the climactic moments of Pesukei DeZimra.  Why?  Rabbi Shimshon Pincus, Z'tl, teaches that when reciting Pesukei DeZimra one should view himself as if he is in the Azara!  We should not let the daily moment of our recital of this short but powerful Kepitel go by without visualizing our presence in the Azara--as we prepare to enter even further into the Bais HaMikdash, getting into the Heichal for Birkas Kriyas Shema...until we stand before the Kodesh Hakodashim itself as we recite Shemone Esrei.  If we can begin to visualize ourselves in the Bais HaMikdash every time we daven Shacharis, coming closer and closer and closer to Hashem's Presence as we proceed through davening--we should naturally have a much easier time walking in, viewing and experiencing--and not only visualizing--the Third and Lasting Bais HaMikdash--may it come speedily and in *our* days!



Reminder:  As new “peace flotillas” (read “war ships”) are set to mock, profane, and attack our people, we remind our readers of the connection between Tehillim Chapter 120 and 121.  It would appear very appropriate during these days for us to be reciting these two Kepitlech with Kavannah daily.  In all events, throughout the day, you should remember the powerful and all-encompassing Posuk “Ezri Me’im Hashem Osei Shamayim Va’Aretz--my help is from Hashem, Maker of heaven and earth.”

Special Note One:  Chazal in Makkos (recent Daf Yomi) teach us that if a Kohein Gadol is appointed *after* someone murders BeShogeig, the one who murdered BeShogeig must go to an Ir Miklat, and may only return upon the death of this Kohein Gadol.  The question is what could this Kohein Gadol have done, after all the murder had already been committed before he became Kohein Gadol?  Chazal respond that even though the murder had been committed, the Gemar Din, the judgment relating to the murder, was not finalized--and through his Tefillos the newly appointed Kohein Gadol could have helped change the result so that the murderer could have achieved another Kappara without having been subjected to a forced stay in the Ir Miklat.  His failure to sufficiently daven for a positive judgment links him to the murder BeShogeig that had in fact already occurred!  Based upon this teaching, we can begin to appreciate how important our Tefillos are before a Gemar Din.  Even with an initial perverse judgment and sentence that may have been meted out against R’Shalom Mordechai ben Rivka Rubashkin, it is to the Gemar Din that we look--and to which our Tefillos must be extended.  Please continue to remember him--for it is not the initiation of the process--but the Gemar Din--the conclusion that counts.  Just as we are given a reprieve after Rosh Hashana until Yom Kippur and even Hoshana Rabba…let us extend the same consideration to R’Shalom--so that his Gemar Din, as ours, is filled with Rachamim as well!


Special Note Two:  At a recent gathering, HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, spoke on the topic of Tzipisa L’Yeshua--yearning for the Redemption.  In light of recent world events, he noted, Yeshua may not be too far away.  HaRav Salomon taught that yearning for the Redemption is an Avodah SheBelav--our thoughts must long for the moment.  When we recite the important words in Aleinu of “Al Kein Nekave...liros meheira--we yearn to speedily see soon your mighty splendor…to perfect the universe through Your sovereignty”, the words must emanate not from our lips, but from the recesses of our hearts and minds.


HaRav Salomon related in the name of the Chofetz Chaim the story of a man on the street who was impatiently pacing back and forth.  When asked by a bystander what it was exactly that he was waiting for, he tersely responded “For my cab--my flight is leaving in two hours and the cab is not here!”  Looking around, the onlooker then queried “But I see no luggage--where is your luggage?!”  Startled, the man realized he had no luggage because he had neglected to pack!  HaRav Salomon explained that we cannot legitimately say that we are “Mechakim Anachnu Lach” unless we have ‘packed’--for without the luggage there can be no real trip. 


The twelfth of the thirteen Foundations of our Faith--the Ani Ma’amins succinctly describes our belief in the Moshiach’s arrival--there are really two elements.  The first is BeVias HaMoshiach--that there is a Moshiach and that he will come.  There is, however, a second essential belief as well.  It is Ve’af Al Pi Sheyismahmaiah--even if there may be delay, nevertheless I anticipate every day that he will come.  In other words, it is not enough to believe that there is a Moshiach and that he will come--one must also be a Mechakeh--truly and sincerely yearn and long for him to come daily.  When saying the words “Achakeh Lo Bechol Yom She Yavo--I await his arrival every day, one is asserting an essential declaration of faith--that he expects Moshiach to come at any time.


Rav Salomon referred to the Rambam in Hilchos Melachim (12:5) which states that in the time of Moshiach there will not be any famine or war, no jealousy or contention.  Everything we need will be plentiful as the sand.  The times will be wondrous, as in lieu of physical (and yes, even technological) pursuits we will be involved only in the area of “LoDaas Es Hashem--spiritual elevation and fulfillment--with mankind at its summit.  Our Avodah *now* is to yearn for these times--daily.  We know that they will come, and that every day that passes brings us a day closer.  Each day should be marked by our true and sincere prayers when we recite our Tefillos such as ‘Al Kein Nekaveh Lecha…VeSimloch Aleinu Mehaira…Ki MiChakim Anachnu Lach.”  Certainly when reciting the Ani Ma’amin we should visualize the pristine joy of his coming on the very day itself.


We must think and long for the Geulah--for our longing for it will make it a reality!


Special Note One:  As Klal Yisroel quivers from the absurd and abusive Din meted out by ‘judges’ against our brothers, both in Eretz Yisroel and in America, we are once again reminded of the difficulties and troubles we are subjected to in a time of Din from Above.  The way we can combat the tribulations of Din is by proving ourselves worthy of receiving “Lifnim Mishuras HaDin--something better than what actual Din would require.”  Just as the ‘justice’ meted out by flesh and blood can be cruelly distorted and perverted in the wrong direction, so too can we calmly and gently sway it back towards mercy and kindness through our actions.  One of the great ways of accomplishing this task is through the study of Mussar, which brings one closer to Hashem through personal introspection, progressive self improvement, and Teshuvah.  Today, the 10th day of Tammuz, is exactly three months from the 10th day of Tishrei--Yom Kippur.  We provide by clicking here a method by which over the next three months you can take part in taking the Din reverberating against us and help move it towards Chessed and Rachamim.  The link contains a daily study program for the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva, studying a few short passages a day for the upcoming three month period.  The Sefer is, of course, also available in English as the ‘Gates of Repentance’ (Feldheim Publishers).  We note that the link actually provides for the Program beginning on the 1st day of Tammuz and ending on Rosh Hashana.  We simply ask that you move everything up ten days so that you begin today and end on Yom Kippur.  Through our joint efforts, we can take a most difficult period, and turn it into the greatest of times.



Special Note Two:  The following fascinating analysis is excerpted from the most recent issue of the OU’s Daf HaKashrus, and was written by Rabbi Eli Gersten, RC Recorder of OU Psak and Policy.  It provides a great lesson to us in the care we must put into making our Brachos:


“A Larabar is a date bar made by the Larabar company, and is certified kosher by the OU.  There are multiple varieties, but each of them contains, as the primary ingredient, dates.  The other ingredients, depending on the variety, are nuts, spices, and other fruits.


What is the beracha rishona?  How many bars must be eaten before making a beracha achrona, and what should the beracha achrona be?



Dates, along with the other ingredients, are mixed together and pressed into a dough.  According to Larabar, the amount of date in a bar ranges from 40-70 percent, depending on the product.  Even when date constitutes only 40 percent of the product it is the ingredient present in greatest proportion.  The dates, besides giving flavor, also serve as a base for the bar.



Although dates, when pressed into a dough, are not readily identifiable, at least visually, as dates, Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 202:7, and cited in Mishna Berurah, 202:42) nevertheless states that the appropriate beracha is Borei pri ha’eitz (in many other cases, when a fruit, or food, loses its identity and is subsumed in a mass or dough, the appropriate beracha is she’hakol (See Mishna Berura 202:42).



One must eat a minimum of a kezayis of the date itself or in combination with other fruits of the shivas haminim (grapes, figs, olives, pomegranates) in order to make an al ha’eitz.  The size of a Larabar is 2.8 inches long, 1.3 inches wide, and .56 inches thick.  This means that it is just over two cubic inches, or about 34 cubic centimeters (or 1.1 fluid ounces).  According to Rav Chaim Nah, a kezayis is 27 cubic centimeters.  Therefore, even in a bar which contains 70 percent dates, there is only about 23 cubic centimeters of dates.  Even if the bar contains some raisins it is unlikely that there would be a kezayis of shivas haminim fruit.  Therefore, an al ha’eitz would be inappropriate after eating only one Larabar.  However, two Larabars definitely contain a kezayis of dates--even if dates were to make up only 40 percent of the bar and the bar contains no raisins.  After eating only one Larabar, the appropriate beracha is borei ne’fashos (see Mishna Berura 210:1).  After eating two bars, the appropriate beracha is al ha’eitz.  There may or may not be a kezayis of date after one and a half Larabars, and therefore unless one can tell that there is clearly a kezayis of dates and possibly raisins, the safest strategy is to either eat no more than one bar or to make sure to consume at least two bars.


Hakhel Note:  Truth be told, if we don’t know the proper Bracha to make on a particular food item, whether at a catering establishment, at a restaurant or at home, it is simply inappropriate to consume that food.  Hashem has provided us with so much bounty--let us recognize it with a proper and sincere Bracha--both before and after your privileged partaking of it!



Special Note One:  At the outset of last 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 Two:  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 Three:  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:


A person can perform acts of Chesed with a minimum of effort-- 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.


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!).


 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!


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?


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


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!




Special Note One:  What Brachos is made on Fiber One cereal?  The first ingredient is listed as ‘corn bran’ and the second ingredient as ‘whole grain wheat’.  According to the OU Kashrus Line (which gives the Hashgacha on the cereal), the correct Bracha combination is a Mezonos/Al Hamichya.



Special Note Two:  The following alert is posted on www.kashrut.com.  Readers

can subscribe on this site to receive future Kashrus alerts as well. 


“Southern Comfort:  According to noted authority on alcoholic beverages Rabbi Shmuel Semelman, who is affiliated with the Jerusalem Religious Council Kashrut Division, there are three categories of Southern Comfort.

Produced in Ireland, with a hechsher from Badatz Basel and Badatz Beit Yosef.  This is ONLY the case if the kashrut symbols are visible on the bottles, which are parve.  A special run has been imported with approval via the Jerusalem Rabbinate due to the efforts of Rabbi Semelman, BUT ONLY those exhibiting the hechsherim listed above and they too are parve.

There is another produced in Ireland, which is "authorized" by the London Beit Din, but it is NOT under the organization’s supervision.  This is categorized as dairy chalav akum. (Produced in the USA and bottled in Ireland. This is sold in Israel and in duty free.  The alcohol is distilled from whey/dairy).

The third is manufactured in the United States, and it is not authorized, and it may contain non permitted wine. (Produced and bottled in the USA).”

On a related note, we received the following update, as issued by the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO):


“In May 2010, AKO released an alert about Jewish owned American whisky companies.  The following updated link provides questions and answers about that alert”: http://tinyurl.com/23gq95n



Special Note Four:  In yesterday’s Bulletin, we provided an invaluable insight from Rabban Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, on the concept of ‘Yotzer Ohr U’Voreh Choshech”.  In the same Sefer (Sefer Tiv Hatefillah), he provides another incredible teaching:  In the middle Brachos of Shemone Esrei, we make a series of requests to Hashem.  One would think that in order to demonstrate their outstanding importance, the Brachos requesting the Geulah should be recited first, and the other more personal requests, such as our request for Parnassah for ourselves and K’lal Yisroel, should come later.  In fact, this is not the case.  Why the juxtaposition?  HaRav Rabinovitch explains that there is a great lesson here.  The Anshei Knesses HaGedolah--who put Shemone Esrei into this order-- are teaching us how to optimally daven for the Geulah.  We should not primarily daven for the Moshiach and the Binyan Bais HaMikdash to come so that we will have a Parnassah Tova and a Refuah Sheleima.  Rather, we should daven for Geulah for its own sake--to bring the world to the state that it should be in--which will give Hashem and everyone in the world true nachas and fulfillment.  It is for this reason that we ask Hashem for Health and Parnassah first, so that we Daven for the Geulah not out of personal desperation--but out of sincere and heartfelt inspiration! 



Special Note Five:  Within the last several months, a monumental work, entitled:  Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Hebrew) has been published by HaRav Yechezkel Feinhandler, Shlita.  The current three volumes contain the collected P’esakim of HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, with footnotes as to the actual sources of these P’esakim.  We present below a sampling of these rulings by HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita: 


a.  One need not wash his hands after a blood test.


b. If one has left the bathroom and not yet washed his hands, he is not permitted to answer Amen to a Bracha. 


c. When one cuts his nails, it is permitted to speak words of Torah, and, in fact, it is a Mitzvah to continue to do so, even though if one has not yet washed his hands after cutting his nails. 


d.  A child of ten or eleven should be trained to wash his hands after touching parts of the body which are typically covered.


e.  One should not answer Amen to any Bracha, or to any Davar SheBekedusha, when hearing it over the telephone, for one does not have any real connection to the Bracha made in the other place.  Rather, it is as if one received a telegram that a person in another city was making a Bracha at a given time, upon which, of course, one would not answer Amen either.


f.  One way to accomplish the Halacha of “Yispallel Derech Tachnunin KeRash--Davening with supplication as one in need” (as required by Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 98:3):  HaRav Elyashiv advises that one’s voice should be in a supplicatory tone, as the voice of a poor person knocking on your door begging for alms.  When a person does so, he demonstrates his absolute dependence on Hashem and that he relies only upon Him, and with this there is a “Sikuy Harbeh Yoser Gadol--a much greater chance” that his Tefillos will be accepted.  When we say Shema Koleinu or Shema Kol Tachanuneinu we are referring to this very important element of our Tefillah--the Kol in which we express it! 


g.  If one is sitting in an inner seat on an airplane, and cannot leave his seat to Daven, or for other personal needs, without waking up the person in the aisle seat, he is permitted to do so. 


h.  It is better for a person Davening in Shul to make his personal requests after finishing Shemone Esrei in Elokai Netzor, so that he will be able to answer to Kadish or Kedusha.  However, if one is Davening at home, or there is otherwise no issue as to answering to Kadish or Kedusha, it is better to make one’s personal request within the relevant Brachos of Shemone Esrei. 


i.  If one is very tired, and is unsure which Bracha he is reciting in Shemone Esrei, the Halacha is as follows:  Within the first three Brachos, he goes back to the beginning of Shemone Esrei; within the last three Brachos he goes back to Retzei; and within the middle Brachos he goes back to the Bracha that he definitely did not say.  As to a Bracha in the middle Brachos that he is unsure that he recited, HaRav Elyashiv is of the opinion that one should not recite it (although it requires **further investigation**).  The Steipler Gaon however clearly rules that, in the situation of doubt, one should recite even a Bracha in Shemone Esrei that he is unsure he recited.


j.  The Halacha of ‘Vekidashto’ does not mean that a Kohein goes to the front of a line.  


k.  LeChatchila, it is inappropriate to have images of lions in Shul, on the Sefer Torah Covering, or on top of the Aron Kodesh. 


l.  The Birchas Ore’ach in Bentching should be recited by every guest and not just the guest who is leading the Birkas HaMazon. 


m.  A customer in a restaurant should recite the HaRachaman for the Ba’al Habayis and bless the owner of the restaurant, even though he is paying him for the food--after all, one benefits from the nourishment and satiation and should be Makir Tov and bless him.


n.  If one has tea and cake in front of him, he should make a Shehakol on the tea first (although one would usually make the Bracha of Mezonos first), for if he does not, he will place himself into a situation of a Safeik Bracha on the tea, for it may be Tafel to the cake.


o.  If one wants to eat chocolate and a fruit, he should make a Shehakol on the chocolate first and then a Borei Pri Haeitz on the fruit (although one would usually make a Haeitz before a Shehakol), because it may well be that the Haeitz covers the chocolate as well.



Special Note Six:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series, with additional P’sakim of  HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, from the Sefer Ashrei HaIsh:


a.  Although the Posuk states “Vehaya Bayom HaShishi Vehaichiynu--and it was on the sixth day that they prepared”, there may be other reasons--such as lower prices--for buying foods for Shabbos on other days.  There is no obligation to spend more money than one has to.


b.  HaRav Elyashiv polishes his own shoes for Shabbos, and does not allow anyone to help him for any reason.


c.  Tasting food before Shabbos is a Mitzvah, above and beyond tasting the food while preparing in order to ensure that it is tasty LeKavod Shabbos.


d.  The first time a women lights Shabbos candles, she does not make a Shehechiyanu.  If she would like to, she should put on a new article of clothing. 


e.  With respect to Mitzvah objects, such as frayed Tzitzis or an old Menorah, one should be careful to discard it “Bederech Kavod”.  Accordingly, with respect to wicks and wax that have been left over from Shabbos candles, it is more appropriate not to dispose of them directly into the garbage, but one should wrap them first.


f.  If one did not hear the word ‘Baruch’ in Kiddush, he is not Yotzei, for without this word, there is no Bracha.  One should additionally note that the Ikar Kavannah in Kiddush is Zecher LeYetzias Mitzrayim. 


g.  If one made Kiddush on Shabbos morning and ate Mezonos, he would make a combined Bracha of ‘Al HaMichya VeAl HaGefen.”  If he forgot to recite the “Al HaGefen” portion of the Bracha, he is still Yotzei his after-bracha on the wine or grape juice with the words of ‘Al Hamichya’ alone. 



Special Note One:  The following notification was passed around Flatbush and Boro Park last night, but really applies on an international basis as well:  “A Rebbetzin recently reported that a man came to the door of her Shul and said he wanted to come inside to learn.  She let him in.  A few hours later she went into the Shul and saw that all the Pushkas were missing, and some pairs of Tefillin were taken.  If you see something say something.  If someone unfamiliar looking stays around in Shul after the regulars have left it's a good idea to inquire - who are you?  A Shul should be locked when the regular Mispallelim leave and the last of the members leaving should please not leave if there are any unfamiliar faces remaining in the Shul.  The Tefillin you save from being stolen may be your neighbor's. (or your own)!” 


Hakhel Note:  One should very much consider whether Tefillin should be left in Shul, unless locked away, and Gabboim should always exercise a great degree of care with respect to Pushkas.  Interestingly, a Shomer Chinam may have a greater degree of responsibility towards the objects of others than he would exercise over his own items or objects.  For example, if one keeps his car doors open as a matter of course, being unconcerned that anything will be taken (a questionable practice, in light of the prohibition of Lifnei Iver), one would nevertheless be required to lock his car doors if someone else’s objects are inside, as that is the standard practice and the failure to do so may constitute Peshia, negligence, for which even a Shomer Chinam is responsible. 



Special Note Two:  A reader inquired as to what we meant by “corn off the cob”.  We did not mean corn taken off the cob with a knife or other instrument--we meant corn purchased in a can or freezer package, which has been cleaned and processed, and this may be eaten without further inspection.



Special Note Three:  At a recent Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro, Shlita, made the following two essential points:


a.  You are not always zoche to see the fruits of your efforts immediately (just as you may not always see the ruin wrought by an Aveira)--so you should always make the effort.  He told a story of someone on a plane who had just put on Tefillin and asked the man sitting next to him (who was obviously Jewish) if he would like to put on Tefillin as well.  The man graciously declined the offer.  After stepping away for a few minutes, the frum person returned to his seat and was surprised to see the man next to him  now wearing Tefillin, being guided by his other neighbor across the aisle.  He later explained to the first person who offered--“I wasn’t yet ready when you offered, but I was ready when he asked me the same question”.  The lesson is clear--the first offer paved the way, softening the ground and the heart, so that the second request could make its mark.  Even if you feel your efforts may be for naught, you may never know what the true outcome will be…until Olam Haba, that is!


b.  If one sees somebody hurt or embarrassed, he should try to lift his spirits by praising them for their character or fortitude, or in some other way.  Moreover, if you see someone who is ‘sovel’--who weathers an embarrassment without fighting back, one should approach them for Bracha, for they have just accomplished an incredible deed, not only on earth, but in the heavens as well.  Rabbi Shapiro related that he personally did this--he expressed his admiration to a non-religious waiter in a restaurant after the waiter had been humiliated by another customer.  He then asked him for a Bracha, explaining that his act of self control was a truly sacred and meritorious one.  The waiter was so moved that, as a direct result, he began to study Torah with Rabbi Shapiro, and within several months, both he and his wife became religious. 



Special Note Four:  We are excited to provide by the following link http://www.prayingwithfire.org/images/Newsletter5.pdf   the fifth issue of the Praying with Passion Series, produced by our affiliate, The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation.  Please spread this wonderfully meaningful and useful publication to others!



Special Note Five:  Raban Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, provides an incredible insight on the words:  “Yotzer Ohr U’Voreh Choshech” that we recite in Shacharis every morning:


The light and the dark of a day are the physical symbol and embodiment of the light and dark periods in a person’s life, and in Jewish history.  The night-period of a day is not to be wasted, and is, in fact, considered to be an essential period for Torah study (see the powerful words on this in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 238:1, and Mishna Berurah there, seif katan 1).  So too, are more difficult periods in a person’s, or in our People’s, life, a time for great spiritual growth.  HaRav Rabanovitch provides the following simple Mashal:  When someone is traveling down a mountain, he will get to the bottom much quicker than his friend who is taking the very same route up to the top.  A person who serves Hashem in difficult times is like one descending the mountain, and will attain his ‘Tikkun’--will realize his potential and will attain his goals--much quicker than one who serves Hashem when all is bright and cheery--for attaining one’s necessary Tikkun is then more difficult--as if climbing up the mountain.  We may live in turbulent times, but there is an incredible Bracha inherent in them.  Every individual, and Klal Yisroel as a whole--with the proper Avodas Hashem, with the proper Teshuva and Ma’asim Tovim while going down the mountain--can quickly and much more readily reach our final Tikkun and ultimate destination.  It is for this reason that we thank Hashem for being the Yotzer Ohr--and the Voreih Choshech!



Special Note One:  Sunday night’s Special Kinus entitled “Vacation Mode:  Practical Halachos and Hashkofos of the Summer included a masterful Shiur given by Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita.  Rabbi Lieff (in the name of the HaRav Moshe Cordorvero, Z’tl, and the Shelah HaKadosh, Z’tl) brought a Posuk which could be recited and used as a Segulah to avoid some of the negative temptations and enticements of the summer.  The Posuk is:  “Aish Tamid Tukad Al HaMizbeach Lo Sichbeh--the fire shall be kept permanently burning on the Mizbe’ach, and should not be put out.”  In explaining this Segulah, the K’sav Sofer notes each and every one of us is a Mizbe’ach, and that it is one’s personal obligation and duty to keep his own fire on the Mizbe’ach alive and burning.  When met with an earthly challenge this summer, remember and recite the Posuk--in order to put the moment in its proper perspective--and in order to ensure that the true fire of life stays with you and is not replaced by a worthless and desire-filled one.


Hakhel Note:  For those out of town and for those who were unable to attend the Kinus, which in addition to Rabbi Lieff’s moving Shiur, also included an important Shiur in Summer Halachos by Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, we provide the following options:  Any Shul which would like to view the video produced by the Torah Communications Network can contract msmith@corp.idt.net .  Any individual who would like to purchase tapes or CD’s can contact the Hakhel Tape and CD Center: 718-252-5274.



Special Note Two:  Before taking leave of Parshas Korach, we provide the following insights:


a.  The Pasuk states--"VaYakumu Lifnei Moshe--and the [rebellious ones] stood up before Moshe".  Some explain that the Pasuk is telling us that they stood *before Moshe arrived* so that they would not have to show him the respect of standing upon his arrival.  We derive two great lessons from this.  First, in order to be in a machlokes with someone, you must strip away the respect that you [really do] owe him--otherwise you will not be able to remain in a Machlokes with someone to whom honor is really due.  Husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, uncles and cousins, in-laws and out-laws take heart--the degree of machlokes will be inversely proportional to the honor given to the person with whom you may have grounds to disagree.  Second, we see the importance of standing in front of one who deserves our respect--whether it be a parent, Rav, Rebbe, or elder--instead of avoiding, forgetting about or ignoring  the issue--make it a point to make it a part of your life for all to learn from.  if only they had stood for Moshe Rabbeinu...thousands upon thousands of lives--and all their future descendants would have been saved.  No act of respect is too small...


b. In the monumental work The Laws of Interpersonal Relationships by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita (Artscroll, p.80), the following words are brought as Halacha LeMa'aseh:  "Even if one side is absolutely right and the other is absolutely wrong, both sides are obligated to make every effort to seek peace.  Even if those in the wrong willfully continue to antagonize others, the side in the right is still obligated to maintain efforts to make peace. Failing to do so violates the prohibition against upholding machlokes.  The Torah describes how Moshe sent messengers to Dasan and Aviram to speak to them, and Chazal comment that had Moshe not done so, he would have been guilty of upholding machlokes."  when it comes to avoiding machlokes there is  literally an extra level of care--of what you would have otherwise considered to be a 'midas chassidus'--to be a part of the Halacha LeMa'aseh itself!



Special Note Three:  While leaving Parshas Korach, we note that the world at large continues to be exposed to earthquakes-- most recently from the waters near India to the shores of San Diego , where "dozens of earthquakes” rattled the city.  As these 'natural' events, or reminders, if you will, continue to occur, there may be something else going on during our lifetimes as well.  Some compared the recent volcanic ash to the Makka of Barad in Egypt , because it consisted of both fiery and frozen elements.  Several weeks ago, we noted the frog invasion in Greece .  Most recently, there are reports of a "great locust plague" which may attack Australia , with risk to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of crops. 


Chazal (Yalkut Shimoni: Shemos 182) teach that all of the Makkos that Hashem brought on the Mitzriyim will in the future be brought again (based upon the Posuk in Yeshaya 23:5).  Now, you may ask, "Could these recent events be allusions to the imminent Makkos, or even shades of the Makkos themselves--after all, they are not in the specific and well-defined order of the Makkos as we know them?”  We may suggest that when Dovid HaMelech describes the Makkos in Tehillem (Chapters 78 and 105), the Makkos are likewise not presented in the order that we are all familiar with.  Perhaps this is a Remez, a hint to the Makkos of the final Golus, which will not necessarily be in the original order as well.  We do not yet have a Navi to tell us.  What we do have are the hearts of Torah Jews, which should be telling us what the Jews in Goshen were feeling when the 'extraordinary' natural events started to somehow become the ordinary in Egypt .  In San Diego, the earthquake disturbed the major league baseball game, but they were able to forget about it and continued playing a few minutes after the tremor ceased (no joke)--almost like the hardening of the heart of the Mitzriyim to the 'natural' events, occurring 'coincidentally' one after the other, that befell them.  We should know better.  Those Jews who did not hear the message, or who did not want to hear the message, at that time were lost in the plague of 'natural' darkness--seemingly in a Middah K'Neged Middah for the darkness they had created for themselves.  As far as we know, we have seen many dark events over the recent years, but we have not yet seen the plague of darkness in our day.  By recognizing the Yad Hashem, by increasing our Yiras Shomayim, our Shivisi Hashem LeNegdi Somid--especially as the summer months approach where there are so many roadblocks and obstacles to Hashem's Presence before us--we too, like our ancestors then--will walk away during the plague of darkness with the riches of the world...because to us the 'natural' darkness will be a time when we merit a greater degree of all that we had been working on all along--basking in the light of Hashem's Presence!



Special Note One:  We received the following moving words from a reader yesterday:  "Today, the 2nd of Tammuz, marks exactly 30 years since I made the move to a Torah way of life.  The difference between living the life of a secular Jew and that of a Torah Jew is too great to describe and almost impossible to put into words, so I won't even try.  I'm indebted to all the gedolim and tzaddikim around me who have taught me, by the spoken word and by example, what Torah is all about and what it means to be a truly frum Yid.  I hope that I'm zoche to have you wonderful people around me for many, many years to come."  Hakhel Note:  Those who were born into a Torah home certainly have no less reason to thank Hashem for this unparalleled gift.  But why wait for a yearly anniversary or one's birthday--it is truly a daily celebration--Modim Anachnu Lach...!



Special Note Two:  Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of The Halachos of Brachos and several other works provided us with his method of checking Corn on the Cob, as especially in the summer months there may a higher level of insect infestation:

"Inspect as follows:  Remove the husks with a quick movement (outer leaves) while simultaneously watching to see if anything moves on the corn. Then check both sides of each leaf for small thrips. The thrips are white, yellow, or gray.  If the leaves are clean, the corn may be eaten without further checking.  However, if any insects are seen on the leaves, there is a high probability that they also may be lodged between the kernels, in which case one should cut the kernels from the cob, rinse them thoroughly and use as kernels."


Hakhel Note: As we mentioned last week, because of infestation, Rabbi Moshe Vaya, Shlita, recommends using corn taken off the cob on a year round basis.



Special Note Three:  A reader noted that our reference to the vaadhakohanim.org may suggest that there are no other opinions as to the permissibility of Kohanim to fly out of certain airports.  We are sorry for giving this misimpression.  The Bulletin is not intended as Halachic P'sak, and is intended only to present and highlight issues and suggest possible resolutions.  For instance, because Newark airport is specifically designated as coffin-free by El Al, it may be a simpler approach for Kohanim to take this route.  However, your Rav or Posek may have a very different opinion.  The same highly educated reader made a similar comment to the Rav Hamachshir's plea we published last week, in which he urged people to come in to the kitchen and ask questions, and show the caterer and workers that you were concerned.  The reader, quoting a Gadol, wrote that Eid Echad Ne'eman Be'UIssurin is the more Halachic approach, and that one should keep his nose out of the kitchen since one doesn't really know what to ask or what should be done.  Rather, if one accepts the standards of the particular Hashgacha, that should be all.  Once again, one should recognize the issues and consult with his Rav or Posek as to the Halacha Lema'aseh to follow.



Special Note Four:  In last week's Perek (4:1), the Mishna teaches "Who is a Gibor?  One who quashes his Yetzer Hora."  Rashi to Sanhedrin (111 B) provides a great insight as to the higher form of Gibor one should strive for.  Although one can simply deflect the Yetzer Hora--much like one distracts a baby in order to get him to stop crying, one can also channel the Yetzer Hora's seemingly patented drive and desire to sin into zerizus and hiddur in the performance of a mitzvah--just as the baby may be led to stop crying not by a petty distraction but by giving it a challenging, new or more interesting or learning experience.  With this approach, the legs which are running to do an aveira--rather than simply stopping in their tracks--instead run to do a chesed or to get to Shul early; the tongue ready to speak sharp or biting words instead recall a d'var torah from the previous week's Parsha or speak gentle and calming words; the mind pondering something waste-filled or evil instead contemplates redding a Shidduch or figuring out how one can best help a neighbor or friend in need with a thoughtful measure of dignity and respect.  In all of these circumstances, the vanquished Yetzer Hora is not merely put into prison to rot--but instead is used to build the very fort and castle of the Mitzvos and Ma'asim Tovim so necessary for one to realize his potential.  It's great to beat the Yetzer Hora--it's even greater if you take his assault and turn his plans into a part of your offensive and success!  If you are already ready to be a Gibor--why not try taking it to the higher level suggested by Rashi -- not only subverting the sin-- but converting it into your Neshama's delight!


Hakhel Note:  Chazal taught us as well in last week's Perek ( 4:21 ) that one hour of Teshuva and Ma'asim Tovim in this world is 'yofeh'--better than all of Olam Haba.  Let us contemplate the awesome nature of this statement.  One hour of good deeds in this world is greater than the goodness of a World to Come that is go great that our corporal being cannot even fathom or imagine.  The Mishna does not qualify its reference as to an hour of good deeds by clarifying that it is referring to one hour of Rashi or the Ramban's life, or the good deeds of Rebbe Akiva Eiger, the Vilna Gaon or the Chofetz Chaim.  Rather, it clearly refers to any one's hour and any one's good deeds.  Here, one is on common ground with the Gedolim of all previous generations and of his generation--he has the same potential to make the next hour shine more brilliantly than, using the Tanna's words, 'all of Olam Haba'.  Can we find *at least one hour a day* which we consciously choose to make more 'yofeh' --better than all of Olam Haba?  The greatness resounds within us --as we hoist up and elevate an Olam Hazeh that is sinking so low to all the world all around us to a very, very special place in the Highest of Heavens above.  When someone asks you-- "Do you have the time?  You can answer--"I have even more than that--I have the hour!"



We conclude today our series of Shailos from the Sefer Da'as Noteh (Volume 1), containing the P'sokim of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as published by his son Rav Yitzchok Shaul Kanievsky, Shlita.  Every person should consult with his own Rav or Posek as to the application of these Halachos on a personal basis:


1.       The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 90, seif katan 8) writes that if one finds that his Kavannah is faltering, he should raise his eyes to Shomayim (through the windows in Shul or at home) to arouse one’s Kavannah. May one also study an Adom Gadol (such as a Rav) while he is Davening, in order to arouse one's Kavannah.  A.  This appears to be appropriate.


2.      What is the difference between the word ‘Elokeinu’ and ‘Elokim’?  A:  The Kavannah one should have when reciting ‘Elokim’ is explicitly stated in (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim Chapter 5).  When reciting ‘Elokeinu’ one should *additionally* have in mind that that we have accepted His kingship (Malchus) over us.  Similarly, when one recites “Elokai’ he should have in mind that he is accepting Hashem’s Malchus over himself.  Reciting “Hashem Elokeinu” in the first Pasuk of Kriyas Shema is Kabolas Ol Malchus Shomayim.  When we recite the words “Elokai Avraham, Elokai Yitzchak” (such as in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei) we likewise should have in mind that they accepted Hashem’s Malchus as well


3.      Can one make a personal request two times in Shemone Esrei--for instance once in Shomea Tefillah and once in Elokai Netzor?  A:  It is not proper to do so, for one would not ask something of the King, and then go back and ask it again later in the same audience, however, within one bakasha, one can engage in continuous entreaty, just as Eliyahu HaNavi exclaimed “Aneini Hashem Aneini”.


4.      When reciting the word “Modim” in Shemone Esrei what Kavannah should he have?  A:  The word ‘Modim’ indicates HaKaras Hatov, and this is the Kavannah one should have.


5.      Is it better for a person who is ill to daven sitting rather than lying down?  If a person is sitting in a wheelchair for Shemone Esrei, how can he “take three steps back”?  A:  Yes, sitting is a greater “Derech Kavod” than lying down, as the Posuk teaches (Bereishis 48:2) that Yaakov Avinu sat up on the bed when Yosef arrived.  A person in a wheelchair should move the chair back (or have someone else move it back for him) the distance of three steps.


6.      Is it permissible to study Torah during Chazaras Hashatz?  A:  No, it is not permissible.  HaRav Kanievsky stated that he does not study, and warns others not to do so as well.  He adds that anyone who studies at a time or place where they shouldn’t, will not be Matzliach in this study, and will not receive reward but punishment for doing so.


7.      What is the proper pronunciation in the Bracha at the end of Kedusha--is it “UeShevachacha” or “Veshivchacha” (with a chirik under the shin)?  A:  The proper pronunciation is “Veshivchacha”, the other pronunciation is mistaken (a “Ta'us Sofer”).

8.       Must one stand during the entire Modim DeRabanan?  If one is learning in Shul, and the Tzibur is reciting Modim DeRabanan, can he simply say the words “Modim Anachnu Lach” or should he recite the entire Modim DeRabanan?  A:  Modim DeRabanan is considered part of Chazaras HaShatz and one must stand just as the Shatz must stand.  Just as one would interrupt his learning to answer Kedusha and Barchu, it would appear that he should interrupt his learning to recite the entire Modim DeRabanan as well. 


9.      If one hears a Bracha from someone who is reciting his personal Shemone Esrei rather loudly, should he answer “Amen”?  A.  Yes (provided, however, that he is not in the midst of his own Shemone Esrei).


10.  If one began a Bracha with the words “Boruch Ata” and then heard somebody else complete a Bracha should he stop and answer Amen, and then restart his Bracha--after all he had not said Hashem’s name yet?  A:  No, once one has started a Bracha  it is considered as if he is in midst of a Bracha, and it not a Derech Kavod to stop and start again.


11.  One may not recite a Bracha with food in his mouth (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 172:2).  What if one has food in his mouth, and he hears a Bracha from someone else--can he answer Amen to the Bracha with food in his mouth”  A.  Yes, he may.


12.  Does one answer Baruch U’Varuch Shemo at Sheva Brachos or to the Birchos HaTorah recited at Kriyas HaTorah by those who receive Aliyos?  A.  One only recites Baruch Hu U’Varuch Shemo to a Bracha in which you are not being Yotzei.  Since some say that the Brachos at Kriyas Torah and Sheva Brachos are Motzi the Tzibur as well, one should not answer Baruch Hu U’Varuch Shemo.


13.  Is a woman required to change the Nusach of her Tefillah upon marriage?  A:  No, this is not something a wife is obligated to do.  When HaRav Kanievsky was informed that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules otherwise, he expressed surprised.  In fact, HaRav Kanievsky similarly rules that if a husband is not Makpid on Gebrokts and eats machine Matzos, his wife can continue her prior practices to each only hand Matzah and non-Gebrokts.


14.  Can a person make personal requests, or give thanks to Hashem actually mentioning Hashem’s name (such as in a private Yehi Ratzon type of prayer)?  A:  Yes, he may do so.


15.  When one recites Tehillim should he have in mind as if he is ,making personal requests, or that these are the words of Dovid HaMelech?  If a Tzibur is reciting Tehillim, is it better to recite with them Pasuk by Pasuk, or to recite another Pasuk on your own?  A:  He should have both his personal; requests, and that these are the words of the Mechabrei Tehillim in mind.  There is a special Ma’aleh when a Tzibbur recites a Pasuk together.



Special Note One:  The Vilna Gaon writes to his close family in the Igeres HaGra:


“Kol Rega V’Rega She’Odom Chosem Piv--every moment that a person keeps silent” (i.e., in a situation where he would/could speak up), entitles him to bask in a Hidden Light that no angel or other creation could fathom.


While we all may be very familiar with this quote, we should make an extra special effort to energize the quote and actually apply it in everyday life.  Imagine enjoying and benefiting from a light that even an angel cannot appreciate and attain.  If we do not use this phrase to combat our Yetzer Hora at least once a day in an at-home or at-work situation, we may be acting in a very remiss manner--against ourselves!  The 40-day preparatory period which led to the Meraglim’s world-wrenching and generation-affecting Loshon Hora on Tisha B’Av, commences today, on the 29th day of Sivan (the day the Meraglim left for Eretz Yisroel).  Now is the time to prepare for a positive turn of the tongue.  Today especially, is a particularly propitious time to undertake this new, fresh attempt in the area of Shmiras HaLashon.  If the Malachim have no part in this reserved Hidden Light, then let us at least consider and act upon the special opportunities we have at certain moments during the day!



Special Note Two:  As we enter the portals of Tammuz on Sunday, we recognize not only that nine months of the year have passed, but that there are still three months left to go!  As some write, “Tammuz” is an acronym (juxtaposed) for “Zeman Teshuva Mimashmesh U’Ba”--and likewise for “Zerizim Makdimim V’Osin Teshuva”--both spell “Tammuz” in the Hebrew, and both mean that our feelings towards drawing closer to Hashem should begin to intensify at this time.  We each can accomplish so much in the coming 3 months.  For instance, the entire book Praying With Fire (by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, published by Artscroll, 2005), can be studied over its five-minute a day, 89-day cycle which begins on Sunday, the first of Tammuz and concludes on Erev Rosh Hashanah.  Uplifting and upgrading your davening, and improving upon your bond with Hashem, is a great way to concomitantly conclude this year, prepare for the Yomim Noraim and grow in the coming year!  Praying with Fire, is one of Artscroll’s bestselling Seforim ever, and is available in large and even pocket-sized copies in your local Jewish bookstore.  Even to the many who have gone through the Sefer once and more than once, perhaps do it with some family or friends, or others, and try to discuss with them the short five-minute segments presented daily.



Special Note Three:  According to many, the first day of Tammuz is the date of the birth and petira of Yosef HaTzadik.  Chazal teach that Yosef was mekadesh shem shamayim b’seser--sanctified Hashem’s name in private--by not falling prey to the wife of Potiphar and withstanding this great test.  As a result, he was zoche to have a letter of Hashem’s name added to his name--and is known in Tehillim as “Yehosef” as well.  Accordingly, it would be extremely appropriate this Rosh Chodesh to remember Yosef--and memorialize the day--by performing a Kiddush Shem Shamayim B’seser--by undertaking an act of Kiddush Hashem that only you know about.  We leave it up to you!



Special Note Four:  We received the following valuable thought from a reader:  “In Parshas Korach, we see how horrible the punishment can be for spreading Machlokes in Klal Yisroel.  We know that Hashem’s measure of reward is at least 500 times as great as His measure of punishment.  Imagine the reward of those who spread shalom and achdus among their brothers.  If those involved in dispute sink so, so low into the abyss--think about how high the peace-lovers and peace-makers soar in Hashem’s Heaven!”



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


a.      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?


b.       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?


c.         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?


d.       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?!


e.       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 Six:  In this week’s Parsha, we find a series of remarkable Mitzvos relating to Shemiras HaMikdash--guarding the Bais HaMikdash.  To the uninitiated, 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 Seven:  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 Glory seeking--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 Eight:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos Series:


1.  As tomorrow we will be reciting ‘Half-Hallel’, we note that during the recitation of Hallel, which involves the reading of contiguous chapters of Tehillim, unnecessary  interruptions are prohibited.  For instance, one may not answer “Boruch U’Varuch Shemo”.  In addition, one should recite Asher Yatzar after Hallel.


2.  The Melacha of Koshair does not necessarily require that one actually make a particular knot at that time.  For instance, in The 39 Melachos, Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita, writes that if the knot on one’s Tzitzis which is immediately above his Tzitzis strings become loosened, one is not permitted to tighten the knot (e.g. by pulling the strings), for by doing so one is essentially retying the knot.  It is for this reason that it is recommended that one tighten his Tallis and Tzitzis strings before Shabbos.



3.  We received the following note from a reader:  “The Gemara (Shabbos 118A), teaches that if one is mekayem--properly fulfills--the Shalosh Seudos, the three meals on Shabbos, he will be saved from three things--“the Chevlei Mashiach, the Din of Gehinom, and the War of Gog U’Magog”  This is a very tremendous reward--yet, this is what Chazal explicitly state.  I urge all of your readers to be very especially careful to properly fulfill the three Shabbos Seudos (men, women and grown children)--including the third meal, Shalosh Seudos--with the proper Kavod and Oneg.  By this, I mean, to make an extra special effort to have good food, Divrei Torah, zemiros, and whatever else every person in his condition could have to increase the Kavod and Oneg of the meal.  Hashem, is helping us by giving us the “refuah before the maka--the cure before the malady.  Let’s make the effort to increase our Kavod and Oneg Shabbos, and may the word of our Chazal be fulfilled in each of your readers (including me)!”


4.  The Sefer Peleh Yoeitz under the heading “Shabbos” emphasizes the need for proper speech on Shabbos.  He especially decries those who precede a financial discussion, or a discussion of what they intend to do after Shabbos, with the words “Nisht Auf Shabbos Gerret”.  Not only is this prohibited on Shabbos based upon the prohibition of “Vedaber Davar “(Yeshaya 58)--but it is Sheker because he is in fact speaking these words on Shabbos!  To the contrary, he continues, what we should be using our mouths for is to speak about, learn and teach Torah--and especially the Halachos of Shabbos to others.  The Peleh Yoeitz actually refers to one who improperly uses his speech on Shabbos as a “Mechalel Shabbos”.  The converse would then seem to be true as well--for one who speaks words of Torah and especially the Halachos and Hashkofos of Shabbos--is a “Mekadesh Es HaShabbos!”



Special Note One:  We received the following important letter from a reader:  “Dear Hakhel, I work as a Rav Hamachshir for a local kashrus organization.  I would like to offer my opinion, and ask for the public's assistance regarding an issue that I believe is very important.

”I have been involved in the kashrus industry for more than 13 years.  I have worked many "hotel jobs" in which kosher caterers come into treif hotels and kasher the kitchens, utensils, etc., in order to make a kosher wedding or dinner.  Baruch Hashem, we have successfully and consistently provided a level of kashrus which B'nei Torah can comfortably rely on.  Many of us have enjoyed the cuisine at these simchas. 

”The issue which I would like to address is as follows.  I find it disturbing to note the complete absence of inquiries received by Mashgichim regarding the kashrus protocols in place at these events.  There really is so much to ask!  Several fair and logical questions to be asked of a Mashgiach may include:  How many Mashgichim are working at this event?  What are the standards employed for fruit and vegetable checking at this event?  Are you confident that all of the hotel's treif equipment (the ones not being kashered for use) is locked away and will not be used accidentally?  How are you handling this process?  Will you personally be partaking of the food this evening?  If not, ask for an explanation.  Aside from obvious taste differences, the Mashgiach should be comfortable with the kashrus standards in use at his own event that he would be willing to taste everything on the menu!

”Always remember, the Mashgichim are there for your benefit.  We want to hear from you, so please ask away!  (In
New York you may want to ask how the water-filtering is being handled.)  And many other event-specific questions would very much be expected.  Unfortunately, very seldom are we asked any of these (or other) questions by guests. 

”You may ask why it is important that people ask these questions.  The truth is, that both on a catering level (as discussed) and even on a restaurant level, the kashrus industry as a whole is viewed with much skepticism.  Hotel and establishment owners don't always understand the need for kashrus in general, and more specifically they don't see the need to "bother" with many kashrus items.  The only way for them to realize the demand is from guest/customer feedback.  If even 10% of guests would request to speak with a Mashgiach at a wedding (that would be 25-50 people on average) they would thereby show the caterer and the kitchen staff that kashrus is really important to their businesses.  All of us in the kashrus industry are constantly telling our catering companies (and hotel staff) that we are "only doing what the public demands".  But they never actually see the public demanding it!  Imagine the impact we can make if 50 people at a single wedding asked kashrus-related questions.  The caterers would have a newfound, and much deeper respect for the Mashgichim, the kashrus organizations, and the kosher concept as a whole.  The same thought holds true for restaurants. 

”So go ahead and ask the Mashgiach as many questions as you'd like!  That's why we are here!  Any reputable and reliable kashrus organization would be happy to address your questions and concerns.”



Special Note Two:  As we are B’H in the height of Chasuna season, a great Mitzvah that we have the opportunity to perform is the Mitzvah of Simchas Chasan V’Kallah.  How can the middle -aged friend of the parents, a ‘down the block’ neighbor, or other acquaintances who are not a close friend of the Chasan of Kallah adequately fulfill this Mitzvah?!  We asked HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, this question.  He responded that one can fulfill this Mitzvah by being happy at the Chasunah, and demonstrating this happiness.  If one feels and acts this way, he is adding to the air, the spirit of joy at the wedding and in the entire hall, and this too is real fulfillment of the Mitzvah.  



Special Note Three:  Prior to the Israeli Army’s last incursion into Gaza , an effort was made to purchase pairs of Tzitzis for not yet religious Israeli soldiers.  The Army agreed that if the tzitzis were made to specific specifications, e.g. “non slip”, and special material, they would allow the soldiers to wear them.  Funds were raised and numerous soldiers asked for and were given tzitzis, for many this was the very first time they were zocheh to this mitzvah.  A division of the elite Golan brigade is known as the Yalom force.  This team of ten elite highly trained soldiers is assigned the riskiest covert operations.  They have a support staff of sixty soldiers, including spotters, reconnaissance, etc. supporting their efforts.  Camouflaged as “Chablonim”--terrorists they were assigned the mission of penetrating the enemy front lines and preparing for the Israeli incursion to follow.  It was in middle of the night, they were lying on a rooftop in enemy territory, shooting down at the enemy, when suddenly Israeli warplanes spotted them from above and began raking the rooftop with machine gun fire. Communications were down, and there was no way to notify the planes that these were “our boys”.  Suddenly, a few of them jumped up, tore off their shirts and began waving their Tzitzis that they were wearing.  The soldiers in the plane saw the Tzitzis and flew off. The mitzvah of Tzitzis saved their lives.


This story was told by Rav Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, at last week’s Pirkei Avos shiur. He was told the story by a mispallel of his Shul in Minneapolis, whose son was one of the soldiers on the rooftop.



Special Note Four:  We received the following updated information from vaadhakohanim.com relating to flights to Eretz Yisroel--and what Kohaim need to be aware of when flying.  For further information you can call:  718-305-4545 or 866-589-1019, or email:  info@hakohanim.org.


United States:  All El Al flights from Newark are coffin-less, by agreement with the company.   El Al flights from Kennedy have a very high percentage of coffins, and the terminal (Terminal 4) should be avoided for two hours prior to an El Al flight to Israel, including arrivals.  Information about flight times can be attained from any travel agent.  Israir does not take coffins to the best of our knowledge.  Flights with stopovers in Europe are OK except Paris and London, on which a coffin might be loaded on the stopover, for details see Paris and London.


Canada:  The local Chevra Kadisha can be contacted for information about all coffins flown out of Canada.

France:  The number of coffins flown from France is very high, and kohanim should not fly without finding out whether there are coffins on board.


The Vaad urges kohanim to contact them, and stay informed, as information changes from time to time.  They have information as to other airports as well.



Special Note Five:  We are excited to provide by clicking here the fourth issue of the Praying with Passion Series, produced by our affiliate, The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation.  Please spread this wonderfully meaningful and useful publication to others!



Special Note One:  A reader who is an experienced life and health insurance agent has advised us of a free life insurance program, and has ensured us that there are no gimmicks involved.  For qualified individuals, MassMutual will issue a$50,000.00 life insurance policy to a trust for a period of ten years at no cost.  If a person passes away within that time period, the $50,000.00 is used for the educational purposes of that person’s children, who then have an additional ten years to use the $50,000.00 education benefit.  The plan is available to persons who are:  between the ages of 19 and 42; the parent or legal guardian of one or more children under the age of 18; a permanent legal resident of the United States; employed full or part-time with a total family income of not less than $10,000.00 or more than $40,000.00; and otherwise currently in good health as determined by MassMutal’s underwriting’s guidelines.  For further information go to the following link:  http://www.massmutual.com/mmfg/pdf/lifebridge_eligibility.pdf  Please spread the word.



Special Note Two:  We received the following meaningful communication from a reader: “My father's Tzitzis saved his life.  He was once mugged by a young person who was very nervous and obviously "new" on the job. At the time, my father was very strong and could have easily overpowered the mugger except for one thing--the mugger had a gun pointed to my father's head and my father was afraid that the shaking mugger would shoot him just out of nerves even if he did not intend to shoot.  The mugger held one hand on the gun pointed directly to my father's head and with the other hand he went through my father's pockets, all the while it was obvious that the mugger was nervous.  When the mugger pulled out my Father's Tzitzis he asked what they were.  When my father replied that they were “holy strings" the strangest thing happened. Something overcame the mugger and he calmed down.  He told my father to lie down on the ground--and promptly ran away! “



Special Note Three:  Another meaningful communication from a reader:  “Your thought on Hashem Ish Milchama reminded me of a great P’shat I heard from Rabbi Eli Mansour, Shlita, on the Posuk “Tipol Aleihem Aimasa Vafachad--may dread and fear come upon our enemies…”;  there is a certain measure of anxiety and trepidation that is meant to come down to this world.  A tefillah is more directed when we specifically ask that the alarm and concern be redirected to our enemies and away from us! He explained that such a tefillah is easier to be answered since we are not asking to do away with the fear and fright but to redirect it.  Particularly in today’s times, I found this concept very apropos.”



Special Note Four:  Chazal give the reason that Parshas Behalosecha concludes with the Chait of Miriam speaking against Moshe Rabbeinu and Parshas Shelach begins with the Chait of the Meraglim.  It is to teach us that “Reshaim Halalu Ra’u Veloh Lakchu Mussar--these Reshaim saw what happened to Miriam and did not take the Mussar lesson from it.”  HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, points out that although the key Aveira of the Meraglim was Lashon Hora--it all began to roll downhill for the Meraglim (and for K’lal Yisroel) because they did not take the Mussar that they should have from the event.  It all starts with the proper study of Mussar….


When the colossal Aveira was concluded, it was ultimately one of Lashon Hara.  In order to better perceive and understand the  pervasive and encompassing nature of this Aveira, we provide by clicking here a one-page listing of the 17 Mitzvohs Lo Sa’aseh, 14 Mitzvohs Aseh, 4 Arurrim--and their applicability to the speaker and the listener.  This chart may serve a person best if placed near a phone, framed near a table or otherwise put in a position where it could otherwise help save a person (especially you!) from a wrong remark once or even several times a day!



Special Note Five:  Before taking leave of last week’s Parsha of Shelach, we interestingly note that there are only three Mitzvos in the Parsha--the Mitzvah of Challah, the Mitzvah of Tzitzis, and the Mitzvah of “Lo Sasuru Acharei Levavchem V’Acharei Anaichem--not going after the desires of your heart and of your eyes”.  In a sense, the Parsha provides one potent Mitzvah for women--Challah; one potent Mitzvah for men--Tzitzis (see story earlier), and one potent Mitzvah for both men and women--not straying after one’s heart and eyes.  In fact, this last Mitzvah is so essential that it one of the Sheish Mitzvos Temedios--the Six Constant Mitzvos!  Some very mistakenly believe that because the Mitzvah involves not straying after the eyes that it relates only to men.  However, the Mitzvah, LeHalacha, is far broader than this.  The Chofetz Chaim to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 1, Bi’ur Halacha d’h Hu; writes that this negative prohibition most definitely includes ‘machshavos zaros’--improper and inappropriate thoughts and ‘ta’avas haolam’--the pursuit of worldly desires without a ‘kavana tova’ behind them.  The Chofetz Chaim refers readers to the Sefer HaChinuch for further elaboration of this very important concept.  It is not simply a ‘nice’ or ‘good’ Hashkafah to avoid the pursuit of materialistic desires or improper thoughts, but it is actually a violation of a negative commandment--and one of the Six Constant Mitzvohs at that!  One has to live up to the privilege of dwelling in the King’s Palace--to living a life of full enrichment  Even if something does not involve zenus or pritzus, there are so many other worldly and physical and technological pursuits in today’s world that can take a person away from the air and spirit, from the knowledge of, Torah.  Especially as the summer months approach, and there is a greater feeling of physical ‘freedom’ and ‘giving the body its due’--the Torah portion of the week (non-coincidentally--as it never is) is there to remind us that now is the time to be especially vigilant to keep and maintain the Da’as Torah that is so beautifully and majestically housed within us! 


It is told that a Chassid came to the Kotzker Rebbe, Z’tl, and complained that he didn’t remember his learning well.  The Kotzker told him that the Posuk states “V’lo Sasuru Acharei Levavchem VeAcharei Eineichem…Leman Tizkeru--and you shall not go after your heart and eyes…so that you may remember.”  A great segula, the Kotzker teaches, to increase your Torah knowledge and remember your Torah study is being extra vigilant in Lo Sosuru...keeping your own internal focus and attentiveness on the Torah approach to a successful life--for both men and women!



Special Note One:  Relating to the issue of one who is about to daven Mincha and is not able to start Shemone Esrei with the Tzibbur if he recites all of Ashrei, we provide the following question and answer from Guidelines to Tefillah, Volume One (question 865):  Q:  What if a man arrives a little late for mincha in Shul?  A:  If the congregation is about to begin Shemoneh Esrei, he should join them immediately for Shemoneh Esrei.  After Mincha he should recite Ashrei as though he is reading Torah, but not with the intention of fulfilling an obligation (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 108, Mishne Berura, seif katan 14).



Special Note Two:  As events continue to unfold with potential new ‘peaceful’ flotilla protesters supported by the general backing of world governments at large, all attempting to assist a terrorist government, we are reminded of the incredibly prophetic words of Dovid HaMelech in Sefer Tehillim.  There are fifteen Chapters of Shir HaMa’alos (Songs of Ascent) in Tehillim, with each Chapter beginning with the phrase ‘Shir HaMa’alos’ (A Song of Ascents) except, that is, for Chapter 121, which instead begins ‘Shir LaMa’alos’ ( A Song To The Ascents).  In the peirush on ‘Shir LaMa’alos’ (Chapter 121) attributed to Rashi, the commentary notes that this Chapter begins differently than the other fourteen Chapters because it was really the first one to be recited as the Levi’im began to ascend the 15 steps in the Beis HaMikdash.  The explanation that is given for why it is presented as the**second** Chapter of Shir HaMa’alos in Tehillim is because of “Ain Mukdam UMeuchar BaTorah--the Torah does not provide a chronology or history of events.”  Based upon the tribulations that we are now being subjected to, however, we may have a better understanding as to why we recite Chapter 120 (a regular Shir HaMa’alos) and only then Chapter 121 (Shir LaMa’alos).  In Chapter 120, Dovid HaMelech on behalf of K'lal Yisroel laments as follows:  “Oiya Li Ki Garti Meshech…Woe onto me, for my drawn out sojourn” [some learn that this refers to our Golus Edom]. He continues:  “I have dwelt with the tents of Keidar "[Radak and Ibn Ezra learn that this refers to the Bnei Yishmael, the Arabs].  “Long has my soul dwelt with those who hate peace” [referring to the two groups in the previous Posuk].  Chapter 120 then concludes with the words “Ani Shalom Vechi Adabeir Heima Lamilchama--I am peace, but when I speak, they are for war.” 


So, here we are in a situation where we are attacked in the guise of ‘peace flotillas” (threatened to be accompanied by the 'legitimate protection' of Iranian and Turkish military vehicles), we find ourselves crying out to the world:  “No! You have it all wrong! We are for peace!--Look at how some of the best trained naval commandoes in the world entered onto the ‘Peace Ship’--it is *they* who are for war--look at how we were attacked.”


What happens to our cries?  To our sincere entreaties?  To our appeal for logic and common sense?  Let us see what the Navi tells us.  In the 'next chapter' to the story, Chapter 121, Dovid HaMelech describes the situation:  “Essa Aini El HeHarim--I lift my eyes to the mountains.” In The Artscroll Tehillim (By Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, Shlita, p.1510, writes as follows:


“Besieged people look to the mountains hoping to see friendly forces coming to reinforce them (Ibn Ezra) or, the mountains allude to the powerful forces that can save the beleaguered Jewish people.  In exile, Israel futilely looked to the mighty heathen monarchs to act as their protection, but the Jews are bitterly disappointed when these treacherous, arrogant ‘mountains’ betray them (Sforno).”


We can look to the ‘mountains’--even the friendly nations of the world--but there is really no one to turn to.  So who will help us out of this debacle, this potential catastrophe?!  Dovid HaMelech provides the climatic conclusion:  “Ezri Mei’im Hashem Osei Shamayim VaAretz --my help will come from Hashem, Maker of heaven and earth!!”  The nations of the world believe that they can bully us, taunt us, torment us and overpower us--but the great truth is that we have the Maker of the World on our side.  Because He made the world all problems, all difficulties, all potential disasters and calamities are readily and amply within his power to control, curtail or turn over in the way that Sodom was turned over, or with 'the breath of his nostrils' the Egyptians were forever vanquished at the Sea.  It is our role to know and  understand this very well, believe it, and actually express it in our everyday actions.  We can begin by reciting this exhilarating Pasuk --"Ezri Mei'im Hashem...!' (better yet, these two Chapters) one or more times during the day. 


In fact, we say daily in the Shira “Hashem Ish Milchama Hashem Shemo”--HaRav Gamliel Rabinovitch, Shlita, teaches that this Pasuk reminds us that even when we are in the midst of a Tzara or a war, we must always remember that it is Hashem Who fights our wars, and it is Hashem in Whom we are to place our complete trust.  It is, thus, Hashem with Whom we must bond, through our sincere and improved Tefillos and through Shevisi Hashem LeNegdi Tamid--recognizing Hashem’s presence in every aspect of the world at large’s existence and in our private lives as well.  The incredible acquittal of R’Shalom Rubashkin on 67 counts of accusations demonstrated that to us yesterday in a pleasant and rewarding way.  May it be a Siman Tov for the Jewish People.


During these troubled times, let us recall, remember, reiterate--and live--“Ezri Mei’im Hashem Osei Shamayim VaAretz!!”



Special Note One:  We received the following communication from a reader relating to our note on looking at the Tzitzis.  "I would like to tell you a personal story concerning Tzitzis.  I have had some problems with my eyes over the years.  I have had detached retinas and surgeries.  The last surgery was successful but then again the retina detached. I went to see another doctor he did a procedure in his office (not surgery) to reattach it, there was no guarantee but it worked.  I was very grateful but I was seeing floaters in my eyes which can be difficult to live with.  The doctor told me he couldn't help me with this matter but I would have to learn to adjust.  I started to be careful in putting my Tzitzis over my eyes when I said Kriyas Shema.  I have noticed that the floaters have become MUCH LIGHTER.  There are many times I don't even recognize them.  I believe the Segula you mentioned works!"



Special Note Two:  On our note on Shabbos Kiddushim, a reader added the following:  "May I suggest that you remind your readers to check into the kashrus of the food being served before they eat at a Simcha or a Kiddush.  Many times there is no mashgiach present at a Shabbos Kiddush.  The December 13, 2006 issue of the Hamodia featured on pages A 4-5 what I consider to be an interesting article about kashrus.  It discusses a group that has come up with a proposal that would provide a Baal Simcha and his guests (presumably) with a check list regarding the kashrus of a Simcha.  The proposal requires that the mashgiach complete a detailed form regarding the specifics of the products used and how the food was prepared.  The Hamodia has kindly given me permission to post this article.  I have done so at  http://tinyurl.com/2cqbw4d


Hakhel Note:  Greater vigilance at Shabbos Kiddushim will prevent Chillul Shabbos--and will help ensure that the special Shabbos food served at these Kiddushim can truly be eaten by one and all--even those less knowledgeable of the foibles that could occur at a Kiddush without a mashgiach.



Special Note Three:  We have received the following information from an authoritative source.  The names of those injured in the first “flotilla” incident are listed below. Please say Tehillem for them:


Dean Ben Svetlana

Roee Ben Shulamit

Daniel Lazar Ben Tina Leah

Yotam Ben Dorit

Ido Ben Ilana

Boris Ben Eelaina


Hakhel Note:  One clear effect of the recent flotilla incidents is that Eretz Yisroel and the Jewish people have become more and more isolated.  The absurdity of events points us closer to the Chazal (Sotah 49) who teach that in the Ikvesa DeMeshicha we will come to the singular realization that Ain Lanu Al Mi L'hishaein Ella Al Avinu She'Bashamayim, as the governments of America, Canada, Australia, Switzerland and other erstwhile 'civilized' countries falter in their support of us--and even pressure us to accede to the demands of the very terrorists that are terrorizing these governments and their peoples.  Reason does not govern--because it doesn't have to--as the unfolding events are lessons for us just as the thunderstorm at a given time in a given place is intended to send a message there and then.  We make a bracha on a thunderstorm to indicate that we understand that it is not simply 'an act of nature'--in these trying times we must do something to show that the unfolding events are not simply to be explained as a lapse in Israel's military intelligence or a more fundamentalist Turkish regime, but as a call to us to affirmatively place complete dependence and utter reliance on our Maker.  One would do well to spend a few moments daily studying or thinking about an area of Bitachon or Emunah--such as the Chovos HaLevavos Sha'ar HaBitachon, the Sifsei Chaim on Emunah and Bitachon (Hebrew only), the beautiful Pesukim on Emunah that we have provided in the past (available by clicking here), or another work that you find at home or in your Seforim Store--to demonstrate that you are one of those fortunate people in the world that get the message!



Special Note Four:  We present below several additional Shailos from the Sefer Da'as Noteh, containing the P'sokim of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as published by his son Rav Yitzchok Shaul Kanievsky, Shlita:


1.  Is your davening considered to be Tefillah BeTzibbur if you do not begin Shemone Esrei simultaneously with the Shalich Tzibbur?  A.  LeChatchila, one should start simultaneously with the Tzibbur.  Bedieved, if the Tzibbur is still within the first bracha of Shemone Esrei when one begins, one still will have the ma'aleh of' 'starting' with the Tzibbur.  [Hakhel Note:  What should one do if at Mincha he has not yet finished Ashrei and the Tzibbur is starting Shemone Esrei--it would appear that LeChatchila one should start Shemone Esrei with the Tzibbur--but one should consult with his Rav on this Shaila].  HaRav Kanievsky confirmed that it is the Chazon Ish's opinion that it is still considered tefillah betzibbur if one begins to daven Shemone Esrei when even one person is still davening Shemone Esrei at the time that one begins his Shemone Esrei.


2.  Is the concept of "Sechar Pesiyos" (being rewarded for the extra steps of going to a farther place) limited to walking to a farther Shul to daven--or does it apply for learning Torah as well?  A.  It should apply when going to study as well--although one should not waste time from Torah learning in going to a farther away place to daven or to study.


3.  If there was a minyan in Shul before the one you are attending--can you still be considered to be 'within the first ten in Shul'  if you are one of the first ten at the second minyan?  A.  Yes--for it is not dependent on the first ten in Shul-but on the first ten who are actually davening at that minyan.


4.  In davening Shemone Esrei--one's feet should be together.  Does this apply to men and women equally?  Is it sufficient if one's heels are touching?  If one's feet got separated can he put them back together.  A.  Yes--it applies equally to men and women; the entire foot should be next to the other foot and not just the heels adjacent; and one can place his feet back together if they became separated during Shemone Esrei.


5.  If one has difficulty concentrating on his tefillah--what eitzah is there?  A.  You have to keep trying and trying.  If you want to, you will succeed.  Just as one can accustom himself to not having Kavannah, he can accustom himself to having Kavannah.  One must simply have a true desire and make a true effort--and Hashem will literally help with the rest--for Haba LeTaher Misa'ayin Oso--one who seeks to purify himself will merit and receive all the assistance he requires!



Special Note One: With regard to yesterday’s Note relating to the ‘Real’ owner of the Lexus, a reader noted as follows: “I would just like to add that just as the dealer’s worker wears something that indicates who he works for, which also helps remind him and those around him that the car is not really his, so too does the clothing we are to wear demonstrate who we know to be the Owner as well. Whether it be a yarmulke, shaitel, or simply dignified, Tzniyus-like clothing we demonstrate that the world is not hefker, and that we are not the owners! As a matter of fact, I heard that the Hebrew word which may be used for clothing, which is Levush, consists of three root letters--Lamed, Vais, and Shin, which are immediately adjacent to the letters which spell Emes (truth)--Aleph, Mem, and Saf. On the other hand, another term for clothing in Lashon Hakodesh is Beged, which are the second, third, and fourth letters of the Aleph Bais--and correspond with Sheker--which are the second, third, and fourth to last letters of the Alpeh Bais. Thus, clothing a person wears (and especially when davening to Hashem, as one stands in the presence of his Maker!) will tell a lot about the person--and his outlook on life.”

Special Note Two: We are excited to provide by clicking here the third issue of the Praying with Passion Series, produced by our affiliate, The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation. Please spread this wonderfully meaningful and useful publication to others!

Additional Note: Praying with Fire II has approximately seventy pages of exceedingly outstanding Torah content on the definitions of Emunah and Bitachon, and practical applications in everyday life. To say that it is highly recommended would be an understatement. It is especially essential in the times we live in.

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

1. At this time of year, many of us have Simchos and Kiddushim to happily participate in. May we suggest that you have ready a D’var Torah or two which can steer a conversation with an acquaintance from chatter and small talk into something meaningful at the time--and for eternity as well!

2. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, (in the Sefer Da’as Noteh) advises in the name of the Shelah HaKadosh that there is a Chiyuv to learn Parshas HaShavua on Shabbos, and adds from the Mishna Berura that there should be public Shiurim about Hilchos Shabbos on Shabbos. This Halacha is based upon the Takana of Moshe Rabbeinu, who instituted that we learn about the Inyanim of the day on that day ( see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Mishna Berura 1: seif katan 17) and Mishna Berura 250: seif katan 6)

3. HaRav Kanievsky (also in the Sefer Da’as Noteh) brings the Chazal (Shabbos 12B) in which a Tanna tilted his lamp on Shabbos, thereby causing the Melacha of Ha’avara. After Shabbos, the Tanna wrote in his notebook that when the Beis Hamikdash will be rebuilt, he will bring a ‘fat’ Karbon Chatas. Rav Kanievsky notes that although it is advisable to study the Parsha of the Karbon Chatas if one inadvertently (BeShogeg) commits a Melacha on Shabbos, one will still be required to bring a Korban Chatas when the Bais HaMikdash in rebuilt.

4. The following Halachos are excerpted from the Sefer Orchos Shabbos relating to the Melacha of Melabein (bleaching/cleaning):

a. It is forbidden to take even a small stain off of a garment. However, if an item is not absorbent, such as furniture or eating utensils, then one may wash it. This would not be true for leather goods--even if the leather is hard--for it is forbidden to remove a stain, or otherwise soak leather products. [We have previously discussed cleaning mud off shoes on Shabbos.]

b. One may not put water on a plastic tablecloth, and scrub in order to clean it. HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl (Igros Moshe, Yoreh De’ah 2:76, D’H’ Uvedavar) writes that one may gently clean with water an affected area, but one may not rub or scrub with force.

c. One is permitted to use rubber dishwashing gloves while washing dishes, as long as his intent is not to clean the gloves (in fact, one may be making them dirty during the dish-cleaning process).

d. One may wash disposable plastic dishes and cups for use on Shabbos.

e. One may wash his eye glasses, and dry them with a dry towel, being careful not to squeeze the dry towel. Hard lenses can be put into cleansing solution and be gently rubbed clean. However, soft lenses may be put only in saline solution, but not in cleansing solution.

f. One may not place powder (such as talcum powder) on a garment which has become stained with oil in order to absorb the unwanted matter.

Special Note Four: Next week, 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 thus far; 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 Five: Tomorrow, the 23rd day of Sivan, is one of those special days especially mentioned in Tanach. Many of you may remember where. In Megillas Esther (8:9), the Pasuk records that on the 23rd day of the 3rd month--“Hu Chodesh Sivan” (which is the month of Sivan)--the King’s scribes wrote all that Mordechai had dictated to them. While we may not have the exact text of what was written other than that the Jews could destroy their enemies, we do know that Achashverosh had permitted them to write in the letters--“Katov Bi’Eynechem--whatever is favorable in your eyes, in the name of the King...”

The Luach Dovor B’Ito writes the following about this very special day:

One should try to recite the relevant Pesukim in Esther (Esther 8:3-17).

In the name of the Makover Rebbe, Zt’l, the day is Mesugal for nisim v’niflaos, as implied by the Pasuk referred to above--“Now, write [on this day] about the Jews what is favorable in your eyes in the name of the King”--which also refers to the King of the World. Thus, just as Mordechai subsequently left the King with many royal garments (ibid., 8:15)…so can we!
In 1940, the Russian Government told thousands of Jewish refugees in Eastern Galicia that they could register as Russian citizens. Rebbe Itzikel of Antwerp, Z’tl, advised them not to register. On the night of the 23rd of Sivan, the Russians exiled to Siberia all those who had not registered as Russian citizens. The exiled thought this to be a horrible decree, but the Rebbe told them that the 23rd of Sivan is “Muchan L’Tova--prepared for the good,” and that no bad would come out of their exile. A year later, in Sivan 1941, the Nazi’s YM’S, invaded Eastern Galicia and killed the Jews who remained--the exiles to Siberia remained alive.

Let us harness the powers inherent in this day, through our own personal Torah, Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzedaka so that the King writes beautiful letters on our personal behalf, and on behalf of all of K’lal Yisroel!

Special Note Six: Some notes on the Parsha:

a. The Torah teaches us that the Meraglim took from the fruit of Eretz Yisroel and brought it with them to show the B’nei 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 cannot 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 always welcome!

b. Chazal teach that the basis for a Minyan consisting of ten adult Jewish males for a Davar SheBekedusha is from this week’s Parsha. The Meraglim who came back with negative findings were ten adult Jewish males whom the Torah refers to as an Aidah, a congregation. Through a Gezerias Shaveh, Chazal learn that any time Hashem’s name is--to the contrary--to be sanctified Besoch Bnei Yisroel then the same number and kind of people are required. There are great lessons that may be learned from this teaching. To name just a few: Firstly, one should learn the lessons from his negative experiences and apply them in a positive way going forward. Secondly, it is really just as easy to do a good a thing as a bad thing. It is the Yetzer Hara that convinces you otherwise. Thirdly, we can learn something from everyone--even those who may be erstwhile reshaim. Almost everyone has some redeeming qualities--“Aizo Hu Chochom HaLomeid Mikol Adam.”

c. Chazal teach that while the Meraglim were gathering their information, Kalev went to be ‘Mishtateiach’--spread himself out on the Kevarim of our Avos. HaRav Chaim Boruch Faskowitz, Z’tl, teaches that Kaleiv spread himself out on the land so that he could get a greater appreciation of it--so that he could develop a Chiba--an endearment--of it in a way which was more than that of a spy or just a visitor. He thus demonstrated to us for all time that we should develop a special love for Eretz Yisroel--seeing only its goodness, as the Pasuk teaches “ U’Re’ah BeTuv Yerushalayim--and you should see the good of Yerushalayim.” Especially in our time when Eretz Yisroel and its residents are maligned and scorned, we must strengthen ourselves in always feeling its goodness, and projecting this steadfast and unwavering feeling to others.

d. The Parsha concludes with the Mitzvah of Tzitzis. We provide below several reminder notes with respect to this wondrous Mitzvah (based upon Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 24):

1. Before putting on one’s talis or Tzitzis, he should have in mind (better yet, express) that he is doing so in order to remember all of the Mitzvos of the Torah and perform them--as the Pasuk itself says “Leman Tizkeru Va’Asisem Es Kol Mitzvosai--one should wear them in order to remember the Mitzvos and perform them.” When making the Bracha over the Tzitzis, one should be looking at the Tziztis.

2. When reciting the Shema one should hold the two front Tzitzis in his left hand between his pinky and his ‘ring-finger’ opposite his heart. This is true for a lefty as well. Some take all four Tzitzis in between their fingers (Al Pi Kabbalah). According to the Mishna Berura (ibid, seif katan 5), holding them opposite the heart is a unique Segulah to be saved from the Yetzer Hara.

3. When beginning the Parsha of Tzitzis , one takes the Tzitzis into his right hand as well. Upon reciting the phrase “Ureisem Oso--you shall see them” there are those who pass them in front of their eyes and then kiss them. This is a Chibuv Mitzvah. It is brought in the name of Kadmonim that one who performs this Chibuv Mitzvah will not become blind. According to other authorities, it is actually a Mitzvas Aseh, upon reciting the words Ureisem Oso, to look at the Tzitizis with the intent of remembering the Mitzvos and performing them, for you are directly fulfilling the very words you are reciting. The two Tzitzis that one looks at have sixteen strings and ten knots--which equals the Gematria of the name of Hashem of Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay.

4. Some have the custom to kiss the Tzitzis every time the word Tzitzis is recited. The Tzitzis should be kissed and placed down upon saying the word Lo’ad (before Uleolmei Olamim) after Kriyas Shema.

5. One makes the Bracha of Shehecheyanu over a new Talis Gadol, if it is a new important garment to him. It is forbidden to sew or weave Pesukim onto one’s Tallis.

6. The Piskei Teshuvos cites the opinion of many Rishonim who rule that one fulfills a Mitzvas Asei *every time during the day* that he looks at his Tzitzis, having in mind that he is looking at them in order to remember the Mitzvos and perform them. The Shulchan Aruch concludes Hilchos Tzitzis with the words of Chazal: One who is careful with the Mitzvah of Tzitzis will be Zoche to see the ‘face’ of the Shechina! Let us learn more and more about this Mitzvah and its proper performance and hiddurim--and may we all bask in the Shechina’s Light!


Special Note One:  We received the following comment from a reader in response to our Note relating to the Tosfos Yom Tov (and his composition of the Meshebeirach for those who do not talk in Shul as a response to the Gezeiros of Tach V’Tat):  “I heard from different sources that the Alter Gerrer Rebbe Z’tl said that Morocco was saved from the Holocaust because the Moroccan/Sefarady Jews didn’t talk in Shul.  I would like to add that it looks so casual in Shul when people are davening with crossed legs.  The Ben Ish Chai rules that this is not permitted.  When people do this, children learn to do the same.  I have a similar comment relating to Kabbolas Shabbos, during which people are busy reading the ‘vertlech’ on the tables, and fail to properly recite the eight specially selected Kepetilach of Tehillim, and the beautiful Lecha Dodi.  If we would only think about the importance of what we are doing when davening to Hashem, none of these kinds of things (including the absurd noise and use of cell phones in Shul) would ever happen--and the children and teenagers all around us, whether or not our own, would learn what Tefillah really is!”



Special Note Two:  If one passes a Lexus or Acura car dealership, and notices someone wearing the dealer’s T-shirt or jacket, polishing or driving a beautiful new car, he knows that the vehicle does not belong to him, and that there is really a true and rightful owner.  In this world, even if one may technically possess the title to his Lexus or Acura, he is certainly not much different than the fellow wearing the dealer’s T-Shirt.  One may have the right and privilege to be driving it now--but ultimately it really does belong to a higher authority!  Look around you, and get a feel for what you truly possess forever.  Especially look at the Seforim in your Seforim Shranks the Seforim you have donated to your Shul, the Mitzvah items on your shelves and your cancelled checks to Tzedaka and for other Mitzvos (may all of this continue to grow!).  Of these, you are certainly the Ba’al HaBayis!



Special Note Three:  In response to the requests to hear the Shiur given by Dayan Yaakov Rapapport, Shlita, at the Hakhel Yarchei Kallah in Lakewood on the topic of “Short Sales, Foreclosures, and other Halachos of Real Estate,” we provide 35 minutes of the Shiur as an MP3 file by the following link:  http://tinyurl.com/27te7xt



Special Note Four:  As the Daf Yomi study of Mesechta Sanheidrin comes to a Siyum this Shabbos, many have become especially enriched by the Halachos and Hashkofos contained in the last Perek, Perek Chelek.  As an example, the Gemara teaches that according to one opinion a person has the right to enter Olam Haba once they have answered ‘Amen’ to a Bracha.  The Gemara explains that ‘Amen’ is an acronym of ‘Kel Melech Ne’eman--G-d Who is a Trustworthy King.’  This great word thus conveys three important concepts in one!  In fact, Rashi there explains that answering Amen is so essential and all-encompassing that it is “Kabolas Yiras Shomayim--accepting upon oneself the Fear of Heaven.”  Thus, each time we answer Amen, we have an awesome and incomparable opportunity--for it is a new Kabbala of Yiras Shomayim--which presumably brings you deeper and deeper into your own, personalized Olam Haba--that you originally entered with your very first ‘Amen’!



Special Note Five:  As noted yesterday, the Sefer Da’as Noteh (Volume I) contains the P’esakim of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as published by his son, Rav Yitzchak Shaul Kanievky, Shlita.  We continue to provide various rulings by HaRav Chaim, as presented in this wonderful Sefer:


1.  From what age should a boy be trained in wearing a Yarmulke?  A:  From the time that he does not throw it off his head, and can be careful with it, for it brings Yiras Shamayim.  In fact, HaRav Kanievsky rules that after bathing the first item that a boy or man should clothe himself with is the Kippa, so that one is not without a head covering, for the least amount of time possible (even ahead of undergarments).  The Sefer brings in the name of the Chazon Ish that the reason girls do not need to cover their hair for Yiras Shamayim, is because Hashem has gifted them with more Binah than a man, and Binah is Yiras Shamayim.  With respect to a male, however, HaRav Kanievsky rules that if the Yarmulke he is wearing falls off in the middle of the night and you notice it, you should place it back on his head--for it helps his Yiras Shomayim even when he is sleeping.


2.  Which side does a lefty dress first--his right or his left?  A:  Al Pi Sod, one puts the right side of a garment first, so that the Middas HaChesed of the right overtakes the Middas HaGevurah of the left.


3.  Is it permissible to talk when taking care of one’s needs in the bathroom?  A:  No, it is a lack of Tznius for both men and women, and this includes speaking on a cell phone (“pelehphone”) as well.


4.  If one touched the hands of another who has not yet washed Netilas Yadayim upon awakening in the morning, does he need to rewash?  Similarly, if one touched someone while they were sleeping, does he need to wash Netilas Yadayim again?  A:  No, in both cases.


5.   If one touched the outside of an orange (i.e., its peel), before Netilas Yadayim in the morning, has the food become Tomeh?  A:  Yes, and one should rinse it three times using a Kli. 


6.  What Teshuva should one do if he has not recited Kriah Shema within its proper time?  He should review the Halachos of Kriah Shema.


7.  If one is in the middle of Kriah Shema or its Brachos, should one still rise before a Talmid Chochom?  A:  Yes.


8.  According to the Ramban who holds that the Mitzvah of Tefillah is only MeDeoraysa in a situation of Tzara--is he referring to a community Tzara, or even an individual’s Tzara, and can the Tzara be personal heartache or yissurim?  A:  It is any Tzara in which a person feels pain.


9.  Is it permissible to bathe before Tefillah if it will help one’s Kavanna?  A:  If it is “Tzorech Tefillah--for the purpose of Tefillah”, it is permissible.


10.  Is there a ‘Ma’aleh’--is it advantageous to Daven on the side of a Tzadik?  A: Yes.  In a footnote to the Sefer, it is noted that the Chasam Sofer writes that Chana stood in prayer in Shilo within four amos of Aili HaKohen, because it is a ‘Segulah Nifla’ah’ to daven on the side of a Tzadik.  Interestingly, however, HaRav Kanievsky rules that it is not necessarily preferred to Daven in the ‘inside’ portion adjacent to the Kosel over the ‘outside’ portion, even though the inside is closer to the Kodesh HaKodashim.



Special Note One:  We received the following comment from a reader in response to our Note relating to the Tosfos Yom Tov (and his composition of the Meshebeirach for those who do not talk in Shul as a response to the Gezeiros of Tach V’Tat):  “I heard from different sources that the Alter Gerrer Rebbe Z’tl said that Morocco was saved from the Holocaust because the Moroccan/Sefarady Jews didn’t talk in Shul.  I would like to add that it looks so casual in Shul when people are davening with crossed legs.  The Ben Ish Chai rules that this is not permitted.  When people do this, children learn to do the same.  I have a similar comment relating to Kabbolas Shabbos, during which people are busy reading the ‘vertlech’ on the tables, and fail to properly recite the eight specially selected Kepetilach of Tehillim, and the beautiful Lecha Dodi.  If we would only think about the importance of what we are doing when davening to Hashem, none of these kinds of things (including the absurd noise and use of cell phones in Shul) would ever happen--and the children and teenagers all around us, whether or not our own, would learn what Tefillah really is!”



Special Note Two:  If one passes a Lexus or Acura car dealership, and notices someone wearing the dealer’s T-shirt or jacket, polishing or driving a beautiful new car, he knows that the vehicle does not belong to him, and that there is really a true and rightful owner.  In this world, even if one may technically possess the title to his Lexus or Acura, he is certainly not much different than the fellow wearing the dealer’s T-Shirt.  One may have the right and privilege to be driving it now--but ultimately it really does belong to a higher authority!  Look around you, and get a feel for what you truly possess forever.  Especially look at the Seforim in your Seforim Shranks the Seforim you have donated to your Shul, the Mitzvah items on your shelves and your cancelled checks to Tzedaka and for other Mitzvos (may all of this continue to grow!).  Of these, you are certainly the Ba’al HaBayis!



Special Note Three:  In response to the requests to hear the Shiur given by Dayan Yaakov Rapapport, Shlita, at the Hakhel Yarchei Kallah in Lakewood on the topic of “Short Sales, Foreclosures, and other Halachos of Real Estate,” we provide 35 minutes of the Shiur as an MP3 file by clicking here.



Special Note Four:  As the Daf Yomi study of Mesechta Sanheidrin comes to a Siyum this Shabbos, many have become especially enriched by the Halachos and Hashkofos contained in the last Perek, Perek Chelek.  As an example, the Gemara teaches that according to one opinion a person has the right to enter Olam Haba once they have answered ‘Amen’ to a Bracha.  The Gemara explains that ‘Amen’ is an acronym of ‘Kel Melech Ne’eman--G-d Who is a Trustworthy King.’  This great word thus conveys three important concepts in one!  In fact, Rashi there explains that answering Amen is so essential and all-encompassing that it is “Kabolas Yiras Shomayim--accepting upon oneself the Fear of Heaven.”  Thus, each time we answer Amen, we have an awesome and incomparable opportunity--for it is a new Kabbala of Yiras Shomayim--which presumably brings you deeper and deeper into your own, personalized Olam Haba--that you originally entered with your very first ‘Amen’!



Special Note Five:  As noted yesterday, the Sefer Da’as Noteh (Volume I) contains the P’esakim of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as published by his son, Rav Yitzchak Shaul Kanievky, Shlita.  We continue to provide various rulings by HaRav Chaim, as presented in this wonderful Sefer:


1.  From what age should a boy be trained in wearing a Yarmulke?  A:  From the time that he does not throw it off his head, and can be careful with it, for it brings Yiras Shamayim.  In fact, HaRav Kanievsky rules that after bathing the first item that a boy or man should clothe himself with is the Kippa, so that one is not without a head covering, for the least amount of time possible (even ahead of undergarments).  The Sefer brings in the name of the Chazon Ish that the reason girls do not need to cover their hair for Yiras Shamayim, is because Hashem has gifted them with more Binah than a man, and Binah is Yiras Shamayim.  With respect to a male, however, HaRav Kanievsky rules that if the Yarmulke he is wearing falls off in the middle of the night and you notice it, you should place it back on his head--for it helps his Yiras Shomayim even when he is sleeping.


2.  Which side does a lefty dress first--his right or his left?  A:  Al Pi Sod, one puts the right side of a garment first, so that the Middas HaChesed of the right overtakes the Middas HaGevurah of the left.


3.  Is it permissible to talk when taking care of one’s needs in the bathroom?  A:  No, it is a lack of Tznius for both men and women, and this includes speaking on a cell phone (“pelehphone”) as well.


4.  If one touched the hands of another who has not yet washed Netilas Yadayim upon awakening in the morning, does he need to rewash?  Similarly, if one touched someone while they were sleeping, does he need to wash Netilas Yadayim again?  A:  No, in both cases.


5.   If one touched the outside of an orange (i.e., its peel), before Netilas Yadayim in the morning, has the food become Tomeh?  A:  Yes, and one should rinse it three times using a Kli. 


6.  What Teshuva should one do if he has not recited Kriah Shema within its proper time?  He should review the Halachos of Kriah Shema.


7.  If one is in the middle of Kriah Shema or its Brachos, should one still rise before a Talmid Chochom?  A:  Yes.


8.  According to the Ramban who holds that the Mitzvah of Tefillah is only MeDeoraysa in a situation of Tzara--is he referring to a community Tzara, or even an individual’s Tzara, and can the Tzara be personal heartache or yissurim?  A:  It is any Tzara in which a person feels pain.


9.  Is it permissible to bathe before Tefillah if it will help one’s Kavanna?  A:  If it is “Tzorech Tefillah--for the purpose of Tefillah”, it is permissible.


10.  Is there a ‘Ma’aleh’--is it advantageous to Daven on the side of a Tzadik?  A: Yes.  In a footnote to the Sefer, it is noted that the Chasam Sofer writes that Chana stood in prayer in Shilo within four amos of Aili HaKohen, because it is a ‘Segulah Nifla’ah’ to daven on the side of a Tzadik.  Interestingly, however, HaRav Kanievsky rules that it is not necessarily preferred to Daven in the ‘inside’ portion adjacent to the Kosel over the ‘outside’ portion, even though the inside is closer to the Kodesh HaKodashim.



Special Note One:  At Hakhel’s recent Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Reisman, Shlita, provided the following great insight:  “Shmiras Haeiynaim, means that a person not only closes his eyes but opens his eyes to things that really matter.  It also means looking at things with a ‘good eye’--as the Posuk teaches us at the culmination of Creation on the Sixth Day “Vayar Elokiym…and Hashem saw everything that He had made and it was very good.”  Rabbi Reisman emphasized the incredible miracle and the tremendous potential that lies in the power of eyesight for those who are privileged to be able to see.  Ultimately, Veshechezena Eineiynu--we all hope to see with our eyes Hashem’s return to Tzion--let us begin by truly appreciating and understanding what our eyes are to be used for and bringing that understanding to reality--if we are blessed with the physical capability to do so!



Special Note Two:  At his recent Hakhel Shiur on insect infestation in fruits and vegetables, Rabbi Moshe Vaya, Shlita, provided many important updates on the current status of Tola’im in various products.  Among the items discussed were:

·        Corn on the Cob-- this appears to be a real ‘no- no’ this summer--although canned corn is not a problem.

·        Strawberries--can be eaten if peeled, with the other alternative to soak in soapy solution and rinse *three* separate times (until recently, soaking and rinsing one time would have been enough.)  He appeared to advise against strawberry flavored yogurt, if other flavors were available.

·        Raisins--also infested to the point where he suggested making your own raisins in your own controlled environment.

Rabbi Vaya also spoke about many other items, including sunflower seeds, different kinds of blueberries and mushrooms. 


Rabbi Vaya stated that one may call him with particular Shailos from 11 PM until Midnight (Eretz Yisroel time) at 011-972-2-532-5588, or on Friday afternoons from 2 PM until Shabbos.


Hakhel Note For New York City Residents:  For an updated (5770) list of acceptable filters which successfully keeps copepods out of your water, one may call:  718-301-9032.  



Special Note Three:  The Sefer Da’as Noteh (Volume I) contains the P’esakim of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as published by his son, Rav Yitzchak Shaul Kanievky, Shlita.  B’EH over the next several days we hope to provide various interesting rulings by HaRav Chaim, as presented in this Sefer:


1.      What does one recite at Melaveh Malka--Shir Hama’alos or Al Naharos Bavel?  A:  There are different Minhagim.  HaRav Kanievsky himself says Shir Hama’alos if he eats a Melaveh Malka within an hour after Shabbos. (The same analysis would apply to reciting Migdol as opposed to Migdal.)


2.      At the Seudah of a Siyum, does one recite Shir Hama’alos or Al Naharos Bavel?  A:  Al Naharos Bavel.


3.      If one remembers after washing Mayim Achronim that he did not say Shir Hama’alos or Al Naharos Bavel, should he recite them then?  A:  Bedieved, if he has otherwise not learned Torah at the meal, he should recite it and wash Mayim Achronim again, as Mayim Achronim must be washed immediately prior to Birchas HaMazon.


4.      Can one recite the Parshas HaTamid even after Shacharis or even after Musaf?  Is reciting the Parshios of the Karbanos and the Shir Shel Yom considered to be Torah or Tefillah?  A:  Yes, it is permissible to recite Karbanos, even after Davening Musaf.  It is considered to be like the study of Torah when one recites the Parshios of the Karbanos and the Shir Shel Yom.


5.      Should women read the Parshas HaKetores?  Yes, it is befitting for women to do so.



Special Note One:  The travesty and tragedy of yesterday’s events in the waters outside Eretz Yisroel (which according to one opinion is part of Eretz Yisoel itself) brings us a step closer to the important reality of the times that we live in.  An earthquake in Haiti , volcanic eruptions in Iceland which affect millions in Europe , or even last week’s carpeting of millions of frogs over a Greek highway that caused its temporary closure may not have drawn our complete focus and attention.  They too, of course, represent Hashem’s reminder of His ruling hand over the world.  However, now that we have been attacked personally, the sting feels greater.  To analogize, the recent other events may be viewed as Tzora’as on the house, and yesterday’s seaboard and worldwide attacks against us are more like the feeling of Tzora’as on one’s clothing.  One thing is certain, we must react.  To some, it may be with more Tefillah (either qualitatively or quantitatively), others will respond to the call with some additional Torah learning, and yet others will respond with a Chesed or Chasadim that go beyond the ordinary.  But react we must, if we truly have Emunah--that nothing is happenstance, nothing is mere ‘news’, and that nothing is simply El Quada ploys to hurt Israel’s image in the international community.  As we move toward the last quarter of the year of Tammuz-Av-Elul, let us take stock, and let us demonstrate to Hashem our Emunah in him by showing that we received the message--and that we are really and truly acting upon it immediately!


Additional Note One:  Today, in the aftershock of the event, it may be a wise idea to give some additional Tzedaka, for if Hashem sees that we act charitably with others, he will act charitably with us.  Additionally, as we come ever closer to our final redemption, we remember that “Veshaveha Betzedaka”… those who return, will return with the righteousness of their charitable acts.


Additional Note Two:  Today is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Shlomo Yisroel Gelber, Z’tl.  He always taught that Hashem expects of the person that he use the Sechel that was given to him personally.  Especially in the circumstances we are in, each person must apply his own Sechel to what he can do and how he can do it--for his sake, and for the sake of K’lal Yisroel.



Special Note Two:  As we continue with reflection upon how a Torah Jew leads his everyday life, we received the following comment from a reader relating to how lay people should view the Rabbinic discussion on the anisakis worm found in some commonly used fish:  “Two comments regarding the fish issue:  Firstly, it is common to have contemporaries differ on many Halachic issues.  For example, is a tea bag allowed on Shabbos in a kli shlishi?  Some authorities say that it is permitted, and others, say that it is prohibited M’Doraisa.  This should not be and is not a cause of feud.  Secondly, it is common throughout Chazal that contemporaries have a difference of opinion on what a senior godol actually said or says.  For instance, in the Gemora there are differences of opinions as to what a particular Tanna or Amora actually said.  Sometimes situations are clear, and sometimes they are not.  Each side may be certain of its viewpoint, but no unanimous opinion may exist.  Unfortunately, sometimes the facts cannot be determined to everyone’s satisfaction, for whatever reason, whether or not we understand it and whether or not we are frustrated by it.  This, however, should not lead to any sort of animosity or tension.  For example, on any given P’sak of the previous Gadol Hador, R’ Moshe Feinsten Z’tl, all may understand it in the same way, and yet on other of his Psakim some may differ on understanding what the Godol’s intent was (or is, when he was alive).  Let a person ask his own Rav what he should do.  Remember it’s almost Elul, let's Dun Lkaf Zchus so that Hashem can reciprocate to us!”



Special Note Three:  At yesterday’s Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro, Shlita, brought a tremendous thought from the Radomsker Rebbe, Z’tl.  The Pasuk in Shir HaShirim teaches “Hasheme’ini Es Koleich Ki Koleich Areiv--I want to hear your voice, for your voice is Areiv.”  The Rebbe taught that Hashem will listen to our voice in prayer--when we have Arvis--a sense of unity, responsibility, and feeling for each other.  Rabbi Shapiro said that every evening before going to bed, a person should ask himself:  “I davened Shacharis, Mincha and Ma’ariv--but, did I daven Arvis?”


In a very similar vein, he taught that Yaakov Avinu told Yosef to go investigate “Shlom Achecha, V’ Es Shlom Hatzon.”  Why did Yaakov Avinu mention both of these as separate entities and investigations--what was he emphasizing?  He was telling his descendants forever thereafter that unlike sheep whose main concern is to ensure that they have grass for themselves wherever they go, we are to look out for the welfare of our brethren--which is a wholly different approach to life.  If we truly appreciate the infinite gift that we possess as Torah Jews, then it should be in our nature to help those around us spiritually as well.  This is the “Shlom Achecha that Yaakov Avinu bequeathed to us.  In a beautiful interpretation of Rebbe Yochanan’s teaching in Maseches Avos (last week’s Perek 2:9--and our lesson for the week).  “Im Lamadita Torah Harbeh Al Tachazik Tova LeAtzemicha--if you have learned much Torah, do not hold the goodness to yourself,”--“Ki Lechach Notsarta-- for it is for this reason--sharing that goodness with others--that you were created!”  For further information, see www.kiruv.com.  As Rabbi Shapiro suggested, if a person would spread his goodness to even only one other person, couple or family, he will have accomplished a great and eternal purpose in life! 


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