Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin
MARCH 2008 DAILY EMAIL ARCHIVE
Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah
provides a Mishnah study service. For those who may be unable to study
Mishnah for any reason, Torah scholars are commissioned to study Mishnah
on behalf of a deceased, in honor of a Simcha, or for any other reason.
One can specify the entire completion of the entire Six Sedarim of
Mishnah, one or more Sedarim, an individual Mesechta, or numerous
Mesechtos, to be completed, for example, in time for a shloshim or
yahrtzeit. Other study services are available as well. There are fees
involved in payment for the study. The organization has haskamos from
Rabonim, including Rabbi Yaakov Forchheimer, Shlita and Rabbi Hershel
Shachter, Shlita. For further information, you can contact them
directly at 732-364-7029 or at
firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit them at
Another project of this
organization is Mishnas Chayim, an email that is sent to subscribers
every Wednesday, in memory of Jewish souls who passed away, leaving
nobody behind to study Mishnah in their merit. May the study of Mishnas
Chayim serve as a merit for these souls, while bringing the insights and
blessings of Torah study to all of its readers. You may subscribe to
this email by contacting the organization via the email address written
in the preceding paragraph.
Following are several
wonderful insights of HaRav Tzvi Feldman, Z’tl, the former Mashgiach of
the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, as culled from the Sefer Imrei Tzvi
(by Rabbi Dovid Altusky, Shlita):
- The Bnei Yisroel
are compared to Kochavim, to stars. Why is that? It is evident
that a primary purpose of the stars’ creation was to make the moon
feel good (See Bereishis 1:17 and Rashi there). If we are compared
to the stars, we, too, must endeavor to make others feel good.
- When a passenger
airplane takes off, it needs hundreds of gallons of fuel to get off
the ground. However, once it is in the air, it does not need as
much gas. The same is true when it comes to Torah and Avodas Hashem.
At the beginning, you need a big thrust and a strong effort. Once
you are “in the air,” the going is easier.
- Chazal teach that
doing something 100 times without pain and difficulty is the
equivalent of doing it even one time when done with hardship.
Accordingly, when we do the same things our ancestors did a few
generations ago; it may very well be worth 100 times more!
- The way a person
davens is an indication of his level of Ruchniyus.
- I heard from HaRav
Shach, Z’tl, that when a wind blows, its influence in the world
never ceases. One blast pushes another wind, which pushes another,
and then another, etc. If this is true in the physical world--we
can continuously feel and discern the ongoing effects of an initial
wind blast--who can imagine in Ruchniyus the eternal effects of a
- The Torah
frequently tells us that Moshe or Aharon did “as Hashem had
commanded.” Why? One may suggest that the Torah is teaching us
that even when a Tzadik does a Mitzvah that is so easy to perform in
the manner “that Hashem commanded”, it is worth publicizing--and
even in the Torah in which every dot is counted. Imagine, then, a
difficult Mitzvah that is truly a big nisayon by an average person
in a mundane society. What a lesson for us!
- One who seeks
recognition and honor in this world is the poorest person
around--because he can only get it from other people--and they don’t
want to give it to him!
- In the material
world, there are special times when one can pick up bargains, such
as special sales days, and unique discount opportunities. In the
spiritual world, as well, if one would study at a day or time when
very few people are learning, the rewards are greater than they
otherwise would be.
- The reason we
learn something for the first time is so that the second time
shouldn’t be the first time.
- When you go to a
restaurant, you are given a menu. You may be able get any dish that
you want, but you have to order it. The same is true of Tefillah.
In Shemone Esrei there is a list of 13 bakashos (requests). Hashem
wants to give us these things--but we have to order them. The way
to order is to have real Kavannah--and each brocha is a separate
- Brachos are
extremely important. Besides the essential concept of thanking
Hashem, they give us an awareness of His constant Presence, and an
appreciation of Yiras Shamayim. But, they can accomplish this only
if we have Kavannah. Unfortunately, the pace of life and habit can
preclude this. Here is my eitza, my advice. Before every Brocha,
picture a stop sign before you. Like a good driver, come to a
complete stop of whatever you are doing--and only then proceed
carefully to make the Brocha!
Special Note One: If one
would start tomorrow, the 22nd day of Adar II, to learn three Mishnayos
of Mesechta Pesachim per day, he would make a Siyum on the entire
Mishnayos Pesachim before the end of Pesach. As we all know, one must
ready himself not only physically for Pesach, but also spiritually as
Special Note Two: As we
are in full swing of the lofty time period between Purim and Pesach, we
realize that it is perhaps the most monetarily “expensive” time of
year. Beginning with Matanos L’Evyonim on Purim, continuing with Pesach
shopping (matzos, food, clothing, household needs, trips, etc.),
continuing further with Maos Chittin…and finally…taxes due for many on
The Torah does give us
great guidance in meeting the huge tests presented by money and
Parnassah. We provide below several very valuable Torah insights in
this regard, excerpted from the outstanding Artscroll collection
entitled Torah Treasury, which would prove a significant addition
to everyone’s home.
Crazy over Money.
Man’s obsession with money
and its hold over him is amazing. The Kohen Gadol was among the most
spiritually elevated people in the nation. He was also the wealthiest
of the Kohanim (see Yoma 18a). Despite this, the Torah warns Aharon
HaKohen--even the KohenGadol--and tells him not to allow the fact that
he will not eat of the olah’s meat (because it is offered totally on the
Mizbeach) to affect his service. Will a little bit of meat affect the
saintly--and wealthy--Kohen Gadol? Yes, says the Torah. Money’s hold
over man defies logic. Though a man of spirit and of means, one can be
influenced by financial considerations (R’ Yechezkel Levenstein).
First In, First Out.
An insightful Rosh Yeshiva
was once discussing marriage prospects with one of his students. The
young man foolishly believed that the key to his remaining dedicated to
Torah learning lied with his marrying the daughter of a wealthy man.
The Rosh Yeshiva offered the following advice: “While there are
obviously exceptions to this, let me tell you what my experience has
been. You can marry a girl from a wealthy home or marry a young woman
whose father is not wealthy but who is a Talmid Chacham. As long as the
financial climate is good, you may be better off with the rich man’s
daughter. However, if the financial climate deteriorates, you will
likely be the first one laid off the rich man’s payroll, but the last
one off the Talmid Chacham’s.”
Head Above Water.
The Gemara (Kiddushin 29a)
states that a parent is obligated to teach his child a trade, so that
the child will be able to support himself and his family, and he must
teach him to swim. What is the connection between the two?
The Kotzker Rebbe explains
that involvement in a trade can easily take over a person’s life. To
maintain proper balance, it is imperative for a person to take a cue
from swimming. When one swims, his entire body is immersed in the
water--but survival depends on his ability to keep his head above the
water. The same is true in business. While one might throw himself
totally into commerce, to spiritually survive he must keep his head out
Dovid HaMelech teaches us
(Tehillim, 128:2), “When you eat the labor of your hands you are
praiseworthy, and all is well with you.” “You are praiseworthy and all
is well when your labor is limited to your hands,” commented the Kotzker.
“When your head and heart get totally immersed in your business, all is
Special Note Three: At
the beginning of this week’s Parsha, Shemini, we find that Moshe
Rabbeinu first “Called to Aharon...” and only afterwards “Spoke to
Aharon.” HaRav Yechezkel Sarna, Z’tl, notes that when one wants to
speak with a person, he should call him specifically by his name, and
only then continue with a conversation. Mentioning someone’s name can
create a special level of endearment and closeness, a human bond. Moshe
Rabbeinu may very well have learned this very beautiful Middah from
Hashem Himself, Who at the outset of Sefer VaYikra (1:1) first “calls to
Moshe”, and only afterwards begins “speaking to him.”
May we suggest that over
Shabbos (i.e. the week-end) and Sunday (i.e., the week-beginning), you
take the lead of Hashem--and of Moshe Rabbeinu--and call to a person by
name before starting a conversation. May this serve as a source of
Brocha in enhancing all of our personal relationships.
Let’s try to keep the
spirit of Purim with us as long as we possibly can:
We received the following stellar answer
to the question posed as to why we mention “U’Shlalam L’Voz” (all
our property would have been looted after we were killed) in Al
HaNissim--after all, there would have been none of us left to care.
“Perhaps an answer to the question relates to the importance of the
possessions of Klal Yisroel--it would have been quite negative if
the possessions of the Jews that were used for kodesh purposes had
been plundered and used by the Nations of the World for secular
purposes--and perhaps for purposes worse than that.” This is a
lesson to us for us to appreciate how special even our possessions
are--when we wear a clean shirt to Shul (or otherwise!), shine our
shoes for Shabbos, or eat our food with dignity, we simply elevate
all of our property in a way that no other nation can!
Some Poskim write that the Mishloach
Manos that we give on Purim--two gifts to one person, is based upon
Achashveirosh giving to Esther two gifts--his Royal Ring, and the
House of Haman. Thus, we remember these very, very significant
gifts with gifts of such items as hamantashen, wine, challah, snacks
from all over the world, and various assorted trifles and dainties.
Perhaps we can take this “gifted” lesson through the year, and every
time that we receive a gift, whether large or small and whether
tangible or in the form of a compliment or other intangible item,
and be sure to pass on that gift in some form to someone else. The
gifts one receives and that one gives may not necessarily be
comparable at all, but in more cases than you may think, they may be
just as memorable.
The most prestigious Megillah that one
may own is a “HaMelech” Megillah, which has the word “HaMelech”, or
the King, as the first word of every column in the Scroll.
Obviously, this is to continuously remind us as we proceed through
the Megillah that the King, Hashem Himself, is running through and
controlling each and every one of the Megillah’s events and
personages. One may try going through the day and at various points
realize and even exclaim “HaMelech!”, or perhaps one may try finding
each and every one of the times that the word Melech appears in
Shacharis while davening (if you think this may be too much at the
outset, then begin with Mincha, continue to Maariv, and then go to
Our Kaballas HaTorah on Purim differed
from our Kabalas HaTorah on Shavuos, in that our acceptance of the
Torah on Purim came out of love rather than fear. How does one
express this new-found love? The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch,
Orach Chaim, 61; seif katan 2) quotes a Yerushalmi which identifies
each one of the Aseres HaDibros in different phrases in Kriyas Shema.
The words “V’Ahavta Es Hashem--and you shall love Hashem”--at the
outset of Krias Shema alludes to the second of the Aseres HaDibros--not
to take Hashem’s name in vain. Thus, one very practical way to
demonstrate his love for Hashem is to be very, very careful with
reciting Brachos, as these are the crucial moments of the day that
we are privileged to actually recite the name of Hashem. If one is
unsure whether or not he made a Brocha Achrona or has made an Asher
Yotzar, he must realize that he is not being careful enough, and
should undertake some form of correction, at least on a temporary
basis, to demonstrate that he really does love Hashem. You may have
other ways to demonstrate your love--and they may all well be within
the Purim Spirit! We welcome your thoughts.
Several days ago, we had
posed a question as to why we mention “U'Shelolom Lavoz”--that the evil
Haman wanted to loot the possessions of the Jews--in Al HaNissim. After
all, if no Jew would be left alive any longer, what difference would it
make to the deceased if their property was taken as booty or not?
In response to this
question, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita provides two alternative
answers. Firstly, these words teach us how wicked Haman designs
were--to obliterate any trace of the Jewish people--even their property
would not be remembered--and thus how great our yeshua--salvation--really
was. Secondly, these words teach us that, because the Gentiles had a
vested interest in killing the Jews, they could have well only
“believed” the first letters ordering the destruction of our People, and
ignore the second ones, in our favor. Nevertheless, the miracle was so
pervasive and so resoundingly complete that the nations favored the
second letters over the first, even though with it they lost their
incredible opportunity to plunder what was the equivalent of billions
and billions of property, assets and possessions.
One other insight on Al
HaNissim: HaRav Chaim Kanievsky was asked why we thank Hashem in Al
HaNissim for “Al HaMilchamos”--the wars. Wouldn't it have been better
for there not to be these wars at all? He responded that this statement
provides us with a great lesson that we must always remember: “Milchamos
Ani Asisi She'neemar Hashem Ish Milchama”--Hashem says “I am the One who
makes wars.” It is not, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, the
nations of the world that control their fate and enter into conflict or
even war. It is Hashem who is in control of the world and of all of the
people in it. Our role is to pray and work for Shalom--which is another
name of Hashem--and is the ultimate in blessing, as with this we
conclude in Birchas Kohanim,Birchas HaMazon, Shemone Esrei, the Siyum of
every Mesectha. May the message ring clear to us, and with it may we
stave off all future wars, and thank Hashem for **not ** having to make
war, and blessing us with peace!
Click here for a link
to an important message that has been provided to us by the Chofetz
Chaim Heritage Foundation.
Click here for a link
that provides a special message (in Hebrew) for women on Taanis Esther.
Special Note One: A
harrowing first-hand story of the dangers of drinking too much on Purim,
written by an 18 year-old boy who narrowly survived, is
at this link. We urge our readers to read it and publicize the
Special Note Two: A story
about an impromptu memorial service for those slain at Mercaz HaRav,
which took place on a Jerusalem bus, has been widely-publicized. For
those interested, it
can be read at this link.
Special Note Three: We
are currently in the thirteenth month of the year. Thirteen may not
have a positive connotation for sorcerers and the like. Indeed, many
office buildings do not have a “thirteenth floor”. However, to us, the
number 13 is very special, as it indicates our uniqueness (and this
maybe another reason why the rest of the world may not like it). It
represents Hashem’s 13 Attributes of Mercy towards us, the 13 Attributes
of Faith of the Rambam, the age of a Jewish man’s adulthood, and, of
course, is the gematria of the word “Echad”--representing Hashem’s
Oneness in this world and the entire universe. We should truly rejoice
in this thirteenth month for all of the exclusivity and distinctiveness
that it represents. How many times have you lived through a thirteenth
month of the year in the secular calendar?
Special Note Four: Some
Questions for the Week:
a) Mesechta Megillah
contains the famous sugya in which scholars were asked: “Bameh
He’Erachta Yomim?--How did you achieve your length of days?” What did
you do right to achieve long life? We know that Agadata in Shas is
placed in a particular Mesechta because of its relationship to that
Mesechta. For instance, the primary Agadata relating to the Churban is
in the Mesechta relating to divorce, Gittin, because it describes the
temporary estrangement of Hashem from His people. Why, is it, then,
that Mesechta Megillah is the appropriate Tractate to discuss how one
merits length of days?
b) In the last Pasuk of
the Haftarah for Parshas Zachor, Shmuel tells Agag, the King of Amalek
the following before killing him: “Just as your sword made women
childless, so, too, shall your mother be rendered childless among
women.” If the only surviving member of Amalek was Agag, doesn’t this
mean that his mother was already dead--so what was Shmuel referring to (Shmuel
c) We recite Al HaNisim
in both Birchas HaMazon and Shemone Esrei on Purim. In Birchas HaMazon
we recite the Al HaNisim in the second Brocha, which relates to thanks,
and only afterwards, in the third brocha, pray for Yerushalayim to be
returned to us. Yet, in the Shemone Esrei, we first pray for the return
of Yerushalayim in V’LeYerushalayim Ircha and Retzay, and only
afterwards do we express our thanks to Hashem and recite the Al HaNisim.
Why is there a different order in Birchas HaMazon then in Shemone Esrei?
d) In the Megillah
(Esther, 9:25), when Esther comes to plead before her people, the
Megillah records Achashveirosh’s response: “Im HaSefer Yoshuv
Mashachvto Hara…”--what is the meaning of the phrase “Im HaSefer?”
Note: One should go through the Megillah **now** to identify--and know
the meaning of--the phrases he or she may not currently understand!
e) In the Al HaNisim, we
thank Hashem for saving us from the decree of “L’Hashmid L’Haarog
U’Leabed--from the complete and utter destruction of the Jewish people,”
who also, as this prayer of thanks records, would have also been subject
to “U’Shlalam L’Voz--the plundering of their possessions.” If the
Jewish people would have been so totally destroyed, so utterly
obliterated, what difference would it have made whether their
possessions were plundered? Who would have been there to care? Why
need we make specific and express mention of this in the Al HaNisim?
Special Note One: There
have been a tremendous number of moving stories and incidents relating
to the Kedoshim at Yeshiva Mercaz HaRav. We received the attached from
a reader. If we read it and apply it, it will certainly be a zechus for
Doron HY’D. May he be a mailitz yosher for us all.
Doron Mahareta of blessed
and saintly memory HY"D was one of the eight Yeshiva students that were
massacred last week in Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem.
Last night, I paid a shiva
(condolence) call to Doron's family. Every single type of Jew was
sitting together, from Ethiopians to Polish Chassidim, from knit kippot
to Yerushalmi white kippot, from jeans and sandals to long black frocks.
Too bad that it takes a martyr of Doron's magnitude to unite everyone.
One of the rabbis from
Mercaz HaRav told me the most amazing story you'll ever hear about
Doron's dedication to learning Torah, a story that competes with the
Gemara's account of Hillel's near freezing on the roof of Shmaya and
Avtalion's Yeshiva (see tractate Yoma, 35b).
Doron wanted to learn
Torah in Mercaz HaRav, one of the best of Israel's yeshivas. But since
his early schooling was in Ethiopia, he lacked a strong background in
Gemara. The Yeshiva rejected him. He wasn't discouraged. He asked,
"If you won't let me learn Torah, will you let me wash the dishes in the
mess hall?" For a year and a half, Doron washed dishes. But, he spent
every spare minute in the study hall. He inquired what the yeshiva boys
were learning, and spent most of the nights and all of his Shabbatot
with his head in the Gemara learning what they learned. One day, the
"dish washer" asked the Rosh Yeshiva to test him. The Rosh Yeshiva
politely smiled and tried to gently dismiss Doron, but Doron wouldn't
budge. He forced the Rosh Yeshiva into a Torah discussion; the next day,
he was no longer a dishwasher but a full-fledged "yeshiva bachur".
On weekends, when Doron
would come home to visit his family in Ashdod, he'd spend the entire
Shabbat either in the Melitzer Shul or the neighboring Gerrer shtiebel
learning Shulchan Aruch and its commentaries. Three weeks ago, he
finished the entire Shulchan Aruch and principle commentaries. Doron
achieved in his tender 26 years what others don't attain in 88 years.
He truly was an unblemished sacrifice, who gave his life for all of us.
The next time you want to
close the Gemara to read a newspaper, think of Doron. The next time
your son doesn't want to do his Torah homework, tell him about the price
that tzaddikim like Hillel the Elder and Doron Mahareta paid to learn
Torah. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Doron wasn't a reincarnation of
Hillel. May his holy soul beg mercy for the grieving nation he left
Special Note Two:
Recently, Hakhel sponsored an outstanding Shiur on Purim--with
important lessons for the entire year--by HaRav Yitzchak Sorotzkin,
Shlita, Rosh Yeshiva Telz and Mesivta of Lakewood. One can listen
the entire shiur available at
Special Note Three: We
received the following important notice from the world-renowned Project
“Please join Rabbi Dov
Brezak live for the next four Monday evenings, in the comfort of your
own home. Put your phone on speaker (and mute) and continue to clean
and prepare for Purim, Pesach and the upcoming Chol Hamoed days, while
at the same time gaining tremendous encouragement and guidance to make
these Yom Tov days pleasurable and memorable. Rabbi Brezak will coach
us and help us remove the Chometz from our minds, as he helps us bring
out the best in our children. To register, please call 732-886-8821.
Space is limited.
Please see the
attached link available
here for more details
Special Note Four: Two
Notes on Matanos L’Evyonim:
The Sefer Halichos Shlomo, which
contains the rulings of HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Zt’l, writes
that, according to HaRav Auerbach the definition of an “Evyon” for
purposes of Purim is someone who does not have money “l’tzrochim
hahechreichim l’farnes baiso--the funds which are necessary to
provide for the necessities of one’s family.”
In the Sefer Maaseh Rav, HaRav
Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked whether it was preferable not to
give an Evyon directly on Purim just as, in Hilchos Tzedaka, it is
preferable not to give an Evyon directly. HaRav Kanievsky responded
that here “lo mishane”--it does not make a difference and that
either way is proper.
Special Note Five: What
happened to all of Haman’s possessions? The Medrash (Shocher Tov 22)
teaches that Haman’s money was distributed as follows: 1/3 to Mordechai
and Esther, 1/3 to those involved in Torah study, and 1/3 toward
reconstruction of the Bais Hamikdash. What a V’Nahapoch Hu!
Special Note Six: Chazal
(Megillah 11A) teach that the fourth and fifth words of the Megillah,
“Hu Achashveirosh--he is Achashveirosh)” teach us a profound lesson. He
“is” Achashveirosh--the very same Achashveirosh--before, during and
after the Purim story. Esther, his queen, who was a nevia (prophetess)
and one of the greatest women in history, had no impact upon him. Mordechai,
as the Mishne L’Melech, the number two man in his government, who was a
Tzaddik, a navi (prophet), and one of the great members of the Anshei
Kenesses HaGadolah, had no effect on his life. Indeed, even the
miracles of Purim--the amazing turn of events which were years in the
making--were personally overlooked and ignored, although they otherwise
made the king’s chronicles and the history books for all time. As a
matter of fact, Achashveirosh had ordered that the work to reconstruct
the Beis HaMikdosh be halted at the beginning of his reign--and
continued his stop-work order throughout his 14-year reign. The Beis
HaMikdosh only continued to be rebuilt upon the succession to his throne
by his son, Daryavesh. What an important lesson this is for us! We
cannot let the time in which we currently find ourselves--the time of
Purim and Geulah--march by us without it having an important impact upon
us. May we suggest learning to have a special kavanah in the first
brocha of Shemone Esrei as we recite the words “Ozer”, “U’Moshia”, “U’Magen”:
Ozer--a Helper, who
thwarts an existing immediate danger from overpowering a person
(example: You have already been attacked and the attacker is defeated);
Moshia--a Savior, who
cancels danger threatening to overpower a person (example: Prior to his
attacking, the attacker runs away);
Mogen--a Shield, who
prevents trouble from reaching you in the first place (example: The
attacker never leaves home).
See Michtav M’Eliyahu
4:65 as brought in Praying with Fire (page 117). By recognizing
and realizing that Hashem helps, saves and shields--we, very much unlike
Achashveirosh, will recognize Hashem’s protection over us in all
situations and circumstances!
Special Note One: In last
week’s Parsha, the Baal HaTurim writes that with respect to almost every
item that was completed in the Mishkan, the Torah records, “Ka’asher
Tziva Hashem Es Moshe”--it was crafted and completed in the exact manner
that Hashem had originally commanded. In fact, the Baal HaTurim notes
that the same, almost identical phrase is used 19(!) times relating to
the Mishkan’s completion. Why is this so? Why is this necessary for
the Torah to record these words each time--couldn’t the Torah have
stated in one Pasuk at the end of the Parsha that everything--every
single thing—was done exactly as was commanded?
HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz,
Z’tl, in the Sefer Daas Torah provides a remarkable insight
here. HaRav Yeruchem explains that the “ma’asim”--the actions and
deeds--that were performed in connection with the Mishkan were not
simply perfunctory, physical or even artisan-like crafts. Rather, each
ma’aseh--each act--was accompanied by “Ka’asher Tziva Hashem”--all of
the depth and profundity, all of the inner spirituality, secrets and
allusions which accompany proper mitzvah performance.
This is to teach us that
no matter what the mitzvah is, each time we do a mitzvah, we are doing
much more than a physical act. Whether it is putting on Tefillin,
building a Sukkah, walking to Shul, baking Challah in honor of Shabbos,
giving Mishloach Manos or eating Matzoh, it makes no difference. Each
mitzvah on its own may be a simple physical act--one primarily involving
a hand, another the jaws and teeth, the third a leg--but each one of
them is backed and energized by the wondrous and literally
incomprehensible spiritual force that accompanies a mitzvah that is
properly performed. We are not like the other nations of the world,
who, for example, may go into a fast-food restaurant, and “chow down” a
sandwich, not much differently (and perhaps more inhumanely) than an
animal. To us, even the aspect of the act of eating--from mouth to
digestive tract--is joined and guided by mitzvos. We consider why we
eat, why we make a Bracha before, what is done in between, why we make a
Bracha after, are all guided by how to properly conduct oneself while
eating (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Chapter 170-172).
When we perform a mitzvah,
we can visualize a backpack behind us, or even a launcher under us,
which raises us far, far away from the sphere of mere physical actions
and uplifts us into another realm entirely. We should deeply appreciate
and understand the elevating moment of mitzvah performance, in which we
accomplish oh so much more than is beyond our human vision, physical
capacity or intellect!
Special Note Two: At the
special Kinus held last Thursday night in the Agudath Israel Bais
Binyomin in Flatbush, HaRav Pinchos Breuer, Shlita, urged the
overflowing crowd to take some time to reflect upon the tragedy that
occurred in Yeshiva Mercaz HaRav--in a “Mikdash Hashem”. The young men
were “clearly karbanos”--and it was our duty and responsibility to take
a lesson from what occurred so that their blood was not spilled in
vain. HaRav Breuer specifically suggested that the terrorist entering
into the Mikdash was a lesson to each and every one of us that we must
demonstrate greater reverence and respect while in the Mikdash Hashem.
How does one show an
increased level of awe and appreciation for our Holy Places? HaRav
Breuer suggested by not talking idly or chattering there even while not
davening, by not playing with phones and other portable electronic
devices in the Bais HaMedrash whether or not you were in open view or
earshot of others, by not looking around while davening, and by having
Kavanah based upon the Kedushas HaMakom (the Holiness of the place), and
what you can accomplish there. Men and women, young and old, were asked
to take part in thinking about--and bringing to actuality on an ongoing
basis--how they could improve their appreciation of holiness. HaRav
Breuer noted that throughout the day we are in places which are not
sanctuaries--on the bus, in the store, at the office, etc. We rely on
the spiritual infusions that we receive while in Shul (or at home, if
one is davening there) in order to inculcate the remainder of the day
with the ruchinyus it so desperately needs in the world and environment
which surrounds us.
HaRav Breuer’s words
should emanate far beyond the boundaries of Brooklyn and even the United
States, and should have a profound impact upon each and every one of us
as we search to respond to Hashem’s message--which, we must understand
was directed to each and every one of us--just one week ago today. May
our individual responses find favor in the eyes of Hashem, and may joy
and happiness pervade our lives, as they emanate from our most Holy
We received the following
beautiful thought from a reader in our goal to obtain “101 Ways To Make
Other People Happy”:
I have something that
always makes a person smile: Tell them something specific (nice) about
someone they are close to, i.e. their spouse.
Examples: “Did you know
your wife insisted on doing the car pool for me this morning when she
heard my hoarse voice?” or “Your son ran to unload the groceries and
carried them into the house for me.”
Another reader suggested
that we refer all of our readers to the recent two-part series published
by Halachically Speaking on the Halachos of Mezuzah, which contains many
practical and need-to-know Halachos. To obtain these back issues,
Halachically Speaking can be contacted at email@example.com.
As we proceed through
Adar, and move towards Purim (only ten days away!), we provide the
following four reminders:
One can still start Mishnayos Mesechta
Megillah today, and make a Siyum at the Purim Seuda, as there are
only 33 Mishnayos in this wonderful Mesechta.
There are 10 perakim (chapters) in the
Megillah. If we start today and learn/review one chapter a day, we
can likewise complete our Megillah study at the Purim Seudah. In
addition to picking at least one commentary to review the Megillah
with, we also **strongly urge** you to make sure that you are
familiar with the translation and meaning of each word in the
Megillah. For instance, what does “Beesan”, or “Karpas” or
“HaPartimim” mean? According to one opinion in the Gemara, reading
the Megillah is like reading Hallel (i.e., it replaces the
recitation of Hallel on Purim). Accordingly, we should anticipate
it with the same measure of appreciation and joy.
Chazal teach that Haman told Mordechai
“Your Machatzis HaShekel contributions preceded and bested my offer
of 10,000 talents of silver. Indeed, even today we are sure to read
the Parsha of Shekalim, and give a “Zecher L’Machatzis HaShekel” (a
remembrance of the Machatzis HaShekel) every year before Purim.
This may very well be a reminder to us that we should be on the
alert to give “Shekalim”, Tzedakah, in order for us to stave off and
avert the designs and decrees of the Hamans of our generation. We
note the first four letters of Haman and Hamas--write both of their
names on the bottom of your shoe this Purim, Yemach Shemam to the
both of them--are the same in English and there is never, ever, such
thing as coincidence. Let us remember, as we recite in the Hagadah,
that “in every generation they stand up to destroy us and HaKadosh
Baruch Hu saves us from their hand.” With our Tzedaka, we will
hopefully give HaKadosh Baruch Hu all the ammunition that He needs.
been advised by our affiliate, Yad Eliezer, the largest food relief
organization in Israel, that with recent food and gas price spikes and
the decreased value of the dollar, it is in desperate need of funds to
help support its incredible budget. Why not make a donation to this or
any other of the so many legitimate causes for the sake of our less
fortunate brethren? Let’s help ourselves while helping others at the
same time--today. Yad Eliezer can be reached at http://www.yadeliezer.org/site/home.php
As we noted at the beginning of Adar
Rishon, Adar Sheni, as the thirteenth month, corresponds to our
repetition of “Kol HaNeshama Tehallel Kah Hallelukah--Let all souls
praise Hashem!” When we repeat something, we mean it with greater
force, emphasis and sincerity. As we move closer towards Purim, our
repetition of this Pasuk in the daily Pesukai D’Zimrah should be
with a special and intense caring, fervor, devotion and zeal!
BRINGING HAPPINESS TO OTHERS
Chazal teach that
“Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha”--everyone agrees that this teaching most
definitely applies to Adar Sheni. HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, (Michtav
M’Eliyahu, Volume 2, Page 125) writes that the Simcha we experience
during this month should be built upon day after day, so that it
continuously grows through the month. For true simcha to be built upon, the
joy must be more than a superficial experience. As Rabbi Mordechai Becher,
Shlita, pointed out in a Hakhel Shiur, depressed people can be tickled and
will laugh, but will quickly return to their depression after the tickling
has ceased. We suggest, therefore, that the simcha we look to build upon
over the course of this special month relate more to our ruchniyus, to the
spiritual realm of our lives.
In this regard, HaRav
Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, quotes the famous Rambam in Hilchos Megillah.
The Rambam writes that “it is better for a person to give more Matanos
L’Evyonim than it is to spend money on a larger Seudas Purim or Mishloach
Manos--for there is no Simcha Gedola U’Mefora--there is no greater or more
glorious joy--than one who makes the unfortunate happy.” Indeed, HaRav
Salomon notes, both the Nefesh HaChaim and the Zohar HaKadosh write that if
one brings simcha to the world; he is bringing Rachamim--mercy--into the
world, and changing Din, the attribute of strict justice, to Rachamim,
Heavenly Mercy--and there can be nothing better than that!
Our service, then, at this
time of year, is to open the gates of Rachamim that we so desperately need
opened so wide by bringing simcha into the world through our own Simchas
HaChaim, and all the more so by bringing others Simchas HaChaim--making
others happy as well.
In that vein, we present below
six sample responses to our previous request and call for “101 Ways to Make
Don't we all love a piece of
chocolate? How about carrying around a bag of individually wrapped mini
chocolates that you can give out to people around you?
The classic, most effective,
life altering, health building--SMILE!!!
Try the "old fashioned" thank
you note. Written notes, delivered via "snailmail," always come as a
welcome surprise, and are often saved, or posted on bulletin boards and
Take the time, make the effort
and spend the money to get a gift, no matter how small--it shows that you
care. To someone the ray of happiness brought into their lives could be a
Always have a short,
meaningful "vort" on the Parsha ready to tell someone. That is a sure
winner. Everyone loves a good D’var Torah.
Do something for someone that
he was planning on doing; tell them to enjoy the rest.
Now is the time to practice
these--and think of your own! We most certainly welcome new
submissions--especially this month. May our pure simcha during Adar turn
suffering and agony into happiness and elation, as Hashem’s Rachamim brings
us the Geulah Shlaima--in this auspicious time of Geulah, Adar and
Nissan--Purim and Pesach!
In light of yesterday’s
tragedy and the current crisis in Eretz Yisroel, we urge everyone to
participate in our Tefilla project for the next two weeks.
this link. May it be a zechus for us all.
Be’Ezras Hashem, tomorrow we
will be concluding Sefer Shemos, which the Ramban refers to as the Sefer
HaGeulah, the Book of Redemption. In his introduction to Sefer Shemos, the
Ramban explains that the Sefer concludes with the completion of the Mishkan
and with the Shechina, the Glory of Hashem, filling it---because this, in
fact, is the climax of Geulah--having the Shechina in our midst. When this
occurred, the Ramban writes “Shavu El Maalas Avosam--they returned to the
level of their fathers.”
Indeed, this was an incredible
achievement--for the children to return to the astounding plane of the Avos.
How, once again, was this accomplished? By successfully bringing the
Shechina down to this world. Everyone knew that the Mishkan was only a
temporary structure, yet it accomplished such an incredible result.
Certainly, when we consider the third, final and permanent Bais HaMikdash,
how much more so should we long for this final and ultimate Geulah. As we
leave the Geulas Mitzrayim with this week’s Parsha, we must do so with a
view towards our own Geulah--when we ourselves can unite with the “Maalas
HaAvos”--by bringing the Shechina once again and forever into our midst.
It is no coincidence (as it
never is) that tomorrow, as we end the Sefer HaGeula, we will be reading
Parshas Shekalim and beginning Adar Sheni. Parshas Shekalim, which reminds
us of the contributions made by the Bnei Yisroel to the Mishkan, teaches us
the role of Tzedaka, charity, in the Geulah of the Mishkan. As the Navi
writes “Tzion B’Mishpat Tipadeh V’Shoveha B’Tzdaka”--we will be redeemed
through Tzedaka. It may behoove each and every one of us to give some
Tzedaka right now for the sake of our Geulah (see the Sefas Emes on Parshas
Shekalim for a related thought). Adar Sheni, too, has much to do with
Redemption, as we celebrate Purim within that month, and it serves as the
portal to Pesach. Rashi (Taanis 29A) in explaining why “When one enters
Adar, we increase our joy” writes: “These are days of miracles for Klal
Yisroel--Purim and Pesach.” Clearly, Rashi is demonstrating to us the
uniqueness and incredible potential which are really and truly inherent in
Many of us will be concluding
our recitation of the words “Ule’Chaparas Pesha--and for forgiveness of sin”
in the Musaf for Rosh Chodesh tomorrow, and will no longer be reciting it in
the Musaf of the remaining Roshei Chodoshim of the year. Let us take this
as a lesson for us in the “last month” to intensify our Teshuva--and our
Tefillos to Hashem that He forgive us for iniquities.
May our heartfelt, sincere and
real Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzedaka this month allow us to go from concluding
one Sefer HaGeulah to concluding another Sefer HaGeulah!
Note: We should be especially
careful to study the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim at the end of Chapter 19,
and/or recite the Tefillah Al HaGeulah we have previously distributed
(available in Hebrew
here and in
It is very,
very far from being far-fetched for Hashem’s response to be positive--after
all did not the previous Redemptions occur after our cries and entreaties?
(See Shemos 2:23 and Esther 4:16). Let each and every one of us make sure
to do our own personal and individual part in helping us all and bringing
back the Kavod Hashem and Kavod of Klal Yisroel to the place that they
Rav Moshe Chaim Luzatto, Z’tl,
in the Derech Hashem (Part 4, Chapter 2), provides the following
“Chazal have revealed a very
great mystery, namely, that if the wicked would only not abandon the study
of the Torah, they would ultimately return to Hashem. Even though they do
not have the power to transmit anything from Hashem, the words of the Torah
themselves are intrinsically holy. One who consistently involves himself
with the Torah therefore constantly receives a measure of hisorirus
(spiritual motivation) from it. Even though this is the barest possible
shadow of the True Illumination, the fact that it is constantly reinforced
gives it the power to ultimately overcome a person and make him good again.
Chazal thus teach us that Hashem said, ‘If they would only have kept My
Torah, the Light in it would bring them back to the good.’ ….When a person
purifies and sanctifies himself, his study then transmits to him a degree of
Influence depending on his level of preparation. The more he prepares
himself, the greater will be the value and power of his study.”
From these words of the
Ramchal, we can glean the importance of appreciating the depth and
profundity of even the simplest and barest of Torah study. We should never,
ever make “light” of the study of Torah--whether it is from an English Sefer
on the Parsha; it is only a single Mishna after Mincha before going back to
work, it is Daf Yomi study by tape…or even if it is doing second grade
Chumash homework with a child. We must appreciate the Torah’s Illumination
in all circumstances. Of course, the more preparation the more
Illuminating the study (as the Ramchal concludes above). However, we must
always realize that even a little bit of light in a very dark room, or
world, c an greatly benefit and empower the one who brought that light--and
all the many others who will benefit from its radiance.
Special Note One: We received
an urgent notification from a reader regarding the Israeli “Carmel” products
being exported to America, and probably other countries as well (perhaps
under different trade names). Apparently, in addition to fresh vegetables
such as tomatoes, Carmel is also selling Israeli fresh herbs in local fruit
and vegetable stores, and, because it is a large distributor, the herbs may
also be sold in larger chain stores, as well. Let the buyer beware!
Special Note Two: Another
reader sent us a beautiful Tefillah which may be recited daily, asking
Hashem for Divine assistance in that sometimes extremely difficult task of
judging others favorably. Chazal teach that one who judges others favorably
will be judged by the Heavenly Court with favor, as well, measure for
image file (JPG) is available here.
May this attached short Tefillah prove to be of wonderful help in
Special Note Three: Yet
another reader asked whether we were still collecting Ways to Make Other
People Happy. We most certainly are. One method we recently received was
Approach someone who has a
frown or sudden dejected look on his face, and then place a finger from your
right hand an inch away from the end of the right side of your lip, and a
finger from your left hand an inch away from the end of the left side of
your lip--and ask --“what’s here and what’s here?!” If it doesn’t work on
anyone else, maybe you can try it on yourself!
Special Note Four: With
regard to the importance of Facial Expressions, we provide below an excerpt
from The Power of Words by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:
“Displaying harsh facial
expressions without saying even one word can cause much distress. In
special instances, parents, teachers, and other people in authority might be
able to use this for constructive purposes. A quick frown is enough to
convey a message of disapproval and can motivate someone to improve. On a
regular basis, however, this is not proper. When the look on your face
conveys the message that you are cold and unsympathetic, it causes pain. A
smile and a genuinely friendly look on one’s face can be a great act of
kindness. Be careful that your general facial expression is one that allows
people to feel comfortable in your presence.
“If you are not satisfied with
someone else’s facial expression, say to the person in a polite manner, ‘I
would really appreciate it if you would be able to have a more pleasant
expression on your face.’ On the other hand, it would be improper to say to
someone, ‘You look like the world’s biggest grouch.’ Statements of this
sort are not likely to influence the person to have a more pleasant
expression. Instead of attacking the person for what he is doing wrong,
focus on what you would like the person to express and ask for it.
“One technique that can help
is to ask the person questions about situations that were a source of great
joy in his life. When the person smiles while recalling the incidents, you
can say, ‘You look so wonderful when you smile.’ This, of course, should
not be used when someone is suffering a real loss and needs time to overcome
his grief over that loss. But when appropriate, your reinforcing someone’s
smiling will make the person a generally happier person. When that person
smiles at others, they in response will smile back at him and this will
reinforce his tendency to smile at others again. When speaking to another
person, it is very important to notice his facial expressions to see if what
you are saying is causing him pain or distress. The greater mastery you
have over this sensory acuity, the more awareness you will have if what you
say is onoas dvorim [hurtful words].”
One should use facial
expressions for the purpose that Hashem gave them to you--for your benefit,
and the benefit of Mankind!
Special Note Five: At a
recent Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Yitzchok Sorotzkin, Shlita, related that HaRav
Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, was once asked the following question: All the
abundance that we have today--is this a brocha--or a klala--a curse? His
response was that, in fact, it is neither. Rather, it is purely a nisayon,
a test for each one of us in life. Every generation has its own tests.
Seventy or eighty years ago in the very same country the test may have been
deprivation and even near-starvation. Today, as we visit the supermarket,
the clothing store, or any one of the “Depots” that abound, we must realize
that our goal is to strike the proper balance--to thank Hashem with sincere
and deep thanks for the bounty and choices that we have (as per the meaning
of the Brocha of Borei Nefashos), and concomitantly not to blatantly or even
discreetly engorge or overindulge in that which would not please Hashem.
One must be a proactive
thinker while at a smorgasbord, on a weekend vacation, at the electronics
store, or even in front checkout counter in the supermarket--to decide
whether he really needs that new electronic gadget, pleasure, extravagance,
or even just the small extraneous item. We can pass the nisayon--replacing
excess and overindulgence with appreciation and gratitude!