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Special Note One:  We provide by the attached link the Seder Bircas Hachama from the Sefer Ateres HaChaim by HaRav Chaim Pilagi, Z’tl, published over 150 years ago.  Included in the Seder is his own Tefilla to be recited on this auspicious occasion.  We would like to thank Renaissance Hebraica of Brooklyn New York (917-407-1114) for making this special Sefer available to us.



Special Note Two:  Several weeks ago we posed the question as to why the Brocha of Ha’Mavir Shaina does not end with the words “Usnuma MaiAfapai--Who removes slumber from my eyelids,” but instead continues with a long and beautiful Yehi Ratzon listing over fifteen requests, concluding with the brocha of “HaGomel Chasadim Tovim--Who bestows good kindnesses upon us.”  The Siach Yitzchak (in the Siddur HaGra) provides a wonderful insight here.  He explains that the “Haschala” of a project, i.e., the manner in which one begins an undertaking, will be determinative of its success.  If one commences with the appropriate force and energy, he will get better and stronger as he progresses (conversely, if one starts out feebly, his progression will be weak and ineffective).  It is for this reason, the Siach Yitzchak writes, that the Zohar states that when one **arises in the morning**, he should recite “Yehi Ratzon SheYiheye Libi Nachon U’Masur Beyadi Shelo EshKachech--Hashem, may it be Your will that my heart be proper and in my control, so that I do not forget You [throughout the day].”


It is for the very same reason that we recite the Yehi Ratzon in HaMaavir Shaina--as one acknowledges that his sleep has ended and he begins to think fresh new thoughts.  Now, at the outset of the day, at the commencement of one’s cognitive processes--at that first fork in the road so determinative of his journey--is the time to pray in detail for Hashem’s guidance and assistance in taking the right road for the rest of the day.


Indeed, Rabbi Yosef Zundel of Salant, Z’tl, writes that one of the Hanhagos of the Vilna Gaon was immediately upon arising in the morning to recite with a “Lev Shalem U’Vsimcha”--with a full heart and with joy--“Hareini Mekabel Alai Ol Torah HaYom”--I accept upon myself the yoke/ the responsibility of Torah today! [Sefer Tallilei Oros].


We now realize that with the brocha of HaMaavir Shaina we initiate and ignite each and every day in such an important and meaningful way!


Hakhel Note: To assist your Kavannah in this pivotal bracha, you may want to count with your fingers each and every one of the requests that you are making in the Yehi Ratzon--as you are making them.



Special Note One:  A Rav sent us the following important thought on the special days we are traveling through:  “The first 10 days of Nissan are like the first 10 days of Tishrei.  The difference is that the first days of Tishrei are based upon Yirah, and the first 10 days of Nissan are based in Ahavah.”  See Sefer Nesivos Shalom (Shemos, p.326).  Hakhel Note: Let us work on Ahavas Hashem during these days--especially feeling the love of a child to a father when saying the word VeAhavta in Kriyas Shema.  What a great preparation for Pesach!


Special Note Two:  A reader made the following two points about “the meaning of a billion” to us:

a.                           “A billion minutes ago the Bais HaMikdash stood.”  Hakhel Response:  It can be standing again in one minute.  Let’s utter a sincere prayer right now for its rebuilding!


b.                          “A billion seconds ago, it was 1959.”  Hakhel Response:  This means that someone who is 50 years old has had enormous opportunity since his birth to do good.  Let’s make the most out of our seconds going forward…and be true billionaires!


Special Note Three:  As we move closer to Bircas HaChamah, we should begin to focus more and more on preparation for the event.  Tomorrow morning, during Shacharis, try to find the times we mention the word “Shemesh--sun”--in the davening, and in what context.  Is there another name for the sun also used in our Tefillos?  Why is it that in the Shabbos davening the sun is referred to more often than in the weekday davening?  We must put the time and effort into properly appreciating an event which happens only a few times in a lifetime.  Rabbi Belsky will provide Halachos and Hashkafos of Bircas HaChamah on Sunday night, as well.


 Special Note Four:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos Series:


As we enter the months of spring, and Pesach becomes almost palpable, we present below the following Halachos from the Sefer Reich Hasadeh by Rabbi Hanoch Slatin, Shlita (Feldheim):


1.  Trees, Flowers and Plants:  On Shabbos, one of the 39 Melachos is to harvest produce.  Because of this Melacha, it is forbidden to smell fruit on a tree on Shabbos, lest one come to pick it.  There is no such concern about smelling a flower as full enjoyment is derived from the flower without needing to pick it.  Therefore, one may smell growing flowers on Shabbos.  One must still be very careful to handle the plant gently.  If the plant is as soft as grass there is essentially no possibility of breaking it, so one may touch it.  If the branch of a tree is somewhat brittle, or in the course of growth it will become so, there is the possibility that it could break if handled.  Therefore, one must refrain from holding it.  (If one does not hold the fragrant plant it may not be Avida L’reicha and not require a Brocha.)  If it is breakable, but one can perceive the aroma from a distance, one should make the Brocha while standing a short distance away from the plant.  If a fruit or flower was picked before Shabbos, there is no question that one may enjoy its fragrance.


2.  Shabbos Cholent:  There are items that do not require a blessing, but are nevertheless permissible to smell.  A Shabbos Cholent, for example, may smell wonderful, but it does not require a blessing.  It is forbidden; however, to deliberately smell cooked pork.  On the other hand, something prohibited which will not entice a person into eating it may be smelled.  For example, musk oil has historically been used to season food.  Even according to those who forbid consuming musk oil (because of its source), one is still allowed to smell it.  Since musk oil, like most seasonings, is never eaten alone, we are not afraid that someone will be drawn into eating it.


3.  Pesach: During the week of Pesach all Chometz is forbidden to eat or to use.  This applies not only to products belonging to a Jew, but even to that which belongs to a non-Jew.  We may therefore not enjoy the smell of a gentile’s warm bread during Pesach.  Likewise it is forbidden to smell whiskey during Pesach.


This Pesach may we be zoche to the spiritual and physical fragrances and aromas of the Bais HaMikdash!


Special Note One: Many are aware of the Tefillos that are being requested especially today, Yom Kippur Koton, for the three young men being held in jail in Japan .  If one cannot fulfill the Mitzvah of Pidyon Shivuyim monetarily, he can take a few moments out to daven for their successful release.  So that you have it handy, their names are: Yossi Bando--Yosef ben Ita; Yakov Yosef Greenwald--Yakov Yosef ben Raizel; and Yoel Zev Goldstein--Yoel Zev ben Mirel Risa Chava.  It is well known that HaRav Chaim Shmulevitz, Z’tl, at the time of the Entebbe hijacking, urged his students to think about those being held captive as his close relatives, and Daven for them with that kind of emotion and feeling.  A few moments may make years, and perhaps better stated an eternity, of difference in these young people’s lives!



Special Note Two: We received the following correspondence from an organization which should be close to each and every one of our physical and spiritual hearts:

Four-fifths were left behind in Egypt .  Don’t let that happen this Pesach!  Connect a Jew to their heritage by enhancing their Passover Seder with Project Inspire’s The 4 Questions & 2 Jokes Kit.  Help someone bring more meaning and fun to their Seder with this stylish, enlightening, and user-friendly kit.  Each card has Pesach-related multiple-choice questions along with insightful answers.  Comes in a plastic cover.  Only $1.00 each.  Free shipping for all orders.  To order visit www.Kiruv.com.  Call to follow up and invite someone to your Seder or Pesach lunch as well!  Those living in Chicago , Silver Spring , Cleveland , Philadelphia , Passaic , Toronto , or Monsey can buy in person from your local coordinator.  For more information on this or to place a bulk order, call 646-461-3339.  Project Inspire’s tools are highly subsidized to enable you to reach out to your brethren who may otherwise not experience the beauty and depth of their heritage.  Please only use these tools for that purpose.



Special Note Three:  Today is the Yahrtzeit of the Rebbetzin of the Steipler Gaon, who was the sister of the Chazon Ish.  In the Sefer Peninei Rabbeinu Hakehilos Yaakov, HaRav Moshe Mordechai Shulzinger, Shlita, writes that at her Levaya, the Steipler instructed him to be Maspid (to eulogize ) her with the following words: “The great merit that she had to serve the Chazon Ish for many years will stand in her stead to immediately enter into Gan Eden.”

Sometimes we fail to appreciate how very important the Shimush, the serving of Talmidei Chachamim really is.  Imagine the merits of a woman like the Steipler’s Rebbitzen.  Yet, her “ticket” to immediate entry into Gan Eden was the Shimush.  We should learn from this, and try our utmost to serve and service our Rabbonim and Poskim in any way that we can.  Original thinking, creativity and thoughtfulness as to what they may need, or how you can help them, can go a long way in our improvement in this vital area--an area that leads to Gan Eden !



Special Note Four: The Sefer Koheles concludes with the words: “Sof Davar…”--the sum of the matter, when all has been considered: fear Hashem, and keep his commandments, for that is all of Man (Koheles 12:13).  We provide below practical guidance from the Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 9) on growth and development in Yiras Hashem:


Proper fear of Hashem is achieved by pondering three things:

1)      The greatness of Hashem Who fashioned all things extends over all existence.  For man fears the lion, the bear, violence, fire, and a falling ruin, which are only minor emissaries.  Why, then, should he not fear the great King, with the fear of His greatness resting upon His face?  He should say, “How can lowly man sin against such a great Master?”  For if he angered a bear, it would consume him, whereas, because the Holy One, Blessed be He, overlooks insult, is this reason not to fear His awesomeness and greatness?!


2)       Divine Providence is constantly at work, watching over and examining each person.  Now, a servant always fears his master when in his presence, and man is always in the presence if the Creator, Who carefully inspects all his ways.  Thus, he should be simply be overawed to nullify His commandments.


3)      Since Hashem is the root of all souls, a transgressor impacts upon Hashem’s Sanctuary directly.  Should he not fear that the King’s Sanctuary is sullied by his evil deeds?  Hakhel Note: We must be involved in maintaining the Makom HaMikdash within us every day!


Flawed deeds repel the Shechina Above.  One should fear lest he cause this great evil of diverting the King’s love from the Queen.  Hakhel Note: Imagine--we are the Queen--we are royalty--let us properly treat and regard our position!


Let us make sure that we take a few moments out today, on Erev Rosh Chodesh, a day of Teshuva, to reflect upon and improve ourselves in what Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, considered to be such an essential part of our lives--something that is “all of Man”.



As an introduction to the preparation for Bircas HaChama, we provide the following meaningful excerpt from the newly published work Once in 28 Years by Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita (Targum Press).


“The sun is an example of the Creator’s unique kindness. In Tehillim (136:7), Dovid HaMelech proclaims: ‘To the Maker of the great luminaries, His kindliness is everlasting.’


“Imagine if someone were to invent a light bulb that provided light, heat, and also filled up the refrigerator with food. The inventor would become a billionaire in a short time. Hashem created such a light. Solar energy supplies life-giving light and heat, as well as photosynthesis which causes food to grow.


“The Talmud (Chullin 59b) tells of a Roman leader who demanded that a certain sage show him the Creator. The sage instructed the Roman to look into the sun. When the Roman said that it was impossible for him to do so, the sage responded, ‘Then how can you expect to see Hashem?’  That is, if he could not even look directly at one of Hashem’s creations, how could he expect to see its Creator?!


“When we recite the bracha, ‘Blessed are You... Who creates the luminaries’ (in the berachos before Kriyas Shema each day), we need to remember these thoughts and appreciate our Creator for the great lu­minary in the sky, which never burns out.


“Before and after the Birkas HaChama service, it would be wise to think, and say, ‘Thank You, Hashem, for providing us with Your glorious sun for the last twenty-eight years!’


“ONE MOMENT SPOTLIGHT Take a minute now to consider the approximate dollar value of some of the benefits Hashem provides us with through the sun. Imagine the value of sunlight warmth, and nutrients that are bestowed upon the entire world every single moment of the day--how much is that worth?  Ten billion dollars?  Fifty billion?  One hundred billion?


“Too difficult?  Think of one aspect of what you receive from the sun and place a value on it--can you? This should serve to enhance our appreciation of the sun, every single minute of the day.


“’How sweet is the light, how good it is for the eyes to see the sun! (Koheles 11:7).’”


Thank you, Rabbi Goldberger, for these very special, thought provoking words.



Special Note One:  Women Prepare!  This Thursday, Rosh Chodesh Nissan, is very, very special--especially for women.  The Daas Zekainim MiBaalei Tosfos (Shemos 35:24) writes that the reason women were given Rosh Chodesh as a special day for them (to treat it as a Yom Tov--not to do certain work--see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 417) is because they were “semaichos u’zeheeros”--happy and careful--to donate their jewelry to the Mishkan, whereas their jewelry had to be taken from them against their will for the Eigel HaZahav.  Tosfos notes that the effect of their donations was noticed on this Rosh Chodesh--Rosh Chodesh Nissan, when the Mishkan was established, and that all of the other Roshei Chodoshim of the year are given to women as a Yom Tov because of Rosh Chodesh Nissan.  So, especially this coming Rosh Chodesh--plan on making it a special day!



Special Note Two:  HaRav Yaakov Kamenetzky, Z’tl, (whose Yahrzeit is this Wednesday, 29 Adar) provides a great question and a remarkable insight on last week’s Parsha.  The Torah goes to great lengths to describe the Mishkan and its Keilim--both the instructions to build it, and the actual details as to its construction.  We know the Mishkan was precious to Hashem, and that we gain special insight into the Dor HaMidbar with all of the detail.  However, all of this detail is for a temporary structure that is supposed to be standing for only a short while--until the Bais HaMikdash is built.  Remember that the Chait HaMeraglim had not yet taken place, so Bnei Yisroel were due to soon (within months) enter Eretz Yisroel and build the Bais HaMikdash shortly thereafter.  Thus, the Mishkan was intended to function for perhaps a year or two (although ultimately it remained standing for 479 years).  Yet, we see the detail which the eternal Torah provides for it--and the alacrity and dedication of the people towards a very short-term construction.  The important and special lesson here is that our goal must be to accomplish.  A Mitzvah may look to the eye as if it is fleeting--so why put in all the time, effort, and expense?  This is not an appropriate cheshbon.  One must study, for example, the Halachos and Hashkafos of Bircas HaChama, although the actual bracha may take less than a minute, and we similarly must spend much time with properly preparing for Pesach--physically and spiritually--even though the preparation in all likelihood will take longer than the Yom Tov itself.  Time is a physical concept--and we must transcend it in order to attain our spiritual goals.


So, the next time you feel like you are spending so much time--whether it is cleaning the cupboards for Pesach, waiting on a line long for a few, “last-minute” Shabbos items, davening or saying Tehillim for someone who is having surgery today, or talking with someone on the phone who always seems to need chizuk, remember…the “short-term” great and wonderful Mishkan!



Special Note One:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series.


As we enter the rainy season outside of Eretz Yisroel:


1.  If one’s clothes became wet, he can continue to wear the wet clothes (if he has no other clothes, he can even put them on to begin with).  The Mishne Berurah  (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 301, seif katan 162) explains that the gezeira of sechita of something wet does not apply to clothes that one is wearing.


2.  One may not spread out wet clothes to dry on Shabbos because of Maris Ayin--raising a suspicion or giving an appearance that he washed them on Shabbos.


3.  One may not spread out wet clothes even in a private room (“Chadrei Chadarim”) where no one can see them because, in a situation when one could be suspected of performing an Issur D’Oraysa when seen (such as the Melacha of Melaben--cleaning clothing--by putting them out to dry after ostensibly washing them), it is also forbidden to put them out to dry even in one’s private room where in fact no one else will see them.


4.  One may put out clothes to dry before Shabbos, and does not have to remove them before Shabbos, because one will not be suspected of washing on Shabbos, as they have already been out to dry since Erev Shabbos.


5.  One cannot stand wearing wet clothes near a hot stove where the effect will be to dry the clothes, even if the intent is only to warm himself [Bishul and Melaben issues].


6.  With regard to these Halachos, the Sefer The 39 Melochos by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita, (Volume 3, p. 719) and The Shabbos Home by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita, (Volume 1, p. 189) write that while one may not put wet clothes out to dry on a clothesline, indoor laundry room, or bathroom over a shower, one can hang a wet garment in a closet, on a wall hook, or on the back of a chair or door knob, because wet laundry is not ordinarily hung in this manner.  Similarly, according to this reasoning, while one could not hang a towel wet from use in the laundry room on Shabbos, one could hang it on a hook, towel bar, or place it on the back of a chair.  One should consult with his Rav or Posek for his own P’sak in this area.


7. There is a Machlohes Haposkim whether clothes that are ordinarily dry cleaned (such as a man’s suit or a woman’s Shabbos dress) can be put out or hung to dry.  Those who are lenient maintain that no one could suspect that the garments were cleaned on Shabbos, and are now being put out to dry, since wet laundering could ruin the garments.  It is reported that Harav Elyashiv, Shlita, does not agree with this leniency, and prohibits putting suits and dresses out to dry, as well.


8. A wet *raincoat* may be hung out to dry in the shower or laundry room, because it is obvious that the coat is drying from the rain, since one does not wash his rain coat in this manner. (Shmiras Shabbos KeHilchasa 15, footnote 119)



Special Note Two:  The following note is excerpted from The Book of Our Heritage--the wonderful English translation of Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov’s, Z’tl, classic Sefer HaToda’ah:  The last seven days of Adar--beginning yesterday from the twenty-third of Adar until Rosh Chodesh Nisan--are known to us all as the “Yemai HaMiluim” the Days of Dedication.”  It was then that Moshe Rabbeinu dedicated the Mishkan after its construction.  During these seven Days of Dedication, Moshe Rabbeinu alone served as the Kohen.  Every day he would build the Mishkan; bring the daily Karbanos, eat from the Karbanos as commanded and after performing the Avodas Hayom, take the Mishkan apart.

The Sefer HaToda’ah brings from the Medrash that these Days of Dedication of the first Mishkan constructed by Moshe Rabbeinu are destined to be repeated when the Moshiach comes.  Thus, the Days of Dedication serve as a memorial to the Mishkan made by Moshe--as well as a special time of prayer for the Final Redemption and the building of the Bais HaMikdash in which the Shechina will dwell eternally.

Practical Suggestion:  We must make these very special days more palpable to us.  Chazal teach that Moshe Rabbeinu composed the last Pasuk of Tehillim Chapter 90 (Vihi Noam) as well as Chapter 91 (Yoshev BeSeser Elyon) on the day that he completed the Mishkan.  Chapter 91 teaches us that just as Moshe Rabbeinu, upon entering the Mishkan was enveloped in and protected by the shadow of Hashem, so, too, can we, when placing our faith and trust in Hashem, be protected by Hashem’s shadow. This Shabbos, and over the next week (at least once daily in Kriyas Shema Al HaMitah) when we recite these hallowed words of Moshe Rabbeinu, let us fill them with our heartfelt Kavannah of Emunah Shleimah…and an impassioned plea that we be able to recite these words again within a clearly defined shadow--the confines of the third and everlasting Bais HaMikdash.  May it come speedily in the coming days!


Special Note One:  Every day we are confronted by questions of honesty.  There is a wonderful opportunity presented by Torah.org to learn Rav Yisroel Belsky‘s, Shlita, responses to many important and practical questions relating to honesty that arise **for everyone** in everyday life.  To subscribe to the Question and Answer, simply follow this link and click on "subscribe" at the bottom of the pageTo send your shaila for Rabbi Belsky’s response, there is a special mailbox--rbelsky@torah.org.  The first step in practicing Emes…is taking a few moments every week to learn more and more about it!



Special Note Two:  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 5) rules that when reciting Hashem’s name of Yud Keh Vav Keh one should have Kavannah that Hashem is Master of All, and that He Was, Is, and Will Be.  The Shulchan Aruch also rules (ibid.) that when reciting the name “Elokim” one should have Kavannah that Hashem is Strong, Powerful, and Omnipotent (i.e., Creator of all and the Force that causes all to continue to exist).  It may be difficult to have this level of Kavannah in the hundreds of times a day that we recite Hashem’s names in Brachos (with at least two Shaimos per Bracha!).  The Aishel Avrohom provides a Nusach which we provide by clicking here for a person to recite every morning before Shacharis, in which you indicate that your Kavannah, every time that you recite the nameof Yud Keh Vav Keh and Elokim, is as required by the Shulchan Aruch.  The Sefer Afikei Yom (brought in the Sefer Piskei Teshuvos to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim1:5) provides a similar Nusach.  HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, (Halichos Shlomo Tefillah 1:3) rules that one can rely on this Nusach (provided that when reciting Hashem’s Name one’s Kavannah still is that Hashem is the Master of the Universe in general).  The Nusach however, will not work for the first Pasuk of Shema and the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei, where the specific Kavana is required.  While by no means a cure-all, this would appear to be a good place to start to show your desire and intent to express Hashem’s Names with the proper meaning and respect.  There is also a wonderful Siddur, available in Nusach Ashkenaz and Sefard, entitled Siddur Kavanas Hashem, in which each name of Hashem throughout the davening has the appropriate, easy to read Kavannah (as set forth above) next to Hashem’s name for you to glance at while reciting the Name.  If it is time for a new Siddur to re-energize your Tefillos, perhaps ask to see this one at your local seforim store.


There is a related issue with respect to the Kavannah in answering Amen, where, in addition to expressing your belief that Hashem is the Trustworthy King and that you believe what you heard, specific Kavannah to the particular Bracha you are responding to is also required (and, in the case of a Bracha relating to a request in the middle of Shemone Esrei, or when answering Amen within Kaddish, also having in mind, as well, a prayer that Hashem grant that specific request).  See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 124:6 and Mishne Berurah there.  On the very same link available here, at the bottom of the page, we provide an excerpt from the Sefer Shevet Mussar relating to one’s Amen response that one can recite daily before Shacharis.  Once again, this is not a panacea. However, it is certainly a starting point for one to recognize at the outset of each day that he must focus a bit more on the Holy and Powerful Amen Response.  If the actual recitation of the short Nusach itself also accomplishes something in the Heavens above towards one’s Amen’s Response, one has benefited supernally in this way as well!



Special Note Three:  Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, provides the following essential insight into daily life:  “What you talk about and how you speak to others reflects on your entire personality. If you cause pain to others with your words, you are less of a person because of that.  By transgressing the laws of Ona’as Devorim, you are lowering your own spiritual level.  On the other hand, when you utilize your power of speech to help other people and to raise them up, you are raising your own spiritual level.  Simply stated, you become more elevated by elevating others with your power of speech.  Anyone who internalizes this concept will concomitantly avoid Ona’as Devorim, and elevate himself to a higher spiritual plane not previously attainable.”  See The Power of Words by Rabbi Pliskin, page 286.


Today, let us feel the spiritual elevation not only by what we don’t say, but by what we do say!



Special Note One:  The OU has alerted the public to the fact that all Savion, Gefen, and Lipschutz Grape Juices are Mevushal.  The only Kedem Grape Juice that is not Mevushal is the 1.5 liter glass bottle clearly labeled as “Non-Mevushal.”



Special Note Two:  Rabbi Eisenman, Shlita, from Miami wrote to the OU’s Daf HaKashrus that the Naval Observatory provides a new sunrise/sunset calendar to be used in a given year.  The calendars can be downloaded by clicking here.


Special Note Three:  We received the following from a reader who is a renowned Rav and Mechaber:  “You wrote that, ‘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.’  I spoke at length to the renowned sofer, Rav Menachem Yehuda Gross of Lishkas Hakodesh, who told me that this year he was involved in lengthy correspondence with HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita.  Their conclusion was that a 14 line Megillah is the most mehudar.  This conclusion is based on the requirement that the boundaries (blank parts) of the klaf be similar in size to that of a Sefer Torah (i.e. 2, 3, and 4, etzba’ot), and that the text be the majority of the page.  This calculation, in addition to the ten sons being written in one column with no other text and using a similar size letter as the rest of the Megillah, and the actual Megillah being written with a normal size kesav, leads to a 14 line megillah.  There is no basis in halacha for a HaMelech Megillah.  It is certainly not the most prestigious.  Anyone planning on purchasing or commissioning a Megillah in time for next year should clarify exactly what the most mehudar way to do it really is.”


Thank you for the enlightening words.



Special Note Four:  In the outstanding work Praying With Fire 2 (Artscroll, 2008), Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, provides the following fundamental insights on Emunah (Day 17):  Emunah Sichlis is an intellectual belief in Hashem.  However, it is really Emunah Chushis for which we strive.  Rabbi Kleinman defines Emunah Chushis as a sensory awareness imprinted on one’s consciousness through direct experience.  For instance, the Chofetz Chaim responsed to a question regarding Emunah with the following words:  “Do you see the sun? That is how clear Hashem’s presence is to me.”  Rabbi Kleinman continues with the following Mashal from the Alter of Kelm:


‘A person has never tasted bread. His friend describes to him in great detail exactly what bread is like, including its taste, texture, and ability to satiate the appetite.  The person accepts the information intellectually, but it is not as if he has actually tasted bread, for if someone argues convincingly that bread is totally different than initially described to him, he might believe that second opinion, instead.  On the other hand, someone who himself has tasted bread even once will not be swayed by any argument to the contrary.”


As Rabbi Kleinman concludes, we all can reach the level of Emunah Chushis--the key lies in “tasting the bread” that Hashem provides to each individual in his own life.  Think--Emunah Chushis--throughout the day!



Special Note Five:  A Gadol related to his students that he was impressed by the following words of wisdom that he once noticed on a tombstone he passed by in the cemetery:  “What I gave away, I take with me.  What I kept for myself, I leave to you.”  As we study the Parshios of the donations to the Mishkan, and non-coincidentally as we find ourselves in between the Mitzvos of Matanos LeEvyonim and Maos Chittim, we must remember to put the importance of giving--and giving and giving--in its proper perspective.  All is Hashem’s.  No one, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 247:2) testifies, ever became poor from giving to others.  In spite of world, national, communal, and personal economic situations, we must remember that Hashem is our shadow, watching carefully how we spend and use our money now that the comforts we or our friends or neighbors may have benefited from do not appear to be as plentiful or even as extant.


Let us take the lesson from our Parshios and go the extra, long mile to help the Mosdos and the poor who are reaching out to us--and according to the pain and effort is the reward.  May we see with our own eyes in the next very short while the fulfillment of the words of the Navi--Veshaveha B’Tzedeka--as we are taken out of this captive Galus through our acts of charity!



We received the following Gematriaos from one of our readers, in which you add the resulting digits and come out with wonderful results:

Purim = 80 + 6 + 200 + 10 + 40 = 336   3 + 3 +6= 12 -- 12 Shevotim joined together, Mishloach Manos, friendship

Mordechai = 40 + 200 + 4 + 20 +10 = 274   2 + 7 +4=13

Esther = 1 + 60 + 400 + 200 = 661   6 + 6 + 1=13

B’simcha =  2 + 300 + 40 + 8 + 5 = 355   3 + 5 + 5=13

How “unlucky” can you get with the number 13?!  On the contrary!  And of course, 13 middos of Rachamim of Hashem!

Haman =  5 + 40 + 50 = 95  9 + 5 = 14 -- 14th day of Adar!



Special Note One:  Yeshivas Mordechai Hatzadik, Torah study in Shul on Purim day, has branches worldwide, with thousands participating.  If your Shul does not yet participate in this noble project (Torah study on such a busy day!), please contact Avos Ubanim (contact information below) to learn how you can join.  Most certainly, it is a special Zechus to contribute towards the prizes given to the children for learning on this day!  For more information please contact Avos Ubanim at ( USA ) 1-718-301-9795 or (Eretz Yisroel) 57-3112-613, or by e-mail at ymh@avosubanim.com



Special Note Two:  The following Halachos relating to Matanos L’Evyonim and Mishloach Manos for children have been distributed based upon the Sefer Halichos and Hanhagos and are the P’sakim of, HaRav Eliyashiv, Shlita:


  1. A father should give money to his young children in order for them to give Matanos L’Evyonim on Purim, as follows.  Childern ages 6-7 and older should “own” the money they give for Matanos L’Evyonim.  Accordingly, a father should give them money that he has designated **as belonging to them**, and that money should be used for Matanos L’Evyonim.  If a child is younger than 6-7, a father should simply give them money and direct them to give it to poor people.


  1. Young children should send Mishloach Manos to one another.  Older sons and daughters, past Bar and Bas Mitzvah are required to send Mishloach Manos.



Special Note Three:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series.  In preparation for the annual Mitzvah of reading Parshas Zachor tomorrow, we provide the following important points:


1.  The opportunity to read Parshas Zachor is of such great significance that, according to the Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 685, seif katan 16), if one can only come to hear either Parshas Zachor or the reading of the Megillah, one should go to hear Parshas Zachor.


2.  There is a Mitzvas Aseh, a positive Torah commandment, to “always remember the wicked deeds of the people of Amalek and their attack upon us, to arouse our hatred of them”--as they were the first to attack us without fear after the nations quaked and trembled over us (as described in Oz Yoshir, the Song of the Sea).  See Rambam Hilchos Melachim 5:5, SMAG Mitzvas Aseh 115, Chayei Odom 151:2.


3. The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 603) writes that one of the purposes of this Mitzvah is for us to recognize that one who causes pain to K’lal Yisroel is despised by Hashem, and according to the level of enmity against K’lal Yisroel is their level of destruction.  Since Amalek’s enmity of us was greater than that of all other nations, they are to be completely obliterated.  Indeed, the Ramban (end of Parshas Ki Setzeh) writes that we should “teach our children and future generations--so did the Rosha to us, and that is why we have been commanded to erase his name.”


4.  There is a Mitzvas Lo Saseh, a Torah prohibition, of “Lo Tishkach”--not to forget the deeds of Amalek.  This means that we should not forget to despise them despite the passage of time, and to remember that Hashem saved us from them, and that we will eventually avenge their deeds and eradicate them.  See S’mak 53 and Sefer Yereim 189.


5.  One should review the words of Parshas Zachor (with Rashi and/or other meforshim) before the laining.  We suggest reviewing it at the Leil Shabbos Seudah in order that you and/or others are prepared for the laining, since the Mitzvah is to arouse within us both a strong reaction to their despicable deeds, and our obligation to eradicate them.  Indeed, the Maharam Shick writes that we do not make a special Brocha on this Mitzvah because we do not make a Brocha on Hashchosa--acts of destruction.


6.  The Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 6:4) writes that an Amaleki who makes peace with K’lal Yisroel and accepts the seven Mitzvos B’nei Noach is not to be hurt.  In fact, some learn that the reason that the descendents of Haman “learned Torah in Bnei Brak” (Gittin 57B) is because they were the descendents of those sons of Haman who did not fight against K’lal Yisroel (Sefer Adar U’Purim p. 68).


7.  The Mitzvah of Mechias Amalek, eradicating the Sonei Hashem and Sonei Yisroel--those pure haters of Hashem and His people--began with Moshe Rabbeinu and Yehoshua, continued in the times of Shaul HaMelech, Dovid HaMelech and in the times of Purim, and we will be Zoche to complete it in the times of Moshiach (S’mag-Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh 226).  As these are days of Nissim and Geulah--miracles and redemption, may we be Zoche to do all the Mitzvos of Hashem with Moshiach leading and teaching us, speedily in our days.


8. For further detail see Sefer Adar U’Purim by HaRav Yoel Schwartz, Shlita, upon which this note is based.  For the enlightening words of the Ramban on the relationship between the war against Amalek and the end of our current Golus Edom , see the Ramban in Shemos 17:9.



Special Note Four:  A harrowing first-hand account of the dangers of drinking too much on Purim, written by an 18 year-old boy who narrowly survived, is available by clicking here.  We urge our readers to read it and publicize the dangers involved.



Special Note Five:  In development of the previous note, we provide by clicking here essential advice *to us all** from Hatzolah and the Torah Safety Commission. Please spread the word!



Special Note Six:  The following is excerpted from the wonderful work “The Light of the Ben Ish Chai on  Megillat Esther”--the commentary of the Ben Ish Chai on the Megillah,  as translated by Rabbi Yerachmiel Bratt, Shlita:

“And Esther said, ‘Fast for me, neither eat nor drink, for three nights and three days’ (Esther 4:16 ).  Haman was a Gilgul of Esav and Mordechai a Gilgul of Yaakov.  Yaakov and Esav are always at extremes.  This is based on the Pasuk, ‘HaKol Kol Yaakov…--The voice is the voice of Yaakov and the hands are the hands of Esav.’ (Bereishis 27:22)  When the voice of Yaakov is strong (when Yaakov is immersed in Torah and Tefillah), Esav’s hands (strength) is diminished.  Esav is overcome when Yaakov asserts his Torah force.  In the time of Mordechai, the Jewish people reaccepted the Torah and thus reestablished their connection to Hashem.  To awaken the Torah’s merits, K’lal Yisroel had to fast for three days.  The Torah affects a person completely and contains three primary components: thought, speech, and physical action.  These three activities embrace the gamut of human behavior.  Each day of fasting corresponded to one of the components, and thus to one aspect of Torah.  Esther specified that the fast should be for nights and days because she wanted to invoke all aspects of Torah--whereas the primary time to learn the written Torah is during the day, the primary time to learn Gemara is at night.  Additionally, three full days equals seventy two hours and this number is equivalent to the Gematria of Chesed.  Thus, the three-day fast was instituted to demonstrate our rededication to Torah study, and invoke Hashem’s chesed upon us.


Let us take the time to appreciate the depth of every nuance and detail in the Megillah--and make many new discoveries this year.  You are most certainly invited to share your discoveries and original thoughts with us!


We once again make available by the following link a masterful Shiur in honor of Purim given for Hakhel by Rabbi Yitzchok Sorotzkin, Shlita, entitled “Shushan American Style”  Please click here for the shiur in MP3 file format.



Special Note One:  It is certainly within our human “nature” to appreciate happy times, times of personal victory and times in which good triumphs over evil.  Purim, of course, encompasses all of the above--and more.  It is, therefore, a particularly auspicious time to celebrate and share the times with relatives, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances who have not benefited from the education you have, and are not yet Torah observant.  Most know the Purim narrative only in a sentence or two.  You can add to their knowledge by sharing some of the background or nuances of the story, some Torah insights, and some good spirits with them.  You can describe the Mitzvos of the day to them, and encourage the “easy” performance of the Mitzvos HaYom--including Matanos LeEvyonim--by giving an email address for charity directly to Israel .  As to whether you can/should give Mishloach Manos (because of the Brachos issue), we encourage you to consult with your Rav or Posek.  If you can, solve the issue--by making Brachos with or for them.  Refer them to www.aish.com for wonderful articles, videos and more on Purim and other contemporary topics.  These are times of very special opportunity--you can literally help a person to reach and celebrate our next Geulah as well!



Special Note Two:  The Megillah is filled with hidden miracles--and with so many hidden lessons.  We would like to bring one of those lessons to the fore, with the following story related by a rabbi from Brooklyn , who heard it directly from Rebbetzin Kanievsky, Shtichye, when he was in Bnei Brak about a month ago.


Approximately eight years ago, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was studying Mesechta Chullin, and was learning a sugya relating to Chagovim, or grasshoppers.  HaRav Kanievsky realized that he needed to see a grasshopper to better understand the Gemara (apparently he had never seen a live grasshopper before) and asked his daughter to bring him one.  She tried, but reported to her father that she failed to find one.  He went back to the sugya, and lo and behold a grasshopper comes hopping through the window, landing on his Gemara.  After examining it, he let it go.  As he continued through the sugya, he realized that he needed to study the hind legs a bit more, but the grasshopper was long gone.  Before closing his Gemara, a second grasshopper hopped in and on to his Gemara, giving him the ability to study its hind leg in detail.


The story continues.  Two months ago, a Rav giving a shiur in Bnei Brak criticized the tales people tell about Gedolim, explaining that the stories cannot all be true, and sound silly.  As a case in point, he brought the ma’aseh of HaRav Kanievsky and the grasshoppers, viewing it as ridiculous and leading people to the wrong conclusions regarding HaRav Kanievsky, who, after all, learns Torah like everyone else.  After the Shiur--you guessed it--the Maggid Shiur went home and found his house infested with grasshoppers (in the same Bnei Brak that Rav Kanievsky’s daughter--seeking to fulfill the Mitzva of Kibud Av--could not find one).  He tried for three days to rid his home of the insects, but could not.  Someone suggested that he go to Rav Kanievsky--and ask for mechila.  He approached Rav Kanievsky and told him what had happened.  Rav Kanievsky laughed, saying that he did not need his mechila at all, as the grasshoppers could have come to anybody (after all, the window was open!), and he was certainly mochel him, if he needed it.  The Maggid went home--and the grasshoppers were gone!


As we review and study the Megillah, we must remember who Mordechai and Esther really were--not players in a story, but Gedolei Yisroel whose very thoughts, words and actions were entirely imbued and thoroughly saturated with Mesirus Nefesh for Kavod Shomayim and Klal Yisroel.  Their lives were not their own, they lived for a higher purpose.  Look at the last seven words of the Megillah (Esther 10:3)--“Doresh Tov LeAmo VeDover Shalom LeChol Zaroh”--they are there not only for the sake of a nice ending--they are leaving us with a final, parting message after all is said and done.  This is a lesson for all of us at all times.  Our Gedolim are just not “ordinary” people.  We must view them with the tremendous awe and respect they deserve; we must seek their advice and counsel--and we must follow what they say.  Imagine what would have happened to our people without only two people--Mordechai and Esther--and look at what happened as a result of them--a result we are celebrating to this very day!


Let us look at our Gedolim as the Mordechais and Esthers of our generation--following their directives and teachings with reverence and joy--and may we, too, be zoche to Nissim as they were in those times--Bizman Hazeh!



Getting Megillah Ready:  Which name in the Megillah has the same Gematria as “Zeh Haman”?


Special Note One:  The following message is for New York City metropolitan area residents, but for those inspired, you can do the same in your community--the major ingredient is a desire to help others in a meaningful way.  “As you clean out your closets and buy new suits in preparation for Pesach, you can help others in our community enjoy new suits as well by giving them your old ones which are still in perfect condition.  We have been running a local suit Gemach and B"H have distributed hundreds of cleaned /tagged like-new suits and ties this year to Rabbeim, Bochurim, Kollel families and those who can't afford new suits for Yom Tov and for their jobs, especially during these difficult times.  We collect mens and boys, suits and ties in perfect wearable condition.  To donate and schedule a pickup/drop off please contact 347-213-7716/ dherzka@suits4chesed.com or 917-903-6260/ ydeutsch@suits4chesed.com  Please visit www.suits4chesed.com for more information.”



Special Note Two:  Project Kavey will host an essential series for parents.  Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita; the world renowned Chinuch expert will present the following practical Parenting Workshop by teleconference:  “Survival Strategies for Purim, Pesach and Chol HaMoed.”  1. So much togetherness-how will we cope?  2. How do we keep the boys busy all month?  3. How to make the Seder a special place to be.  4. Chol Hamoed--“Keeping the Peace!”  Four Questions, One Answer.... Rabbi Brezak’s goal is to--Turn Yom Tov into a pleasure not a pressure!!  For further information, please call 732-886-8821.



Special Note Three:  We received the following “timely and timeless” thought from a reader:

“Chazal teach (Taanis Daf 29) ‘Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B'simcha,’ and they also teach ‘Mishenichnas Av Mimatin B'simcha.’  The Shulchan Aruch only mentions the latter--‘Mishenichnas Av Mimatin B'simcha’ and not ‘Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B'simcha.’  The question is, why is this so--why is the increased happiness of Adar not brought in Halacha as a quote from Chazal, in the same way as the Halacha about Av?  The answer, I believe, is because you can’t tell a Yid to be ‘happier’--the Halacha is that one always has to be as happy as he can be.  Chazal give you an eitza tova, good advice, that if you are not as happy as you should be, at least make sure that in Adar that you work on it more. In fact, the entire Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim ends with the words “Tov Lev Mishteh Tomid”--you are always supposed to be as happy as you can!”


Hakhel Note: Thank you!  Let’s start right now with a nice big smile--if you need some help say “cheese” or “money”…--try practicing throughout the day. Why go into Purim unprepared?  We see how much preparation Pesach takes!



Special Note Four:  We received the following great tip from an obviously experienced host:  “When a guest comes to your home, he may have immediate needs.  Don’t focus on what is important to you--instead try to determine what is important to him.  If the trip has been a long one, a rest room may be in order.  Also, one shouldn’t ask ‘Would you like a drink?’ because the guest may be shy or feel awkward.  Instead, ask ‘What **kind **of drink would you like--hot or cold?’--jump-starting him into receiving that which he needs.


Hakhel Note: This sounds like something that Avrohom Avinu would be proud to hear.  In fact, this may be a good guideline for us--What would Avrohom Avinu do in my situation as host--and how far can I try to emulate him?



Special Note Five:  HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, (Rav Schwab on Prayer, Artscroll, p.526) poses a “I should have thought of that” question:  Why does the Megillah in some detail, and why do Chazal subsequently in Al HaNissim, spend the time and effort to describe that Haman was hung on a tree, and that his 10 sons were hung on the tree almost a year later?  Why do we have to remind ourselves of this every year in the Megillah and in the Al HaNissim so many times?  Indeed, Rav Schwab points out--even in the Maoz Tzur of Chanukah (!) we sing “Rov Bonov Vekinyanav Al Hoetz Tolisa--Haman and a good number of his sons were hung on the tree.”  What special significance does the tree have to this very special day of Purim?


Rav Schwab luminously suggests that Chazal (Chullin 139B) teach that Haman is alluded to in the Torah with the Eitz HaDaas--Hashem asks Adam:  “Hamin Hoetz Asher…--Did you eat of the tree which I commanded you not to eat?”  What is the relationship of Haman to the Eitz HaDaas--is it merely a play on words of Haman and Hamin?  Obviously not.  There is a great lesson here.  Haman intended to commit the most heinous crime imaginable--the genocide of an entire people.  The aveirah of Adam and Chava seems to be of no comparison whatsoever.  After all, they wanted to grow spiritually--to know the difference between Tov and Ra (Beraishis 3:5)--it was an aveira for them to eat only because Hashem did not want them to grow in this way at this time.  They succumbed to the appeal which the fruit had to their senses--albeit a supernal and lofty one.  As Rav Schwab teaches: “This was the most exalted form of an aveirah ever committed.”  Nevertheless, the Megillah and Chazal teach that the worst possible aveira known to man--genocide--had its origins in the sublime and elevated desire of Adam and Chava.  This is the route of aveira, this is the path of the Yetzer Hora.  Those “worst kind” of aveiros start somewhere--they have their origin in the slightest of aveiros.  Haman’s aveira only began…because of the “Hamin” that engendered it.


So, when we read and refer to--and even pray about--the Tree of Haman this Purim, let us make sure that we glean its great lesson.  We will tell the Yetzer Hora, “No, I am not going to begin--the one word of Lashon Hora, the one bite of questionable food, picking up the muktza item because maybe it is a “mitzvah” to do so, not paying the worker what he asks because you want to teach him a lesson…all of the good intentions, all of the “practically no aveira” of what you may be thinking, doing or saying--remember that particular 50 amos-high tree--look up to its top--and to the Shomayim which lies beyond!



The Megillah teaches that Haman could not bear to see Mordechai fail to bow before him (Esther 3:6). However, it was “beneath his dignity” for him to hurt Mordechai alone, so he instead devised a plan by which Mordechai’s entire people would be extinguished for the actions (or, really, inactions) of one man.


HaRav Yaakov Neiman, Z’tl, in the Sefer Darchei Mussar teaches that we see how far a middah ra’ah--a bad middah--can lead.  Haman’s arrogance led him to be angered at the failure of one of thousands of passersby to not bow, and the anger spiraling from the very same act led to his call for the extermination of a people worldwide.  The Anshei Knesses Hagedolah, recognizing this, in turn, instituted the Mitzvah on Purim of Mishloach Manos.  Why?  One would think that the act of sharing prepared foods is a nice gesture, an act of kindheartedness to a neighbor, friend, or (better yet) acquaintance who you do not know very well.  However, it is really much more than that.  For, just as a middah ra’ah can burgeon into destruction of a people--a middah tovah can blossom into an act that causes an entire people to flourish.  The Mishloach Manos that you have in your hand at any particular moment--with the honor, the love, the feeling, that is associated with it may be the plateful or container that brings geulah and yeshua to an entire people.  We may be desensitized to the great importance of even our “smaller” good deeds or middos.  This is simply so because we don’t appreciate their truly enormous significance.  HaRav Neiman points out that Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, writes, “Ner Hashem Nishmas Adam (Mishlei 20:27 )--the Neshama of a person is actually a ner of Hashem.”  Even the smallest human candle can shed much needed light in a dark area.  Now imagine what the **candle of Hashem** can accomplish--and we each--every single one of us--have it within us!


This Purim, as you  purchase, prepare give, take, distribute, leave, and exchange each one of your Mishoach Manos with the proper emotion, feeling and intent--think about what Haman did and where he wanted it to lead--and what you are doing--and to where it can lead!!


Kashrus Alert:  Please be aware that Comet Cleanser is made in two different plants and that only **ONE** is under the supervision of the OU.  Always be certain to look for the OU symbol on the product you purchase.

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