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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin




Special Note One: Please remember that many cake-like products are non-Gebrokts, and the appropriate bracha is Shehakol and Borei Nefashos. Even if you know it--you may be used to making a Mezonos on the cake and Shehakol on the coffee--so extra special care is required. Pesach is a time for enriching our Emunah--a wonderful place to begin is with enriched and carefully-made brachos.

Special Note Two: In Nishmas, we state that there are "rivevei revavos-- tens of thousands" of things to thank Hashem for. We than begin with a short and poignant list. What is the first one listed there....from this we see how foundational and fundamental Pesach is to our lives!

Special Note Three: Consumer Beware! We have been advised that notwithstanding that Shufra Cocoa Powder has three Hashgachos listed on the label, only one of the three Hashgachos, the OK, provides Kosher for Passover certification on the product. Although the other two Hashgachos appear on the label, the actual words "Kosher for Passover" only appear next to the OK (some containers apparently have it next to Rabbi Gruber's certification, as well). The OK apparently does certify it because in its opinion if there is Kitniyos in the product, it is in trace amounts, and it is Batel. We are unsure as to why Rabbi Gruber's certification appears on some products and not on others. The CRC (Central Rabbinical Congress) does not certify the product at all for Passover, although its emblem is on the label (apparently for during the year). Some Rabbanim have advised their Kehilos that if they already used the product they can eat what they used, but that it should not be used further.

Special Note Four: May we suggest that you take the time as you are davening over the next several days to look for the mention of Yetzias Mitzrayim both in the regular weekday davening, and in the Yom Tov davening (see the Yesod V'Shoresh HaAvodah for further elucidation).

Special Note Five: We received the following note from the Agudath Israel of America:

To all friends and constituents of Agudath Israel:

We have been working closely with Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin's lawyers and other organizations and askonim concerned about his incarceration and his upcoming sentencing, currently scheduled for April 28. This tragic case is at a critical juncture right now, and demands our attention and action even as we are all busy with Pesach preparations.

In issuing this call to our friends and constituents, we are in no way condoning any criminal conduct. However, as detailed in the memo available by clicking here prepared by a lawyer familiar with the case, it is clear that the federal government has been overly zealous in pursuing Mr. Rubashkin and has submitted him to considerably more severe restrictions and potential punishment than others in similar cases. The memo is quite an eye-opener, well worth reading despite its length.

The bottom line is that Mr. Rubashkin is being kept in jail pending sentencing, and is not even being allowed to go home for the Pesach sedorim next week, despite his willingness to post a large bond and hire a full-time guard. With respect to the sentencing, he faces the possibility of a very lengthy sentence - upward of 20 years, Rch'l - far beyond the sentences imposed on others whose crimes were significantly more severe than anything Mr. Rubashkin may have done.

We are therefore asking you, our friends and constituents, to take a few minutes during this zman cheiruseinu to communicate your respectful concern over the handling of the Rubashkin case, his incarceration pending sentencing, and the excessive sentence being considered.

Please make your concerns known to the Justice Department's Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison at 202-514-3465 or oipl@usdoj.gov . Also, if you are able, please sign the online petition available at www.justiceforsholom.org ; this petition will be forwarded to the U.S. Attorney's office in Iowa, which is prosecuting the Rubashkin case. We are hopeful that this expression of public support will have a positive impact on the case.

Many thanks. Best wishes for a chag kasher v'someiach. May we share besoros tovos.


Special Note One:  From a reader:  “I wanted to share a Halachic point that I personally did not know even after all these years that you may find worthwhile to share.  At a shiur by Rav Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita, he mentioned (I believe using a Sefer by R’ Felder of Lakewood based on the Poskim brought down in the Sefer) that in order to be Mekayem the mitzvah of Hesaiba at the Seder one must lean on something.  This means one cannot just have pillows on the back of his chair and just lean his body back to the left on the pillows as many people do.  Rather, his body should be leaning on something (preferably) to the extent that, if the support is taken away, he will fall.  Thus he should either lean heavily with his elbows on the handles of an armchair or table or if it is a regular chair (without arms) he should turn the chair to the side so that the chair’s back (support) is at his left side instead of his back.”



Special Note Two:  Last Call!  HaRav Kanievsky, Shlita, in his commentary to Ha Lachma Anya, notes that when the Bais HaMikdash is rebuilt, everyone will have to join in with his own group (chabura) in bringing their own Korbon Pesach, so that there will be no poor people who can be invited in the Ha Lachma Anya on the night of the Seder.  It is for this reason, teaches HaRav Kanievsky, that we conclude the Ha Lachma Anya with the words “LeShana Haba’ah Bnei Chorin,” for we will all be wealthy and join in our own Korbon, and there will be no poor to invite to the Seder.  With this wonderful thought in mind, the great Mitzvah of Maos Chittim must now be viewed in a different light--for now we realize that it is truly a rare treasure, an Endangered Species, a vanishing Mitzvah.  This year--today--may be the very last time that you could attempt to perform this hallowed Mitzvah.  Next year, it may very well be no more!  Accordingly, we must do our utmost to fulfill the Mitzvah as best we can now.  As we have noted previously, we must give--and give again.  For your convenience, we supply a link to one of the most reputable Tzedakah Organizations in the world--  www.yad eliezer.org.  Remember--perform the Mitzvah now before we all bring our Korbon Pesach--before we all get rich--and it is too late!  You can still call Yad Eliezer at 718-258-1580 or donate at yadeliezer.org.



Special Note Three:  As we continue to learn more about Korbanos in this week’s Parsha, we understand that we cannot fully fathom the effect that Korbanos have--and how that effect is actually accomplished.  HaRav Moshe Shlomo, Z’tl, a student of the G’ra, in fact, remarked as follows:  “Do we have a real idea, is there any way that we can rationally understand, how feeding the body nourishes the soul?!  Yet, incredibly, the soul continues to exist together with the body only for so long as the body exists.  So, too, does the bringing of an animal in the Beis HaMikdash bring Kapara to the person bringing it.”  When the third Beis HaMikdash is built speedily and in our day, we will once again be inspired, enlightened, and improved by the bringing of Korbanos.  May this coming Monday be the day that we actually bring the Korban Pesach--in all its glory, in all its splendor--and in all its meaning!


One additional point about Korbanos.  In certain circumstances, a poor person may bring a Korban of lesser quality or cost/quality than a wealthier person.  The last Mishna in Menachos teaches that “Echad HaMarbeh V’Echad HaMamit…”--whether one brings a more expensive or less expensive Korban is no different to Hashem as long as it is brought L’Sheim Shomayim--for the sake of Heaven.  The Meforshim point out that yes, the Korban of the Ani will be treated equally with the Korban of the Ashir--but only if the proper Kavanna is there.  If it is not, then we are simply left with the act of giving itself, and the poor person has only given $1.00, while the wealthy person has given $100.  What a difference Kavanna makes when giving!  Please remember this the next time you give--whether it is $1.00 or $100.



Special Note Four:  As we move closer to Pesach, we recall that we should not only be in a “search and destroy” mode for physical Chometz, but in a very similar mode for spiritual Chometz, as well.  Indeed, the Yetzer Hora is likened to Chometz, the symbol of arrogance and desire, because it boasts a temporarily beautiful shape, only to spoil or become stale in a short period of time.  Matzah, on the other hand, the symbol of humility, remains even, steady and constant, and is known as the poor man’s or wayfarer’s bread, because it can keep for an extended period of time.


The Sefer Darchei Mussar likens falling prey to the Chometz of the Yetzer Hora to a thoughtless individual who elects to warm himself up on a cold day by rolling in freshly laid hot tar.  He certainly will warm himself up and feel good for the moment--but will most certainly be left with an awful lot of sticky and smelly tar to contend with, which will require much time and effort to remove.  He also likens a person’s relationship with his Yetzer Hora to the relationship between a Cossack and his horse--the Cossack must feed, bathe, and properly take care of his horse--but, has absolutely no ownership rights over it.  That being the case, who is really in control--the Cossack or the horse?  So, too, if we “feed and support” our Yetzer Hora--Who, then, is really in control of our lives?


This is the unique purpose of the time we are in--not only to finish up the macaroni, and carefully eliminate the challah crumbs from underneath the radiator--but to rid ourselves of the Cossack’s plight--and to ensure that we do not act like the careless fool who jumped into the tar!



Special Note Five:  The following is a famous observation of HaRav Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl:  Young non-Jewish farmer boys were drafted into the Russian Army for 20 years.  Prior to their induction, they were care-free, not orderly and not particularly concerned with their cleanliness.  During their stay in the Army, they were drilled with discipline, hygiene and orderliness.  Nevertheless, on their return home many years later, they almost immediately reverted to their old habits.  After 20 years of constant, professionally supervised drilling and training--how could this happen so easily?  He said that the answer was very simple:  The farmer boys had no interest in internalizing what they were taught--even though they lived it for 20 years.  There had to be a yearning, a sincere desire, to change, to improve their way of life.  This was absent.  What they accomplished was only a temporary, external habit.


There is a great lesson here.  When we perform the Mitzvos on the Leil HaSeder we must overcome our satisfaction with only external performance of the Mitzvos, and be Me’orer (arouse) ourselves internally to appreciate that when performing these Mitzvos, we rise to the heights of human existence in this world.  Moshe Rabbeinu (who David HaMelech in Tehillim teaches us was one step away from being an angel--Tehillim 8:6) was called an “Eved Hashem” (See Bamidbar 12:7 and Devarim 34:5).  And on the Leil HaSeder we, too, have stepped away from being servants of this world--Avdei Paro--and have instead became Avdei Hashem!  Your appreciation and utter exuberance over this new-found incredible, boundless and eternal gain should run over and flow through to those around you.  For additional elaboration, see Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzva 16.



Special Note Six:  An Erev Pesach Note:  For special reasons, Erev Pesach afternoon is unique--we are generally not permitted to perform any melacha that we would not do on Chol HaMoed.  We must, therefore, cut our nails, shave and take haircuts before Chatzos ( midday ) on Erev Pesach.  If however, one forgot to do so, he may cut his nails in the afternoon.  If one was not able to take a haircut before Chatzos, the Halacha permits it to be given by a non-Jew only.  It does not help to be “already waiting” in the Jewish barber shop as Chatzos arrives.



Special Note Seven:  What can we think about while we are dedicatedly eating our Matzoh at the Seder, and we cannot talk?  Of course, we should reflect that we are doing the Mitzvah as Hashem commanded.  To further “taste” the Matzoh, you may also reflect upon the following teaching of Rav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, (Sifsei Chaim 2:342):  Chometz represents a process by which “naturally” (i.e., without the assistance of outside forces) fermentation will occur--hiding Hashem’s hand in the dough.  To the contrary, the quick preparation of the Matzoh--its sudden production and completion--shows that Hashem’s hand overrides “nature.”  We therefore do not eat Chometz on Pesach in order to distill any notion of “mother nature,” “the laws of nature,” and the concepts of “coincidental,” “by chance,” “as luck would have it” and the like, and in order to enrich us with the appreciation that it is the Yad Hashem, and the Yad Hashem only, that is conducting and directing--as the Master of all masters--all of our affairs, every minute of the day--notwithstanding the “chometz” of nature apparently occurring every day by itself anyway.  In turn, Matzoh is referred to by the Zohar as the food of healing, for it cures us of all of these false notions which are harmful to our existence in this world, and which then perforce harm our existence in the eternal World-to-Come.



Special Note Eight:  A Chinuch Note:  The Mitzvah of Chinuch on the Leil HaSeder is perhaps at its peak for the entire year.  For those who have children below the age of Bar/Bas Mitzvah, one should be careful to review his responsibility and his child’s responsibility, as to the different aspects of the Seder--eating of the Matzoh, the drinking of each one of the Four Cups, Heseiba (reclining), Hallel, Marror, and the other Mitzvos, minhagim and halachos of the Night.  See The Halachos of Pesach (by Rabbi Shimon Eider, Z’tl) and Children in Halacha (by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita) for further elaboration in these areas.



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


1.      On Shabbos HaGadol in Mitzrayim, which was the tenth day of Nissan, the Bnei Yisroel took the Egyptian gods--the sheep--and tied them to their bedposts.  The Pri Chadash (to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 230) writes that the reason it is known as Shabbos HaGadol, it because it is when we began to perform Mitzvos-with the first Mitzvah being the taking of the Korban Pesach.


2.      The Mabit teaches that after this Shabbos, Bnei Yisroel no longer returned to work for the Mitzriyim.


3.      The Sefer HaToda’a writes that it is referred to as Shabbos HaGadol because it is on this day that the Shabbos which is an odd number day that has no partner finally obtained its partner--Bnei Yisroel.


4.      The Bnei Yissaschar writes that the reason the Rav gives a special Drasha on Shabbos HaGadol is because Moshe Rabbeinu also gave a Drasha on Hilchos Pesach to Bnei Yisroel on the Shabbos before their leaving Egypt .


5.      Similarly, the Levush writes that the reason we read the Haftorah of “VeArva” at the end of Sefer Malachi on Shabbos HaGadol is because it relates to the future Geulah, just as Moshe Rabbeinu advised the Bnei Yisroel of their imminent Geulah.  May this year’s Shabbos HaGadol Drasha lead directly to our Geulah Shleima as well!



Question of the day:  When is it that on Erev Pesach we blow Tekiah Teruah Tekiah three separate times i.e., nine Kolos all together, as on Rosh HaShana!?  Hint: See Mesechta Pesachim, Perek 5, Mishna 5.


Opportunity Knocks!  We provide by the following links the ability to obtain Sefira reminders by email:  




Special Note One:  Today is the tenth day of Nissan, which is marked by at least three great milestones:

  1. It is the day that the Bnei Yisroel took the Egyptian gods--their sheep--away and tied them to bedposts in order to inspect them for blemishes before Shechita four days later.  This was an act of tremendous faith by Bnei Yisroel, not only in taking them for slaughter, but also in holding them this way for four days.  In fact, the Egyptians ended up being powerless to stop Bnei Yisroel or harm them.

  1. Towards the end of our stay in the desert, Miriam HaNevia passed away.  Miriam was so great that even as a young girl, her suggestion to her father Amram, the Gadol HaDor, was accepted and the decree he had made to have the husbands and wives of Bnei Yisroel separate was annulled.

  1. Just one year after Miriam’s passing on this date, Yehoshua Bin Nun and Bnei Yisroel crossed over the Yarden River which had dried up through a miracle.  Some recommend reading from Sefer Yehoshua, Chapters 3 and 4, and reciting Tehillim Chapter 114 in honor of the occasion.


Special Note Two:  As Pesach approaches, we provide the following important notes:

1.         We once again recall the story of the man who looked around for “Kulos”, for leniencies, his whole life.  After 120 years, the Heavenly Court reviewed his records, noted that he followed the laws, and advised him that he would be going to “Gan Eden.”  The angels escorted him to his final place, which turned out to be a dark, dingy and rather damp cell. “This is Gan Eden?!” “Yes,” they replied, “according to some opinions.”


2.         Pesach is a time when we are machmir, where we follow stringencies because of the force the Torah puts into Pesach itself, with 8 Mitzvos D’Oraisa in our time (and 24 in the times of the Bais Hamikdash--may it be rebuilt for this Pesach).  Its tremendous significance is underscored by Yetzias Mitzraim being referred to 50 times in the Torah.  For further elaboration on its relevance to our daily lives, please review the famous last Ramban in Parshas Bo.

3.         Bedikas Chometz is truly an activity of the body and soul--as we are to simultaneously rid ourselves of the leavened products in our homes, and the “Yetzer Hora B’libeinu”--the leaven that exists within us.  The pre-Pesach toil, sweat, fatigue and enormous costs and expenses indicate our sincerity and dedication to both of these tasks.  At Bedikas Chometz, we are nearing the epitome of our achievement--can we let it go with a perfunctory search of our homes because everything “has already been cleaned ten times anyway?”  How could a serious bedika take less than half hour or an hour--depending on the size of your home?  Indeed, if you merely go around to collect the 10 pieces, your bracha is considered a bracha l’vatala (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 111:8).  Picture yourself waiting on line for two hours to get to the observation deck in the Empire State Building--as soon as you got up, would you ask the attendant where the line was for the down elevators?



Special Note Three:  The word “Mah” is traditionally translated simply as “what.”  However, Rabbi Meir Schuck, Z’tl, offers a more penetrating and insightful definition of the word.  Rabbi Schuck cites three well-known uses of the word “Mah.”  Yaakov Avniu, upon reaching the place of the future Beis Hamikdash  exclaimed:  “Mah Nora Hamakom Hazeh--What an awesome place this is!”  Similarly, on the night of the Seder the young child calls out “Mah Nishtana Halayla Hazeh--what is so different about this night?”  Indeed, Bila’am himself, who initially recited the Pasuk of “Mah Tovu,” also did so because he was stunned by the difference between the homes of the Bnei Yisroel and those of the world at large.  The word “Mah,” then, indicates something strikingly new--a remarkable realization, an awareness and appreciation of a place or event that did not previously exist.  There are other moments at the Seder where you will use the word “Mah”--make a mental note to try and find them and see how wonderfully this new definition of the word can be applied in each instance.


Additional Note:  The word “Mah” itself is indicative of how refreshed we should be, no matter how tired we are, when we participate in the Seder.  Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, at a recent Hakhel Shiur, mentioned the story of the man whose torn Haggadah was repaired on Erev Pesach by someone who could not read Hebrew.  Regrettably, he mixed in pages from a Machzor as well, and finished his job right before Pesach. As the newly-bound Haggadah was read that night, without reflection and with hunger, the head of the household hurriedly read “Dam, Tzefardeiah, Kinnim, Ashamnu, Bagadnu, Gazalnu…”  For no reason or at any time should one lose his appreciation of the heightened sense of the evening--and of the great importance of every word of the Haggadah.



Special Note Four:  Rabbi Lieff also mentioned the famous Tenai of the Avnei Nezer for those who will not be able to eat the Afikoman by Chatzos.  It would not be a good idea to wait until the Leil HaSeder to review this Tenai.  If one has any questions regarding what to say or how to say it, he should consult with his Rav or Posek--and perhaps even write it down to have it available for the Seder Night.



Special Note Five:  One important point to remember as we talk about the astounding Makkos is that they did not occur in one neighborhood or in one city--but across an entire country, and exactly within the boundaries of that country.  If we consider a flood or Tsunami affecting one city, or the recent earthquakes in a particular city or area and the devastation they wreaked in seconds--consider a Makka lasting seven days (168 hours, or 604,800 seconds!)  Multiply that by numerous Makkos and the fact that the Bnei Yisroel living in and among the people of Mitzrayim were unaffected--and we can begin to fathom the enormity of the miracles--and the great Emunah we are to imbibe on the Seder night!



Special Note One:  We received the following very meaningful correspondence from six constant Mitzvos.com:  This year you can make your Sefirah count.  With just 10 minutes a day you can learn how to develop an emotional bond with Hashem and His Torah constantly, and not be satisfied with the mechanical motions of mitzvah observance.



Introduction and Mitzvah #1: Emunah (Day 1-12)

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What an opportunity! Hakhel urges you to sign up by clicking here or by visiting  www.thesixconstantmitzvos.com



Special Note Two:  Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, provides the following insight into our response to the Rasha in the Haggadah.  We are instructed by the Ba’al Haggadah to “Hakheh Es Shinev.”  This is often misinterpreted/translated as knock out the Rasha's teeth.  In truth, it means to blunt his teeth.  Hakheh is spelled with a Kuf not a Kaf.  The difference is explained by Rabbi Reisman with the following story:


HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl, together with another Gadol went to collect for Chinuch Atzmai--and there was a stingy G’vir who did not contribute.  So they went to his office--without an appointment--and asked his secretary if they could see him.  The secretary said he was not in.  They knew what that meant.  So they said they would wait for him.  So they waited.  And waited.  And waited him out.  Finally, the G’vir burst out of his office and gave it to them.  He was furious.  “You come here without an appointment and you harass me for money.  I have no Menucha.”  He continued his harangue without Derech Eretz to these Gedolim.  After the fury of the G’vir was put to rest, the Gadol accompanying Rav Aharon said to the G’vir, “Now that you gave us what we deserve, could you give Chinuch Atzmai what they deserve?"  Quieted, the G’vir cut them a handsome check.


That is P’shat in blunting the Rasha’s teeth.  Further, Chazal say that in Gematria if you subtract Shinav (teeth) from the word Rasha, you get Tzadik…there lies a Tzadik in every Rasha once his sharp teeth are removed!


Hakhel Note:  If this is a key element in defining a Rasha, we should be especially careful in this regard.  Why only end up being a Tzadik, if we can start out being one?!  Perhaps this is another great lesson of the Haggadah--using our mouths for hours in a positive, beautiful, thankful, and inspiring way!



Special Note Three:  We are excited to advise of a work published just days ago, which may already be sold out, the Sefer Kovetz Halachos of Pesach, containing the Piskei Halachos of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, as wonderfully compiled (with extensive footnotes) by a close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita.  We provide below a small sampling of the important P’sokim relating to Pesach and the month of Nissan contained in this excellent Sefer:


1.                  Every person is obligated to study the Halachos of Pesach within the thirty day time period before Pesach.  Some even say that it is an obligation Min HaTorah.  It is, in any event, an obligation--and not only a meritorious act.

2.                  Being involved in the baking of Matzah is a Mitzvah in and of itself, and not only a Hechsher Mitzvah.  One can appoint a Shaliach to bake Matzos for him, and this is why “Chaburah Matzos” are preferred.

3.                  A person who checks to see whether the Matzos are Kefulos fulfills the separate Mitzvah of “Ushemartem Es HaMatzos”  [Hakhel Note:  We must be sure that our Matzos are checked against being Kefulos or Nefuchos.  Many of the contemporary Pesach Seforim and publications provide clear guidelines as to what to look out for when inspecting your Matzos before Pesach.  If you need a handy and clear reference and guideline, we refer you to Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, Shlita’s description in Kashrus Kurrents, Spring, 2010, available by clicking here]

4.                  The correct Nusach in the Bracha over fruit trees is “Sheloh Chisar BaOlamo K’lum” (not Davar).  Women should also make the Bracha.  Rabbi Kleinman brings in his footnote that the Aruch HaShulchan writes that Yireh Hashem are careful to make this Bracha, and that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, was very careful with this Bracha and remarked that from the time he became Bar Mitzvah, he never once missed making the Bracha.

5.                  When performing Bedikas Chometz, one need not turn off the electric light in the room.

6.                  If one will not be able to perform Bedikas Chometz on the night of the fourteenth (this Sunday night), it appears to be better to check on the night of the thirteenth than the fourteenth by day.

7.                  If one must take care of his bodily needs during the Bedika, he should make an Asher Yatzar immediately.  Similarly, if he heard a Bracha from someone else, he should answer Amen.

8.                  Pockets of clothing need not be checked by candle light; it is enough if they are shaken out.  One may check the pockets at any time, and one need not necessarily check them the night of the fourteenth.  However, even if one did check his pockets on the night of the fourteenth, one should shake out the pockets of the clothing he is wearing when burning the Chametz on Erev Pesach in the morning.  When checking clothing, one should also check cuffs.

9.                  One need not check suitcases, as one does not typically put food in them, and even if one does, he usually empties out a suitcase upon arriving home.  Accordingly, it has a Chazaka of being checked.

10.              One is obligated to check Seforim that he brought to the table while eating during the year, if he will use them on Pesach, for even if the Seforim contain only crumbs, the crumbs could get stuck to his hands, and he can inadvertently touch Pesach food with them.  When checking Seforim, it need not be by candle light, and one need not check every page, but only shake out the Sefer and its pages.  Even after checking, it is still best not to bring back any Sefer to the table, as there still may be crumbs stuck in the Sefer.

11.              On the night of the Bedika, one should check areas even though he will still be eating Chametz there in the morning--and he should then check the area again in the morning.

12.              If one has already put his Pesach items into the refrigerator and cabinets, he need not check them on the night of the Bedika, as they are no longer considered a place in which Chametz would enter.

13.              When searching for Chamtetz, one need not move any item which is difficult to move [such as underneath a refrigerator]; however, if it has wheels, one should move it and check underneath it and in back of it.

14.              One must check an open porch or patio, and cannot rely on the fact that birds or squirrels would eat any leftover Chametz.

15.              In an apartment building or multi-family dwelling, all of the residents have a joint obligation to check the stairwell and the laundry room.

16.              One should check his car on the night of the Bedika with a flashlight.

17.              A garbage can belongs to its owner, and one is not permitted to put Chametz directly into a garbage can, as it will remain it his possession.  One should put any leftover Chametz into a bag and leave it in the street.

18.              If one finds Chametz in his home after the Bedika--even if he knows that this Chametz was not there at the time of the Bedika--he need not check his whole dwelling again based upon the fear that Chametz was brought into other areas, as well.

19.              If one will be selling an area of his home to a non-Jew on the day of the fourteenth, one should still check it on the night of the fourteenth, as the area is still in his possession at the time of the Bedika.  One may enter the area that was sold on Pesach even though it has been sold, for a purchaser would not be Makpid if one did so.

20.              Even if one’s custom is not to sell Chametz Gamur to a non-Jew, one may LeChatchila purchase Chametz after Pesach from a grocery or supermarket which properly sold its Chametz Gamur to a non-Jew before Pesach.

21.              One need not burn the Chametz on his own property, but it is best that one burn his Chametz on his own, and not give it to someone else to burn for him.

22.              It is permissible to pass by a non-Jewish bakery on Pesach even though a smell emanates from the store.  However, it is forbidden to intentionally inhale the smell of the Chametz.


With these 22 Halachos, we take you from Rosh Chodesh Nissan to the 22nd day--the last day of Pesach in Chutz La’Aretz!



Special Note One:  The Sefer MiShulchan Govoha brings a beautiful thought from HaRav Yechezkel Sarna, Z’tl, at the outset of Sefer Vayikra.  Why does the Sefer begin with the fact that Hashem called out to Moshe--what is the lesson here?  HaRav Sarna concludes that the Pasuk is teaching that using a person’s name when speaking to them indicates that the person is truly choviv--dear to you.  This helps forge a close and strong bond between you--and, accordingly, you fulfill the Mitzvah of VeAhavta LeRayacha Komocha by doing so!



Special Note Two:  For those who understand a straightforward  (easy to understand) Yiddish, we provide by clicking here a beautiful Shiur by Rabban Gamliel Rabinovich, Shlita, providing proper hashkafos for Pesach.  Enjoy!



Special Note Three:  One beautiful thought from Rabban Gamliel in his Sefer on the Haggadah:  The Shabbos before Pesach is not just another day before Pesach--it is still Shabbos.  It should not be put into a inferior position merely because it comes a few days before Pesach.  In fact--this may be one reason that it is called Shabbos HaGadol--to remind us that notwithstanding its position in the year, it must be given the great respect that it deserves, and we should not take away from its kavod or oneg with any inferior meals or zemiros, by missing usual Shabbos guests, or in any way be lacking Divrei Torah relating to the Parsha.



Special Note Four:  Picking up from yesterday, one more point on the beautiful messages for the unaffiliated available from Project Inspire (see www.kiruv.com for the $1.50 Pesach gift).  In the Makkas Choshech, those members of B’nai Yisroel who were not inspired and actually stayed in the dark, R’L, ended their lives there in galus.  The tragic results were that neither they nor the hundreds of generations that would have succeeded them were zoche to live in this world with the Torah and bask in the reality of Eternity.  As we look at our brethren immediately around us, we must realize that this is Hatzalas Nefashos--not only for their lives, but for all of their future generations, as well.  You don’t have to be in Hatzalah for this--nor do you have to take any special training--you just have to stretch out your hand with a desire to save--as did Bisya bas Paroh--and we know the results for her, and for all of K’lal Yisroel!



Special Note Five:  The first letters of “Yismichu HaShomayim VeSogel Ha’Aretz--the heavens will be glad and the earth will rejoice”, a Pasuk that we recite twice in Shacharis every day, actually spells out the name of Hashem (Yud Keh Vov Keh).  Al Pi Kabala, when reciting the name of Hashem on Rosh Chodesh Nissan in the special (fourth) bracha of the mussaf of Rosh Chodesh--we are to have this phrase in mind.  It is no small wonder why.  It is, after all, a month that demonstrates the Yismichu HaShomayim VeSogel Ha’Aretz--spring blossoms everywhere (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyways), our faith is renewed, and the opportunity of Hischadshus is tangibly evident in everything around us.  Let us not squander the message and the opportunity, by actually taking the time to change.  We must really try to get through the next few days in situations where things would have gotten out of hand in the past and instead move through them without anger, without despair, without ona’as devorim, with calmness, and with the sense that all that I am doing--all of the minutiae, the shopping, the hustle and bustle, the hassle and multi-tasking--is all for a great and noble goal and an incomparable, supernal purpose.  The Mitzvah will most certainly be elevated and purified--and Pesach itself will have thereby attained a new level in Avodas Hashem!


Additional Note:  As we have noted in the past, the last Chapter (150) of Tehillim has twelve phrases, corresponding to the twelve months of the year (with the last phrase of Kol HaNeshama being repeated for the thirteenth month of Adar Sheni). The first phrase of the Kepitel is for the month of Nissan as the first month of the year--it is “HalleluKa--Praise Hashem!”  The Artscroll Siddur, in its usual manner, has a wonderful and succinct commentary on this phrase, this time quoting HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl.  “HalleluKa is a contraction of two words.  ‘Hallelu’ denotes crying out in happy excitement, while the unique meaning implied by the name ‘Ka’ means ‘the One who is forever’.  The Psalmist addresses everyone, saying:  Use your energy to be excited over Hashem...[for that is the ultimate purpose of life, and all else pales in significance].


--Yismichu HaShomayim--VeSogel Ha’Aretz--and Halleluka--messages of renewal for the month...which should invigorate us--and be taken with us for the year, as well!



Special Note Six:  As we continue our preparations for Pesach, we note that one aspect which is me’akev--an absolute requirement--for men [and some women] at the Seder is the act of Heseiba (translated as reclining) while eating Matzah, drinking the Daled Kosos, and possibly when fulfilling other Mitzvos during the evening.  Clearly, in order to accomplish Heseiba it is insufficient for one merely to tilt his body to the left.  What should one actually do--besides asking someone to bring a pillow to put on your chair?  May we recommend that you ask your Rav or Posek for a visual demonstration?  Don’t wait until you get home on the Seder night--realizing that you are not exactly sure how to do this...



Special Note Seven:  A word of caution:  A reader reported that he found not Kosher for Pesach Chrain mixed into the “Kosher For Passover” section in his supermarket--this could innocently happen when a product is reshelved by a worker not so familiar with the English language.  Every label should be checked when putting it in your basket--at this time of year it not only has to be Kosher, it has to be....  We also caution about brands that you are not familiar with during the year--that is not to say they are not fine--it is to say that if you want to use an unfamiliar brand, even if it may have an ostensibly good hashgacha for you--just check to make sure that the product is in fact certified by checking with the certifying agency.  “Ushemartem Es Hamatzos---be careful about the Matzos”--and everything else you will bring into your home--and into your body (to sustain your soul) during these uplifting and uplifted days!



Special Note:  One:  Hakhel, by clicking on this link, provides  a Special Shiur on the Halachos of the Seder Night given  by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of The Halachos of Kezayis and The Halachos of Brachos (in addition to other works including The Halachos of Refuah on Shabbos, The Halchos of Muktzah, and The Halachos of Other People’s Money).  Among the important topics covered in the Shiur are:

-         Simplifying the shiur k’zayis – you don’t have to be a rocket scientist!

-          How to absolutely be yotzei the Mitzvah D’Oraysa of eating Matzah

-          How to be yotzei if you are weak, pregnant, or not in the greatest of health

-          How to be yotzei eating Maror

-          How to be yotzei eating Korech

-          How to be yotzei eating Afikoman

-          Shiur for Arba Kosos...get the smallest becher you can find!


If we are putting so much effort into the Seder--let’s take the extra few minutes necessary to get it right.  This Shiur from a renowned expert in the area provides that opportunity!



Special Note Two:  We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation for their always important and timely messages.  Their incredible worldwide teleconference “Inspire Your Children Forever” held last Motzai Shabbos is now available on their Chazak Line 24 hours a day.  To listen and enjoy, you need simply call 718-258--2008, and then press #4, and then #2.  The teleconference was broken up into nine segments--so then press one of the following numbers to hear the segments most applicable to you.  These are the segments and their numbers--Learn and Enjoy!


1.  What is the primary goal of the Seder?


2.  How do you implant Emunah on a practical level?


3.  How do you balance the Seder with children of different ages?


4.  How does one relieve tension at the Seder?


5.  How do you prepare for the Seder?


6.  How to bring the Haggadah alive, by Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, Shlita


7.  D’var Torah by Rabbi Yitzchok Berkowitz, Shlita


8.  D’var Torah by Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita


9.  D’var Torah by Rabbi Fischel Schacther, Shlita



Special Note Three:  Let us take a moment to think of the unaffiliated Jews afflicted by a spiritual Makkas Choshech--so thick that without our help they may not be able to move.  Tragically, so many Jews in the world today not only don’t have the answers, they also don’t have the questions.  That being so...what will *their* children ask?  We join with Project Inspire in urging you to identify a few of your brothers caught up in the tangible dark--and send them a basic Project Inspire Pesach Kit.  Amidst its beautiful graphics are uplifting and universal Pesach messages written in a clear, enjoyable way.  There is also a Pesach recipe on the back.  If you like, Project Inspire can send it directly to your recipient, along with a personalized message from you.  Only $1.50 plus shipping per kit.  Visit www.Kiruv.com to order today!



Special Note Four:  REMINDER:  The verdict from Japan on YAAKOV YOSEF BEN RAIZEL is scheduled to be forthcoming on Wednesday, the 9th of Nissan, March 24.  He desperately needs our Tefillos to minimize and even end his incarceration.  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, writes that one may observe a person crying while reciting Tehillim, and be impressed by his sincerity when in fact there may be nothing to be impressed about--for he may really be crying because he has given up hope.  A Ba’al Emunah, on the other hand, knows that Yeshuas Hashem KeHeref Ayin--Hashem can save in an instant, against all odds and all logic.  When davening and saying Tehillim for Yaakov Yosef, we must have this reality in mind.  Our sincere tefillos do accomplish--because they are made to the only One who can and does accomplish everything!


Hakhel Note:  The essence of Nissan and Pesach is a re-energizing of our Emunah.  May we suggest that one purchase, or put aside, a Sefer on Emunah to study over each and every day of the Yom Tov?  Many Mussar seforim have sections on both Emunah and Bitachon.  The Artscroll Publication, With Hearts Full of Faith (based upon the teaching of HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita) may be a wonderful way to begin!



Special Note Five:  For those who may have missed the Erev Shabbos Bulletin, we once again provide the Hakhel Tevilas Keilim Guidelines by clicking here.  Tevilas Keilim is such a basic, beautiful and simple Mitzvah to perform--let’s take a moment out to make sure that we, and those around us, are performing it properly!  Please distribute further--and if you can, post these guidelines near your Keilim Mikveh!



Special Note Six:  There is one positive commandment that pervades and invigorates every day of Yom Tov--the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov.  Every day--including each day of Chol HaMoed--is a separate Mitzvas Aseh!  Let us *now* consider how to actually best fulfill this daily Mitzvah for ourselves and for others--and act upon it.  Pesach is a Chag in which the preparation far surpasses the length of the Chag itself--providing a great lesson for us in the importance of aforethought and planning--the need for “hachana” in Mitzvah observance.  It may be a pair of shoes, mango ices, different kinds of wine or a silver brooch...but please remember that we should take the lesson from the Nesi’im and not wait until the last moment--diving into Tom Tov with cherry ices because the mango was sold out!





A list of fruit-bearing trees for Birchas Ha’Ilanos, listed by location around the United States and Canada , is available from Misaskim by clicking here.


Special Note One:   We received the following information which we have independently verified with an involved askan.


As you read these words, the judge is close to deciding his case.

Will he be confined to a Japanese jail for the next 13 years CHAS VASHOLOM or, with Hashem’s help, be released to the loving embrace of his family and klal yisroel?

His verdict will be forthcoming next Wednesday March 24th, the ninth day of Nissan.

At the request of the askanim who are helping these boys, they have asked individuals the world over to gather in Tehillim groups to beseech the Ribono Shel Olam to have rachmanus on Yaakov Yoseph ben Raizel.


Hakhel Note:  Please do your part.  If you can please organize something in your community, or among your friends.  Hashem gave us an indication of how our tefillos can and do help by surprisingly having Yosef Bando released into Israeli custody *before* Yaakov Yosef's sentencing!


We know who our other Shvuyim are as well--please do not forget them!


Special Note Two:  Sunday will undoubtedly be a major day of Preparedness for Pesach, some of us doing more physical than mental tasks, during which time our minds are free.  Of course, this is great time for reflection.  This is also a great time to prepare for Yom Tov or to otherwise learn by calling into Kol Halashon, which has thousands upon thousands of Shiurim to choose from.  Kol Halashon's general Shiurim number is 718-906-6400.  For Women's  Shiurim--of which there are over 50 shiurim of all kinds to choose from alone,  after dialing the number, press  1 and then 5.



Special Note Three:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series:  The folowing Halachos relate to cutting or decorating food on Shabbos and whether the same falls into the melacha of Mochek or Kosaiv.  The halachos are excerpted from the major, multi-volume Sefer Orchos Shabbos (Hebrew):


1. One can cut a cake (or other food item) into simple shapes, but one may not cut pieces into special shapes such as flowers, animals or the like.


2.  It is preferable not to pre-cut a cake with lettering on it before Shabbos in order to then separate the pieces on Shabbos, thereby breaking the letters.  It follows that, on Shabbos itself, one should not cut or break the letters or specific designs on a cake.


3.  One can make lines on the cake with a knife in order to cut straight or equal-sized pieces, just as we make a mark in the Challah prior to cutting it, as there is no melacha of Sirtut on foods.


4.  One may use a whip topping provided that you do not make a specific shape with the topping.


5.  If the cake was already in the shape of a flower, animal, number, letter or the like before Shabbos, one may cut it--and it is not considered mochek because this was the pre-existing structure of the cake.  Likewise, if words or designs are imprinted into cookies or the like--such as animal crackers, or the brand on a tea biscuit, the Mishna Berurah rules that it is permissible to break them and eat them, as they are considered part of the original cookie itself.



Special Note Four:  The following note appeared in a publication of the Pirchei Agudas Yisroel.  We leave it up to you to determine whether the lesson is only for children:


Once, a boy did not attend the voluntary Shiur that HaRav Shalom Schwardron, Z'tl, gave because of a local soccer game.  Rav Schwadron went to the boy's house and offered an interesting challenge: "Let's go to the field and kick the ball into the net with nobody stopping it!"  The boy laughed and said, "Only if there is a goalie is it considered an accomplishment!"  R' Shalom smiled.  "Your coming to Shiur is more valuable when you overcome challenges!"



Special Note Five:  In the Hagadda, we recite “Yachol Mai’Rosh Chodesh…--I might think [that the Mitzvah of relating the story of our Exodus from Egypt could be performed] from Rosh Chodesh Nissan and on.”  Why would I think this way?  After all did not the Exodus actually take place on the fifteenth day of Nissan, which is exactly the first day of Pesach--why would I think the Mitzvah could be performed earlier?  The Netziv (in the Chumash Ha’Amek Dovor, Shemos 34:18) writes, in fact, that the entire month is mesugal, is especially opportune, to instill within us true principles of Emunah and Avodas Hashem.  One need not and should not wait until the last moment of the Seder Night to stock up on all of the foundations of our faith.  Accordingly, we provide the following insight relating to Pesach and our Emunah:


       The Vilna Gaon and the Maaseh Nissim Hagaddah teach that the Geulah from Egypt was called “Chairus Olam--eternal freedom”--because the Geulah of Egypt was the root of, and source for, all future Redemptions.  When one does Teshuva, he must always look back to the source, to the beginnings, of the avaira in order to uproot and destroy his connection to it.  Similarly, when yearning for our own final Geulah, we must study and review how our initial Geulah came about and what happened in order to properly connect to it.  This being the case, one can never learn enough of the Hagaddah, its discussions and its teachings.  While intellectually one may know the ten maakos by heart (including details from the Medrashim), shoot off the four reasons that we were redeemed, or list in perfect chronological order the Mitzvos we have on the Seder night, this is simply not enough.  Even if we “know it all,” we must come back year after year to the same concepts, the same lessons, and even to the same words, so that we continue to emotionally internalize Geulah through continuously developing a greater spirit of faith and belief in Hashem within us (See Michtav M’Eliyahu, Volume 4, Page 249).  The night of the Seder, with the uplifting four kosos, the Matzoh, the paradoxical Korech, the amazing Hagaddah, and the unrestrained Hallel, is given to us by Hashem to continuously expand this spirit of Cheirus Olam within us.


Special Note Six:  From Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita:  Of the first 23 Mitzvos of the Torah, 20 of them are related to Pesach.  It would appear extremely appropriate to study these 20 before Pesach!


Special Note Seven:  Some other notes on Getting Ready!


a.  At a Hakhel shiur, HaRav Belsky, Shlita, suggested that one search for chometz as if he were searcing for a valuable coin or piece of jewelry--would you shrug your shoulder and not look here or there, or not make the extra effort when you realize how much is at stake?  Go for the Gold!


b.  At the same shiur, HaRav Belsky ruled that one could simply  place his stove top grates into the self-cleaning oven to kasher them, rather than subjecting them to intense heat via placement of a blech on top of the stove.


c.  At the Seder, two out of the 15 Simanim (more than 10%) are comprised of washing of the hands--U'Rchatz and Rachtza.  Clearly, this is a meaningful and significant activity, and should be viewed as much more than a ministerial or perfunctory act that we do daily. To get ready for the Seder (if you wash Mayim Achronim you will actually wash a third time), may we suggest that rather than thinking about nothing too important or letting your mind wander when washing over the next 10 days, that with each pour of water over each hand you think--"Thank you Hashem! Thank You Hashem!" and think of something else you are thankful to Hashem for with each pour!  Having difficulty starting?  You can start as far back as Yetzias Mitzraim, and as close by as having the ability to pick up the cup and pour... and there is much--very much--in between to be thankful for!



Question One of the Week:  Which Makkah was going on today--the third day of Nissan in Mitzrayim--and accordingly, which Makkah were we--the Bnai Yisroel--saved from today?  As Rav Dessler, Z’tl, points out, we go through cycles in time which recur--perhaps we can think about today--and thank Hashem--for saving us from this devastating Makkah we were miraculously saved from...!  One of the key aspects of Emunah we touch upon (actually grab hold of) during Pesach is Sechar Ve’Onesh.  As we prepare for the Seder we should develop an appreciation and awareness of this in our everyday life.  It is no secret to anyone that the second Parsha of Shema focuses on Reward and Punishment.  This concept teaches us that Hashem cares about what we do, and that, incredibly, our own actions determine our own outcome.  We are wholly and utterly powerless compared to Hashem--yet Hashem allows *us* to determine our own destiny.  What an important and far-reaching lesson!  If only the Mitzriiim had not done this, perpetrated that, or gone this far or that far.  We can well imagine that there would be much more left of them than some chariot spokes at the bottom of the Red Sea and some other ancient artifacts.  Take their devastating punishment, and multiply it by the converse--the eternity of spiritual reward, and we can begin to understand the teaching of the Ba’alei Mussar who plead with us to rid ourselves of the Yetzer Hora in every which way that we can as we rid ourselves of the Chometz.  Cleaning closets, scrubbing walls and emptying refrigerators are not perfunctory acts for the sleepy and overworked--but are lessons in cleansing and purification--as we thoughtfully work on our Emunah in Sechar Ve’Onesh--ridding ourselves of the causes of Onesh, and bringing ourselves to eternal and everlasting reward.



Question Two of the Week:  We will soon be reciting the Hallel many times over Yom Tov.  One of the last pesukim of Hallel (Tehillim 118:25) is “Ana Hashem Hoshia Na, Ana Hashem Hatzlicha Na--Please Hashem Save Us Now, Please Hashem Bring Us Success Now”.  Although this is one complete Pasuk, when reciting Hallel, we take the first half and repeat it twice (being led to do so, many times mellifluously, by the Shaliach Tzibbur), and then take the second half of the Pasuk and repeat it twice.  Since there is a principle in Halacha which generally disallows taking parts of Pesukim (Kol Pasuk Delo Posak Moshe Anan Lo Paskinan), why do both the Shatz and the Tzibbur publicly do so--when a simple and effective alternative would be for the Shaliach Tzibbur to recite the entire Pasuk twice and for us to repeat it either after each recitation or twice after both recitations?  Why do we break up the “Hoshia Na” aspect of the Pasuk from the seemingly very-much-related “Hatzlicha Na” which succeeds it in the second half of the Pasuk?   We look forward to your thoughts.



Special Note One:  The Luach Dovor Be’Ito points out that the sprinkling of the Mai Parah was done on the third day and seventh day of Nissan--so that today is the day of the first sprinkling.  Accordingly, it is a day that holds special tahara capability, individually and for our nation, and we should be sure to use that capability by purifying ourselves in some way.  Is there anything that you can think of that could use some tahara--or do you not even need the Mai Parah?  Perhaps you can rethink it, because the time is auspicious, and the opportunity is great.  For some on-point ideas, we refer you to Chapters 16 and 17 of the Sefer Mesilas Yeshorim (which is on the topic of Tahara).  You may think that if so few know about this, can it really be that effective?  When there are fewer customers purchasing, there will be much greater selection, and much better pricing!



Special Note Two:  We have already reached the third Nasi today--the Nasi of Zevulun, Eliav ben Chailon.  Although Zevulun was the tenth son of Yaakov Avinu, he merited to bring the third Korban as Nasi.  Chazal (Bamidbar Rabbah 13:17) teach that the “tenth” became “third”--a 300% plus improvement--for one reason alone.  It was because “Shechibav Es HaTorahVeHirchiv Yodov Lefazer Es Momono LeYissocher--his cherishing of Torah caused him to open his hand wide and support his brother Yissocher in his Torah studies.”  With this wise and generous act, he fulfilled the words of the wisest of all men, Shlomo Hamelech, who teaches in Mishlei (18:16), “Matan Odom Yarchiv Lo, Velifnei Gedolim Yanchenu--A man’s gift will make room for him, and it will lead him before the great.”  This very act moved Eliav ahead to be together with the two Gedolim ahead of him.  In fact, Chazal (Bamidbar Rabbah, ibid.) even conclude with respect to Zevulun that “Godol Hame’Aseh Yoser Min Ha’Oseh--he was greater than Yissocher because, but for him, Yissocher would not have been able to study, and would not have produced 200 leaders of the Sanhedrin.  As we discuss auspicious times, on a day like today, which represents the primacy and greatness inherent in the support of Torah (please once again review our Pasuk in Mishlei), may we once again urge you to donate or donate more to Kiryat Sefer--the City of Torah, as your funds will be matched dollar for dollar, and your participation in our group effort makes you part of the k’lal.  Once again $2.00 for every $1.00 you give, to put chickens and Simchas Yom Tov on the tables of Talmidei Chachomim.  A TON of chickens is $3,000.00!  Please call Mrs. Sori Tropper at 718-258-1580, or see yadeliezer.org, marking your donation for Kiryat Sefer.  May we be zoche to be among the Gedolim--through our love of Torah and our special generosity to those who study it!



Special Note One:  We publish below a Letter to the Editor given to us by a reader, as published in Binah Magazine this week.  It speaks for itself in many ways.


Dear Binah,

It’s that very busy time of year for mothers.  Costumes and Mishloach Manos followed closely by the shmatte-wringing, vacuuming frenzy!  As exhausted as we are just thinking about this, there are some of us who wish we could be part of it (anything, even scrubbing Duplo in the bathtub!).  We are a group of mothers who spend day after day in the oncology ward with our innocent children.  We are fighting the battle for their lives, and we are appealing to all of you who truly feel for us in your hearts, to help us.  Help us gain zechuyos to tip the scale to complete our children’s refuah.  We have heard many stories of the power of tznius to effect yeshuos, offer protection, and annul harsh decrees.  Please join our battle by calling (732) 901-7513 to order the inspirational book Daughters of Dignity.  The book contains two-minute lessons on tznius which are easy to read and are guaranteed to uplift you.  Those who do better with audio can hear the lessons by calling (718) 906-6400 (Kol Haloshon) and pressing 1 - 5 - 12 - 3 - 2.

We thank you for your tefillos, empathy, and most of all, every zechus you engender for our children.



The mothers of Miriam bas Esther Rochel, Sara Leah bas Chaya Nechama and Leah bas Chana.


Hakhel Note:  Please think about what you can do for these little girls and their families--including their mothers who would rather be home scrubbing and scraping.  Remember, Acheinu Kol Bais Yisroel is not just a prayer--but a way of life.



Special Note Two:  The OU has joined together with the Bais HaVaad L’Inyonei Mishpat to put together an excellent collection of **over 50 free video shiurim** by outstanding Maggidei Shiur in the most practical areas and facets of Choshen Mishpat--Halacha LeMa’aseh.  The collection is entitled “Learning To Live By the Book,” and is available at www.ou.org/choshenmishpat.  Meaningful and purposeful living is at our fingertips.  It is indeed a privileged generation that we live in--and each of us would be even more privileged if we utilized the incredible opportunities available to us.  Imagine if you would undertake to view just one shiur a week.  In a year, your knowledge of Choshen Mishpat--doing what is right--could multiply 50 times over!



Special Note Three:  Now that Nissan is upon us, we must be smart enough to use the Month of Geulah--for that purpose.  Not only is Nissan proven from the-past, Chazal even teach that “U’BeNissan Asidin LiGa’el--in Nissan we will be redeemed.”  Indeed, the Yotzros for Parshas HaChodesh make it perfectly clear “Rusham BeChol Dor Shomur Hu LeRochev Al HaChamor--It is reserved **in every generation** for the one who will come riding on the donkey.”  Far be it from us to allow the Yetzer Hora to razzle, dazzle and frazzle us over the next few weeks when we can accomplish so much towards our own Geulah!  Perhaps we can start daily with the Tefilah Al HaGeulah from now until Pesach--which we once again provide by the following in Hebrew here http://tinyurl.com/2u3l4e  and in English here  http://tinyurl.com/3ybyxq.  May we also suggest that when reciting ViL’Yrushalayim Ircha in Shemone Esrei that you picture Yerushalayim well--with the millions of people that were there in the past and will be there again celebrating Pesach--visualizing the [including your] Seder on the rooftops, the palpable Ruach Hakodesh of the Tzaddikim, the Kohanim working in beautiful harmony, and the incredible Miracles of the Mikdash.  Think about the unadulterated Simchas Yom Tov (not needing Great Adventures to make it happen), and of the harmony, health and purity of spirit that will abound.  All of this may be only a prayer--your prayer--away!



Special Note Four:  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, provides a touching insight from the Chiddushei HaRim (the Gerrer Rebbe, Z’tl).  Geulah need not take place only on a communal level, but on an individual level, as well.  The Yotzros that some may have recited last Shabbos teach that Nissan is “HaChodesh Asher Yeshuos Bo Makifos--the month in which salvations follow quickly one upon another” (translation of Artscroll Siddur).  The Chiddushei HaRim, however, teaches that the word “Makifos” is also very much related to the word “hakafa”--an extension of credit (see, for example, Avos 3:20 , “Vehachenvani Makif--and the Merchant [Hashem] extends credit.”  The month of Nissan is an auspicious time during which we can ask Hashem for personal Yeshuos--on credit.  Even if we have not gotten there yet--we can express our beginning intention to do better and ask Hashem for the “merchandise” we need now.  It is market day, if you will, and the Merchant is unbelievably making it available on credit!  We have ahead a month that is infused with so much potential and good for us.  Let us begin with the beginnings of an act of Teshuva--whether it be coming to Shul on time, being more careful with Brachos, refraining from Ona’as Devorim to family and “close” friends, or anything else that you know you have to get to--and then ask Hashem for His unparalleled and incomparable credit on your continued future actions.  May you be zoche to a marvelous credit rating in this very special month--and may you speedily receive the Yeshua that you seek.  Most certainly you have the Chiddushei HaRim to back you up!



Special Note One:  The following is excerpted from the always timely and relevant Sefer HaToda’ah by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, Z’tl, as translated and known as The Book of Our Heritage (Feldheim Publishers--available in pocket size as well!).  “The last Seven Days of Adar, from the Twenty-Third until Rosh Chodesh Nisan, are called the Yemei HaMiluim--the ‘days of dedication.’  It was then that Moshe Rabbeinu consecrated the Mishkan after its construction.  Every day he would actually erect the Mishkan; offer the Korbanos of the Miluim; eat the sanctified portions; perform all of the services of the Kohen Gadol; and then take the Mishkan apart.  These days of dedication of the first Mishkan are destined to be repeated when the Moshiach comes.  It is said that his coming and the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash will take place in the month of Nisan.  Thus, the days of dedication serve as a memorial to the Mishkan made by Moshe, as well as a time of prayer for the final redemption and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash in which the Shechina will dwell eternally.”  Hakhel Note:  Do we get the message--do we appreciate the times--will we properly appreciate--and utilize--the next few days until Rosh Chodesh Nisan?  We do have the choice--we can be complacent or proactive--be satisfied with the status quo--or yearn for the Geulah with especially dedicated tefillos.  To use an Olam HaZeh analogy, it is as if the lottery is about to be drawn, and you have been awarded four out of the five numbers for good behavior an hour before the drawing--you have only to successfully choose the fifth number.  Would you bother taking the time and making the effort to select it?



Special Note Two:  As we approach the Spring season, many more car windows are opened by cars passing by you as you walk or drive.  We renew our reminder to respect the rights of others, and to avoid Shemiras HaEinayim issues, by not looking into another’s car for no reason other than curiosity or allowing the eyes to wander.  The ears are also a very important organ, as well.  For those who live in urban areas, there is the danger of the horrific nivul peh of Rap music entering your brain through the two ears.  If one hears the unsoundly beat coming in his direction, he can do what he can--close his window, distance himself, and/or plug his ears--until the danger passes.  Of course, you would be an oness--as this is forced upon you--but the fact remains that by entering your brain, the ghastly words have become a part of your life and your neshama.  The same would, of course, be true in avoiding walking near two unsavory or even plain characters having a conversation--for in just those few seconds that you are in their proximity--the chances are close to 100% you will hear something that you yourself would not and could not say (See Sha’arei Teshuva III:228).  Keeping your ears free and your mind clear--certainly an overriding obligation--really a pristine privilege--of a Torah Jew.



Special Note Three:  We had posed the Question of the Week--How many times in the this week’s Parsha is the phrase “Ka’asher Tzivah Hashem Es Moshe--[and the work was performed ] as Hashem had commanded Moshe” repeated--and why.  We are happy to report that a reader calculated the answer on her own--and found the confirmation and an incredible reason for this number in the Ba’al Haturim on the Parsha (Shemos 40:21)--all as brought in the wonderful newsletter by Rabbi Oizer Alport, Shlita,--“Parsha Potpourri.”  As Rabbi Alport writes, “As there are no coincidences in the Torah, the Baal HaTurim explains that this number alludes to the 18 blessings recited thrice daily in the prayers known as Shemoneh Esrei.”  Rabbi Alport then shows how our “standard daily prayers” are really not so standard and all, and concludes, “Just as Betzalel followed HaShem’s precise guidelines for the creation of the Mishkan and still found room for creative expression by doing so with his own unique intentions and insights, so, too, our Sages established the standard wording of the prayers with Divine Inspiration, articulating within them every feeling we may wish to express.  Many times, in the midst of a difficult situation, we begin the standard prayers with a heavy heart, only to find a new interpretation of the words which we have recited thousands of times jump out at us.  This newfound understanding, which has been there all along waiting for us to discover it in our time of need, is perfectly fit to the sentiments we wish to convey, if we will only open our eyes to see it and use our Sages’ foresight to express ourselves.”  To subscribe to Parsha Potpourri weekly, email oalport@optonline.net.



Special Note Four:  We have received correspondence from readers expressing the need for greater sensitivity to the feelings of others in difficult situations.  For instance, rather than pretending as if nothing has happened, an expression of empathy or feeling, of “imo anochi betzara” might me much more appreciated than small talk, banter or a joke.  Similarly, one must be sensitive to what makes a person happy and what gives him nachas.  A statement to a Talmid Chochom that his son would make a great ball player might be accurate and realistic, but may also turn a spiritual knife in his heart.  In general, relating something to someone that you know they really won’t appreciate, while it may be interesting or expressive for you, it may range between ona’as devorim and torture for them.  At the end of this week’s Parsha, as we conclude Sefer Shemos, we are reminded “Chazak, Chazak VeNischazek”--we are here to be strong and be strengthened.  When we help others to that goal is when we have accomplished this concluding message of a complete Sefer of the Torah--allowing us to begin the next!



Special Note Five: Chazal (Shabbos 118B) teach “If Yisroel would observe two Shabbosos according to Halacha, they would be redeemed immediately.”  In fact, the Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 25:16), reduces this guarantee to the proper observance of just one Shabbos.


Perhaps we can start the process in our own small way with the following suggestion:


In this week’s Parsha (Shemos 35:3), the Torah requires “Do not kindle a fire wherever you dwell on the day of Shabbos.”  Why is fire singled out as one of the 39 forbidden activities on Shabbos?  There is a disagreement between Rebbe Nosson and Rebbe Yossi on this very point in the Gemara (Shabbos 70A).  The Sheloh HaKadosh and the Akeida write that the “fire” singled out on Shabbos also refers to the fire of anger and of raised voices in the home, of anger, disagreement and machlokes, any and all of which are the antithesis of the Shalom Bayis to be brought into the home through the neiros Shabbos, the Shabbos candles.


We therefore urge that THIS SHABBOS--in which the Parsha specifically instructs us not to “kindle fire in our dwelling places”--we, bli neder, accept upon ourselves not to get upset and angry, not to raise our voice, and, instead, to override our sensitivity, our legitimate feelings and everything else in the way, to ensure that the Shabbos is and remains peaceful--with the only fire being relegated to the area under the blech.


To some, or perhaps many, of us, this may take a yeoman’s effort, but we will be taking an important step towards that “just one Shabbos” we so urgently and desperately require.


NOTE:  If we can achieve the seemingly impossible, and extend this “fire prohibition” to the hour before Shabbos, we will have additionally accomplished a level of “Tosefes Shabbos”--adding on to the Shabbos--perhaps never before imaginable.



Special Note Six:  We continue our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos series:


1.  In a previous Bulletin, we suggested, based upon the Sefer Chashukei Chemed, when one has food stuck in his mouth he should clear the food before going outside (where there is no Eruv)--to avoid carrying the food in his mouth.  A reader strongly objected to this suggestion, and said that there was no Halachic objection to walking out with food stuck, and that one did not have to make the effort to clear his mouth before leaving his home.  Of course, one must consult with his Rav or Posek on this issue, and there may be other additional Teshuvos upon the issue.  We cite only the Shailos U’Teshuvos Minchas Yitzchak (5:38:4), who discusses walking out with crumbs in between one’s teeth--and makes the distinction between carrying out actual food and food that is only stuck.  He concludes that Chazal could not decree against foods which are stuck because of situations where it is not always possible to remove the food [which would explain why people are not careful about it], but that where it is possible “bevadai nachon lizaher bazeh--it is certainly appropriate to be careful about it.”


2.  Reminder regarding the computerized date stamp on soda caps, one reader advised us that if you cut the ring with a knife before Shabbos (so that the soda does not lose its carbonation by opening it regularly)--then when you twist the cap back on after opening for a drink on Shabbos--it will not reset to exactly the same place--and so you will not be writing the date stamp back when you close the bottle.  You may want to test this with a bottle of your own.


3.  As we get closer to Pesach, some may be sensing that there is not as much food in their homes to consume.  We caution that this not affect the great mitzvah and opportunity of Melave Malka, which has its own stand-alone Siman in Shulchan Aruch--Orach Chaim 300.  The Sha’arei Teshuva (ibid., seif katan 1) writes that when eating Melave Malka one should be me’chavein to bring bracha into his weekday meals, and that the Kedushas Shabbos should enlighten each and every one of them!  This should begin to give us an impression of what Melave Malka can accomplish!



Special Note One:  We received an extremely useful chart from one of our readers, as a study aid relating to today’s Daf Yomi (Sanhedrin 27).  It is available on the Hakhel website by clicking here.  Please feel free to distribute.



Special Note Two:  We provide below one of the most important messages we have ever sent.  It is a letter to Hakhel from Mrs. Sori Tropper of Yad Eliezer, the volunteer head of Yad Eliezer in America.


Maos Chittim is always a challenging time.  So many people literally cannot buy food for Yom Tov and depend on us to help.  We concentrate, as always, on chickens, because that is beyond the budget of Yad Eliezer families.  These are families who rarely buy chicken during the year.

Kiryat Sefer is literally a city of Talmidei Chachamim , living in utter simplicity and with an incredible amount of Mesiras Nefesh.  For most of the year, they make do, and do not receive Tzedaka funds, but on Pesach, it is crucial to help them.

We have a donor who will match up to $135,000 in Maos Chittim that is given specifically for Kiryat Sefer.

Just to give you an idea of what things costs:  $6,000 buys a ton of chicken which feeds approximately 80 families for the whole Yom Tov.  Again, since this is going to be matched, it will cost us $3,000.  It costs around $100 to provide a Seder for a large family, $50 for a small family.

If you’d like to donate on the website (www.yadeliezer.org), please indicate that this is for the Kiryat Sefer match.  You can donate via credit card by calling 718 258 1580 or you can send a check to 1102 East 26th Street , Brooklyn , New York 11210 and indicate that it is for the Kiryat Sefer match.

And may this Pesach be the last that we need to ask for help.

Chag Kasher V’Sameach!




Hakhel Response:  Let us all contribute whatever we can to this fund--we are helping to support a City in Israel .  Let us remember that Amri, the wicked Achav's father, was rewarded for building the City of Shomron in Israel (although it housed much avodah zara).  Imagine the reward that we will have for helping to maintain a City of Torah in Israel !  Then add to that your contribution is matched--which effectively doubles it--and then add further that we are undertaking this project as part of a Tzibbur together--which gives us each a part in the entire contribution!  So, let's try as much as we can, with as many 0's after a number as we can, to help put food on the table for a *City* for Pesach!



Special Note Three:  We can stop the Bulletin right here, as the utter power of your contribution surely moves the Heavens and the Earth.  We will simply share a story told by HaRav Yitzchok Scheiner, Shlita, Rosh HaYeshiva of the Kaminetzer Yeshiva in Yerushalayim during his recent visit of chizuk in America .  In fact, he is returning today to Eretz Yisroel.  Rav Scheiner related the following account:  There was a bachur in the Ponovezh Yeshiva who was among the worst bachurim in the Yeshiva.  He did not sit in one place for long, did not possess particularly good skills, and did not possess sterling character traits, either.  He did, however, sit in the same row as one of the best bachurim in the Yeshiva--a serious and dedicated student who was friendly with all.  The successful student was studying Mussar one day--specifically the topic of Chesed.  As he closed his Sefer, he thought to himself, “Do I really do chesed?  What good is studying if I do not apply what I learn?  I need to help others!”  He turned and almost immediately saw the problem student daydreaming.  He thanked Hashem for the message and the opportunity, and asked his regular chavrusa to please go off and talk-in-learning with someone else for an hour.  He then approached the distressed bachur, and asked him if he could learn with him for an hour, as he had no chavrusa.  Stunned, the distressed bachur consented.  This same encounter happened for two weeks in a row, until the previously distraught bachur became an “up and coming” person in the Yeshiva.  His attitude, his existence--his life--had been transformed in the course of a two-week investment.  All this, because a student realized the importance to act upon his learning, the value of even a short period of time in helping someone, and the Hashgacha Pratis of the bachur “learning” in his row of seats.  Actually, the story does not end here.  The thoughtful bachur continued to learn in his Mussar Seder about Chesed, and continued his aspirations of growth.  He decided to walk to the “up and coming” student’s parents’ apartment-and tell them about the wonderful son they had.  He took the time out to go their apartment (a few blocks away from the yeshiva in Bnei Brak), rang the bell and told the father at the door that he had been blessed with an outstanding son.  The father remained standing at the door astonished at the news about his only child, as until this point he had understood that his son was not a pre-eminent personage by any means--and that his situation in the Yeshiva was tenuous.  A few days later, the father came to the Yeshiva, and approached the Ba’al Chesed, stating, “You saved my marriage.  Because of our tzoros with our son, and the economic situation at home, my wife and I had taken to bickering over anything and everything, and had actually opened a ‘Tik’ for a Get with the Rabbanut.  Once you told me what a nachas we had for a son, we were both able to think clearly again, put everything in perspective, and our Shalom Bayis has literally been restored.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!”


Can we imagine the effects of the Chesed that we can do--like how far reaching some chicken, some potatoes and vegetables can go?  Do we realize how a few minutes dedicated to helping someone can save their lives--not figuratively--but literally!  Let us take the time to act now, and over the next several weeks until Pesach on the Middah of Chesed--since so many people have needs.  Even if you need your own help--that doesn't absolve you from thoughtful Chesed with others.  Did you ever drive on a highway where the signs read “Work-Zone--Fines Doubled”?  During this next little while until Pesach, we are also in a Work Zone--but with us--if we exercise that extra special thoughtfulness, effort, care and concern for Chesed, the rewards, benefits and after effects for ourselves, and all of K'lal Yisroel will not merely be doubled--but UNFATHOMABLE.  You may ask--will the next person really do his part?  In actuality, you don't know--but all you have to do is yours!



Question of the Week:  In this week’s Parsha, how many times does the pasuk teach “Ka’asher Tzivah Hashem Es Moshe--and it was performed as Hashem had commanded”--and what lesson does this teach us?


Special Note One:  Readers have sent us different reminder systems they have as to recalling whether a bracha achrona still has to be made after something they have eaten, or whether an Asher Yotzar has yet to be made.  Obviously, first and foremost, a bracha should be made ASAP after eating or after taking care of one’s needs.  Undoubtedly, the degree of thanks and appreciation wanes as the minutes pass by after the event deserving of thanks has occurred.  Perhaps the next most important step is to try, as often as possible, to recite a bracha in the presence of someone else.  Firstly, you will certainly recall whether you made the bracha or did not.  Secondly, you will receive the benefit of an Amen to your bracha, which greatly enhances its recitation--as you have obtained an independent confirmation and agreement to what you began.  Thirdly, making the bracha in the presence of another will put you on higher guard [not to embarrass yourself and] to properly enunciate the words--and will unquestionably enhance your Kavana--as you are physically aware of someone paying attention to what you have to say!  Whatever works best for you--one thing is sure, making 100 brachos a day certainly teaches us that brachos play a central role in our lives--and that it definitely pays to invest the time and effort to improve, enhance--and beautify our bracha recitation.



Special Note Two:  The Orchos Chaim of the Rosh provides a concise and sharp directive to us all:  “Al Tevahel Ma’asecha”--do not act in a behala--with panic and consternation, without clear thinking, and without calmness.  What important words to remember at this time of year as workloads, efforts and expenses increase disproportionately and perhaps dramatically.  As feelings and situations appear like that they are about to spin out of control, let us remember what a Rishon and one of the greatest Halachic Decisors of all time--the Rosh--taught as to how we should react.  Our first thought must be to remember the three words “Al Tevahel Ma’asecha.”  Indeed, in Kelm, they had a special Nigun--for these three words alone--when reciting the Orchos Chaim!



Special Note Three:  The “Kan Mefureshes” Gemach has issued the following notification to the public:


“Upon the request of the many who have called our Gemach with questions and stories, we will share with you once again details of a special Segulah.  First, let us share with you what happened last week.  A Yid called us at the recommendation of his friend.  His father in-law was unconscious and had not eaten for nine days.  The doctors gave up, and were planning to tell the family to place the patient in a hospice the following day.  After performing the Segulah which we will repeat below, he awoke and requested food and something to read, much to the relief of his family.  This is just one of the many Nissim that we have experienced.  This Segulah can be used for minor to serious medical issues.  Some background to the Segulah:  Rav Elya Guttmacher’s son wrote a Peirush on Maseches Kinnim called “Kan Mefureshes.”  He passed away at a young age, and when he was niftar, Rav Elya promised that whoever learns his son’s Peirush will not need the care of a doctor.  Rav Chaim and Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky give copies of this Segulah to those who come to them for a Bracha for a Refuah.  For this Segulah, one learns the very first Mishnah of the Mesechta with the Rav, Tosafos Yom Tov and the Peirush of Kan Mefureshes and then says the Tefillah printed in the Hakdamah of the sefer.  Follow the instructions printed there.  Obviously, this can only be done by a man.  For women who wish to use this Segulah and do not have anyone who can learn for them, we have arranged with several Bnei Torah to learn the Mishnah for a nominal fee on short notice.  For further inquires, you may call us at 732-370-2673.  To borrow the sefer in Lakewood you may call: 732-370-2673 or 732-942-0649.  In Brooklyn , you may call 917-573-925l.  In Baltimore , you may call Moshe and Lisa Roch.  If you know of Gemachim of this sort elsewhere, please let us know so that we can be mezakeh the Rabbim.  We wish all of K’lal Yisroel only Gezunt!”



Special Note Four:  Rabbi Gershon Bess, Shlita has prepared the “5770 Passover Guide to Cosmetics and Medications,” containing UPDATED information on thousands upon thousands of products, ranging from Tums and mouthrinses to moisturizing lotions, from body washes and shampoos to Claritin and cold tablets, and from acne creams and makeup foundations to calcium tablets and azithromycin.  Rabbi Bess writes that HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, and HaRav Wosner, Shlita, urged his continued publication of the List--both for reasons in Halacha and in Minhag Yisroel.  To obtain a copy of this essential List for yourself, your block, your Shul, your community, you may contact the Kollel of Los Angeles at 323-933-7193.



Do you eat turkey?  How do you know it is Kosher?  The Kashrus symbol on the package is definitely a good start (especially all  the Hebrew letters and abbreviations)--but turkey is a native American bird which was discovered and classified after Columbus’ arrival--so how do we have a Mesora--a tradition--as to its Kashrus?!  Interestingly, this issue is discussed in the Sefer Shaleiach Teshalach--A Practical Guide to the Mitzvah of Shiluach HaKan by Rabbi Naftali Weinberger, Shlita, (Feldheim Publishers)--which notes that Israel today actually leads the world in turkey consumption!  Set forth below is a brief summary as to the reasons for the turkey’s permissibility in a Kosher home:


1.  The Damesek Eliezer, the Knesses Hagedolah and the Shoel U’Maishiv all rule that the turkey has all of the signs of a Kosher bird--a crop; a gizzard that is peelable by hand; an “extra toe”; and, even beyond these three core simanim, the turkey is clearly not a “doress”--it does not have the characteristics of a predatory species.  The Arugas Habosem writes that even the Rema, who requires a Mesora for birds, would agree here that no Mesora is necessary because of all of the turkey’s clear Simanim.


2.  The Sefer Otzar Yisroel writes that while definitely today we would follow the Rema’s requirement of a Mesora for birds, turkey is an exception because it was discovered approximately 50 years before the Rema was born, and did not lose its status once it had become accepted.


3.  Other Poskim (See Bach and Magen Avrohom to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 79) hold that the Gemara (Yerushalmi Berachos 3:5) refers to a “red chicken” which is really the turkey--which means it had its early sources in Eretz Yisroel...and somehow made its way to America!


4.  A fourth possibility is that we rely on the Mesora of the Jews of India, who it is claimed had a Mesora dating back to the times Moshe Rabbeinu that the bird was Kosher.  This is perhaps why we refer to the turkey as the “Tarnigol Hodu”--the Indian chicken, and in Yiddish, as well, it is referred to as the “Indik”--or the Indian bird.


5.  The Netziv writes that when turkey was originally imported into Europe , many questioned its Mesora.  Nevertheless, it became widely accepted, and we will therefore not remove its acceptable status unless there would be a compelling reason to do so.  In short, we treat it as if it had a Mesora!  The Netziv actually suggests that if the turkey’s status had been called into question before it became so widely accepted as kosher, the poskim definitely would have declared it as non-kosher due to its lack of Mesora.  Given the current situation, the Netziv favors maintaining the status quo.


Among the more contemporary Poskim, HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, discusses the permissibility of eating turkey on Thanksgiving, thus clearly holding that it is permissible to otherwise consume it.  Similarly, the Chazon Ish, Z’tl, and the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, ate turkey (Orchos Rabbeinu III, p.72), and HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, eats it, as well.  HaRav Yaakov Kaminetsky, Z’tl, did not eat turkey because his Rebbitzen Itta Ettel came from Shavell , Lithuania , where the minhag of the whole town was not to eat turkey since it lacked a Mesorah.  HaRav Yaakov accepted this upon himself, but did not require his family to do so.  His son, HaRav Shmuel Kaminetsky, Shlita, accepted his father’s practice and does not eat turkey--but his children and extended family do--for it was accepted only as a stringency, and not as a custom.


The above is of course only a short aspect of this important Sefer on the Halachos (and Hashkafos) of Shiluach Hakan.  The Sefer is otherwise filled with unique and fascinating Halachos on how to properly perform the Mitzvah, contains the Shailos U’Teshuvos of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, on this Mitzvah--and a discussion of all of the segulos involved in its proper performance!



Special Note One:  Very many things are special about Shabbos--here is one more.  Bottling companies place computerized date stamps on bottles.  The stamp, such as “ April 15, 2011 ” may be imprinted exactly at the location where the cap is twisted off from the bottom ring--with the effect that the letters are actually cut when you twist off the cap.  This is not only a huge issue of Mochek for those who actually open previously unopened bottle caps on Shabbos (as one is ostensibly destroying letters as he opens the bottle)--but may be an issue (according to some authorities) even if the bottle cap has already been opened.  One should consult with his Rav or Posek to clarify this issue--before next Shabbos!  The current week is most certainly one to focus on Hilchos  Shabbos, and to consider and resolve any doubts one may have--as we look to the Parshios for guidance in our daily life--and we find that we are in between the Parshios of “VeShamru V’nai Yisroel Es HaShabbos” (Ki Sisa) and “U’Vayom HaShevii Yehiye Lachem Kodesh” (Vayakhel)!



Special Note Two: We present several additional points from Parshas Ki Sisa to apply (and hopefully inculcate within ourselves) over the coming week:


a.  The Pasuk teaches that the letters on the Luchos were engraved through and through, and that, by Miracle, they could be read from both sides although the writing was not reversed.  HaRav Pam, Z’tl, as quoted in the wonderful work”, by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita, brings the following important lesson relating to this Miracle:  HaRav Chaim Elazar Wachs, Z’tl, (the “Nefesh Chayah”) was a partner in a paper factory.  His partner came to him with an idea that would bring him a great deal of profit in a short amount of time.  When the partner presented all of the details, HaRav Wachs concluded that the idea involved some degree of impropriety, and bordered on geneiva.  His partner still wanted to go ahead with the “get-rich-quick” scheme.  HaRav Wachs exclaimed, “Don’t you realize why the Luchos had to be readable from either side?!  Because no matter which way you turn the Luchos--you have to see the Lo Signov!”  [In Yiddish:  “Az men dreit a hin, oder men dreit a heir, es shteit noch ales Lo Signov!”]  We may all be faced with the temptations of improprieties--some bigger and some smaller.  We must, however, realize that the Luchos preceded these temptations and manipulations--and covers them from whatever angle they may be coming!


b.  Chazal (Rosh Hashanah 17B) teach of the great power of the Thirteen Middos of Rachamim found in the Parsha (Shemos 34:6,7), which are first introduced to us after the Chait HaEgel.  Indeed, their introduction to us after the Eigel indicates their great potency--as we are kept going as a nation after such a devastating aveira.  The Netziv makes an amazing point as to one of these Middos.  He writes that it is not correct to read this Middah as “Rav Chesed” and then simply continue with “Emes”, as the next Middah.  Instead, and in fact, the word “Rav” modifies BOTH Chesed and Emes--for Hashem not only provides Abundant Chesed but also Abundant Truth.  It is this Middah that we must emulate--not to allow ourselves into the singular comfort of “Rav Chesed” which we are so incredibly blessed with in K’lal Yisroel--but also to be the Rav Emes--being an overflowing source of Truth as well!


c.  The Taz asks what is the Attribute of Mercy contained in the word “Lo Yinakeh”.  We know that Yinakeh means that Hashem cleanses the sin of one who does Teshuva--but how is the Lo Yinakeh--Not Cleansing the Sin--helpful to us?  The Taz answers that it means that Hashem will not eliminate the sin and will in fact punish the sinner somewhat --but still waits for him to do Teshuva, and in the interim does not give him the punishment that he truly otherwise deserves.  There are thirteen different levels of Mercy--it is up to us to determine which levels of Mercy we will be zoche to--we do not have to be at the bottom of the class--so why should we put ourselves there?  Teshuva is a much better alternative!


d.  HaRav Moshe Rosenshein, Z’tl, approached his great Rebbe, the Mashgiach of Mir, HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, and asked him to explain the Chait HaEigel to him.  After much study of the topic, HaRav Rosenshein was expecting a greatly detailed and long explanation from his Rebbe of what had transpired here.  HaRav Yeruchem answered with Two Words.  The Two Words....Yetzer Hora!  After all, could it make any sense that a people who owed so much to Moshe Rabbeinu would believe that he died--and almost immediately start to wildly party?  As we say in the Lechu Nerannena at the outset of Kabbalas Shabbos (Tehillim 95) “Va’Omar Am To’ei Levev Haim...--and I said they are a people who are mistaken of heart...”.  The Yetzer Hora’s effects were so devastating that the sin of the Golden Calf burdens us to this very day.  There is a great lesson for us all here.  If we could remind ourselves when making any daily decision that we must realize which side of the decision the Yetzer Hora is on--we can take a great step--on a daily basis--to overcoming, overriding and overruling the Chait HaEigel itself.  What an accomplishment!  What a great and enormous potential every day brings with it!



Special Note One:  The appeal continues for our Tefillos and for financial aid to help in the legal appeal of R’ Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin--Sholom Mordechai HaLevi Ben Rivka.  Your contributions can be mailed to Pidyon Shvuyim Fund, 53 Olympia Lane , Monsey , New York 10952 .



Special Note Two:  A reader asked us if we could ask our readers if they knew of the “25 sources in the Torah that show Hashem’s enduring love for Klal Yisroel.”  We are passing on the request.



Special Note Three:  Tomorrow is the Yahrzheit of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, and Sunday is the Yahrzheit of the Noam Elimelech (R’ Elimelech B”R Eliezer Lipman) of Lizensk, Z’tl.  HaRav Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, teaches that when someone visits the Kever of a Tzadik, he connects with the Nefesh of the Tzadik, but when he studies from the Seforim of the Tzadik, he connects with the Ruach of the Tzadik.  Of course, there is much Ruach available to connect to with both of these Tzadikim.  Tomorrow, for example, one can study the rulings of HaRav Shlomo Zalmen in the Shmiras Shabbos KeHilchasa, Halichos Shlomo, Minchas Shlomo, or learn some of the many lessons that he taught from Rabbi Hanoch Teller’s work, And From Jerusalem , His Word: Stories and Insights of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.  Similarly on Sunday, one can simply read/study through the famous “Tzetel Koton” published in so many Siddurim, and so practically instructive on how one should lead his life.



Special Note Four:  Tomorrow, the 20th of Adar, is also a day of Yom Tov, as listed in Megillas Ta’Anis, because Choni HaMa’agal drew the famous circle around himself following a three year drought--with his prayers being answered and rain falling in the proper measure!  We should realize and recognize the inherent bracha within the day--and elevate ourselves to meet that bracha.



Special Note Five:  One final note on Purim--after all, we have not yet reached the Shabbos after.  The Al HaNisim Tefillah of Purim is much more concise than the Al HaNisim of Chanukah.  Within these few words, we state that Hashem nullified Haman’s “Eitzah,” frustrated his “Machshava” and that his designs were returned “Brosho--on his head.”  There appears to be a strong message here.  Haman’s designs involved real mental processes--calculation and aforethought.  He used his head.  We must combat our enemies in a similar way, using “Eitzos,” “Machshavos,” and, simply, our head, as well.  Taking the time and making the effort to think is something that the Yetzer Hara wants you to avoid at all costs.  After all, only he (the current comparison of Haman to us) has the right to think.  Let us use our free will to be Mevatel his “Eitzos” and “Machshavos” with ours…giving it to him on his head, as we walk away, as Mordechai HaTzadik--with royal garments and very close to our King!



Special Note Six:  As we will read the Parsha of Vshamru Bnei Yiroel Es HaShabbos in the leining tomorrow, we provide below an extremely important thought we provided in the past on our unique and wonderful relationship to Shabbos Kodesh:


Shabbos is the only day of the week in which each Tefillah of Shemone Esrei is different.

·                    In the evening, we recite “Ata Kidashta”--You have sanctified us.

·                    In the morning, we recite “Yismach Moshe”--Moshe was gladdened.

·                    In the afternoon, we recite “Ata Echad”--You are one…


The Sefer Avudraham (1:163) asks--why is it only on Shabbos--and not on the weekdays--or even on Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur or the Shalosh Regalim--that the text of the Shemone Esrei changes at each one of the Tefillos?


He provides an amazing answer.  Because Shabbos is called the “Kallah” (Bava Kama 32B), and Hakadosh Baruch Hu is called the Choson, we first celebrate our initial participation in the Kiddushin, i.e., the commencement of the installment of Kedusha into Shabbos--by reciting “Ata Kidashta” on Leil Shabbos.  Indeed, it would seem that we joyously sing Lecha Dodi just as we escort the Choson to greet the Kallah.


At Shacharis, we recite “Yismach Moshe”--Moshe rejoiced--as the Choson’s and Kallah’s and participants’ joy increases after the Chuppah, and as the Chassuna progresses.  We are now invited to take an even more active role in the joy, as the Choson asks us to take good care of his precious Kallah and we proudly recite “V’shomru Vnei Yisroel es HaShabbos.”  It is with the greatest honor and pleasure that we take the Choson’s request to heart, mind and action.  As Chazal teach in this week’s Parsha, Ki Sisah, we are now involved in something more important than even the building of the Bais Hamikdash (see Rashi, Shmos 31:13).  We hope and pray for the Bais Hamikdash daily, yet we cannot violate Shabbos to attain it, because we have been asked to guard the Kallah.


We then continue with Mussaf, with the bringing of Korbanos as the “Seudas Mitzvah.”


Finally, at Mincha we celebrate “Ata Echad”--the conclusion of the Chassuna--and the resulting unity and oneness of the Choson and Kallah.


We may add that just as when you come home from a really joyous, nice Chassuna, or from the Chassuna of a close relative or friend, you bring the joy home with you (compare this to the Melave Malka), and the joy lasts for a few days--or even for the week, through the Sheva Brochos, so should our honored participation in the Simchas Shabbos last for several days, or perhaps even a week, until the next Shabbos--when we can once again experience transcendent and sublime joy.


There is no doubt that a direct correlation exists between the way we celebrate at a Chassuna and its lasting effect upon us.  If our celebration is with the fish crepe, squash soup or well-done prime ribs in duck sauce, there will definitely be some kind of lasting effect (at least somewhere in--or on--the body!).  But if we feel an internal joy out of close friendship and oneness with the Choson and Kallah, the feeling will have even a greater impact and most certainly endure for a longer period.  The feeling of closeness will cause you to “stay in contact” with the Choson and Kallah.


Similarly, Rav Shlome Wolbe, Z'tl, once commented, that while a tasty Cholent is truly an important aspect of Shabbos, it should not in and of itself be the highlight of this sacrosanct day.  Instead, we should actually try to establish the highlight of the day ourselves--our greatest moment of joy with the Choson and Kallah at their celebration.


Your highlight should be something special and meaningful, and may be:

·                    A heartfelt Lecha Dodi or Zemiros with feeling or even intensity.

·                    Learning Rashi, Ramban or Midrash or other commentaries on the Parsha.  We can always draw wellsprings of information on how to conduct ourselves during the week by applying the Parsha’s timeless and timely lessons.

·                    In Shacharis, reciting Nishmas slowly, word by word, or feeling moved at “Kel Adon” (not just waiting for the tune the Chazan will use).

·                    Helping to make the Shabbos table warm and inspirational with a poignant Devar Torah or lesson-filled story you have prepared.

·                    Giving meaningful advice or assistance to a Shabbos guest.


So, as we shower, shine our shoes, set the table or otherwise prepare for the great Chassuna this Shabbos, or even when we are at the Chassuna itself, let us go beyond the delectable kugels and cakes and pleasant and refreshing Shabbos nap, and think about how and what we will do this Shabbos that will permeate and elevate us and leave a supernal effect upon us through the week!



Special Note Seven:  Learning and applying lessons from the Parsha in the week ahead should always be one of our primary goals for the week.


In this week’s Parsha, we learn of the horrific sin of the Golden Calf.  In its aftermath, Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu: “Say to Bnei Yisroel--you are stiff-necked people…” (Shemos 33:5).  In fact, this exact same description of our “stiff-neckedness” is repeated two other times in the Parsha (Shemos 33:3 and 34:9).   Likewise, in the Viduy we recite “Kishinu Oref--we have been stiff-necked.”  There is a very important message here for us.  The neck, as opposed to the front, symbolizes the back of the person and shows that the person is turned away from someone, rather than facing him.  It is our job not to turn away from what we have done, and certainly not to turn away from Hashem.  Instead, we must face that which we have done with a plan to improve, and face Hashem asking Him for nothing less than Divine assistance going forward.


We believe that there is also a vital second lesson:  The Torah is teaching that the heinous “Chait Haegel” is related to being obstinate and inflexible.  In our stubbornness, we must be careful to distinguish between fact and opinion, between “teaching lessons to others” and learning to control our self-interest or pride.  It is now a very auspicious time to deal with this middah, in order to indicate that we, on our own personal level and in our own private way, are looking to correct the stiff-neckedness within us--and our recognition that obstinacy could eventually result in something that is catastrophic, rachmana litzlan.  If our actions are “just because” or “because that is the way I do things” or because “I know I am right” or “because I don’t do it that way”… (you can fill in another phrase that better summarizes your own stiff-neckedness) then we may have to work on some adjustments in attitude.


Of course, being tough in some areas is good--such as not flinching from the requirements of Halacha or proper Hashkafa in spite of work, financial or even social pressures to do so.  However, Chazal advise specifically that “a person should be soft as a reed, and not hard as a cedar tree” (Taanis 20B).  Reeds are malleable and do not break--even in the face of a harsh wind or thunderous storm.  Incredibly, the mighty cedar may fall earlier than the thin little reed.  Let us take this lesson to heart as we practice acting with more pleasance than presence, the way Hashem would like us to!



Special Note One:  Rabban Gamliel Rabanovich, Shlita, teaches, “If one looks at his food while he is eating it--why would he not look at the words in his Bentcher when thanking Hashem for it?!”



Special Note Two:  The Netziv provides a wonderful insight on the words “L'chovod U’Lesifares--for honor and for glory,” as used in last week’s Parsha both with respect to the clothes of the Kohen Gadol and the clothes of a regular Kohen (Kohen Hedyot).  Unlike the eight articles of clothing of the Kohen Gadol, which are all “Lekavod U’Lesifares,” this term as used in connection with the Kohen Hedyot is stated in reference to the Migba’as--the head covering of the Kohen Hedyot.  We can derive from this that the true article of clothing which is an “Honor and Glory” to the average person is his head covering which is, of course, the symbol of Yiras Shamayim.  Today is the Yahrzeit of both the Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’Avodah and HaRav Chatzkel Levenstein, Z’tl.  Certainly, a great common denominator in their teachings is their emphasis on Hashem’s constant involvement in our lives for our own personal good, and our need to recognize and thank Hashem for this.  Just as men remember and kiss their Tefillin at specified times during davening, we should remember our “Honor and Glory,” our head covering from time to time during the day and think of our closeness to Hashem that it epitomizes.



Special Note Three:  The following is an extremely important excerpt from the Sefer Geulah B’Rachamim by Rabbi Pinchas Winston, Shlita.  For further information on how to obtain this special Sefer, one may contact www.thirtysix.org


“The Jewish people are on a mission and it can be summed up in two words:  Kiddush Hashem, to sanctify the Name of Hashem.  This is not just something we do on the side, something that is supposed to result from everything we do, whether alone or in public.  Rav Papa asked Abaye, ‘Why is it that for the former generations miracles were performed and for us miracles are not performed?  It cannot be because of their learning, because in the years of Rav Yehudah, their learning was confined to Nezikin, and we learn all six orders.  And yet, when Rav Yehudah took off one shoe [during a drought on a fast day], rain used to come.  We torment ourselves and cry loudly, and no one pays attention to us!’  He answered, ‘The former generations used to sacrifice themselves for Kiddush Hashem; we do not sacrifice ourselves for Kiddush Hashem’ (Brochos 20a).  What does it mean to sanctify the Name of Hashem?  There are many ways to do it, but they all result in the same thing:  more of Hashem’s Presence in Creation.  The opposite term, ‘Chillul Hashem,’ the profanation of Hashem’s Name, comes from the word ‘challal,’ which means a ‘void.’  Something that profanes Hashem’s Name has the impact of making Creation somewhat void of the Presence of Hashem, the extent to which depends upon the severity of the Chillul Hashem.  Kiddush Hashem has the opposite effect, by drawing more Divine Light into Creation, thereby making the Presence of Hashem more pronounced.  That’s why a Kiddush Hashem can occur even when a person is alone, and no one else is around to witness it; it will still impact Creation in a positive way.  The longer the Jewish people remain in exile, the more we begin to mimic the host nations amongst whom we live, blurring the distinction between Jew and gentile.  Eventually, our actions, even as Torah Jews, may fall into the category of those which are acceptable by world standards, but not by Torah standards, resulting in a Chillul Hashem, and sometimes, severe ones.  This is very dangerous for everyone.  Reducing the Shechinah in Creation, L’havdil, is like not keeping up sanitary conditions in a hospital--unhealthy stuff fills the void, endangering the lives of everyone.  The more Creation becomes void of the Presence of Hashem, the more spiritual impurity fills the void, corrupting man and Creation, a situation that Heaven will put up with for only so long.  We’ve seen what results when we cross that line.  As the Gemora says, doing that which sanctifies the Name of Hashem brings special Divine Providence, anything from success in business to good relationships, to, perhaps, personal salvation from a life-threatening circumstance.  Aside from being a Torah mitzvah, it is a wise step in the direction of the Final Redemption.”


As we continue through this time of Geulah, let us purposefully do all that we can…to bring us to that Final Redemption!



Special Note One:  A reader advised us that yesterday was the Yahrzeit of the P'nei Menachem, the Gerrer Rebbe.  According to the reader, the P'nai Menachem felt that one of the great nisyonos of our generation was that of being a Tov Ayin--looking at everything with a “good eye”--in a positive light.  He would cite Chazal who call for extended consideration for a murderer in so many ways in order to avoid the death penalty.  If we are to view a murderer in this way...all the more so must we look at the activities of the average man with affirmative and accepting eyes!  Don't just look at someone--look a bit more into yourself, and become more understanding of failings, faults, misstatements and misdeeds.



Special Note Two:  A mistake that was constantly recurring during the 70 years of Galus Bavel was the exact calculation of what everyone knew would only be a 70 year exile.  Achashveirosh himself made this mistake (in a royal way) as well--donning the begadim of the Kohen Gadol based upon his twelve year miscalculation--and false conclusion that the Bais HaMikdash would no longer be rebuilt.  We provide an excellent chart available by clicking here prepared (in Hebrew) by a Rav describing the various mistakes--and providing the real calculation.  This chart is, in all events, a great lesson to us--we are not in a position to make calculations--but we can yearn--very much yearn.  We are in a four-week period now--a period of Geulah.  As we have noted in the past, Chazal teach that if there are two Adars, the proper time to read the Megillah is in the second Adar, for although there is usually an overriding principle of doing a Mitzvah at the earliest possible opportunity, here the Halachic preference is to be “Somech Geulah LeGeulah”--to place the Geulos close together--in a sense to define a period of Geulah.  We suggest that this period is a special time to daven with special Kavannah in those brachos of Shemone Esrei which directly relate to Geulah, our salvation, and the return of the glory of Yerushalayim and Malchus Bais Dovid (and all that they mean and represent to the whole world).  We may also suggest that one add the Tefillah Al HaGeulah until Pesach, which we once again provide in Hebrew by clicking here  and in English by clicking here.  If not now--when?



Special Note Three:  As Purim is a commemoration of Kimu VeKiblu, the degree of Teshuva and Kapara is not only like Yom HaKippurim--but it is also incredibly directly related to Shavuos, as well--in that we accepted the Torah anew out of unbridled willingness and love.  It behooves us then to recognize that our happiness and success on Purim can be continued and extended with some improvement in Torah study.  We provide one suggestion now that does not even involve extra time or an extra limud.  Here it is:  Before learning, simply take a moment to dedicate and devote yourself to the study or the Shiur itself--forgetting about work, old issues, new problems, the last phone call or email, what you still have to do today, the mistake you recently made and how you can correct it, how to do this or say that--and instead to wholly focus with joy only on Hashem's Torah--because this is really what Hashem wants.  It is reported that the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, who heard so many of the world’s problems, said that the only way he could learn effectively with so much weighing down upon him, was by simply putting everything else out of mind and devoting the precious time in front of him to pure study.  A simple--but very effective--way for us to take Kimu VeKiblu with us throughout the year!



Special Note Four:  Chazal contrast for us the way the Persians began a meal, and the way the Bnai Yisroel begin a meal:  They begin by talking about their desires and inanities, whereas we begin with Torah words and Shiros VeSishbachos--thanks and praise to Hashem.  To them, one desire leads to another, and to another, and to another--and that is their life and general outlook.  To us, nothing is primarily a desire to begin with, for food provides us with the energy that we need to get ourselves going, among its many other sublime purposes (as discussed in the past).  Accordingly, it is fitting for us to start a meal with Torah and thanks--to clearly demonstrate the import and intent of our meal.  In truth, it would appear appropriate before beginning any food consumption to just stop for a moment and think this very thought--I am about to eat food--not as a Persian--but as a proud member of Bnai Yisroel.  After thinking that, you can continue with the follow-up thought of where that nation is--with all of their desires piled high--and where Bnai Yisroel is--some 2,370 years later.  Perhaps we now have a better understanding of why!


Special Note One:  The best opportunities are often free.  As we are now just four weeks away from Pesach, may we recommend either one or both of the following tracks:


A.  Learning three (3) Mishnayos a day in Mishnayos Pesachim, which will culminate with a Siyum of the Mesechta on Pesach--not may more things can be more Kosher LePesach!


B.  As we have suggested in the past, the study of the entire Sefer Mesilas Yeshorim can be completed in one month by dividing it into short segments (let us say five (5) pages  a day).  The benefit of especially studying a Mussar Sefer at this time is twofold.  Firstly, it will keep one in the right frame of mind during a period which could get stressful or pressured.  Secondly, it will help ready you for the redemption that you yourself will experience on Pesach (and hopefully even sooner).  The spiritual preparation for Pesach should by NO MEANS play second fiddle to the physical preparations that so many of us have already (or wish they had!) begun.  The next few weeks will pass by quickly--do not let them pass you by!



Special Note Two:  Chapter 2 of the Megillah concludes with the plot of Bigsan VeSeresh being uncovered, and Mordechai’s life-saving deed being recorded in the King’s records.  Chapter 3 then begins with the King raising Haman HaRasha into a position of high authority...which leads directly to his major plot to destroy the Jewish people.  Only much later when the entire Jewish people are at real and great risk does the King decide to repay his debt--to show his appreciation to Mordechai.  Imagine if the King would have acted properly--and showed his Hakaras Hatov to Mordechai immediately.  Instead of Chapter 3 beginning with his raising Haman to power--it would have been his raising of Mordechai to a great position of authority in recognition and thanks for his life-saving act.  What a lesson for each and every one of us in Hakaras Hatov!  The delay in one act of appropriate Hakaras Hatov was almost fatal for our people.  Although this happened to Achashveirosh, the lesson is there for us all to take with us.  Do not wait until it is almost too late to show your Hakaras Hatov--for not only may you not have the opportunity to express it or show it--but who knows the lives you may even be saving (literally) by its proper and timely expression--and imagine what Achashveirosh’s end would have been for eternity had Haman even somewhat succeeded in his plot!  Just like it would hurt to think about it, it should hurt to not immediately respond to a kindness with recognition, gratitude and appreciation.



Special Note Three:  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.



Special Note Four:  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.


Additional Note:  As we leave Purim, let us make a short list of practical lessons that we will take with us.  It is interesting to note that in the Al HaNissim, we highlight that Purim is in the “twelfth month of the year.”  Why this emphasis?  We may simply suggest that as it is the last month of the year, it is important to ensure that we take teachings with us into the first month of Nissan--and that we do not start the first month empty-handed.  Hakaras Hatov, Ahavas HaBrios...and Ahavas Hashem itself are most certainly three of these great lessons we should take with us in a practical and meaningful way!


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