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Special Note One:  We continue with our Erev-Shabbos Hilchos Shabbos Series:


The following Halachos are excerpted from the comprehensive Halachic Guide The Shabbos Home by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen (Artscroll, Volume 1).


  1. One should not clean up a spilled liquid with paper that has writing on it, since the liquid will erase the letters.


  1. If the pages of a Bentcher are stuck together with food particles that obscure some of the print, it is forbidden to peel them apart on Shabbos.


  1. Some brands of Band-Aids can be removed from their wrappers without any tearing at all by unfolding the folded ends of the wrapper and sliding the bandage out.  These wrappers should not be torn unnecessarily.  When wrapping a Band-Aid around a finger, one should not fasten one end of it to the other. Rather one should wrap the Band-Aid around the finger at an angle, so that both adhesive ends touch the skin.  If one mistakenly fastens one end of the Band-Aid to the other on Shabbos, he should be sure to unfasten the ends when removing the Band-Aid. 


  1. Pictures may not be inserted in a photo album that has adhesive pages


Special Note Two:  In the physical world at large, a “heads-up” is taken to mean that one should watch out for a ball or other flying object.


In our spiritual world, a “heads-up” has a very different meaning.  It alerts our head--the most spiritual part of our body, the home of our Neshama--to pay special attention and focus on something eternally important.  Our “heads-up” to you today is that the One-Perek-Daily Nach Yomi Program will be beginning Sefer Yirmiyahu this Sunday.  If one takes the program through, just for Sefer Yirmiyahu, he will (believe it or not) complete Sefer Yirmiyahu on the 19th day of Tammuz, soon after the commencement of the Three Weeks--may they be turned (perhaps in the zechus of this study) into days of happiness this year!



Special Note One:  Many of our daily activities can be transformed into the fulfillment of positive or negative commandments if we would only think about them for a moment.  HaRav Moshe Meir Weiss, Shlita, advised that when he enters his car he states that he is about to fulfill the mitzvah of “V’Nishmartem Me’od L’Nafshoseichem”--to carefully guard one’s life--and then and only then does he put on his seatbelt!


Special Note Two:  One of yesterday’s notes was on The Purpose of Sefirah.  HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z’tl, provides a fascinating mashal which sheds an absolutely glowing light on the importance of each day of Sefirah:


If one is told that he has won the $10 million lottery, and that he will receive his check (less 50% taxes, of course), in about 7 weeks, you can imagine how quickly he would wish those seven weeks would pass in order for him to have that $5 million check in his hands.  Oh, how we would wish that those 24-hour days were only 18 hours or less!


However, if one was told that he would be receiving his $5 million lottery proceeds over a 50-day period, in increments of $100,000.00 at the end of each day, how he would look forward to, and appreciate each and every single day--for each and every day is an important building block and integral step towards his $5 million final aggregate end goal.


That is the Mashal.  The Nimshal is clear:  Shavuos does not just come, as a $5 million check, all at once.  We are to arrive there, in paced and steady installments, until our final goal is reached.  Each and every day of Sefirah is be utilized in some way--with some level or type of accomplishment--in Torah and Mitzvah appreciation, study, performance or teaching.  Most certainly, as we get closer and closer to Shavuos, we should sincerely attempt to successfully gain those daily $100,000.00 installments so that we can be most proud of our Kabolas HaTorah on Shavuos.


Here is a practical suggestion for today, among the many others you can think of:


HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, notes that in the bracha of Ahava Raba which we recite immediately prior to Shema in the morning, which relates significantly to Torah study, we make no mention of Simcha or joy in our Torah study.  Yet, in the parallel Ahavas Olam Tefillah in Maariv, we state “V’Nismach B’Divrei Sorosecha--we will rejoice in the joy of Torah study.”  HaRav Kanievsky explains that in the morning usually prior to having studied that day, one has not yet appreciated the Simcha of studying Torah.  By the Evening Prayers, after having studied something during the day, one has (or should have) already felt the Simchas HaTorah.


Based upon this, may we suggest that while studying or listening to a Torah Shiur, or at some point while reviewing a Torah thought during the day, one take the time to feel the happiness and joy with his ability to study, teach, and hopefully, properly apply, what he has learned--so that when he recites “V’Nismach B’Divrei Sorosecha” that evening, he really means it!


Special Note Three:  In another note yesterday, we mentioned Rabbi Yaakov Feitman’s important distinction between a mediocre blessing, and a well-recited, meaningful Brocha.  Rabbi Feitman described the defense of one who does not pay much attention to his blessing:  “A Father understands his child even when he babbles because he loves him”.  This is very true, Rabbi Feitman noted, when the child is a baby, or perhaps even 4 or 5 years old.  But if the “child” is 36 or 42 or 51…the Father would most certainly want the gibberish to stop, and would anticipate and rightfully expect only a clear and thoughtful communication from His son.


Special Note Four:  In the recently-published Derech Sicha, Volume 2, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, relates the following event:


There was a wealthy individual who would consistently come late to davening.  As much as his Rav spoke to him on the topic, he would nod his head and respond that, in reality, he usually was only a few minutes late.  Unfortunately, one day a fire burned down his entire furniture factory.  The next day, he came to his Rav and said he understood why the factory had burned down.  “I called the fire department and they came--but they were delayed by a few minutes--and because of that few minute delay, they could not save the factory.  Hashem taught me that being even a few minutes late is important.”


HaRav Kanievsky teaches that in the Brocha of Al HaTzadikim, we ask for a “Sochor Tov--a good reward.”  Is there then a Sochor Rah--a bad reward?  Yes, he answers, a bad reward is a punishment such as this which puts matters into proper perspective for a person.  This factory owner learned his lesson--but the hard way.  May we each learn from his story (let our learning the easy way be a Zechus for him too!)--and may we each come to davening, to our Shiur, and to all other important events on time--and not a few minutes late!


Special Note One:  In connection with Rav Pam’s, Zt’l, recommendation to learn from a sefer that fell or was found on the floor, rather than only kiss it, a reader sent us a beautiful explanation for this given by Rav Pam’s talmid, Rabbi Yisroel Resiman, Shlita.

Rabbi Reisman explains that there are two types of Kovod, respect, that one can show to a sefer.  A Kovod Chitzoni--an outer respect--and a Kovod Penimi--an inner honor.  Kissing a Sefer demonstrates an external respect, which is obviously important.  On the other hand, learning a bit from a fallen Sefer demonstrates a great appreciation for what the Sefer contains--a reverence for what is found inside.  Both forms of respect are necessary and important.  What a nice new Kaballah as we approach Shavuos--to kiss and learn from a fallen Sefer--reverence for the Torah, both inside and out!  (Note:  The Torah that you learn may especially stay with you, because it is a single, defined teaching).

Special Note Two: At the recent Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Yaakov Feitman, Shlita, shared a beautiful thought.

We are all familiar with the concept of Hashem treating us in the way we treat others, even to the extent of overlooking things (Ma’Avir Al HaMidos), if we overlook what others do to us.  The same is true, Rabbi Feitman stated, when it comes to davening and Brachos.  If we daven or make Brachos in a garbled, mumbling or “being yotzeh” manner, then Hashem’s response to our request, or His Brocha to us, may likewise be in kind.

However, if we daven beautifully and with feeling, or make a Brocha like we mean it, then Hashem’s response to our request, or Hashem’s Brocha to us in response to our Brocha, will likewise be in kind!

The story is told of a wealthy individual in England who was visited by a poor person desperately in need of thousands of Euros to repay a loan.  The well-to-do individual gave him a small check, and said he could not do anything further.  The needy individual said he understood, but asked for a Brocha from the wealthy person for success.  The wealthy individual turned him down on this as well, stating that his Brochos were not necessary.  The poor person, however, insisted, stating that while he would leave without the money he needed, he refused to leave without the Brocha that he requested for success.  The wealthy man, somewhat taken aback, realized that he was serious, smiled, and gave him a pleasant, but serious Brocha for success.

The next week, the indigent individual received a check for the full amount that he needed--from that very same wealthy person--with a note.  In the note, the benefactor explained that he was sending the full amount that was needed as a sign of his appreciation.  He wrote that he had never realized how important his own Brocha--whether to Hashem, or, in another vein, to others, really was until he saw the poor man’s insistence on the words of Blessing.  Incredibly--it was worth more than his money!  The money could be left behind, but not his Brocha!

We should appreciate the supernatural power that we are “blessed” with--the power to make Brachos, and to give Brachos, and we should use this incredible power every day, many times a day, to the fullest extent that we can!

Special Note Three:  Purpose of Sefirah

The Sefira period takes us from Zeman Chairusainu (the time of our freedom) to Zeman Matan Toraseinu (the time at which we received the Torah).  It is well known that HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, teaches and reiterates that our Holidays are not mere commemorations and remembrances of glorious events that took place in years past, but are times in which we re-experience and relive those very events and occurrences.  Thus, every Pesach we are to feel and arrive at new levels of freedom, and at Shavuos we are to undertake a new echelon of Torah acceptance and study.

So what is it that we are supposed to be re-experiencing during the Sefira period itself?  Most likely, there were no concerts or CDs in the desert that Bnei Yisroel were forced to miss, so that could not be it.  It also cannot simply be an abstinence from barbers and barber shops for an extended period of time.  At a recent Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita, provided the following wonderful insight:

The Sefer HaChinuch writes that the purpose of the Sefira is for us to count up to Shavous, instilling within us a sense of appreciation, excitement and enthusiasm.  As we slowly but surely progress through the Omer period, we must rid ourselves to the greatest extent possible of the robotic nature in which we may perform our mitzvos, and any mental stupor we may experience while listening to a Shiur.  We must teach ourselves that Torah and Mitzvos cannot be comprised only of “doing today’s daf”, or “learning the two Halachos”.  Of course, it is essential that we have goals, and guide ourselves with certain daily accomplishments.  However, we must infuse a genuine desire and drive into our Torah study and Mitzvah performance.  As Rabbi Schneider points out, even though fish live in water, when it rains they come to the surface, as if they are thirsting for the new drops of the life-giving liquid, even though they are already surrounded by it!

Indeed, Hakhel (forgive the plug), is one of the last Mitzvos in the Torah for this very reason.  What does Hakhel represent?  After all, could not every one simply study the Parshios recited at Hakhel either at home, in Shul, or at a Shiur?  Why did **every one**--man, women and children of all ages have to ascend to the Bais HaMikdash on one particular day to hear a portion of the Torah being read?!

Rabbi Schneider suggests that Hakhel not only represented the study of Torah, but the experience of Torah.  Every so often, one must reinvigorate himself and excite himself about the great opportunity that awaits him every day.  It is an opportunity shared by a minute, actually, very minute, percentage of all the people in the world.  Just as people may forget to appreciate their eyesight, their ability to walk, that they have a job, food, clothing, so, too, may they forget to consider the infinite and eternal Torah that is or can be their daily companion.

Let us take these last few days before Shavuos to learn Torah with the effort and energy, with the exhilaration and ebullience, that it really, truly deserves!



The following story appears in the Artscroll classic Torah Treasury by Rabbi Moshe Lieber, Shlita:


Mr. Irving Bunim related: “One Friday night, when I was privileged to have R’Elchanan Wasserman as my guest, he was invited to make an appeal on behalf of his Yeshivah, in one of the larger synagogues.  Generally speaking, he was successful in his public appearances, and usually raised at least $1,000 in a synagogue appeal.  Not this time, however…


“After Kabbalas Shabbos, R’ Elchanan addressed the congregation for some three-quarters of an hour, devoting a substantial part of his remarks to the dire situation in the Baranovitch Yeshivah.  ‘All I ask is a slice of bread for those who toil in Torah.’  He proposed that individual donors undertake to support the yeshiva for a week (the cost was $80 in those days); those who could afford less might donate $11.43, the budget for a single day.  Whoever contributed would acquire for himself the merit of a week’s or a day’s learning by hundreds of bachurim.  The reward for that week or day would be his alone.


“His proposal elicited a favorable response.  The congregation became enthused, for this was an excellent business proposition.  A whole week of Torah for $80; a whole day of Torah for $11.43!  Then the Rabbi approached the pulpit.  Instead of reinforcing R’ Elchanan’s remarks, he spoke for fifteen minutes on an unrelated topic.  The powerful impact of R’ Elchanan’s speech weakened.  The Rabbi cooled the atmosphere, and concluded his remarks by stressing that ‘every single dollar contributed to the yeshivah is sacred, even one dollar.’  Contrary to the $80 mentioned by R’ Elchanan, he extolled the value of single dollars.  As a result the sum raised was negligible--less than $150 from the entire congregation--a flagrant insult.”


Later that evening, the Rabbi and other dignitaries came to the Bunim home.  The rabbi tried to excuse himself:


“You probably blame me for the meager results of the appeal.”  To everyone’s surprise R’ Elchanan broke into a smile and answered pleasantly: “Not at all.  Tomorrow we shall read the passage, ‘See I have called by name Bezalel ben Uri ben Chur of the tribe of Yehudah.’  Now let us imagine this scene: Moshe walks into the street, meets a Jew and says, ‘We have to build the Tabernacle.  Are you perhaps Bezalel ben Uri?’ ‘No,’ the man answers, ‘I am Reuven ben Yaakov.’  So he is not the right person.  Moshe walks further and meets another Jew.  Again he asks, ‘We have to build the Mishkan.  Is your name perhaps Bezalel ben Uri?’  ‘No,’ the second man apologizes, ‘I am Shimon ben Yaakov.’  Now is it conceivable that our teacher Moshe should be angry at those two Jews for not being Bezalel ben Uri and not building the Mishkan?  What could they do?  They were not chosen to build the Mishkan--only Bezalel was.  How can I blame you if your synagogue simply was not chosen to be among the builders of Torah in this age--if you do not have the merit of supporting the sanctuary?”  (From Reb Elchanan, ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications).


The opportunity to support Torah in reality provides one with a unique chance to support oneself. 

R’ Yechezkel Sarna was once in the United Sates on a fundraising trip for Yeshivas Chevron.  When perusing the list of potential donors to be invited to a parlor meeting, R’ Yechezkel noticed the name of a Mr. Schiff who, in the 1920’s, had underwritten a major portion of the cost of relocating part of the yeshivah from Slabodka, Lithuania to its new home in Chevron.  In the interim, Mr. Schiff had fallen upon very hard times and was literally struggling to put food on his table.  R’ Yechezkel decided to save Mr. Schiff any embarrassment and therefore instructed the yeshivah office not to send him an invitation.


During the course of the meeting, Mr. Schiff suddenly made an unannounced appearance and asked to say a few words: “My dear brothers and friends:  Life is cyclical; I was once a very wealthy man but now things have taken a turn for the worse and I literally struggle for basic necessities.  From my gorgeous home I have fallen to living in a basement.  The only thing left of my wealth is the money I contributed in order to bring the yeshivah to Israel.  That merit I am unwilling to sell for any amount.


“Out of personal experience I want to make a suggestion.  Whatever charity you can give, give it now; do it quickly, don’t wait.  No one knows what the future holds in store, or what type of resources he’ll have tomorrow.  Whatever you grab now is what lasts for eternity.”  Moved by his words, those present contributed generously.


We turn to our readers.  For many, it is a day off.  In two weeks from today, it will be Shavuos, our celebration with the Torah.  Let us not wait to send out a few checks (we will NOT say ’dollars’) today to some Torah institutions and Torah scholars in financial need.  With this, we will also be acquiring Torah, and taking an important step to Kabolas HaTorah.


Incredibly, you, too, are Bezalel ben Uri!



Special Note One: www.torahanytime.com provides hundreds of Shiurim free online for the homebound and for those who cannot otherwise make it to Shiurim.


If you would like a Shiur to be videotaped to be used by torahanytime.com, you can call 973-722-6813.


Special Note Two: For those who requested Shemiras HaLashon Yomi by email, the email address is editorial@chofetzchaimusa.org



Special Note Three:


We continue our Erev Shabbos—Hilchos Shabbos Halacha Series:


As the Mann began falling just a two days ago (16 Iyar) in the Midbar, today reminds us of (and existentially is) the first Erev Shabbos in which a double portion of the Mann fell-- the "Lechem Mishna", which is the source and basis for the Lechem Mishna we have every Shabbos.  The Halachos of Lechem Mishna are found in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 274.  Following are several important points to remember:

1. All women, and children who have reached the age of chinuch, should participate in Lechem Mishna by listening carefully to the Brocha and reciting Amen.  It may be  a good idea for all participating to look at the Challah Cover while the Bracha is being made, in order to properly concentrate.

2. Although at all other times the Challah on top should be cut first, on Friday night, the lower Challah is cut first.  The Taz writes that he would hold the lower Challah closer to him while making the Brocha, so that he would not be "passing over" the top Challah by cutting the bottom Challah (to comport with the Halachic principle of Ain Maavirin Al HaMitzvos-one does not pass on a Mitzvah  when right before  him).

3. One should first make a mark with the knife on the Challah before making the Brocha, in order to ready the Challah to be cut (Be'er Haitev, quoting Bach and Magen Avraham).

4. The Mishna Berura writes that before making the Brocha, one should say "Birshus Rabosai", even if he is the Baal HaBayis or the ‘gadol’ there.

5. One should hold both Challos in his hands while making the Brocha.

6. Although generally one should not cut a large piece of bread during the week so that he does not appear to be ravenous, on Shabbos you should cut larger pieces which are sufficient for the whole meal, as it is obvious that you are doing this now in order to demonstrate how precious the Mitzvah is to you.


7. The Mishna Berura writes that it is a Mitzvah Min HaMuvchar to use Lechem Mishna at Shalosh Seudos as well.  Since for all matters relating to the Shabbos meals men and women are equal, women must eat Shalosh Seudos.  Indeed, the three meals on Shabbos are also a remembrance of the miracle of Mann, as the Torah uses the word "Hayom" (today) three times relating to the Mann on Shabbos, and, of course, women benefited from this miracle in exactly the same way as men.


8. If one has only one Challah, but also has a complete cake, the Piskei Teshuvos brings the opinion that one should use the cake as Lechem Mishna (even if he does not intend to eat from the cake after the meal).


9. Similarly, the Piskei Teshuvos writes, if one has one whole Challah and one partial Challah (or even only 2 partial Challahs), he should nevertheless hold them both in his hand while making the Brocha.



Special Note One:  Which one brocha that we recite daily has the word “Melech” in it, not once, but twice, and the word “Kel” in it not twice, but three times?  Hint: It is not a long brocha either!


Special Note Two:  According to the Luach Dovor B’Ito, because today is the transition day between Bnei Yisroel finishing Matzoh they had brought along from Mitzraim, and tomorrow, 16 Iyar, which is the day that the Mann began to fall, it is the day that Moshe Rabbeinu composed the first Brocha of Birchas HaMazon, the Brocha of Hazon Es HaOlam.  The Luach therefore urges that this Brocha be recited with a special Kavannah today--its anniversary!


Hakhel Note: At a recent Hakhel Shiur, HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, made the following incredible point.  How could it be that millions of people actually finished the Matzoh that they had brought with them from Mitzraim on the exact same day?  After all, did not some families have more, some have less?  Were not some families larger, and some families smaller?  Did not some families have mostly adults, and others mostly small children?


HaRav Belsky answered with a remarkable teaching.  In fact, there were families that had finished their Matzah days ago, and others that had finished it even weeks ago.  However, those with Matzah remaining shared it willingly and even happily with their neighbors.  Only when all of this shared Matzah was completely consumed, was there a need for the Mann.  In fact, perhaps the Mann came only because Hashem recognized and acknowledged the chesed of His people, and “shared” with us effusively from His special bounty as well.  Let us take this lesson and enthusiastically apply it by trying to help someone else right now with their Parnassah or their needs.  After all, in the end…it is all Mann!


Special Note Three:  The Aruch HaShulchan (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 492) brings from the Zohar to Parashas Tetzaveh that the primary reason for which we stand during Sefiras HaOmer is because Sefiras HaOmer is comparable to Shemone Esrei itself(!).  We should realize the extraordinary importance of Sefira every night just from the fact that the one-sentence count is surrounded in the siddur by prayers before and after (whether or not you actually recite them).  With less than three weeks left to Sefira, let us focus on each and every word of the brocha and the Count, and plan in a practical way to move closer to Matan Torah each and every day.


Helpful Thought:  To inspire yourself here, do not allow yourself to count the Sefirah by heart.  Instead, read each and every word of the bracha and count from a Siddur.


In connection with this thought, we provide a previously published Note on the proper treatment of our Sifrei Kodesh.


It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word for honor, "kavod”, is also used as a synonym for the Neshama--soul, as Dovid HaMelech pleads in Tehillim: “Lem’aan yezamercha kavod...”--so that my soul praises you.  Yet, the gematria of kavod is 32, which corresponds to “Lev”--the heart, symbolizing feeling.  Thus, the term kavod uniquely combines both Neshama, symbolizing our superior intellect, and Lev, demonstrating our unique humane feeling.


When we properly show kavod, we unite our powerful intellect and unparalleled feeling, to display true respect, whether due or earned.  Let us turn for a moment to the kavod of Torah.  There is, in fact, an entire siman in Shulchan Aruch devoted to kavod of Rabbonim (Yoreh Deah 242) and two other entire simanim dedicated to the honor of Talmidei Chachomim in general (ibid., simanim 243 and 244).  We will briefly discuss here, however, the siman in Shulchan Aruch dedicated to the kavod due the Sefer Torah, sefarim and Holy Objects (ibid. siman 282).  Given the depth of the term kavod, it behooves us to pay special attention to the kavod of these special items which assist and guide us in our great task of Torah Study.  As we previously noted from HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z’tl, one must study Torah in a manner which shows true respect.  This may begin with the kavod of the Sefarim from which we learn Torah.


HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, relates that when he was younger the Chazon Ish noticed that he was studying Torah with his elbows on the Gemara, but that he was careful not to put any other Sefer on top of his Gemara.  The Chazon Ish advised him that he acted incorrectly--no elbows were allowed on his Gemara, but another Sefer being used in connection with this study, even that of a later commentary, was.


Many of us were trained as children that when a Sefer falls, you pick it up and kiss it.  What if two sefarim fall?  The Bais Lechem Yehuda, one of the classic meforshim found in the Shulchan Aruch itself (ibid.) writes that both Sefarim should be picked up as quickly as possible--and then kissed together.


Some common examples where we can show Kavod Hatorah are:


- when noticing Seforim strewn about or in disheveled pile--straightening them out

- reshelving sefarim, even if they were taken out by others

- not permitting children’s books with Torah content to be placed, or remain, on the floor

- not tossing Sefarim (Hebrew or English) even from short distances or onto the table

- not placing Sefarim on your lap or sitting on the same level that Seforim are placed

- not holding a Sefer below you waist, or letting it bang against your leg

- not keeping Sefarim unlocked in your car, as they are truly your honored treasure, or on the car seat where someone will sit down near or upon them

- kissing a Sefer before and after use (and perhaps even during use--if you learn something from it that really excites you)

-taking a Sefer with you when traveling--as Rav Quinn, Z’tl, was known to always remark “You’re always safer with a Sefer!”


Every day we are privileged with opportunities to show proper kavod to those Holy Objects which give us our respect.  As Chazal teach in this week’s perek of Pirkei Avos--“All who honor the Torah are honored by all of creation (Avos 4:8).  May we be blessed with the Neshama and the Lev to be successful with these very special opportunities!



Special Note One:  We received the following thoughtful comment from a reader:


“Reading your note from Monday brought to mind: Boruch HaShem, I have found that saying, "HaShem, I'm putting myself completely in Your hands; the hatzlacha that I have comes from You and not from me" is truly useful and helpful.  (Doubtless I learned this from a teacher somewhere along the way.)  Of course, one has to mean it!”


Special Note Two:  Hilchos Shabbos: We, B’EH, continue with our Erev Shabbos weekly Halachos of Shabbos:


  1. The Kiddush Cup.  The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 271:10) writes that during Kiddush one should point his eyes towards the Kiddush Cup.  The Mishna Berura explains that in this way one’s attention will be focused, and his Kiddush will be effective.  We note that this is important not only for the person who is making Kiddush, but for all of those being yotzai (participating) with the Kiddush as well.  If one’s attention is diverted, he or she may very well not be Yotzai with the Kiddush, resulting in his or her being required to make his or her own Kiddush again separately.

  2. Soda at a Daytime Kiddush.  The brocha of Borei P’ri Hagofen on wine, because of its importance, generally covers all other drinks that a person will drink at that time (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 174:2).  If on Shabbos morning, one makes Kiddush at shul or at a simcha and will later drink soda at the Kiddush, the halachos become intricate as to whether a brocha rishona and brocha achrona are made on the other drinks (ibid., and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 208:16).  Accordingly, it is recommended that at a Kiddush both the mekadesh and those who he is motzi with his Kiddush (who drink of the Kiddush wine) make a Shehakol and a Borei Nefashos on a solid food (like gefilte fish) and have the soda or other liquids he may drink in mind when making both of these brochos.


Special Note Three:  The second Pasuk of Shema teaches that you are to love Hashem “with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your resources.”  The Chofetz Chaim notes that the Hebrew terms used here for “your” are in the singular, which importantly indicates to us that every person must love Hashem in his own **personal** way--with his own Yetzer HaTov and Yetzer Hora (Levuvecha), with his own life (Nafshecha)--it is your life and no one else’s, and with all of your resources--with whatever wealth and talent Hashem has particularly endowed you.


Accordingly, when we recite these words of Shema, it is essential that we make the effort to personalize them to ensure that our love is expressed sincerely and meaningfully.


Special Note Four:  This week’s Parsha, Parshas Behar, contains Mitzvah Number 338--the prohibition against Onaas Devorim--causing pain or distress to another.  The Chinuch includes the following very moving words with respect to this Mitzvah (translation courtesy of Feldheim Publishers):


“The root purpose of this precept is evident:  It is to promote peace among human beings; and great is peace, for through it, blessing is found in the world; while contention is harsh--so many maledictions and misfortunes devolve from it.  Among the laws of the precept there are many admonitions and many exhortations with which Chazal cautioned us about this matter, not to inflict pain on people by any means at all, nor to shame them.


“It is proper to be careful that even by intimation in one’s words, no calumny should be heard against any man.  For the Torah was exceedingly particular about a wrong inflicted with words, because this is something very hard for the heart of people to bear, and a great many persons care more about this than about being wronged in matters of property.  As Chazal teach: ‘Wronging with words is more serious than wronging with property; for about wronging with words, Scripture stated, “But you shall fear Hashem” (Vayikra 25: 17).’


“It would not be possible to write in detail all the words that could bring pain to people. Rather, everyone needs to take care according to what he sees; for the Eternal Lord, blessed is He, knows all his steps and all his hints; for man looks on the outward appearance, but He looks at the heart (I Samuel 16: 7).


“This precept is in effect everywhere, at every time, for both man and woman.  Even toward young children it is right to take care not to pain them unduly with words, except for what is greatly necessary so that they should learn ethics and morals--and this applies toward a man’s own sons and daughters and members of his household.  He who is lenient with them, not to inflict pain on them in these ways, will find life, blessing and honor.


“If someone transgresses this and wounds his fellow-man with words, i.e., one of those about whom Chazal spoke explicitly--a repentant sinner, a sick man, and so forth--he violates this negative precept; but whiplashes are not given for it, since it involves no physical action.  Yet how many lashes [to be given] without a whip of calfskin lie in the power of the Sovereign Ruler who gave the commandment about this (be He blessed and exalted).


“Now, if some slanderer among people will compel us to reply to his words, it were well for a wise man to answer him in a way of dignity and pleasantness, and not become very angry, for ‘anger rests in the bosom of fools’ (Koheles 7:9).  Let him excuse himself to those who hear the slanders about him, and let him throw the burden onto the calumniator.  This is the way of good people.”


This Shabbos, let us be especially vigilant to be among the “good people” to which the Sefer HaChinuch refers.  We should pay particular attention and care to the words that we speak and the actions that we take vis-a-vis others.  As we have learned many times in the past, the mitzvos appear in the Parsha at a particular point in time and for a particular reason.  It is Hashem Himself who is reminding us at this very time, not by happenstance, to remember, review and re-start our attitude and approach as to how to treat others and how to react--so that we will be counted among the “good people” not only on this Shabbos--but on every day of the Year!


Special Note One:  Machon L'choshen Mishpat held an Investing Halachah Seminar on Monday morning at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, Teaneck, New Jersey. The lectures focused on" Insider Trading in Halachah" (Rabbi Dov Kahan), and “Principles of Halachic ownership (Rav Chaim Kohn). The shiurim can be downloaded here (Insider Trading) and here (Principles of Investing) or from this link.


Special Note Two:  Kol Haloshon, the incredible Torah Shiur resource, has separate direct dial numbers for English, Yiddish, Spanish, Hebrew, Russian and Shmiras HaLashon.  In addition, Kol Haloshon has more than 20 direct dial numbers for specific Shiurim, and local and international direct access numbers.  Available at this link is a listing of the Kol Haloshon Live Shiur Schedule for the United States, and phone instructions.  This link to the Live Shiur schedule contains a further link to the 133(!) pages of Shiurim available through Kol Haloshon.


Special Note Three:  Yet another tremendous resource for our community is Kashrus Magazine’s 2008 Kosher Supervision Guide.  This especially important publication contains the contact information for 921 Kosher Agencies worldwide, as well as much additional useful information such as “How to Understand the Difference between Kashrus Agencies” and “Five Questions to Ask the Mashgiach of a Restaurant”. Even the advertisements are informative and useful!  We highly recommend this publication, which is available at your local Jewish bookstore, or by contacting Kashrus Magazine at 718-336-8544.


Special Note Four:  In the recently published notes on Birchas Hamazon of the Steipler Gaon zt’l, and y’lbcht, his son, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, the following commentary is provided on the words “U’Mi Kol Tuv L’Olam Al Yichasreinu” (and from all good things, may He never deprive us), which is the concluding phrase of the fourth and final Brocha in Benching:


We should not view these concluding words as simply a general, pleasant way to end Birchas HaMazon.  Rather, it is absolutely essential that we pray with these words.  There was a young man who was very seriously ill with a liver disease, and of whom the doctors had given up hope.  His father asked others to pray for his son to be cured, and to the doctors’ surprise, he was completely healed.  A few months later, however, he passed away suddenly in an automobile accident.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky noted that the original prayers should not have been so case-specific.  Those who pray should have davened that the boy be “Ma’arich Yomim--have length of days”--rather than only that he be specifically healed from that particular illness.


This is why, after mentioning many specifics such as sustenance, support, mercy…, that we conclude Birchas HaMazon with an important omnibus request for all good things, which is meant to include anything else that we may not have specifically asked for.


From this, we can also glean how powerful and important the brocha of “Kol Tuv” that we give to a person when we take leave of him can be, for it is intended to include all blessings, and to ensure that no blessings are left out!



Special Note Five:  In another note on Birchas HaMazon, HaRav Kanievsky notes the importance of the Birchas HaOreach, the Brocha given by a guest to his host in Birchas HaMazon, as referred to by Chazal (Brachos 46A) and brought in Halacha in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 201:1.


HaRav Kanievsky explains that since a guest is indebted to the host for his graciousness, the Brocha is all the more powerful.  One can similarly find special potency in a Brocha given by one who suspects or accuses someone inappropriately, in which case he must also then bless him for the ill-founded suspicion (see Brachos 32B).  In fact, HaRav Kanievsky notes that after Eli HaKohen wrongly suspected Chana of being inebriated, he blessed her, and she then walked away no longer forlorn (see Shmuel I 1:17,18)--as she realized his blessing to her had special force because of his initial misplaced notion about her.  Thus, not only should a guest remember to give his host this blessing in Birchas HaMazon (if the bencher he is using does not have it, he should make sure to ask for one that does), but if one suspected, accused, assumed…and was wrong or incorrect, he should heap blessings upon the unfortunate suspect-turned-great-beneficiary.


May all of our Tefillos and blessings be heartfelt and all-encompassing…. and

Kol Tuv!


Special Note One: We continue with our weekly Erev Shabbos “Halacha about Shabbos” series.  The following is excerpted from the masterful work, The 39 Melachos, Volume 1, Page 142, by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita (Feldheim):


“When it is close to Shekia (e.g., one half hour), one should inquire whether:


·        Bottles, cans, food packages, and tissues  needed on Shabbos were opened

·        The Blech was put in place

·        The thermostat (for heat or air conditioning) was properly set

·        The automatic light in the refrigerator was taped or removed

·        Anything specific to your home should be taken care of


“One must also see that the Shabbos candles and other needed lighting are lit.


“The designated time for this inquiry is when it is close to Shabbos, not earlier.  If the urging is made too early in the day, persons may be lax that the rationale that ‘there is still plenty of time.’  Nevertheless, the inquiry must be done early enough to carry out the tasks.


“The questions to the members of one’s household must be asked in a gentle, even-tempered manner so as to be readily accepted.  One who instills apprehension in his household is liable to cause…”


May we welcome the coming Shabbos, with all our tasks completed, in peace and tranquility!


Special Note Two: Two things to think about:


  1. Is text messaging permitted in Shul even not during Tefillah time?


  1. What is the difference between a small child amusingly holding a Siddur upside down and you holding your Siddur right side up, but davening without Kavannah?


Special Note Three: Chazal teach that “Everything is in the hands of Heaven, except for Fear of Heaven.”


If fear of Heaven is our responsibility, how can we train ourselves to achieve it?


HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, suggests that one withhold or delay a gratuitous or unnecessary comment or response because of his awareness of Hashem’s Presence.  By doing this, you bring your sense of Hashem’s Presence down from Heaven to right above you here on earth.


HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, suggests that to assist in your Yiras Shomayim every so often during the day you make it a point to sit up straight, in recognition of your sitting in Hashem’s presence.


A third method, or reminder, is actually brought by the Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim Chapter 1, seif katan 4), in which the Mishna Berura writes in the name of the Arizal that one should picture the four letter name of Hashem before him with the Nekudos of the word “Yirah” (that is, Chirik, Shva and Komatz).  The Mishna Berura (remember, this is a Halacha Sefer), actually refers to this advice as a “Toeles Gadol”--a great help-- in attaining Yirah.


It is important to note that every day in Birchas HaTorah, before thanking Hashem for “VeNossan Lanu Toras Emes,” we first thank Hashem for “Asher Bochur Bonu Mikol HoAmim”--which may allude to our awe-filled experience at Har Sinai before receiving the Torah--since Yiras Shamayim is a prerequisite to Torah.


During the Sefira period, we should build our Yiras Shamayim, at the very least with the three simple methods mentioned by the Gedolim above.  We have one month left until our Kabolas HaTorah on Shavuos--let us use it to its best and fullest advantage!




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