Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin
MAY 2008 DAILY EMAIL ARCHIVE
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).
One should not clean up a spilled liquid
with paper that has writing on it, since the liquid will erase the
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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!
(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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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 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
Special Note Two: Hilchos
Shabbos: We, B’EH, continue with our Erev Shabbos weekly Halachos of Shabbos:
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.
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
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.
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
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
May all of our Tefillos and
blessings be heartfelt and all-encompassing…. and
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
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:
Is text messaging permitted in Shul even not
during Tefillah time?
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
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!