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In one of his shiurim, HaGaon HaRav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Shlita, explained that his father-in-law, Maran HaGaon Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, Shlita, on Erev Shavuot would visit the sick, remembering that we learn that prior to giving Bnei Yisrael the Torah on Shavuos, Hashem healed all the sick, including the blind, deaf and mute - all were healed.

Rav Elyashiv explained to a sick man that every year, on Shavuos, this power is renewed.  This is a time when one may call upon Hashem and asked to be healed; even for such illnesses that we generally feel there is no cure.

It was asked at what time on Yom Tov may one ask for a refuah.  Rav Elyashiv pondered for a moment and stated the time is when we read the Aseret HaDibros in the torah reading.


We provide the following important Yom Tov Halachos, as excerpted from the essential Sefer-“Guidelines-Yom Tov” (part of the Guidelines Series) by Rabbi Elozor Barclay, Shlita and Rabbi Yitzchok Jaeger, Shlita.  We highly recommend the study of practical Hilchos Yom Tov, and this Sefer is an excellent resource.  Of course, every person should consult with his own Rav if he/she has a particular shaila, and most certainly where one realizes that his practice/minhag does not comport with the Halacha, as set forth below.


Should one open food packages and bottles before Yom Tov?

Yes, since the rules of opening these items are the same as on Shabbos.  Similarly, since tearing is forbidden, it is advisable to prepare pieces of aluminum foil, paper towel, etc., which may be required when cooking on Yom Tov.


Should any other precautions be taken before Yom Tov?

One should check one’s pockets, a baby stroller etc., before Yom Tov to ensure that one will not carry any unnecessary items, and to remove any Muktzeh items in one’s pockets.  If the municipal garbage collection will take place on Yom Tov, the garbage cans should be moved to the sidewalk on Erev Yom Tov.  Many people prepare a 24-hour Yahrzeit-type candle to light, so that a flame is available on Yom Tov.


Is it permitted to measure the ingredients for baking/cooking?

One may not measure precisely, but rather estimate the amount required.  If a person wishes to use the same measuring utensils that he uses during the week, he should take more or less than usual.  Similarly, one may not weigh meat to know how much to cook.


Are there any exceptions?

The addition of too much spice to a food may ruin its taste.  Therefore, if a person usually measures the spice exactly on a weekday, he may also do so on Yom Tov.  However, if he usually estimates the quantity, he must do the same on Yom Tov.


Are there any foods that should not be cooked on Yom Tov?

Foods that are equally tasty if cooked before Yom Tov, e.g., gefilte fish, compote, instant pudding, jello, ice cream, etc.  If one left these foods to cook on Yom Tov, one should use a shinuy.


What is regarded as a shinuy?

The empty pot should be placed on the fire, and then the ingredients should be poured in.


May one light a Yartzheit candle?

A person who has Yartzheit, or wishes to light a Yartzheit candle on the days when Yizkor is recited, should do so before Yom Tov begins.  If he forgot, he may do the following: light the candle in Shul or light it in a dark room in the home where it will provide illumination.  (Another alternative for those who live in Chutz La’Aretz where Yizkor is recited on the second day of Yom Tov is to light a 48-hour candle before Yom Tov.)


May one lower a gas flame?

The gas may not be turned down in order to save money or to reduce the heat in the kitchen.  However, one a may lower the gas in certain situations connected to cooking (see below).


In which situation may a flame be lowered?

a.  When the recipe calls for a low flame to be used for cooking a particular food.

b.  To prevent a cooked food from burning considerably, but enable it to keep hot.

If the pot can be partially removed from the fire or placed on a Blech, this should be done rather than lower the flame.


May one carry a key chain if not all of the keys are needed?

It is preferable to remove the unwanted keys.  According to some opinions, one may carry a key chain, even if it contains keys that have no use on Yom Tov.  Keys that are Muktzeh, e.g. car, safe, must be removed before Yom Tov.


May one carry a house key if someone is staying home?

No.  Similarly keys to a hotel room must be left at the reception desk.


May one do Borer on items other than food?

According to most opinions, this is forbidden.  Therefore, when sorting clothes, silverware, dishes, etc., one must use the rules of Borer that apply on Shabbos.


How should a fly or dirt be removed from a drink?

It must be removed with some of the surrounding liquid, as on Shabbos.


Is the Melacha of Dash permitted?

No, the restrictions of Shabbos apply also on Yom Tov.  Common examples include:

It is forbidden to squeeze juice from fruit, even if one wishes to drink it immediately and it could not have been done before Yom Tov.  The remaining tea may not be squeezed from a teabag into a cup.  Dishes may not be washed with a sponge.  Baby-wipes may not be used.  [Hakhel Note:  Similarly, when eating a grapefruit, one should one not deliberately squeeze the juice out of the grapefruit with a spoon or any other eating implement.]


May one mash or grate foods that are not products of the earth?

Yes.  However, if the food was cooked before Yom Tov, a shinuy is required when using a grater or mincer.  A fork, knife, or potato masher may be used without a shinuy.  If the food was cooked on Yom Tov, one may even use a grater or mincer without a shinuy.  Examples include eggs, fish, cheese, meat, chicken, liver.  A shinuy would be grating the food directly onto a table or cloth, or holding the grater upside down.


May one grind or mash foods that are products of the earth?

Food that would spoil if it was ground or mashed before Yom Tov, may be prepared on Yom Tov in the usual manner e.g. banana , potatoes, apples.

Food that would be partially reduced in quality if ground before Yom Tov, may be ground on Yom Tov with a shinuy, e.g., spices.

Food that could be ground before Yom Tov with no reduction in quality should be ground before Yom Tov.  If left until Yom Tov, it should be ground with a shinuy, e.g., nuts or rock salt.


Which dishes may one wash?

Any that may be needed again that day.  It is forbidden to wash dishes for the following day.


May one heat water to wash dishes?

Yes, but only for the dishes that became dirty on Yom Tov.  One may use hot water from the boiler if the system is not controlled by an electronically operated thermostat.  Dishes that were dirty before Yom Tov may be washed only with water that was heated before Yom Tov.


In which cases are the laws of Muktzeh more lenient on Yom Tov?

Raw food is not Muktzeh.

Candles are not Muktzeh, even when lit.

It is permitted to move Muktzeh to be able to access food items.  For example one may:

Move an electric mixer that is blocking access to food;

Move Muktzeh items that are lying on the table and preventing one from eating;

Remove Muktzeh items from a mixture.

Items used in food preparation are not Muktzeh, e.g. matches, a strainer, a grinder.


May one melt liquids?

Yes. Although on Shabbos one may not create a new entity, this restriction does not apply to food preparation on Yom Tov.  Therefore, one may defrost frozen liquids by placing them on a fire, and one may use butter or margarine when frying, although this causes them to melt.  Similarly, one may pour hot water over greasy plates when washing them.


Is it permitted to make ice cubes?




Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us in Mishlei 3:18 , “Eitz Chaim Hi Lmachazikim Bah--it is a tree of life for those who grasp it.”  Many raise the question-shouldn’t the phrase be Lmachazikim Osah--it is a tree of life to those who support it?  One beautiful P’shat related is that we do not support the Torah--it is the Torah that supports us--if we grasp on to it.  Just as the Aron is “Nosei Es Nosav”--the Kohanim were even carried over the Yarden river by the Aron(!), so, too, does the Torah carry us through our Olam Hazeh, if we are "Machazikim Bah."  Based upon this thought, it is very well understood why we recite this Posuk as we put the Torah away into the Aron HaKodesh--for we indicate that although we may be putting the Torah back in the Aron, we continue to cling to it as we face our daily needs and challenges--until the next time that we read from it again.


Special Note One:  Many recited yesterday and/or will recite today what is commonly known as the “Tefillah of the Shelah Hakadosh” for Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan.

The Luach Davar B’Ito, however, writes that in fact, the Tefillah was composed by HaRav Shabsai Sofer, Z’tl, from Premishla.  The Shelah Hakadosh then gave this Tefillah his endorsement by placing it into his Sefer.  One can most certainly recite this beautiful Tefillah again today!  This is the link, once again provided by Artscroll:  http://www.artscroll.com/parentprayer.html


Special Note Two:  One of our important readers wrote to us that he was puzzled by going to the store and finding that Listerine PocketPaks Breath Strips no longer bore a Kof-K on its packaging.  We made inquiry of the Kof-K and received the following response:


“Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of LISTERINE® POCKETPAKS® has informed KOF-K Kosher Supervision that they will be discontinuing kosher certification of LISTERINE® POCKETPAKS® as of July 1, 2009.  In anticipation of this change, Johnson & Johnson has revised packaging to no longer bear the KOF-K Kosher symbol.


Due to potential consumer confusion, KOF-K Kosher Supervision recommends LISTERINE® POCKETPAKS® only when bearing the KOF-K symbol.

Some reasons for LISTERINE® POCKETPAKS® needing a Hechsher are  the following:

The product is viewed as a food item falling under the purview of Hilchos kashrus.

The product contains kosher sensitive ingredients (i.e. can be animal derived) such as Polysorbate 80 and Glyceryl Oleate.

Once a kosher product is no longer certified, the company is allowed to obtain ingredients from non-kosher sources.

For further information, one may contact Rabbi M. Lebovitz, Rabbinical Administrator at the KOF-K at   mlebovits@kof-k.org


Additional Note:  We remind our readers that Listerine SprayMist does not have any supervision, and that Listerine Consumer Affairs has advised consumers that it is not Kosher.



Special Note Three:  A concluding note on the “Corn Flakes-Cheesecake”:  One reader wrote that even if the Corn Flakes was there for flavor or taste, the bracha would still be Shehakol, as the Corn Flakes would be considered Tofel to the Ikar, which is the cheese cake.  This appears correct, but if one has this issue, he should consult with his Rav to confirm--especially if he loves Corn Flakes!



Special Note Four:  Today is the Yartzheit of Shmuel Hanavi.  Dovid Hamelech wrote about Shmuel Hanavi as follows (we will recite this in Kabolas Shabbos tonight):  “Moshe V’Aaron BeChohanav U’Shmuel B’Korei Shmo (Tehillim 99:6)… Moshe and Aaron are among His leaders, and Shmuel is among those who call out His name--they called out to Hashem and He answered them.”  We see from here that Shmuel was contrasted to Moshe and Aaron together--with Shmuel being answered by Hashem in the same manner as Moshe and Aharon!  There is a great lesson here.  Shmuel Hanavi teaches us how a person can raise himself up to new heights--and be literally included together with others of great stature in the service of Hashem.  What an inspiration this should serve for us all.  Think of your Rav, Posek, or Rosh Yeshiva, and truly endeavor to reach his Middah or Madreiga--at least in some way!



Special Note Five:  Project Inspire’s newest, wonderful campaign is to share the excitement and enthusiasm of Shavuous with someone who has never experienced the joy of learning Torah.  They urge you to send an uneducated Jew a seven minute eye-opening video about the relevance of Torah, and the successful people of all backgrounds who learn it.  Then, offer to learn with him/her before, after, or during this Shavuous.  Three thousand, three hundred years ago, you stood by Har Sinai together.  This Shavuos, remind them about what they have received.  Here is how to view—and then distribute—this seven minute video: Click here for the Blueprint video   For a form to use to share this video, please click here.  


Special Note Six:  In Chutz La’Aretz, the second day of Shavuos this year is imbued with the extra-special Kedusha of being Shabbos Kodesh, as well.  This gives each and every one of us a special opportunity to help those who are less fortunate celebrate not only Yom Tov, but Shabbos, as well, by assisting them with their Shabbos and Yom Tov needs.  Please be a proactive “Rodef Chesed” by identifying the proper person or cause in your community and giving with an open hand.  Your own Simchas Yom Tov will then be infinitely--and eternally--extended!



Special Note Seven:  As we all know, we are required to have Kavannah for the meaning of the word in Shemone Esrei--especially so in the first Brocha.  In a note before Purim, we explained the difference between the three terms “Ozer, Moshia, U’Mogen” in that first Brocha.  Yesterday’s remarkable salvation of life, limb, tashmishei kedusha, and property in Riverdale, New York from the hands of crazed terrorists can easily be explained as it is in the news--or it can be explained with the knowledge that Hashem is  “Ozer, Moishia, U’Mogen.”  Now, here is the quiz:  Which Middah of Hashem is demonstrated through this Yeshua-- Ozer, Moshia, or U’Mogen?  This great event should most certainly propel us into the proper Kavannos when reciting each of these three words!



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


A.  The Sefer Shalmei Yehudah (10:15) on Hilchos Muktzah writes, in the name of HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, that, although generally medicines that you were not taking before Shabbos are Muktzah to move or handle, certain “over-the-counter” medications such as  Tylenol, Aspirin, Acomil (in Israel) may not be Muktzah, because they are so widely used by the multitude, and accordingly can be handled in a regular manner on Shabbos.


B.  The Sefer Shabbos B’Sifarta writes that L’Chatchila one should not use tissues or cut toilet paper which has specific designs, as this constitutes Mochek D’Rabanan (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 336; Mishne Berurah Seif Katan 27).  The author of the Sefer, HaRav Avrohom Adas, Shlita, of Yerushalayim writes that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, told him that Bi’shas Hadechak (in case of extreme necessity), one can be lenient.


C.  In the same Sefer, HaRav Adas writes that on Shabbos one may not return a drawer that has fallen or been taken out of a large wall unit, or a shelf in large clothing closet (Boneh).  Please consult with your Rav as to how this may affect a particular situation that you may have in your home.


D.  Also relating to Boneh, HaRav Adas writes that one should not make shapes out of paper such as planes or ships, or shape melons into designs (such as baskets or boats).



Special Note:  We received several important communications from readers:


a.  Special Kashrus Alert:  A reader notified us that she purchased Listerine PocketMist (an oral spray), and then realized that it did not have any Hashgacha.  Upon calling Listerine, she was advised by the consumer affairs department that the product was not under Rabbinical Supervision, and that it was not Kosher.


Hakhel Note:  We also have information on Listerine Pocket Paks Breath Strips, which no longer carry a Kof-K on the packaging, which, B’EH, we will provide to our readers tomorrow.


b.  Another reader advised us that when his “wife makes cheesecake crust, she makes it out of corn flakes.”  Accordingly, he concluded, that in his case the appropriate bracha was always a Shehakol.  We note that he may not necessarily be correct, because the bracha rishona on some brands of corn flakes is a Borei Pri Ha’adama!  Additionally, with the advent of modern culinary techniques, it may in some instances be important to advise guests as to the ingredient content of certain items they are being served (similar to reminding someone on Pesach that a cake he is about to partake of is non-gebrokts, so that he realizes that the bracha on it is a Shehakol).


Related Note:  We asked the OU, the Rabbinic supervision agency for Wise Dipsey Doodles, a corn chip product, as to the appropriate bracha on this product.  The OU advised that although corn is listed in the ingredient panel as its first ingredient, this corn is in fact crushed, and the appropriate bracha is a Shehakol.  If one is ever in doubt, it is best to contact the Kashrus Organization which supervises the product, as they have the greatest familiarity with the ingredients and its processing.


c.  With respect to our note on Yehei Shemei Rabbah, a reader wrote: “As an aid to kavannah, I point to each word of “Yehei Shemei Rabbah”…. I find that it helps tremendously!”


d.  With respect to our note on being a Rodef Chesed, a reader commented that bandages are something easy to carry around in a wallet or purse--and that “hopefully, it will be a segulah that no one around you has to use them.”


e. Finally, with respect to our note on Hashavas Aveidah, a reader provided the following insight: Another way to do the Mitzvah of Hashavas Aveidah without getting up from your chair is to search for unclaimed funds for your family and friends.  http://www.osc.state.ny.us/ouf/index.htm



Special Note One:  Regarding yesterday’s note on the proper brachos on cheesecake, a reader incorrectly inferred that if he made a Shehakol on a cheesecake dessert at the end of a meal, he would also recite a Borei Nefashos, in addition to the regular Bentching.  This is not the case.  The Bentching will serve as the Bracha Achrona on the cheesecake as well, and no Borei Nefashos would be recited.



Special Note Two:  We have discovered, and made available on our website, what may be described as perhaps a bit more “advanced” Kavannah Card for the daily recitation of Yehei Shemei Rabbah.  This Card contains both a focused Kavannah Peshuta and an understandable Kavannah Pnimis--and lists the seven possible Mitzvos that the Sefer Shomer Emunim states one can perform every time he answers Yehei Shemei Rabbah properly.  As we have previously noted, HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, brings the words of the Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 56:1), that a Gezar Din against a person will be ripped up if he answers Yehei Shemei Rabbah with proper Kavannah.  HaRav Salomon adds that people are looking for Segulos of all kinds, but they have the great Segula of Yehei Shemei Rabbah available to them for free and without additional travel many times a day--and they should use it!  Let us strengthen ourselves and those around us in Shul, with our proper recitation of Yehei Shemei Rabbah, which will nullify any difficult decrees against us, and bring Shefa to the world (study the Card!).  The card is available by clicking here.



Special Note Three:  A person can perform a Mitzvah in one of two ways--either it “falls into his lap”, or he can actively pursue it.  Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us in Mishlei that “Rodef Tzedakah VaChesed”…one who runs after Tzedakah and Chesed will find Chayim (life itself!) in addition to Tzedakah and Kavod (Mishlei 21:21).  When it comes to Tzedakah, one can be Rodef it--run after it by going to give before being asked, or by having an extra check available in one’s wallet or purse to give someone in need.  Similarly, when it comes to Chesed, one may be said to be a “Rodef Chesed” if he is actually prepared to help others--for instance by carrying with him in his wallet or briefcase a packet of Tylenol, postage stamps, tissues, quarters for the meter, and any other item which people can rely on you for, or which may be a need in your particular community.  In this way, wherever you go, wherever you are--you are always on the way to doing a Mitzvah!



Special Note Four:  As the Daf Yomi recently commenced one of the most famous Perakim in Shas, Perek Ailu Metzios, dealing with the halachos of lost objects, we provide the following excerpt from the wonderful and practical Sefer The Halachos of Other People’s Money by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita (Feldheim):


a.  The moment a person encounters a lost item, two Torah commandments come into effect, the commandment not to look away from it (“Lo Suchal L’Hislaleim”), and the commandment to pick up and return it (“Hoshaiv T’shiveim”).


b.  If one picks up the item with the intention to keep it for himself, he transgresses a third commandment, not to steal (“Lo Sigzol”).


c.  Included in the Mitzvah of returning lost items is the obligation to prevent or minimize damage to someone else’s property.  Some Poskim write that the Mitzvah of returning lost items also includes giving someone advice which will help save him from incurring business losses.  Most certainly, if one notices a water leak causing damage to someone else’s building, he is obligated to try and prevent future loss (e.g. by turning off the water valve and/or calling the building manager).  If he chooses to ignore the leak, he will be guilty of transgressing the two Torah commandments mentioned above.  However, if the owner knows about the leak and “has not gotten around to fixing it,” the finder is not obligated to take the time and trouble to try to minimize the owner’s loss.


d.  Another practical example of preventing a loss--a person sees someone’s electricity needlessly being wasted, and surmises that if the owner would be there he probably would turn it off.  If the money wasted will amount to more than a Perutah (a dime or a quarter) the passerby should, if possible, turn off the electricity.  By doing so, he is not guilty of transgressing the Torah prohibition of Lo Suchal L’hisaleim--and has beautifully earned the Mitzvah D’Oraysa of Hoshaiv T’shiveim!



Special Note One:  With Shavuos fast approaching, we remember the words of Chazal: “HaKol Modim BeShavuos DeBa’inan Nomi Lochem…”--everyone agrees that on Shavuos one must partake of the physical pleasures of the Yom Tov, and cannot engage only in 48 hours of Torah study, without an appropriate accompanying Seuda.  Simply understood, the reason Shavuos especially requires this is because we must demonstrate that the Torah guides our lives not only in matters of Ruchniyus, but in matters of Gashmius, as well--and that one’s physical existence can, and must, be sanctified.  Accordingly, we provide the Halachos of the Brachos--on cheesecake!


HaRav Binyomin Forst, Shlita, in The Halachos of Brachos (Artscroll) writes that the bracha on cheesecake with a crust added for flavor “as is generally the case” is a Borei Minei Mezonos.  However, if the crust is added solely to hold the cheese, then the bracha on the cheesecake is Shehakol.  HaRav Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, in The Laws of Brochos (Feldheim) writes that if the cheesecake is made with a thin layer of dough which is being used merely to enhance the appearance of the cake, then the bracha is Shehakol.  However, if the dough is being used for substance or flavor, the bracha is Borei Minei Mezonos.  The after bracha on cheesecake will usually be Borei Nefashos and not Al HaMichya, as one can (and will) eat a kezayis combination of cheese and flour within a kedai achilas peras of three minutes, but it is unlikely that one will consume a kezayis of Mezonos within the three minute span.  As we noted yesterday regarding the Kubakim, the peanuts in the Kubakim do not count towards the shiur of kezayis for an Al HaMichya, and the same is true for the cheese in the cheesecake not being added to the flour layer to allow for an Al Hamichya.  In sum, on cheesecake, one bracha rishona is recited, which may likely be a Shehakol, but even if a Borei Minei Mezonos is recited, the bracha achrona will in ordinary circumstances be a Borei Nefashos  We note further that the recitation of Shehakol on cheesecake will impact on it being served as dessert at a meal, since even one who does not make a Borei Minei Mezonos on cake at the end of a meal, will make the brocha of Shehakol at the end of a meal.


If you are in doubt as to the appropriate brachos on the cheesecake you will be consuming, why not bring two to your Rav--one for the Shaila--and one to him for Shavuos?!



Special Note Two:  In last week’s Parsha, we learned of the Lo Sa’aseh of cheating another in business matters (we have in the past noted that the word “cheat” and the word “chait” are too closely related for comfort).  In today’s fast-paced world of easy duplication (kids now do in school what professionals only could do only a few short years ago with special equipment), we provide an important “step back--look ahead,” as published in Halacha Berurah (Volume 9, Issue 4, reviewed by HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita):


“Intention to Buy:

There are some poskim who permit copying a tape or book if one sincerely has no interest in purchasing the item and will not purchase it.  They maintain that there is no theft on intangible items and that the only reason to forbid it is when zeh neheneh v'zeh choseir--the one using the item benefits from it, while the one who produced it loses a sale.  Other poskim maintain that copying a tape is considered theft even though the intellectual property is intangible.  Therefore, whether one intends to buy the item or not, it is still forbidden.  There are, however, certain instances where a singer would not object to someone copying his album, if the person would really not purchase it any way.  Most frum singers barely break even on the cost of producing a music album.  Their primary goal in producing an album is for advertisement.  They hope that once people enjoy their material and their style of singing, they will be hired for weddings and other events.  Thus, in such a situation, at least their music becomes well-known and they gain popularity….


“…Often people deceive themselves into thinking that they would not buy the tape, and that they are thus permitted to duplicate it.  The truth is that, in almost all situations, if one does like an album, he will buy it if he cannot obtain a copy of it any other way.  Thus, one should be very diligent before he rules leniently--for himself--in such a situation.”


In any question, where there is any doubt, one should consult with his Rav as to what is permissible in a particular circumstance.


Additional Note:  It would appear appropriate to avoid using phrases like:  “I am going to cheat on my diet” or “Can I steal a pretzel?”, because using these words of prohibition-even in a humorous or friendly context still has a subtle, legitimizing effect.  It is well known that Rav Pam, Z’tl, would relate that not only did he never hear his mother say a sheker--tell a lie, he never even heard her use the word “sheker,” lest it negatively affect her and those around her!



Special Note One:  What Bracha does one make on “Kabukim”--a peanut coated with flour and sugar?  It is interesting that in Eretz Yisroel thay are referred to as “Botnim Amerikayim,” even though many Americans will tell you that they have only eaten them in Eretz Yisroel.  The Sefer Vezos HaBracha writes that HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, ruled that the Bracha on Kabukim is Mezonos, because of the flour-based exterior.  However, HaRav Shlomo Zalman adds that the peanut will not count towards the Shiur of a Kezayis (which must be eaten within a Kedei Achilas Pras) for an Al Hamichya.  Accordingly, because Kubakim are small and not quickly eaten, it would appear that one would have to eat another Mezonos product within the Achilas Pras time span (we noted last week that this is three minutes according to HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl), in order to be entitled to recite an Al Hamichya.



Special Note Two:  We all know that there are two different names of Hashem that we commonly pronounce in the same way:  The name of Aleph Daled Nun and Yud which means Master of All, and the name of Yud Kay Vuv Kay which (according to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 5:1) means both that Hashem is Master of All **and** that He Was, Is, and Will Be.


Even if it may not be well understood by us, there is obviously great importance in the distinction between these two Shaimos of Hashem. See, for instance, Tehillim Kepitel 130 (Shiur HaMaalos MiMa’amakinm) which many of us recite one or more times a day.  In this Kepitel, the name of Aleph Daled Nun and Yud is mentioned three times, and the name of Yud Kay Vuv Kay is mentioned four other times.  In order for us to have greater Kavana in this special Kepitel, it would certainly be a great idea for us to be careful to have particular Kavanna in the Name of Hashem that we are reciting.


Additional Note:  One can also identify while davening tomorrow where the name of Aleph Daled (and not Yud Key Vuv Key) is used in order to better concentrate in his recitation of the names of Hashem during davening.



Special Note Three:  Chazal (Shir Hashirim Rabbah 8:12) teach us, based on the Posuk of “Haelef Lecha Shlomo U’mosayim L’notrim Es Piryo--One thousand for Shlomo and two hundred to those who watch his fruit”--that the reward for one who learns while traveling (“Lecha“) is five times (1000 vs. 200) greater than for one who simply learns in the Beis Medrash (“Notrim Es Piryo”).  It is interesting that the numbers the Posuk uses for a ratio of 5:1 is 1000:200.  A possible explanation may be based upon the Chofetz Chayim (quoted in Item 30, Volume II, Number 2 (Teves/Shevat 5762) of the Bulletin) who states that one can learn 200 words of Torah, which is equivalent to 200 separate Mitzvos, in one minute.  If one learns while traveling, Hashem considers it as if he is learning five times as much, or 1,000 words per minute.  While traveling, one should await and treasure the incredible opportunity to perform the equivalent of 1,000 Mitzvos per minute.



Special Note One:  You still have a chance!  Last Erev Shabbos, we noted that if you started then and studied just 2 Mishnayos of Mesechta Beizah a day for three weeks, you would complete in time for--and in honor of-- havuos the entire Mishnayos Mesechta Beizah (also known as Mesectha Yom Tov--which is especially appropriate for Shavuos, since it does not have its own designated Mesechta, as Sukkah and Pesachim).  If you did not yet start--then if you learn only **3 ** Mishnayos a day--for the next two weeks until Shavuos, you will be doing the same honor to yourself--and for Shavuos--with a timely Siyum Mesechta!


Additional Note:  Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Mishlei (24:7) ”Ramos Le’Ehvil Chochmos”--wisdom is as pearls to the fool [all wisdom appears to the fool as unattainable--as difficult to purchase as precious stones and pearls].  Rashi there explains that a wise person is “shoneh hayom me’at u’lemachar me’at--studies a little today and a little tomorrow.”  If you would like to follow the wisest of all men’s advice--start the Mishnayos!


Of course, by no means do we intend to exclude our female readers, and our readers who cannot otherwise learn Mishnayos, from the trek to wisdom.  The Nach Yomi--which learns just one Perek of Nach a day, begins Sefer Iyov today.  To many, this is a sefer that has been closed.  There are now resources to help in its study, including the Artscroll Tanach Series Sefer Iyov, Rav Schwalb on Iyov, and the English translation with an anthology of notes by Rabbi Rosenberg, published by Judaica Press.  If you study Sefer Iyov with Nach Yomi--with the Tzibbur--your learning is even more chashuv, and may its study be a segula for protection for all of K’lal Yisroel!  Join in!



Special Note Two:  We received the following kashrus notification from a reader:  Tofutti Brands Inc. is recalling “Vanilla Cuties” due to undeclared milk.  The product was distributed in California , the Mid-Atlantic region, the Midwest , New England , and the New York City metro area.  The product is labeled with UPC 0-20188-01301-2 and manufacturing facility code 360-300.  Consumers may return the product to place of purchase for a full refund.  Consumers with questions may call (908) 272-2400.



Special Note Three:  Kiruv Training Seminar at Agudah of Madison :

Noted speakers Rabbi Eliyahu Bergstein, Shlita, Rabbi Yaakov Salomon, Shlita, Rabbi Chaim Sampson, Shlita, and Rabbi Yosef Viener, Shlita, present a Kiruv Training Program on Tuesdays May 19th, 26th and June 2nd at 8PM at Agudath Israel of Madison, 2122 Ave S. at 22nd Street .  Learn effective answers to difficult questions.  Get inspired and gain confidence to explain the beauty of Judaism to all kinds of Jews that we know and meet.  Cost for series: $25 in advance; $36 at door; subsidies available.  For information and to register, call Project Inspire at 646-291-6191, ext.201, seminars@projectinspire.com   or visit www.kiruv.com




Special Note Four: The Sefer Derech Sicha (Parshas Behar) relates the following fascinating event:  A Rav came to visit HaRav Chaim Oizer Grodzinsky, Z’tl, and was engaged in a serious Torah discussion with him.  The other Rav, to “prove his point”, cited a Tosfos in a certain Mesechta and went to the Seforim Shrank to pull out the Sefer and show Rav Chaim Oizer the Tosfos.  Rav Chaim Oizer preceded him to the Seforim Shrank, and blocked the Mesechta the Rav was trying to reach.  The Rav must have been a bit startled, but respected Rav Chaim Oizer’s wishes.  They ended their discussion, and the Rav left.  Later in the Bais HaMedrash, the Rav searched the Mesechta for his “proof-in-point” Tosfos--and could not find it!  Rav Chaim Oizer had blocked the Rav from reaching the Gemara--so that he would not be embarrassed when he would realize that the Tosfos did not exist!  Our obligation of Lo Sonu extends--not only to not hurting or embarrassing another person with words, actions, or expressions--but also to not allowing him to embarrass himself!



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


  1. The following Halacha applies any time that we bentch, and we bring it here because we wash and bentch three times on Shabbos:  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, in a Responsa (Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim IV: 41) writes that in order to bentch on bread one must eat a minimum shiur of a kezayis within a kedei achilas pras--and that shiur is less than three minutes.  It appears from the Responsa that, b’dieved, one has up to 4.5 minutes within which a kezayis must be eaten, but one would clearly be better off according to Rav Moshe within the three minute span.  The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 167, seif katan 35) writes that, barring other circumstances, one should eat that minimum kezayis at the outset of the meal.  We note that the shiur of kezayis consumption within a kedei achilas pras (so that a Bracha Achrona can be recited) actually applies to all foods at all times--so that, for instance, one must eat a kezayis of cake within the same three minute span in order to make an Al HaMichya.  (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 210, Mishne Berurah seif katan 1).  The shiur for drinks is different (ibid.).

  2. When different types of toys are mixed together, one is not permitted to put each toy in its proper place (due to the prohibition of Borer).  Rather, one should put them away in a mixed manner, and after Shabbos rearrange them in their proper order.  [Children in Halacha by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita, p.141].

  3. One does not violate the prohibition of Koseiv (writing) if he has letters or a design on the bottom of his shoe that makes an imprint on the ground, because if it is writing at all, the imprint does not last, it is done “kilachar yad”--in an unusual manner--and it is not something that the person in any event wants to happen.  However, if one intentionally writes in the sand, or on a foggy window pane, or with crumbs on the table, he violates an Issur DeRabbanan of Koseiv.  One should also not place magnetic letters next to each other to form a word on a board or on the refrigerator which will hold them together to form the word. [HaShabbos BeTifarta (Hebrew) by Rabbi Avrohom Adas, Shlita, Volume 2, pp. 389-427]



In this week’s Parsha we find the great Mitzvah of “VeLo Sonu Ish Es Amiso” (Vayikra 25:17)…each of you shall not aggrieve his fellow.  Chazal (Bava Metzia 58B) teach that this Pasuk refers specifically to causing pain with words--Ono’as Devorim.  The Mishna and Gemara (ibid.) elaborate on the prohibition against Ono’as Devorim and further details are brought LeHalacha in Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, Chapter 428, which is dedicated to this topic.


The Power of Words, a sefer  by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita is dedicated to improvement--and mastery--of this crucial Mitzvas Bain Odom LeChaveiro, which so much impacts on our Bain Odom LeMakom, as well.  Indeed, the Pasuk cited above actually continues “VeYoraisa MaiElokecha--and you shall fear Hashem”--for in properly fulfilling this Mitzvah, one demonstrates that he fears Hashem Who sees, knows, and understands our thoughts and actions.  Accordingly, we provide below many salient points gleaned from this wonderful sefer, which are indeed “suitable for framing”--and which certainly should be reviewed from time to time--and especially when you well know that you are about to have a challenging encounter.  We present the points by number, for ease of reference.


1. The Chazon Ish wrote, “Even if what you say will cause someone pain or discomfort for only a brief moment, it is a violation of this Torah commandment.”

  1. Be aware of what the consequences of what your words will be.  Any time your words will cause someone pain it constitutes Ono’as Devorim.

  2. Some people can suffer again and again for years because of insulting remarks people have made to them.

  3. One of the easiest ways to make enemies is to insult people.

  4. Someone who studies Torah has a greater obligation than others to avoid all forms of Ono’as Devorim.  Failure to do so will cause others to learn from his negative example, and could even cause people to have negative feelings about Torah study in general.

  5. Any statement that disparages the appearance of another person is considered Ono’as Devorim.

  6. It is forbidden to say or do things to scare other people.

  7. The laws of Ono’as Devorim are based in the subjective response of the person you are talking to.  Even if many other people don’t mind a certain statement, if the person you say it to will be distressed, upset, angry or offended, it is forbidden.

  8. Don’t disparage the Torah thoughts of others.  If you want to disagree, do so in a polite manner.

  9. Don’t insult someone for being different from you in personality, thought, background, habits, etc.

  10. It is Ono’as Devorim to say things to a person which would imply that he is not normal.

  11.  Needlessly saying things to cause someone worry is Ono’as Devorim.

  12.  When you have conflicting interests with someone, master the art of finding peaceful solutions.  Find the basic needs of both parties and try to find ways that the needs of both parties can be met.

  13. Statements made in a sarcastic tone of voice constitute Ono’as Devorim, even though the words themselves might sound Kosher.

  14. Asking people personal questions about matters they would prefer not to discuss causes them discomfort and is Ono’as Devorim.

  15. It is counterproductive to say to someone, “If I told you once, I told you a thousand times…”

  16. Avoid saying, “You don’t understand,” when you are discussing ideas with others.

  17. If you see that a person is very tired or in an especially irritable mood, be very careful with what you say to him.

  18. People who are very perceptive and notice all kinds of details about personality and character of others must be careful to use this gift as a tool to help--not to hurt--others.

  19. It is easy for married couples to cause each other much emotional pain by insulting one another.  Even if two people disagree or are disappointed with each other, they should still speak to each other with respect.

  20. Anger does not give you permission to violate the prohibition against Ono’as Devorim.

  21. Humor at someone else’s expense is Ono’as Devorim.

  22. Accepting other people and their differences is one of the keys to observing this Mitzvah.

  23. When you have internalized the awareness that people are created BeTzelem Elokim--in the image of Hashem--you will experience great respect for each person you encounter.

  24. When you communicate with others, be aware of your goal.  Most insults and derogatory comments are counterproductive and will not help you achieve your goal.

  25. The more difficult it is to refrain from insulting someone, the greater the reward.

  26. Whenever you refrain from saying anything that would be Ono’as Devorim, feel the joy of fulfilling a Mitzvah.

  27. You are what you say.  By transgressing the laws of Ono’as Devorim you are lowering your own spiritual level.

  28. Any time that someone hurts your feelings in some way, view it as a learning experience to teach yourself to be more sensitive to causing others distress with words.

  29. Imagine standing before Hashem after 120 years and being confronted with all of your Ono’as Devorim statements.

  30. “It’s your fault for taking offense.”  If someone will feel pain because of what you say, you have an obligation to avoid saying it and you cannot blame the other person for feeling hurt.

  31. “I hope that this doesn’t offend you, but…”  Starting off with this statement does not render your Ono’as Devorim permissible.

  32. When you want to influence someone to do something, always try to motivate him with an approach that will be based on his needs, wants, and personality.

  33. There are many statements that if said with a smile will not cause a person distress--even though they might if a person were to say the words with a serious expression on his face.

  34. There are always ways of disagreeing with someone that show a basic respect for him even though you disagree with what he said.

  35. The laws of Ono’as Devorim apply even to parents when they speak to their children.

  36. The laws of Ono’as Devorim apply even to small children.  Insulting a young child or frightening him as a joke is forbidden.

  37. If someone is angry, it is an act of kindness to calm him down.  Be careful not to say things that would be Ono’as Devorim to someone who is presently angry.

  38. When you speak to a stranger, you might not be aware of his particular sensitivities and therefore might cause him pain unintentionally.  Note the facial reactions of the people you speak to.

  39. When you see someone insulting another person, have the courage to say something to stop him.

  40. Be willing to make a public commitment to your family and friends that you will be careful with Ono’as Devorim.

  41. Statements that can easily be Ono’as Devorim:

“I heard Lashon Hora about you”

“Everybody knows”

“Do you remember me?”

“Why aren’t you married yet?”

“You don’t care”

“You don’t understand”

“You should have asked me”

“Talk it into yourself”

“Keep your mouth…”

“Get lost”

“I don’t care”

“So what?!”

“I see that you are nervous”

“I never do that…”



As we all know, the Parsha is reminding us of this Mitzvah this particular week, at this particular point, and even  at this particular juncture in our lives [this is what Hashgacha all about], because it is something for each and every one of us to work on in his own particular way.  Let us each meet the challenge--and fulfill this great Mitzvah in a way that brings us a wonderful Nachas Ruach--which will bring along with it Nachas Ruach to others…and, in a magnificent way, to our Creator as well!



Special Note One:  The following is excerpted from the sefer Let My Nation Serve Me by Rabbi Yosef Deutsch, Shlita, (Artscroll) a wonderful work which provides both depth and feeling to the events in the Midbar leading up to Mattan Torah, and to Mattan Torah itself, as culled from Chazal in the Medrash and Gemara, and from the Rishonim.  It is highly recommended for all in proper preparation for Shavuos.  Rabbi Deutsch writes as follows:


“There is a special significance to the Torah being given in the month of Sivan.  The astrological sign for Sivan is Gemini, twins.  The gentile nations would one day have to give an accounting for their rejection of the Torah when Hashem offered it to them, and Hashem wanted to anticipate the arguments they would offer in their own defense and refute them from the very beginning.  He knew that the gentile nations would say that they thought that the Torah did not relate to them. It was designed for the Jewish nation, a nation with which they has no kinship or connection.


“Therefore, Hashem chose to give the Torah in the month of Sivan, a month characterized by the sign of twins, as if to say, “The Jewish people are not, from their origin, a nation apart.  They are descended from Yaakov, who had a twin brother Eisav, and the gentile nations, at least those descended from Eisav, cannot claim that the Torah is not destined for them.


“The sign of twins is also especially propitious for the Giving of the Torah.  Hashem did not want to give it in Nissan, whose sign is Aries, the sheep, because the Egyptians worshipped sheep.  He did not give want to give the Torah during Iyar, whose sign is Taurus, the bull, because the Jewish people would worship the Golden Calf, a young bull.  Hashem did not want an everlasting association between the idol and the Torah.  Therefore, he chose to wait until Sivan, whose sign is the twins, a symbol of fraternal love and solidarity.  These are virtues that qualified the Jewish people to receive the Torah.


“There is also a special symbolism in the Torah being given on the sixth of Sivan rather than any other day of the month.  The original creation of mankind took place on the sixth day of Creation.  The Giving of the Torah would be the act of national creation for the Jewish people, and therefore it, too, was to take place on the sixth day.  Furthermore, that year, 6 Sivan fell on a Shabbos, which was also significant.  Just as Shabbos provided the spiritual protection of the newly-created Adam, so did the Shabbos on which the Torah was given provide the spiritual protection for the newly created Jewish nation.”


These thoughts help us focus on the profundity of Mattan Torah.  When one has an audience with the King, he prepares well in advance for the occasion. Unlike other audiences, where the commoner gives the King a gift, on Shavuos, Hashem will be giving us a remarkable, life-giving and life-sustaining, infinite and irreplaceable gift.  We would do well to begin preparing for this incredible event--at least by studying about it from a beautiful sefer such as this--or from the original sources--today!



Special Note Two:  In the Sefer Praying With Fire 2, Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, provides “14 Strategies to Getting Your Prayers Accepted”.  One of the first special strategies is not utilized by many simply because they never learned or focused on it.  Rabbi Kleinman gives us the opportunity.  We provide his teaching in quick summary:


The Shulchan Aruch rules:  When one proceeds to pray [Shemone Esrei], if he is standing outside of Eretz Yisroel, he should turn to face toward the direction of Eretz Yisroel and endeavor to face towards Yerushalayim, the Bais HaMikdash, and the Kodesh HaKodoshim.  The Mishne Berurah [ibid., seif katan 3, 4 and 7] explains that beyond physically facing in the actual direction, a person should imagine vividly that he is privileged to be standing **in the Bais HaMikdash, in the Kodesh HaKadoshim--in front of the Aron itself.**  The imagery here is actual--for all of our Tefillos, in fact, ascend to Shomayim through this very spot (ibid., seif katan 2).


Rabbi Kleinman continues:


HaRav Mattisyahu Salamon, Shlita, sheds revealing light on the import of this imagery.  When one envisions the experience of praying within the world’s epicenter of holiness, he can enter into a true state of awe.  HaRav Salamon forcefully writes, “People run after many segulos [to attempt to have their prayers accepted in Heaven]…yet here we have a clear segulah with verses [see Melachim I, 8:44 and 9:3] backing it up with a promise …how much people lose out because they do not follow this rule? Why must one seek far-out suggestions when he has this handy suggestion…In this way prayers are answered.”


Rabbi Kleinman concludes:


“The power of facing east derives not only from where one’s body is situated, but from where one places his mind and heart.  If it is in the place of utmost holiness, where Hashem’s Presence literally saturates the air, then he is perfectly oriented for prayer that, as promised, will be accepted.”


Hakhel Note: The Sefer Praying with Fire 2 is a treasure house of essential lessons, guidance and teachings.  A new cycle of daily study (the Sefer is divided into daily portions) is beginning in less than two weeks, on Rosh Chodesh Sivan--and will conclude 118 days later in time for Rosh Hashanah.  We urge all our readers to gain and grow tremendously by starting the program on Rosh Chodesh.  The Sefer may be purchased in your local seforim store or online through Artscroll.


In the meantime…take the strategy presented here to heart--and put yourself in the right place--every morning, afternoon and evening as you are about to begin Shemone Esrei.  May your tefillos then be answered among and together with those of all of K’lal Yisroel!



Correction--Last week, we noted that the Mann began to fall on the fifteenth of Iyar.  In fact, the supply of Matzah that Bnai Yisroel brought with them from Mitzrayim was depleted on the fifteenth of Iyar--and the Mann began falling the next morning, on the sixteenth of Iyar.  Thus, not one day went by with the Bnai Yisroel in need of sustenance--and each person received what he needed, and what he deserved, in the course of fulfilling his tachlis in this world.  The same is, of course, true today, except that Hashem’s presence is more BeNistar, hidden from our everyday view, and, accordingly, the essence of our sustenance coming from Hashem is concealed from the average onlooker as well.


Chazal (Sotah 48B) teach that “one who has bread in his basket and worries what he will eat tomorrow is a person of little faith.”  This is typically understood to mean that one should not worry about his gashmiyus needs of tomorrow, and instead rely that Hashem will provide for him.  However, Rabbi Zev Leff, Shlita, brings a different and remarkable teaching from the Kotzker Rebbe here.  The Kotzker explains that the “little faith” of the person that we are referring to here is not evidenced by his uncertainty as to tomorrow.  Rather, his “little faith” is reflected in this man’s certainty of today!  By worrying only about tomorrow, he shows that he puts his trust not in Hashem, but in the presence of the bread in the basket!


Every person must realize that **his own personal**daily needs are incredibly and incredulously taken care of by Hashem--and Hashem alone.  We verbalize exactly this with the words recited three times daily in Ashrei--“Posayach Es Yodecha…You open Your Hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”  The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 51, seif katan 15) writes that the “ikar” reason that we recite the entire Ashrei is because of this Pasuk it contains--a statement of our manifest acknowledgement that Hashem watches over the needs of, and sustains, each and every single one of us--including the reciter (personalize it!).  Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 51:7) rules that if one does not have this Kavannah when reciting this Pasuk in Ashrei, he must recite the Pasuk over again.  The Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah advances us another step and teaches that not only should one have Kavannah for the meaning and import of the words, but one should experience true joy and elation over the fact that it is Hashem Himself--the Omnipotent and Omniscient One--Who is actually taking care of him.


We all know that the second Parsha of Shema, beginning with the words “VeHaya Im Shomoa” is written in the plural, in stark contrast to the first Parsha of Shema, which is written in the singular.  Yet, Rabbi Refoel Shain, Shlita, shows that within this second “plural” Parsha the words “VeNosati Esev BeSodecha …VeOsafta Degonecha… and you shall gather in your grain…and you will eat and be satisfied” are nevertheless written in the singular, teaching us that everyone’s individual Parnassah remains under Hashem’s personal supervision, and that his monetary situation is not the product of a general economic downturn or other sociological or “ism”-like factors, but the result of Hashem’s personal and direct supervision over him individually.  The more one realizes the Source of his individual, immediate daily sustenance--including the bread already in the basket--the more that one genuinely feels that Divine supervision, and prays to Hashem to bless him with his needs in Shemone Esrei and throughout the day, the closer he will be to achieving real success--both physical and spiritual--and true meaning and fulfillment in life!



Special Note One:  The following story is excerpted from HaRav Schach--Conversations (Feldheim, p.234), and has an extremely important and moving lesson for us all:


“In Rav Schach’s younger years he was a heavy smoker.  He even used to say that he cannot stand being without a cigarette, and that he doesn’t understand how a person can devise chiddushim without a cigarette, for the smoking helps one concentrate and focus on the depths of Talmudic discussions.  This is how he conducted himself for many years, until he once had to undergo a serious operation, and his doctor instructed him to stop smoking during his recuperation period.  After recuperating, he asked the doctor if he could start smoking again, and the doctor answered, ‘If you have already stopped smoking, it would be better for you not to begin again.’  (This was before it was known how injurious smoking was to one’s health).  Rav Schach’s reaction was ‘If smoking is dangerous for my health, even slightly, I will stop completely.’  He took the pack of cigarettes that had been waiting for months on top of his dresser, and threw it away immediately and forcefully.  Long afterwards, he recalled that from the moment he made the decision to stop smoking he instantly ceased to feel any need to smoke, and he did not miss it at all.  He often recounted this incident to members of his family and students as a demonstration of the fact that ‘nothing can stand in the way of a man’s will.’  Making a decision itself may be difficult, but when one decides with full conviction to change a habit, it is possible to stick to a decision.”


Hakhel Note:  Can we try to emulate Rav Schach in at least one respect?!  In this regard, we will most certainly be in the best of company after 120 years…and for eternity thereafter!



Special Note Two:  In this week’s Parsha, we find that a Pasuk relating to Tzedaka is suddenly placed among the Pesukim describing our Holidays, our Moadim, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not remove completely the corners of your field; as you reap and you shall not gather the gleanings of your harvest, for the poor and the proselyte shall you leave them, I am Hashem…” (Vayikra 23:22).  Chazal cited by Rashi (ibid.) teach that this Pasuk juxtaposed among the Pesukim describing the Moadim, teaches us that anyone who gives proper charity is considered as if the Bais HaMikdash was built in his time, and he offered Karbanos there, as so much of the Moadim relate to the Bais HaMikdash, our coming there, and offering of sacrifices.


Shavuos is now only three weeks away.  Since it is one of the Shalosh Regalim, it is a time that we travel to the Bais HaMikdash.  It would appear that it is an extremely auspicious time for us to demonstrate how we desire to have the Bais HaMikdash back and bring karbanos as soon as possible.  A superb way to demonstrate that desire is by taking the time now to give something extra, a special gift, now to Tzedaka in order to fulfill the words of our Chazal--and bring Karbanos in the Bais HaMikdash that you have built for yourself--while waiting!



Special Note One:  In this week’s Parsha, Emor, we find the distinctive Mitzvah of “Vekeedashto”…and you shall sanctify the Kohen by treating him with a higher level of dignity and respect (Vayikra 21:8).  The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 269) writes that this Mitzvah D’Oraysa applies at all times (not only when the Bais HaMikdash is standing), and furthermore that the Mitzvah applies equally to both men and women.  The Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayim 128:72) writes that there are opinions to be lenient in the Mitzvas Aseh of VeKeedashto today because our Kohanim may not have clear “yichussei Kehuna” (evidence of lineage), but rejects this opinion with the strong words “VeCholila Lomar Kain U’Lehatil Dofi BeKedushas Kohanim--Heaven Forbid to say this and to cast aspersions on the holiness of our Kohanim!”  Accordingly, we provide below some important points relating to this Mitzvah, which apply in our everyday life:


  1. The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 228) writes that it is  “Assur LeHishtamesh BeKohen”--it is forbidden to use a Kohen to perform tasks and services on one’s behalf, even in our days, and if one does so it is like being “Moel beHekdesh”--it is as if one is violating something that is holy.


  1. The Poskim discuss whether the Mitzvah upon us of VeKeedashto applies to Kohanim who are ba’alei moom (possess blemishes which would render them unfit to serve in the Bais HaMikdash), or to Kohanim who are still under the age of Bar Mitzvah, since both of whom could, in fact, eat Kodshim (the Karbonos in the Bais HaMikdash), even though they cannot actually serve.  The Piskei Teshuvos (I:128:94) writes that, because it is a Machlokes among the Poskim and it is a Sofek D’Oraysa, we should be machmir, and treat both a Kohen who is physically disqualified from serving because of a moom, and a Kohen under Bar Mitzvah, with the dignity and  respect of VeKeedashto, where it is possible.


  1. Examples of VeKeedashto in specific positive areas include having the Kohen go first--not only in Aliyos to the Torah, but also in making Kiddush for everyone, making the HaMotzi for everyone, leading the Bentching, being Motzi the Rabim with a Mitzvah, speaking first at any gathering, being the Shaliach Tzibbur and in taking first portions at a seudah.  See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 167:14 and the Mishne Berurah and commentaries there for further detail if a Talmid Chacham is present.  One should consult with his Rav or Posek if in doubt as to any particular circumstances.


  1. The Poskim discuss whether a Kohen has the right to waive VeKeedashto as to himself.  The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 128, seif katan 175) rules that a Kohen does have the right to waive your VeKeedashto of him and perform tasks or services for you, but lechatchila only if he benefits from it by payment or in some other way.  In no event, however, writes the Mishne Berurah (ibid.) may one have a Kohen perform “sheirus bezuyos--embarrassing or demeaning tasks on one’s behalf”.


  1. May one Kohen perform tasks for another Kohen?  The Bi’ur Halacha d’h’Assur writes that “Efsher SheMuttar--perhaps it is permissible”, and the Aruch HaShulchan writes that it is “Tzarich Iyun LeDina”--unclear, requiring further investigation.  Interestingly, however, family members who are not Kohanim, and spouses of Kohanim (!), would still have the Mitzvah of VeKeedashto apply to them.


  1. The Sefer Chofetz Chaim (Aseh 9) writes that if one speaks Lashon Hora against a Kohen who is in front of him, thereby offending him, he has violated the Mitzvas Aseh of VeKeedashto.


  1. If a Kohen is married to someone that is forbidden to him according to Halacha, or is metamei lemeisim, defiles himself with tumah, the mitzvah of VeKeedashto does not apply.  However, if the Kohen is a ba’al aveira in other areas, there is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether the heightened respect for his status as a Kohen would still apply.  See Piskei Teshuvos 1:128:97.


  1. The Chinuch writes that the reason for this special Mitzvah is to give honor to Hashem who chose the Kohanim to serve Him in very special ways…”for when one honors the King’s officers, he honors the King.”  Accordingly, the Chinuch continues, whenever we honor the Kohanim, we should have in mind that we are honoring Hashem.  In this zechus, the Chinuch concludes, Hashem will bring His brachos and goodness upon us, as He so much wants to do.


  1. Two Related Notes:


    1. The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 201, seif katan 13) writes that one should give preference to a Levi over a Yisroel of equal stature in respect of Bircas HaMotzi, Bentching and Tzedaka.


    1. An important point relating to Bircas Hakohanim--the Bi’ur Halacha (at the outset of Orach Chayim 128) brings the ruling of the Sefer Chareidim, when a Yisroel stands in front of the Kohanim with the Kavannah of receiving their bracha as Hashem commanded, the Yisroel himself has a part in the Mitzvas Aseh of Bircas Kohanim!


Special Note Two:  If one is in the middle of a “Bracha Arucha”--a long bracha, i.e., a bracha which begins with Baruch Ata Hashem and ends with Baruch Ata Hashem--he has the same Halachos as one who is in the middle of a Perek of Kriyas Shema.  This means that he cannot generally answer Amen to someone else’s brachos, or have any other interruption.  He can only answer to Amen Yehei Shemai Rabbah, Barchu, the two Pesukim of Kedusha, and certain specified Amens.  See Chayei Odom 5:13 for further details.



Special Note One:  Three more important points about the worldwide flu:


  1. One reader advised that the source of the international threat is one young boy, who apparently contracted the flu and passed it on.  The lesson, he concluded, is the power of one person to change the world--even if he thinks he is otherwise insignificant.


Hakhel Note:  The reader’s thought coincides with the dynamic message delivered by Rabi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita, at the outstanding Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation dinner this past Sunday evening.  Rabbi Wachsman taught that every person--every single person--has a role to play in world history.  He cited the teaching of the K’sav Sofer relating to Sefiras HaOmer--when the Torah requires us to undertake “U’Sefartem Lochem”, the Torah is requiring us to count ourselves--to make sure that our presence in this world makes a different in whatever way that we can--whether it be in excelling in Ahavas Yisroel and promoting it to others, Tefillah for the K’lal, Torah Study--every person must fulfill their purpose in this world--which is a grand one, because Hashem Himself placed you here!  Rabbi Wachsman continued that the definition of a Tzaddik is not a famous person,  one who performs outstanding acts, or who is held in high regard by all--but rather it is someone who is successful at his Nisyonos, at his tests in life, and who reaches his potential.  If one person can bring flu to the world--one person can also bring yeshuos to the world, as well--and that one person, very literally, could be you.


  1. Another reader noted that the Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 46, Seif Katan 14) brings from the Tur that in the time of Dovid HaMelech 100 people were r’l passing away every day from a mageifa, and in response, Dovid HaMelech instituted the recitation of 100 brachos a day.  Our reader therefore encouraged care in the recitation of 100 brachos a day.  We note that not all Poskim rule that women and girls are obligated to recite 100 brachos a day.  If your Rav or Posek rules that women are not obligated in 100 brachos, then may we suggest that they should try to recite the brachos made with some higher level of Kavannah (such as realizing that Hashem is in front of you as you recite the word “Ata.”).


  1. Another reader questioned the need for taking any action at this point, suggesting that several hundred or even several thousand cases means that only a fraction of a percent of the world’s population was truly affected.  Of course, everyone can discuss this matter with his own Rav or Posek.  We will respond to the reader’s comment with a thought which is independently attributed to both the Chiddushei HaRim (the Gerrer Rebbe), Z’tl, and to HaRav Leib Lopian, Z’tl.  Both of these Torah giants teach that the letters for the word “Nega” (blemish or plague) and “Oneg” (enjoyment, delight) are the same, Nun, Gimel and Aleph.  How can these very same letters have two diametrically opposed meanings?  They explain that in the word Oneg the first letter is an Ayin--an eye--whereas in the word Nega, it is the last letter that is the Ayin.  An Ayin at the beginning brings Oneg—joy--because one has “looked into” and considered the future, and has planned for and succeeded at it.  As Chazal teach: Aizehu Chacham--HaRoeh es HaNolad--Who is wise--one who sees what is being born.  Likewise, Chochom Ainov BeRosho--the wise man’s eyes are in his head--meaning that he looks ahead to the future, and thinks about it in his head, planning for it now.  On the other hand, one who puts his Ayin at the end of the word, can, chas veshalom, end up with Nega, a blemish or affliction.  It is for this reason that we have provided the Tefillah improvement suggestions, the special Tefillos, Yehei Shemei Rabbah advice, and today’s insights from readers.  May we be zoche to see yeshuos for ourselves and the world around us--and may we have our own part in it!



Special Note Two: We can not leave the Parsha of Kedoshim--and the Mitzvah of VeAhavta LeRayacha Komocha--without the following two essential points regarding the all-encompassing nature of this great Mitzvah:


a.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, teaches that one fulfills the Mitzvah not only with friends and strangers, but with family members as well, including by showing proper attitude and behavior to one’s own spouse--so start cashing in! (See Kiddushin 41a).


b.  The Mitzvah can be fulfilled by thought alone in two different ways, (i) spending time thinking about a Shidduch for someone, how to help an individual in need of emotional or physical support, or on how to give constructive criticism in a way which will have a real effect--and other thoughts unique to the people and situations that you are aware of [after all, Hashem made you aware of them, and it is for a reason]; and (b) actually **feeling together** with the other person--feeling their pleasure and pain, their dejection and their joy--with this you unite with your fellow person--and he becomes Komocha--like you, as the Torah adjures.  As a starting point, you can try to develop this feeling with one person (who, once again, can be a relative), and witness for yourself how your “I” and “Me” has so beautifully grown!



The result of the first trial in Japan turned out perhaps almost as best as anyone could have expected.  Only Hashem knows how the Tefillos worldwide changed the result.  Please continue to daven for the bachur YOSEF ben  ITA RIVKA to return to Eretz Yisroel safely, and for the two Bachurim yet to be sentenced YOEL ZEV ben MIREL RISA CHAVA, and YAAKOV YOSEF ben RAIZEL.  Your Tehillim this very minute could be the decisive Tefillah--and you should really believe it when you recite it!



Special Note One: As we are now beyond the half-way mark towards Shavuos, we provide the following Torah study opportunities:


a.  Daf-A-Week--“Learn it-Review it-Own it”--starting a new Mesechta soon.  For schedules and information, please contact info@dafaweek.com, or call 973-614-0275.



b.  Mishnas Chayim--Insights on the weekly Parsha based on the Mishna (!)--can be obtained by email by visiting the website  ChevrahlomdeiMishnah.org.


c.  Kol Halashon--Thousands of Audio Shiurim available--718-906-6400.  Most Shiurim can be downloaded from their website at   www.kolhalashon.com  (Shiurim available in Hebrew, English, Yiddish, French, Spanish, Russian, Pharsi and Bucharit).


d.  Torahanytime.com--Thousands of Video shiurim available on line.


Just as a Chassan demonstrates to a Kallah before a wedding how much he really wants to marry her, we, too, must demonstrate before our “Wedding Day” approaches how dear the Torah is to us--and a good way to do that is by learning more and more of it!



Special Note Two:  May is here!  So, what does that have to do with us?  The Sefer Ohaiv Yisroel by the Apter Rav (as brought in the Luach Dovor B’Ito) writes that “We recite Pirkei Avos during the days of Sefira to purify ourselves, and to return BeTeshuva Sheleima--and these days are referred to by the nations of the world as ‘May’--for they also recognize that these days are mesugalim for refuah, for healing.  The Gematria of ‘May’--Mem and Yud--adds up to 50, for these are the days in which the soul is healed as we move towards Mattan Torah on the 50th day (and in which likewise our bodies can be healed as well).”


Based upon this teaching, we see the kindness Hashem has provided for us in the flu’s worldwide travel during these days of healing.  Last week, we provided some Tefillah pointers to assist in our “what you can do.”  We are by no means helpless, as we never are.  For those who have asked for a specific Nusach that one can recite not to become ill, we refer you to the Tefillas HaBori  (found on the Resources Section of our website).  There is also a well-known short Tefillah LeBrius of the Chidah, which many of you already have.  We add that the classic Sefer Seder HaYom (which is the first known source for the text of the Modeh Ani which we recite upon awakening in the morning) writes that “One should recite Asher Yotzar word for word with Kavannah…” as this will greatly assist a person in avoiding the need for doctors and medications.  Finally, for the men who are in shul, we remind them that Chazal teach “All who answer ‘Amen Yehei Shemei Rabbah Mevorach’ with Kavannah and strength (with feeling, and not just an expression of words) will have a Gezar Din against him torn up.”  This “segula’ is brought lehalacha by the Mishne Berurah in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 56, Seif Katan 1.  We refer you to the Kavannas Amen Yehei Shmei Rabbah in the following links-- here in English and here in Hebrew, provided by Rabbi Mayer Birnbaum, Shlita.



Special Note Three:  Today in Sefiras HaOmer is Netzach SheBeNetzach (Eternity within Eternity).  We cannot pass this unique day by without a thought on the effect it can have on our lives on a going-forward basis.  Accordingly, we provide the following suggested “Action Points” for this day culled from the Sefer  Sefiros we referred to last week, by Rabbi Yaakov Haber, Shlita.  The Sefer should be available in your local Seforim Store:


a.  Bain Odom LaMakom--Accept upon yourself to try to spend at least one minute every day talking to Hashem.


b.  Bain Odom LeChaveiro--Make a permanent change in the way you deal with others.  For example, if you find that you “approximate” in business (to the detriment of others), accept upon yourself a commitment to [at least] be precise.


c.  Bain Odom LeAtzmo--Be someone that others can count on.  Make sure that you are always dependable.  Remember that people rely upon you.


May this day truly be a day of Netzach SheBeNetzach--and through our very own action, we can make it so!!



Special Note One:  We asked HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, whether one should recite Ma Tovu not only when he enters Shul in the morning, but every time he enters a Shul--such as for Mincha and Ma’ariv.  He responded that one need only recite Ma Tovu once in the morning.  However, one should in all events appreciate the Kedushas Bais HaKenesses every time he enters.  HaRav Meir Schuck, Z’tl, would, for instance, stop at the entrance of the Shul and reflect for a moment on the sanctum he was about to enter, sometimes raising his hand a bit in recognition of the awe of the event.  Additionally, the two Mitzvos Aseh which one is Mekabel upon himself every morning before davening--the Mitzvas Aseh of VeAhavta LeRayacha Komocha (joining his Tefillah together with all of K’lal Yisroel) and U’Mikdashi Tira’u (our Shuls are actually referred to in the Navi as a Mikdash Me’at!)--both of which Mitzvos are in this week’s Parsha--also apply before Mincha and Ma’ariv as well, and one would do well to expressly proclaim “Hareini Mekabel Alai Mitzvas Aseh Shel…” before each Tefillah!



Special Note Two:  We continue our Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos series, with rulings from HaShabbos BeTifarta by Rav Avrohom Adas, Shlita of Yerushalayim (Hebrew, and Volume 2):

a.  One may not rip a thin plastic table cloth from a roll--even if it is not on the perforation, because you have in all events prepared it for use (Koraya).


b.  One may not utilize a one-time use bib by punching out the plastic of the head area (Koraya).


c.  One may not separate a new pair of socks attached by a string, or remove price tags or cleaners tags which are sewn or stapled into clothing (Koraya).  However, if they are merely hung from a plastic string, one can remove the tag, because it is not attached tightly, and its removal does not affect the clothing in the same way as something stapled or sewn, which is considered more intrinsically part of the clothing.


d.  One may remove a Sefer that is tightly squeezed in a Seforim shrank, even though it is stuck to its adjoining Seforim--and one can put it back after use, even though it will again become stuck to its adjoining Seforim (it is clearly not one’s intent to attach or detach the Seforim).


e.  If a silver polish was left on a Kiddush cup, it should not be rinsed off (Memachek).


f.  HaRav Eliayhu Lopian, Z’tl, reported that once, while davening before the Amud on Shabbos in Kelm, he put special emphasis and feeling into the words “VeTaher Leebainu--Hashem purify our hearts.”  After davening, HaRav Hirsch Broyde, Z’tl, advised him that one should put even more emphasis on the second half of the phrase--“Le’Avdecha Be’Emmes--to serve Hashem with truth!”



Special Note Three:  In this week’s Parsha of Kedoshim we find the fundamental prohibition against Loshon Hora, as the Torah adjures “Lo Selech Rochil BeAmecha--Do not be a gossiper among your people.” (Vayikra 19:16)  The Sefer Sparks of Mussar relates the following incident with HaRav Naftoli Amsterdam, Z’tl, a great student of Rebbe Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, who served as a Rav and Posek in various cities, including Moscow and St. Petersburg :


“A Jew once came before him, asking him for ‘the permission of one hundred Rabbis’ necessary to take a second wife without divorcing the first.  In the course of talking, the man spoke badly of his wife.  R’ Naftoli interrupted him and asked: “Have you already received the permission of a hundred rabbis to violate the prohibition of Lashon Hora?”


Hakhel Note:  There is a great lesson for us all here--there are many cases when you certainly may feel that Lashon Hora is warranted or justified--and that others will “expect you” to speak Lashon Hora--before falling into the trap--make sure that you have the heter of at least one Rabbi to relate it!  The phone number of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras HaLashon Shaila Hotline is 718-951-3696, and Poskim are available 9-10:30 pm New York time to answer both the easy--and the difficult--real life Shemiras HaLashon questions that you may have.


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