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Special Note One:  Today is the Yahrtzeit of the Mirrer Masghiach, HaRav Yerucham Levovitz, Z’tl, one of our Mussar giants.  The Luach Bnei Yaakov reports that HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl ate with HaRav Yerucham and his wife every Shabbos for five years.  Rav Chaim especially noted how constantly and consistently over the five years, Rav Yeruchem was always looking and discovering new Ma’alos in his wife!  This is one great lesson that each and every person can take to heart with any one of his close relatives or friends.



Special Note Two:  For those who are still unaware of it, the Business Halacha Institute issues a weekly practical question and answer in areas of Choshen Mishpat, which is suitable for the whole family.  To subscribe to the publication or to view previous issues, one may visit www.businesshalacha.com.  You may also send your business halacha questions to ask@businesshalacha.com, or call their confidential hotline at 877-845-8455.  The Business Halacha Institute is under the auspices of HaRav Chaim Kohn, Shlita.



Special Note Three:  There are some things that require constant reinforcement or repetition.  We must breathe all the time.  We must, in the ordinary course, eat and drink daily.  The prohibition against speaking Lashon Hara is so pervasive and its after effects so devastating that we ask that you read the following note, even if you know, have heard, some, most or all of its contents once, twice, or even ten times before.


In last week’s Parsha, B’Haalosicha, the Torah concludes with the story of Miriam relating to Aharon her issue with Moshe Rabbeinu’s relationship with his wife, Tzipora.  Miriam then suffers from Tzoraas, and millions of people wait for her for seven days until she is healed.


The Sefer Chofetz Chaim (Asei 1), notes at least ten defenses and strong mitigating factors in Miriam’s situation, but concludes that none alone, nor even all together, could save her--and Bnei Yisroel--from their difficult punishment.  The defenses and mitigating factors included:

  1. Moshe was her younger brother;

  1. She loved him dearly;

  1. She actually raised him;

  1. She endangered her life waiting to see what would happen to him as a baby at the Nile River, and spoke to Paroh’s daughter as to how he could best be saved and raised;

  1. When speaking of him, it was not in a degrading fashion, as she simply compared him to all other Neviim (including herself and Aharon);

6.      She did not speak in front of him to embarrass him, nor did she speak about him in public;

7.      Instead, she spoke to her Holy brother, the Kohen Gadol, privately;

  1. Moshe Rabbeinu was not makpid--i.e., he did not care;

  1. Her intention was for Kinas HaEmes--for the sake of what was proper; and

  1. Likewise, her intention was for Binyan HaOlam--for Moshe Rabbeinu to have more children.


The Chofetz Chaim concludes that it is for this reason that we have a Mitzvas Asei of the Torah to remember what happened to Miriam--in order to remind ourselves to do our utmost to avoid and greatly distance ourselves from the far baser acts of Loshon Hora which involve no such justifications or defenses.


It is especially important for us to recognize and apply this great lesson now, as the Torah immediately continues in this week’s Parsha with our nation sadly failing to learn from Miriam’s experience, which resulted in the catastrophe of the Meraglim and its effect on Bnei Yisroel for all time.


Indeed, the 40-day period leading up to Tisha B’Av, during which the Meraglim traveled throughout Eretz Yisroel, concluding with Bnei Yisroel accepting the Loshon Hora of the Meraglim on Tisha B’Av, will soon be upon us.  Most certainly, a method of turning these days into days of joy would be our special attentiveness and conscientiousness to Shmiras HaLashon--this week and through Tisha B’Av--may it be a day of joy for us all!!


There is an especially moving S’forno (Bamidbar 1:2) who writes that not only did the Jewish people suffer from the sin of the Meraglim, but that the Canaanim, who were the then inhabitants of Eretz Yisroel, suffered immensely as well--for if Bnei Yisroel would not have sinned at that time, they would have entered the land immediately, and the Canaanim would simply have been chased out, as their sins had not yet reached the level for which they deserved death.  As a result of the 40-year delay, their sins continued to accrue and compound, and, as a result by the time of Bnei Yisroel’s arrival, they (except for the Girgashi) all deserved to be killed.  Because they were killed, all of their future generations were never born into the world.  Thus, the S’forno concludes, Loshon Hora destroys not only the lives of those immediately involved, but by its very nature, destroys the world.  


Similarly, the S’forno writes, because the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed as a result of Loshon Hora, the entire world fell spiritually, and continues to exist in a spiritually-bereft state. 


There is one additional, important and very beneficial point we can make.  The Chofetz Chaim writes that if one has spoken Loshon Hora, and the Loshon Hora has been accepted, then the speaker must ask forgiveness from whom he has spoken about (i.e., the victim) in order to do Teshuva.  HOWEVER, if the person listening does not accept, and in fact, rejects, the words of Loshon Hora, then the words have had no damaging effect, and the sin remains one of Bain Odom L’Makom, so that the Teshuva process need not include the embarrassment of asking a victim of Loshon Hora for forgiveness (see Sefer Chofetz Chaim, Hilchos Loshon Hora 4:12).  It behooves us, then, to always be on the alert not to be Mekabel—not to accept, and in fact, reject--Loshon Hora so that you not only avoid hurting the victim, but actually eventually help the former culprit in his Teshuva process as well!


Hakhel Note:  We urge you to make good use of the Chofetz Chaim’s Heritage Foundation’s Shemiras HaLashon Shaila Hotline, in which expert Poskim answer your real-life Shailos relating to Shidduchim, business, neighbor relations, etc.  The phone number is 718-951-3696 between the hours of 9:00 PM to 10:30 PM Eastern Standard Time.  Avoid any doubt--say it right!



Special Note One:  The Beis Din Maysharim of Lakewood, at www.shtaros.com is providing to lawyers, professionals, and educated laymen a collection of documents designed to address many Halachic issues that arise in standard contracts.  The documents have actually been drafted by Dayanim of the Bais Din.  Please note that these are not intended to replace any legal documents, and an attorney should be consulted before use.  Some of the documents are presented as 'shareware'.  They may be downloaded at will, with the expectation that users will pay for their use, as described in the footers of each document.  We thank the Bais Din Maysharim for this invaluable new resource.



Special Note Two:  There are several important Jewish websites which can provide useful and non-challenging information to our unaffiliated and uneducated brethren.  You may simply suggest in a courteous and pleasant conversation to one who you realize needs to learn more that he/she browse any of the following sites:  Ohr.edu, simpletoremember.com, beingjewish.com, or aish.com.  A related and useful site is jewishresourcecard.com, which provides information as to how one can obtain a personal study partner for free, or learn about weekend retreats and live events.  In order to obtain ‘Kiruv-cards’, in which these websites are listed and which you can have available to hand out after meetings and other occasions, please call:  718-501-2110.



Special Note Three:  A product sold with the OU, under the trade name ‘Sensible Portions’, produces ‘Garden Veggie Chips’ and ‘Garden Veggie Straws’, which are intended to compete with potato chips products.  We contacted the OU as to the appropriate bracha on these Veggie products.  The OU responded that the appropriate bracha is a Shehakol.  This is an important lesson in the need to call a Hashgacha in the case of any doubt as to the bracha on a product.



Special Note Four:  Today is the birth day of Yehuda, the son of Yaakov Avinu.  We all know what his mother Leah exclaimed upon his birth--“Hapa’am Odeh Es Hashem (Bereishis 29:35)--This time I will gratefully praise Hashem!  Rashi comments that Leah expressed this because she knew that she had received more than she was otherwise entitled to.  Today is an especially auspicious day for us to express our humble appreciation and gratitude to Hashem for that which we do not deserve as well.  Thank you Hashem! Thank You Hashem! should be an important hallmark of the day.  Additionally, if you have a moment, the Luach Dovor B'Ito suggests that one take the favorable occasion to read the Brachos given to Yehuda in the Torah --in Parshas Vayechi and in Parsha Vezos HaBracha--perhaps with the prayer that today be a special 'eis ratzon' for the brachos to take effect.



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


1.  As sunrise gets earlier as we head towards the summer, we caution those who daven later on Shabbos morning to make sure that they have recited the full Kriyas Shema before the Sof Zeman Kriyas Shema. 


2.  According to some opinions, the Shir Shel Yom for Shavuos is Tehillim, Chapter 19 (HaShamayim Misaprim Kevod Kel).  This Kepitel contains several Pesukim (starting with the words Toras Hashem Temima...) which especially praise the Torah and its Mitzvos.  It must be no coincidence, as it never is, that this Kepitel (in Nusach Ashkenaz) is the first additional chapter of Tehillim read in the Shabbos Shacharis davening--after all, Shabbos is an acronym for ‘Shaina B’Shabbos Taanug’--learning Torah on Shabbos is very a special pleasure.  Every Shabbos we have an extraordinary opportunity to remember Shavuos through the recitation of this special Kepitel--and through the extra or special learning we do on this Holy Day. 


3.  In this week’s Parsha (Bamidbar 10:10 ) the Torah teaches us that the Kohanim were to sound special Chatzotzros (trumpets) on Shabbos, the Moadim, and Rosh Chodesh.  In describing Shabbos in this Pasuk, the Torah actually uses the phrase “U’Veyom Simchaschem--on the day of your joy.”  Rebbe Tzadok HaKohein explains that the sound of the trumpets, which you might otherwise expect to elicit fear, actually elicit joy based upon our realization that we are leading correct and proper lives in fearing Hashem and performing the Mitzvos.  Moreover, he suggests that the tekios which were once blown on Erev Shabbos (see Shabbos 34, and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Chapter 256) --which today in some communities is replaced to some extent by a loud siren-- may be intended to evoke this very response--entering into Shabbos with Simcha because one fears Hashem and is accordingly leading his life guided by the Torah’s Halachos and Hashkafos.


4.  The following Halachos, which relate to taking vitamins and natural supplements on Shabbos, is excerpted from the Sefer LeHalacha by Rabbi Aharon Reichman, Shlita:  Vitamins and supplements are taken by individuals for different reasons, and the permissibility of taking them on Shabbos may be dependent upon why the individual is taking the vitamin or supplement.  For instance, according to Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 3:54 ) if one is healthy (i.e., not weak by nature), and he is taking the vitamin only to be healthier or not to get sick or weak, it would be permissible to take the vitamin.  On the other hand, it is reported in the name of HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, (Shmiras Shabbos KeHilchasa 34:64, Note 85) that even if one is taking vitamins to feel stronger, this would be prohibited as a form of Refuah on Shabbos.  If one is simply taking vitamin or mineral supplements because he does not like or cannot eat fruits or vegetables which provide these nutrients, then the supplements would be treated like food, and would be permissible on Shabbos.  Children (certainly until the age of three, perhaps until five or six, and under certain circumstances until the age of twelve) have special rules in this regard, and one should consult with his Rav or Posek.  Pregnant (and nursing) women, based upon the directive of their doctor and the guidance of their Rav have greater leeway in this area. 



Special Note Six:  At his recent Shiur to the Flatbush community, Rabban Gamliel Rabinovitch, Shlita, made the following fascinating observation relating to incredible nature of Chasunas.  A wedding is a time of unique Ahavas Yisroel, represented by the uniting of both the Chasan and Kallah, and of two families previously (usually) unrelated and independent.  Moreover, when everyone at the Chasuna joins together in Simcha below, Hashem and the Melochim with Him join together in the Simcha above.  Additionally, at the Chasuna, when the Chasan and Kallah are married, the Shechina joins together with them.  Each partner therefore owes the other unremitting and unrelenting love and respect because their partner, by joining together with him/her, has actually brought the Shechina Itself into his/her life!



Special Note Seven:  The following meaningful story is brought in Pathways to the Prophets by Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita.  A Gerrer Chassid came into the Chiddushei HaRim (the Gerrer Rebbe in pre-war Poland ) to tell the Rebbe that business obligations would take him to Paris for a few weeks.  “I hear that they have extraordinary cigars in Paris ,” the Rebbe replied.  “When you are there, find the best cigars you can, and bring me a box of them.”  The Chassid was puzzled by the bizarre request but bid the Rebbe farewell and set out on his journey.  After all, we don’t question a Rebbe!  Three weeks later, the Chassid returned to the Rebbe with a box of cigars from Belgium .  “Rebbe,” he explained, “I was so busy in Paris that I forgot all about the cigars.  However, I remembered during the train trip on the way home. I stopped in Belgium and picked up a case of fine cigars.  I assure the Rebbe, they are as fine as anything I could have found in Paris !”  The Chiddushei HaRim expressed his disappointment.  “Do you think that I need your cigars?!  It was my hope that during the three weeks you were in Paris , you would be on the lookout for my cigars.  In this way, you would not forget that you have a Rebbe.... "


At the end of this week’s Parsha, we learn the importance of having a Rebbe and teacher to guide one’s life, and of always demonstrating the utmost respect and trust in that Rebbe.  Yehoshua was stunned by the words of Eldad U’Maidad and asked Moshe Rabbeinu to not allow their prophecy to continue.  Chazal derive from here that one’s reverence for his teacher should be as the reverence of Heaven (Avos: 4:15 ).  In contrast, Miriam at the Parsha's end did not appear to display this same type of reverence, and was punished in a way which the Torah commands us forever to “Remember what Hashem did to Miriam when He took you out of Mitzrayim.”  This Shabbos, based upon the stark contrast and lesson of the Parsha, we should take the opportunity to strengthen ourselves in the Kavod, in the dignity, and in the reverence that we have for our teachers, our Rabbonim, our Poskim--keeping their guidance and guidelines in our minds even as we go to Paris…or otherwise conduct our regular ordinary and every day activities--in which we so much need to follow their advice, instruction and lessons!



Special Note One:  For an update on the current status of acceptable Kosher liquors based upon the most recent findings of the Association of Kashrus Organization, one may refer to www.cRcweb.org and search for liquors.



Special Note Two:  We are excited to provide by clicking here, the second issue of the Praying with Passion Series, produced by our affiliate, The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation.  Please spread this wonderfully meaningful and useful publication to others!



Special Note Three:  Today is the yahrzeit of HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z'tl, the awesome founder of Yeshivas Volozhin, and Mechaber of the classic Sefer Nefesh HaChaim, among other works.  In honor of HaRav Chaim, we present several of his teachings below:


1.  Firstly, by clicking here we provide perhaps the most famous teaching from the Nefesh HaChaim, which some review or recite daily--to make sure that one's life is constantly kept in proper perspective.  According to the Brisker Rav, his focused and unwavering kavana in this enormously important teaching was the basis of his miraculous escape from Nazi-occupied territory.


2.  A person must always know and appreciate that his deeds are not 'shefalim'--low and unimportant.  Rather, every part of one's life is consequential and important in this world and to this world, and has far-reaching in the heavenly spheres as well.  A person is not a world onto himself only in an allegorical sense-but in a literal way.  His heart, as the source and place of his thought, is the Kodesh HaKodoshim--the epicenter of his world, which acts in tandem with all of the other worlds around him.  Accordingly, if one allows anger or desire to enter his being even temporarily--it is as if he is, c'v', setting a fire, albeit only temporarily, in the center of his world--in the Holy of Holies.  On the other hand, of course, performance of Mitzvos and Ma'asim Tovim bring unfathomable (because it is not physical) Kedusha into oneself, the world at large--and actually raise the level of Kedusha of the heavens!  Indeed, even the Malochim benefit from a person's proper actions through a 'tosefes kedusha al kedushasom'-- their kedusha actually becomes increased as well.  It is especially appropriate for a person to have in mind when learning Torah or performing a mitzvah that he intends to bring Kedusha into himself and into all worlds through his actions.  This teaching may not appear to be very light--but it is very real.


3.  Following from the previous point:  Some raise themselves up when reciting Kedusha.  The reason for this may be that one is in effect demonstrating that he is connecting to the upper worlds, and raising their level of Kedusha (which they themselves cannot do)--by and through his *earthly* words and actions of Kedusha.


4.  Through the recitation of Perek Shira, one enables the Malochim and the Sarim of these creatures to sing their respective Shiros, and they thus are enabled to continue influencing the lives and continued existence of each of these creatures.  Hakhel Note:  It is perhaps for this reason that the Torah teaches us that the animals will fear us--for they may especially recognize that their survival is dependant on our actions!


5.  Chazal do not teach that everyone has a part "BaOlam" Haba--but rather "LaOlam" Haba.  BaOlam Haba would indicate that there is a set and designated place which one goes to if he earns it.  That is not the case, however.  One's Olam Haba is 'ma'aseh yedei odom atzmo'--the handiwork of the person himself--who actually constructs his own personalized Olam Haba through the quantity and quality of his individual and specific Ma'asim Tovim.


6.  Conversely, when one sins he creates a Ruach Hatumah which one does not sense but remains present with him until the aveira is completed.  [If one does not undo what he has done in his lifetime] the Ruchos Hatumah will be fully sensed upon death, and their envelopment of him will be real punishment.  These Ruchos Hatumah will not exist eternally, however--whereas the Kedusha created by Ma'asim Tovim will benefit the person forever and ever.


7.  The word "Baruch" at the outset of a bracha is translated by many as a word of tribute or praise.  The word actually means “tosefes ve'ribui--addition and increase.”  Through our bracha, we express our awareness and appreciation that Hashem is the ultimate source of all influence and the absolute cause of all existence in all worlds. We do not understand His limitless powers or His infinite strength--but we know enough to recognize that the item or event upon which we are reciting the bracha emanates only from His utter graciousness and goodness to us.  Through our proper expression and recognition of this, we can hopefully bring more shefa--more of His Divine Influence into the world around us.


8.  When Chazal teach that Moshe Rabbeinu (in this week's Parsha--Bamidbar 11:2, as explained in Brachos 31B), or Eliyahu, or Chana cast words 'against the heavens' when they davened to Hashem for a yeshua--it does not mean that they complained or were even perplexed by Hashem's actions.  Rather, it means that they davened to Hashem not out of concern for their own tza'ar-- but 'against the heavens'--out of concern for the tza'ar of the Shechina which was suffering along with them.  One must look beyond himself when davening to the much broader picture of all that he is really davening for.  Moreover, one is mechuyav--obligated to find eitzos as to how he can fight the 'milchemes mitzvah' of having kavana while davening.  Our tefillos take the place of karbanos--the effectiveness of which were wholly dependent on the Kohen's thoughts.  Through his thoughts--the Korban could become permanently disqualified as 'pigul'--or rise-up gracefully as a 'reiach nichoach'.  We must also remember that each one of our Tefillos constitutes a stand-alone Korban--creating its own benefits and tikunim which had previously not been brought into the world from the time of the institution of tefillah --and will never be replicated again in the future.  Accordingly, we should treasure each irreplaceable tefillah for what it really, truly is--something that is 'omed b'rumo shel olam--standing at the height of the world'--ready and able to bring holiness and light into the world through the proper recitation of its purified and refined words!



Special Note One:  Chazal (Brachos 6B) teach that one should run to Shul (at least when he is in close range), citing the pasuk (Hoshea 6:3):  "VeNaidah Nirdefa Loda'as Es Hashem--let us know, let us be chased to know Hashem..."  There is a great lesson here.  The Navi does not merely tell us to run ('narutza') to know Hashem--but to put that extra effort, that extra gas into the Mitzvah--as if you were not only running--but "nirdefa"-- as if being chased.  It is that little bit of extra effort that makes one among the first to be in Shul, or among the first to be at the Shiur, or among the first to help.  It is more, though, than a "numbers" game of being among the first or earliest--it is the quality of the Mitzvah that is being performed--a Mitzvah with an especial zeal, a real striving, a Mitzvah of added desire, respect and longing.  Even if one has difficulty physically running at the "being chased" level, or even running at all, one can demonstrate his alacrity and eagerness with his timeliness, zest and enthusiasm.  It is said in the name of the Chofetz Chaim that as part of one's lot in life he may have to be subjected to "redifos"--to being chased.  Instead, the Chofetz Chaim suggests, of being chased, c'v', by tzaros, or by monetary matters, or by the Yetzer Hora, one may attempt to replace the redifos with chasings by and of Mitzvos and Ma'asim Tovim.  At the end of your day, an important question that you can ask yourself is--what chased me today?  If you need to fix it the next day--may we suggest beginning with the way you get out of bed and/or the readiness in which you prepare for and begin your morning Tefillos.  If a commoner quickens his pace when he nears the bar or restaurant--what should we do when we draw near to Shul or the place where we will be helping someone?!

Additional Note:  Although one moves quickly as he draws near to the Shul or the place where he will daven, the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Introduction to Chapter 46) writes that before actually entering the Shul, one should pause and wait a little in order to feel and appreciate the fearsomeness, the awe and the majesty of the place, and of the moment.


Special Note Two:  With Chasuna season upon us, it becomes necessary to review the Halachos of Sheva Brachos, so that we can be better guided when attending a Sheva Brachos Seudah, or being asked to be the "Panim Chadoshos". We present below several such Halachos, as excerpted from the Sefer Oholei Yeshurun by Rabbi Aharon Felder, Shlita.  As always, one should consult with his Rav or Posek for a final P'sak or in the case of any doubt:


1.  If a Chasuna occurs near sh'kia and the meal cannot begin on the same day (before sunset), then the seven days begin on the following day (i.e. the day of the actual Chasuna meal).


2.  If the final meal on the seventh day concludes after sunset, Sheva Brachos may still be recited.


3.  It is preferable that Sheva Brachos be recited each day.  Therefore, a Chassan and Kallah should not travel to places where Sheva Brachos cannot be recited.


4.  Sheva Brachos may be recited at a meal in any place--as long as the meal was prepared specifically for the Chassan and Kallah.  Therefore, Sheva Brachos could not be recited if the Chassan and Kallah enter a restaurant to have a private meal.  Rather, if Sheva Brachos are to be recited in a hotel, restaurant or other place where people are otherwise served meals, then the people who will participate should be notified ahead of time that the meal is in honor of the Chassan and Kallah.


5.  Sheva Brachos would not be recited if a Chassan and Kallah are attending a Bris, unless special food was added in their honor.


6.  Both Chassan and Kallah must be present both at the meal (even if they arrived late), and at the Sheva Brachos.


7.  Sheva Brachos is recited only once, even if there are several Chassanim and Kallos at the same meal.


8  A minimum of seven males above Bar Mitzvah must recite Birkas Hamazon in order to recite Sheva Brachos.  The remaining three people needed for the minyan may eat a kezayis of any food or drink a revi'is of any liquid (except for water).  If one had started his meal elsewhere (such as Friday night), and was asked to Bentsh with the Chassan and Kallah for Sheva Brachos, he must eat a kezayis of bread at his own meal, and he must then eat a small portion of food with the Chassan and Kallah--unless he is one of the seven people required to eat bread--in which case he must eat at least a kezayis of bread at the Sheva Brachos location.  However, if he is one of the other three people needed, then he may eat a kezayis of any food or drink a revi'is of liquid (except water), as above.


9.  The Panim Chadashos can not have been present at a previous meal tendered in honor of the Chassan and Kallah, but may have attended the wedding ceremony itself.


10.  If the two Kosos are not the same size, the larger Kos should be used for Bentshing, which is more chashuv.  Both cups should be filled before washing Mayim Achronim.


11.  If one of the Brachos was temporarily skipped by mistake, it should be recited despite the fact that it will not be in the proper order.


12.  The person Bentshing should have kavana to be motzi others with his Borei Pri Hagofen, and those intending to drink (such as the Chassan and Kallah) should also have in mind that they are being yotzei with his bracha.  He should drink at least an ounce of wine--and preferably a revi'is--so that he can make a bracha achrona on the Kos Shel Bracha.


Hakhel Note:  Whether or not you were honored with one of the Sheva Brachos--don't leave without your own personal bracha to the Chassan and Kallah!



Special Note One:  As the Shivas Yemei of Tashlumim draw to a close, we must be sure to have the effects of Shavuos continue with us--even as we may have now caught up on our sleep, or finished the last vestiges of caramel cheesecake.  One practical, easy and important suggestion is to think about the Ma’amad Har Sinai--in which we unfathomably ‘heard’ the lightening and ‘saw’ the thunder, the unrelenting Shofar blast, the literal shaking of the hills and mountains, the fearful and wondrous awe, the stillness of creation, the fire pillaring from Har Sinai into the heights of heaven--all so that we would forever realize and appreciate the moment of Hashem revealing Himself to man in this world--and the incomparable gift and inestimable privilege we thereby received forever.  Every morning--no matter how tired we are, how many things we have on our head, how much we have to do in the morning alone, and even if we are terribly late--we must remember that those few short moments of Birchos HaTorah are the moments that we have to testify that we realize that we are a precious and irreplaceable part of the most valuable chain that the world has ever known--conveying Hashem’s personal and direct message as to the purpose of man and the meaning of life.  We owe it to ourselves to treasure these few moments, in great appreciation and thanks, as we visualize the event, and dedicate ourselves to Torah and Mitzvos in the day ahead in a manner befitting the grandeur and glory--and sheer unparalleled importance--of the most precious of heavenly possessions that was gifted to us then--and is gifted to us anew every single day.



Special Note Two:  A few parting notes as we take leave of Parshas Naso:


1.  Rebbe Tzadok HaKohen asks a simple but perplexing question.  Why is it that in the Torah She’Bichsav, in the written Torah, the Parsha of Sotah is placed before the Parsha of Nazir, but that in the Torah She’b’al Peh, Mesechta Nazir precedes Mesectha Sotah--why the juxtaposition?  He beautifully answers that the written Torah teaches us that we must realize that the events that we witness  or experience have occurred in front of (or to) us because of hashgacha pratis--with Hashem especially placing them there for us to learn from--because we simply need the lesson.  If someone sees the sad and difficult Sotah procedure--it will leave a real impact upon him, and he will learn to better quash and regulate his own desires going forward.  The Oral Law, however, which places the Nazir ahead of the Sotah teaches us that while indeed we must learn from the events around us--it is truly better to be in control before the event even happens--be a Nazir, so that you don’t have to get to the step in which Hashem must show you the Sotah to learn from.  In fact, this is what Chazal often look to accomplish with their Gezairos and Takanos--avoiding the temptation and keeping that extra step away from the Yetzer Hora’s stretching grasp.  Of course, it is our sacred duty to learn from our experiences, because it demonstrates our Bitachon in Hashem’s watchful eye and guiding hand--but it would be better yet if we taught ourselves the personal lessons we need to be successful at our own lives.  As Hillel taught in last week’s Avos ( 1:14 )--”If I am not for myself--who is for me?!”  before taking that extra helping at the smorgasbord, before engaging in an extra indulgence or purchasing that item that you “really don’t need”--remember that Chazal recommend that you put yourself first--the Nazir staying one step ahead of the Sotah!


2.  Chazal teach that if a person undertakes to be a Nazir and does not provide a time frame for his nezirus--then “Stam Nezirus, Sheloshim Yom--a standard Nezirus is 30 days”.  After spending much effort in contemplating the source of this Halacha, Chazal conclude that the source is the term “Kodosh Yiheye--he shall be holy” (Bamidbar 6:5)--in which the gematria of ‘Yiheye--he shall be’ is 30.  How long ‘shall he be’ a Nazir unless he specifies otherwise--30 days.  The Chofetz Chaim points to how precious one word of Torah is--the mere numerical value of a word comprised of only four letters teaches us the laws of Nazir for all of time!  We must accordingly take and treat each and every word of Torah with the utmost consideration and regard--each and every word is a spiritual atom from which great kedusha can be infused and processed into our lives and being.  Look at a single word of Torah--think about it and contemplate it--there is absolutely nothing that can compare!


3.  Finally, there is a wonderful lesson learned from the fact that Birkas Kohanim was first recited in the desert--before the Aharon and his sons received Terumos, Bikkurim and the like as the Matanos Kehuna.  If they would have already been receiving these gifts, then in blessing the people they would also be blessing themselves--for when the people had more bounty, so would they.  This is not the optimum way of giving a bracha--blessing someone else with one’s personal interests in mind as well.  Rather, the Torah teaches--when giving a bracha give it with a full and selfless heart--focusing exclusively and entirely on what is best for the recipient of the bracha, and not regarding for the moment how you could ‘also’ benefit from the very same blessing.  Be effusive in your bracha--but also make sure to make it pristine, wholesome, untainted and pure!



Special Note One:  We received the following from a reader in response to a Shavuos Bulletin--but the information is useful each and every day:  “On the topic of Birchos HaTorah, we should make sure to pronounce the words properly.  It is BAW.char BAW.nu and not Baw.CHAR Baw.NU.  It is NAW.san LAW.nu, and not Naw.SAN Law.NU.”



Special Note Two:  With the occurrence of Shavuos, Bikkurim can now be brought in the Bais HaMikdash!  Accordingly, it is a particularly propitious time for the daily study of Mishnayos Mesechta Bikkurim.  Mesechta Bikkurim is a short Mesechta, actually the last Mesechta in Seder Zeroim--and one can demonstrate his real will and desire to bring Bikkurim today (u’neshalma parim sefaseinu, as well) by learning the Mesechta.  Moreover, since one has until Sukkos (or, the latest, Chanukah) to bring the Bikkurim--and we certainly hope the Bais HaMikdash will be here by then--we will each know much more about what we have to do and how we have to do it--and it is always better to be learned than (unnecessarily) unlearned!  If you learn just two (2) Mishnayos a day of Bikkurim--you can still make a Siyum this month!  Let’s do it--Zerizin Makdimin!



Special Note Three:  For those studying the Daf Yomi and those who overhear them at home and in Shul, the study of Geulah in perek Chelek has been especially in the air.  We must emphasize that from the Gemaros studied we learn that there are two ways that the Geulah can arrive--with tribulation and suffering--or through mercy and appeasement.  This is why it is especially important when davening that we emphasize--and earnestly plead to Hashem--that He bring the Geulah through mercy and love.  When we recite the words in Shemone Esrei “Le’Maan Shemo BE’AHAVA,” “VeLirushalayim Ircha BERACHAMIM Toshuv,” “Vesechezena Ainainu Beshuvcha Le’Tzion BERACHAMIM,” and make other similar bakashos, let us remember that we are literally talking about life--yours, K’lal Yisroel’s and the world’s.  Moreover, don’t you think it would provide infinite nachas to the Shechina if He brought the Geulah out of mercy and love, rather than, R’L, by or through some other means?  It is no exaggeration that human history and existence may be in your hands as you daven.  It’s not a matter of guilt, but, as we learned over Shavuos, we are a “Mamleches Kohanim VeGoy Kadosh”--and with royalty comes responsibility!



Special Note Four:  Let us take just one example of how everything will be different when the final Geulah comes.  One of the vestiges of the service in the Bais HaMikdash practiced even today to some extent in Eretz Yisroel and Chutz La’Aretz is Birkas Kohanim, which we caught a glimpse of during Shavuos and in last week’s Parsha.  The Mishna in Sotah (37B), however, provides a list of differences between the Birkas Kohanim as we know it today and the Birkas Kohanim in its pristine form in the Bais Hamikdash:


1.  Outside of the Mikdash, they are three separate Brachos--whereas in the Bayis it is one uninterrupted bracha.


2.  Outside of the Mikdash, the Shem Hashem is pronounced in the same manner as when we make all other brachos, whereas in the Mikdash the Ineffable Shem is used.


3.  Outside of the Mikdash, Kohanim lift their hands to shoulder height, whereas in the Mikdash the hands are raised above their heads with the Shechina above their fingers.


Thus, even what we can do now will simply be performed on a more sublime and supernal level when the Bais Hamikdash returns.  We have much to look forward to!



Special Note Five:  With the new cycle of Pirkei Avos commencing last Shabbos, we continue with a thought for the coming week.  Firstly, we remind everyone of the wonderful thought from the Sefer Mincha Chadasha:  The meaning of “Kenai Lecha Chaver” is not necessarily limited to spending money to acquire a good friend--but can also refer to purchasing a “Chibur” or seforim from which to learn.  The Mincha Chadasha also learns that because the Mishna (Avos 1:2) teaches that the world stands on three pillars, Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasodim, one should try to accomplish all three as soon as possible every morning to do his/her part in keeping the world going!  One’s “Avodah” can be accomplished by his/her Avodah *of the heart*--i.e., davening, the pillar of “Torah” is accomplished by especially learning even if only for a few moments before or after davening--and the pillar of Chesed can be performed by *making sure* to perform some act of Chesed (for an individual or, if you are in Shul, for the Tzibur) before you leave your “davening time” or otherwise start your day.  Avos teaches us at its very outset (Perek 1, Mishna 2) that each and every person should keep the world going--and we can all easily do our part as we start the day ahead of us!



Special Note One:  Erev Shabbos Reminder!  Please remember to check your pockets and to make sure that you have enough Shabbos items left after the Yom Tov--such as opened tissues and diapers, grape juice and gefilte fish!  Today is Isru Chag in Chutz La'Aretz--building a beautiful bridge between Shavuos and Shabbos. We should feel like this is our first day of Sheva Brachos after the Chasuna--and that we are getting ready for tomorrow's Shabbos Sheva Brachos...for, after all, it is the Kallah's side that traditionally makes the Shabbos Sheva Brachos!  [What better name is there for the Parsha than “Naso”--the root of the word for marriage—“Ni'suin”!]



Special Note Two:  Isru Chag means that we are still tied to the Chag--that we simply don't want to let go.  In fact, when it comes to Shavuos, we are blessed with Shivas Yemei Miluim--seven days *after the Chag* in which to bring the Karbanos that could not be brought on the Chag.  There are obviously very many great lessons here. To name but a few--(1) Shavuos is only one day and all of the effort to be Oleh Regel for a man and his family was worth it to come for one day if one could accomplish his tasks--but if he couldn't or didn't Hashem understands and gives him the opportunity to make it up;  (2) When it comes to the primacy of Torah in our lives, we need only one day to learn, appreciate and understand it--but we need the next seven days to solidify and bolster that knowledge--and bring it to ongoing reality; and (3) One really only had to stay in Yerushalayim one day (and overnight) and then could go home--and once his Mitzvos were accomplished any remaining stay was “voluntary” or “optional.”  A great secret of success in Torah study is learning not because you have to--but because you want to. You want to accomplish; you want to know; you want to bask in Hashem's wisdom; you want to do what Hashem says is the right thing to do.  It is not only Shavuos night--but the week after Shavuos that is an important in demonstrating the new and renewed verve and vitality that you have for Torah study.  You have just received your annual recharge at the power station--but must realize that every time you engage in Torah study--you are, in fact and in deed, re-charging your very life!


Additional Note:  The Chidushei HaRim explains that the reason Shavuos is called Z'man “Matan” Toraseinu, and not Z'man “Kabbalas” Toraseinu--the day that the Torah was “gifted” to us, and not the day that we “received” the Torah--is because this indicates that the gift began on that date--and the actual *receipt* of the gift continues to take place daily--day after day, every time we learn another perek, another daf, another pasuk, another word of Torah--the Streaming Heavenly Flow of Torah continues.


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


1.  A typical Shabbos greeting is “Shabbos Shalom” or “Shabbat Shalom.”  One thing we must remember on this Shabbos after Shavuos is that Chazal (Brachos 64A) teach that Talmidei Chachomim increase peace in the world.  One way we can certainly accomplish this is through the "Deracheha Darchei Noam” of the Torah--doing Mitzvos and speaking in a pleasant manner.  We recall that, especially when learning--"Divrei Chachomim BeNachas Nishma'ain--wise people communicate pleasantly."  This Shabbos, a time of peace, is a time when we should refresh the way we learn and “talk in learning” all the time--pleasantly, with Derech Eretz, and with Ne'imus.  Remember--when you speak with nachas, you bring nachas to all around you and you most certainly give the ultimate “nachas” to Hashem!


2.  HaRav Yechiel Michal Stern, Shlita, Posek in Ezras Torah, makes the following interesting point in his Sefer on Hilchos Shabbos:  For those who are concerned with opening the refrigerator on Shabbos when the refrigerator motor is off for fear that the warm air from the room will cause the motor to start, one should certainly not put warm food (such as meat or cholent) back into the refrigerator on Shabbos--for this is even more likely to cause the motor to start!


3.  The following Halachos are excerpted from The Halachos of Muktza by Rabbi Pinchos Bodner, Shlita:


a.  Although raw meat, raw fish, dough, uncooked beans, rice and tea leaves are not Muktza on Yom Tov, they are Muktza on Shabbos.


b.  Although one is not permitted to wind  up a mechanical (wind-up) toy on Shabbos or Yom Tov, the toy itself is not Muktza.


c.  Furniture, no matter how heavy, is not Muktza (except that if a built-in bookcase became detached, it would be Muktza).


d.  Although artificial plants and flowers (including dried flowers and plants) are not Muktza, live growing plants are Muktza.


e.  According to most Poskim, Tefillin are classified as Keilim SheMelachtam L’Issur, and should be moved only to save them from danger, or because their place is needed.  Accordingly, if they are on the front of a bookcase shelf, they can be moved in order to allow removal of a Sefer.  The same also would be true of an empty Tefillin bag.



Special Note One:  We provide below several notes relating to Erev Yom Tov and Yom Tov:


a.       A few simple reminders:

·        Don’t forget to buy wine for Simchas Yom Tov, and also those special last minute dainties and surprises, to make your immediate family members happy for Yom Tov!


·        Remember that those very issues involved with moving mail are no different on Yom Tov than on Shabbos.


·        For those who have trash pick-up over Yom Tov, please review with your Rav or Posek the permissibility of bringing trash cans out to the front of your home, or of bringing them back, on Yom Tov.


·        The Sefer Mincha Chadasha writes that the teaching in Avos: “Knei Lecha Chaver”--usually translated as acquire a friend for yourself, could be interpreted to mean “Purchase for yourself a Chibur, a Sefer.”  Today, Erev Shavuos, is an especially auspicious time to purchase a new Sefer or set of Sefarim for yourself--or for your Shul!


b.      If you have not yet done so, please remember your Yom Tov donation to assist poor families in celebrating the Chag.  Please reach out to  yadeliezer.org.


c.       The Ya’avetz writes that the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov on Shavuos is greater today than on all the other Chagim, as it is the day that we received the world’s Prized Treasure--the Torah.  The Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah powerfully comments that it is fitting for every member of Klal Yisroel to bring “Simcha Atzumah--great Simcha” into his heart and mind, and to remember to give thanks to Hashem for giving us a portion and lot in the Holy Nation.  See Special Note Four below for a further discussion of this essential point.


d.      It is the custom among many to eat honey (such as Challah dipped in honey, or foods with honey) on Shavuos because the Torah is compared to honey, as the Pasuk in Shir HaShirim teaches, “D’vash VeCholov Tachas Leshoneich--honey and milk (the Torah) is under your tongue.”


e.       Since we are judged on fruits of the tree on Shavuos, many have the custom to daven for a beautiful Esrog on the Chag.


f.        As for Ashkenazim in Chutz LaAretz, until the Moshiach comes, Shavuos is the last time Birchas Kohanim is recited in 5770.  We wish to remind our readers that the Bi’ur Halacha (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim: 128, Introduction) brings from the Sefer Chareidim that just as the Kohanim fulfill a Mitzvas Aseh when they bless K’lal Yisroel, so, too, do the Bnei Yisroel have a part of the Mitzvah when they stand in silence and have Kavanna to receive the Bracha from the Kohanim!


g.       We have previously mentioned that at the Aseres Hadibros, all were healed, and that Be’Ezras Hashem our reading of the Aseres Hadibros will serve as a special and real Segulah for all those who need a Refuah.  Let us remember that just as the Aseres Hadibros were first heard in Fear and Awe, we, too, no matter how tired we may be should feel the awe and power of the occasion, for we are re-living through the moment once again!


h.   Remember when making She'hechiyanu tonight to have in mind that you are reciting it over the Mitzvah of Yom Tov, the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov, and the completion of the Mitzvah of Sefira (which is like the building of the Sukkah before Sukkos!).  If you can, focus on the difference between those three precious words--Shehechiyanu, Kiymanu and Higianu!



Special Note Two:  The Sefer Kav HaYashar (Chapter 92) poses the question:  If the Yomim Tovim of Pesach and Sukkos span seven days, why is it that Shavuos, over which there is so much to celebrate, is observed for only one day?  The Sefer brings an answer, “Al Pi Kabala,” that Shavuos is rooted in Hashem’s oneness, and that our oneness as a “Goy Echad Ba’Aretz” then stems from Hashem’s oneness, all of which is symbolized by the oneness of Shavuos.  Of course, the profundity of this concept is enormous, and we are already ahead by just acknowledging its depth.  We may add an additional simple suggestion as to the one day nature of our beloved Zeman Matan Toraseinu:  It teaches us the power of One Day.  In just one day, one can go up to Shomayim and receive a Torah--in only one day one can accomplish so much in Torah study, and yes, just one day can  mean the difference between you and billions of others on this planet--so how can we let **even one day** go by without some kind of meaningful Torah study?


Indeed, the Chofetz Chaim (Chomas HaDas, Chapter 8) writes that through Torah study, each person in accordance with his potential, one builds his palace in Olam Haba, day by day, brick by brick.  Have you ever noticed houses undergoing construction which stop and start, stop and start, stop and start, their construction?  Some days there are no workers there, some days just a few.  The building process seems almost endless, and, in some cases does not get completed, or at least completed properly, because of all the inconsistency, the delays, the jumps and reversals, otherwise absent in the day-to-day consistency to completion.  You do not need 20 workers there, if everyone has his job, and knows what to do--DAILY, until completion.


A wise person once noted that the last posuk of the second parsha of Shema states: “LeMaa’an Yirbu Yemeichem....Kimei HaShomayim Al Ha’Aretz...--[In the merit of Mitzvah observance your days will be] increased like the days of the Heavens on the Earth”--what does this mean?  What do increased days have to do with Heavens on the Earth?  The answer may be that if we look up to the Heavens for our days, if we make each day heavenly, by learning and living what Moshe Rabbeinu was able to wrest away from the angels on high, then our days are literally Heaven here on Earth.


As we take the Heaven’s treasure over the Chag, we should especially remember that the Torah uses the word “simcha” twice in discussing the holiday of Shavuos.  Our joy is twofold, for we not only received the Torah on that great day 3,322 years ago, but we commit to take this remarkable gift, compared to water and fire, to bread and wine, to milk and honey, and use it as our daily guide to navigate the pathways of Heaven on Earth.  A real Shavuos inspiration should bring us to remember this primacy throughout the year--especially at those very times when the Heavens feel oh so distant.  A Torah bite at lunch, a shiur on CD in the car between errands, a vort before going to sleep, sharing a Torah thought with a friend while exercising, all serve to remove those roadblocks, eliminate the weighty sandbags, and raise us up very high--as we see the Earth meeting our Heaven!



Additional related points as we approach this Awesome and Joyous Chag:


a.  Let’s make sure that we remember to have special Kavana when reciting Birchos HaTorah.  The Shulchan Aruch actually teaches (Orach Chaim 47:1): “One must be very careful with Birchos HaTorah.”  The Mishna Berurah explains that, according to many Rishonim, Birchos HaTorah is Mid’Oraysa, and that one must make the Brachos “BeSimcha Gedola--with great happiness,” recognizing that Torah is not just another study--and adds that we must  be sure to express our special thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu in choosing *us*  to be the recipient of His “Clei Chemdoso”--His treasured possession.


Additional Note:  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, urges us all to pay attention in our daily davening for the times we ask Hashem for His assistance in learning Torah.  Clearly, we need Siyata DiShmaya to reach our life’s potential in Torah studies.  Accordingly, let us pay needed attention to these special requests found throughout Shacharis (starting with Birchas HaTorah)--and sincerely ask Hashem for His help--so that we can reach our own unique and individual chelek in Torah that we are supposed to.  Remember--“Ata Chonen LeOdom Da’as” is the VERY FIRST unique bracha in the weekday Shemone Esrei for good reason!


b.  Since the term “Bais Yaakov” is first mentioned right here at Kabbals HaTorah, women must also be astute to study that which they especially need to know as the Mitzvos of women.  We may add that one of these crucial areas--as learned from Rus on Shavuos--is Tznius.  Women may not realize this--but *men, whether or not justifiably, may not know the Halcahos of Tznius*--and rely upon women (including their wives and daughters) to be doing the right thing.  As all kinds of exercise garments worn under or with clothing become more prevalent, as shorter and closer fitting becomes more in secular vogue making it difficult to obtain other styles, and as the warmer summer months approach--every Jewish women as a charter member of the Bais Yaakov--should view it as *her* responsibility to know what to do, and to help others that she is close to as well.  The Halachos that she knows and practices--(from age 5 to age 120) have an impact not only upon her--but LITERALLY on all of K’lal Yisroel--for as we know in the order of the Pasuk (Shemos 19:3), FIRST the Bais Yaakov is addressed...and only afterwards do we get to the Bais Yisroel!  It is the Bnos Yisroel who start the rest of us on the track of Kedusha and Kabbalas HaTorah.  Accordingly, perhaps now is the special time to likewise be mekabel bli neder something new and special in the area of Tznius!  May the zechus stand by and for you, your family and k’lal Yisroel in its stead.


c.  In keeping with at least one lesson that we can take from the previous week’s Pirkei Avos for the coming week--we quote the following from last week’s Perek (6:2):  “VeChol Mi She’Osek BeSalmud Torah Harei Zeh MisAleh--and anyone who engages in the study of Torah becomes elevated.”  Let us remember these poignant words of the great Rebbe Yehoshua Ben Levi before we study or listen to a Shiur by really feeling elevated!  We certainly shouldn’t have our elbow on the table with our head perched in the cup of our hand anymore--for instead we are perched together with something the Malachim didn’t want to give up--right here in front of us!


d.  Following the teaching of HaRav Berenbaum, Z’tl, mentioned above as to Kavod HaTorah, may we suggest a refined undertaking?  Sometimes when removing one Sefer another Sefer which is adjacent to or on top of it gently drops because it is no longer being held or supported in the same way.  Perhaps one can hold on to the second Sefer to ensure that it is properly placed or moved into its new position--rather than letting it fall or be moved on its own....


e.  Last week, we noted HaRav Elyashiv Shlita’s, teaching that one should daven for a Refuah Sheleima when the Aseres HaDibros are read on Shavuos morning--as Bnai Yisroel were healed then and we are re-experiencing that very Mattan Torah anew!  A Rav advised us that he feels one can actually think about the Refuah Sheleima needed at the time the Aseres HaDibros are themselves being read.  If you would like to utilize the Eitzah of a Gadol HaDor, you may want to consult with your Rav or Posek in advance as to his opinion on the optimum time and method of accomplishing this great task!  Bracha VeHatzlacha!



Special Note One:  For those who thought about what the common thread was between the seven traits that make one a Chochom (and the lack of which make one a Golem!)--yes it is one thread--the power of speech and how and when to use it!  Today, as we noted earlier in the week, Klal Yisroel begins two great and noble programs to improve ones power of speech.  One is the power of speech Bein Adam LaMakom--how to properly pray.  It is the masterful work Praying with Fire II, by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita.  The second is the power of speech Bein Adam LeChaveiro--how to properly (really--beautifully) communicate with your family, friends, neighbors, and new acquaintances.  It is the wonderful work Positive Word Power, distributed by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.  Each of these Sefarim present daily five-minute programs in which one can literally raise himself over time to new and special heights.  They should be the mainstay of every home--and every Shul should have these special Sefarim as well.  Maybe you can bring these Sefarim to your Shul and be Mezache Es HaRabbim!



Special Note Two:  Today is Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the day upon which Bnei Yisroel entered Midbar Sinai, and changed the history of the World.  This month s mazal is Teumim (Gemini, or twins).  The Sefer HaTodaah by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, Z tl, suggests that the reason for this is that both Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohen were together essential in bringing the Torah to our people.


The following is excerpted from the sefer Let My Nation Serve Me by Rabbi Yosef Deutsch, Shlita, (Artscroll) a unique 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.


Hakhel Note:  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--in preparation for Shavuos!



Special Note Three:  HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z tl, provides the following fantastic Mashal:


A young man, eager to have a successful future, is advised to go to the local gardening store, and to purchase all kinds of fruit tree seeds.  Even though he may not see the benefits of his investment immediately, over the years those handfuls of seeds will produce many trees and a wonderful abundance of fruit for consumption and sale.  The young man eagerly purchases many different kinds of seeds.  Upon realizing how easy and cheap they were to buy, and how the profits to be reaped are geometrically proportional to the investment of time and physical effort, the young man was not as careful as he should have been.  He lost some seeds here, threw some seeds at some birds there, planted some seeds too close to each other, and then did not properly take care of the trees that did eventually begin to grow.


The easy, almost sure investment, was nearly squandered largely due to a lack of use of his intelligence, a simple failure of adequate care and an almost surprising degree of flippancy.  True, a small part of his final relative failure may have been due to bad weather, occasional illness and other factors, but they were minor compared to his carelessness, inattention and perhaps even negligence.


That is the Mashal.  The Nimshal is clear.  Each one of us is given the incredible opportunity to harness our unique and individual portion in Torah during our lifetime.  The little seedlings with which we begin--Torah Tziva Lanu Mosh, Shema Yisroel, Beraishis Bora--must be wisely planted and nurtured.  Even when they grow into full-sized trees, they must be properly watered, pruned and harvested.


Yet, many unfortunately do not follow the road to personal success.  A person drops seeds here, needlessly throws away seeds there, and does not take care of the tree when planted--by failing to keep his daily study commitment; not buying or reading a new Torah book or Sefer even if it is of interest to him; not joining a new shiur in Shul or watching a Shiur on www.torahanytime.com when he has some time at his computer and not progressing (or feeling advancement) on a yearly basis in the Parashas HaShavua or in other topics of Torah study.  There are other examples--a five-minute Chavrusa, a telephone shiur (718-906-6400 is one example), Shmiras Halashon HaYomi, etc.  The possibilities are almost endless.  So much of our opportunities are free, and much of our learning can be done in a group setting, which also makes it easier.  We just have to be diligent, and care.


We are at the time of year, close to Shavuos, where we must evaluate and re-evaluate Torah s place in our life.  Chazal (Chagiga 3A) actually provide one definition of a shoteh  (an insane person) as one who loses what is given to him.  We should not, Chas V Shalom, place ourselves anywhere near that category--squandering those seedlings which can be nurtured into such big and beautiful fruit-bearing trees.


Rabbi Pincus actually teaches that we should view every five or ten minutes as one seed.  That is literally how powerful and meaningful every short period of Torah study can be.  If one throws away a seed of his time, then he has discarded not only the seed, but all of the neutrons, protons and electrons within it, the entire DNA, all of the life-filled potential bound within.


Just five minutes a day is 1,825 minutes a year.  Over twenty years, this amounts to 36,500 minutes, which is more than 600 hours.  According to the Vilna Gaon s calculation, as explained by the Chofetz Chaim (see Shenos Eliyahu to Peah 1:1), if one would have been learning during these five minutes every day, he would have accumulated over 7 million mitzvos!  We now can appreciate how taking care of that seedling could produce such a beautiful and glorious tree.


Let us make the commitment--Bli Neder--to especially and intentionally study just an additional five minutes of Torah a day--just so that we show how much we care about that seedling--no--that tree!



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


1.  Tomorrow, Shabbos Kodesh, is the Yom HaMeyuchas--the day upon which Hashem told Bnei Yisroel V Heyisem Li Segulah Mikol Ho Amim (Shemos 19:5, and Rashi there)--You shall be to Me the most beloved treasure of all peoples.  What a great day--to be declared the greatest treasure of all peoples by the Creator of all!  Accordingly, especially this Shabbos, we should try to perform at least one Mitzvah with at least a little more preparation, kavannah, and zeal glowing--while knowing and showing that you are--literally--Hashem s prized possession!


Additional Note:  Some say that the second day of Sivan is known as the Yom HaMeyuchas because it doesn t have its own Segulos, but rather because it views itself as having a relationship with the day before (Rosh Chodesh) and the days after (the Sheloshes Yemei Hagbalah).  This is a tremendous level--looking to and joining together with-- the Ma alos of others, and it is this that we must emulate!


2.  Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Vorki, Z tl asked if Shabbos HaGadol is the Shabbos before Pesach and Shabbos Shuvah is the Shabbos before Yom Kippur, what is the Shabbos before Shavuos known as?  He answered that it is Shabbos Derech Eretz--a Shabbos in which one works on his Middos--because Derech Eretz is Kadma L Torah!


3.  The following Halachos are excerpted from The Halachos of Refuah on Shabbos by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, and Rabbi Dr. Daniel B. Roth, Shlita:


a.  One may spray himself with sun block on Shabbos, because it prevents the body from becoming sunburned; it does not heal it.  Similarly, one may spray insect repellant on his body but not on his clothes to prevent mosquito bites--for the repellant prevents insects bites; it does not heal them.  If one has been bitten, he may apply ice or cold water to the affected area.  He may not take oral medication, nor apply medicated lotions or creams.  If one has many bites, and they are painful or very uncomfortable, he may ask a non-Jew to apply medicated cream or lotion.


b.  One may treat a minor bruise, burn or any inflammation by applying cold water, a plastic gel-filled cold pack, or ice pack (e.g. an ice bag or a plastic bag with cubed or crushed ice in it).  One may put the ice pack or cold pack back into the freezer to refreeze it as well.  Applying ice to a wound is not a medication.


c.  Caffeine pills and diet pills are questionable because they may be too similar to medicine.  A Rav should be consulted in particular circumstances.


d.  Use of nasal inhalers (such as a Vick s inhaler) is questionable, and depends on whether the inhaler contains decongestants or other medicinal ingredients, which would generally render it impermissible.


e.  Smelling salts are used to arouse consciousness and are not considered medicine.  Accordingly, it may be used on Shabbos and Yom Tov.



Special Note One:  “Praying with Passion” is a free weekly email newsletter of the V'Ani Tefillah Foundation, which is authored by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita (author of Praying With Fire and Praying With Fire2).  Its goal is to provide readers with meaningful insights and personal connections to daily Tefillah.  Each brief section offers simple yet effective ways to inject daily prayers with feeling, inspiration and power.  Hakhel is excited to begin presenting this newsletter to its readers by link on a weekly basis (bli neder every Thursday).  We will begin with the words with which everyone begins his or her day--Modeh Ani.  You owe it to yourself to click on to the following link http://www.prayingwithfire.org/images/Newsletter9-21.pdf   This is a wonderful new addition to our weekly schedule--improving our Avodas Hashem step by step by step.



Special Note Two:  If someone is in the room with a baby in diapers and would like to daven, does he/she need to check the diaper first to make sure that there is no tzo'ah from which a foul smell emanates?  The Sefer Ishei Yisroel (on Hilchos Tefillah, p.606) rules that if one does not smell any odor where he is, and knows that the baby's diaper has recently been changed, he need not check the diaper before davening.  In this event, even if one said Krias Shema and davened Shemone Esrei--and then discovered that the baby was in fact dirty--he need not go back and recite the Tefillos again.  However, if a significant amount of time has passed since the baby was changed (a 'zeman rav')--then one is obligated to check the diaper before davening.  If one did not do so, he will have to daven again if he later  discovers that the baby has a rei'ach ra--a bad smell--emanating from him; however, if there is no bad smell--then even in such event one need not daven again, as the diaper serves as a sufficient covering.  For further clarification on this issue--making sure your brachos and tefillos are pristine, may we recommend that you consult with your Rav or Posek.



Special Note Three:  It is now less than one week to Shavous…and counting (Baruch Hashem)!   We should remember that in addition to our commemoration of receiving the Torah, there are other mitzvos associated with Shavuos.


Firstly, although Shavous is only one or two days, the Mitzvah of Simcha is no different on Shavous than on Pesach or Sukkos.  To properly prepare for this Mitzvah, we must make sure that everyone has what they need to be in the proper state of simcha on Yom Tov (including sleep!).  This especially means that *meat, wine, new clothing and special treats must be purchased as needed*.  Indeed, the Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Siman 529, seif koton 2) quoting Chazal (Baitza, 16A), writes that a person’s exact income is determined on Rosh HaShanah, except that if one expends additional monies on certain designated Mitzvos, his income will be increased “dollar for dollar” for the additional monies spent on these Mitzvos.  One of these Mitzvos is additional money spent for the sake of Yom Tov. [One should consult with his Rav or Posek if he is already in credit card or other debt, or cannot pay his bills in the ordinary course, for Halachic instruction on Yom Tov purchases.]


Secondly, the Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) writes that one must make sure that the “Ger, Yasom, Almonah, together with other poor people are taken care of on Yom Tov, as well.”  Accordingly, we must give Tzedaka now (i.e., today!) to make sure that others less fortunate than ourselves have the opportunity to celebrate Simchas Yom Tov in Eretz Yisroel and abroad.  Tzedaka organizations in Eretz Yisroel are especially hurting-for funds to feed the poor.  You can go to www.YadEliezer.org right now to help a family in the Holy Land smile and be happy on Shavuos together with you, to fulfill Chazal’s teaching--“I was happy, and I made others happy too.”  Why not make someone happy right now....


Thirdly, we should remember that there are certain mitzvos relating to the Yom Tov--actually, essential to the Yom Tov--which we will be unable to perform this Shavuos unless the Moshiach arrives first.  The Mitzvos of Aliyah L’Regel to the Bais HaMikdash--yes, even for only one day; the various Karbonos, including the special “Kivsei Atzeres”,“Shtai HaLechem”, Olas Re’iya, Shalmei Chagiga and Simcha and Korban Musaf will all be physically and spiritually, shatteringly and irreplaceably, lost from us if the Moshiach does not come.  At the very least, we should attempt to study these Mitzvos on Yom Tov itself, so that we are not totally forsaken of them.  For starters, one can study the Sefer HaChinuch, the Siddur Bais Yaakov of HaRav Yaakov Emden, or even easier, the Parshios of the Torah relating to these many Mitzvos.



Special Note Four:  Perhaps one of the most popular questions raised regarding the Giving of the Torah, is why it was given in the desert.  You probably could count five answers on one hand with what you have heard over time.


HaRav Shimshon Pincus Z’tl, looks at the question from a different perspective.  HaRav Pincus asks not why the Torah was actually given in the Midbar, but rather why the Torah was **not** given in Eretz Yisroel.  After all, does not the very air of Eretz Yisroel itself make one wise?  Wouldn’t the intense Kedusha of Eretz Yisroel per se have a unique and special effect on those receiving the Torah?  Is not the complete performance of the Mitzvos dependent on their performance in Eretz Yisroel in any event?!


HaRav Pincus answers that we must put the Giving of the Torah in its proper perspective.  On Pesach, HaKadosh Baruch Hu chose us as his Kallah, as his bride.  The Shidduch was made, and we celebrate our new relationship over Pesach.  The days of Sefirah are the equivalent of the engagement period--between the Vort and the Chasuna itself.  Shavuos is then, the Great Wedding, where Hashem came out to greet us as a Chasan steps forward to greet his Kallah.  The period after Shavuos is the time in which the newfound relationship was to be firmly and eternally established.


We can now understand why the Torah had to be given in the desert.  The proverbial Choson and Kallah needed time with each other, without any distractions whatsoever--not even holy or important ones--in order to form an eternal bond.  Giving the Torah in Eretz Yisroel would be the equivalent of getting married in a kitchen, even if it was Glatt Kosher LeMehadrin--As soon as the Chupa was over, the Choson would soon be learning how to use the Shabbos Clock, and the Kallah would start figuring out how to make cholent!  Just as the Yichud room follows immediately after the Chupa so that the newlyweds can focus on each other and only on each other, so, too, did we need our special time to be separated from everything else and unite with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.


Baruch Hashem our relationship started off properly.  We had the proper Yichud, our connection with Hashem was developed without interruption or disturbance.  As a result, our potential for dveykus--for a close and tight bond--with Hashem is, and always will be, at a maximum level.


So, we are now like the Choson and Kallah less than a week before the Chupa.  The anticipation, the last minute preparations, the prayers that everything goes right…but we must also remember that the goal to be achieved when Shavous arrives is not only the marvelous and incomparable moment of the Wedding itself, but also the raising of our own personal ever-special and eternally-lasting relationship that must follow, as expressed by the love that we have for Hashem, the improved way in which we study His Torah and the devoted manner and especially warm care in which we perform His Mitzvos!



Kashrus Alert!  Historically, bourbon was not considered much of an issue from a Kashrus perspective.  Very recently, a reputable Kashrus agency determined that a 100% Jewish-owned Company, which does not sell its Chometz was producing bourbons and other liquors under various labels.  By clicking here you can view a notification issued by the Association of Kashrus Organizations.  We have learned that the Kof-K supervision service is working diligently on producing a list of acceptable bourbons.  As soon as we receive it, we hope to provide that important “Acceptable List,” as well.


Questions of the Week:  We have been trying to take at least one lesson from the previous week’s Pirkei Avos with us through the following week.  In last week’s Perek (5:9), we are taught that there are seven traits that characterize an uncultivated person, and seven that characterize the learned one.  There is one *extremely important common thread* that ties together and knots all seven.  Please carefully review these seven traits which distinguish the wise person from the unwise person, making sure to understand the common thread.  By putting this great lesson into practice, you will quickly become a scholar!



Special Note One:  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.


Additional Note:  In this very special time, perhaps we can consider purchasing some Sefarim (which may include Chumashim and Siddurim) for our Shuls and Batei Midrashim.  In this way, we are helping others to cling on to Torah and Avodah as well!


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  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.


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.”


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 on Friday, 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.


Until Friday…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!



Special Note One:  In last week’s Parsha, the Torah prohibits Ona’as Devarim--inflicting hurtful, stressful or painful words on others.  It is certainly no coincidence, as it never is, that the new cycle of The Power of Positive Words (Artscroll/ Mesorah), which is the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s monumental and incomparable English work on Ona’as Devarim, will be starting its new cycle this Friday, Rosh Chodesh Sivan.  This most important work is a realistic, meaningful, and effective means in helping to rid Ona’as Devarim from one’s daily life.  Each daily lesson concludes with something practical to work on.  If you are already learning the daily cycle, may we strongly urge reviewing it another time in the next cycle?  If you have not yet undertaken this wonderful daily program, we highly urge you to do so--for this is something, whether or not you may realize it , affects everyone in their daily lives--and affects even more those with whom they come in contact!



Special Note Two:  Each one of the Shalosh Regalim is K’Neged one of the Avos.  Pesach--Avrohom; Shavuos--Yitzchok, and Succos--Yaakov.  The relationships between each Chag and each Av is clear.  Our Avodah then, the service of Hashem that we look to, for Shavuos, is the particular service for which Yitzchok Avinu is most noted.  Yitzchok’s trait is Avodah and Yirah--Service of Hashem with awe (i.e., the middah of “gevurah” in breaking his own will in order to serve Hashem) (see Michtav Me’Eliyahu 2:p.161).  Matan Torah demonstrates our acceptance, over all of the other nations of the world, of Avodas Hashem, and we recall the Yirah--the awe of Matan Torah--every day in Birchas HaTorah as we recite the words “VeNasan Lanu Es Torah-so”.  In fact, Rav Shlomo Wolbe, Z’tl, said that he heard from his Rebbe, R’ Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, that we received the Torah in order for us to always remember the Yirah of that day!


As we are now a week before Shavuos, we should consciously prepare not by searching for Chometz or building a Sukkah, but by thinking about the eternally awesome sight of Matan Torah, and by thinking about “Shevisi Hashem L’Negdi Samid--placing Hashem’s Presence before us”--at different points of the day.  In this way, we will raise our level of Yirah.


Additional Note:  Just as each one of the Shalosh Regalim is Keneged each one of the Avos, so too, is each one of our daily Tefillos instituted by a different one of the Avos:  Avrohom--Shacharis, Yitzchok--Mincha, and Yaakov--Ma’ariv.  It would behoove us then, as we strive to emulate Yitzchak Avinu, to improve the Avodah of our Tefillas Mincha in the coming week, as well.  It is no secret that of the three Tefillos, Mincha is the most difficult to focus upon, for it is strategically placed in the middle and course of one’s daily activities.  We can well understand why it is that Chazal tell us that “A person must always be careful with Tefillas Mincha, for Eliyahu HaNavi was answered against the hundreds of Neviei HaBa’al at this time.”  Let us make the extra-special effort in the coming week at Mincha time, so that we build toward the Avodah and Yirah of Yitzchak on Shavuos--and become Zoche to receive the Torah as expected of us--through the Middos of Yitzchok Avinu!



Special Note Three:  We note below several Piskei Halacha of HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, relating to Shavuos and Sefiras HaOmer as provided in the new, three volume work of HaRav Elyashiv’s Pesakim, entitled Ashrei HaIsh authored by Rav Yechezkel Feinhandler, Shlita:


1.       The Nusach that HaRav Elyashiv recites before making the Bracha on Sefiras HaOmer is:  “Henini Muchan Umezuman LeKayeim Mitzvas Sefiras HaOmer”, and then he immediately proceeds to “Veyehi Noam,” because according to most Poskim the Mitzvah is Me’DeRabbanan, and Rav Elyashiv does not want to make any illusion that the Mitzvah is Me’DeOraysa in our time.


2.       Unlike this past Lag Ba’Omer in which many took a haircut on the Erev Shabbos preceding, those who permit taking a haircut in the Sheloshes Yemei Hagbala (which this year begins on Sunday), would not permit a haircut this coming Erev Shabbos, LeKavod Shabbos.  All the more so that Friday is Rosh Chodesh, upon which one does not take a haircut if he follows the Tzava’ah of Rebbe Yehuda HaChassid.


3.       If someone makes a Siyum Masechta during the Sefira, he can have a choir perform even if he has never done that before, because “Simchas HaTorah Ain Lo Gevul--Simchas HaTorah has no bounds.”  It is also permitted to dance with someone who has become a Chasson in the same way that one dances in his honor the rest of the year.


4.       On Purim, we read Megillas Esther after Kriyas HaTorah, because of the principal “Tadir VeSheaino Tadir, Tadir Kodem--what occurs more often comes first”  Nevertheless, we read Megillas Rus before Kriyas HaTorah because there is already a Maftir after the Torah reading, and we don’t want Megillas Rus to be confused with the Maftir.  If one did not hear the beginning of Megillas Rus, he need not go to another Shul, for the reading of the Megilla is an obligation on the Tzibur, and not on the Yachid.


5.       LeChatchila, one should eat meat both at night and for the day meal on Shavuos, and in the morning, one should eat dairy.  One should not forgo the Mitzvah to eat meat on Yom Tov.


6.       If one’s custom is to stand for the Aseres Hadibros, he should stand a few Pesukim before the Aseres HaDibros begin so that people should not think that one part of the Torah is more important than another.  Although some have the custom of standing for the Haftorah of the Ma’aseh Merkava, Rav Elyashiv himself sits.


7.       If one has a cheesecake which consists of significant amount of cheese on a layer of cake, one should make two separate Brachos, Mezonos on the cake and Shehakol on the cheese.


8.       If one wants to learn most of the night of Leil Shavuos and then go to sleep so that he can daven with Kavanna, he should be careful to go to sleep more than a half an hour before Amud HaShachar.  In fact, it is better to sleep all night than it is to learn and go to sleep prior to Shacharis.


9.       Some have the custom to stop learning at Alos because they understand that it is Assur to learn without reciting Birchos HaTorah--and they cannot make Birchas HaTorah (if they did not sleep on Erev Yom Tov) MiSofek until someone who slept comes and recites the Birchos HaTorah for them.  This is a misconception--one can continue to learn.  The prohibition of learning before reciting Birchos HaTorah stems from the Mitzvah to recite Birchos HaTorah itself--and if someone cannot make the Birchos HaTorah for a legitimate reason (such as in this case, because of the Sofek as to whether one who has not slept recites Birchos HaTorah the next day)--then there is absolutely no Issur to learn.


10.   HaRav Elyashiv once visited a Talmid Chochom on Erev Shavuos, and reminded him that before Hashem gave the Torah on Har Sinai, all those who were sick were healed.  HaRav Elyashiv continued that every year when Shavuos arrives, this Hashpa’ah of Refuah is renewed, and one can ask Hashem for a Refuah Shleima at this time for any illness.  When Rav Elyashiv was asked when this Special Segulah is effective, he responded that it is the time when the Aseres HaDibros are read in Shul (although obviously not during the Kriyas HaTorah itself!)  This great teaching of Rav Elyashiv is brought by Rav Elyashiv’s son-in-law, Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein, Shlita, in the renowned Sefer Aleinu LeShabeiach 5, p. 201).



The following very strong and powerful words are actually written by the Chofetz Chaim himself in his Kuntres Tzipisa LeYeshua, Chapter 3 (translation based upon the Mazal Elul Series English translation of many of the Chofetz Chaim’s works, distributed by Feldheim):


“How is it that we say three times each day ‘Aleinu’ and we conclude that Tefillah with ‘Al Kain Nekave Lecha Hashem Elokainu...--therefore we place our hope in You, Hashem Elokeinu, to soon behold the glory of Your might,’ because if we truly hoped that Hashem’s Honor would quickly reveal itself, then every one of us would be preparing ourselves to know the details of the service in the Bais HaMikdash which includes all of the laws that are relevant to the sacrifices and to the Bais HaMikdash.  (By way of an analogy, if people were anticipating the arrival of the king in their city, even if there was only a slim chance that he would actually arrive, then even if there were a thousand streets in the city, every street would be decorated in his honor on the chance that perhaps he would actually travel along that very street).  For when Moshiach appears, all of these laws will be relevant in a very practical way and it will be a great embarrassment for us if Talmidei Chachomim do not know them.  {We must not allow our Tefillos to be mere lip service, saying something that we do not really mean--and we must especially remember that}.in reciting these words we are verbalizing two Names of Hashem--‘Hashem Elokainu’--affirming that we await His glory.  When one thinks carefully about this he will realize that when making the assertion of ‘Al Kain Nekave....’, he has actually repeated Hashem’s Names Holy Names more than forty times every week; as ‘Aleinu’ is recited three times each day (and thus Hashem’s name is repeated in six times each day and 42 times each week, and if one does not mean what he says, his mentioning of Hashem’s names is ‘lelo dovor’--for nothing).  During the course of a year, this calculation extends to more than 2,000 times that Hashem’s Holy Names are r’l meaninglessly invoked, since this person prays before Hashem to quickly bring the appearance of His Honor and in fact he does not demonstrate that he is hoping for it at all.”


Hakhel Note:  Even if one does not view himself to be a Kohen or Talmid Chochom, even if one does not view himself as currently being able to study any laws relating to the laws of the Bais HaMikdash (such as the Sefer Avodas Hakarbanos--which is broken down into daily segments) and even if one is not in a position to help support Talmidei Chachomim who are studying Kodshim--as at least a first step he should at least recall that he is invoking the name of Hashem twice every time he recite Aleinu--asserting--with the names of Hashem--that he truly awaits the Geulah!  It greatly behooves us when reciting the words “AL KEIN NEKAVE LECHA HASHEM ELOKEINU LIROS MEHERA BISIFERES UZECHA...” to feel a true belief--a real yearning--for the meaning of the precious and all-important words are saying, for bringing the Shechina home, for a Yeshua for us all, for a return to a normal, proper and pristine Jewish life--through the final Geulah.  May it come speedily and in our days!



Special Note One:  Something to think about:  Why is it that human beings are, B’EH, born with fingers and toes, elbows and knees, eyes and ears, but are born without teeth, and that they slowly get teeth before they begin to speak, then begin to utter more coherent sounds and develop their speech over time?  After all, don’t we know that human beings were created to be a “Nefesh Chaya”, which the Targum Yonasan defines as a”Ruach Melalo”--a talking spirit?!  How could it be that man is created without the very talking spirit that he is supposed to be?!



Special Note Two:  At the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Annual Dinner on Wednesday night, Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Shlita, spoke about the importance of every individual assisting other individuals to learn Torah and perform Mitzvos.  Rabbi Frand related that a Meshulach (one who collects money for Yeshivos) met the Chofetz Chaim and asked him for a bracha in his work.  After the Chofetz Chaim gave him a bracha, the Chofetz Chaim then appeared to ask him a few financial questions, “How much does a new pair of shoes cost?”  The Meshulach responded, “It depends, Rebbe, if you buy factory-made shoes, or custom-made shoes, from a shoemaker.”  The Chofetz Chaim further questioned, “What is the difference in price between the two?”  The Meshulach responded, “The factory-made shoes cost five rubles, and the custom-shoes cost ten rubles.”  The Chofetz Chaim then asked, “Is there a difference in the profit on the two shoes?”  The Meshulach, feeling like a financial expert, once again responded, “The factory makes only two rubles profit per shoe, and the shoemaker probably makes six rubles profit per shoe.”  The Chofetz Chaim finally questioned, “Then is the shoemaker wealthier than the factory owner?”  “No, Rebbe” responded the Meshulach, “because the factory will sell hundreds of pairs of shoes per year, and the shoemaker may only sell a few dozen.”  The Chofetz Chaim then turned to the Meshulach and remarked, “How fortunate you are--some people learn, or do their own Mitzvos in their own corner, and ‘make a living’--but you are like the factory owner.  It is because of you that hundreds of boys are able to study Torah.  You are a very wealthy man!”


Rabbi Frand then turned to the overflow gathering and explained that every single person in the room--whether they were of leadership quality, or of a shy and reticent nature, could be like that Meshulach!  He urged everyone to not only join the international 9 AM-10AM Machsom L’fi (in which thousands are already participating), but to get their family, neighbors, block, Daf Yomi Shiur, Shul, as the case may be, to join the Machsom L’fi, as well.  Rabbi Frand pointed to Moshe Rabbeinu who himself had a speech impediment, who truly did not feel he was capable of the job, and who had an older brother, Aharon, who was already the leader of K’lal Yisroel, as the Torah’s paradigm lesson to teach how anyone and everyone can and should be mezakeh others with Mitzvos, as well.  Imagine what would have happened to Klal Yisroel and the world, if Moshe would have steadfastly refused and foregone the opportunity!  May we therefore suggest that everyone take Rabbi Frand’s great lesson and run with it--either with a Machsom L’fi which is so simple yet oh so potent--or with another mitzvah which you feel an especial affinity to.  To contact the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation and become a part of the Machsom L’fi project--to become that factory owner--to learn the lesson we ALL are to learn from Moshe Rabbeinu contact:  join@morningmachsomlfi.org.



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

1.       We received the following from a reader:  Rabbi Yonatan Rietti teaches the following fascinating insight on the Middah of happiness, especially on Shabbos.  It is taught in Avos (5:26) that the reward for doing a mitzvah depends on the amount of effort involved in doing it--the more work that goes into a mitzvah, the greater the reward.  Avos D’Rabi Nassan (3:6) explains that any mitzvah done with difficulty has a reward one hundred times greater than a mitzvah that is done easily.  Orchos Tzaddikim (Sha’ar HaSimcha) states that any mitzvah done with simcha is worth one thousand times more than a mitzvah done without simcha.  The Gemara (Shabbos 105b) teaches that getting angry is compared to serving avodah zarah, worshipping idols; while the Gemara (Chullin 5a) says that not serving avodah zarah is equal to keeping the entire Torah, which is comprised of 613 mitzvos!  This means that not getting angry has a reward equal to keeping the entire Torah!  The Ben Ish Chai (beginning of Parshas Shemos) writes that any mitzvah done on Shabbos is worth one thousand times more than if it is done during the week.  Therefore, not getting angry on Shabbos and remaining happy, which is sometimes a difficult thing to do and also equals the whole Torah, has a value of 61 billion and 300 million mitzvos!!! (613 x 100 x 1000 x 1000 = 61,300,000,000)  Whenever we confront people or situations that aggravate us, we must realize that Hashem is offering us opportunities to act with simcha, in order to earn a tremendous reward!  Imagine earning so much in just one short moment of self-control!”


Hakhel Note:  Whether or not we can fully appreciate, understand or fathom these Cheshbonos--we certainly understand that Mitzvos have different weights depending on the circumstances of their performance.  Let us remember that every aspect of a mitzvah is important--and let us also remember that 1,000 times on Shabbos cheshbon of the Ben Ish Chai--this Shabbos as we daven, learn...and act LeKavod Shabbos!


2.       The following Halachos relating to practical applications of the Melacha of Me’abeid are culled from The Shabbos Home (Volume 2) by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita, and the The 39 Melachos by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita:


a.       Me’abeid is generally translated as “tanning,” and relates to preserving.  In order to wear new leather shoes, for example, it is sometimes necessary to bend the back or front of the shoe in order to soften the leather.  This may not be done on Shabbos, for softening leather violates this Melacha.


b.      One may not insert a shoe tree into a shoe that has lost its shape (e.g. one that has dried after having been soaked in the rain).  By doing so, one stretches the leather, once again violating this Melacha.  If the shoe has not lost its shape (e.g. it is still wet), shoe trees may be inserted into the shoe.


c.       Although the Halacha is that MiD’Oraysa there is no prohibition of “tanning” (or preserving) as it relates to foods--“Ain Ibud BeOchlin”--nevertheless, MiD’Rabannan it is forbidden to salt, pickle, or preserve foods in different ways, as will be discussed briefly below.  One is forbidden, for instance, to put fresh cucumbers into brine; however, one is permitted to put pickles back into a pickle jar on Shabbos, because they have already been pickled and undergo no change when placed back into the brine.


d.      Salting is very much related to the tanning process, as foods, like hides, are altered and improved by salt.  It is for this reason that the Halacha prohibits one from sprinkling salt on a number of pieces of raw or fresh cucumbers, radishes, peas, onions, garlic, peppers, lettuce, carrots, turnips, or string beans.  One has two alternatives if he wishes to salt any of these raw vegetables.  Either he must salt or dip into salt each piece as he eats it (as this would not be deemed preserving it, for each piece is being immediately consumed upon salting), or--perhaps the easier solution--one may add liquid (such as oil, vinegar, or salad dressing) to the fresh vegetables before salting--the liquid will dilute the salt, temper its sharpness and thus, when one than adds the salt, it will not resemble the act of tanning or preserving.


e.       There are many foods (other than the fresh vegetables) in which salt effects no real change in quality or texture, but to which it merely adds flavor.  Examples include cooked meat, fish, cooked vegetables, and eggs, and all of these may be salted.  However, even cooked foods should not be salted too far in advance of eating.  They may be salted in preparation for the next meal on Shabbos (if it will not be a very long time off)--but not for the meal after that.  One may also not salt cooked legumes that have hard peels or pods.  Chick peas and similar legumes that have been completely softened from cooking may be salted.


f.        The restrictions on salting foods do not apply to other spices (e.g. pepper, paprika, onion powder, etc.), all of which merely add flavoring but do not affect the food itself.



Today is the 12th Yahrzheit of Rabbi Moshe Sherer, Z’tl, one of the great Torah personages of our time.  This year, we were zoche to finally have a book about his life, Rabbi Sherer: The Paramount Torah Spokesman of our Era, written by R’ Yonasan Rosenblum and published by Artscroll.  We provide below several lessons from this outstanding work, and urge you to read the rest of the book, which can provide a great understanding as to what an individual, with the right Hashkofos and drive, can accomplish.


1.      Rabbi Sherer once shared with his granddaughter, Mrs. Chavie (Langer) Galinsky his secrets of success.  First, he said, begin every day by thinking about what you have to do that day, and then praying to Hashem for help doing it.  People make the mistake of thinking that one only davens when things are going badly, he said.  The second key, Rabbi Sherer said, is to do everything as if one’s whole life depends upon it.  “Sometimes I give a person or a team a project to complete.  After a week or two, they come back to me and tell me that they have tried their best but they just cannot complete the project in the allotted time.  I go into my office and come out an hour later with the project done.  No magic.  You just have to look at it as the most important thing in the world, and as if your life depended upon it.  You cannot imagine what it is possible to achieve with that attitude.”


2.      At one of their initial meetings, after Rabbi Nesanel Kasnett’s appointment as the first director of Agudath Israel s new office in Washington , D.C. , Rabbi Sherer asked him a completely unexpected question.  Why, he wondered, is Yosef referred to as an ish matzliach”? (Bereishis 39:12).  Rabbi Kasnett replied, because he was successful in all his endeavors.  But Rabbi Sherer did not agree.  In that case, he replied, the Torah would not have used the causative form, but rather described Yosef as an “ish mutzlach. Rather, said Rabbi Sherer, the Torah uses the active form to tell us that Yosef made **others** successful everywhere he went: in Potiphar’s house, in the prison, and as viceroy of Egypt . The measure of Yosef’s success was that he helped everyone around him succeed in his assigned role.


3.      Rabbi Sherer taught his son how to view others, by providing an analogy to the laws of borer (separating) on Shabbos:  Just as it is only permitted to separate if one takes the ochel(the desired object) from the psoles” (the undesired object), so too, when one looks at another, he must learn to see the ma’alosand not the “chesronos” (failings).  But there is a difference, he noted:  Borer is forbidden only on Shabbos; whereas when it comes to judging people, we must focus on their maalos, not their chesronos, even during the week.


4.      In the course of learning the Maharal’s commentary on Rashi, Gur Aryeh (Bereishis 2:5), Rabbi Sherer was once troubled by a statement of the Maharal:  It is forbidden to do a favor for someone who will not show proper appreciation.”  He even asked Rabbi Elya Svei, Z’tl, how he should conduct himself in light of the Maharal’s statement.  In the end, however, he continued doing favors for people, even when he knew that they would show minimal gratitude.  The MaharaI, Rabbi Sherer explained, is speaking where a person feels he is doing a favor for someone else.  But if he views the favor as for himself, he need not concern himself with the likelihood of ingratitude.  As he used to say when people would thank him for some favor rendered, “Would you thank me for putting on tefillin this morning or for keeping kosher?!”


5.      For his part, Rabbi Sherer had a one-line oral tzavaah (ethical will) for his descendants, one which fully reflected his commitment to family: “Mibesarecha Al Tisalam--from your own flesh and blood do not hide yourself.  All he asked is that his children remain close and never forsake one another.


6.      Rabbi Sherer once posed the following question on this week’s Parsha of Bechukosai:  Why does the subject of eruchin (the valuation of human beings for purposes of vows to the Beis HaMikdash) follow immediately after the terrible tochachah (curses) of Bechukosai?  He answered, in the name of an adam gadol that the juxtaposition teaches us that we can only know the true worth of a person after having seen how he reacts to adversity.


7.      On this week’s Parsha of Behar, Rabbi Sherer related how at the beginning of one Shmittah year, the Ponevezher Rav had once gone out to the fields of Kibbutz Chofetz Chaim, prostrated himself on the earth, kissed it, and called out, “Gut Shabbos, Mother Earth. It was clearly a gesture with which he identified fully.  Still, Rabbi Sherer asked:  What is so fundamental about Shmittah that the Mishnah (Pirkei Avos 5:11--also this week’s Pirkei Avos!) lists it together with the three cardinal sins, murder, immorality and idol worship, as one of the causes for which Bnei Yisroel is sent into galus?  He answered that the basic lesson of Jewish belief contained in the observance of the Shmittah year is even more important today when mankind “having gained some small insight into the secrets of Creation is intoxicated with his newfound power, and lays claim to mastery of the Earth.... Now especially do we need to know, “The earth is Hashem’s and all that it contains. For Jews, Shmittah contains another message as well:  We are subject to a metaphysical Law “over and above the laws of nature [and] of history that govern other peoples and other lands.”  When we place our faith solely in the “laws and principles of military science, of economics, of political science, which may be valid for other peoples,” and therefore outside the metaphysical system that governs our existence, we jeopardize our very existence.  For according to the former laws and principles, there is no way that a nation whose every border is occupied by enemies could survive at all.


8.      Although the following thought of Rabbi Sherer is not in the outstanding book, it certainly reflects his approach to life and his feelings towards Klal Yisroel:  Chazal teach that if Hakadosh Boruch Hu comes to Shul and does not find a Minyan there at the designated time of prayer:  “Miyad Hu Koeis--He immediately gets angry.”  Why would Hashem immediately get angry, Rabbi Sherer questioned, after all, isn’t His anger directed to the people who are not there--not to the people who are?  Rabbi Sherer concluded that Chazal are teaching us that it is our responsibility--the ones who are there--to bring all those not yet there--in.  This was most certainly a significant part of his life’s work.  He was not satisfied, however, with his own accomplishments--he wanted everyone else to follow suit as well.  Certainly, a vital lesson for each and every one of us to take to heart.


While many of Rabbi Sherer’s great accomplishments can be attributed to his great God-given talents, there is much that each and every person can learn, as a Torah spokesman to his family, neighbors, friends, co-workers and the world.



Special Note One:  As we continue to develop our Middah of Emunah and Bitachon during the week of Parshas Behar, we note that the Chofetz Chaim writes that learning Chumash with Rashi on the weekly Parsha is in and of itself a source for strengthening one’s Emunah.  Likewise, the meaningful daily recital of the Rambam’s Thirteen Ani Maamin should guide us greatly in growth in this area.  Most certainly, our reading the Shemone Esrei with feeling and focus--sincere belief in the words we are saying, on a bracha by bracha basis--will alone significantly strengthen our connection to true Emunah, as well.  We must remember that in the end, Chabbakuk HaNavi advises--it will be “VeTzadik Be’Emunasso Yichye--it will come down to the righteous one living by his Emunah.


We are handed so many straightforward and simple daily gifts and opportunities to build and refine our Trust in Him daily.  Hashem is not looking to find fault with us.  Instead, He gives us all that we need, at no charge, and many times without any additional effort, to come close.  As HaRav Chaim Shmulevitz, Z’tl, taught--the young child who is in his mother’s lap on the bus ride from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim does not consider himself to be in or near Tel Aviv, Yerushalayim, Lod, Mevasseret, or any of the other cities sighted or seen along the way; the child views himself as only being in his mother’s lap--no matter where he is.  We have to start feeling the purity of that child in our daily Tefillos and in our daily experiences.  If we can, we will take the lessons of the Parsha with us this week, and, moreover, we will be taking the “final” instructions of Chabakuk’s teaching--bringing Emunah to life--which in the end will be the “Yichye--the source of life for us itself!



Special Note Two:  HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, recently provided a special insight into the Avodah of the Sefira Period based upon the words of the Sefer Avudraham.  The Avudraham brings the words of Yirmiyahu Hanavi ( 5:20 -25) specifically referring to Shavuos: “Shavuos Chukos Kotzir Yishmor Lanu...”--in which Yirmiyahu reproves the people for “having eyes but not seeing” and for “having a heart that turns away”--for failing to say in their hearts let us fear Hashem...”  What do these words of reproof have to do particularly with Shavuos--what is this Nevua teaching us?


The Avudraham explains that Hashem actually commanded us to count during the Sefira so that we would feel the “tza’ar ha’olam”--the pain of the world in desperate need of food and livelihood during these days of judgment and harvest of crops of the field and crops of the tree--and to turn to Hashem in Teshuva with a full heart, and beseech Hashem to have mercy on us, on the earth and on all of creation--“so that the crops will be as they should be, for if there is no kemach there is no Torah.”  In short, Rav Salomon, avers, the days of Sefira are really like a second Elul--days in which we are to recognize the Awe and Majesty of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, tremble before his awesome might, and straighten out our ways.  These weeks are oh so critical--our gashmius and our ruchniyus depend on their outcome!  It is for this reason that Chazal (Megillah 31B) teach that we read the Tochacha of Bechukosai this Shabbos--in advance of Shavuos--just as we read the Tochacha of Parshas Ki Savo in advance of Rosh Hashana--the two are very much related--for we demonstrate that we want to rid ourselves of any vestige of sin and any iota of curse--and instead be successful going forward with our Shavuos and Rosh Hashana.


To this end, the Radvaz explains that we do not make a bracha of She’hechiyanu on Sefiras Ha’omer because it is the pre-requisite Mitzvah to the Ikar Mitzvah of Shavuos.  The analogy is to Sukkos--where although building the Sukkah is a Mitzvah (Chag HaSukkos Ta’aseh Lecha)--we wait to make the She’hechiyanu until we actually dwell in the Sukkah--and then the She’hechiyanu is made on both mitzvos.  We are now accomplishing the equivalent of building the Sukkah--just like there is no Chag HaSukkos without a Sukkah, we must build ourselves up, make ourselves ready with the pre-requisite Mitzvah of Sefira for the Ikar Mitzvah--Chag HaShavuos.  The Navi teaches us how--“let us fear Hashem, Who supplies rain...in its proper time, and Who preserves for us the weeks appointed for the harvest!”  We are to prepare with Yiras Shomayim!


We have two weeks to hear the words of Yirmiyahu Hanavi.  In years gone by, we have experienced many Tisha B’Avs in wonderment--how could they not have listened to Yirmiyahu--A Tzadik, A Kohen, A Navi, who was so exceedingly Moser Nefesh--risking his life time and time again in order to save us from a long and bitter galus, and the Bais Hamikdash from devastation and destruction?  Now, it is our turn to test ourselves--will we listen to his cries, to his heart wrenching pleading, to his prophetic appeal--and do what **we are supposed to do** during these fateful weeks?!   We can begin, suggested Rav Salomon, to demonstrate our Yiras Shomayim--our Awe for our Creator--our recognition that He is the One and Only source of our ruchniyus and gashmius--by taking the instruction of the Chofetz Chaim:  At points during the day simply stop what are you doing and think about the Ribono Shel Olam.  Realize that you have to watch yourself because it is Hashem Himself who is watching you.


Today in the Sefira is Malchus She’BeHod--The Kingship of Hashem in all of its Splendor.  May it be a day in which we begin to heed the words of the Navi--properly connecting ourselves to the import of the Sefira count--so that when Shavuos arrives we have built the structure that we needed to build, in order to properly recite She’hechiyanu on Shavuos night!




Gedolei Yisroel are being consulted as to another Kinus Tehillim for R’Shalom Mordechai HaLevi ben Rivka prior to sentencing, and we will keep our readers advised when we have further detail.  In the meantime, we remind our readers of the simple yet powerful Machsom L’Fi Program which one can join by contacting join@morningmachsomlfi.com.  Be a part of the incomparable mitzvah of Pidyon Shevuyim--in a way that is free and provides you personally with tremendous benefit--on a great daily basis!



Special Note One:  As the Haman-like figure from Persia plans to arrive in New York , we recall that this week’s Parsha, through its emphasis on the Mitzvah of Shemita, teaches us that we must strengthen ourselves in the Middah of Bitachon.  This should be taken as a **personal lesson** by each and every one of us.  We must strengthen ourselves in Bitachon this week.  One important way to start may be to review the Pesukim that refer to Emunah and Bitachon that we have available by clicking here and by choosing one or several of these Pesukim to reflect upon, look further into, or simply have available on your lips as you go through the week--and especially as you hear news events such as these.  Remember, we are to take the lessons of the Parsha into our current lives--because BeHashgacha Pratis--it is these lessons that we especially need to study and review now.  In this vein, let us continue our focus on Rachamim--for every individual--and for K’lal Yisroel--as we emphasize to Hashem and to ourselves that it is only from Him that the Yeshua can and will come!



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).”



Special Note Three:  The Yeshiva Amal Yisroel in Modi’in Illit asked its students the following question:  When you walk into a Shul or Bais Medrash and notice that there are one or more Siddurim or Chumashim or other Seforim which are on tables and not put back in their place--should you take the time to find their place and reshelve them--or are you taking away the Gabbai’s job--for it is his duty and his zechus.  The following is the first answer they published--so ostensibly it was most on point in the opinion of their Rosh Yeshiva:  “The Steipeler says that if one leaves Seforim out when he can put them back, then he is demonstrating a measure of Achzarius-cruelty.  One should not leave it all to the Gabbai (especially if the Gabbai is a Talmid Chochom himself)--and if one does so he violates the Torah commands of “Lo Sirda Bo Beforech--do not subject someone to hard labor (actually found in this week’s Parsha-Vayikra 25, 43) and he also violates the vital mitzvah of “Veahavta LeRayacha Komocha--loving your fellow man as yourself.”  Moreover, one who leaves Seforim on the table could cause Bitul Torah for another who cannot find the Sefer (or even the kind of Siddur) that he is looking for.  Finally, there is an element of bizayon to the Seforim--especially if they are dispersed here and there in a disorganized fashion.


As we have been attempting to take at least one lesson from the Pirkei Avos of the previous week through the week with us together, we may point to the words of Rebbe Yosi (Avos 4, 6) who teaches--“Kol HaMechabed Ess HaTorah Gufo Mechubad Al Habrios --Whoever honors the Torah is himself honored by people.”  Rabbeinu Ovadia MiBartenura in his classic explanation of this Mishna explains that honoring Torah includes not only deriving lessons from every word and letter (demonstrating that even the “kotzo shel yud” has meaning to you)--but that Kavod HaTorah also includes honoring the Torah itself and all those who study it.


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. 


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).  


Accordingly, we remind our readers of several important points:


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, which we have mentioned in the past and which require are renewal and rededication before Shavuos, are



- 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--as we had previously pointed out--according to HaRav Pam, Z’tl, one should also try to learn from the Sefer that he had dropped showing true kavod for it!)

-making sure that your bentchers and zemiros booklets are kept orderly and clean

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


May we be blessed with a true measure of Kavod--the Neshama and the Lev to be successful with these very special opportunities!


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