Daily Email Archives

Bulletin Archives

Summer Archives

Public Announcements

Shatnez Publications

Past Events

Hakhel Recordings



Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin





Rabbi Mordechai Schwab provided the following advice from the Chofetz Chaim as to how one can improve his daily Shemone Esrei in a very practical way, without taking much time at all.


The Shemone Esrei’s thirteen middle brochos are supplications where we ask Hashem for specified items.  Before each brocha, take a very brief moment and think about the following three steps:


Step One:  Ask yourself-What is this brocha about?

Sample answer: gaining knowledge; refuah; parnosa; personal redemption; being rid of our enemies; bringing Moshiach…


Step Two:  Think-I/We need…refuah, parnosa, redemption…


Step Three:  Think-Hashem, You are the only One who can provide this, please grant it to me/us.


And then continue on with the brocha, which is now empowered with freshness and anticipation.


We urge you to try the Chofetz Chaim’s awesome advice.  You will see how it improves your kavana remarkably, without taking much time at all!


For further reference in this area, we refer you to Praying With Fire, Chapter 6.




The following PUBLIC NOTICE has been distributed and signed by thirty prominent rabbis (including rabbis who give many hashgochos), Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Rabbi Menachem Weissmandel, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Rabbi Yisroel Gornish and Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Shlita, among others.


It was also signed by the “haimishe” hashgocha on Fresh Express, who removed his hashgocha on the notice.


“Notice and Warning

After much investigation by expert mashgichim, insects have been consistently found on the following vegetables:






This is true of all companies, even those packaged and sealed with hechsherim by individual rabbis or kashrus organizations, WITHOUT EXCEPTION.


Based upon the foregoing, it is strictly prohibited to eat any of the above without first appropriately checking for insects, and the stores that sell them, and those that feed these products to others at simchas and other gatherings based upon the fact that they do not need checking cause the many to stumble (“machshilim es haRabim”)


One is obligated to check every leaf with a careful and quality checking by an expert in the nature of insects which are usually to be found upon such products, and not simply by rinsing or washing alone.


All of the above does not refer to iceberg lettuce, cabbage and to those vegetables which are grown in greenhouses, if they have a quality hechsher which is under the guidance of expert rabbonim, and with respect to these products, one should do according to the instructions of his Posek.”


The above was signed in Cheshvan, 5766, and was distributed for public information over the last several days.



We provide the above as a community service, and one should check with his Posek for further information and guidance.



As we leave Parshas Vayera and enter Parsha Chaye Sara, we are awed by the actions of Avraham Avinu in his everyday, and not so everyday, life.


Except for those among us who are geirim (who have chosen the path of Torah by insight and inspiration), we are genetically direct descendents of Avraham Avinu and have, quite literally, inherited (by DNA or otherwise), an heirloom of character known as gomlei chasodim, or bestowers of kindness (see Yerushalmi Kiddushin 1:1).


How can we most effectively utilize, and even build upon, this enormous character treasure, so that our chesed shines beyond expectations of the average person, or even our own expectations?  Can we do something to make our Avos (or even more recent ancestors) point down at us and proudly say “These are my children”?


Here is a practical and effective suggestion:  Keep your own chesed notebook.  In this notebook, you can, among other matters:


  • List singles whom you know (or are made aware) who need a shidduch-and refer to it from time-to-time when speaking with friends or new acquaintances--you may even make a few shidduchim from within your very own notebook!
  • Keep changing a list of cholim to daven for, and/or give tzedakah for, daily.
  • Have a job page-people you know who are looking for a job and match them to jobs that become available
  • Calendar a phone call tomorrow or in a few days to a person not feeling well or to an elderly or lonely person, or to a person you know who needs cheering up, who just came to mind and who will soon be out of your mind.
  • Write down helpful information that you have learned, in order to share it with others (if you do not do immediate email to your email list).  Examples:  when flu shots are available; that a new drug is coming out; how to get rid of stains in your couch; how to save on your heating bills; self-control techniques, etc.
  • Collect a list of helpful phone numbers of all kinds and keep your own database, such as shaila hotline, poison control, other helplines, etc.
  • Jot down your thoughts as to how you can help a relative, neighbor, or friend which may come to your mind, and will slip away within the next few seconds.
  • In a calendar portion of the notebook, briefly note the chesed (both public and private) you may have performed today.  Remember-at least one private chesed daily!


Of course, the notebook need not be a “composition book” or “spiral”, and can be on a computer or Palm Pilot to the extent it works best for you.  The point is that you become a more chesed-oriented person than you already are by keeping a written record, which is essentially keeping up with yourself.


The heirloom is there, it only needs to be polished-for everyone to be proud of it.


One final point:  The more unnoticed or unappreciated the chesed, the greater the chesed is.  You may have to remind yourself of this from time-to-time.




The Chofetz Chaim in the sefer Ahavas Chesed (2:15) brings the words of the Sh’lah HaKadosh-one who gives tzedaka for the soul of a departed one-even if he is unrelated (provided that the deceased is not a rosha) has certainly accomplished a “hatzola gedola”, a great salvation, and nachas ruach to the neshama.


He continues that if one has departed this world without descendents, you should attempt to provide for him with a “mitzvah hakavuah ledoros”, a lasting mitzvah, for his neshamah.  If one cannot do this, one should at least buy a sefer needed by the tzibur (such as your shul) and write his name in the sefer-and EVERY TIME one learns from the sefer-it brings nachas ruach to the niftar.


By doing chesed for a departed soul, we perform an ultimate chesed-because we do mitzvos for him in this world-the world of mitzvah performance-which he is unable to perform.


As Naomi said about Boaz “Blessed is he to Hashem, he has not failed to perform chesed to the living and to the deceased (Megilas Rus 2:20 ).”


It is important to note that the Rambam brings the halchos of chesed, which are all derived from the mitzvah of V’Ahavta L’reacha Komocha, in Hilchos Avail (the Laws of Mourning), Chapter 14.  Perhaps this is because the most chesed, both quantitatively and qualitatively, can be performed for and on behalf of, the departed.


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  Think of someone, who need not be a relative, who perished in the Holocaust, or in Eretz Yisroel in a terrorist bombing or in war, and learn a Mishnah, give tzedakah, or buy a sefer needed by your shul on his or her behalf.


Perform an ultimate in chesed.


In order to obtain the zemanim for any city in the US and Canada for any day, including alos, neitz,  z'man Kriah Sh'ma, times for Mincha, etc., please call 718-331-TIME(8463) for computer-programmed responses based upon Zip Code.


We are now ready for the second great lesson from the Ramban (Shmos 4:10) cited yesterday. The Ramban presents a “chidush” as to why he believes Moshe Rabbeinu did not want to be healed from his speaking difficulties, which goes beyond our basic understanding that he did not want to be healed (and therefore did not daven to be healed) simply because he did not want to go before Paroh.


It was, the Ramban writes, because Moshe Rabbeinu never wanted to forget the miracle that occurred to him when he was a young child. We are all familiar with this miracle—when Paroh wished to determine whether Moshe, as a young child, was destined to be the leader of B’nai Yisroel, as his astrologers claimed, he tested him by placing both coal and his crown in front of Moshe. The Malach Hashem pushed Moshe’s hands toward the coal and he then put his hand in his mouth, and his life was spared.


The Great Lesson: Moshe Rabbeinu was willing to give up his leading position in Klal Yisroel for all time, his receiving the Torah directly from Hashem at Har Sinai, his being the father of all Neveim, and his unparalleled accomplishments, both personally and for his people, so that he would not forget even one of Hashem’s miracles on his behalf. What are we to say for the life-saving miracles that each one of us has experienced in his lifetime?


Here are some halachos which can serve as a start:

• When one personally experiences something that is “yotzi mederech hateva,” commonly referred to as a “miracle,” one makes the bracha of “sheoso li nes bamakom hezeh” when passing the spot (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 218:4). If one passes the spot more frequently than every 30 days, it should be said without “Shem U’Malchus” (ibid. Mishne Berurah seif katan 15).


• The Chayei Odom (Conclusion) writes that one should make a Seudas Hodaah (Thanksgiving Meal) on the anniversary date of the miracle every year.


• The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (61:3) adds that one who was miraculously saved should set aside money for tzedaka according to his ability and distribute it to those who study Torah and should daven to Hashem that his giving to tzedaka should be considered as if he brought a Korban Todah. In fact, the Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 218, seif katan 32) adds that, in recognition of the miracle, one should actually recite the pesukim of the Parshas Todah (See Vayikra 7:11) from the Torah.


Moshe Rabbeinu was a “kvad peh” (had difficulty speaking), and he so argued to Hakadosh Boruch Hu, in claiming that he was not the person to appear before Paroh.


The Ramban (Shmos 4:10) notes that this problem of his appearing before the King as a “kvad peh” was quite resolvable—all Moshe Rebbeinu had to do was daven to Hashem to be healed from this malady and he would have been cured.  In fact, the Ramban writes that Moshe Rabbeinu intentionally did not daven so that he would not be healed, and so that he would not have to go!


The Ramban then incredibly concludes that Hashem did not heal Moshe Rabbeinu because he did not daven for it.  Had he davened for it, Moshe would have approached Paroh cured.  As Hashem said, “Who gives mouths to people, or who makes people incapable of speech or deaf or capable of sight, or blind, is it not I, Hashem?”


There is a great lesson we can learn here:


Despite the reasons we may give as to why it might have been better for Moshe Rabbeinu to appear before Paroh as a kvad peh (to ensure his humility, to demonstrate that he wasn’t G-d, etc.) and though his speech difficulties were Divinely ordained, if Moshe had davened to be healed, he would have been healed, and, as the Ramban asserts, Hashem said—because you did not daven, I will simply not heal you.


As the words “pandemic” and “avian flu” get bandied about by the media, historians and scientists, we note that it was the yonah, a bird, that was not a messenger of death.  Quite to the contrary, it brought the message to man that the world would once again be a place for the living.  In a similar way, the large fish that devoured Yonah was not the source of his death, but the method of his being brought safely to shore.  For us, the message is clear:  It is dependent on us—Daven, and I will heal you, don’t daven and…


Yes, of course, we can wait until it actually hits a country and people are infected, but we do not find that Mordechai HaTzadik waited an extra minute to daven, though Haman’s decree against the Jews was to take effect 11 months later.  As the Gemara (Shabbos 32A) teaches, one should take the time and effort to pray to Hashem that he not get sick, for zechus (merit) is needed to be healed once sickness has set in.


Let us do our part.  Where do we daven?  Perhaps at the end of Shemone Esrei in Elokai N’zor, or by saying additional Tehillim, and/or, at any time, in our own words.  We note that the Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah defines the word “mogen” in the brocha of “Mogen Avrohom” as “Hashem protects us before any negative event or tzora occurs.”  This is exactly what we are pleading for here-“Hashem, please be our Mogen.”


May each and every one of our tefillos soar much higher than a bird…  up, up and away to the highest Heavens!



The Torah requires every Jewish adult, man and woman, to pay for services provided to them on time.  Essentially, this means that when a service provider (plumber, tailor, computer technician, babysitter, etc.) concludes providing service to you, you must pay immediately, or at least by the end of daytime (or if services were concluded during the night, by daybreak of the next morning), unless the worker agrees to a delayed payment (by mechila), or non-immediate payment is expected as customary.  If one intentionally delays payment, he may well have simultaneously violated five negative commandments and one positive commandment (all M’Doraysa)!


The pertinent Halachos may be further studied in Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, Chapter 339, and the Chofetz Chaim’s Sefer Ahavas Chesed (Part I, Chapters 9 and 10), and are required halachos not only for employers, but also for storeowners, homeowners and housewives who deal from time to time with workers and other service providers.  One cannot, for example, leave an electrician or piano tuner whom you trust at home alone, expect him to leave on his own, and pay him “When I get a bill”, unless he has agreed to this arrangement.  Remember, Mitzvos Doraysa are involved!


The above is only a brief overview of these not-well-known Torah commandments, and further aspects, bli neder, will be the topic of future bulletins.


Here is the shocking Halacha we were leading up to today:


If you tell your six-year old child, “Please clean up your room tonight and I will give you an ice cream,” and he indeed finishes the clean up at 9PM, you must give him an ice cream, and if you do not have any ice cream, you must go out to buy him an ice cream then and there (or at the latest, by daybreak of the next morning).  If you never intended to buy him the ice cream, you may have well violated five negative commandments and one positive commandment simultaneously, all M’Doraysa.  If you intended to get him the ice cream, but you were too tired, unless he has agreed to wait until a later date or this is your expressly mutually agreed-upon practice, you have violated one negative commandment and the positive commandment to pay on time, once again all M’Doraysa.


The child may be any age capable of performing work.


The wages could have been even only a candy bar, or something not even worth a perutah.  It does not matter.


We have heard about children getting parents into trouble, and parents getting children into trouble, but this is parents getting themselves into trouble (in a big way).


For further study, see Sefer Ahavas Chesed (Part I, 9:5), The Halachos of Other People’s Money by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchas Bodner (Feldheim Publishing), page 119, and Journeys to Virtue by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman (Artscroll), pages 354-355.


For tapes or CDs of various Hakhel Shiurim on practical Choshen Mishpat issues for everyone by Rabbi Yisorel Belsky, Shlita, Rabbi Yisroel Pinchas Bodner, Shlita, Rabbi Chaim Cohen, Shlita, Rabbi Moshe Heinmann, Shlita, Rabbi Moshe Kaufman, Shlita (author of Money-Above the Bottom Line), Rabbi Avrohom Rosenberg, Shlita (dayan-Machon Hahoyroa of Monsey) and other rabbonim, please contact Hakhel’s tape center at 718-252-5274.


In yesterday’s bulletin regarding paying children on time, we noted that a child must expressly agree to wait until a later date for his parent (or any other adult who has used his services) not to violate the Torah prohibitions.  As a postscript, the expressed agreement of a child under the age of Bar/Bas Mitzvah to a delayed payment must occur BEFORE his or her starting to work (unlike an adult who can be mochel, or waive, timely payment even immediately after his services are performed).  See Halachos of Other People’s Money, page 129, citing Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT’L, that children are not b’nei mechila, for further discussion.





As this year’s Days of Awe and Days of Harvesting Joy can now be viewed only by turning around, we look ahead to what we will make of the coming year.  The hopes, the aspirations, the dreams...  At the end of this year, will we look back and find that we were truly better people, that we accomplished a worthwhile goal, that we fulfilled our potential in life?


Perhaps a good place to start is by looking at our starting point as a nation.  The Tanna D’Vai Eliyahu teaches that everyone must say “When will my deeds reach the deeds of my Avos, the deeds of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov?”  What were the deeds of Avrohom Avinu?  The Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva 10:2) writes that Avrohom Avinu was driven by a great love of Hashem, and was ever absorbed in thoughts of Hakodosh Boruch Hu, and the chasodim, the kindnesses, He performed for the world and for the world’s purpose, mankind.  Avrohom’s stellar love for others and resultant chesed was a moon-like reflection of his recognition of Hashem’s infinite love and chesed and his desire to emulate and honor Hashem by following His ways.


Rabbi Shimshon Dovid Pincus Z’TL (Sichos Moreinu – Sukkos, page 116-117) notes that when the Chofetz Chaim lists the 14 possible positive commandments that a person can violate when speaking Loshon Hora (e.g., the commandments of judging favorably, remembering what happened to Miriam, fearing Hashem, etc.), the Chofetz Chaim does not list a violation of the positive precept of loving Hashem (V’ahavta es Hashem Elokecha) which we recite in Shema twice daily.  Why not, he queries – certainly when one speaks Loshon Hora he is not demonstrating love of Hashem, and is in fact angering Him by speaking against His children.  Rabbi Pincus answers that the mitzvah of loving Hashem is separate and apart from all other mitzvos, and involves spending time thinking about Hashem and appreciating what He does for us in His world.  The more we think about Hashem, the more boundless our love and appreciation becomes.


In the Western Society (read “Golus”) in which we live, emphasis is placed on the physical and material reality around us, most recently, computers, cell phones, Palm Pilots®, etc.  To some it may seem “childish”, to others “spiritual”, to actually take a minute or two during the day (while taking a shower in the morning or eating lunch, or perhaps when walking to the subway or bus, or before retiring at night) to think, feel and appreciate Hashem’s gifts to us.  We can start with reflecting upon our knowledge-filled heads and then work our way down slowly to the toes we can wiggle when necessary.  Do not be surprised if the words “Thank You, Hashem” emerge spontaneously from your lips from time to time.


As the Rambam testifies, this is the where and the how our forefather, Avrohom Avinu, started his trek to greatness and how concomitantly K’lal Yisroel began its eternal journey through history and mankind.  This is the origin of our legacy and sacred trust.  Be a part of it.  It only requires some inner reflection.  If you feel lost as to how to begin or are in need of some assistance or guidance in this area, the Chovos Halevovos, Sha’ar HaBechina (published by Feldheim Publishers in English as Duties of the Heart (Gate of Reflection)) will certainly be a great tool.


Now, taking a step back, perhaps this is the great lesson of Sukkos as the culmination of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur—that we look up from our humble little booth and recognize that a few rain showers during the Yom Tov pale starkly in comparison to the brochos that Hashem showers upon us daily.


Practical Suggestion:  Keep a short written record of your daily reflections - and have a great Year!



Other email archives