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Special Note One:  Before taking leave of the amazing book Our Amazing World, referred to yesterday, we bring another one of its teachings:


“Take a look at the human brain.  The average brain has about 30 billion nerve cells.  Each nerve cell sprouts between 10,000 to 100,000 fibers in order to contact other nerve cells in the brain.  Taken together, the number of these connections is approximately 10 trillion.  Numbers of this magnitude are difficult to imagine, but there they are.  Despite all these connections, this forest of fibers is not a chaotic, random tangle, but actually a highly-organized network, where most fibers have specific communication functions, and follow regular pathways through the brain.  It has been calculated that if only 100th of the brain’s connections were specifically routed, that would still add up to more connections than in the Earth’s entire communications network.”


Thank you Hashem!  Thank you Hashem!



Special Note Two:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos Series.  These Halachos are excerpted from The Shabbos Home (Volume 1) by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita (Artscroll)--truly a must for the Shabbos Home!


  1. For Places without an Eruv:


  1. One may not put plastic bags over feet or shoes to enable oneself to wear boots outdoors more easily.  These plastic bags are not considered garments, and it is therefore “Hotza’ah”—carrying--on Shabbos.


  1. If gloves are secured to a garment with clips or the like, it is permitted to wear the coat outdoors even when not wearing the gloves on the hands.  However, if the gloves are not fastened to the coat, but are attached to each other, with an elastic or string that is run through the sleeves of the coat, it is forbidden to go outdoors with the coat unless he wears the gloves on his hands.  The same halacha applies to children.


  1. Earmuffs may be worn on Shabbos.  Likewise, it is permitted to go outdoors with cotton stuffed into one’s ear, if the purpose of the cotton is to absorb fluid excreted by the ear, or to protect the inner ear from cold.  However, if the purpose of the cotton is merely to block out noise, then one may not go outdoors with it.


  1. Giving Gifts:


It is forbidden to give a gift on Shabbos, since the transfer of ownership resembles a transaction.  It is even forbidden for a husband to give a gift to his wife and for a parent to give a gift to his child.  [There is a dispute among the Poskim as to whether the prohibition applies to giving a gift to a gentile.]  There is, however, one exception to this prohibition.  It is permitted to give a gift on Shabbos to enable the recipient to perform a mitzvah.  To illustrate: The mitzvah of tzitzis requires that a person wear his own garment that has tzitzis attached.  Thus, if a guest who comes to a Shul has no talis, you may give him a spare tallis as a gift (on condition that he return it), thereby enabling him to properly fulfill the mitzvah of wearing it.




Special Note Three:  Tomorrow, 2 Kislev, is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Aharon Kotler, Zt’l.  Below are a few rememberances, described in Bimchitzasam, the two-volume work on gedolim of our generation by Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz, Shlita:


  1. “In order for us to further appreciate what truth means, Rebbetzin Kotler related the following about her husband:  A receipt book for the Yeshiva was printed with a picture of the Yeshiva on the receipt.  In actuality, there were five trees outside the Yeshiva--three on one side and two on the other.  The printer “fixed the picture up a bit,” and put a third tree next to the two, so that both sides had three trees.  When HaRav Kotler saw the receipts, he ordered them destroyed, and ordered new receipt books, stating:  “A Yeshiva must be based on pillars of truth, and I am not ready for even an iota of sheker to be mixed in to the Yeshiva.”


  1. Once, HaRav Kotler fasted an entire day.  When he was asked why he had done so, he replied as follows: “I believe I will am going to be asked information about a student in our Yeshiva, and I do not know how to answer.  On the one hand, I cannot lie and praise him for attributes he does not possess.  On the other hand, it would be painful for me to speak the truth about him, because it is possible that the negative things that I saw in him will be straightened out in married life.  In my opinion, my comments could ruin the Shidduch from happening.  Because of this great responsibility, I took it upon myself to fast and daven to Hashem that He have mercy on me and have no inquiries made of me regarding this young man.”


  1. There was an elderly person who became weak on Yom Kippur, and he was placed into a special room in the Yeshiva.  HaRav Kotler checked into him throughout the day, and asked one of his students to daven Neila with the elderly person in this room.  The surprised Talmid asked: “Do you mean that I should not daven Neila with the tzibbur?!  HaRav Kotler answered, “To do Chesed with another Jew is more important!”


  1. HaRav Kotler held that the greatest Chesed that one could do with another was a Chesed Ruchni--spiritual Chesed, whether it be assisting a person to learn, or any other proper spiritual influence.  As Rav Kotler put it, “Torah is Life--Is there any greater Chesed than giving life to another?!”



Special Note One:  In order to get a better appreciation of the Chesed of our Avos and what we have to strive for, the Sefer Our Amazing World by Rabbi Avrohom Katz, Shlita, and Tuvia Cohen, Shlita, writes that a camel drinks more than 34 gallons at one time!  Since Eliezer had 10 camels, this would mean that Rivka as a young girl, supplied more than 340 gallons of water--to Eliezer’s camels alone!


While we are talking about the great Chesed of the Avos and Imahos, we note just one of the millions of Chasodim that Hashem showers upon us, also mentioned in Our Amazing World:


“If all the veins and capillaries that transport blood in an individual would be laid end to end, they would encircle the world twice.  We are talking about a distance of approximately 72,000 miles!”


Thank You Hashem!  Thank You Hashem!



Special Note Two:  We received the following thoughts from a reader:


“Rav Solomon’s thought about remembering Hashem is very important for living every day life.  I have seen in the name of Rishonim and Achronim, that the more Hashgacha Pratis that you feel, the more you will receive (or perhaps, the more you will feel even in situations which are more sublime).  Also, living with Hashem helps your middos tremendously--you can seriously curb and control your anger, arrogance, laziness and all those other bad middos--simply by having Hashem with you throughout the day.  I remember that you once mentioned about sitting up straight from time to time throughout the day.  I have found this to be tremendously effective.”



Special Note Three:  We received the following insight from Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita:  Of all parts of Eisav’s body, why did Yaakov grab hold of Eisav’s heel?  We can suggest that it is to teach us a secret of greatness--hold on to those things that others may be stepping on!


Hakhel Note: There are (at least) two other great lessons to be learned from Eisav himself in this week’s Parsha.


First, the Pele Yoetz brings the Medrash that “All of the good, and all of the rulership of the descendants of Eisav comes from the importance that he ascribed to the brocha of his father, and his crying out “Barcheni Gam Ani Avi--Bless me, too, Father.”  We see the extent to which a person should respect his parents, and strive for their brachos.  Indeed, the Medrash (Bereishis Raba 65:16) states that since Eisav served his father with royal clothing (bigdei malchus), he was rewarded, measure for measure with malchus in his descendants.


Second, the Torah’s first description of Eisav’s evil relates to the way he spoke and ate.  Eisav tells Yaakov “HaLiteni Na--Pour into me now some of that very red stuff…” thus, it appears, that the early warning sign of Eisav’s evil related to his mouth--what came out of it and how he put things into it.  We had recently provided some important rules of conduct while eating.  Readers supplied some additional lessons, based upon the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 167 and 170.  They include the following:



  1. One should not stare at someone or look at his food while he is eating.

  2. One should not drink an entire cup in one gulp.

  3. One should not bite from a piece of bread and put the remaining bread on the table.

  4. If you are a visitor, wait to be served; do not asked to be served.

  5. The older person at the table should be served first, or take his portion first.


Other readers asked for parameters on overeating.  This is a personal and subjective topic, and should be discussed with one’s Rav.



Special Note Four:  To put things in their proper perspective, tomorrow, Rosh Chodesh, is the fortieth day from Hoshana Raba (i.e., the same distance traveled between Rosh Chodesh Elul and Yom Kippur).  It will also be a full two months since Rosh Hashana.  Today, as Yom Kippur Koton, is the time for us to evaluate and re-evaluate our kabalos, goals and accomplishments thus far--and make the great part of the year ahead of us--just that--great!


Reminder: We urge everyone to eat their Seudas Rosh Chodesh tonight or early tomorrow morning so that there are no conflicts with the short Erev Shabbos day.



Special Note Five:  As many in America begin the extended weekend, we provide the following teaching of Eliyahu HaNavi, from the Tanna D’Bai Eliyahu Zuta, Chapter 14:


“Bnei Yisroel will not be redeemed because of their pain, their captivity, their exile, their crisis or other difficulty, nor for their lack of food…but rather the Redemption will come because of ten people sitting near each other learning Torah aloud….”


Let us use our time wisely over the next several vacation days…bringing the Geulah oh so much closer through our Torah Study!



Special Note One:  We received the following wonderful insight from a reader regarding yesterday’s note on Bentching:  “Another benefit in Bentching, which shouldn’t be minimized, is the opportunity to be makayaim the mitzvah of Kibbud Av V’Aim, in the section where we ask that our parents be blessed.



Special Note Two:  Chazal (Shabbos 50B) teach that a person should wash his face, hands and feet every day in honor of Hashem.  Thus, just as eating with the proper approach can become a sanctified activity, so, too, can cleaning one’s body serve a spiritual need.  Indeed, the brocha in Birchos HaShachar of “HaMaavir Shaina Mayeinoi” was originally instituted upon one’s washing of his face in the morning (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 46:1).


Thus, above and beyond Rav Scheinberg’s, Shlita, ruling relating to the study of Torah while taking a shower in a clean bathroom (see Hakhel email of 30 Tishrei), we find that the shower itself has proper kavannos associated with it.  Additionally, the Mishne Berurah writes that, one should rinse his mouth upon arising in the morning--in order to mention Hashem’s name in holiness and purity (ibid, 4; Mishne Berura Seif Katan 37).


Indeed, there is even a method for a person to wash his body--the Mishna Berura (ibid, 2; Seif Katan 7) writes that the head is washed first because it is the “Melech”--the King of all the other limbs of the body, and that the right side is washed before the left (See Darchei Moshe to Tur, ibid.).


If we attempt to elevate and sanctify the things that we do every day anyway, we are demonstrating a proper and defined focus and Kavannah to accomplish life’s goals and purpose!



Special Note Three:  HaRav Matisyahu Solomon, Shlita, recently provided the following insight on how we should react to the current world situation:


“We don’t know what is going on in the world.”


However, we can take some instruction from the Tefillos of Rosh Hashana.  Rosh Hashana, although it is the Yom HaDin in which everyone’s thoughts, words and actions are carefully scrutinized by the Heavenly Court, does not contain very many tefillos which instill great fear in a person.  The longest and most serious discussion of judgment in the Rosh Hashana Tefillos is contained in the Zichronos, where the Anshei Knesses HaGedola teach us how Hashem remembers the actions of every individual and every country, and describes how Hashem metes out judgment to the countries--who for war, who for peace, etc. 


Even these Pesukim of Zichronos , however, amazingly conclude with the words “Ashrei Ish Shelo Yishkacheka…--praiseworthy is the person who does not forget You and who takes strength in You, for those who seek You will not stumble, and those who believe in You will not be disgraced….”


What Chizuk!  What consolation!  What hope!!  Hashem does not want us to remain scared, panic, depressed or give up.  Yei’ush--despair--has no place even in a time of the most serious judgment!  Rather, the Tefilla here teaches us that we must take strength in Hashem--we must remember Hashem by constantly mentioning His Name, thinking of His constant Chasodim to us, and that “Ayn Od Milvado--there is no source of anything but Him”--and all that is happening is to remind us to turn to Him.


In fact, the Alter of Kelm teaches us that people make a big mistake in their perception of what cowards and heroes really are.  In reality, heroes on the battlefield have as much fear as the cowards, except that their fear motivates and energizes them--it propels them forward, while the coward’s fear makes them run in the opposite direction, towards defeat.  Any immediate uncertainty or fear which may be generated within us should lead us to come close to Hashem, and not to be despondent, anxious or afraid.


In these turbulent times, in everything that we do, we must bring Hashem into the picture, into the equation, into the forefront.  If one studies the Parsha of Eliezer and Rivka, one will find that Hashem is constantly mentioned by Eliezer throughout the event.  Eliezer was, as a result, successful--to the extent that even Lavan himself exclaimed “MaiHashem Yutza HaDovor--This is Hashem’s doing!”.  This is the extent to which Hashem should accompany our thoughts, our words and our actions--even those really distant from the feeling of Hashhgacha Pratis should be brought closer to it as a result of our behavior!


In this zechus, we will--middah k’neged middah--see the day in which the world and all of its inhabitants will be filled with the Knowledge of Hashem as the water fills the sea--speedily and in our days!  AMEN!



Great News!! We are now less than thirty days away from Chanuka.


Special Note One:  We received the following from a valued reader:  “I enjoyed reading your comments about Modim.  One sometimes wonders why the beracha “Shehecheyonu” is not recited daily every morning!  In actual fact, we say in the Modim D’Rabbanan “Al shehecheyesonu V’keeyamtonu--for keeping us alive and sustaining us”--which are similar words three times daily.



Special Note Two:  We received the following Kashrus Alerts:


1.  Apple & Eve White Grape Juice drink box UPC 7630184001.  This product bears an unauthorized OU symbol and is not certified Kosher by the Orthodox Union.  The product is being withdrawn from the marketplace.  Consumers spotting this product are requested to contact the Orthodox Union at 212-613-8241 or via email at kashrusalerts@ou.org.


2.  A complete line of America’s Choice frozen vegetables are being sold bearing an unauthorized Star-K.  These items have been seen at Pathmark and A&P stores in New York and New Jersey.  Corrective action is being taken.


3.  BrainSavers Fruit and Nut Bar-Chocolate Coated, UPC 094922965974.  This product contains dairy ingredients as listed on the ingredient panel but the dairy designation has been inadvertently omitted.  Future packaging will no longer bear the OU symbol.



Special Note Three:  Regarding the recent events relating to Anheueser Busch Beer Products (Budweiser and Budweiser Light), we note that the Chicago Rabbinical Council (CRC) has issued a statement regarding these products and their permissibility.  It appears that investigation of the plant was made by the CRC itself (not by an independent expert).  In all events, we have been advised by an independent authority in Kashrus that any Budweiser or Budweiser Light products canned before November 10th are not acceptable.  This is an important lesson for the kosher consumer--how would anyone have assumed that beer would be in any manner processed on the same equipment as “Clamato”, which contains clam powder, or “Chelada,” which is a mixture of Budweiser beer and Clamato?!


Recently, a Beth Din in Europe announced that “all beer is permissible.”  The announcement does not mention flavored beers, stouts and other beer beverages that can be 100% treif, such as Chelada!  For all those who drink beer--and all those who attend Shalom Zachors--let the kosher consumer beware!



Special Note Four:  J-LINK is an organization of lawyers which seeks to coordinate legal pro-bono activities in our community.  J-LINK’s latest project is to establish a foreclosure sub-committee in the face of the rising incidence of foreclosures in our community.  To stay on top of this situation, J-LINK is looking to find attorneys with foreclosure experience who can get involved either by leading this sub-committee or mentoring other attorneys.  “Even if you already do probono work, your expertise and qualifications would go a long way in helping to develop a broad network of attorneys willing to assist in this area and in shaping our current endeavor.  Of course, we continue to seek all attorneys for general probono and mentoring assistance.  Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide.  We can be reached at jlink.probono@gmail.com”



Special Note Five:  The Eliyahu Rabba (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 170) makes the following important points about eating:


a.         A person’s personal meal can be turned into a Seudas Mitzvah simply by consciously eating to keep his body strong for Avodas Hashem--not overeating or eating the wrong foods.  [Incredibly, your meal then becomes the equivalent of a Chasuna meal or the meal at a Siyum….]

b.         If a person overeats, even if it is at a Shabbos meal, he violates three negative prohibitions(!).

c.         A form of “Teshuva Meulah” (elevated Teshuva) is when a delectable food or drink is before someone--and it is something that one very much desires--and one refrains from partaking of it, “and this is a Teshuva one can do at any time and is desired by Hashem.”

d.         When one eats, whether it is a little or full meal, he should eat b’simcha, with joy.

e.         It is Derech Eretz not to eat or drink standing, not to wipe the plate clean, not to lick your fingers, and not to eat and abruptly rise.


Hakhel Note:  These are methods which relate to the meal itself.  We add that one can elevate Bentching itself, in simple and straightforward ways, as well:


a.         Rather than acting as a child, and figuring out ways to avoid bentching (a drop less than two slices, and the like), one should view the act of Birchas HaMazon as a privilege and opportunity--the ability to recite four brachos simply because you have eaten a staple such as bread!  We can even suggest that Pas Shacharis is so important because it starts off your physical day with a good meal--and a good bentching!

b.         Last week, we brought the teaching of the Sefer HaChinuch that one who is careful to bentch with concentration is assured Parnassah in a respectable way all his life.  There are great tools to help one bentch with Kavannah.  Gadi Pollack’s “Birchas HaMazon” (Feldheim) is beautifully illustrated with pictures, with English translation closely placed next to every phrase, and is an incredible method for increasing your appreciation of Birchas HaMazon.  Because it is so colorful, one may mistakenly--very mistakenly--believe that this Bentcher is for children.  If it is, it is for the child in each and every one of us.  Similarly, perhaps for the more advanced, Rabbi Meir Birnbaum’s Kuntrus Birchas HaMazon provides a phrase-by-phrase translation of Bentching, with commentary and footnotes.  The more time and effort one puts into something, the more he can appreciate it.  In just a few extra minutes, one can elevate a Mitzvah from the Torah to an infinite degree.  Most certainly, you will never be ashamed, or sorry, for it!

c.         May we especially suggest that when bentching, one should himself think about the meaning of what he is saying.  For instance, when reciting the words “Yisborach Shimcha B’fi Kol Chai--that Hashem’s name should be blessed by all of the living”--what is one referring to--all human beings?  All animals and other creatures, as per Perek Shira?….  As we have noted in a previous Bulletin, the Yesod V’Shoresh HoAvoda in his Tzavooh (will) to his children, writes that he would daven before bentching that no one would knock on his door and disturb him or his Kavannah…and with good reason.


Let us take the time out to eat--and to bentch--in a manner which befits the Tzelem Elokim that we each represent--and that we each are!


Special Note One:  The world enjoys papaya for its unique and sweet taste.  The Torah world additionally enjoys the hidden, spiritual world of the papaya, because of all of the Halachic discussions it engenders.  One of our important readers referred us to the Teshuvos VeHanhagos (3:333) in which HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita, goes through a serious and lengthy analysis of the Halachic issues which arise from this fruit--rendering it not only beautiful from without--but from within as well!

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

  1. How can one benefit his Parnassah even on Shabbos?  The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 185: Seif Katan 1) brings from the Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 430) that one who is always careful to bentch with concentration is assured of his parnassah in a respectable way all of his life.  One can--and should bentch with concentration on Shabbos as well!


  1. Is one permitted to place a new shoelace in his shoe on Shabbos, or to reinsert his old shoelace?  One may reinsert his old shoelace, provided that it is not difficult to slip through the holes (i.e., the plastics at the end of the shoelace are still on, the holes are large enough, etc.).  If one’s shoelace broke and he would like to insert a new shoelace (or a shoelace from another shoe), he may only do so if the new shoelace is inserted in a manner which indicates that it is temporary--such as putting it only through the top loops, or putting in a different color shoelace--and even then only if it is easy to insert (plastics at end of the shoelace are still on, etc.).  One may likewise insert a belt through belt loops on Shabbos, provided that he is not inserting a belt for the first time, intending to leave it there on a permanent basis.  Thus, a matching belt for a dress which is intended to remain in the dress once inserted should not be inserted for the first time on Shabbos. (Shmiras Shabbos KeHilchasa 15:60, 62).


  1. Other examples of activities which are prohibited because of Makeh BePatish, according to The 39 Melochos by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita, (Feldheim) include: Straightening a bent clasp of a necklace or bracelet so that it will open or close; straightening the bent handle on a spoon back into shape; rubbing off chalk marks left by a tailor; making paper airplanes; fashioning paper napkins into flowers, hats and the like; and inserting a new pendant into a necklace where it is meant to remain there permanently.

 Special Note Three:  Two important thoughts on this week’s Parsha:

a.  We find the brocha (Bereishis 24:60)given by Rivka’s family to her prior to her departure--a huge brocha that came true!  This is yet another example of how powerful brachos can be--even if they do not come from the best of sources.  All the more so, when the brocha comes from a Talmid Chacham or Tzaddik.  One never knows when they may meet a Tzadik or Talmid Chacham; accordingly, one should always have his thoughts organized as to what brochos he would ask for when the opportunity arises!


b.  We also find in this week’s Parsha that Yitzchok Avinu instituted the Tefillah of Mincha (Bereishis 24:63).  The Piskei Teshuvos (2:232) writes that Tefillas Mincha is unique.  When one davens Shacharis, he clearly has in mind to thank Hashem for returning his Neshama to him, and at Maariv he knows that he will soon be placing his soul into Hashem’s trust for the evening.  At Mincha, however, his prayers are, as the word Mincha implies, an unfettered gift--a free will offering--with neither of these thoughts in mind.  Moreover, one understands that he davens Shacharis upon his arising in the morning, and Maariv upon the arrival of darkness.  However, Mincha is recited in the middle of the busy workday, and a person leaves all of his thoughts and actions--and prays.  It is for this reason that the Tur (ibid.) writes that one’s reward will be very great for davening Mincha with Kavannah.  Indeed, it is telling that Yitzchak Avinu, the Av who symbolizes Avodah VeYirah--service and fear of Hashem--especially instituted Mincha of the three daily prayers.  Let us take the lesson from the Parsha--and dedicate the next week to a more pristine, focused and sincere Mincha prayer.


Special Note Four:  The following beautiful thought on the tefillah of Modim which we recite three times daily is offered by HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, in Rav Schwab on Prayer (Artscroll, p.516).

“V’Al Nifliosecha V’Tovosecha Shebichol Eis, Erev Vuvoker VeTzaharayim…--and for Your wondrous deeds and bestowal of goodness, which occurs at all times, evening, morning, and afternoon.”  This important phrase has a double meaning.  The first is its simple, literal, meaning of thanking Hakadosh Baruch Hu for all the hidden miraculous events, which constantly occur all the time, for which we express our thanks, evening, morning, and afternoon--referring to the Tefillos of Maariv, Shacharis, and Mincha.  In this sense it would be similar to that which was said by Dovid HaMelech, “Erev Vuvoker V’Tzaharyim Asicha…--I pray to You evening, morning, and afternoon (Tehillim 55:18).”

However, “Erev Vuvoker VeTzaharayim” also has a secondary meaning, relating to the moods or circumstances in which one may find himself.

Erev--One may find himself in an emotional state of “erev.”  He feels that his life is declining, either because of age or lack of mazal; everything is getting darker and darker, he feels more and more hopeless, until eventually it will all come to an end.

Boker--Or a person may be in a “boker” state of life, in which he sees some light coming into his life, and little by little things begin to turn around for him.

VeTzaharayim--Or one may be experiencing the “tzaharayim” of his life; there is bright sunshine all around him; he is successful in whatever he does; he has the feeling that he is “on top of the world.”

In this sense, we give thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for “Al Chayeinu HaMisurim BiYadecha--for our lives which You hold in Your hand,” and “Nifliosecha V’Tovosecha Shebichol Eis,” whether we are experiencing, or have experienced, a life of erev, or boker or tzaharayim.

There is even a third, deeper explanation of Erev Vavoker VaTzaharayim.  These words actually characterize the three forms of our existence.

First, this world, Olam Hazeh, is characterized as “erev,” evening, because it eventually ends up with nighttime, at the time of death.  No matter how happy a person is in life, eventually he faces his inevitable demise when his neshamah leaves his guf.

After the neshamah is separated from the guf, there follows an existence of “boker,” in which the neshamah--as well as the guf--must go through a purification process, the neshamah in Gan Eden, and the guf in the earth.  This is the “break of dawn” for the ultimate form of everlasting life, that of techiyas hameisim, the tzaharayim, the “bright noontime” of existence.

We give thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for the three forms of our existence, Erev Vuvoker VeTzaharayim—all of which He holds in His hand.

The underlying idea of all these interpretations is that regardless of in which station of life, physical or spiritual, one may find himself, he expresses a genuine and sincere Modim to HaKadosh Baruch Hu--“Al Chayeinu HaMisurim BiYadecha V’Al Nishmoseinu HaPekudos Luch,” and “Nisecha Shebichol Yom Emanu” and “Nifliosehca VeTovosecha Shebichaol Eis....”

Hakhel Note:  As we recite the words Erev VaVoker VeTzaharayim every day, we should attempt to encapsulate at least one of these interpretations of Rav Schwab--as we show our appreciation of what Hashem does for us at all times, in all spheres--and for everything--every single thing!!


Special Note One:  We received the following comments from readers relating to our note on Brachos:


1.  “I disagree that the brocha on granola, which is toasted, is Hoadomo, the brocha of Hoadomo on toasted grains is only if it is toasted whole with its shell, and this is not the case with granola.” 

[Hakhel Note: One should consult with his own Posek on this matter.]


2.  “Although granola cereal or bars (etc.) is Hoadama, it could also depend on the other ingredients in the cereal (or if you are eating with yogurt it could be Shehakol).  Additionally I believe the bracha achrona is a big safek.  I only eat granola cereal in a seuda or if I am having all the brachos anyway.”


Special Note Two:  The Kuntrus “Shomer Yisroel”, published by Rabbi Mordechai Potash, Shlita, provides the following Principles of Bitachon, culled from the Sefer Chovas HaLevavos, Shaar HaBitachon, Chapters 2 and 3.  May we recommend that you have this sheet handy on your desk or table so that you can frequently remind yourself of its contents?


1.         The Creator is more merciful than any of His creations.  Any kindness or mercy I receive emanates from Hashem.


2.         Hashem is constantly aware of all my needs, desires and struggles and always seeks to help me.


3.         Hashem is All-Powerful and nothing can stop Him from executing His decree.


4.         Hashem knows what is best for me and how to help me.


5.         Hashem is with me throughout my entire life and has already done countless acts of great kindness to me.


6.         There is no one who can help me or harm me other than Hashem, because I am totally in His hands.


7.         Hashem generously does Chesed for those who deserve and for those who don’t deserve, and His attribute of Kindness is everlasting.


8.         Hashem is the only real cause of everything that exists and happens in the world.  He constantly causes each thing to exist and determines its quality, size, time and place.  No other force can ever interfere with His will.


Special Note Three:  Pesukei DeZimra begins with the opening brocha of Boruch Sheomar, and concludes with the concluding brocha of Yishtabach.  Therefore, from the time that one has recited the words “Boruch Ata Hashem” of Boruch Sheomar, he can no longer voluntarily speak in any language, including Lashon HaKodesh.  If one must speak because of an “ones” (he is forced to), then before he speaks, he must recite the Pesukim of “Boruch Hashem L’Olam Amen V’Amen” (which we typically recite before “VaYivarech Dovid”), both before and after his forced interruption.  The reason one must recite these Pesukim is because they serve as a constructive “concluding brocha” for the portion recited before the forced interruption, and then a constructive “opening brocha” for the remaining portion of  Pesukei D’Zimra about to be recited (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 51, Mishne Berura, Seif Koton 7).


Hakhel Note:  From this ruling of the Mishne Berura, we learn of the power and greatness of the four Pesukim of Boruch Hashem L’Olam which we all recite daily between the Halelukas and VaYevarech Dovid.  They can be deemed to be Brachos in and of themselves!  Indeed, the word “Boruch” is mentioned four times, the word Amen is mentioned four times, and names of Hashem are mentioned six times--all in these special four Pesukim!  One should take the lesson and be sure to recite them slowly and carefully, and with the concomitant joy and reverence they deserve, every time we recite Pesukei D’Zimra.


In this merit, may you never be forced to interrupt your Pesukei D’Zimra--to remind yourself of the importance of these Pesukim!



In last week’s Parsha, we find that Lot accomplished something that even Avraham Avinu could not accomplish.  Although Avraham davened for each one of the five cities to be saved, Hashem advised him that there was an insufficient number of Tzadikim in any city for the city to be saved.  However, we find that Lot requested that he be saved in the city of Tzoar--and he was, together with the entire city!  How was Lot, the recalcitrant nephew, was able to save a city that his incomparable Rebbe could not?


HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl, derives two essential lessons from this.  First, we see how much more effective it is for the affected person to daven for himself than for a third party (no matter how great) to daven for him.  Here, Lot was asking for his own life.  No matter how genuine and sincere the entireties of Avraham Avinu were, nothing can match the depths of someone pleading for his own life.  As we indicated from the Derech Hashem yesterday, no one can act on your behalf more than you and you alone.  Of course, one should always ask a Talmid Chacham to daven for him, but this cannot replace or substitute for one davening for himself.


The second great lesson teaches us the extent of HaKoras HaTov that one must demonstrate if someone has even attempted to do good towards them.  Lot showed hospitality to the Malochim (who really didn’t need it), and their expression of HaKoras HaTov went to the degree of saving an entire city in order to save Lot.  Similarly, HaRav Daniel of Kelm, Z’tl, HY’D, the last Rosh Yeshiva of Kelm, explained that Elisha HaNavi, in last week’s Haftora, was actually bound by his Hakoras HaTov to the Isha HaShunamis, to go to the extent of bringing her son back to the living--the greatest of miracles possible.


Thus, within one event, we learn vital lessons both on a Bein Odom L’Makom, and a Bein Odom L’Chaveiro, level.  In Bein Odom L’Makom--establish your own personal relationship with Hashem in Tefillah because no one can daven better for yourself than you.  Work on it, because no one can as you can.  On a Bein Odom L’Chaveiro level, make sure that you constantly and consistently demonstrate your HaKoras HaTov for the many kindnesses you receive from those around you.



Special Note One:  The following is the last in our series of rulings of HaRav Kanievsky, as presented in the Sefer Shailas Rav.  We remind you that although the Sefer expressly states that one is not to Paskin Halacha L’Maaseh from the Sefer, the answers (and the questions!) certainly provide a valuable basis for one to ask his own Shaila.



1.      Q:  If while washing Netilas Yadayim for a meal, he inadvertently washed his left hand before his right, should he start over again with his right hand?


A:  No, bideved, he fulfilled his obligation.


2.      Q:  Is it permissible to lean on a tombstone in the cemetery while praying at the graves of Tzadikim or others?


A:  No.


3.      Q:  If one flies in a plane over water, and intends to return next day, should he just bentch gomel once after completing his return trip?


A:  He should bentch gomel twice [i.e., once upon his arrival, and once upon his return.].


4.      Q:  The Mishna Berura writes that after sneezing, one should recite the Pasuk “Lishuasicha Kivisi Hashem” (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 230:Seif Katan 7).  If one sneezes twice in succession, should he recite the Pasuk twice?


A:  No, once is sufficient.


5.      Q:  If one davened Maariv and recited Krias Shema before Tzes HaKochavim, and forgot to recite Krias Shema again after Tzes HaKochavim, does he need to do Teshuva and does he need a Kapara?


A:  Yes.



Special Note Two:  We provide the following Brachos Bee(for adults), based on the Brochos Handbook contained in the Sefer The Halachos of Brochos by Rabbi Pinchos Bodner, Shlita:


What brocha do you make on the following?


  1. Fruit-flavored yogurt

  2. Kasha

  3. Fruit Leather

  4. Marzipan

  5. Corn Chips

  6. Granola Cereal

  7. Onion Soup

  8. Shish Kebab





1.  On fruit flavored yogurt, the brocha is a Shehakol, as the fruit is only added to enhance the yogurt.

2.  The brocha on kasha is Hoadomo--although Kasha is known as “buckwheat kernels”, it is not a grain.  On Kasha Varnishkes (i.e., kasha with noodles), the brocha is of course, a Mezonos.

3.  The brocha on fruit leather, as well as all pureed fruits and vegetables, is Shehakol.  Thus, if an adult was to eat pureed baby food, the brocha would also be Shehakol.

4.  On marzipan, the brocha is Shehakol.  Although the major ingredient is ground almonds, it is unrecognizable in the marzipan paste.

5.  If the corn chips are made out of milled corn, the brocha is Shehakol.  This Halacha is true of any milled corn product.  Thus, the brocha on various brands of cornflakes may differ, depending upon whether it is made out of milled corn or not.

6.  The brocha on granola cereal is Hoadomo, because the grain is toasted and not cooked.

7.  If the onion soup is made from flavoring, the brocha is Shehakol; if the onion soup is made from sautéed onions, the brocha is Hoadomo.

8.  Because the meat/mushrooms and the vegetables are separately eaten, one should first make a Hoadomo on the vegetables, and then a Shehakol on the meat and mushrooms.


Hakhel Note:  We note that a current popular snack is dried papaya.  Some Poskim rule that the papaya tree is halachically considered to be a tree, and that the brocha on papaya is Hoetz.  Others rule that it is not a Halachic tree and that one recites Hoadomo on papaya.  Accordingly, one should consult his Rav for a ruling on the appropriate brocha for papaya.



Special Note Three:  The Ramchal in Derech Hashem (translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Z’tl) (Feldheim Publishers, II:2) teaches us what life is in but a few words: “Hashem’s Plan was that man himself should be the complete master of his own good...man cannot attain good unless he achieves it through his own effort.  This is also true of each element of this good, which is only meted out according to the individual’s precise deeds.  Each individual’s ultimate level is therefore the result of his own choice and attainment.  The members of the Perfected Community [those who merit Olam Haba] will be divided into many levels, high and low, great and small.  Each individual’s level will not result be the result of anything other than his own choice, and no one therefore will have any complaint against another....”


Hakhel Note:  The Perfected Community referred to by the Ramchal will be everlasting.  As the Ramchal teaches, our level--for all of eternity--is the product of nothing else but our choices, efforts and actions.  Let us take the time out now to focus and direct, or refocus and redirect, our thoughts, words and/or actions in some way which will bring us to a  higher and more meaningful level in that wonderful Perfected Community--forever, and ever, and ever!



The wonderful Nach Yomi Program, in which one Perek of Nach is studied daily togerther across the world, began Perek Aleph of Tehillem just two days ago--on Shabbos.  Today, the Perek is Perek Gimel.  One can easily make up the first two chapters, which are relatively short, and related.  You can study each Perek with Rashi, the Metsudos, any other commentary, the Artscroll in English, or by even just becoming more familiar with the words of the Chapter of the Day by studying an interlinear translation.  In any manner that you select, you will have completed Sefer Tehillem in 150 days--on Pesach.  What a splendid goal and accomplishment!  Start Today!





By popular request, and by important need, we provide the following Note originally published two years ago:


In this week’s Parsha, Chayei Sarah, we learn more about Chesed and how to perform it properly.  The Parsha specifically details two distinct chasodim--that of Halvoyas Hameis and of Shidduchim/Hachnosas Kallah.  These two kinds of chesed would appear to be the most public types of Chesed possible.  The deceased is eulogized and buried in public, and one usually comforts mourners when there are other (sometimes many other) people around.  Similarly, weddings typically involve large gatherings of diverse people in a happy setting.  Yet, Chazal (Sukkah 49B), based upon the Posuk in Micha (6:8), specifically highlight Halvoyas Hameis and Hachnosas Kallah as two mitzvos that should be performed “b’tznius--discretely”.  Rashi there explains that one need not necessarily weep in public, nor on the other hand, balance three balls on his nose, in order to demonstrate that he truly feels the pain or, hopefully, the joy of another.  It is up to us to think about how we can truly empathize, or truly rejoice, with another without the world, or a good part of it, having to know about it.


Let us now focus for a moment on the first step--the necessary prerequisite--for Hachnosas Kallah, which is the sometimes easy, but usually not so easy, the process of finding a bashert.  Each one of us is probably familiar with at least one couple who were each other’s first date.  The much more common experience, however, is the difficulty and struggle of mixing and matching--especially for those who are not well-connected, and those who are kind enough not to hound family, friends, and/or shadchonim with their frustrations and their needs.  The Torah incredibly goes out of its way to teach not only how Yitzchok Avinu was paired with Rivka, but also how Adam was given Chava, Yaakov Avinu introduced to Rochel, and Moshe Rabeinu to Tziporah.  It is rare (to say the least) for the Torah to repeat one kind of event, albeit important, more than once.  Here, however, the basic reason for the repetition seems clear:  the primary importance of shidduchim as a basis for humanity, and for the continuation of Klal Yisroel.  In assisting others--whether they are immediate family, distant family, friends or acquaintances, to find their zivug hagun--their proper mate, we are participating directly in a most sublime Chesed.  As far as we know, the only human state that the Torah expressly calls “not good” is for man to be alone (Bereishis 2:18).  If we are truly looking to help others, we should certainly help them to rid themselves of a “not good” status.  Moreover, if it is not good for them, it is not good for us, because all of our lives, and all of K’lal Yisroel, are inextricably bound together.


So, what can we do?  We are not professional Shadchonim, we are not social butterflies, and we barely have the time to take care of our own little needs, let alone having the time to actually work on, and sometimes convince, two families that your recommendation is solid, or two “out-of-towners” to “go out” with each other.


Our modest proposal:  As this week is the parsha of shidduchim, and, as Chazal teach that privately performed chesed is especially meaningful, we suggest that you, together with your spouse or close friends, undertake b’li neder, to make just one date--just one good attempt at a match--in the year 5767.  Let the Torah, let the actions of our Avos, let your G-d-given and inspired feelings for others be your guide.


This week’s Parsha is before us.  It is talking to us.  The task may be daunting, time-consuming and embarrassing--but this really means that your efforts are all the more worthwhile.


Note:  If you are unsure about what to say in proposing a Shidduch, we highly recommend and urge you to contact the Chofetz Chaim Shmiras Halashon Shaila Hotline at 718-951-3696.


May our Year be replete with…“Mazel-Tov!!”


Two additional Hakhel Notes on this topic:

A.  This past Friday (16 Cheshvan) was the Yahrtzeit of HaRav Shach, Z’tl.  The following story excerpted from Rav Shach on Chumash (Artscroll, page 38) beautifully highlights the concern that HaRav Shach had with Shidduchim:


“One time, an acquaintance of Rav Shach from Petach Tikva came to consult with him regarding a certain Shidduch that had been suggested for his son.  The Rosh Yeshiva told him that he would find out some information, and would clarify a few points about the person involved, before giving an answer.


“The man returned to Petach Tikva, and Rav Shach set himself to the task.  That evening, he got the information he was seeking and as soon as the buses started running in the morning, he traveled to Petach Tikvah--a trip that involved taking two buses.  Since it was still early in the morning when he arrived, and the Rosh Yeshiva did not want to disturb his acquaintance, he wrote down his answer, put it in the man’s mailbox, and headed back to B’nei Brak.  By 7 o’clock he was in the Yeshiva for Shacahris!”


If Rav Shach, the Rosh Yeshiva and Gadol Hador, acted with such alacrity when involved with a Shidduch for another, shouldn’t we?!


B.  We provide a wonderful project undertaken by the balabatim of Kollel Bnei Torah, a Shul in Flatbush.  The Balabatim put together all of the names of singles in the Shul that needed Shidduchim, and distributed them on a card, asking all of their members to be mispallel with Kavannah for the sake of their chaveirim in their very Shul.  What a great project!  The card can be viewed by clicking here.  This card was first distributed on Yom Kippur of this year, and one person on the list is already engaged!  May we highly recommend that you undertake this project in your Shul (or block, or other group), as well.


Special Note One:  We remind everyone that Gilad Shalit is being held in captivity by enemies of our people.  Please take a minute out today to recite a Kepital of Tehillim with Kavana for the release of Gilad Ben Aviva.



Special Note Two:  If one has various bills to pay--his mortgage, his workers, expenses and he cannot pay them all--which bills take priority l’halacha?  These were the kinds of topics discussed in the recent Hakhel Shiur given by Rabbi Ari Marburger, Shlita, entitled “Halachos for a Bear Market and the Contemporary Economy.”  For a tape or CD of the Shiur, please contact 718-252-5274.  For a complete list of Hakhel shiur available in audio format (through August 2007), please click here.



Special Note Three:  We provide below two rulings of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch which constantly affect many of us:


  1. “It is forbidden to write Hashem’s name in a letter in any language.  Many people mistakenly write Hashem’s name in German, or write the word “ad-ieu”--which is the French word meaning “with G-d”.  This is an issur gamur (completely forbidden), because in time the letter will end up in the trash, and this will cause poverty to the people of Israel as it puts the name of Heaven in a disgraceful place.”  (6:3)

  2. “It is a Mitzvah to run to Shul, to the Bais Medrash or to do any Mitzvah….  When one arrives at Shul and approaches the entranceway he should wait a moment and not enter suddenly.  Instead, he should feel awe for the Greatness of Hashem as he is about to enter, and recite the Pasuk (in Ma Tovu) of ‘Va’Ani B’rov Chasdicha…’ which is the equivalent of obtaining permission to enter the Shul, and he should then enter, as if one is entering before the King….” (12:11)



Special Note Four:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos series.  Specifically, we present below rulings of HaRav Kanievsky, Shlita, relating to Hilchos Shabbos, as presented in the Sefer Shailas Rav.  We once again remind our readers that although the Sefer expressly states that one is not to Paskin Halacha L’Maaseh from the Sefer, the answers (and the questions!) certainly provide a valuable basis for one to ask his own Shaila.  Rav Kanievsky’s Teshuvos are as follows:



Q:  Can one use a frozen Challah for Lechem Mishna?


A:  If it will be fit for consumption that day, it is possible.


Q:  Can one walk in the street on Shabbos with his shoelace untied (assuming it is otherwise safe), or, because it is untied, is it considered a masoi--not part of your clothing--and prohibited, i.e., must you stop in the street to tie an untied shoelace right away?


A:  It is permitted to walk with an untied shoelace.


Q:  Is it permissible to touch an article of clothing when you believe that it will create static electricity?


A:  Yes.


Q:  If one’s Shalosh Seudos continues past Shekia into the evening, and one wanted to eat something which requires a Brocha Rishona in the course of a meal (such as a fruit or wine), would it be permissible to eat that item, as one will be making a new brocha on food after Shekia?


A:  Yes, it is permissible in the course of a meal.


Q:  When does one look at his nails at Havdallah--before the brocha of Borei Meorai Hoaish, or after (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 298:3)?


A:  There are different opinions, and those who are careful look at their nails both before and after the brocha.


Q:  At Melave Malka there is a Tefillah entitled “Ribon HaOlamim.”  Should women also recite this tefillah?


A:  Yes.


Q: On Motze’ei Shabbos at Melave Malka, does one say Shir HaMaalos or Al Naharos Bavel?  Likewise, does one recite Migdol or Magdil at Melave Malka?


A: One recites Al Naharos Bavel and Magdil.



Special Note Five:  In this week’s Parsha (Bereishis, 18:19), Hashem states regarding Avraham Avinu, “For I have loved him, because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the way of Hashem that they do Charity and Justice….”  As this week’s Parsha contains so many aspects of Chesed, and describes Avraham as instructing his children to follow in his ways in this regard, we provide below several important teachings relating to Tzedaka, found in the Sefer Derech Emunah by HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (in the Section entitled Hilchos Matnos Aniyim, Chapters 7 and 10):


  1. When giving Tzedaka, as with any other Mitzvah, one should do it “B’Lev Shalem U’Vtuv Levav--with a complete and happy heart.”


  1. The Mekubalim write that one should give Tzedaka every day, and the Arizal adds that one should give Tzedaka standing and with his right hand (even if he is a lefty!)


  1. If a person gives Tzedaka to someone before being asked, he merits Hashem taking care of his needs before being asked.


  1. One should give Tzedaka before going on his way, as the Pasuk states “Tzedek Lefanav Yehalech, VaYosem LeDerech Pa’amav--Righteousness will walk before him, and set his footsteps on the way.”  (Tehillim 85:14)


  1. From the money that one gives to Tzedaka, a garment is fashioned for him in Olam Haba which protects him from danger and takes him out of Gehennom.


  1. The fourth level of Gehennom is called “Tit HaYavan”, and there all those who treated poor people harshly are judged.


  1. Tzedaka pushes aside “Gezeiros Kashos--difficult decrees,” and turns the Midas HaDin--the measure of strict Divine Justice--into Divine Mercy.


  1. The minhag to give Tzedaka for the deceased is an ancient minhag, and helps the neshamos attain atonement, for the Heavenly Court rules that if he were still alive he would have given this Tzedaka, as well….


  1. One should take to heart that just as one asks from Hashem that He should provide Parnassa to him, and asks of Hashem that He listen to his cries, so, too, should the person listen to the cries of the poor.


  1. If one collects Tzedaka for others he saves his future generations from becoming poor (the middah k’neged middah is apparent).


Hakhel Note:  Chazal (Gittin 7A) teach “If one sees that his Parnassa is tight (mezonosav metzumzamim), he should give Tzedaka…. One who gives Tzedaka can be compared to the situation of two ewes attempting to pass over the river--the one that is shorn passes through, and the one that is not shorn does not.  In the same vein, one who shears off from his money and gives Tzedaka with it, will be successful!


May we follow in the footsteps of Avraham Avinu, bringing blessing on the world--and on ourselves!!


Special Note One:   We received the following question from a reader relating to our note on “leaving some bread over” while making Birchas HaMazon:


“Should you leave over bread even if that means that you will end up throwing it out?  For example, if you bring a sandwich to work for lunch and eat at your desk?”


“The Guidelines” Halacha Series, B’EH, will be coming out with a new volume in a few weeks entitled “Guidelines to Brachos,” which covers the halachos of a bread meal, from Netilas Yadayim through Zimun and Birchas HaMazon.  This new sefer (we have a preview as to this Halacha) rules that yes, you should leave over only a small amount (even crumbs), then wrap it in a plastic bag and then dispose of it in the trash.  Every person, of course, should ask their own Posek for his ruling.



Special Note Two:  We continue with several more rulings of HaRav Kanievsky, Shlita, as presented in the Sefer Shailas Rav.  We remind you that although the Sefer expressly states that one is not to Paskin Halacha L’Maaseh from the Sefer, the answers (and the questions!) certainly provide a valuable basis for one to ask his own Shaila.Rav Kanievsky’s Teshuvos.


  1. Q:  Should children’s books which contain stories of Chazal be treated with the Kedusha of Seforim?


A: Yes!


  1. Q:  If one wants to daven for a person who is not well, but does not know his mother’s name, should he say the family name instead?


A: Yes.


  1. Q:  If a person smokes approximately seven cigarettes a day, would it be permissible for him to smoke on Yom Tov?


A: It is prohibited to smoke on weekdays, as well.


  1. Q:  After one has made the brocha on his talis and has wrapped the talis around his head, and is waiting the shiur of Daled Amos before removing his atifa, is he allowed to answer “Amen” and “Yehai Shemai Raba.”


A: Yes.


  1. Q:  Those who are among the first ten in Shul are “Notel Schar Kneged Kulam”--receive a reward equivalent to all of the others who come after them.  Is this true only with respect to the Tefillah itself or with respect to each Kadish and Kedusha, as well?


A: Yitachen--This appears to be the case.



Special Note Three:  This week’s Parsha is perhaps the premier Parsha in the Torah relating to Chesed.  One can never be too big, or too small, to perform acts of Chesed.  As today is the Yahrtzeit of the Chazon Ish, we present below three short lessons on Chesed from the Chazon Ish, as presented in Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:


1.      The Chazon Ish once heard that a yeshiva student in Bnai Brak was suffering from a throat disease, and was not receiving adequate attention.  The Chazon Ish bought a jar of honey and took a taxi to visit the ailing boy.  Just as he had planned, his visit aroused the necessary concern and attention for the plight of the student.  (Biography of Chazon Ish, p. 236)

2.      A friend of the Chazon Ish who lived in a different city came to visit him in Bnai Brak in the early afternoon.  The Chazon Ish asked him, “Did you eat lunch yet?”  Realizing what the Chazon Ish had in mind, the man said, “Chas vecholilah (Heaven Forbid)!  I don’t want to trouble you.”  “What’s the chas vecholilah?” asked the Chazon Ish with a smile.  “It’s not every day that I am able to fulfill the mitzvah of inviting guests.  You’re from out of town and haven’t eaten yet….”  He set the table, brought his guest water and a towel to wash his hands, and waited on him throughout the entire meal (P’air Hador, Vol. 4, p.49).


3.      The Chazon Ish writes about a truly pious man who joyfully announced to his family that they would entertain a guest that Shabbos.  The entire family treasured the opportunity to be helpful to a fellow Jew.  After davening, however, through some misunderstanding, the stranger went to another home.  The would-be host came home with his usual Shabbos radiance, but without a guest.  When he noticed his family’s disappointment, he explained what true Chesed is:  “Our concern must be that the stranger should have a meal, but it should not matter who serves as the Almighty’s agent.”  The Chazon Ish adds that too many people who themselves perform acts of kindness, are envious when they see someone else doing good deeds.  They do not appreciate seeing others engaging in what they consider to be “their job.”  This attitude is unfortunate. (Emunah U’betochon, Part 1, Ch. 13)


Each and every one of these points is a lesson that we can draw into our daily lives!!


Special Note One:  In connection with yesterday’s Yarchei Kallah, in which one of the topics was “Making Sense of the Economic Downturn,” we received notification from the Midwood Development Corp. that they provide free counseling relating to housing, debt, mortgage loans and foreclosure.  They can be reached at publicinfo@middev.org , or at 718-376-0999 or 718-859-3011.



Special Note Two:  HaRav Eliyahu Dessler, Z’tl, (Michtav M’Eliyahu 1: p. 203) sheds much light for us on the current world situation.  The Michtav M’Eliyahu writes as follows:


“The way of the world is for the leaders of countries to be particularly expert and adept at how to run a country.  Is it possible, in the natural way of things, that it could happen that a group of incompetent people who were previously employed in kitchens or bars, no-names so to speak, could suddenly come to power and rule countries?!  Yet, we saw this with our own eyes with the Nazi--Yimach Shemam--leadership, who for tens of years were simple, small people, and suddenly sprang into positions of great authority, accomplishing unparalleled evil.  This cannot be explained other than as ‘Hashgacha Gluya’ (Divine Providence), and as a Miracle revealed in order to put us on the right path and open our eyes.


“Now, there are many people who will not recognize this Hashgacha Gluya being sent from Heaven as part of the Chevlei Moshiach, but will take the approach that “Lais Din V’Lais Dayan--there is no Law, and there is no Ruler” [in other words, this is the way the world goes].  Indeed, the circumstances of Chevlei Moshiach can be a difficult test for everyone [as ignoring the lessons may be the cozier way out], but a person must try to take the lessons by foregoing any “olam hazeh” philosophy within him, and turning his heart solely to Avodas Hashem.  This is what Hashem wants us to learn, and to accomplish, from the Chevlei Moshiach.


“There are people who may always talk about Miracles and Hashgacha Pratis, but even when talking about it all the time it could amount to nothing more than lip service.  Only if one’s actions actually change as a result of what he sees is it a sign that he has taken the lessons of the world around him to heart. 


“With this in mind, we can begin to understand the words of Rochav to the spies of Yehoshua who came to spy out Yericho:  ‘I know that Hashem has given the Bnai Yisroel this land, and that all the inhabitants of this land are melting before you, because we heard what happened at the Yam Suf, to Sichon and Og....’  If, in fact, the people of Canaan really understood what happened at the Yam Suf, in the desert, etc., how in the world could they have thought about fighting Bnai Yisroel?!  How is it that only Rochav understood to make peace with us?  It must have been that for all they saw and heard, it did not penetrate deeply enough and make any real change within them--except, that is, for Rochav, who took the lessons affecting her world to heart.


“There is an additional important lesson.  If a person takes the lessons from the ‘Negative’ Miracles to heart and adjusts his conduct accordingly, the Miracles themselves can suddenly be changed from Negative Miracles to Positive ones.  Many sources teach us that if we do Teshuva from the Chevlei Moshiach, the Moshiach himself will be immediately revealed.


“If a person does Teshuva from his true recognition of the Hashgacha G’luya in the difficult world situation around him, he will rise to a high spiritual level.  We see, for instance, that Rochav herself merited marrying Yehoshua as a result.  Indeed, if we want to know our madreiga in recognizing Hashem in difficult situations or circumstances, we should review how much we have changed our ways as we travel through the Chevlei Moshiach.”


May the words of Rav Dessler penetrate through to our hearts, and may we begin making the actual changes we need to make in our daily lives.  It is clear that Rav Dessler feels that we too can (and must) be the Rochavs of our generation!



Special Note Three:  We continue with several more rulings of HaRav Kanievsky, as presented in the Sefer Shailas Rav.  We remind you that although the Sefer expressly states that one is not to Paskin Halacha L’Maaseh from the Sefer, the answers (and the questions!) certainly provide a valuable basis for one to ask his own Shaila.


1.      Q: Where is the Medrash that in the future the Kedushas Yerushalayim will spread to all of Eretz Yisroel, and the Kedushas Eretz Yisroel to the entire world?


A:  Pesikta Rabosi, Perek Aleph, Siman Gimel


2.      Q: If one makes a Siyum and his parents are alive, should he say the Kaddish which is printed at the end of the Mesechta?


A:  No.


3.      Q: If Reuven asks Shimon to borrow his hammer and Shimon refuses, and the next day Shimon asks Reuven to borrow his hammer and Reuven responds: “Truthfully, I can now violate ‘Lo Sitor’ by taking revenge…”  has he violated the prohibition with these words alone?


A:  Yes (this statement is revenge in and of itself).


4.      Q: With respect to the Halachic Principle of “Aniyei Ircha Kodmim--giving to the poor of your city takes precedence,” how much precedence do they take--all or only a part?


A:  Not all, but a “chelek chashuv,” a significant portion, but not a majority.


5.      Q: Is it permissible for a young child to wear a red garment--even if she is under three years old?


A: One should be careful.  Similarly, it is best for an adult not even to wear red pajamas (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 178:1 and Shach Seif Koton 3).


Special Note One:  Please call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 and urge President Bush to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard, before Mr. Bush’s presidency ends.  The period before the inauguration of a president-elect is the time when sitting presidents frequently grant pardons.  Please forward this message to others.



Special Note Two: Despite rumors to the contrary, there are Crest toothpaste products which may/do contain animal derivatives.  One should consult with his Rav before using any toothpaste or mouthwash products which do not possess formal Kashrus supervision.



Special Note Three:  The first Sefer of Teshuvos of HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, in English, has recently been published.  The Sefer is known as Shulchan HaLevi (Rabbi Belsky is a Levi), and is the first in a planned series.  HaRav Belsky writes the following with regard to dried fruits:


a.  Banana chips: Banana chips are produced by deep frying slices of banana in oil.  Often, companies use the same oil for meat and other products.  Therefore, a reliable hechsher is always required.

b. Dried apples: Dried apples are also processed with antioxidants that are sprayed on the slices.  Though most antioxidants used for apples are kosher, there are enough non-kosher formulas used in the industry to make it important to look for reliable supervision.  Kosher anti-oxidants include; ascorbic acid, citric acid, and sodium sulfate.  Non-kosher varieties include: sorbic acid and calcium stearate.

c.  Pineapples and other tropical fruits: Pineapples are dried in a sugar solution and present no problem.  Dried mangoes most likely contain added flavorings, because the taste is all in the juice, which is lost in its drying.  Other tropical fruits may have similar problems.  Use these with hashgachah only.



Special Note Four:  A reader had asked about the need of leaving a piece of bread on the table at the end of the meal until after Birchas HaMazon.  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 180:1,2) explicitly rules that one is not permitted to remove the tablecloth and bread from the table until after Birchas HaMazon.  In fact, the Shulchan Aruch continues that one who does not leave bread on the table during Birchas HaMazon, does not see a “siman brocha”.  The Mishna Berura (ibid., Seif Katan 1 and 2) gives the following reasons for this Halacha:


  1. So that it is clear to all that we are thanking Hashem for His kindness and great goodness in feeding all of His creatures, to the extent that we have been satiated and there is even food left over for us.

  2. Brocha does not come into a void, an empty place or thing--there has to be something there to begin with for the Brocha to be “chal”, to rest upon--just as the pitcher of oil of Elisha required some oil in it in order for the oil to keep flowing.

  3. By leaving some bread over, you are demonstrating that you are ready to share what you have with others, such as the poor.


Hakhel Note:  After Birchas HaMazon, one removes the extra bread, and can save it for consumption in the future.  In the alternative, as we have published in the past, HaRav Belsky rules that one can share leftover bread, if inedible for humans, with animals, as well.



Special Note Five:  In his discussion on the topic of Brachos, the Sefer Pele Yoetz writes that it is important for one not only to recite brachos to Hashem, but also to give his personal brachos to other people.


On the topic of reciting brachos to Hashem, he quotes Chazal’s teaching (Brachos 50A) that from the manner in which a person recites a brocha, one can tell whether he is a “Yodea  Sefer” (a knowledgeable person) or a “Bor” (an ignoramus).  Moreover, the Abarbenel (to Avos 2:13) writes that a bracha without Kavannah is like a guf (body) without a Neshama.  It is for this reason, the Pele Yoetz writes, that a person should think about the meaning of the words as he recites a brocha (to aid in this, some suggest that one close his eyes when making a brocha).


In furtherance of this simple, yet outstanding, concept of undertaking the consistent recital of brachos with Kavannah, we note that:


  1. the Medrash Tanchuma (Bereishis) writes that in the measure that a person blesses Hashem, so does Hashem bless him; and


  1. The Zohar (to Parshas VaYechi) writes that through one’s brachos to Hashem, the Elyonim and the Tachtonim (both the Upper Worlds and Lower Worlds) are blessed as well!  Your “little” bracha resounds in the spheres above you.  Try visualizing this from time to time as you make brachos throughout the day!


With respect to the second point noted above, that is, blessing other people, the Sefer Pele Yoetz writes as follows, “In last week’s Parsha, Hashem advised Avraham “V’Avarecha M’vuracheca--those who bless you, I will bless” (Bereishis 12:3).  This means, Chazal teach (Sota 38B), “Kol HaMevorech Misborech--that one who blesses others will be blessed himself” [this is how the Kohanim derive blessing after blessing us with Birchas Kohanim].  The converse is also true.  “UM’kalelach A’or”(ibid.)--one who curses a member of Klal Yisroel, will likewise bring a curse upon himself.  It therefore behooves everyone to bless others not only from a Bein Odom L’chaveiro perspective, but also from a personal perspective, as well, as one literally brings blessing upon himself by blessing others.  The Pele Yoetz adds that your blessings may actually have been given in an “Eis Ratzon” and may bear true fruit.  Even if they don’t bear noticeable results immediately, one is still giving Nachas Ruach to Hashem, because it is good in the eyes of Hashem to see members of Bnei Yisroel bless each other (see Bamidbar 24:1).


In furtherance of this concept, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that if one is a guest in someone else’s home, he should recite the special Yehi Ratzon for guests (found in almost every Siddur and bencher) even if he is not the mezamen--the one leading the bentching.  As we have noted in previous bulletins, our Gedolim teach that a brocha given out of HaKaras HaTov to someone (such as that of a guest to a host) is more potent than a regular brocha.


May our increase in heartfelt and meaningful brachos to Hashem and to others, bring never-ending brachos to us in this world and the next!


Special Note One: We have recently received a large amount of correspondences from our readers.  Mentioned below are only a specific few, because of their special interest to everyone:


1.      From a noted Posek, we received the following:  “You wrote, ‘After all, Yom Tov was over a little over two weeks ago, and many seem to be back to the same drudgery without visible signs of improvement.  The Torah, in these recent Parshios, however, shows how much, much greater obstacles were overcome by those who met the individual challenges that faced them.’


“An insight is offered by the Dubno Maggid.  He gives a moshol of a man who went to a doctor with a very serious skin condition.  The doctor prescribed medicine and instructed him to return two weeks later.  Two weeks passed, and the man returned but complained that his skin condition had not improved.  The doctor examined him and told him the following:  ‘I can promise you that the medicine was effective and the illness has completely left your body.  What you see on your skin is only an external symptom that will disappear with the passage of time.’


“So too, when we stand before Hashem on Yom Kippur, he completely cleanses us of all our spiritual ‘illnesses.’  When we see that our behavior seems to have no visible signs of improvement, we must be comforted in the knowledge that we have been purified, and the external symptoms will surely disappear with time.  It is encouraging to know that the cleansing of the Yomim Noraim and Yomim Tovim of Tishrei are slowly taking their effect... Let us never give up!!”


2.      A Rav who apparently is involved in gittin (divorces) wrote to us that when a sofer writes a get, he writes the month Mar Cheshvan with only one vuv.  The Rav also felt that two vuvs in the word “Cheshvan” is not grammatically warranted, whether or not the word is written with nukodos.


3.      “According to HaRav Scheinberg’s ruling relating to Torah thoughts in the shower—would it make a difference whether your shower has a shower door (perhaps thereby making it a separate room), or just a shower curtain?”  Hakhel Response: We understand from a Rosh Kollel close to Rav Scheinburg in Eretz Yisroel that the P’sak is based upon a clean bathroom not having the din of a Bais HaKiseh.  Therefore, there should be no difference in this regard.


4.      “I was just thinking that maybe this whole Obama campaign about CHANGE is supposed to be a message for US - the JEWS!!  We should be the ones thinking about CHANGE and how we can improve and become better people!!!!  This is what should be a constant thought in our minds--how can we change to become a better person?!  And if each person thinks about one way to change and become better, the world will be zoche to see the biggest change of all!  The day when all of the world will notice and recognize that Hashem Echod u'shemo echod!!!”


5.      “As maaminim bnei maaminim, we always need to recall a pasuk in Mishlei (21:1) which is the basis of a major yesod in our hashkafa: ‘Palgei mayim lev melech b'ad Hashem, al kol asher yachpotz yatenu- Like brooks of water, a king’s heart is in Hashem's hand to sway it toward what He desires.’  (This pasuk is often summarized as ‘lev melachom b'yad Hashem,’ but the actual words are ‘lev melech b'yad Hashem.’)  The Malbim explains:  ‘Although it is true that every individual possesses the power of free will in his hand, this is not the case concerning the heart of a king.  Being that the entire kingdom's success is dependent on each of the king's decisions, and if the king chooses wrongly, multitudes of people will be ruined, therefore, the king's heart is in Hashem's hand when it comes to public policy decisions…Since the king's actions affect the entire public, whether he acts with a punishing rod, or with kindness, for war or for peace, these decisions are all in Hashem's hands and He will sway them according to His will.  When it comes to public concerns, if the public merits, Hashem will turn the king's heart toward the public's benefit.  HaKadosh Baruch Hu will not wait until the decision is carried out to act against it, according to His will, but He will turn the king's heart in the beginning of the king's thought process, like those who direct water in the beginning of its flow (before the water does damage).’  Ralbag says similarly:  ‘A king's actions and thoughts concerning the public are directed from Hashem; he is like Hashem's agent…if the king was given free will like regular individuals, it would put everyone within the kingdom in great danger.  Therefore, Hashem has not abandoned the nation to the whims of the king; the Exalted One watches and guards.’  May we merit that the Shomer Yisrael always protect us from all potential harm.”



Special Note Two:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Hilchos Shabbos Halacha Series.  The following Halachos relate to hatmana (enwrapping hot food), and are excerpted from the monumental work The 39 Melochos, by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita:


  1. All forms of insulating a food or container of foods are considered hatmana--whether it be by wrapping in materials, enclosing with a close-fitting enclosure, or submerging in a hot liquid.


  1. Some forms of hatmana are prohibited even if the food was insulated before Shabbos.  For example, one may not enwrap a hot water urn with an insulator jacket or towel, even if this was done before Shabbos.


  1. Hatmana is only prohibited if the wrapping material is in direct contact with the food itself, or the outer walls of the pot or urn containing the food.  If the towel or wrapping are not touching the walls of the pot, it is permitted.  Accordingly, one may place a large plate or tray on top of a pot or urn and then drape a towel over it, as the urn will then not be enwrapped.


  1. If one (especially in the winter months!) desires to wrap a pot of hot soup in a towel, one should consult with his Rav in order to determine in what manner and when this is permissible.


  1. One may pour hot water, coffee, soup, etc. into a thermos to retain its heat because the thermos is a kli sheni (i.e., not the container in which it was originally cooked) and is not made of a material that produces or provides a source of heat (“Mosif Hevel”).  One may cover a hot bowl of soup (i.e., not the original soup pot) to keep it warm for the same reason.



Special Note Three: The term “Kel Elyon” uniquely appears four times in this past week’s Parsha (Bereishis 14:18-22).  Interestingly, the term then reappears in our first brocha in Shemone Esrei, Birchas Avos.  While the basic translation of the term would be “Supreme G-d,” there seems to be something more underlying the phrase, as it is repeated several times after the Torah describes Avraham Avinu’s war against the superpowers, and then again in Birchas Avos.  The Avodas HaTomid, a commentary on Tefillah, writes that the phrase uniquely describes that Hashem is the cause of everything--everything comes from Him.  Rav Schwab, Z’tl, in his peirush on the siddur adds that we are to understand from “Kel Elyon” that Hashem’s knowledge is beyond that of any man.  He writes, therefore, that he advised people not to think about how something like the Holocaust could have happened because we simply cannot fathom Hashem’s supremacy over us.  Can one man defeat the four superpowers of the World?  Can a group of Kohanim quash the seemingly invincible Greek army?  More recently, could the Six-Day War or the Yom Kippur War...or more recent events... make sense to the common man?  The term “Kel Elyon” is therefore placed in the Birchas Avos, for it is part of the legacy from our Avos, one of the foundations of our faith, which is immutable by time, place, or occurrence.  Let us not only recite but feel them, every time we recite the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei!


We received the following from an important reader:


“Please tell your readers that 7 MarCheshvan [TODAY] is the yahrzeit of the man who brought the mitzvah of Shatnez to America--R’ Yoseph ben R’Moshe HaLevi Rosenberger--from whom I had the privilege of learning how to check for Shatnez when I became YU's first Shatnez tester.  He also died without children--and requested that Mishnayos be learned in his memory.”  Hakhel Note: We understand that he did have a daughter.  We, too, remember this man, a Holocaust survivor who dedicated his life to this Mitzvah, and we ask that you learn Mishnayos or say Tehillim in his memory.



Special Note One:  Chazal teach (Megilla 14A) that Achashveirush’s removal of his ring from his finger and giving it to Haman moved K’lal Yisroel to Teshuva to a greater extent than the 48 Neviim and seven Nevios had.  We hope and pray that yesterday’s event will not, chas v’shalom, constitute a “removal of the ring.”  There is no doubt, however, that these events could make us more edgy and uneasy with our current Galus.  We must move closer and closer to Hashem as our Galus wanes.  We must rely upon Him, and daven with genuine sincerity for Yeshuos, both individually and collectively, in the United States and abroad.  Perhaps one should make special effort to find the word “Yeshua” throughout davening and have kavanah for Hashem to save us from danger and harm in all situations.  May we be zoche to see the Geulah speedily and in our days.



Special Note Two:  As a person sits down to eat a meal, many different thoughts can go through a person’s mind, including thoughts about what one is about to eat, what one has just done, and what one intends to do after he completes his meal.  May we suggest that the following thoughts come to forefront before beginning the meal:


  1. Who you are about to make a brocha to--the Source of everything, including the chain of events that may have begun thousands of miles away that brought this food to your plate.

  2. That this very Source is present in front of you as you make the brocha (sit up straight, perhaps!).

  3. What you are making a brocha on--do you intend for the brocha to cover only the item in front of you or do you have kavanah for it to cover anything within the realm of the brocha that you have available in the house?  (This may be the preferred method, as it will obviate your doubt as to whether a new brocha is required when you decide, for instance, to drink a glass of soda after having already made a Shehakol on a mushroom omelet.)

  4. That you intend for your brocha to be effective within the entire house that you are in, so that, l’chatchila (in the first instance), you can go from one room to another in the house without necessitating a new brocha.  B’dieved (i.e., if you did not have it in mind), you still would not have to make a new bracha from room to room in the same house--but why not do it right in the first place!

  5. That you also need to daven to Hashem for your continued sustenance.  The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 166, Seif Katan 3), writes in the name of the Zohar HaKadosh that it is a mitzvah for a person to daven every day for his sustenance before he eats.  Accordingly, there is a Minhag to recite Tehillim Chapter 23 (Hashem Roei Lo Echsar) before eating.

  6. That you are eating L’Shem Shamayim--so that you are healthy and strong in order to serve Hashem (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 231, Mishne Berura Seif Katan 5).



Special Note Three:  Two other thoughts about thoughts:


  1. As we have previously noted, the Sefer Tomer Devora writes that one should think about Teshuva every day, so that he remains in constant awareness of the need to grow and improve.  HaRav Dessler, Zt’l, (Michtav Me’Eliyahu 3, p. 293) writes that his eitza to accomplish Teshuva is not to be satisfied with “kabalos alone,” but rather to “burn the bridge” that connected you with the inappropriate thought, word or conduct.  This is why, when describing our leaving Egypt, the Torah records: “And Hashem did not lead them through the land of the Plishtim because it was close” (Shemos 13:17).  With this, the Torah is teaching us that we should choose the road which keeps us away from sin.  Even if it means harder work--such as traveling through the desert--instead of through cities, it is well worth it so that we put ourselves into the proper environment for personal accomplishment.


  1. HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, (ibid., p. 290) brings the Chazal which states that Elisha, while he was on the mountain by himself, is referred to as the “Ish HoElokim” (MelochimII, 4:27), although, while in the city, he is referred to simply as “Elisha.”  This is because, Chazal explain, in the city his students, the “Bnai HaNeviim,” were around him.  Why did the company of his students turn him from an “Ish HoElokim” into only an “Elisha”?     HaRav Dessler explains, and derives a great lesson from this.  Even a Navi as great as Elisha (and even while he is teaching his students to come close to Hashem) cannot be referred to as an Ish Elokim, because, when surrounded by others, he cannot arrive at his true essence as a person.  Only when he is on his own--on the mountain--can he sufficiently reflect upon his true madrega--and achieve a true understanding of himself.  What does he need to improve upon?  What does he need to correct?  What should he change?  Where should he be going?  This--“Hasagos Mabat HaEmes”--Rav Dessler incredibly teaches, is what makes a person an “Ish Elokim(!)”  Taking a true look at oneself--this is something we all can and should do.  Take some time out with yourself--today!


Tomorrow, the seventh day of Cheshvan, is the yahrtzeit of HaRav Meir Shapiro, Z’tl, R’ Yehuda Meir ben R’Yaakov Shimshon, who dedicated his life to passing the light of Torah on to future generations.  To all those who have benefited from the study of Daf Yomi, or from the students of the Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin, we urge you to do any or all of the following on his yahrtzeit l’ilui nishmaso:

Learn Torah—especially Mishnayos

Give Tikun

Give Tzedaka

Dedicate your Daf Yomi Shiur or Daf Yomi study, or review the Daf one extra time, in his memory.

May his memory be for a Blessing, and may he daven for us to merit the Geulah Shelaima!



This Sunday, the eleventh of Cheshvan is the Yahrzeit of Rochel Imeinu.  There will be a Sixth Annual Worldwide Event for the Yahrtzeit of Rochel Imeinu--For Women--at locations worldwide.  Hakhel will be co-hosting the event in Flatbush, Brooklyn, which this year is entitled “The Lifegiving Power of Prayer” with video shiurim given by Rebbetzin Tehila Jaeger and Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller.  Please click here for further information.



We also note that there is a beautiful website http://www.keverrachel.com/default.asp for Kever Rochel.  We should be sure to take special note of Rochel Imeinu--especially on her Yahrtzeit, for “Rochel Mivaka Al Boneha--Rochel Imeinu cries for her children.”  May she soon rejoice together with them!



Special Note One:  We received the following from Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita: “Noach was a very great man.  The names he gave his three sons were intended to guide them and us to succeed in life.


1.  Shem--always keep Hashem’s name in mind.  Noach was always thinking about how to emulate Hashem’s ways and come closer to Him.


2.  Cham--always be warm and excited about serving Hashem.


3. Yafes--always be nice to Hashem and to people (see Avos 2:1).



Special Note Two:  The Sefer Derech Sicha, based upon the teachings of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (Volume 2, p. 10) explains that Noach did not daven for the people of his generation to be saved because he felt that it was only through the beneficence of Hashem that He himself would be saved, so it would be inappropriate to ask Hashem that others be saved as well.  This is similar to the concept of “Ayn Oreach Machnis Oreach--one guest should not invite another guest” on his own volition.  Nevertheless, as we noted last week, Noach was criticized for this, with the floodwaters being known as the “Mei Noach,” because he should have still asked for mercy--especially when lives were at stake.


The Sefer, however, gives a second explanation as to why Noach was criticized, based upon the following incident.  HaRav Shach, Z’tl, once related that a Karlin Chosid had the occasion to spend Shabbos in Vienna with the Chutkover Chassidim.  The Karlin Chassidim recite the davening very loudly, and the Chutkover Chassidim, softly and calmly.  The Karlin Chassid asked the Chutkover Rebbe whether he could shout his davening, as was his tradition.  The Chutkover Rebbe responded that the Chutkov custom was not to daven loudly, and that he should adhere to this custom while davening with Chutkov.  The Karlin Chassid was able to adhere to the rebbe’s ruling, and restrain himself through Kabollas Shabbos and the beginning of Shacharis on Shabbos, but when it came to Nishmas, he could no longer restrain himself and burst out the remainder of the davening, crying out with great fervor and intensity.  After Shabbos, he came to the Rebbe to ask his forgiveness, for he had violated the Rebbe’s ruling.  The Rebbe responded that he had nothing to ask forgiveness for, for the Rebbe had only prohibited him from crying out his regular Tefillos.  However, a Tefillah which is cried out from within, that is a different kind of Tefillah, and his ruling did not apply to that special kind of prayer.  Based upon this distinction between “Regular Tefillah” and “Aroused Tefillah,” HaRav Kanievsky explains Chazal’s teaching (Brachos 32B) that Tefillah is greater even than the bringing of Karbanos.  How could this be?  After all, the process of bringing a Korban involves many, many more mitzvos than Tefillah!  HaRav Kanievsky explains that yes, a Korbon is greater than Tefillah if one is praying because he is commanded to pray--for a Korbon involves so many more Mitzvos.  However, if one prays from the depths of his heart--crying out to Hashem with sincerity and feeling--this, Chazal teach, is greater than the tens of Mitzvos accomplished by Karbanos!  Noach may have felt that his Tefillos could not save his generation, because they would have been inadequate to save even himself.  Nevertheless, the status of Man and the World at the time--and what was going to happen to them--should have in all events brought him to that special, Aroused Tefillah which may have saved the generation!



Hakhel Note: In the United States, today is Election Day.  Every one in the United States, and our brethren outside the United States, should be mispallel in this second kind of way that we are saved from Gezeiros Raos, and that we merit the Geulos and Yeshuos that we so desperately need.



Special Note Three:  We continue with several more rulings of HaRav Kanievsky, as presented in the Sefer Shailas Rav.  We remind you that although the Sefer expressly states that one is not to Paskin Halacha L’Maaseh from the Sefer, the answers (and the questions!) certainly provide a valuable basis for one to ask his own Shaila.


(a)   Q: If two people go to be tovel many kailim together, and they divide up the task, should they each make their own brocha, or should one be motzi the other with his/her brocha?

A: One person should make the brocha and exempt the other.


(b)   Q: If it is known that a landlord does not like his tenants to disclose how much rent they are paying, but did not make confidentiality a condition of the lease, can one disclose how much rent he is paying (especially if many people are asking)?

A: What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your friend.


(c)    Q: If a person sees a poor person, and intends to give him a donation, but the poor person does not see him and leaves, what should one do with the money that he had intended to give?  Should he hold it until Eliyahu HaNavi comes, should he give it to another Tzedaka…?

A: He should give it to another poor person.


Hakhel Note:  We had previously published another Posek’s advice in this area, which was that he states at the beginning of the year that he does not intend to give Tzedaka to any one person until it reaches the person’s hands.


(d)   Q: After a person passes away, can he still daven, or is it only Tzadikim who can continue to daven after they pass away?  If a deceased person can still daven in the next world--does this mean that through Tefillah he can still obtain additional merits for himself after his passing?

A: A deceased person can daven for the sake of the living.  See Sefer Chassidim, Chapter 1271.


(e)   Q: Do women also have to wash their hands before Tefillah (such as Mincha or Maariv)?

A: There is no difference between men and women in this regard.

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