Daily Email Archives

Bulletin Archives

Summer Archives

Public Announcements

Shatnez Publications

Past Events

Hakhel Recordings



Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin



Opportunity Knocks Again!  The Nach Yomi Annual Cycle begins Sefer Melochim today…two perakim a day will take you through Sefer Melochim just a few days after Chanukah--and before Asara BeTeves.  You will then have a much better understanding of what happened at the time of the Churban and why--may the understanding take place while celebrating a rebuilt Bais HaMikdash!



LearnTorah.com has shiurim available from world-renowned Maggidei Shiur for immediate video or audio viewing.  As Rabbi Eli Mansour, Shlita, noted, a shiur he gave was viewed through LearnTorah.com in 86 countries across the planet.  “Until then,” he added, “I thought there were still only 70 countries!”  Hakhel Note:  In addition to the great proliferation of Torah worldwide which you can be a part of with a few clicks, this also teaches us how great the ingathering of our exiles will be--spanning perhaps over 100 countries to bring us back to one place--the source of the world--and when that happens all of the Torah will emanate from that one place—“Ki Mitzion Taitzeh Torah U’Devar Hashem MiYerushalayim”--speedily and in our days.



In addition to the previous information on internet filters, yeshivanet provides a selected service of email only or email with a select list of customized websites.  Connection to yeshivanet is by dialup or DSL.  For more information, one can visit www.yeshivanet.com, or call at 718-YESHIVA (937-4482).



Special Note One:  Last week’s Parsha, VaYaitzai, brought to the fore the great contrast between Yaakov Avinu and Lavan.  The Torah does not emphasize the contrast between Yaakov’s service of the One Hashem to Lavan’s multifaceted idol worship, or Lavan’s violent lifestyle to Yaakov’s peaceful one (although reference is surely made to both of these differences, as well).  Instead, the Torah spends many priceless Pesukim contrasting the difference in financial matters between the two.  The major battle between Yaakov and Lavan appears to have been the treatment and role of money in Olam HaZeh--is it that Hashem gives every last penny that you earn or acquire and adjures that you spend it in a certain way, so that you earn Olam Haba through your proper use of Olam HaZeh--or is it that the stated goal and purpose of Olam HaZeh is “getting money out of your pocket into mine,” overriding all considerations of not only what Hashem wants, but even of family and Hakaras HaTov to those who have assisted you.  Indeed, a reader formulated his definition of the word money and sent it to us:  “Money is the instrument G-D instituted in the creation by which our relationship to HIM is tested, maintained and strengthened on a continuous basis!”  We add that the Ba’al HaTurim at the outset of the Parsha, on the word “Sulam--ladder” notes that its gematria (136) is also the gematria of mammon (money) and oni (poverty)--for much of one’s *spiritual elevation* and *spitritual descent* in this world is based upon how he treats money!  PRACTICAL SUGGGESTION:  Demonstrate that you took this great lesson from the Parsha to heart by being especially vigilant and scrupulous in monetary matters in the coming week.  One aspect of this is paying workers on time.  We constantly receive correspondence from service providers complaining about how they provide services to people in their community and are not paid upon completion of their service, which is further  exacerbated by later difficulties in collection--despite assurances of payment.  Another example would be tilting the scale in favor of the one on the other side of the transaction, rather than perhaps erring, even in a small way in your favor.  Let us think of the “Emes LeYaakov--the truth attributed to Yaakov” (who was also in Galus when all of this happened) when conducting our monetary affairs!



Special Note Two:  The Torah records that the fifth son of Leah was Yissachar, and her sixth son was Zevulun.  We know that Yissachar symbolizes the diligent study of Torah, and Zevulun--its unwavering support.  We may suggest that there is a great lesson in the juxtaposition of their births.  As great as the support of Torah is--what is first needed is the assiduous dedication to Torah--its support is an opportunity that is only thereafter then afforded to us.  We should hold in the highest esteem those who apply themselves to full time study--for only after the birth of Yissachar is there an opportunity for Zevulun to come into existence.  First and foremost, the Torah is an “Eitz Chaim He” in and of itself--we are then blessed with the opportunity to be “machazikim ba”--who grasp on to it by supporting those who study.  When you are approached asking to help support a Yeshiva or student--remember it is after Yissachar that Zevulun honorably follows!



Special Note Three:  At the outset of the Parsha, we learn that after Yaakov Avinu saw his great vision--“VaYashkaim Yaakov BaBoker--Yaakov arose early in the morning” (Bereishis 28:18) in anticipation of a great new day in his life.  In huge contrast, we find exactly the same term “VaYashkaim Lavan BaBoker--and Lavan arose early in the morning” (Bereishis 32:1) in order to get away from Yaakov and everything he represented as quickly as possible, and go back to his regular despicable lifestyle.  Yaakov and Lavan were at opposite ends of the spectrum--but they were both in a great rush to get to where they felt their life should be.  We must take the lesson when we arise each morning--there are those who will energize themselves each morning leaning towards Lavan’s lifestyle, goal and purpose.  We must balance this approach with a hearty VaYashkaim BaBoker of our own very much weighted in the direction of Yaakov Avinu--as Yaakov, looking forward to a day of Hashem’s blessing and protection, a day of purpose, a day of successfully meeting any challenge that faces us, a day of fulfillment.  As we awake in the morning, let us appreciate that morning after the eternal vision of Yaakov Avinu --the morning of VaYaskaim Yaakov BaBoker--and make it our day’s guiding light as well!



Special Note One:  Today is the 10th day of Kislev--two months from the 10th of Tishrei --Yom Kippur (!).  We may add that it is certainly not just another one of those coincidences that the Haftorah for this Shabbos actually incorporated the Shabbos Shuva Haftorah of “Shuva Yisroel Ad Hashem Elokecha-- Return , Israel , to Hashem your G-d.”  The Yetzer Hora, disguising himself as Mother Nature, the cold of winter or whatever else you may want to call him (Chazal say he has seven names) makes sure to remind us that we’ve got to slow down now--after all, birds fly south, animals hibernate, it’s dark when we wake up in the morning and already dark again in the late afternoon by the time we get home.  He shows us how cold, nasty or treacherous it is to go outside to the shiur or do the chesed, and how easy--and “important”--it is to turn over in bed just one (or two) more times.  Our response must be that we are not weakened by the external stimuli, by what the world looks like or does around us, but instead remember Shuva Yisroel--always keep your priorities straight, and keep the proper focus.  Today, on our Asiri LaKodesh, let us invigorate ourselves with a fresh breath of cold air--as we invite in the challenges of winter with a renewal of our own, personalized Avodas Hashem in a way that only we ourselves would know--and be proud of.



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

  1. HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim IV:40) was asked whether one could open and close the Paroches of an Aron Kodesh on Shabbos which was not one whole cloth, but was instead made up of two sections, which formed a Pasuk (and specifically a word of the Pasuk) when joined together.  HaRav Moshe responded that in the first instance one should avoid doing so, as it would not be acceptable according to all opinions, but that if there was no choice, one could open and close this kind of Paroches on Shabbos (it would be better if the two parts remained a bit separated from each other).  Perhaps more importantly, HaRav Moshe adds his disapproval of this kind of two-sectioned Paroches as a “Ke’Ain Shinui MiMinhag Yisroel--something akin to a deviation of a MinhagYisroel.”  After all, the Paroches in the Beis Hamikdash was only one--extremely large--covering!  There is a great lesson for us in the modern world as we look for new mitzvah designs in the Shul and home--are we opting for a new and different style in which to perform the Mitzvah--or is it really a Shinui in the Minhag Yisroel--in the way it was done by your parents, and their parents, and their parents’ parents.  Some thought and some consultation with a Rav may truthfully be in order.  If you are spending money to do a Mitzvah--and especially more money to perform it beautifully--take the time to ensure that it is both beautiful and right!


  1. The following is a continuation of Halachos relating to the Melacha of Melabein, and are based upon the monumental Sefer The 39 Melachos (Vol. III) by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita (Feldheim Publishers).

a)      If cholent, kugel, or similar thick substances become stuck to fabric, usually most of the stain remains on the surface, with only a small amount becoming absorbed into the fabric.  A spoon or the back of a knife may be used to scrape off (gently, not vigorously) the part of the substance that is above the surface (the upper thickness).  It follows that one may not scratch out any part of the cholent or kugel embedded in one’s clothing, or scratch out bits of the cholent that become ground into a carpet.


b)      If a thick wet substance (such as sauce, ketchup, or mustard) splattered on a fabric and has now dried, it cannot be removed on Shabbos.  This is because while still in its liquid state, it became absorbed somewhat into the weave of the fabric.  Thus, the fact that it can be peeled off does not diminish the Melabein that occurs when the stain is removed from the fabric.  However, if a residual stain will remain, this would indicate that the part that is being peeled off was never truly absorbed.


c)      One may remove a piece of scotch tape or adhesive-backed paper from a fabric that became attached unintentionally because neither the tape, not its adhesive backing, becomes absorbed into the fabric at all.  The tape merely sticks to the upper surface of the material, is a superficial adhesion, and is not different than any object that merely clings to a garment.



Special Note Three:  As we have noted in the past, it is an important practice while following the Laining on Shabbos morning to try to understand, at least on a p’shat level, the translation of each word in the week’s Torah Portion.  This week’s Parsha, Vayeitzei, provides a special challenge and we alert you to the following words, as examples of the special attentiveness one must have this week: Naftulei, Yizbileini, Atudim, Verudim, Nachbeisa, Achatenah, Taluh, Luz Vearmon, Vayifatzel Bahen Pitzalos, Machsof Halavan, Beshikasos, Akudim, and Haysell.  If we prepare the words in advance, we will have a better understanding of the Parsha as it is being lained--and our attentiveness to the laining will be much enhanced.



Special Note Four:  Rabbeinu Yonah in the Sefer Shaarei Teshuva (3:13) teaches as follows: “A person is obligated to exert himself to be beneficial to his people and to attempt with persevering toil to search for helpful solutions to the problems of his friends, whether rich or poor.  This is **one of the most serious and fundamental obligations demanded** of each person.”


HaRav Shlomo Volbe, Z’tl (Alei Shur I, p.83), provides the following illuminating insight into the definition of true Chesed:  The beginning point of any Chesed is to open your window and look at what is around you.  One caught up in his own needs cannot pay attention to what another is lacking.  Once the window is open, one must realize that it is frequently hurtful to be on the receiving end.  In fact, it is harder to receive than it is to give.  Accordingly, once must endeavor to perform the Chesed in a manner in which the recipient almost does not sense it.  To be sure, much aforethought and effort should be exerted in order to provide the Chesed that is needed.  It is through these factors--going beyond one’s own needs and feeling for another, being sensitive to the recipient’s feelings when providing the Chesed, and thoughtfully and with exertion providing it--constitutes a Chesed “BiShleimus.”  Following these basic guidelines, HaRav Volbe concludes, will produce a Chesed that actually has within it a “Nitzotz of Ruach Hakodesh--a spark of Ruach Hakodesh” itself.  Astounding!  We can all be zoche to that Nitzotz(!)--simply by coordinating our mind and actions in a Chesed symphony!



We received the following notice:  Kollelim who would like to receive a free hard drive with 40,000 seforim(!) through HebrewBooks.org are invited to fax the name, address and phone number of their Kollel and the name of their Rosh Kollel to the following number 718-504-5090.



Special Note One:  Several readers asked us to emphasize an additional important point regarding ona’as devorim--it is not only what you say but how you say it.  A touch of sarcasm, cynicism, mockery or derision, a simple twitch of the eye or nose, turning away or doing something else while speaking to someone--can take a pareve or even positive comment and make it insensitive and hurtful.  So much good can be done with a word of praise to someone--especially at the beginning of the day--why waste the opportunity because of an unnecessary moment of indiscretion or thoughtlessness?  Use your next occasion (within the next few minutes) to boost someone else with only a phrase or sentence--and you will most certainly boost yourself while you are at it!



Special Note Two:  More on Double Bubble:  In response to all inquiries, Double Bubble is under the OU again--but the OU must be on the wrapper.  A retailer in New York , who apparently learned that this gum product was back under the OU, has recently negligently repackaged the **non-certified** product together with other loose candies (of unknown origin) in a Shabbos tray type of assortment.  Although the retailer (who is religious) proudly identifies its hashgacha on the plastic case covering the assortment, the hashgacha is known in the Kashrus industry as a weak one, and in this case the agency obviously missed or did not even know about what the store had done here.  We relate this incident to our readers for two reasons:  First, because repackaging--whether done in kosher supermarkets or elsewhere--involves serious Kashrus issues, and is rife for mix-up, juggling, substitutions and replacement, mislabeling and even data processing error, innocent or otherwise, repackaging of any item requires a real hashgacha, and not a rubber stamp.  Second, the candy and confectionary industry is an immense one, with new products from all over the world constantly making their way onto the scene.  The attitude of “what can already be in candy and chocolate?” is far from accurate and the truth.  Even more important than how tempting a food or drink looks, or even how good it tastes to your body--is how it will actually interact with your soul--because the digestion process there lasts infinitely longer.  A final note of caution at Shalom Zachors and Vorts, where thoughtful friends and neighbors show their affection and caring to the ba’al simcha with expensive pre-packaged items of all kinds--so what could be wrong with that tray or this array?  If you do not know where it comes from (or what bracha to make on the chocolate-covered whoknowswhat)--better to stick with those other items which can concomitantly please your body--and your soul!



Special Note Three:  One additional point on Hilchos Brachos.  We note that the bracha on Cocoa Puffs is Shehakol.  Yet, the Cocoa Roos product (under the Malt-a-Meal and “heimishe” Ungar’s labels, and specifically marketed as “Compare to Cocoa Puffs”) lists its bracha rishona as Borei Minei Mezonos, and (because there is insufficient flour for an Al HaMichya), an after bracha of Borei Nefashos.  The good lesson here, once again, is vigilance, diligence and care.  Just like the bracha you made yesterday is different than the bracha you are making today, and will be different than the bracha of tomorrow--so, too, should one be attentive not only to the LeMi Mevarech--before Whom you make a bracha--but also Al Ma Mivarech--what it is that you are actually making a bracha on.  Thanking Hashem for the wrong thing most certainly derogates from the sincerity and reality of that appreciation.  There are many sources from which to obtain the correct bracha--including the Rav Hamachshir.  If you don’t know (what would you say is the bracha on whole wheat squares or corn cakes) what the bracha truly is--how about selecting from the myriad of other choices of foods to make a bracha on?



Special Note One:  In last week’s Parsha, we find that Rivka placed Eisav’s garments upon Yaa’kov, and that when Ya’akov drew close to Yitzchok, “VaYorach Es Rei’ach Begodov…--and he smelled the fragrance of his garments and he blessed him.”  The Ba’alei Mussar provide an extraordinary lesson from these words.


Eisav was a “Yisroel Mumar” who committed sins of great magnitude--heinous crimes so unbefitting and contrary to his true station in life.  Yet, his garments had the scent of Gan Aiden upon them!  How could this be?  The answer may be that he put these garments on whenever he was involved in the one mitzvah that he paid special attention to--the Mitzvah of Kibud Av V’Aim.  His observance and care for this Mitzvah, despite his course and foul overall bearing, was sufficient to overcome the stench otherwise associated with him, and allowed him to at least perform this Mitzvah with the aroma of Aiden.  The lesson to us is stark and compelling—we, too, should pay special attention to a particular Mitzvah--choosing to learn more and more and more about it, becoming an “expert” if you will in its performance, fulfilling it constantly, adding hiddurim in it, and aiding others in its awareness and importance.  If Eisav could actually cover up the unbearable stench that he otherwise bore to the extent of Aiden on his clothing--imagine how your dedication to “your” Mitzvah could make your entire being into “Reiach Nichochi”--the most pleasing of fragrances before Hashem!

Hakhel Notes:  1.  It is well known that the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, and his son yblch’t HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, note that a Bar Mitzvah is suddenly faced with performance of all of the Mitzvos MiD’Oraysa--a formidable new task.  They recognized that faultless performance in all areas may not be immediately occur, so they would urge the Bar Mitzvah Bochur to take one Mitzvah and be especially dedicated to it--Kibud Av V’Aim was at the top of their list.  We can certainly choose this Mitzvah, which always applies, or any other Mitzvah to be a specialist in--and may the world savor your fragrance!  2.  The Chofetz Chaim would likewise urge that one be especially conversant with one Mesechta which could always be studied and reviewed--and in fact would lead and protect a person in this world and the next.



Special Note Two:  How would/should you react to the following words: “I am asking that you publicize this and maybe it will be a zechus for me and what I have done.  I am not world-renown as a “big” sinner, but as I grow older I believe that I have had a major failure in life which I would like to help those younger than me with.  The failure has been not to use the opportunities I have had day after day, going thru life by habit, day in and day out.  I look back at all those sleepy Shachris and Maarivs, and so much effort squandered or at least over-expended in the wrong places.  Learning and Mitzvos that should have been performed with real energy were, looking back, embarrassingly below par.  If someone were to define my life in Webster’s Dictionary, probably definition number 2 or 3 would be “a series of missed opportunities”.  Of course, I have much (I hope) to show, and some legitimate and even great excuses, as well, but I realize that everyone--whatever his station in life--has all of the opportunities he needs to have a “Lexus” of an Olam Haba--and many thoughtlessly drive off with a Chevy.  I think everyone should make their own Shofar everyday--reminding themselves to LIVE life.  I’m not depressed at all--but from here on in I just want to convey the message of life.”

Hakhel Note:  In last week’s Parsha, Yitzchok Avinu took stock of his life, as well, thinking about his life and what he had to take care of.  Everybody can take stock of things they need to--How can I turn my Shemone Esrei consistently into an encounter with Hashem?  To whom is money owed and how am I paying it?  How can I finally stop thinking this or doing that?  Where are my priorities misplaced?  Is there something other than a million dollars that will make my future bright and meaningful?  Can I identify a “routine” Mitzvah and make it special every day?  Can I identify something that I do one way and not the better way because of the greater effort that it requires--and change it?  These are life’s questions--and because they refer to your life--deserve your personal consideration and tender loving care!



Special Note Three:  A Rav was once given by his mispallel--his congregant--as a reference for shidduch purposes.  The questioner called and asked, “Can you tell me something about the Yiras Shomayim of this person?”  The Rav responded, “I don’t know, I never have done business with him.”



Prepare-For-Shabbos Alert from the Va’ad of Baltimore:  “Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive and Pampers Feel ‘N Learn Advanced Trainer diapers change color when the diaper is wet or dirty.  These diapers should not be used on Shabbos or Yom Tov.”

Hakhel Note:  One fulfils a Mitzvas Aseh D’Oraysa of Zachor Es Yom HaShabbos LeKadsho when he does something for the coming Shabbos.  In fact, before reciting the Shir Shel Yom every morning, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, would say the words “Zachor Es Yom HaShabbos Lekadsho”--and then say HaYom Yom…(Sheni, for instance)--today is the second day of the week to Shabbos--thereby indicating that he was fulfilling the Mitzvah of remembering Shabbos.  Others have the custom every time they go shopping during the week--even for milk, bread or the like to buy something especially for Shabbos--such as mandolin, fish or the like--as well--remembering that the “MaiAin Olam Haba” day--is coming!  A Rav recently advised us that he goes around the table on Leil Shabbos asking each person around the table for a chesed s/he did during the week, and that all those around the table enjoy and learn from the  experience.  If one takes up this fine practice--even when doing a chesed during the week--s/he is preparing for the Shabbos table!



Hakhel is proud to provide by clicking here audio coverage of a recent Shiur given by Rabbi Yosef Viener, Shlita, on the topic of “Family Security.”  In order to gauge your time, the Shiur is about 45 minutes in length, and true to Rabbi Viener’s style, combines valuable knowledge with a sincere and meaningful way of imparting it!



At long last, we provide by clicking here the answers given by our readers to the proper pronunciation of the word AHTA in the second bracha of Shemone Esrei.  Based upon the answers presented, the issue does not appear definitively settled, and accordingly one should consult with his Rav if he requires further resolution.  Most certainly having the meaning behind the word AHTA in mind--and consistency in its pronunciation--are very important concepts here, as well.



Kashrus Notice:  The Double Bubble chewing gum ingredient wrappers state “may contain milk and soy.”  If this is of concern to you, you should contact your Rav or Kashrus expert.  It is always a good practice to read labels, for product formulations and supervising agencies change.  It may very well be that the milk is in fact “botul l’chol hadeios”--but you should still always be on top of what you or your children are consuming.  As Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches “He who watches his mouth and tongue, saves his soul from tzaros (Mishlei 21:23 )…”




Special Note One:  We move on to another area of the mouth’s purpose--not only to take in from without--but to express out from within.  On Erev Shabbos, we posed thirty phrases and asked our readers to identify which of the phrases DID NOT CONSTITUTE ona’as devorim--hurtful, harmful insensitive and damaging speech.  We hope that you took our Erev Shabbos challenge--and successfully completed it.  We now pose the reverse question --which of the following phrases DOES CONSTITUTE the misdeed of on’as devorim?


  1. It’s a privilege to know you.

  2. You have a knack for doing the right thing.

  3. I need your advice.

  4. You really bought this at a good price.

  5. Smart!

  6. I’m impressed.

  7. It looks so good on you.

  8. You remind me of your father/mother.

  9. I really appreciate your effort.

  10. You do so many good things.

  11. You are truly the right person to be around.

  12. How do you find time to do all of this?

  13. This is delicious.

  14. Can I give you a bracha?

  15. Can you give me a bracha?

  16. What a wonderful idea.

  17. You probably know the answer to this.

  18. I know you’re someone I can count on.

  19. Beautiful!

  20. My compliments to the chef.

  21. You look like a million dollars.

  22. Your parents did something right.

  23. Some people really have their head on straight.

  24. You did a great job.

  25. What a chesed!

  26. You have amazing taste.

  27. You are so special.

  28. You did this all by yourself?

  29. I know that your word is your bond.

  30. You’re great!


Have you found the ona’ah in the thirty phrases above?  We hope not.  Our point is that, yes, one can go through an entire day with only positive, nice and good things to say to others.  Just as at a stop sign, one is enjoined to Stop, Look-and Listen, so, too, can one who realizes he is about to utter the wrong or inappropriate words should Stop, Think-and Speak, so that expressions of spoilage and harm become words of encouragement, conciliation and betterment.  Is this beyond anyone--*anyone*?  Let us leave “anyone” aside and focus on you.  The Torah (and your Maker) knows that *you* can do it…and your life will surely be much enhanced if--no, when--you do!



Special Note One:  Recently, we provided a Rav’s question to his congregants as to why emphasis is placed on the first syllable of the word “AHta” in “Mechayeh Masim AHta”.  We intend to provide a link for the responses we received early next week.  In the interim, we ask that you especially focus on the word “Ahta” wherever it appears in Shemone Esrei and determine whether you are pronouncing it there “mi’liel” (on the first syllable) or “mi’lerah” (on the second syllable).  Aside from focusing on proper pronunciation, it will also give you the opportunity to remind yourself each and every time that you are in the presence of the Shechina--“Ahta”--You--talking to Hashem directly in front of you!  Calling this an astounding opportunity would be a huge understatement!



Special Note Two:  We provide by the following link an updated listing of available Internet filters for your protection--   http://tinyurl.com/aefual   Security for your soul comes before all else.  Every person should have his own proper “homeland” security.  In this zechus, may we not have to come to need the government’s homeland security.



Special Note Three:  Which of the following statements or comments does not constitute Ona’as Devarim?


  1. “How many times do I have to tell you?”

  2. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you 1,000 times.”

  3. “I told you so.”

  4. “Didn’t I tell you not to…”

  5. “You forgot again?”

  6. “I think that it runs in your family.”

  7. “You look like I feel.”

  8. “This time you’ve outdone yourself.”

  9. “Who appointed you king?”

  10. “You’re off your rocker”

  11. “Klutz!”

  12. “You make no sense.”

  13. “Who cares what you think?”

  14. “You don’t match.”

  15. “You’re impossible.”

  16. “You forgot to make supper again?”

  17. “How can you live in this mess?”

  18. “You keep on making the same mistake.”

  19. “Leave me alone!”

  20. “You never…/You… always”

  21. “Can’t you take a joke?”

  22. “I don’t believe you.”

  23. “You blew it!”

  24. “What’s wrong with you?”

  25. “What do you think you are doing?”

  26. “Where are your brains?”

  27. “I know that this is hard for someone like you, but…”

  28. “You really overpaid for this thing.”

  29. “Let me show you the right way to do it.”

  30. “You’re right!”


If you made it to the end of this list, you probably got 100% on this test.  We are collecting statements, quips, and remarks which constitute Ona’as Devarim which you have experienced (and felt!) in your own life.  Please send them to us.  Our goal upon compilation of the list is to have it available for everyone to print out and periodically review, in order to assist in the performance of this most important and pervasive mitzvah.  Proper care can truly enhance and elevate one’s everyday life!



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


  1. For all those who have requested, tapes and CDs of Rabbi Chaim Kohn’s masterful Shiur on “Shabbos and Business Matters Do’s and Don’ts” given at our recent Yarchei Kallah, they are available by contacting 718-252-5274.


  1. According to the Satmar Rav, Z’tl, “If women knew the rich reward that is in store for those who bake Challahs Lekavod Shabbos, the bakery would not sell even one Challah for Shabbos!”  It happened one Friday that HaRav Moshe Aryeh Freund, Z’tl, stepped into the kitchen where the Shabbos meal was being cooked.  The vapor of the dishes filled the kitchen.  Said HaRav Moshe Aryeh, “If women knew the powerful remedies contained in the vapor of Shabbos dishes, they would not leave the kitchen all week, staying there from Sunday until Friday preparing for Shabbos!”  (Shabbos Treats II. p. 22).


  1. The following Halachos relate to the Melacha of Melabein, and are based upon the monumental Sefer The 39 Melachos (Vol. III) by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita, (Feldheim Publishers--a must have work for every home!):


    1. It is forbidden to remove dry substances (including dust, powder, flour, sand, confectionary sugar and the like) that have become embedded, absorbed, or caught in a garment [wet or sticky substances that have become absorbed  will, bli neder, be discussed in a future note].  To avoid predicaments, one should endeavor to place his jacket, coat, and/or hat in a safe, clean place.  Patting, slapping, shaking, blowing or folding over part of a garment and rubbing it against the dirty portion to force off the embedded substance are all forbidden.  The prohibition applies not only to clothing, but to any fabric, so that one could not scrub a stain on a cloth chair, or shake out the dust from a floor mat, as well.


    1.  If dust, sand, flour, powder, or the like settled in one’s hair, it is permitted to shake it out without a comb or brush, because Melabein does not apply to human skin or hair.  A comb or brush may not be used, nor could gum embedded in the hair be removed, because of a different Melacha, that of Gozez--i.e., the removal of hair that would result in the process.  Unlike hair, however, a Shaitel (whether synthetic or human hair) is classified as a garment, and one is not permitted to remove a substance embedded in it in the same way as one may not remove the substance from an ordinary garment.  For the same reason, one may not remove dirt embedded in a fur coat.


    1. Large dry crumbs, lint, and hair do not become embedded or absorbed into a fabric and may be removed, as they are regarded as separate entities stuck into the fabric, like a pin.  Thorns and prickly weeds that become attached to a garment may be removed from the garment for the same reason.  However, one must remove them slowly so as not to surely cause to snag or tear.


Special Note Five:  In this week’s Parshas we learn of the special emphasis and significance placed in the Torah on receiving Brachos from others--especially from a parent and/or a great person.  We provide several important points made by the Sefer Pele Yoetz relating to the giving and receiving of Brachos from other people:


  1. Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Mishlei (22:9) “Tov Ayin Hu Yevorach...”  Chazal (Sotah 38B) teach that this Posuk alludes to the fact that one with a good eye always gives Brachos to other people.  The one who blesses others will, in fact, also be blessed himself, as the Posuk also teaches (Beraishes 12:3), “Va’Avorecha Me’Varachecha--I will bless those who bless you!”


  1. One gives Nachas Ruach to Hashem by blessing others, and if the Bracha is successful and produces results, one has performed a special act of Chesed to that person.  In fact, some Poskim allow one to give a Brocha to his friend even if it is immediately before he makes a brocha to Hashem (such as on a food item), because it is considered an Honor to Hashem, as well, to bless another person!  The Zohar, however, teaches that before blessing another person he should first bless Hashem (such as by reciting “Yisborach Shemo Shel HaKadosh Baruch Hu”) as the Source of all brocha.


  1. One should not be stingy--and should be sincere--in giving brachos, as Shlomo HaMelech teaches (Mishlei 3:27) “Al Timnah Tov…--do not withhold good from the one who needs it, when you have the power in your hand to do it.”  One should also realize that the moment that he is giving the bracha may be an Eis Ratzon--a special time in which (for reasons beyond our comprehension) the brocha can have special force and be actualized.


  1. Likewise, one should always be “mishtadel” to receive brachos, as Chazal teach (Rus Rabba 7:15 ), “Were it not for the brachos that the elderly women gave to Na’ami--they would never have been a Bais Dovid!”


  1. One should especially desire and seek brachos from talmidei chachamim and tzadikim, because their bracha is “kerova lihiskayeim--close to being fulfilled.”  In any event, continues the Pele Yoetz, Hashem will bless this person directly, because in seeking their brocha, he demonstrates his esteem for Torah and Tzadikim.


  1. One should also seek brachos from the poor and indigent, for Hashem listens to their calling.


  1. One should always seek brachos from his parents, as their brocha is closer to being fulfilled because it is given with all of their heart and soul, and because of the additional Mitzvah of Kibbud Av Va’Aim one performs by asking for their brocha.  Chazal teach us that Eisav let out the great and bitter cry of “Barcheini Gam Ani Avi--Bless me, too, my father” in this week’s Parsha--because he realized the great magnitude and power of his father’s blessing.  Each of us who are fortunate to have living parents should endeavor to overtake, and go beyond, Eisav’s desire as so powerfully recorded in the Parsha.


  1. Finally, the Peleh Yoetz writes when we say Shabbos Shalom, we should mean what we say--that in the zechus of Shabbos may you have peace.  Shabbos Shalom!!



Today is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl (R’Aharon B’R Shneuer Zalmen), perhaps best known for his unwavering adherence, resolve and tenacity for what he knew to be right--whether it be the primacy of Chinuch Atzmai, learning undistracted in Lakewood, or properly voting in the elections in Israel.  The Satmar Rebbe, Z’tl, who did not agree with HaRav Kotler in some of his opinions, was maspid with him with the words “I can testify about him that, like his namesake Aharon HaKohen, he did not deviate (she’lo shinah) even in the slightest amount (even kekotzo shel yud) from the Torah’s directives.”  He is undisputedly one of the towering figures in rebuilding Jewry in America (and ergo the world) after Churban Europe.  We provide below some of his teachings as a zechus for his beloved neshama--and as a zechus for us.


1.  The Ramban writes in Sha’ar HaGemul that there are three Judgments that a person must succeed in.  The yearly judgment, the judgment faced upon departure from Olam HaZeh, and a third judgment prior to Techiyas Hameisim.  What is the difference between the second and third judgments--after all, the person was not alive any more to perform mitzvos or commit aveiros!  HaRav Aharon explains that this judgment is most complete, because it also takes into account all of the ramifications of a person’s actions since their demise.  What did you accomplish, what mark did you leave--did you lead others in the Derech Hashem--Torah and Mitzvos--by your sincere action and your exemplary conduct?  If so, all of the actions that succeed you in all future generations of those who learned from you--whether it be children, other relatives, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances or friends (even of the impressed person sitting next to you on the bus or plane)--all of this accrues to your merit.  Chas VeShalom, the opposite is also true.  What we do in our lives is so important--not only for this moment or this year--but for a lifetime, and the generations that succeed them, until the end of days.  Appreciate the true significance, the incredible and everlasting effects, of your actions, so that their ramifications benefit you--and the world--literally, to the end of days.


2.  The Pasuk (Devorim 8:3) teaches: “Ki Lo Al HaLechem Levado Yichye HaAdam...--not by bread alone does man live, rather from that which emanates from the mouth of Hashem does man live.”  HaRav Aharon sheds the following elucidating light on this Pasuk.  Man believes that he puts something (hopefully) tasty into his mouth, digests it through a series of miraculous processes, and is re-energized as a result.  The Pasuk, however, teaches that it is not simply the lechem, the food that has the power to nourish and satiate--it is, rather the actual “Motza Pi Hashem”--the force put into the food by Hashem that does so.  We may be physically eating the food--but it is its actual infusion by Hashem that makes it work.  Hakhel Note 1: What an incredible point to remember while eating!  Hakhel Note 2: Why would anyone overeat again--what a waste of time, on top of all else....!


3.  You are an Ish Chesed, a performer of Chesed of the highest calibre.  You come across the cruelest of the cruel--someone, in fact, world renown for his sadism, barbarity, licentiousness, and the sheer indignity he bestows on other human beings--a shame and disgrace to the human race.  At best, you would have nothing to do with him.  At worst, perhaps you would join forces with those who would do him harm.  Now, let us see Avrohom Avinu’s attitude and approach to the news that the people of Sodom were about to be handily taken care of, once and for all.  Avrohom Avinu’s immediate response was--let us save what we can of these people.  No vengeance, no joy, not even personal satisfaction that they and those with them are gone.  Quite to the contrary, HaRav Aharon teaches, Avrohom Avinu, who knew what Yiras Shomayim really was, went to the point of pleading that he twice said “Al Yichar”--Hashem, do not be upset with what I am about to ask.  Far be it from one with true Yiras Shomayim to anger Hashem--but Avrohom Avinu knew that he must take it to the limit for them.  HaRav Aharon concludes that we are taught here how great our obligation is to assist and daven for Hashem’s children, both for the individual and for the K’lal.  Aren’t we the descendants of Avrohom Avinu--and don’t those in front of us need our help?


4.  Chazal bring that the reason Lot was saved from Sodom was because he remained silent and did not disclose anything to the Mitzri’im when they were told that Sora was Avrohom Avinu’s sister.  While this silence by Lot is admirable, it would seem that he had much greater zechusim to save him than this one act of silence.  Had he not just taken in guests at the risk of his own life, was he not willing to jeopardize the welfare of his own family members so as not to violate the trust placed in him by his guests...and had he not just baked Matzos in celebration of Pesach?!  Why do we have to go back so long, to such a seemingly insignificant event as simply not disclosing Sara’s additional relationship with Avrohom to the wicked authorities?  HaRav Aharon answers that we learn from here how much more important it is in the eyes of Hashem if your act or deed is an expression of your own thoughts and efforts--your self-developed “madreiga atzmis”--a level that you have reached or attained by yourself, rather than simply acting in a certain (even good) way because you are used to it, because your parents did it, or because you are fortunately in that kind of environment.  This point, HaRav Aharon continues, is incredibly true, even if the habitual or customary item is truly much greater--and even if it involves actual mesirus nefesh-in its performance.   Lot ’s hachnosas orchim was par for the course, expected, and ordinary--in spite of the adversity and danger, because it was something that simply had to be done and get done.  Developing your own area or areas of growth in Avodas Hashem is especially treasured by Hashem.  Putting it in further perspective--in Lot ’s case--and B’ezras Hashem in ours--it actually planted the seeds for Moshiach.  Tread new ground, develop your own new path beyond that which you are used to and is expected of you--for this is your best measure of greatness!



Special Note One:  In last week’s Parsha, Chazal teach us that so many pesukim are devoted to Eliezer’s discussions in finding a wife for Yitzchok Avinu, that Chazal teach “Yofeh Sichasan Shel Avdei Avos...--the speech of the servants of are Avos are Yofeh--nicer or prettier--than the Torah laws that would otherwise have been provided in more detail in its place.”  A reader inquired into the language of “yofeh”--prettier or nicer.  What does this terminology mean to indicate--why didn’t Chazal simply say “tova” (good or better) or “chashuva” (more important), or something along those lines?  We welcome your thoughts.


Special Note Two:  In last week’s Parsha, Rashi (Bereishis 25:9) teaches us that Yishmael did Teshuva, as he allowed Yitzchok to take the lead in the burial of Avrohom Avinu.  The question is obvious--Yishmael was involved in the most heinous and cardinal of sins (Bereishis 21:9)--sins for which he had to be banished from Avrohom Avinu’s home.  Was letting Yitzchok go first at the burial all the Teshuva that he had to do--was that all that was really expected of him?  The Ba’alei Mussar learn a tremendous lesson from this as to what Teshuva really is.  By letting Yitzchok lead the kevura of Avrohom Avinu, Yishmael was not temporarily abdicating, for that would have been totally unacceptable to him.  On principle alone, he would simply not stand for stepping to the side and losing his status.  Rather, Yishmael’s acquiescence to Yitzchok’s position of leadership symbolized that he *had come to realize his true position in life.*  There was no longer any reason for envy, lust, murder, and the like--because they did not lead him to where he was supposed to go.  After all, was he not the son of Haggar, and not of Sora Imeinu, was he not the one whom Hashem Himself had ordered out of Avrohom Avinu’s home?!  Who was he fooling--himself and who else?   Teshuva is looking in--returning to yourself, and expunging those faults and flaws which are harmful to your personal potential and real goals.  Once Yishmael had come to this realization, his true portrait, his true self, then the jealousy, enmity and hostility towards Yitzchok, as the true scion of Avrohom Avinu, was extinguished.  He peacefully and willingly put Yitzchok ahead of him--as the ultimate and conclusive external symbol of a deep and penetrating, and perhaps initially painful, Teshuva process.


Additional Note:  It is no coincidence (we are still waiting for even one of our readers to identify any “coincidence” at all in their lives) that the Torah, at the end of this week’s Parsha, identifies the daughter of Yishmael that Eisav took for a wife as Machalas--the forgiven one--as if to demonstrate to his parents, Yitzchok Avinu and Rivka Imeinu--that he, too, would commence the Teshuva process.  We may additionally suggest that Yishmael’s actions, as well as Eisav endeavor in taking Machalas as a wife (Bereishis Rabbah 67:13)--is symbolic of the final truth at the end of days--that both the B’nai Yishmael and the B’nai Eisav would ultimately return to Hashem and do their part in fulfilling the world’s purpose.  It is perhaps only **our final acts of Teshuva** which are needed to ready and prepare the rest of the world for this hopefully soon upcoming and so-desperately-needed time.  We received a note from a reader that Rosh Chodesh Kislev is considered as a special time of Teshuva, as it culminates 40 days of time since Hoshana Rabbah--and is “a day of mechila like Yom HaKippurim.”  Even if we may not know an exact source for this, we may certainly take the non-coincidental lessons from Yishmael and Machalas taught to us in the week between their readings--which is when Rosh Chodesh Kislev occurs--and straighten something out from within.  If you have doubts as to where your endeavors should be focused, you can always go to your mouth--for this is how you start your day (Modeh Ani), end your day (Kriyas Shema Al HaMitah), and Daven, Learn, Make Brachos, Do Chesed, and otherwise Communicate everything else in between.  A voice of sure and consistent calmness, kindness, sensitivity, thoughtfulness and good expression--certainly goes a long way towards that day of kedusha and tahara for which you symbolically wash out your mouth every single morning.  Look in--to make sure that what comes out is right.  Rosh Chodesh Kislev is a wonderful landmark (or perhaps timemark) to begin this wonderful endeavor--and you may very well have the B’nai Yishmael and B’nai Eisav following closer behind than you think--to your credit!



Congratulations!  You have completed one-sixth (approximately 16.67%) of the Year!  If you feel you can be even more successful with the 5/6 left of the Year--now is a good time to think about just exactly how.  In fact, today, aside from being the last day of MarCheshvan and Rosh Chodesh, is also Asiri L’Kodesh (a ten day interval after Yom Kippur)--a day to feel elevated and be elevated!  Perhaps we can be especially diligent today with the use of our mouths.  The Chofetz Chaim writes the following “lehalacha” in the Sefer Chofetz Chaim (7:3):  “For one who is suspect of speaking Lashon Hora is then also suspect of lying and distorting the truth...”(!)



Special Note One:  In honor of Rosh Chodesh, we provide a short tape of HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, Z'tl, (YouTube incorrectly identifies the singer), who was a talmid of the Brisker Rov (and also his first cousin) and grandson of R' Rephoel Shapiro, Z'tl, the Rosh Yeshiva of Volozhin (the Netziv's son-in law).  He is singing Sim Sholom, composed by the great Rosh Yeshivah, HaRav Boruch Ber Leibowitz, Z’tl.  Please click here for the link.



Special Note One:  For those who have not received the following link to the words of R’ Shmuel Borger being distributed by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation, we provide it here:   http://www.chofetzchaimusa.org/requestfromshmuelborger.mp3



Special Note Two:  As may be known to you, as well, today is the Yahrzeit of the Mumbai Kedoshim.  We provide their names below, and ask that whatever you do for them as Karbanos on behalf of K’lal Yisroel--whether it is Tehillim, Mishnayos, Tzedaka, etc., please do it separately for each one--as each one had his/her own precious neshama.  The names are R’ Gavriel B’R’ Nachman (the Shaliach), Rivka Bas R’ Shimon (his Rebbitzen), R’ Aryeh Leibush B’R’ Nachum, R’ Ben Zion B’R’ Chaim Zvi, Yocheved Bas R’ Yaakov and Norma (Nechama) Bas Avrohom.  May Hashem Avenge their Blood--and may we see the fulfillment of the words of Devorim 32:43 speedily and in our day.



Special Note Three:  A Gift For Men:  The Yesod VeShoresh HaAvodah brings from HaRav Chaim Vital, Z’tl, in the Sefer Reishis Chochma that when one looks at his Tzitzis when he recites the words of “U’Risem Oso--and you shall look at them” in Shema in the morning, he fulfills a Mitzvas Aseh D’Oraysa of looking at his Tzitzis--exactly as the Torah commands!  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 24:4) does not rule that it is an actual Mitzvah, but writes that it is a Minhag Yofe, and indicates a Chibuv Mitzvah-an affection for the Mitzvah when you put them over your eyes.  In fact, the Mishne Berurah (ibid., seif katan 7) brings from the Kadmonim--those of earlier generations--that it is segulah against future blindness.  We add that if one follows the teaching of HaRav Vital, one should have kavannah when passing the Tzitzis over his eyes that he is performing a Mitzvas Aseh D’Oraysa, as Mitzvos Tzerichos Kavannah--when one is performing a Mitzvah from the Torah, he should have specific intent to perform the Mitzvah.  We also add the teaching of the Mishne in Avos (2:1)--be careful with the easy Mitzvos as you are with the more difficult ones--for one does not know the value of any Mitzvah..!



Special Note Four:  In last week’s Parsha we find an extraordinary dialogue between Avrohom Avinu and Efron.  Rashi (Bereishis 23:10) explains that this Efron had been a commoner, but suddenly took on importance because Avrohom Avinu, the “Nesi Elokim”--the recognized Prince of Hashem--needed to deal with him.  Rather than show his appreciation to Avrohom from raising him from a no-name to prominence, Efron asks for a huge sum of money--“What is 400 shekel between me and you in exchange for the Meoras HaMachpeila?”  Rashi (ibid., 15) in explaining the extra words between me and you writes “between two people so beloved (‘ahuvim’) to each other such as us, what is 400 shekalim....”  Beloved?  Ahuvim?  What?  Avrohom Avinu had nothing to do with this low and unscrupulous, perhaps despicable, person just a few moments ago--and would probably have nothing to do again with him for the rest of his life!  What is the belovedness, the affection between them to which Efron is referring?!  We may suggest that these words shed great light on the quality of the Chesed of Avrohom Avinu, which we, as his descendants must most certainly endeavor to emulate.  When Avrohom simply spoke to another person, the love, the feeling, the caring was evident and tangible.  The next person was not a “chesed case” or someone on behalf of whom Avrohom Avinu had just performed a unilateral chesed (imagine how Efron’s life, and perhaps his children’s and descendants lives were now so fully turned around for good).  Rather, the next person was someone who Avrohom Avinu loved and appreciated--to the extent that the person felt it--it was real!  Efron’s rishus, his wickedness, placed his love for money over his feelings of love back, but nevertheless, because of Avrohom Avinu’s demeanor and conduct--even a person as lowly as Efron appreciated that they were ahuvim--merely from their brief encounter.  As we take leave of Avrohom Avinu in the Parshios for the moment, we must realize the practicality of his teachings and apply them as we perform chesed for others--the warmth and beauty, the caring and love should be evident from our attitude and  demeanor--the “Chesed l’Avrohom” can and should most certainly live within us in our daily life!



Special Note Five:  Since last week’s Parsha is the source of Shidduchim in the Torah, we present below the rulings and advice of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, relating to this crucial topic, as found in the Sefer Derech Sicha (I, p.110-121).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Moreh Ho’Ra’ah in any particular situation:


1.  A Shadchan’s job is not over after (s)he has made a match.  The Shadchan should continue to daven for the couple (if they are young enough) to have progeny--for once you start the Mitzvah...!


2.  Even though Shidduchim are “min HaShamayim” one should take concern for older singles--because even though the Shidduch is from Heaven--when they will become engaged is not--and this requires hishtadlus.


3.  Yes, even every proposed Shidduch is a step closer to the right one.


4.  Once a Shidduch has been attempted and turned down, one has fulfilled his hishtadlus as to that Shidduch, and does not pursue it further.


5.  One should pay a Shadchan, even if he is a relative.  The relative can return the money if he wants to--but should first take it.


6.  A Bas Talmid Chochom has two ma’alos--the zechus of Torah, and the chinuch that she saw in her home!


7.  Eliezer did not mention anything about the Akeida or Yitzchok’s righteousness to Besuel and Lovon because this is not what they would appreciate.  One must know who he is talking to when discussing a shidduch.


8.  If one asks an Adom Gadol what to do--he should listen to his advice-and not excuse himself from listening for this reason or that reason.


9.  Tefillah helps for everything--even if a person’s zivug was destined to be an am ha’aretz based upon his current conduct, a girl’s tefillah to marry a talmid chochom with yiras shomayim could turn all of that around.



We received the following insightful comments from a reader:  “Another interesting thought I heard on the phrase ‘Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGeshem’ is that we ask Hashem that we should have the right priorities, meaning--*mashiv haruach* (ruchniyus) should be high and great in our eyes and *morid hageshem* (gashmiyus) should be brought down, low in our eyes.  We should realize what is truly great and what is just there as a tool to help us get there!  If only we’d think about this every time we recite these special words.  I also thought that it was interesting that the first time money is mentioned is when Avraham Avinu was purchasing the grave for Sarah--to remind us where money goes and that it does not accompany a person when he dies!”



We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos series: Today, we focus on halachos which relate more to health issues in the winter months, and are the rulings of “The Halachos of Refuos on Shabbos”, the monumental Sefer written by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, and Rabbi Daniel B. Roth, M.D. (Feldheim publishers).


1.  A person suffering from an ear ailment may place absorbent cotton in his ear.  However, he should not rip cotton from a larger piece, nor should he form or shape the cotton into an ear wick, because this is considered creating a utensil (HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl).


2.  If one is suffering from cold symptoms (runny nose, mild headache, etc.) but is not experiencing weakness and discomfort in his whole body, and he can function normally without having to stay in bed, he may not take cold medication, decongestants, cough syrup, or pain medication (e.g., Tylenol) until after Shabbos.  Vitamins or supplements which are taken to cure a specific ailment such as a cold (such as Zinc tablets, Vitamin C or garlic pills) are considered to be medicine, and may not be taken on Shabbos.  One may eat ordinary foods that help relieve cold symptoms, such as chicken soup, or tea with honey, even though he is only eating them to treat his cold.  However, one may not gargle with salt water, whiskey or throat medication to heal a sore throat.


3.  However, if a cold is so severe that one is bedridden (or one who is not actually in bed, but whose whole body hurts, or feels weak and sluggish) may take cold or pain medication, and may gargle with salt water or medicine.  A child three years old or younger who has some pain or discomfort is treated like an adult who is in bed, and may take these medications.


4.  An infant under six months running a temperature of 100.5-100.6 requires urgent medical treatment, and Hatzolah should be immediately contacted, and no shinui is required, if doing so might cause delay.  For a child over the age of six months, the symptoms shown in addition to the fever are dispositive, and one should consult with his Rav.


5.  For superficial frostbite, one may draw hot water from his Shabbos urn into a container or bowl (a kli sheni), and add cold water if necessary.  He should soak the frostbitten fingers or affected part in the warm water until normal skin color or normal sensation is restored.  Medically speaking, one should NOT hold the frostbitten parts next to a stove or radiator.


6.  In the zechus of learning these halachos, may we be zoche to be protected.  For someone who does not feel well, may he be zoche to Shabbos Hi MiLizok--U’Refuah Kerovah Lavoh!



The Sefer Mishulchan Govoha writes that, shortly after his petirah, Rebbe Itzele Blazer, Z'tl, appeared to Rebbe Chaim Berlin in a dream.  HaRav Berlin asked HaRav Blazer what the din was most stringent upon in Shomayim.  He responded, “HaIkar Al Dibburim Issurim.”  The material portion of the din is in forbidden speech.  What more do we need than first-hand testimony of a Gadol HaDor?


Special Note One:  In the Sefer Meor Ainayim (I, p.110), Rebbe Menachem Nachum Chernobler, Z’tl, provides us with a remarkably encouraging teaching.  The Chernobler writes that when a person relates a “besora tovah--a good tiding,” he is clothed with a nizotz or spark of Eliyahu HaNavi, who is entrusted with all good tidings in the world (See Yeshayahu 52:7), and who is actually represented in this world by the person  bearing the good tiding.  It is for this reason that one who knows of good news is anxious to relate it to others--for although his body may not realize it, his neshama actually senses the bechina of Eliyahu present--and further realizes that if he relates the news to another the bechina of Eliyahu will have entered him--which is an opportune moment for deveikus--for closeness to Hashem.  Even the person receiving the news receives that nitzotz within him, and he can be “dovek beneikal--more readily attached to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.”  The Chernobler then takes this wonderful thought one step further.  The well-known pasuk (Malachi 3:23) teaches:  “Hineh Anochi Sholeiach Lachem Es Eliyah HaNavi Lifnei Bo Yom Hashem HaGadol VeHaNorah--Hashem is sending (sholeiach) Eliyahu HaNavi to us before the great and awesome day…”  The term “is sending” is in the present tense--for each one of us today can have Eliyahu HaNavi within us.  The lesson is clear:  when you here good news (and relating it would not lead you into a lashon hora or similar situation) and then pass it on--you should welcome Eliyahu in to your being--and use the precious moment as a time of valued deveikus to Hashem--perhaps by following up with another mitzvah, a special Tefillah, or Torah study!



Special Note Two:  The Pirkei DeRebbe Eliezer (31) teaches that when Yitzchok Avinu’s soul returned to him after it had briefly left him at the Akeida, Yitzchok recited the bracha of Mechaye HaMeisim.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, derives from Yitzchok’s bracha that when Techiyas HaMeisim occurs (speedily and in our days), those arising will likewise recite this bracha, as well.


Additional Note:  More than 30 days and 91 Tefillos have passed since we began reciting Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid Hageshem--which means that if we are unsure whether we recited it, we can assume that we have, and do not need to repeat Shemone Esrei.  Let us for a moment examine these precious words.  Chazal teach that the Gevuras Hashem in bringing rain to the world is “shekula--to be weighed equally”--with Techiyas HaMeisim.  The G’ra explains that the reason that rainfall is equated with revival of the dead is because neither falls at all within the realm of nature.   Sunrise and sunset, the composition of earth and the flow of water can all be explained as following a scientific pattern.  Rain, on the other hand can sometimes not fall for many days in a row, or, to the opposite extreme may fall several days in a row--with no pattern or plan.  The revival of a person deceased for tens, hundreds or thousands of years, with a body naturally subject to decay, is also beyond any natural explanation.  How, then, can we be disappointed, or “live with” the rain (and how could we gloss over Mashiv HaRuach without kavannah)--if we appreciate the great power inherent within it?  In fact, as the Eitz Yosef points out, every drop coming from way up hits the spot that HaKadosh Baruch Hu intended that it hit--undisturbed by the raindrop falling along side it or other extrinsic factors.  We should be concomitantly honored and astonished.  The Medrash (Devorim Rabbah 7:6) itself states that when R’Yehudah B’R Yecheskel would see rain, he would instinctively praise and glorify his Creator--for not “the  elements of nature”--but tens upon tens of thousands of malochim were involved with the bracha falling from above!



Special Note Three:  We had received the following beautiful thought in the past from a reader, and provide it for its immediate relevance:  “The first time money as currency is used is in Parshas Chayei Sara.  The reason that it is mentioned first here, with Avraham purchasing the Maaras Hamachpela, a burial place, is, I believe, as follows:


“Money represents physicality, while the kivrei Avos represents spirituality.  Avraham, as the first Jew, is shown in this parshah to willingly give away as much money (physicality) as it takes in order to acquire the kever (spirituality).  Money is the most gashmiusdik, physical, thing; it is an end in itself, while the kever (true spirituality) is worthless to the pagans.  Here, Avraham exchanged the epitome of gashmiyus to acquire this spiritual haven, which an Akum cannot understand.  This should set an example for all of us.”


Hakhel Note on this thought:  Chazal (Shabbos 31A) teach that when a person is brought to heavenly judgment, the first question posed to him is “Nasasa V’Nasata B’Emunah--were your business undertakings done with Emunah?”  HaRav Moshe Eisemann, Shlita (Baltimore), notes that every individual’s name is alluded to in the Torah.  We would have expected that the Vilna Gaon’s Name--Eliyahu Ben Shlomo--would have been mentioned in a Pasuk that referred to toiling in the study of Torah.  However (as explained at the end of the introduction to the Sefer Even Shlaima), the Gra’s name is alluded to with the words “Even Shlaima (e.g. Eliyahu Ben Shlomo--the Gra) V’Tzedek Yihiye Loch--a perfect and honest weight shall you have” (Devorim 25:15).  This, HaRav Eisemann teaches, demonstrates that the greatness of a person is recognized through his business dealings…is he using his money properly, for the right reasons--is he an “Ehrlicher Yid?”  As we take leave of Avraham Avinu in this week’s Parsha, this is certainly one of his final messages to us!



Special Note One:  A reader wrote that his Rav asked, but could not answer, why all the times “Atah” appears in Shmoneh Esrah it is milra--with emphasis on the second syllable--except for the second beracha, Mechayeh Maisim AH-ta.  Your ideas are welcome!



Special Note Two:  The bracha of Techiyas Hameisim referred to above is also known as “Gevuros”, for in this brocha we demonstrate HaKadosh Boruch Hu’s absolute Omnipotence.


The Ritva (Taanis 2A) notes that the concept of Techiyas HaMeisim--revival of those not alive--is mentioned four (4) times in this bracha.  While Techiyas HaMeisim is certainly unparalleled gevura--why need it be mentioned four different times within one short bracha?  As we know, the Anshei K’nesses HaGedola compiled each brocha B’Ruach HaKadosh, and each word is very literally counted and deeply meaningful.  See the remarkable words of the Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayim 112:4, 5).


In response to this question, the Ritva teaches that in fact there is no reiteration here at all.  Rather, there are four separate and distinct forms of Techiyas HaMeisim mentioned in this bracha:


FIRST:  “Mechaye Meisim Ata Rav L’Hoshia” is immediately followed by Morid HaGeshem, because this phase refers to Hashem’s bringing us to life with proper rain, which bring us our food and sustenance.


SECOND:  “Mechaye Meisim B’Rachamim Rabim” (which is followed by Somech Noflim) refers to people who are seriously or even deathly ill whom HaKadosh Boruch Hu brings back to life through miraculous healing power.


THIRD:  “Melech Meimis U’Mechaye” refers to the departed whom the Neviim (such as Eliyahu HaNavi and Elisha HaNavi) helped bring back to life, and additionally to those whom Hashem brings to life “B’Olom HaNeshomos” (obviously this is a niftar concept).


FOURTH:  “V’Neeman Ata L’Hachayos Meisim” refers to the ultimate T’chiyas HaMeisim, which we all anxiously await.


We see here how Hashem’s greatest gevuros have always been with us, are currently with us and will in the future be with us, as well.


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  During this week, in which Yitzchok Avinu comes to the fore as the successor of Avrohom Avinu, we should especially appreciate the Middah of Gevurah of Hashem that Yitzchok Avinu did (Yitzchok’s Middah is Gevurah),  by stopping at each of the four references to Techiyas HaMeisim and thinking for a second about its particular meaning.



Special Note Three:  We provide several important notes from the Sefer VeZos HaBeracha relating to Hilchos Brachos:


a.  Every one’s bracha is important--if one realizes that *someone else* is making a bracha in his proximity--he should not converse loudly or engage in any activity that could distract that person from his bracha.


b.  One should have in mind that his bracha is to cover anything that he may eat that has this same bracha, and that the bracha is to include all such items until he makes a bracha achrona--overriding any tentative thoughts of stopping to eat that he may otherwise have.  It is also appropriate to have in mind that your bracha covers all rooms that you may move to within the same house while you are eating.


c.  If one intends to eat an orange, grapefruit or nut which must be shelled, he should remove the outer layer prior to making the bracha, to avoid a hefsek between the bracha and eating.  If one wants to merely eat an apple in halves, he can cut it after making the bracha, because the cutting is one simple and single act, and the bracha is then made over a whole and complete item.


d.  Before making a bracha, it is proper to have kavannah that one is actually fulfilling a Mitzvah DeRabbanan--and with Birchas HaMazon (and according to some the MaiAin Shalosh)--a Mitzvah D’Oraysa!



Special Note Four:  Chazal (Avos 4:2) teach that we should run to perform Mitzvos--and to run from Aveiros--a simple enough instruction, with no additional thought seemingly necessary.  However, Chazal do indeed add a few words of further explanation--”For the reward of a Mitzvah is a Mitzvah, and the reward of an Aveira is an Aveira.”  A Mitzvah is not simply one grand act, and an Aveira one devastating misdeed.  A person’s deeds simply do not stand alone.  One moment’s action leads to the next, and a 360 degree turn away from the previous act requires much effort.  Indeed, if one studies his day, he will find that Mitzvos may be more bunched at certain times--such as in Shul in the morning where davening, tzedakah and other chesed may be performed in tandem, or in the evening when you know it is time to study, and to help this person in this way and that person in that way.  On the other hand, one gesture of anger, one word of ona’as devorim or lashon hora leads to another and to another--for once you start it is simply harder to stop, and sets the tone for for your next moment of life.  One can truly aid (and encourage) himself if he makes the effort to mentally note (and perhaps actually notate) during the day when he has fallen prey to the mud of one aveira sticking him on to the next one--and, to the contrary, when he has encountered the beautiful medley of mitzvos being performed in joyous concert.  Every act that we perform has ramifications--not only to others and to the world--but to ourselves--because it will guide and direct us onto our next step important in life--which, like the one before it, is always an irreplaceable one!



Special Note One:  A local fruit store in Flatbush has begun to sell a product “GRAPPLE”--a Fuji apple-grape “bathed” in grape juice.  Grapple’s ingredients are listed as: apples, natural and artificial flavor.  The Company states:  “At this time, Grapple brand apples are not certified Kosher”.  Thus, even though it may rhyme with “Snapple,” the “hashgacha” part of it certainly doesn’t match.  [Note that not even all flavors of Snapple have Hashgacha!]  We add that this fruit store, which is Jewish-owned and open on Shabbos, sells cut fruit platters, which uninformed individuals may purchase, based upon the pretense that “nothing could be wrong” with a fruit platter.  The store, unfortunately, sells fish and cheese products, as well....  This is an extremely important lesson for everyone--when the door is opened to the Yetzer Hora, when the community patronizes an establishment which is machshil others, we don’t know what the Yetzer’s next step will be--will you “innocently” be next?  Let the consumer beware!



Special Note Two:  It is fascinating to note that the week the terrorist boat with 500 tons of explosives was seized by Israeli commandoes without injuries, the Daf Yomi had begun to learn the perek of HaMocher Es HaSefina--the laws of selling ships!  Out of the 2,700 dafim in Shas--was it simply an incredible coincidence--or was it a stark and wonderful lesson for all of us on how Torah shields and saves us all from harm....!



Special Note Three:  In the beginning of last week’s Parsha, we find that Avrohom Avinu exerted extra special efforts to fulfill the mitzvah of Hachnosas Orchim even when in the epitome of his own pain.  Perhaps there is a not-so-subtle lesson here.  When a person is experiencing pain, he should not only look inward to himself, feeling sorry for himself and in need of tender loving care--but also using the moment in some way to appreciate the pain of another, and perhaps, in at least some small way, to help someone else out who is concomitantly undergoing a painful experience, or has a need of some kind, as well.  Thus, even at a time when one looks inward--he is using the moment as a sublime moment of growth--never forgetting the world around him that he is very much a part of as well!



Special Note Four:  Another Pasuk in last week’s Parsha teaches us that when the people of Sodom rejected Lot’s pleadings, they attempted to break down his door.  They were thereupon smitten with “Sanveirim” (Bereishis 19:11 ), which Rashi translates as “Makkas Ivaron,” and which is colloquially translated as blindness, so that when they attempted to find the door, they could not.  When we investigate this matter only one step further, however, we may realize that the colloquial explanation may not be accurate, and we can begin to appreciate the value of a single, precious word of Rashi in Chumash.  Rashi does not say that they were smitten with “Ivaron,” which would mean blindness--but Makkas Ivaron.  In order to understand this extra word--Makkas--we look to how Rashi explains the subject word of “Sanveirim” elsewhere--in Melachim II, 6:18 .  There, Rashi explains that Sanveirim is a choli--a sickness--in which one is crazed and sees but does not know  what he is seeing--i.e., he is hallucinating or suffering from illusions.  With this, we can understand why the people of Sodom could not find the door--for if they were blinded, they would know where the door was, as they had just been in front of it moments before--but if they were hallucinating--seeing the door there--no there--no there--then they were, as the Pasuk records, “trying in vain to find the door.”  Just one word in Rashi--brings pashut peshat in the Pasuk to light--and should inspire us treasure each and every word as we review the Parsha with Rashi!



Special Note Five:  The newest issue of Halachically Speaking brings the Cherem of Rabbeinu Gershom as to reading another person’s mail to light in many new ways--what about faxes to fax machines at work?, emails to addresses in which more than one person has access? voice mails? unsealed envelopes? discarded letters? parents reading mail to children for an ostensible “toeless”? forwarding the emails of others? ...These and other practical issues are dealt with in this current issue.  To subscribe by email (free), contact mdl@thehalacha.com.



Special Note Six:  A reader advised us that current technology could allow for a small recorder in one’s pocket to tape every single word he will say in his long lifetime, and even sort his words--to identify how many times he has said a given word, and even how many times he has said that word in tandem with another particular word.  We are not in a position to verify this technological fact, but just the thought helps us begin to appreciate that, after 120 years, in Shomayim they will not need an immense, mainframe computer to play back the words and conversations of a lifetime!


Additional Note: With this knowledge, it certainly behooves us to remember the Vidui word of “Tzararnu--we have caused others pain.”  How special the day would be if it could be free of any Tzararnu for the day--as the recorder records every single kind word and each word of thanks, appreciation or compliment....  The cost to you of each word is the same--but, oh, how the end result differs!



We received the following note from a reader:

“You wrote:  ‘The last word in the Torah describing Creation in Bereishis is the last word of VaYechulu.’


“This is incorrect!  The word is ‘VaichuLU’.  Look at the trope.  It is under the lamed.  There is no pause on the yud.  This is a total mispronunciation.  The word is always m'lirah in the Hebrew language.  That is why in Tefilas Modim, the word is always pronounced ‘chaLU rachamecha.’  ‘CHalu’ is not only incorrect but when pronounced that way could also mean ‘CHalu’ with a ‘hes,’ chas v'shalom.


“For over two years, I have been writing you addressing proper pronunciation in davening.  Perhaps you should consider dedicating an occasional full paragraph to proper dikDUK.  I am positive that your readers would appreciate finding out that there is a total difference in meaning for ‘va.yirOO’--they will see--and ‘va.YI.re.U’--they will fear--or between ‘yidMU’--be similar--and ‘Yi.De.mu’--be silent.  What do you think?”


Hakhel Response:  We most certainly welcome all dikduk submissions!



Special Note One:  This week’s Parsha teaches us the “Chesed L’Avrohom” which is, and must continue to be, and grow and shine as, a hallmark of his descendants.  We provide below several excerpts from the Chofetz Chaim’s Sefer Ahavas Chesed, which provides so many essential Halachos and Hashkafos of Chesed, as a concomitant foundation of the World (Olam Chesed Yiboneh), the Torah (Techilaso Chesed VeSofo Chesed), and K’lal Yisroel (Sholosh Middos Yesh Bohem, Rachmonim...U’Gomlei Chasodim).  The Chofetz Chaim teaches as follows:


1.  If a person does kindness on earth, he awakens Chesed above, and the day is crowned with Chesed through his actions.  Happy is the man who exhibits the proper conduct below, since all depends on his act to awaken the corresponding activity above.


2.  One should be especially careful not to neglect practicing Chesed even for a single day of his life, *in the same way* that one takes care to set fixed times for daily Torah study.


3.  The Gimmel and Daled of the Aleph Bais teach that we are to be Gomel Dalim--to act benevolently to the poor, to the extent that just as the foot of the Gimel stretched to the Daled, so, too, is it fitting for us to run after the mitzvah of performing kindness to another, not waiting for them to come to us for assistance.


4.  When blessed with guests, one should promptly place food and drink before them, since the visitor may be ashamed to ask.  When serving them, the host should be gracious, hiding his troubles from them, for he may break their spirit, when it is really his role to revive them and boost their spirits.  If the guest sleeps over, the host should give him the best bed available, since it is very important for the weary to rest comfortably.  Sometimes, the host who provides the guest with the opportunity to rest comfortably does better by him than in giving him food and drink....


5.  There are many types of Chesed performed by word of mouth, for instance to pray that Hashem heal the sick.  This is included in the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim.  A similar chesed of prayer applies to a situation in which harm threatens a person even if he does not know about it.  This we learn from Avrohom Avinu, who interceded on behalf of the people of Sodom in just such an instance.  More on the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim continues immediately below.



Special Note Two:  Because the Torah shows Hashem’s Chesed to Avrohom Avinu with the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim at the outset of the Parsha, we provide the following Bikur Cholim pointers, so that we can better emulate Hashem’s Middos and teachings:


1.  According to the Chochmas Odom (151:3) the ikar (main point) of Bikur Cholim is davening for the sick person while visiting him.  In fact, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (193:3) poskens that one has not fulfilled the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim if he visits, but does not daven to Hashem while there.  This is because the Shechina is present above the head of the sick person, and your tefillos are, k’viyachol, in front of the Shechina itself (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 335, Shach seif katan 3).  In your tefillah, you should ask for Hashem’s mercy for that particular choleh “b’soch cholei Yisroel” (amongst the other sick of Israel ), because, in the merit of the many, your tefillos will be better received (ibid., Shach seif katan 4).


2.  Bikur Cholim should not be performed when it is convenient for the visitor, but when it is best for the choleh.  As the halacha states, one should not visit in the first three hours of the day… the last three hours of the day…, etc. (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 335:4).


3.  In addition to tefillah, there is a mitzvah to give the choleh “nachas ruach” (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 193:3).  This does not mean that one should speak on and on, or even with witticisms.  Statements should as “You’ll now have to take that medicine for the rest of your life,” or “Next time, you’ll be more careful,” or even “How will this affect your life going forward?” may be equated with smacking a poor person across the face and knocking out a few teeth as you hand him a hundred dollars with a smile.


4.  The Chazon Ish (Collected Letters, Volume I:138) writes that everyone has the mitzvah to perform “Bikur Cholilm” upon himself, as well.  This means that he must take care of his body and use the most effective means possible for his personal health.


5.  One should try to tidy up and make the atmosphere more cheery for the choleh, if possible.  The Gemara (Nedarim 40A) relates that Rabbi Akiva himself swept and cleaned the floor for his sick student.  As a result, the student told him, “You have caused me to live.”  Rabbi Akiva then taught, “He who does not perform the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim, it is as if he spilled blood.”  The reverse is also, of course, true.  In fact, the Gemara clearly teaches that one who acts wisely with the ill will himself be saved from “a bad day” by Hashem (see Tehillim 41 and Gemara, Nedarim 40A).


6.  Finally, one should consider a choleh’s status after he leaves the hospital, and even after he returns to shul or to work.  The fact that he has somewhat healed does not necessarily mean that he is not suffering pain or is otherwise in distress.  One should continue to daven for, and inquire as to, a person’s welfare, until he is confident that the choleh has received his refuah shlaimah.



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


1.  It is permissible to measure for the sake of a mitzvah.  Therefore, when there is a medical need (refuas haguf for these purposes being a mitzvah), one can take his temperature with a (non-digital) thermometer, or take his blood pressure (non-electronically).  There is a Machlokes HaPoskim whether one is allowed to weigh food for the sake of a mitzvah (such as Matzah on the Leil Haseder).  The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (3: p.102) rules that one should not measure a revi’is of wine in a measuring cup, although one would be allowed to put milk into a baby bottle even if there are measuring marks on the bottle--because unlike the measurement of the revi’is where no mitzvah per se being done at the time of measurement, feeding the child the proper amount is a mitzvah in and of itself being performed at that time.  For this reason, it would also be permitted to weigh a child with a (non-electronic) scale after the child eats if one must know if he is gaining weight, for that knowledge itself is a mitzvah of refuas haguf.  However, the Sefer Itturei Halacha (Illustrated Guides To Jewish Law, II, p.122-123) by Rabbi Ze’ev Greenwald, Shlita, writes that one may measure a cup to determine whether it contains the requisite revi’is for Kiddush, and if one is filling a baby bottle, he should not fill it to an exact measure, but should instead fill it a little bit more or a little bit less.  Accordingly, one should consult with his Rav for a P’sak for himself on these and related issues (such as weighing a small challah roll or piece of challah to make sure it is a shiur, or weighing foods for diet purposes).  One should, in any event, avoid using a measuring cup for non-mitzvah purposes.


2.  It is permitted for a Maggid Shiur to prepare for a Shiur he will give on Sunday, for a child to study for a Chumash test he will have tomorrow, or for a ba’al kriyah to prepare the laining or Kriyas HaMegillah for the following week--for when it comes to the study of the Torah, one is definitely benefiting immediately--on Shabbos itself--and this is not considered as “hachana”--preparing for the following day.


3.  One is not permitted to hit his hand on the table or foot on the floor to a beat, nor to bang a spoon or cup to the beat of the music.  See Sefer Piskei Teshuvos 3:p.232, as to whether and how the prohibition to banging a spoon or cup applies to those authorities who are lenient and permit clapping his hands in an ordinary manner on Shabbos, (especially for the sake of a mitzvah, such as on Simchas Torah).


4.  Tomorrow, the 20th day of Marcheshvan, is an Asiri L’Kodesh.  Please especially remember this as you recite Nishmas.  May it permeate the rest of your Shabbos tefillos, as well!



Special Note One:  The last word in the Torah describing Creation in Bereishis is the last word of VaYechulu.  That last word is “La’asos”--indicating that creation will be an ongoing process continuing throughout history (Bereishis 2:3).  Interestingly, and certainly non-coincidentally (if anyone knows of any coincidences in their life, we would be most interested in hearing about them!), the last word of the Asher Yotzar bracha recited upon miraculously taking care of our bodily functions is also “La’asos.”  Every time we successfully conclude a need of man--it is a continuation of that “La’asos”--the extraordinary and miraculous process of creation!



Special Note Two:  A reader provided us with a unique reminder, of postcard size, which can easily fit into a pocket. We provide this card by clicking here for your “year round” use.  The format is certainly latent with potential, and can be used by each individual in his/her own way by replacing some of the text, and/or filling in personal information, ideas and reminders when reciting a particular word.  A wonderful way to stay in daily touch with teshuva and self-improvement!



Special Note Four:  In last week’s Parsha, the Torah teaches (Bereishis 15:6) “VeHe’emin BaShem Vayachsheveha Lo Tzedaka--and Avrohom trusted in Hashem, and Hashem considered this to be righteous.”  The Chofetz Chaim asks a stark question:  Is it simply because Avrohom Avinu believed in Hashem that Hashem considered him righteous--after all, didn’t Avrohom *discover* Hashem and *introduce Him to the world*?  What was so special about his simply believing in Hashem--isn’t that something that we all are involved with and that we all express daily?  The Chofetz Chaim concludes that the concept of Emunah is so important, such an integral part of our lives and being, that--Yes--Avrohom Avinu’s day-in, day-out, living Emunah was even more important than his discovery of Hashem and spreading the word!  There is something very great for us to learn here.  Our daily expressions of Emunah go to the essence of our existence, and may indeed make up a large part of how Hashem views us in this world.  What would you say is the most constant expression of your daily Emunah--an expression that goes even further than “Baruch Hashem”, “Im Yirtze Hashem” and “B’Ezras Hashem”?  We believe it is the expression of Brachos throughout the day.  Yesterday, we brought the teaching of HaRav Binyomin Zilber, Z’tl, who wrote that an integral part of the kavannah one should have when making a bracha is the thought that “I am not a Kofoi Tovah--I am a Makir Tov!”  We would like today to add a related thought, which should be self-evident, but seems to be dishonored because of personal bad habit--and that bad habit being copied by others in the family and outside of the family.  We may often find ourselves (actually, it is easier to see it in others) starting to make a bracha, especially over food, after having within just the previous second or two just concluded a sentence or conversation with someone else, or within the blink of an eye of having concluded some action or activity.  Our over-anxiousness, quick change of track, or impatience makes it appear as if the bracha is not an especially dedicated or sincere statement, or true exclamation of appreciation, but simply a necessary bridge to the next item on the agenda, or the compulsory prerequisite for eating, drinking or the like.  Is it respectful to be speaking to one person, and almost without taking a breath turn away from him and make a sudden or quick remark to someone else?  Even if you are behind and swamped at work, beyond busy at home, or want to have a drink before taking the phone call, can it justify cheapening something so essential to our lives and so dear to Hashem?  How is true Emunah in Hashem--BARUCH ATA HASHEM ELOKEIUNU MELECH HAOLAM....-- Hashem, You before Whom I stand are the Source of Everything, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Infinite and Eternal--actually articulated when you jump from a previous conversation or activity right into the hallowed words without a moment of awareness, a pause of reflection?  The average man readily recites “Me’ah Brachos”--100 brachos a day, as described in detail by the Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 46, seif katan 14).  Indeed, although women may not quite reach this number of brachos a day, their average day will certainly include scores of brachos.  Imagine the difference in your expression of Emunah 100 times or so a day when you know that you are going to take a second out before making the bracha to stop and think of its meaning, of what you are truly trying to say!  From today and onward, our bracha to you is--may your brachos--your personal, most consistent expressions of belief, faith and trust in your life--truly be a source of bracha to you and those around you!


Special Note One:  As we contemplate Avrohom Avinu’s acts of Chesed in the upcoming Parsha of Vayeirah, we provide the following notes:


  1. Here is a good thought to keep in mind: “Zechus Kadima La’asos Tova L’mi She’asa Imcha Ra’ah”--one should try to make it a priority to do Chesed to those who have not performed Chesed with you--and to the contrary may have even hurt you.  You are thereby raising the bar with none other than yourself!


  1.  The Pele Yoetz writes that when Dovid HaMelech writes that “Olam Chesed Yiboneh--the world is built on Chesed” (Tehillim 89:23), it does not mean that one must perform incredible feats, or spend excessive amounts.  Rather, the Pele Yoetz advises, that one also performs a Mitzvah De’oraysa when opening the door for one who is knocking, making change for someone, or simply extending a hand when needed.  One’s thought and focus simply has to be in the right place.


  1. The following story was related to us by one of our readers (a Rav).  He had the honor of driving HaRav Shmuel Kaminetsky, Shlita, from Philadelphia to another city to give a Shiur.  When stopping off for gas along the way, the driver asked the gas station attendant to check the oil.  It was pouring rain.  The attendant, who could hardly speak English, lifted the hood and motioned that he would need a minute to do something else first.  Upon hearing this, the driver told HaRav Kaminetsky that he was going to move the car underneath the station overhang, so that the exposed engine and wires would not get wet.  HaRav Kaminetsky immediately turned to him and said, “No, no…you should move the car under the overhang so that the **attendant** does not get wet!”


  1. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, would urge people to perform a private Chesed--i.e., a Chesed that others did not know about--every day.  The Chofetz Chaim in his Sefer Ahavas Chesed writes that one must love Chesed (as in the name of his Sefer), and not act out of a feeling of pressure (that person is so desperate for my help, how could I say no) or because he is required to do so.  If one loves Chesed, the Chofetz Chaim writes, he will search for ways and means to do good to his fellow man on his own, just as a father seeks to help his son even if he has not been asked for it.  Moreover, when a person feels a love for this mitzvah, he will motivate, encourage, inspire and arouse others to become engaged in similar and even different acts of Chesed as well.



Special Note Two:  In his approbation to the Sefer V’Zos HaBracha [one of the most popular Seforim on Hilchos Brachos in Eretz Yisroel, by Rabbi Aleksander Mandelbaum, Shlita], HaRav Binyomin Zilber, Z’tl, writes that when reciting a Bracha, aside from the necessary Kavanos when reciting the words, one must be sure to think that he is not a “Kafoi Tova--a denier of the good” and instead, that he is a “Makir Tova--that he recognizes the good” that Hashem is bestowing/has bestowed upon him and that he is expressing it with this Bracha.  Hakhel Note:  What a great way to focus prior to making any Bracha!



Special Note Three:  The Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, over the course of any given weekday was advised of a tremendous amount of problems and tzaros that people from all over the world faced.  He also must have undoubtedly had his own personal and family challenges in life, as well.  How, then, could he have had the Yishuv Ha’Daas--the presence of mind and the clarity of thought--to produce such great works as the Kehillas Yaakov and his other seforim?  This may be the answer:  He once remarked that when it came time for him to learn, he put all else out of his mind and concentrated entirely on the Torah in front of him.  This is an immense and meaningful lesson for us.  While we may be unable to produce Seforim like the Steipeler, we, too, can make the effort to focus when we are studying--to the exclusion of all else.  With problems out of mind, without letting the mind wander, without responding to buzzing or vibrations, or even to phone calls (unless they are really, truly, absolutely necessary), one will be demonstrating that he, too, has or wants to have the attitude and approach, the respect and reverence, for the study of Torah that the Gedolei Hador know is necessary to succeed.


Additional Notes:

  1. HaRav Avrohom Yaffen, Z’tl, was the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Navordok and the author of the Sefer Derech Aison and other works, and was constantly sought after for advice and guidance--with lines of people coming to see him.  Once while in Bialystok , his son-in-law, HaRav Chaim Boruch Faskowitz, Z’tl, asked him how he ever had a chance to learn if he was constantly besieged by others seeking Brachos and counsel.  He responded that he studied in the five minute intervals between one person and another.  “For if a person cannot focus and concentrate in the five minutes that he has, than he cannot do it in the five hours that he has, either….”


  1. Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, notes that the word “Aish” in “Aish HaTorah” is an acronym for Ahava and Simcha--love and joy--for if a person truly learns with love and joy--with true appreciation of the opportunity--his Torah study will be not only a spark, but a flame of Kedusha to light and warm a world of darkness.



Special Note Four:  Introducing a new Hakhel Program--“The Five Minutes for Yourself Action Project.”  Throughout the day we are beset by so many requirements and requests--whether at home, in the office, or elsewhere, it does not appear that we have the five minutes a day that we need to think about how we can fix or solve the issues or items in which the same mistakes, or repeated need-to-fix, below par, or mediocre performances, occur daily.  Now, during a five minute segment of the day of your own choosing (it may be while eating breakfast, while walking towards the bus, or when especially sitting on the couch for this five minute project), you can figure out how to better yourself in just minutes a day.  What can I do the night before to make my wake- up process easier?  What can I do to make better brachos--after all, I am reciting them anyway, I believe in them…?  How can I stop myself when I realize that I am getting angry, or from making the sharp comments that I make when I am tired?  In what way will I reward myself if I learn something I have been meaning to get to, but have not found the time?  What’s missing on my block or in my neighborhood that can easily be rectified?  What’s missing in my life that is within my capability to fix?  Who do I really owe a phone call to?  What Halacha/Shaila keeps coming up that I keep on forgetting to ask the Rav about?  You can take it from here.  The point is that a person should not allow a day to go by in which he did not take some time to catch up with--and elevate--himself.



Special Note One:  We received the following message from a reader relating to the Daf Yomi Aggadata being studied this week:  “I would strongly recommend reading The Juggler and the King, which is an English-language adaptation HaRav Aharon Feldman, Shlita, of the Bi’ur HaGR”A on these gemaros.  Hakhel Note:  This is an outstanding recommendation of an outstanding Sefer.  If one is in between Mussar seforim, even if he is not learning the Daf Yomi, this sefer would be a very special choice.



Special Note Two:  In last week’s Parsha we find the name of Hashem “Shakai” mentioned for the first time.  As Chazal teach, this Name refers to: “Ani Hu She’amar Li Olom Shyehei Dai--I was the One Who told the world to stop from further creation.”  HaRav Boruch HaLevi Epstein, Z’tl, in his Sefer Torah Temimah asks why **stopping** the process of creation deserves that a name of Hashem be called after it.  After all, wouldn’t it have been fantastic to have even more wonders in the world?!  He answers that Hashem, only because of His great beneficence stopped the world from further creation--for if He had allowed creation to go further, man would have had nothing more to do or accomplish in this world.  Our existence would have been an insignificant, non-meaningful, “nahama dichsufa”, one.  Accordingly, the Name, Shakai, is a great praise of ours to Hashem--for it thanks Hashem for giving our lives meaning and purpose--to complete the world in a way that only each and every one of us can!  Hakhel Note: Based upon this wonderful explanation, we can understand why, of all of the names of Hashem that could possibly greet us as we go from room to room in our homes, buildings and institutions, it is that name--“Shakai”’--on every doorpost--as if to remind us as we constantly come and go to reach our Shleimus--and, by doing your part, helping the whole world achieve its Shleimus as well!



Special Note Three:  Today is the eighth Yarzheit of HaRav Schach, Z’tl (HaRav Elazar Menachem B’R’ Ezriel).  It is well known that Rav Schach wrote in his Tzava’a that anyone who learned from him, any of his “talmidim” who gained from him either in Torah, Yiras Hashem, or Midos, should do Chesed with him and learn a Mishna or a Machshava of Mussar, and that in turn, Rav Schach will do what he can to be Meiltiz Tov for those who do so.  In the past we have presented some of Rav Schach’s teachings.  Today we present two of his thoughts on this week’s Parsha, Vayeira.  Please remember to learn something on his behalf today and, BE’H, he will be a Meilitz Yosher for you, as well.  Here are two brief thought on the Parsha:


  1. Chazal (Shabbos 127 A) teach that welcoming guests is greater than greeting the Shechina, as we see from Avrohom Avinu in the beginning of this week’s Parsha, who left his audience with Hashem in order to greet the wayfarers.  How could this be, Rav Schach asks?  After all, does not the Meslias Yesharim teach that the whole goal of life is to come closer to the Shechina?!  Rav Schach explains that Avrohom Avinu was initially only standing in front of Hashem.  By running to greet the potential guests, he was doing better than “merely” standing in front of the Shechina--for he was emulating the Shechina with his act of Chesed, thereby binding and becoming one (Kavyachol) with Hashem, rather than Hashem only standing in front of him.  Hakhel Note:  Of the Thirteen Attributes of Hashem that we are to emulate, two of them involve Chesed--“Rav Chesed” and “Notzer Chesed.”


  1. Chazal (Bava Metzia 86 B) teach that everything that Avrohom Avinu did for his guests that day was rewarded accordingly to his descendants.  If he himself performed the act (such as his standing over and serving his guests under the tree), he was rewarded directly (with the Anannei Kovod).  However, that which he did indirectly (such as having the water drawn for the guests to drink) was rewarded indirectly (the water coming through the stone).  Rav Schach asks why was Avrohom Avinu punished in this way?  After all, he was doing all that he could given his post-milah pain, and also considering that he wanted to be mechanech Yishmael in mitzvos as well?!  Rav Schach answers that this was truly not a punishment--it simply reflects the depth of Hashem’s attribute of truth.  If the guests were served with water indirectly, then the reward could simply not come directly.  Our actions in this world have a direct causative effect, and the Omek HaDin cannot be changed.  This teaches us how careful we must be whenever possible, because the everlasting effects of our words and actions emanate from just how we say and do them.


Special Note Four:  The Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’avodah (5:6) writes in the name of the Sefer Avudraham that when one listens carefully to the words of Chazaras HaShatz in Shemone Esrei, it is considered as if he davened a second time.  Moreover, he continues, that if one is careful to answer Amen after each Bracha of the Shatz, it is as if he was Mispallel a third time(!).

There are several important lessons that can be learned from this teaching, among them:


  1. The importance of listening (and not being distracted, learning, saying Tehillim, or doing anything else during Chazaras HaShatz)--Shomeah Ke’oneh is an important Halachic concept.  Perhaps the best way to listen is to follow word-by-word in the siddur (some keep their finger on the word);

  2. The importance of answering “Amen” (and the utter folly of failing to do so)--just one word meaningfully recited provides you with an entire Shemone Esrei; and

  3. The power of a woman’s prayer.  After all, Chazal teach that women are as obligated in Tefillah as men--“for they, too, need rachamim--require mercy.”  As we know, women do not daven tefillah b’tzibbur on a daily basis.  Accordingly, we may conclude that a woman’s prayer has the power of the three Tefillos that the man must acquire through a pristine Chazaras HaShatz!



Special Note One:  In last week’s Parsha, we find that Avrohom Avinu built a Mizbeach to Hashem, and then encountered a famine in Eretz Yisroel (Bereishis 12:-8-10).  Similarly, we later find that he built a Mizbeach to Hashem, and then immediately found himself at war with the superpowers of his time (Bereishis 13:18 -14:1).  What lesson can we derive from the juxtaposition of building a Mizbeach to Hashem to an eis tzarah that followed?  Your thoughts are welcome.



Special Note Two:  In last week’s Parsha, we also find the first mitzvah that Avrohom Avinu is actually commanded.  Yet, when a child comes of age, he is commanded in all 613 of the Mitzvos at once.  Imagine how much strength Avrohom Avinu’s acceptance of just one Mitzvah instilled within us!  Why, however is a boy who comes of age referred to as a “bar-mitzvah?”  After all, even if the word “bar” in Aramaic means “son”--doesn’t it also mean “outside,” or “to exclude”--we don’t want the boy to be outside or excluded from Mitzvos, chas veshalom!  Why don’t we simply call him a “ben- mitzvah?”  Your thoughts are welcome.


Special Note Three:  There is a popular adage in Eretz Yisroel:  “Lifnei HaTefilah Ani Mispallel She’BeAis HaTefillah Ani Espallel!--Before I daven, I daven that I will truly pray when I am davening!”  This week, let us continue to devote ourselves to kavannah in the first bracha of Shemone Esrei with renewed sincerity and vigor!


Special Note Four:  Today is the fifty-sixth Yahrzeit of the Chazon Ish (HaRav Avrohom Yeshaya B”R Shemarya Yosef.  We provide several of his Pesokim Le’Ilui Nishmaso (as found in the Sefer Derech Sicha, Volume II).  May he be Mailitz Yosher for us all!

1.  He would stand for his older brother, as “Achicha HaGadol”, when he entered a room (Kesubos 103A).


2.  Someone slept at the Chazon Ish’s home near a Seforim Shrank.  The Chazon Ish told him to sleep facing (and not with his back towards) the Seforim.


3.  He held that B’H in Hebrew (Bais, apostrophe, Hay) required Genizah, but B’SD (Bais, Samech, apostrophe, Daled, with the Daled representing DeShemaya) did not require Geniza, since the name of Hashem was not referred to directly.  Hakhel Note: HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, was also concerned with this issue.  One should consult with his Rav as to what to do with Chasunah or Bar Mitzvah invitations received, or how he should draft his own Simcha invitation.


4.  In giving Ma’aser Kesafim, he ruled one should give one-half to relatives, and one-half to other aniyim.


5.  He advised those in Shidduchim that the way to check for the proposed shidduch’s Yiras Shomayim was by the way that they davened.


6  He held that the custom not to allow a Chassan to say a Devar Torah was a Bizayon HaTorah.


7. He held that just as study of Torah was the tavlin, the antedote, for a man’s Yetzer Hora, so too was Tznius the antedote for the woman’s Yetzer Hora.


8.  He held that if by mistake one overrode his stop (even if he was involved in learning), he must pay the extra fare involved.


9.  A Gemach which lent money asked every borrower to give a donation to the Gemach when returning the funds, to aid the Gemach with its holy work.  The Chazon Ish told the person in charge, “This is Ribbis Ketzutzah (prohibited by the Torah, and not only MiD’Rabbanan)!”


10.  When someone asked him if he was considered to be leaving Eretz Yisroel if he went swimming in the Mediterranean (see Gittin 8), he responded no--for if you can still go swimming there, it is considered part of the land of Eretz Yisroel .


11.  Someone asked him if he could borrow funds even if he did not know how he could repay them, simply based on his bitachon that he would obtain the funds to repay.  The Chazon Ish responded--only if you would lend funds to others based on the very same bitachon that he would obtain the funds to pay you back.


12.  The Chazon Ish once heard someone call his friend a “Yekke”.  He told the person that this is considered “mechane shem lechaveiro” even if he didn’t intend to insult him.


13.  He would say that the best way not to forget something is to do it right away!  Hakhel Note: Remember--this is the advice of a Gadol--so always keep it in mind!



Other email archives