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Dovid HaMelech teaches in Tehillim (133:1) “Hinei Ma Tov U’ma Noim Sheves Achim Gam Yachad--How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to sit together.”  Rav Mattisyahu Solomon, Shlita, explains that we are being taught something very special here.  Many things are good, and many other things are pleasant--but rarely are the same things BOTH good and pleasant.  Fatty meat, for example, is tasty but not necessarily healthy or good for you.  Medicine, on the other hand, may be bitter, but is Hashem’s agent to heal you from your illness.  Companionship must be both good and pleasant for it to be successful.


Incredibly, Rav Solomon points out, the Torah does not say that Hashem created Chava and brought her to Adam for the purpose of having future generations, but actually because “it is not good for man to be alone” (Beraishis 2:18).  In fact, what was behind the mistake that Kayin made in killing Hevel was that he believed it would be better for him alone to succeed his father, then to do so jointly with Hevel.  This was again Cham’s mistake when he prevented his father from having further children (there were already three brothers to live together, and that was more than enough)---and his punishment was--measure for measure--that he would be subservient to his brothers, and not co-exist with them on an equal par.  Cham’s sin here was exacerbated not only by his failure to learn from the world shattering sin of Kayin, but also by the fact that the Torah provides conclusive evidence that Kayin himself corrected his error.  Where does the Torah show us this?  Immediately after he was banished from Aden, the Posuk (Beraishis 4:17) teaches “He built a city, and he called the city after his son ‘Chanoch’.”  Who was Kayin building a city for--for the few people then alive?  And why does the Torah tell us that he named it Chanoch?  Rav Salomon, based upon the explanation given by the K’sav V’Hakabala explains that Kayin was demonstrating to the world forever that camaraderie, companionship, togetherness, and devotedness and dedication to others, is an essential element of mankind.  We should not view ourselves as “paying a price for living in society”, but instead as reaping the benefits of living with others.  The reason that the Torah goes out of its way to teach that the name of the city was Chanoch (same root as chinuch--education), is because the Torah is telling us that we must constantly indoctrinate--educate and re-educate ourselves--in this teaching.


Secluding ourselves, living separate and apart from others is not good.  We must foster and treasure relationships.  We need only once again review the Viduy and Al Chait to realize what an important part Bein Odom L’Chaveiro plays in our lives.  Indeed, Chazal teach (Avos 1:6) that we must even go to the extent of “knei lecha chover--acquiring a friend.”  We see the sincere dedication that Avrohom Avinu had to others in the upcoming Parshios--risking his life, for example, even for those who separated themselves from him.  We should take all of these lessons seriously, and try to improve, over the next several weeks, upon our relationships with others--especially our own close family members.  It is no coincidence (as it never is) that all the relationships described above were with close family.  This is a great place to start--less painful words, less sharp criticism, less being annoyed and angry, and more of the love, appreciation, thanks, ...and a showing of true humanity!





Less than two weeks ago, we began reciting “Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGeshem--He causes the wind to blow and brings down the rain.”  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah adds a bit more depth.  Hashem causes the wind to blow--bringing the clouds to where they are needed, and brings each drop down to its proper place at its proper time to fulfill its purpose--be it for punishment, be it for pleasure, or be it to maintain life itself.


Rav Shlomo Wolbe, Z’TL, (Igaros U’Ksavim, page 4) writes that when he was once on a flight from Zurich to Stockholm, he reflected upon the fact that both trains and planes travel, and that a person can reach his destination with either one.  The material difference between them is that whereas the train remains on the ground as it proceeds, the plane not only proceeds in the right direction, but ascends through open air space at an optimum altitude and then reaches its destination sooner.  Rav Wolbe notes that in life, as well, there are two means of advancement.  The first is progressing--but progressing only along the ground, which many human beings attempt to do at one point or another in their lives.  The second kind of advancement involves lifting oneself up and above this earth--which is the progress that one’s fulfillment of the Torah can achieve.  The Torah not only gives one the opportunity to travel faster and reach our destination quicker, but also to soar above the impediments of even mountain-sized obstacles.  One can literally “spread his wings” and fly higher than the winds and clouds below.


The greatest effort in airplane travel is required in lift off--getting off the ground.  The Torah teaches “Vayeesa Yaakov Raglav--and Yaakov lifted his feet” (Bereishis 29:1).  Our job in life is to “lift our feet”--to take off, to rise above the earthiness within us and to raise ourselves above the ground.  The Sefer Orchos Tzadikim writes that while animals with four legs typically face downwards towards the earth, human beings face side ways.  This is to teach us that just as easily as we look down, we can look up.  One way to grow in this area is by taking one desire felt during the day and not fulfilling it, or by feeling joy at during a spiritual activity such as davening or learning Torah.  Similarly, one can attempt to rise above the animal’s self-centered nature by doing something one time a day for somebody else, rather than himself.


Why take the train--when you can and should take the plane?




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


Learn Torah—especially Mishnayos

Give Tikun

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


When one studies Daf Yomi he may note the incredible association often found between the Daf’s content and the time of year.  In yesterday’s Daf, for instance, we learn that Noach did not build the Ark by himself, but that Shem, his son, assisted him. In this merit, Shem will serve as one of our great leaders at the time of redemption and rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash (speedily and in our days).





It may happen to any one of us--witnessing an accident in front of our eyes.  Many thoughts may flow through our minds--How could that have happened?  It was his fault.  It could have been me.  What do I do now?  In fact, however, the "near misses" far outweigh the accidents we see, and, moreover, the daily things that go **right** almost infinitely outnumber the things that go wrong.  Compare the number of times your windshield wipers have worked when you turned them on to the times they did not, or the number of times your car has started in a dark and secluded place to the times it has not.  Contrast the number of times you have slipped on ice to the number of times that you have not.  Consider the number of times you have been healed from sicknesses ranging from the common cold to a more serious illness.  Even compare the days of relatively good weather to the days of relatively difficult weather.  We should not allow the daily blessings we receive to go unnoted or unnoticed.  The Maharal notes that the word “Boruch” refers to a limitless and unbounded source of goodness--Hashem.  As we get back into our daily routines after Yom Tov, we should try as much as we can not to fall back into the bad habit of reciting brochos by rote, without thinking, or without feeling.  Even the “general” brocha over water, juice and the like is “Shehakol Niheye Bidvaro--through whose Word everything exists”--which quite literally is the “Bereishis” or beginning of our faith.  When we say the word “Ata,” we should try to picture Hashem in front of us as He quite literally is--saving us from this, directing us to go there, giving us the newfound ability to do that, and providing us with the food we eat, the place we sleep--and even the working computer on which you are reading this.


Instead of waiting to see accidents in front of our eyes (which are not, in any event, truly “accidents” as everything occurs with Hashem’s Hashgacha)--we should instead view and study the multitudes upon multitudes of blessings which we can see, hear, taste, smell, and feel every day, every hour, and every moment of our **blessed** lives.




Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, begins his great work Growth Through Torah with the following vital message which is so imperative that we should remind ourselves of it several times daily:


“As soon as you start studying Torah, right from the first verse:  ‘In the beginning the Almighty created,’ you become aware that there is a Creator and Ruler of the universe.  This first awareness already makes a major change in you for the rest of your life.  You realize that there is a reason for everything.  The world has meaning and purpose. (Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz, Daas Torah: Beraishis, page 3)


“Without meaning in life even if you accomplish very much, have health and wealth, fame and fortune, there is a strong feeling that something is missing.  It is. Without meaning there is no real enjoyment or satisfaction.  Yes, a person can have moments of excitement, joy, and even ecstasy.  But they are short-lived.  When the high feelings settle down, there is emptiness.  Nothing seems to really matter.  But as soon as you internalize the awareness that there is a Creator of the universe, you see plan and purpose.  There is an inner glow and a drive for spiritual growth.  Those who lack this realization see only the external actions and behaviors of those who live with the reality of the Almighty.  They are unaware of the rich inner life of such a person.  The true believer in the Creator is a fortunate person.  He is the only one on the planet one should envy.  He sees divinity in every flower and tree and in every blade of grass.  He sees the design of the Creator in every living creature.  He sees something special in every human being.  His life, regardless of how it unfolds, is full of purpose and meaning.  While he appreciates this world as a gift of the Creator, he looks forward to an eternity of existence.  This is the profound message of the first verse of the Torah.


“A well-known communal leader recalls that he was a teenager the first time he saw Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Z’TL.  The Rosh HaYeshiva was the guest speaker at a siyum in a small synagogue.  His hadran (lecture upon the completion of a Talmudic tractate) was beyond the young listener's comprehension, but one part of the address made an indelible impression.  ‘People destroy their children by always repeating, ‘Es is shver tzu zein a yid (it is hard to be a Jew).’  No, it is not hard to be a Jew.  It is beautiful and joyous to be a Jew.’


Rabbi Moshe Feinstein's face glowed with pride and happiness when he said those simple words and the young listener recalls that he too became suffused with pride in his Jewishness.  (Rabbi Nosson Scherman in The Jewish Observer, October 1986).


The person who devotes his life to fulfilling the Torah will find so much meaning in his life that even in his fantasy life he will live exactly the way as he is living in reality.”




1. We received the following important comment to a previous email in which we indicated that the emphasis in pronunciation in Shema of the word “ViAhavta” must be on the last syllable in order not to change the meaning of the word: “I would like to add that the Hakhel note is true of four more words in Shema as well: ViOsafta (in the Second Chapter), ViAchalta (in the Second Chapter) and ViAmarta (in the Third Chapter). The same would be true in the second beracha of Birchas Hamazon, in which the words ViAchalta and Uveyrachta must have the accent placed on the last syllable in order not to change the meaning of the word.”


2. In a bulletin issued earlier this week, we noted the importance of attentiveness throughout the day to the mitzvah of Mezuzah.  The date of the Bulletin, the 25th of Tishrei, was actually the date of the Chasam Sofer’s Yahrtzeit.  The story is told of a young scholar who entered the Chasam Sofer’s study in order to be tested for Semicha.  The Chasam Sofer noticed that he did not kiss or touch the mezuzah on his way into the room.  Assuming that the young man was nervous, he turned him to return tomorrow to be tested.  The Chasam Sofer noted that he did not kiss the mezuzah on the way out of the study, as well.  The following day, when the candidate returned, once again, he did not kiss or touch the mezuzah on his way in.  The Chasam Sofer advised him that he would be unable to test him or grant him semicha, because he lacked the basic awareness of such a fundamental mitzvah with which one Jew could draw close to Hashem daily.


3. Tomorrow is known as “Shabbos Bereishis” not only because it is the day in which we read Parshas Bereishis, but because it is the Shabbos upon which we can commence an initiative to increase our Kedushas Shabbos, our sense of the holiness of Shabbos for the entire year, now that the Yomim Tovim have concluded.  If we can add on to Shabbos a special shiur, or special time to learn, spend some additional time with the Parsha, increase the quality of Zemiros at each meal, learn some Hilchos Shabbos from any sefer during at least one seudah, take in Shabbos just a couple of minutes early, delay Havdalah with a Devar Torah, make sure to eat (or leave room, as the case may be) for Shalosh Seudos and Melave Malka, we will have accomplished much.  Even your intent is very meaningful, even if you only, b’li neder, initially commit to your new small Shabbos goal for three or four weeks.






Chol HaMoed are days designated--set aside--for holiness.  We can therefore understand why someone who disgraces these days “has no share” in the World to Come (Avos 3:15).  According to the Bartenura (ibid.), disgracing the Moados means doing unnecessary work on them, and eating and drinking in the same manner as one would on a regular weekday.


The following highlights are from a Hakhel Shiur, given by HaRav Dovid Zucker, Shlita, author of the Sefer Chol HaMoed (Artscroll 2005), and Rosh Kollel of the Chicago Community Kollel.


1.                  The Avnei Nezer teaches (based upon the Zohar) that the Kedusha of Chol HaMoed may be likened to the light of the Moon--reflecting the Kedusha of Yom Tov itself.  Chol HaMoed is indeed enveloped by the Kedusha of the First Days and the Last Days of Yom Tov.


2.                  One should wear nicer clothes on Chol HaMoed than on a regular weekday.  The mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov applies to Chol HaMoed as well.


3.                  Rabbi Zucker stated that he felt that just as Kedushas Shabbos was the nisayon (the test) of 75 to 100 years ago, Kedushas Chol HaMoed is the nisayon of Galus Jewry today.


4.                  The laws of working on Chol HaMoed for a salaried employee depend upon whether the employee: (a) has vacation coming to him; (b) has no vacation coming to him, but can take time off without pay; (c) asking for time off will cause him to lose his job; or (d) asking for time off will not cause him to lose his job, but will have undesired effects.  Our notes here are intended to highlight these distinctions, but not provide the halachic parameters, which are detailed and often require consultation with a Rav.  For further information, you may study the Sefer itself, or obtain a copy of the Shiur on cassette tape or CD by calling (718) 252-5274.


5.                  Self-employed individuals and employers must consult with their Rav as to how/when to remain open on Chol HaMoed.  One should not rely on “everybody does it” or “ignorance is bliss”--remember, we are talking about the World to Come, and that is true bliss--and infinity.  The story is told of a factory owner who refused, despite the Chofetz Chaim’s pleadings, to close his factory on Shabbos--he told the Chofetz Chaim, “Rebbe, you don’t make money from a posuk in the Torah.”  When the Bolsheviks confiscated all of his property a few years later, he wrote a letter of contrition and apology to the Chofetz Chaim.


6.                  Unskilled work is permitted for the sake of the Moed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.  Therefore, if necessary, one may sew a button on in an unskilled manner.


7.                  A non-Jew cannot do work for you that you yourself cannot perform.  For example, your lawn cannot be mowed or landscaped--and your gardener must be sent away if he comes to perform work for you.


8.                  Skilled work is generally prohibited--even for the sake of the Moed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.  Once again, anything prohibited for a Jew to do is prohibited for a non-Jew to do for you.  There are certain exceptions in which skilled labor is permitted, which relate to “Tzorchei HaGuf,” such as a serious roof leak or a necessary oven or air conditioner repair. With respect to car repairs, it would depend on the type of repair necessary, the need for the repair, and other factors, and a Rav must be consulted.


9.                  Laundering clothing can only be done for young children who have soiled their clothing and have nothing else to wear.  You cannot add other clothing into the washing machine once their clothes are being washed.  Once again, a non-Jewish housekeeper cannot do for you what you yourself cannot do.  Spot cleaning, if necessary, is permitted.  Drying clothing is permitted.


10.              Going shopping is only permissible (even if you otherwise enjoy shopping) if needed for Chol HaMoed or the Last Days of Yom Tov, or if it would constitute a “davar ha’avad” (See paragraph 13 below).  One cannot “trick” the Halacha (and yourself) by “wearing it on Chol HaMoed too.  Similarly, one should not push off buying a pair of shoes to Chol HaMoed if he can do so before Yom Tov (unless he simply ran out of time).  Rav Moshe Feinstein Z’TL once told a Yeshiva bochur to come back to Yeshiva a day later in order to go shopping for clothing after Yom Tov, rather than shop on Chol HaMoed.


11.              One cannot schedule a “routine” medical or dental checkup or exam for Chol HaMoed.


12.              One cannot put off to Chol HaMoed filling up the car with gas, going to the bank, etc., when he has time or an opportunity to do so before Chol HaMoed.


13.              In specific “davar ha’avad” situations where an actual loss will occur, if work (even if skilled) is not performed on Chol HaMoed, it may very well be permissible, and your Rav should be consulted.


14.              Cutting nails/manicure is permitted for Sefardim (if needed), and prohibited to Ashkenazim (unless needed, and one had previously cut nails on Erev Yom Tov as well).


15.              Rav Moshe Feinstein Z’TL ruled that setting/cutting a sheitel is considered skilled work and therefore is prohibited even for the sake of the Moed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.


16.              Standard writing (not calligraphy) is considered unskilled work and is permitted for the sake of the Moed.  One can type, send e-mails, e-faxes and text messages, but not print them out (unless permitted as a “davar ha’avad”).  Similarly, one can utilize a digital camera as long as the pictures are not printed out, and a standard camera, as long as the pictures are not developed.


The above, obviously, only briefly highlights some common Halachos.  In fact, Hilchos Chol HaMoed encompasses 20 chapters in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 530-549).  We additionally refer you to Rabbi Zucker’s wonderful sefer.  You may want to ask your Rav to give a Shiur this Yom Tov on the Halachos and Hashkafos of Chol HaMoed for everyone’s benefit.  Remember, with any question, or difficult or special situation, please consult your Rav--and have Simchas HaMoed.




HaRav Eliyahu Dessler, ZT’L, (Michtav Me’Eliyahu 1:268) explicitly writes that the reason for the close proximity between Yom Kippur and Sukkos is the “Shemira”, or protection, that the Mitzvah of Sukkah provides. On Yom Kippur the Yetzer Hora is quashed, but is revived so quickly after Yom Kippur that we are required to promptly recite “Selach Lanu Avinu Ki Chatanu” in the Ma’ariv Shemone Esrei just 7 to 8 minutes after we have concluded Ne’ilah. The Suggestions we made yesterday can tide us over for a few days—but how can we be protected for the rest of the Year? It is by surrounding ourselves with the Sukkah and inculcating ourselves with its holiness. In fact, the Zohar writes that the Sukkah can be compared to the Teivah of Noach, Noach’s Ark, which protected and eternally preserved the remnants of all life on earth. The Sukkah takes all of our physical and human drives and activities such as eating, drinking, sitting, walking, and sleeping, and houses them in the spiritual. The ephemeral becomes the everlasting. Complementing the Sukkah on this Holiday is the taking and shaking of the Four Minim, which symbolizes the spiritual control over harmful gashmiyus, such as dangerous winds and dews.


The Sefas Emes writes that we are to observe Sukkos “Seven Days of the Year”, which is meant to remarkably indicate to us that these Seven Days are sufficient to infuse us with all that we need for the coming Year. It is for this reason that Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh day of Sukkos, is the date when the final ‘notes’ relating to our judgment are delivered. By then, we have indicated to Hashem whether we have, or have not, availed ourselves of the opportunity to protect the Ruchniyus that we acquired on Yom Kippur and bring it into our homes and our workplaces. 


As we sit in the Sukkah in the upcoming sunny days, we should think about our own personal ways in which we can instill the Sukkah’s Shemira into our homes after the Seven Days have passed. Will it be by remembering to picture Hashem in front of us when we say the word ‘Ata’ in each one of our Brachos? Will it be in the manner that we eat—sitting down and eating respectfully? Will it be with the voice level used in our home? Will it be by not purchasing the extra luxury or overindulgence because it looks so nice, is so ‘balabatish’ or tastes so good? Will it be by the emphasis of mind over matter? The list goes on…. 


May this Sukkos bring with it the protection—-and the consequent guidance--to make this Year our most successful one ever.




We have now entered the lofty period between Yom Kippur and Sukkos, in which our ancestors donated all of the funds and material necessary to build the Mishkan--the first “earthly” sanctuary for Hashem since the creation of Man some 2448 years earlier.  At that time, we had just been forgiven for the Sin of the Golden Calf, and more than anxiously desired to keep the Shechina with us after Yom Kippur.  In an incredible display and confirmation of the power of Teshuva, Hashem brought back the Ananei Kovod, the Clouds of Glory, and ordered the building of the Mishkan in order to house the Shechina in an intensified form in this World.


We, too, should bask in this period--so that the Shechina’s more intense presence that we experienced on Yom Kippur can in some measure remain with us.  HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’TL, comments on the puzzling language that we read daily in the Shema:  “Kimei Hashamyaim Al Ha’Aretz--like the days of the heavens on the earth.”  What does this mean?  HaRav Lopian explains that the Pasuk is reminding us that we should have “days of heaven” here on Earth.  Just as on Yom Kippur we behave like angels (no eating or drinking, etc., reciting Baruch Shem out loud…), so too in the days after Yom Kippur should we continue our lives on a more elevated plain.  In fact, Chazal teach that the first day of Sukkos is referred to in the Torah as the “First Day” and not the fifteenth of Tishrei (Vayikra 23:40), because we should be so busy after Yom Kippur doing Mitzvos that it becomes the first possible day in which  a moment of sin could arise.


How can we keep this higher status--at least for the time being?  We present two suggestions:


Suggestion One:  Acting with alacrity. HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z'tl, once noted that the root of all bad middos is atzlus, or laziness.  Acting with zerizus, on the other hand, energizes and uplifts a person to a level he thought was heretofore unattainable.  The Mesilas Yesharim brings the middah of zerizus very early on as a necessary stepping stone to elevation of character.  As we look for the Lulav and Esrog, as we build a Sukkah, as we go shopping for food or clothing for Yom Tov, as we bake and cook, as we wash and clean, we should distinguish ourselves by a happy--not harried--demeanor and by an enthused--not overtired or overburdened--attitude.  If, on the first day of Sukkos, we can look back at a supernally pleasant experience, we know we have succeeded.


Suggestion Two:  In addition to keeping the right attitude during this period and properly appreciating our privileged status, we also suggest that we take the time either while sitting down or while traveling from errand to errand, to think about some of the thoughts we had on Yom Kippur.  Did I really give Tzedaka properly throughout the year--or was I too hard-hearted?  Did I really ever make a Chilul Hashem?  Am I prone to chatter--or even making many meaningless (or at least not meaningful) statements?  Briefly review the Al Chaits.  Take a few notes for yourself and keep them with you to glance at during the day.  It may even pay not to put away the Yom Kippur Machzor, or the Viduy Booklet that you have, until Sukkos, so that you can open it and remind yourself as to where you were and where you want to go this year.  Of course, you can suggest this approach to a family member or friend and you can do this together.  In fact, the Rabbeinu Yonah, in the Igerres HaTeshuva (1:22) writes that it is a “Takanah Gedola”, it is of great assistance, to a person to find a friend or even a Rav or other mentor to discuss more heavenly matters with, and give, take, or exchange advice on maintaining and raising our Ruchniyus now and even throughout the year.


The time is ripe to keep ourselves elevated.  If we are flying high, we should try to maintain the altitude--and the attitude!  We urge you to try our tried and true suggestions, so that as we enter Sukkos, we still feel the Yom Kippur within us.




The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (6:1) writes the following succinct halacha: Before starting a brocha, know how it will end, so that when you say the name of Hashem, which is the main part of the brocha, you know what the brocha is referring to. This is especially relevant to the Birchos HaShachar where you are reciting a series of 15 consecutive short, important, but varied, brochos. 


Helpful Point: Look at the last words of the brocha before beginning. 




The Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 669, seif katan 11) brings from the Arizal that all he attained in the openings of the Gates of Wisdom and Ruach HaKodesh resulted from his boundless joy in performing mitzvos. As the Pele Yoetz (II-3:4) writes: “Every mitzvah which presents itself is a gift sent by HaKodesh Boruch Hu...” 


Helpful Point: The next time an unexpected mitzvah comes your way, try to feel the same joy as if you had won a million dollars in the lottery.


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