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The Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 2) states:

“…For if one will not have mercy upon himself, who will have mercy upon him?” The Mesilas Yesharim seems to indicate that no one--even Hashem--will have mercy upon a person who is not properly concerned with himself. One acts with mercy upon himself by seriously thinking about and reflecting upon his life’s activities, the quality of his mitzvah performance, and how he can avoid aveiros in the daily situations that confront him. The Orchos Tzadikim (Chapter 8) takes this a step further, and writes that one who does not attempt to rectify his wrongs and strengthen his performance of mitzvos in actuality is **CRUEL**, for he hurts not only himself, but any future generations which may follow.

In the next few days, as we seek Hashem’s mercy, let us do our utmost to avoid cruelty, and to be as merciful as possible as we can be upon ourselves.


In fact, the Mesilas Yesharim writes later (Chapter 4): “If the Yetzer Hara tells you ‘Sin and Hakodosh Baruch Hu will forgive you’—do not listen to him. The reason once again, is simple. We must have mercy upon ourselves in order for Hashem to forgive us.




We have received beautiful information as to various communities or kehillos undertaking a joint kabala, or project, for the coming year. One community will be reciting daily the “Tefillah Al Hageulah” (which we distributed several weeks ago) through the coming year. A second community intends to learn two (2) halachos a day from the Sefer Chofetz Chaim after Ma’ariv at night before commencing its Daf Yomi Shiur. Other shul memberships are studying the “Praying With Fire” (Artscroll 2005)

89-day program to improve Tefillah. If you know of no joint effort in your group or community, try instituting one!  The benefits of joint or group efforts are much more than geometrically proportionate to the number of individuals participating, as explained in detail by the Chofetz Chaim in the Sefer Ahavas Chesed. Your accomplishment here will truly be a zechus for you and your community at a time when it is most needed.




The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (131:4) rules as follows (Translation by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger, Shlita--Moznaim Publishing, Volume 2  p.539-540):


“Yom Kippur does not atone for the sins a person has committed against his fellow man unless one appeases one's fellow man, as implied by Vayikra 16:30: "You shall be purified of all your sins before Hashem" - i.e., Yom Kippur will atone for those sins that are only "before Hashem." In contrast, those sins that are between man and man will not be atoned for on Yom Kippur unless one has appeased one's colleague. Therefore, a person should check if he has money in his possession which rightfully belongs to someone else, return it, and appease him before Yom Kippur. If he possesses money concerning which he has doubts whether it rightfully belongs to him or not, he should notify his colleague and agree to bring the question before a Torah court directly after Yom Kippur, earnestly resolving to accept the decision of the court.


Even if one wronged a colleague only verbally, one must appease him. A person is obligated to go by himself to the person he wronged to appease him. Nevertheless, if this is difficult for him to do, or if he realizes that it will be more effective if he sends another person, he may do so.


A person who is asked to forgive a colleague should do so with a full heart; he should not be cruel and refuse, because this is not a Jewish attribute. On the contrary, it is a quality associated with Eisav, as the Navi states (Amos 1:11): "His wrath is preserved forever." Similarly, regarding the Givonim, who refused to forgive or to be appeased, the Pasuk states (Shmuel II, 21:2): "The Givonim are not of the Jewish people."


In contrast, the way of the Jewish people is to be "difficult to anger and easy to appease" (Avos 5:11). When a person who has wronged another asks for forgiveness, he should forgive him willingly, with a full heart. Even if the other person has caused him much anguish, he should not seek revenge or bear a grudge. On the contrary, if the person who wronged him is not aroused to ask for forgiveness, the person who was wronged should make himself accessible to the other person, so that he will ask for forgiveness.


When one does not try to wipe away hatred on Yom Kippur, his prayers will not be heard, Heaven forbid. Conversely, when a person overlooks his negative feelings, his sins will also be overlooked.”


Hakhel Comment: The above is unfettered and actual Halacha, Jewish Law. Indeed, it may contain some of the most difficult and daunting tasks a person could imagine. Nevertheless, we must do our utmost. HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Zt’l writes that the Navi teaches us that Rachel Imeinu  will plead and cry for our redemption, and that Hashem will listen to her prayers. HaRav Shmuelevitz asks: Could not Avrohom Avinu-- who was less than seconds away from bringing Yitzchok Avinu as a korbon to Hashem --have pleaded for our redemption and been answered? What greater merit did Rochel Imeinu have which was over and above Avrohom  Avinu’s seemingly superhuman act? He answers that Avrohom Avinu was performing an act between Hashem and man, and was making the ultimate sacrifice to G-d. Rachel Imeinu, on the other hand, had made the ultimate sacrifice to another human being, by giving her future husband, and with it the ancestry of most of Klal Yisroel--to her sister. We therefore urge each one of us to read and reread the above Halachos, swallow our pride, gird our strength, and push ourselves to the greatest extent possible to resolve our bein odom lechaveiro issues.  May our actions, which may seemingly touch upon the superhuman in this regard, bring special brocha to us all this Yom Kippur, so that this Year is a  much, much better one than last Year.




1.The Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva 3:4) writes that we are to "increase tzedaka and good deeds, and to involve ourselves in mitzvos" during the period from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur." There are, in fact, individuals who take their vacation during these days to spend the precious moments we are in the manner they best see fit, while others minimize their "Olam Hazeh" activities during this time, because the power of these days for Teshuva, and the incredible closeness that Hashem affords to us, is simply greater than the rest of the year (we note that this is actually a Halacha--the Rambam writes this in Hilchos Teshuva). The Chayei Odom (Chapter 143) actually writes that it is a **Mitzvas Aseh--a positive commandment from the Torah ** to do Teshuva **before** Yom Kippur, as the posuk states "Lifnei Hashem Titharu--before Hashem, should you purify yourself." Accordingly, we should avoid the voluntary or otherwise less necessary activities that a typical work, travel, or day at home may bring and focus, if not concentrate, on mitzvos, ma'asim tovim, and the Jewish "real thing"--Teshuva. 


2. The Chayei Odom (ibid.) also writes that the gravest sin is inadequate Torah study--"because one who is far from Torah study is far from serving his Creator", and this is why in the fifth brocha of Shemone Esrei (known as "Teshuva") begins first 'Bring us back our Father to Your Torah'--which leads to Hashem's service--and only afterwards does the brocha go on to pray to Hashem for assistance in doing Teshuva.




One of the first passages in our Selichos is “Nachpesa Deracheinu V’Nachkora--Let us search and investigate our ways.”  Interestingly, the concept of “chipus”, or searching, is utilized by Chazal (Pesachim 7B) in describing what we must do to eliminate chometz from our midst.  Consider the following: If someone would begin 30 days before Pesach, or at least seven days before Pesach, to cry out “I must search for my chometz, I must get rid of it!” we would be impressed.  However, if we would realize that the person is only exclaiming his intent but not actually eradicating the chometz, we may instead view the person as being somewhat untruthful, or perhaps incompetent.  As we exclaim just a few days before Rosh Hashana that we must search our ways, we must recognize that while a proclamation is admirable, it is inappropriate, or in stronger terms, negligent, to stop there.  We must not only say that we are going to search--but we must search and find--and begin the correction process.


HaRav Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita, importantly notes that we proclaim at the highlight of U’Nesane Tokef on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: “U’Teshuva, U’Tefilla, U’Tzedaka Maavirin Es Roa Hagezaira--Teshuva, Prayer, and Charity Remove the Evil Decree.”  People are of the mistaken notion that by fulfilling Prayer and Charity, which are of course eminently necessary during these times, somehow Teshuva is automatically fulfilled, as well.  The Paytan teaches us that this is not--absolutely not--the case.  Teshuva is a stand-alone, essential element of the Yomim Noraim, and, moreover, it is mentioned **first**.


While Teshuva is a serious business, a very serious business, it is also a joyful one.  As the Rambam describes in Hilchos Teshuva, part of the process is recognizing that “I am not the same person”--I am not that person who spoke the Loshon Hora, ate those questionable items, or failed to learn any Torah at all on that day.  Like chometz, you can actually get rid of the negative past--and Chazal teach that in certain circumstances it can even become an asset to stand in your stead.  But just like the Simcha of a Bar Mitzvah or a wedding requires planning and effort, so does Teshuva.  For just as a wedding transforms two independent lives into two dependant lives, and attaining bar mitzvah turns a boy into an adult responsible for his actions in detail, so does Teshuva change **You** into who you are supposed to be.  It is therefore so befitting (and of course planned) that Rosh Hashanah falls on the day that man was created (now 5767years ago) for it teaches us that it is our opportunity to be re-created.  Indeed, on this day, Adam HaRishon, Chava and Kayin, the first three human beings in this world, sinned in their own particular way, and each immediately began a Teshuva process that has allowed humanity to exist for these thousands of years, and will bring us to Moshiach.


We note that just because Teshuva is joyful does not mean it is not difficult.  The newlywed couple must adapt to untold idiosyncrasies (and the like); the Bar Mitzvah bochur to getting up (on time) for minyan and literally hundreds of new real responsibilities.  Likewise, the Ba’al Teshuva must override habit and overcome a previously successful Yetzer Hora.  Rav Schneider, Shlita, and other Torah scholars suggest an important guide and aid in becoming the **You** that you should be.  One should measure his/her action by asking the following question--Is what I am about to do the Ratzon Hashem--would Hashem be pleased with what I am about to do or say?  This level or standard of care, the Rabbonim teach, is not flighty or Heavenly.  It is down-to-earth and within our reach--we are ALL capable of it, and we can attain it.  How?  Through the daily study of Mussar (see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 603, Mishne Berurah seif katan 2 and Shaar Hatzion there).  The study of Mussar puts us into close daily contact with none other than ourselves--and once we are in contact with ourselves, the world, or at least our world, is before us.


So, as we stand just several days before the anniversary of our creation, perhaps we can, bli neder, take it upon ourselves, to pick one of the classic or even more recent Mussar seforim-- and try to establish the coming year as a Year of Simcha, beginning with our very own joy of re-creation!




As we begin the last week of the year, Ashkenazic Jewry also begins the week of Selichos, during which time we take the extra time, and make the extra effort, to plead and supplicate for mercy through many powerful and beautiful Tefillos. 


Chazal (Bava Metzia 85A) relate that a calf being brought for shechita looked to Rebbe Yehuda HaNasi to help save him from his fate. Rather than empathize with the young animal, Rebbe Yehuda told him “Go, for with this you will fulfill your purpose in Creation.” Although Rebbe Yehuda was obviously factually correct in his statement to the animal, the Gemara there teaches that Rebbe Yehuda began to suffer yissurin--pain and affliction--for his failure to feel and display some sensitivity to, and mercy for, the creature. Indeed, the Gemara teaches, Rebbe Yehuda later showed true mercy to a chulda (a weasel), and his afflictions immediately ceased.


The Tomer Devorah (Chapter 3) writes that yissurin is a paradigm example of din--strict justice--for it represents what our lives would be like, and what we could be constantly subjected to, if we were taken to task for our iniquities.  What prevents this din from befalling us is Hashem’s mercy upon us.  His mercy upon us, in turn, is in direct proportion to our mercy upon His creations.  As the Tomer Devorah teaches, “One should not disgrace or unnecessarily kill any creation, for Hashem’s wisdom is infused into them all--inanimate, vegetable, animal and man.  It is for this reason that we are forbidden to shame food.  Similarly, one should not uproot any plant without reason or kill any living thing without purpose...and demonstrate mercy to the greatest extent possible.”


Contrary to the opinion of the unlearned, the recitation of Selichos is not only for the “big sinners.”  We--each and every one of us--need Hashem’s mercy very, very much, especially in times plagued by the din of previously unheard of tzaros, sickness and terror.  We must respond with inordinate and extraordinary measures of mercy.  Others may laugh at your avoiding pulling a leaf off a tree for no reason, or at using a plastic cup to pick up an ant in the kitchen, bringing it outside alive to its natural habitat.  You, however, know better, for you recite three times daily in Ashrei (Tehillim 145:9), “His mercies are on all His works.”  The word “all” is not to be taken or treated lightly.


It goes without saying that there are many opportunities to display sensitivity and mercy even before you get to the leaves and the ants.  Taking the time to lift someone’s spirits, caring about the well-being of an elderly person in your neighborhood, smiling at the grim-faced.  To test yourself, perhaps you can pick an hour during the day and work hard at especially applying your concern and mercy in the various situations that may come up during that time.  You may learn and grow from the experience.


So, this week as we ask for mercy, we should commit to practicing it--from not stepping on a bug even as you walk to Shul at daybreak, to helping arrange a Shidduch in the morning, to offering someone a ride in the afternoon, to giving time over the phone at night to someone who had a hard day, to not throwing your clothing across the room--remember, we are in an especially auspicious period for character growth.  May we excel at it!




At one time or another, we have all played Jewish Geography.  Somehow, the New Yorker visiting Montreal will run into the Londoner who will tell him that his second cousin originally from Antwerp is married to the New Yorker’s sister living in Petach Tikvah.  A sign of Galus?  Perhaps.  But more importantly, it demonstrates that the World we live in is like a large body that connects us all.  Our connections can have astounding positive effects, as the Tefillos and Chesed we can perform for one another spans the globe.  Indeed, the Chazal which teaches “Kol Yisroel Araivim Zeh Lazeh--all of Klal Yisroel are guarantors for each other” (Shevuos 39A) takes on a new and special meaning.


There is an important, second aspect to Jewish Geography as well--as pointed to in the recent Kashrus scandal in Monsey , New York .  That is, by no means, way, or shape of the imagination can any one of us limit or reduce the issue or problem to a given, set and defined area in chilly, Upstate New York.  As a real-life example, a Rav in Monsey whose children were living in Yerushalayim, sent a case of the infamous chickens to them for Pesach.  The Monsey chickens went to Eretz Yisroel, and probably were consumed by people from all over the world.  However, there is something more profound, and we will explain based upon the recent words of Rav Yisroel Reisman, Shlita.


Rav Reisman related that while in Yerushalayim this past summer, during the Israel-Terrorist War, he heard a shiur from HaRav Druk, Shlita.  HaRav Druk noted that people on the street were blaming the war on many things.  One blamed it on cell phones.  A second on lack of tznius.  A third on improper use of affluence.  A fourth on the irreligious.  Yet, there was a clear common denominator in all of these causes--it was a sin that the person making the claim was not guilty of.  The first one didn’t own a cell phone.  The second was modest, the third was poor and the fourth was religious.  In short, it is always easier and more efficient to place the blame or responsibility on someone else.  As we all know how chashuv--how important--the Monsey kehillah is to international Jewry, and how important the Rabonim involved in this mess are, it becomes clear to us that Hashem is looking to us to look into ourselves and not limit events or occurrences to their secular geographic location.  Would we or could we limit the “light earthquake” last week in Yerushalayim to the Yerushalmis--or should we feel the “light” rumblings across the globe?


The events of the recent months have led us to a time of important introspection.  Let us not think about he/she or they could improve, but how I can improve.  What can I do better--not only to help myself, but my family and us all?  Many will be participating with the people of Monsey this Sunday in fasting for all or part of the day.  For those who are, and for those who can’t, it would seem appropriate that we spend some precious, honest moments taking stock and trying to derive meaning from the events around us in preparation for Rosh Hashana.  From the Monsey event, for instance--what can I do to raise the standard of Kashrus in my home and/or outside the home?  From the earthquake, for instance, how can I better learn to sense Hashem’s omnipotence without feeling pressure, worry, or pain?


Hashem has uniquely blessed us, over the inanimate, the vegetable, the animal, and even many of the living, with the ability to change for the positive. Let us take the opportunities, the situations, the events, the challenges that face us individually and as a community and grow to our full potential.  Jewish Geography--it is more than fun--it goes to our unity and to our essence.




Imagine a knock at your door. It is the investor you have always dreamed of. He produces a check for you in the amount of $100,000.00 for “research and development” to get you started on your idea. You are assured that “there is more where this came from”. You are to produce a Business Plan, complete with an Executive Summary and relevant background data. If you can properly put it on paper, then gold will be in your future. 


Each and every one of us is today faced with a much greater opportunity. It is not $100,000.00 or even $1,000,000.00 or even $1,000,000,000.00 at stake--but our lives, and the lives of our families, and not only our and their lives in this world, but all of our and their lives in the eternity and infinity of the world to come. As we stand ten days away from Rosh Hashana, we are asked to produce our “Business Plan” as well. As the Mesilas Yesharim writes at the outset, it cannot be that our purpose in life is to experience the joys and difficulties of life and then simply die--especially when the difficulties may seem to exceed the joys. Incredibly, however, many who live in the world today actually do believe that this is the case. Accordingly, they have no plan, and are satisfied with their current state of affairs, not expecting a knock on the door, never to be challenged in their lifetime. Far be it from us to act in this manner. We, as “Maaminim Bnei Maaminim”, as the descendants of hundreds of generations of believers, can and must come up with our own Plan. 


How does one write this Plan? The Mesilas Yesharim writes that the Yetzer Hara thrives on keeping a person busy enough never to have time to sit down and review his past or contemplate his future. Accordingly, the first step is to make the time to sit down at a desk or table with a pad or computer and literally begin your own “Research and Development”. Whichever order best suits you--review your typical day, your relationships, your attitudes, your weaknesses, and how you could even further strengthen your strengths. Try to jog your brain and move your memory. What did you really feel bad about this past year? What do you regret now that it is over? How can you improve just a little bit in each one of your sorriest areas? Set forth short-term and long-term goals. State the problems and the solutions. The more thorough the analysis, the clearer the detail, the more robust is the level of success. This is Your Plan. No one else can do it. It is your intellectual property, and you have the worldwide patent. 


Remember, no one would be satisfied with ad-lib representations as to your future business. The key to the Plan is to **WRITE IT DOWN**, to chart it, or, if you would like, to organize it in your own special or unique way, knowing and remembering that there is much more than 120 years of financial success at stake for a successfully implemented Plan. HaRav Pam, Z’TL, would always suggest that one keep a written record of his successes and chas v’shalom temporary failures in these Plan goals as time progressed. In this way, you will progressively notice your bar being raised as your Plan continues on the route of successful implementation. 


Consider this email the $100,000 check to you. We hope you take the time out to do the rest.




Chazal teach us that: “He who prepares on Erev Shabbos, will eat on Shabbos.”  This means that one who properly prepares on the sixth day of the week will be taken care of on the seventh day of the week.  Similarly, HaRav Shlomo Zevin, ZT’L, notes that Elul is the sixth month of the year.  One who properly prepares in the sixth month, will draw his lucrative benefits in the seventh month, in the Yemei Hadin.


Many of us, in one form or another, have experienced the embarrassed/disgraced feeling of a lack of preparation. One Scene:  Your Rav asks you for a ride, and there are cookie crumbs, crumpled papers, and other ripped, torn, and discarded items in your car--all of which you meant in any event to clean out last night before you went to sleep.  The rav pretends that his car is much worse, and you kick as much as you can under your seat as you are driving.


A second scene:  On a date, your counterpart asks you what your goals in life are, and you can only come up with a general, non-committal, obviously not very thought-through response.  Situations of all kinds constantly come up in our lives which teach us the value and lesson of proper preparation.  Being a step ahead could put you milestones ahead.


HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, recently taught the following, in preparation for Rosh Hashanah:


One should reflect upon to the greatest extent possible, but at least several times during the day, on the tenth Ani Maamin, which states:


“I believe with complete faith that the Creator, Blessed is His Name, knows all the deeds of human beings and their thoughts, as it is said ‘He fashions their hearts all together, He comprehends all of  their deeds’ (Tehillim 33:15).”


HaRav Salomon fascinatingly notes that this very Pasuk from Tehillim cited in the Ani Maamin is also recorded in the Mishna in Rosh Hashanah when it describes how every individual, with his foils and fancies, trials and tribulations, passes before Hashem on Rosh Hashanah.  Accordingly, in preparation for Rosh Hashanah, we should work on feeling a complete and entire dependence upon Hashem.  If one can work on better making this concept a part of his everyday existence, he will in a sense, experience the closeness to Hashem of Rosh Hashanah every day of the year.


HaRav Simcha Zissel, ZT’L, of Kelm asked his students--what is the smallest action you can do to open up Olam Haba to you?  One student responded--answering Amen, another one said--making a brocha with feeling.  HaRav Simcha Zissel taught them that you do not have to go that far--it would be enough to simply sit up straight in your chair, upon remembering that you are in Hashem’s presence, and that Hashem’s power and love for you is all-encompassing.


May we suggest that a good time(s) to revitalize this thought within us throughout the day is when reciting the most common brocha of “Shehakol Neheye Bidvaro” which, if we think about its meaning, really teaches us this very lesson of the world and all that fills it belongs to Hashem.


One of the most popular Divrei Torah at this time of year is that Elul is an acronym for “Ani Lidodi V’dodi Li--I am to Hashem, and Hashem is to me.”


Now is our turn to prove it!


HaRav Ephriam Wachsman, Shlita, related the following incident: A collector of Judaica and religious items was once fortunate enough to purchase the Rabbeinu Tam tefillin once owned by the Kotzker Rebbe, Z’TL. Several weeks after his purchase of these very special tefillin, he went to visit HaRav Bick, Z’TL, in Boro Park, showed Rav Bick the tefillin and offered Rav Bick the opportunity to put them on. Rav Bick, shaken, recoiled and in an awe-struck voice said that he was unworthy to put on such tefillin. Upon hearing these words, the collector’s two young sons who were with him at the time began to cry. After they left Rav Bick’s presence, the father asked his sons why they had cried when Rav Bick refused to put on the tefillin. They explained that over the last several weeks since the tefillin were purchased, they would often sneak in to their father’s study and put on the tefillin and play “Rebbe” with the tefillin--“You know,” they said, “I’m the rebbe, you’re the rebbe.” Now for the first time, they realized the precious treasure they had. 

The lesson to us is clear--each and every one of us possesses a very precious treasure--it is the Torah. In fact, the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh in this week’s parsha (Devorim 26:11) writes that if people would feel the sweetness and pleasantness of Torah, they would strive and delve for it to a much greater extent than the average person strives for silver and gold, for they would realize that Torah encompasses all riches and all good. Let us take this lesson to heart, and during this time of year, focus especially on how we can improve our Torah study so that in the coming year we will not be playing “I’m the rebbe, you’re the rebbe,” but actually experience and feel a greater closeness to Kedushah and the Shechinah itself.



HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z'tl, recently noted that we all invest time and effort into our Parnossah--our sustenance in this world.  However, it would be truly unfortunate for one to sacrifice his Parnossah L’Olam Voed--his Parnossah for eternity, in favor of Parnossah for only 100 years or so in this world.  He pointed to Avraham Avinu’s actions on behalf of the three malochim, the three angels, under the tree.  Chazal teach that in reward for his one-time ostensible Gemilas Chesed to the three angels, his descendents, constituting millions of people, were sustained--nourished and protected--for 40 years in the desert.  Simply stated, the importance of our actions is boundless.  We must, therefore, make the effort to make our actions count.



Let us consider for a moment the emails we receive daily. Some emails are very important, some important, some less important, and some we wish we would have never received (present company excluded).  If we do not delete our emails on a constant basis, we will find that over a relatively short period of time, these emails will run into the hundreds and even thousands.  If we can take this lesson and apply it to our “Parnossah L’Olam Voed”, we will learn to focus on and save those items which are truly important.  Moreover, we will accumulate more and more of that which is truly important.


There is one essential point to be made relating to the comparison between our sustenance in this world and our eternal sustenance.  Those who are extremely successful in their parnossah have a certain degree of expertise in a particular field.  One person may be an actuary, another a writer, the third a securities lawyer, and the fourth a periodontist.  The point is that if one is an expert in his field, he is simply more valuable.  We should take this lesson into our Parnossah L’Olam Voed and try to become experts in a given field.  Every person, of course, has his/her own given talents, and could be well on the way to becoming an expert, or fully developing their expertise, in a given Olam Haba livelihood.  The Chofetz Chaim, for instance, suggests that those who are capable select a given area of Torah (such as a particular mesechta--Brochos, Shabbos, etc.) and know it very well--or at least much better than your friends.  It is well known that the “Olam Haba Mesechta” of the Chasam Sofer was Mesechta Beizah.  This thought can be applied in many other areas as well. You can stand out by:

v     Opening your own Gemach--clothing, Simcha, baby, service, lending library.

v     Especially designating two hours a day which is Loshon-Hora free--and keeping it at all costs.

v     Every time you recite Asher Yotzar and an after Brochos, it should be from a Siddur or a written text.

v     Recognizing the goodness that Hashem bestows upon you by constantly saying “Boruch Hashem” or “Thank you Hashem” to the point that you realize that you (or better yet, others) realize that this is a hallmark of yours.

v     Studying a Torah topic for five minutes before going to bed.


Of course, these are only suggestions, but the point is there.  Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, twice bemoans the person who says “A little bit more sleep, a little bit more slumber, a little folding of the hands to lie” (Mishlei 6:10 and 24:33).  We should do all that we can, especially at this time of year, to avoid the “just a little more sleep syndrome”, and instead, move ourselves in the direction of becoming experts in our own right, and in our own way.




Someone once asked HaRav Avigdor Miller, ZT’L, the following Shaila: “I left a hot tea on the table where I was sitting and stepped out of the room for a moment. My young son somehow tried grabbing the tea and spilled it over himself burning his arms. What was this a sign of for me? What Teshuva do I have to do?” HaRav Miller responded--your Teshuva is not to leave hot tea on the table where your child can endanger himself in the future. 


Similarly, if someone leaves a blank signed check around the house, and the cleaning woman finds it and fills it in, that person may be a thousand or two thousand dollars poorer. Is it “Hashgacha” that he signed the check and left it around the house? Perhaps carelessness or negligence would be a more appropriate word. Indeed, this person may have had to give away the $1,000--but it could have been to Tzedaka, instead of sponsoring a thief’s vacation trip. Hashem had entrusted him with money, and he did not meet Hashem’s expectations because of his carelessness. 


Let us turn for a moment to two brachos which we recite daily in the Shemone Esrei—Refoenu (asking Hashem to heal the sick and save us from sickness) and Bareich Alainu (asking Hashem to bless the year with sustenance and make it “Kashanim Hatovos--like the best years”). The sheer power of these two Brachos, and the enormous impact that their recitation with Kavannah would have on us personally and on all of Klal Yisroel is unfathomable. 


Think about it. If you had a skin problem, and the Nobel Prize Winner in Medicine for research on skin conditions offered you an audience to discuss your situation, would you be thinking about something else during that discussion? If Bill Gates was going to stop by to give you some advice on how to improve your business or how to invest your savings--would you tell him that you could not concentrate at this time because there were too many other pressing matters on your mind? 


For many of us, it can be safely said that we really know what to do and how to do it, it is just that we are careless, or at least not sufficiently focused when we should be. We know what is correct, and we know what we must do--but we let the great opportunities and accomplishments slip through our hands too often. 


Now is the time to rediscover the everyday opportunities that Hashem blesses us with--and become less careless--and more successful at our eternal accomplishments. While you may have other ideas, a great place to begin may be in the two suggestions that we have provided--having Kavannah in the bracha of Refoenu--for the wellbeing of Klal Yisrael, and recognizing that Hashem is the true Provider--by being careful with the words of Boreich Aleinu.

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