Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin
SEPTEMBER 2008 DAILY EMAIL ARCHIVE
Special Note One: In honor of
this Erev Shabbos, we provide below just a few halachos relating to the
halachos of Erev Shabbos from the Sefer Meoros HaShabbos (Volume 1):
Before buying things for Shabbos, one should
say “L’Kavod Shabbos”--this is in honor of Shabbos. By doing so, the
holiness of Shabbos rests upon the purchase. [Rabbi Label Lam, Shlita
adds that you can add the same words to the memo portion when making a
Shabbos purchase by check.]
When cleaning the house on Erev Shabbos, one
should envision a mortal king coming to visit his home. All the more so
should he work to prepare for the Shabbos Queen!
It is a mitzvah to taste Shabbos foods
before Shabbos to see if they need any further preparation. Instead of
merely enjoying the food, you can enjoy the mitzvah of Kavod Shabbos!
Special Note Two: We received
the following insight from a reader relating to Teshuva in personal
relationships: “As people interact, they can ask themselves, ‘How would I
react if my mother/father did/said this to me?’ This puts a person in a
different mindset and can really help a person treat his fellow man with
Hakhel Note on this insight:
The Chayei Odom (67:1,3), notes that true Kibud Av V’Eim which is a source
of Arichus Yomim (we all need a special grant of that at this time of year!)
is fulfilled not only in action and in speech, but also in thought. If one
is blessed with parent(s) who are alive, the Chayei Odom continues, he
should view them as “Gedolim V’Nichbidei Aretz--great and honored people in
the land,” even if he knows that other people do not treat them with special
respect or importance at all. In fact, the Chayei Odom concludes, honoring
parents in one’s thought is the “Ikar Kibud--the most important way of
respecting a parent”--perhaps because this demonstrates that you really mean
it. Our reader, with the thought above, has fulfilled the mitzvah
Special Note Three: Although
we are sure that many of our readers study daily the five minute lesson a
day from the book Praying With Fire, in light of the Yomim Noraim and
the time we will spend in Shul, we provide the following words from HaRav
Shimon Schwab, Zt’l (as found in Day 83 of Praying with Fire, Volume
“For Hashem’s sake, let us be
quiet in the Beis Haknesses. Our reverent silence during the tefillah will
speak very loudly to Him, Who holds our fate in His hands. Communicating
with Hashem is our only recourse in this era of trial and tribulations.
There is too much ugly noise in our world today. Let us find peace and
tranquility while we stand before Hashem in prayer!”
Special Note Four: We make
the following points relating to Rosh Hashana conduct:
1. Most of
our Tefillah on Rosh Hashana relates to the Malchus of Hashem, and our
requests for all of Klal Yisroel from our one and only Avinu Malkeinu. It
is, however, permissible to daven for individuals who are ill, and to make
one’s personal requests on this day, as it is designated for supplication
before the King of all Kings. In Shemone Esrei, personal requests should be
made before the second Yihiyu L’Ratzon which is recited immediately before
taking three steps back at the conclusion of Shemone Esrei (Piskei Teshuvos,
Volume 6, page 199).
are several reasons why challos on Rosh Hashana are round (ibid., p. 206):
(a) It is a
Siman Tov, because round objects don’t have an end, symbolizing Arichus
Yomim--life where there is no end in sight!
shape symbolizes unity among us--a King needs a unified nation!
(c) The round
shape is the shape of a crown. This serves to remind us that even while
eating our meal, we are involved in the Malchus of Rosh Hashana.
Yesod V’Shoresh HoAvoda (Sha’ar 11, Chapter 3) writes: “And with each
and every Tekia that a person hears from the Tokea, he should with great joy
think—‘With my listening to this Tekia, I am fulfilling a Mitzvas Asei of
Hashem, and I want to give Hashem Nachas Ruach with this.’ The Yesod
V’Shoresh HoAvoda adds that one should look into the Machzor at the
words “Tekia Shevorim…” as they are being blown, as this will keep one's
thoughts focused on the mitzvah. Of course, there are many other Kavanos
for the Shofar, but these insights will certainly keep us focused.
Regarding the concept of crying during one’s Tefilos on Rosh Hashana, one
should be sure to consult with his Rav.
Special Note Five: As we seek
Rachamim from Hashem, we would like to remind our readers the Zohar (Parshas
Noach) that when we answer “Amen, Yehei Shemai Rabba” with all our strength, Hashem
“becomes full of mercy” for us. May we therefore suggest that, especially
over the Yomim Noraim, when answering “Yehei Shemai Rabba” in Shul you look
into the Siddur and concentrate on the words.
In the Bein Odom L’Chaveiro
area, may we suggest working on “tzorarnu”--having mercy upon, and not
causing pain, to other people. Hashem’s Midah K’Neged Midah can then work
in kind, and we will be saved from pain as he demonstrates His Mercy to us!
Special Note Six: When we see
an older person who is full of zest and energy, we say that he is “full of
life.” Life is something that we will all be beseeching over the next
several days. It is especially important, then, to rid ourselves of
feelings of despair, of tiredness (rest, if you have to!), and act with
special vigor and energy--in short, to be “full of life”--when performing
mitzvos. Indeed, the Shelah HaKadosh writes that “It is a great principle,
when performing mitzvos, that they be performed with alacrity and great
joy--as if one was first commanded to perform them today.” May Hashem, on a
“Midah K’Neged Midah” basis, grant more and more life to those who put life
into their mitzvos!
Special Note Seven: Hakhel’s
affiliate, The V’ Ani Tefillah Foundation, has made available a Ten Day
Aseres Yemei Teshuva Program entitled “Mispalel B’ad Chaveiro”--The Power of
Praying For Others. You can join with the tens of thousands who we hope
will participate in learning how to help others--and themselves--with their
Tefillos. To download the pamphlet or the daily lesson over the Aseres
Yemei Teshuva, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special Note One: We provide
by clicking here
the Moreshes Aviva “Spiritual Resolutions for Personal Growth” for women.
These resolutions are for the month of Tishrei, and are part of a hard copy
calendar, which contains beautiful Kabalos for every month of the year.
Each new monthly resolution is accompanied by review of resolutions from the
previous month. This outstanding calendar is available by contacting
email@example.com . This is a wonderful opportunity to join forces
with many other women working on a middah together, one month at a time.
What a wonderful Kabala in and of itself before Rosh Hashana!
Special Note Two: We provide
here the 5769 Shmiras HaLashon Yomi Calendar, which provides the
daily study for the Sefer Chofetz Chaim, Guard Your Tongue (by
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, in English), and the Sefer Shmiras HaLashon
(in the back of the calendar). The calendar also provides (on the last
page), the Tefillah for Shmiras HaLashon, and the phone numbers of Poskim,
and Shmiras HaLashon contacts, world-wide.
Special Note Three: The
Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 603) rules that “even one who is not careful
with Pas Yisroel during the rest of the year, should be careful to keep Pas
Yisroel during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva. Accordingly, we provide a listing
of items with the OU Hashgacha which are Pas Yisroel (published by the OU)
by clicking here.
Special Note Four: In the
Tochacha, we learn that one of the punishments we will receive for not
properly observing the Torah is “Timhon Laivuv” (this term is,
non-coincidently, the last of the Al Chaits). Rashi interprets “Timhon
Laivuv” as “Itum HaLev--having a stuffed heart.” It is essential for
us--especially at this time of year--to open our stuffed hearts--so that we
do not suffer from a self-imposed Timhon Laivuv. In order to provide some
help in this regard, we provide the following Teshuva pointers from Gedolei
1. On the
teaching of Chazal “Tichleh Shana U’Kililoseha--let the year and its curses
end,” and let the new year and its brachos begin, HaRav Gedalya Schorr, Zt’l,
teaches that we must treat our foibles and faults of the previous year as a
seed. We must plant them in the ground out of sight and touch, and nurture
our past experiences into a beautiful and blossoming new fruit during the
coming year. We should most definitely not let the sins of the past, and
despair over them, obstruct the beautiful potential from growth that we have
in the coming year. We must realize that much brocha lies ahead--if we
follow the path of blessing.
2. The Pele
Yoetz, in a beautiful discussion of Teshuva, makes the following essential
points for all to know, among others. If you have the time and capability,
they are found near the end of the Sefer Pele Yoetz.
The most important portal to Teshuva is the
Study of Torah--to learn the Halachos that one needs to know, and to
study works of Mussar and Yiras Hashem. Anyone who learns on his own or
attends Shiurim is per se closer to Hashem. In fact, this is why the
brocha of Teshuva in Shemone Esrei first begins with Torah--HaSheveynu
Avinu L’Sorosecha (Bring us back to Torah)--for the study of Torah is a
prerequisite to Teshuva.
The Yetzer Hora attempts to minimize
avairos. It is “only this” or “only that”…”but this” or “but that”.
When you see yourself thinking or using these kinds of phrases, be on
the lookout for sin.
Chazal teach how severe the penalty of
taking or withholding another’s money is. [Chazal actually teach that
“Someone who takes from his friend even something worth only a peruta,
is viewed as if he took his life and the life of his descendants.”] The
Pele Yoetz succinctly states, “and someone who has his friend’s
possessions in his hands will not have his Tefillos heard…and if his
Tefilos are not heard on the Yomim Noraim--does he have any hope?!”
The way one can tell whether his soul is
pure is by the Kavanah--which includes the fear, love and great
joy--that he places into his Tefillah. Everyone should try and work on
purifying his soul!
Sifsei Chaim (HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Zt’l), in Moadim I teaches:
Adam HaRishon sinned and his Teshuva was accepted (all on Rosh Hashana!),
the Torah records that Hashem placed the Lahat HaCherev HaMishapeches (the
flame of the ever-turning sword) to prevent him from re-entering Gan Eden at
that time. With this, the Torah provides an essential lesson in Teshuva.
It is not enough just to “decide” not to fall prey to the sin again. One
has to actually create some type of fence or system to prevent the
possibility of falling again. One out of thousands of examples one can
think of would be for a person who comes late to shul, almost as a matter of
course. His true Teshuva may be to start a learning Seder with someone
before davening even if only for 10 or 15 minutes (thereby ensuring that he
will be on time), or to “penalize himself” by requiring himself to wait for
the next Minyan if he comes late.
B. As we see
in this week’s Parsha, a person can delude himself into thinking “Shalom
Yihiye Li--and walk in the way his heart sees fit” (Devorim 29:18). Yet, no
one has any contracts with Hashem; nothing works simply by the push of a
button. Every action has ramifications. If a person acts or reacts “as his
heart sees fit,” or “as his heart says,” by whim or fancy, he should be sure
to give the matter some second thought.
Chaim Tochachos Mussar”--with these words of Mishlei Shlomo HaMelech, the
wisest of all men, is teaching us that the road to life is paved not by
shunning the reproof and constructive criticism of others, but, quite to the
contrary, by allowing it to enter and penetrate your heart.
should make sure that, at least at this time of year, we fulfill the
following words of Rabbeinu Yonah in the Yesod HaTeshuva, “One should not
fill all of his desires in food or drink, and so said the Ra’avad…the great
and wonderful pathway to Teshuva is by curbing one’s desire while eating….”
as we are in the age of rapidly progressing technological advancement, may
we suggest that we also undertake a simple form of Teshuva relating to all
of the advancements that we benefit from? For example, perhaps one can
choose a day in which he/she is cell-phone free--a kind of “fasting” from
the cell phone. In any event, at the very least, one should undertake to
turn his phone on quiet or to off (not merely to vibrate) when davening.
This will demonstrate that you are using technology not merely for your
personal gratification, but also with a view to the L’Shem Shamayim in life.
soon reaching the climax of our Teshuva season. This year, be'Ezras Hashem,
can be a great one for us and all of K'lal Yisroel--let's try our very best
to make sure we are a part of it!
Special Note One: At the
recent huge gathering in Nassau Coliseum, Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak, Shlita,
provided many important lessons, among them the following:
Although we are living in times of Din upon the world, and Din cannot be
obliterated or eliminated, Din can be redirected or diverted to our enemies
through our Teshuva. Rabbi Yitzchak believes that something of significant
worldwide proportion will happen within the next year or two. [As a
practical matter, take a look at the world around us--the Iranian nuclear
threat, the unique United States Presidential election, worldwide natural
disasters and unparalleled financial turmoil.] Every thinking person should
realize that he has a lot to accomplish in a short period of time.
Every person has to truly believe in himself--he can set spiritual goals and
accomplish them. Rabbi Yitzchak recalled that he used to give Shiurim to
only fifty people. He wanted to expand his activities and influence. He
challenged himself to distribute 1,000 of his tapes of one of his Shiurim in
one day, and he accomplished that. Eventually, he challenged himself to
have 1,000,000 distributed in one particular day--and he accomplished that
as well(!). One has to value his life and try to achieve and achieve.
Rabbi Yitzchak asked every one in the crowd to raise his hand, and be
mekabel on himself, B’li Neder, to be Mekarev one person in the coming
year. If we can truly bring someone else to Teshuva, imagine how enhanced
our own personal Teshuva would be.
Let us all sincerely think
about the words of Rabbi Yitzchak, who is said to have brought thousands to
Teshuva, and each try in our own way, b’li neder, to do our part at this
critical point in world history.
Special Note Two: Please
click here for a poster entitled “Ten Ways to Help Your Children
Have a More Meaningful Yomim Noraim” published by the Priority-1 Community
Training Initiative. For hard copies (cardboard stock) or more information,
you may email
As a reminder, Rabbi Dov
Brezak, Shlita, internationally renowned expert in parenting and Chinuch
will be delivering a three-week teleconference series, beginning September
15, to prepare your children to get the most out of the Yamim Noraim. To
register for this essential workshop, one can contact Project
firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 732-886-8821. To hear a sample
message from the Project Kavey parenting line, one may call 212-990-6160.
Special Note Three: In honor
of the Chofetz Chaim’s Yahrtzeit, we present the following information as to
Shmiras HaLashon. Please note that a new cycle of the study of the Sefer
Chofetz Chaim begins on the first day of Rosh Hashana. Hard-copy calendars
are available by contacting us. The zechusim you will generate for yourself
and Klal Yisroel by participation in Shmiras HaLashon Yomi (or by the
enhancement in some way of your current level of participation) are
a. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation's
Shmiras Haloshon Shaila Hotline, in which experienced poskim in the areas of
shmiras haloshon are available to answer your particular shialos in
shidduchim, business and personal matters as they arise, is an excellent
resource. The hours are Monday through Thursday and Motze'ei Shabbos from
9-10:30 PM EST, and in emergencies. The phone number of the Hotline is
b. Daily email of Shmiras HaLashon Yomi: Send
a subscription request to
c. Learn Shmiras HaLashon by Phone: 11 AM
EST--Live Daily Shmiras HaLashon Yomi Shiur with Rabbi Ephraim
Shapiro--212-990-8000, Pin Number 3505#. You can also access the recorded
shiur 24 hours a day at 718-258-2008--press 5 from the main menu then 1.
d. Recordings on Shmiras HaLashon (CD’s or
Tapes) of either Rabbi Yitzchok Berkowitz, Shlita or Rabbi Fishel Schachter,
Shlita are obtainable by contacting the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation at
Special Note Four: Also in
honor of the Chofetz Chaim’s Yahrtzeit, we provide the following essential
teaching from the Chofetz Chaim Al HaTorah:
In the Parsha of Bikurim while
recounting our servitude in Mitzraim, records “VaNitzak El Hashem--and we
cried out to Hashem,” the G-d of our Fathers, and Hashem heard our voices.
The Chofetz Chaim notes that the Pasuk does **not** state that Hashem heard
our prayers, but that Hashem heard **our voices**. This is to teach us that
we must cry out with our voices in times of trouble (obviously not in a
manner which will disturb others). The Chofetz Chaim adds that when crying
out, one should plead for the “Klal Kulo--for the entire tzibur,” and one
should make his request after having performed a mitzvah. It is for this
reason, he writes, that all of the “Horachaman” requests are made after
Note Five: We would like to remind everyone that non-coincidently, this
week’s Parsha, Parshas Nitzavim, contains the “Parshas HaTeshuva” (Devorim
30:1-10). Many Siddurim contain the Parshas HaTeshuva together with a short
Tefillah afterwards, and it is usually found immediately after the Shacahris
prayers. It would most certainly be appropriate to recite the Parshas
HaTeshuva and the subsequent Tefillah over the next three days…leading into
Shabbos…and into Rosh Hashana.
that much of Teshuva has to do with thought and speech. By reciting the
Parsha relating to Teshuva contained in the Torah itself, and then davening
to Hashem for help in this regard, you have certainly taking important
Special Note Six: As we recite Selichos, we note
that the Elef HaMagen (in the name of the Birkei Yosef and Maharik), writes
that while reciting the Thirteen Middos (Hashem, Hashem), one should be in a
slightly bowed position--to indicate humility and regard for the hallowed
words that one is reciting.
Note Seven: The following great advice is supplied, courtesy of Yated
Know I've Stopped Smoking? “
Schwab told the following story about Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, Z’tl,
that teaches us an important lesson about how to compel ourselves to repent,
even where it is very hard. Before the health hazards of smoking became
public knowledge, Rav Dessler used to smoke. It happened that I went to see
him on the day that the dangers of smoking were first publicized. The
Mashgiach greeted me warmly, as usual, and asked, “Did you know that I’ve
stopped smoking?” Some time later, another talmid went to see him and Rav
Dessler also told him that he’d stopped smoking. He told the same thing to
the tens of talmidim who went to see him in the course of the following
days. His intention was simple. When someone tells a large number of other
people that he’s stopped smoking, even if his desire to smoke later gets the
better of him, it will be very uncomfortable for him to lapse. He thus
provides himself with strong peer pressure, enabling him to break even a
strong habit like smoking. This can serve as an easy and efficient way of
repenting for sins that we have been guilty of transgressing repeatedly,
that weigh on us heavily and are very hard to break away from.
We received the following wonderful note from a
“The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh says an amazing thing
on the words in Parshas Ki Savo
“‘V’Samachta B’Chol HaTov--and
you shall rejoice in all the good’ (26:11). ‘In all the good’ also alludes
to the Torah, similar to what Chazal said (in Pirkei Avos 6:3), ‘There is no
"true good" other than the Torah.’ For if people could sense the sweetness
and deliciousness of the Torah's goodness, they would go crazy, passionately
pursuing it, not attaching the slightest value to a world full of silver and
gold, because the Torah contains within it all the good that exists in the
Hakhel Note: HaRav Eliyahu
Lopian, Z’tl, on this very same pasuk, provides an essential, related
insight. A person can daven three times a day, perform mitzvos, make
brachos before and after eating and drinking, but everything he does is
simply in the ordinary course, the same way as he did yesterday, and the
same way as he did the day before. There is no or inadequate enthusiasm or
desire, and he does the mitzvos in the way he was taught, and in the way he
always has. Yet, this very same person, when it comes to what he is going
to eat, or how he is going to make money here or there, approaches it with a
passion, with real eagerness and zeal.
The Torah is reminding us, as
we get close to Rosh Hashana, to put our force and energy into what truly
should make us happy--as we are spiritual beings housed in a body--and not
vice versa. As a practical matter, we may suggest that one can try to
infuse life and vigor into his mitzvos by remembering what is the “Ikar,”
and what is the tofel, throughout the day. For instance, before eating, and
diving through the brocha, one may sit for a moment and make the brocha
slowly, with appreciation and feeling. Likewise, when learning Torah, one
should stop to appreciate that it is sweeter and more nourishing than the
finest meal in the finest restaurant.
What all of this really means
is that one should do the things, take the actions, that he otherwise does
daily--and simply put the appreciation, thought and energy into them to do
them right--putting the proper balance in one’s life throughout the day
between our daily physical needs and deeds--and the eternity to which they
are supposed to get us!
Special Note One: Recently,
the Daf HaYomi has been studying one of the main sugyos in Shas relating to
treatments for various illnesses, including the recitation of certain
incantations. For the students of Daf HaYomi, we provide below a short note
that we have previously published entitled “The Last Remaining Lachash”:
Chazal (Shabbos 67A) teach
that if a person, R’L, has a bone stuck in his throat, one should bring a
bone of the same type and place it on the person’s skull and say “Chad chad,
nochis bola, bola nochis, chad chad.” Rebbi Akiva Eiger (Yoreh Deah 335,
D’H Nasnah) brings from the Maharil that this lachash is the last one we can
generally use even in our days--as it is still “boduk um’nuseh (tested and
Indeed, Rabbi Elimelech
Lebowitz, Shlita, noted Rav and Posek in Flatbush, related that he himself
was in the presence of someone choking on a fish bone, and that he used this
lachash. The bone immediately dislodged itself, and the choking person
quickly recovered, b’chasdei Hashem.
Suggestion: Keep this lachash
handy--you could become a one-man Hatzaloh team!
Special Note Two: We continue
with Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Halacha Series:
The following Halachos are
based upon Halachos presented in Muktzeh: A Practical Guide by Rabbi
Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita (Artscroll):
One may turn an electric fan to face another
direction if the breeze is uncomfortable. One may move the fan closer
in order to obtain a stronger breeze. One may move the fan’s vents in
any direction. One is also permitted to move the vents of an air
conditioner that is working in order to control direction of air flow.
Soiled or torn garments are not muktzah if
they can be worn in a situation of extreme necessity.
A light-switch cover is considered a kli
shemilacho l’heter, because its purpose is to serve the person by
preventing him from turning on the light, and is therefore not muktzah.
Raw eggs are not muktzah because some
individuals may eat them. However, other raw items not normally eaten
raw (flour, pasta, beans, potatoes, eggplant, rice, etc.), are muktzah.
Usable items (e.g., empty soda bottles,
plastic silverware), which were thrown into the garbage and are now
needed, are not muktzah. One is therefore permitted to remove these
items, clean them and reuse them.
The tray upon which candlesticks are placed
is a base for a muktzeh article. There is a dispute amongst the
authorities if placing a non-muktzeh item of significant value on such a
candlestick tray prevents the tray from becoming a bosis for the muktzeh
item. According to the authorities that it does not become a base to
the candlesticks, one would be permitted to remove the tray if the place
on the table is needed, after the candles burn out. The other
authorities rule that the primary use of a candlestick tray is for
candlesticks, and even putting a diamond ring on the tray would not
affect its true purpose. Accordingly, the tray is a bosis and moving it
would not be permissible, even if its space is needed on the table.
Special Note One: We received
the following from a reader in response to our list of possible improvements
in one’s every day life:
“Perhaps you should add the
following points to the list:
1. LOSHON HORA
2. Treating your close family
members with respect, care and dignity; taking the time to work on improving
a particular relationship or committing to improve it.
3. Treating people with
respect no matter who they are, and not looking merely at their outer self,
be it car, house, etc.
Special Note Two: There are
items which everyone should be careful to take care of at this time of year,
in addition to the special enhancements that some undertake (such as
checking Mezuzos and Tefillin). One should be careful to review his books
and records, both financial and ethical, to ensure that he has repaid every
one whom he can repay, and has asked for forgiveness from those whom he has
hurt or slighted. Additionally, although many Shuls will have a form of
Pruzbul available for men, and an immediate Bais Din after davening to
effectuate it, women who have loans outstanding to others should also be
sure to effectuate a Pruzbul.
Click here for a Pruzbul
form, with instructions, from the Beth Din of America. Of course,
we urge you to consult with your own Posek or Rav before completing and/or
signing a halachically-binding legal document.
Special Note Three: The
Kashrus Information Center (KIC), a highly respected independent Kashrus
overseeing agency in Brooklyn, has urged us to make the Torah World aware of
its Kaparos Guidelines, which it hopes will go into effect world-wide. Click
here for a copy of these Guidelines.
Special Note Four: Today, the
18th of Elul, is the 399th Yahrtzeit of the Maharal of
Prague, whose impact on world Jewry over the last 399 years is marked by the
fact that, the Altnue Shul, in which he was Rav (and actually predated him),
remains standing after two World Wars. In honor of his Yahrtzeit, we
provide two links hosted by www.torah.org.
A Yom Kippur
Drasha on Teshuva Based on the Maharal
Derech Chaim (by the Maharal) in English
Special Note Five: If one
quickly reviews the Thirteen Brochos of Request in Shemone Esrei, he will
note that only one begins with the word “Ata--You.” It is the brocha of
“Ata Chonen L’Odom Da’as--You graciously endow man with wisdom.” Why of all
Brochos of Request does this Brocha start with the second-person, direct
“You”? What is different about this bracha?
One may answer that of all of
the items we request of Hashem in Shemone Esrei, the one that a person may
convince himself to be within his own power is the power to think, to be
smart, to know what to do, to be creative, to be intelligent, to understand
situations, to be mentally talented. The Anshei Kenesses HaGedolah (who
composed the Shemone Esrei with Ruach HaKodesh), with the word “Ata,”
quickly and forcefully put things into real and proper perspective for us.
Each ounce of intellect, every iota of wisdom, any morsel of understanding,
that we have, is only from the “Chonen Daas”--by the Grace of Hashem.
The recent financial
catastrophes which have shaken America and the world as a result all seem to
point in this direction. The wisest of financiers, the wizards of Wall
Street, the greatest economists in government, could not change the shocking
events of the week. Hashem gives the Daas where He intends, and takes it
away where He decides. The “Tzittur”--shaking--that we experienced over the
previous week, should most certainly prompt us to have greater Kavannah in
“ATA Chonen L’Odom Daas”!
There is, of course, (at
least) one other point to be made. Rav Dessler, Z’tl, writes the following
stunning words (Michtav M’Elyiahu, Volume 3, p. 205):
“The destruction of Edom
[i.e., our current Galus] will come only through the destruction of Olam
HaZeh. When HaKadosh Baruch Hu brings the world to the state where its
foundations quiver, when peace is shaky, when the lives of individuals are
full of worry and tribulation, and the whole world is under the threat of
collapse and destruction, then it will be revealed to the eyes of all that
the pride taken by man in his advancement in conquest of the world brings
him only to destruction…then every one will finally realize that Olam Hazeh
lives, empty of spiritual content, lead to devastation. Man will then see
that his pursuit of Olam Hazeh desires and advancement is futile…and the
light of Mashiach will be revealed.”
Let us hope--and pray--that we
do not have to wait too much longer!
Special Note One: At the recent Hakhel Yarchei Kallah on Emunah, Rabbi
Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Shlita, made the following incredible point about
Just as one must eat properly twice or three times a day in order to
maintain his body and capability at its top performance level, so, too, must
one daven properly daily in order to keep his Neshama at its peak
performance as well. Tefillah is the “Mazon HaNeshama--the food for the
soul.” If we don’t daven properly, we cannot learn and do mitzvos well,
because our Neshama is starving. Just as one prepares or commences to eat
with a level of anticipation and desire, so, too, should one begin to daven
with a similar feeling of expectation and spiritual desire. Just as one
obtains necessary calories and is satiated from his meal, so, too should one
draw the necessary spiritual energy from davening to move him through the
day, until replenishment at the next Tefillah. Unlike food, however, which
only feeds the body for 120 years, Tefillah feeds the soul for eternity!
Special Note Two: As we move closer to Rosh Hashanah, we must remind
ourselves of the essential teaching of Chazal: “Mitzvos SheOdom Dush
B’Akeivov Misavivin Lo B’Shaas HaDin--the mitzvos that a person ‘steps upon’
surround him when he is being judged.” Let us think about what “being
surrounded” at the time of judgment means.
Picture a city in siege, a prisoner surrounded by guards, a cowboy
surrounded by Indians. There is simply nowhere to go, no room to escape.
It is a very, very difficult situation. It is our job to make some
holes--preferably gaping holes--in the encirclement, in the siege, in those
mitzvos that we “step upon” in our daily life by curing them, healing them,
fixing them. What “stepping upon” a mitzvah could entail may be treating
the mitzvah either lightly, not carefully enough, or not with the degree of
respect that it deserves.
The Mesilas Yesharim (in the Trait of Nekius--Cleanliness) puts
middos into the same category as mitzvos regarding our need to improve and
refine them in our lives in this World. In order to help along in our
personal audit of mitzvos and middos for which we may not be taking adequate
care, we provide the following running list, with very limited commentary.
We leave the detail, expansion and addition up to you, and your particular
Remember, as Rabbi Frand, Shlita, teaches, Elul is Jewish Tax Season.
Indeed, it may very well be that Tax Season was invented so that we could
more properly appreciate and experience Elul.
to Shul on time for davening without having to skip.
to Shiur on time.
truly appropriate clothing while davening.
Brachos properly--slowly, with Kavannah, bentching from a Siddur, making
sure to make the right brocha on the food; especially being careful with the
brachos of Shehakol and Borei Nefashos which are recited so many times a
day, and can really serve in someone’s stead when recited properly!
at least the first paragraph of Shema and the first brocha of Shemone Esrei
with Kavannah; spending the time now to properly have the necessary
“quick” Kavannah ready when reciting Shema and Shemone Esrei.
Modim and Aleinu L’Shabeach with Kavannah.
7. Making a personal request at the
end of each Shemone Esrei.
8. Making sure to privately thank Hashem during the
course of the day for something specific that you just realized or were made
aware of, or that just occurred--by thinking or voicing the words “Thank You,
sure that the Hashgacha you are eating from is truly a good one.
wasting time in frivolous chatter or nonsensical discussions.
making sarcastic comments, and not using biting words.
Kavannah for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim and the coming of Mashiach three
times a day in Shemone Esrei.
13. Sticking to
14. Avoiding a
response based on laziness.
15. Curbing a
particular desire in some way every day; certainly not overeating or
inane or impure thoughts which hurt the Neshama.
proper use of the eyes and ears.
18. Having a
plan in place to use if you feel you are getting angry or if you realize
you are already angry.
19. When being
stubborn, stopping to think whether it is for the correct reasons.
respect for elders (actually standing up when they come within four amos of
you); smiling at them and praising them.
21. Showing the
proper respect for Seforim (studying from, straightening out, cleaning and
22. Not being
overly frugal when it comes to Mitzvos and to the needs of others.
23. Not turning
the desire for money (Chemdas HaMamon) into an Avoda Zora.
24. Not doing
something which is disgusting, or at least would not be viewed kindly by
other people--whether or not they see you do it.
25. Not doing
something else while talking to people; showing them a pleasant countenance,
appearance and smile.
up/asking the Halacha when you need to know it or are unsure; or, if it is
too late, at least looking it up now for next time.
27. Making sure
that your mezuzos are checked every three and a half years.
May we each make great and gaping holes, so that we are far from surrounded
by sin on the upcoming Days of Din--and instead are surrounded by walls of
overflowing Mercy and Love!
Special Note One: HaRav
Chaim Freidlander, Z’tl, in Sifsei Chaim (Moadim 1), writes that
Noach lived through three different periods in his life--first in the world
before the flood, then in the Teiva, and finally in the postdiluvian New
World. In a remarkable sense, each and every one of us is like Noach. We
experience three different times each and every year. During the year we may
have committed misdeeds which must be rectified (like the world before the
flood), followed by the period of Elul and the Aseres Yemei Teshuva--being
the time in the “Teiva” to rectify them, and the new post-Teshuva world open
for us to utilize to its utmost. It is our role now to use our time in the
‘Teiva’ to its utmost!
Special Note Two: We
received an important correspondence from a reader:
“In connection with your
note on Malchios, and how importanat it is to recognize Hashem as the Melech
HaOlam when making brachos and doing Mitzvos, I would like to point out that
one does not have to wait, and should not wait, until he makes a brocha in
the morning to come to this realization and experience it. Every morning,
as soon as our eyes open, the first words we utter are ‘Modeh Ani Lifunecha
Melech Chai V’Kayam.’ This already ‘wakes us up’ with the focus we are to
have on our day.”
Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita,
internationally renowned expert in parenting and Chinuch will be delivering
a three-week teleconference series, beginning September 15, to prepare your
children to get the most out of the Yamim Noraim. To register for this
essential workshop, one can contact Project Kavey
email@example.com or by calling 732-886-8821. To hear a sample
message from the Project Kavey parenting line, one may call 212-990-6160.
Nach Yomi today begins Trei
Asar with Sefer Hoshea. What an opportunity! In fact, as the Luach “works
out”--and remember there is no such thing as coincidence--the third Perek of
Sefer Yonah will be studied on Yom Kippur! For the Nach Yomi calendar,
Special Note One: The new
Mishne Berurah Yomi Calendar has been published. The calendar is divided
into two parts--Amud Yomi (one side of one page of Mishne Berurah daily), or
Daf Yomi (one page of Mishne Berurah daily). Beginning this Sunday, the 14th
of Elul, if one chooses either option, he will have a set program for
studying Hilchos Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkah and Lulav through the end
of Sukkos, joining with the multitude in their study of timely Halacha,
which is certainly a very special Zechus.
Click here for
a link to the calendar for the month of Elul both for Amud Yomi and
Daf Yomi of Mishne Berurah. To obtain a copy of the entire calendar
(through 2010) see the following website
http://www.Mishneberurayomis.org. The website also offers daily emails
of Mishne Berurah Yomi. To hear the day’s Mishne Berurah Halacha recorded
by the world renowned Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz, Shlita, you may call
718-258-2008, choosing option 9.
The Mishne Berurah Calendar
provides the following incredible teaching from R’ Chaim Volizhiner, Z’tl,
in his introduction to the Beur HaGra to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim: “This
is the end product of Gemara learning: to come up with the Halacha L’Ma’ase--practical
halacha. Fortunate are those who learn Halachos in order to practice and
fulfill them. They are the ones preserving the entire world.”
Hakhel Note: Chazal teach
that “Talmud Torah K’Neged Kulam--Torah study is equivalent to them all….”
Based upon the above quote, the study and practice of Halacha, is the end
goal of our learning. If one can make some improvement in the study of
Halacha now--at this crucial point--only three weeks away from Rosh Hashana--he/she
is demonstrating that they understand the primary importance of the study of
Torah in our lives, and what the end product of that Torah Study should
Whether it is by joining the
Mishne Berurah Yomi (either program), the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi (click
here for the calendar), coming up with your own schedule for the
study of Sifrei Halacha in areas which you feel could use improvement, or
the ongoing study of the tens of English Halacha Seforim published by
Artscroll, Feldheim and others, one should demonstrate to Hashem that he
knows what he/she has to do in order to properly fulfill his/her potential
in this world--and the next!
Special Note Two: At the
recent Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Shlita, provided
the following powerful teaching. The Torah states, “V’Yadata HaYom,
V’Hasheyvosa El Livavecha--and you shall know today and take to your heart”
(Devorim 4:39). What does the Torah mean by this seemingly repetitive
language--what is the difference between “knowing” and “taking to heart”?
Rabbi Oelbaum explained with a
mashal. Suppose someone bought a lottery ticket, and won $50 million.
Everyone in Shul knows, every one on the block knows, everyone in the
neighborhood knows, and everyone who hears the news knows. Even assuming
they are not jealous or envious in any respect, and are even happy for their
neighbor, friend, relative, or fellow human being, the fact of the matter is
that they only know that he won. No money--not even an extra cent in their
pocket--results from this knowledge. The one winner, on the other hand,
experiences something way beyond this basic knowledge, and perhaps even joy,
for the joy of another. He is living with the utter and complete victory of
a $50 million ticket. His ecstasy is personal; his joy knows no bounds. His
heart is filled with elation and bliss.
If we can go beyond the mere
knowledge that Hashem’s Presence fills the World, and take to heart that, as
a matter of fact, we are standing in Hashem’s Presence--with Hashem directly
in front of us each and every time we recite Shemone Esrei--then we, too,
should feel and experience exploding from within the unbridled privilege and
joy of true spiritual victory--a winner of and for eternity!
Question of the Day: How many
times do we ask Hashem to do something for us “BiYameinu--in Our Days”--in
each daily Shemone Esrei?
Special Note One: Chazal
(Rosh Hashana 16A) provide the reason that we recite Malchios on Rosh
Hashana. Chazal state “Omar HaKadosh Baruch Hu…Eimru Lefonai--Hashem said…
‘Say before Me Malchios, so that you make Me King over you.’” HaRav
Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, asks, why do Chazal need to use the words “Omar
HaKadosh Baruch Hu…Eimru Lefonai…” and who, in fact, did Hashem say these
words to? After all, would it not have been adequate and sufficient for
Chazal’s explanation to be that we recite Malchios on Rosh Hashana so that
we proclaim Hashem’s Kingship over us? Rosh Hashana would then be a yearly
event in which we renew and declare our allegiance to the King of the
Universe. Isn’t that what Rosh Hashana is? HaRav Salomon explains that
Chazal are teaching us that Rosh Hashana is really more than that.
The Malchios of Rosh Hashana
are intended for us to recognize that we live, each and every day of the
year (in current parlance, 365/24/7), with the words “Omar HaKadosh Baruch
Hu…Eimru Lefonai”--with the constant awareness, whenever we perform a
mitzvah, that it is because “Omar HaKadosh Baruch Hu…Eimru Lefonai”. So,
what Chazal are teaching us is that to the extent possible, before
performing any mitzvah at any time, we should say or think that we are
performing this mitzvah because of “Omar HaKadosh Baruch Hu…Eimru Lefonai”--because
of the Malchus of HaKadosh Baruch Hu--because Hashem as Master of the
universe says to. Upon gaining this realization, we will be compared more
to those special and intimate servants serving the king in his palace on a
daily basis, than to those commoners in the city or village 1,000 miles
away. Which would any responsible and thinking person prefer to be?
With this vital insight, we
can perhaps better understand why an essential element of so many of our
Brachos is the term “Melech HaOlam--King of the Universe.” At first glance,
one would otherwise ask--why is this term “Melech haOlam” so essential to
Brachos--after all, are not brachos personal to the Jewish People--why do we
have to bring the whole Universe into the brachos that we make over the
Torah’s mitzvos that we perform and over the food portions that we consume?
The answer is that the Brocha provides us with a core reminder of our
relationship in this World with its King.
May we suggest that over the
coming three weeks, when making a brocha, we focus on the words “Melech
HaOlam”--in preparation for Rosh HaShana--and in preparation for the rest of
our long lives.
Be’Ezras Hashem, on Rosh
Hashana itself, when we have established the concept of Malkeinu firmly
within us, we will then be zoche to realize that He is not only Malkeinu--but
also remarkably and incredibly--Avinu Malkeinu!
Special Note Two: On the
topic of brachos, we provide the following Halacha notes, which were issued
by Vaad L’maan Yahadus of Los Angeles, California (Rabbi Gershon Bess,
If one washes for bread and will have a
“fruit plate” for his meal, one is not required to recite a separate
brocha for the fruit since that is his meal (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim
Cake served at the end of a meal for dessert
(not for satiation) would theoretically also require a brocha. However,
since there is a question regarding the halachic status of various types
of cakes, the Mishne Berurah opines that one should not recite a Mezonos
on cookies, crackers or cake served at the end of a meal. The Mishne
Berurah recommends that one recite a brocha only on fruit pie which is
served as a dessert. However, if an apple strudel is served as a side
dish to the meat, one is not required to recite a brocha (Shulchan Aruch,
Orach Chaim 168, Bi’ur Halacha d’h’Teunim; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim
177, Mishne Berurah, seif katan 4).
According to many Poskim, foods eaten at a
Viennese table are not considered part of the meal since the tables have
typically been moved (or the people eat in a different location), and
one must therefore recite a brocha before eating the desserts and a
separate brocha achrona for these foods, as the subsequent Birchas
HaMazon does not apply to these foods (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 177:
2, and Bi’ur Halacha d’h’ Sheayn Anu).
Of course, as with all matters
of Halacha, we urge you to consult with your own Rav or Posek.
To obtain the Vaad L’maan
Yahadus Publication, you may call 323-933-5031.
Question of the Week: The
Shelosh Esrei Middos, the 13 Attributes of Hashem’s Mercy, include “Slow to
Anger”, “Great in Kindness”, “Forgiving of Sin”, but also include “Emes--Truth.”
How is Hashem’s attribute of Emes--Truth--an attribute of mercy?
Special Note One: We continue
with our Erev Shabbos—Hilchos Shabbos Series:
1. Chazal (Gittin
38B) provide three reasons why a person may lose his property/wealth.
Fascinatingly, two of them involve inappropriate behavior relating to
Shabbos: a. A person who goes out to his fields to see what they need on
Shabbos; and b. A person having his Shabbos meal at the time that a public
shiur is taking place. While generally Shabbos meals do not conflict with
Shiurim in Shul in our day, many of us are faced with the challenge of
work-related items on Shabbos. While one may not speak about business
matters on Shabbos (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 307:1), thinking about
business matters without speaking or acting on them is technically
permissible (ibid., 306:8). However, Rashi (Shemos 20:9) on the words in
the Aseres HaDibros relating to Shabbos: “V’Asisa Kol Milachtecha” writes
“When Shabbos arrives, one should view all of his work as having been
completed, and one should not think about his work on Shabbos.” This level
is certainly something to strive for in the month of Elul. We note
especially that although the Shulchan Aruch cited above rules that thinking
about one’s business is technically permissible, “Nevertheless, because of
Oneg Shabbos, it is a Mitzvah not to think about it at all.” The Mishna
Berurah there adds that most certainly if one will have tirdas halev u’deaga--one
will be bothered/have worry--from thinking about his business or work, then
in all events, he must be careful not to do so.
some Poskim permit adding lemons to a Kli Sheni, they should preferably be
added to a kli shlishi (Halachos of Shabbos by Rabbi Shimon Eider,
Z’tl, page 293).
raw eggs in a bowl is prohibited, because it appears as if he is preparing
to cook them (ibid., p.283).
According to HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Zt’l, if one is connecting an electric
urn (samovar) right before Shabbos, one must make sure to leave sufficient
time for the heating of the water to be completed before Shabbos (ibid.,
5. Some of
us may enjoy the special Shabbos treat of Shlishkes, which are comprised in
many instances of potatoes and flour. Of course, if consumed within the
meal, no special brocha is needed. However, if eaten as a snack, the brocha
on Shlishkes could be either a Mezonos or a Hoadoma (if the flour is used
merely for binding purposes). Accordingly, if one intends to eat Shlishkes
outside of a meal, he must make inquiry as to the proper brocha, depending
upon how it was produced.
Special Note Two: Rabbi
Yissocher Frand, Shlita, contrasts the response of Bilam to his talking
donkey--to that of Akiva Ben Yosef to the water’s impression made upon the
rock. Bilam, the great clairvoyant, took the astounding event of a talking
donkey fully in stride, and without any further thought, reflection or
concern whatsoever, proceeded on his merry way on the course of evil. Akiva,
the “simple” shepherd, on the other hand, stopped and studied what one
inanimate object was doing to another, and changed his life--and the history
of Klal Yisroel--as a result! The difference between paying attention to
what is going on around you and actually acting on it is further highlighted
by the following true event told by HaRav Chatzkel Levenstein, Z’tl, and
related by Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Shlita, at the recent Hakhel Yarchei
A cab driver in Eretz Yisroel,
noting that he had Rav Levenstein in the back seat of his car, told him the
following: After their stint in the Israeli army, he and his friends went to
Africa, to have fun camping and hiking. One night, the small group woke up
to the screams of their friend who had a boa constrictor wrapped around
him. They were unsuccessful in killing or injuring the snake using whatever
implements they had available to them at that moment. One of the group who
knew a little about religion urged the dying man to say the pasuk Shema
Yisroel, so that they would be his final words in this world, which he did.
As soon as he finished, the snake inexplicably released its killer-hold on
the man, and skirted away. The young man, granted a new lease on life,
became a Ba’al Teshuva, married and had children learning in yeshivos.
HaRav Levenstein asked the
obvious question of the taxi driver, “And what became of you?!” “Oh, no,”
the driver replied, “it happened to him--not to me. I was only an
Every day, we are faced with
situations from which we can grow. The month of Elul itself is a temporal
embodiment of this concept, helping us in this process. Will we look at the
Rabbonim, Talmidei Chachomim, students in Yeshiva and the “really spiritual
ones” and say, “Oh no, this is for them, and I am only watching!”?
We must know and understand,
we must take to heart the sincere and strong words of the Mesilas Yeshorim
(end of Chapter 2) who writes, “For if one does not take care of himself,
then who will take care of him?!”
We have three and a half weeks
of Elul to Rosh Hashana, and we have Shabbos and Sunday in front of us to
spend some time (or to make time) to think about how we will conclude this
year and start off the next year—will it be like Bilaam…or will it be like
Akiva…and let us remember what became of each one of them!
Special Note One: The
following was published in Torah Tavlin:
R’ Chaim Vital, Z’tl, writes
that when a person says in Shemone Esrai the words, “Ki Li'shuasicha Kivinu
Kol Hayom” in the 15th bracha, he should also focus his mind on the various
everyday yeshuos that he needs during his daily activities. He adds that he
himself had done so and found that it helped him immensely to produce many
What sage advice!
Special Note Two: According
to published news reports, floods in India have forced more than three
million people from their homes, destroyed 100,000 ha (250,000 acres) of
farmland and killed at least 90 people. After the recent spate of
earthquakes, Gustav, and the floods, are we still sitting back and just
taking it in without any response on our part? At least some small change
will show that it registered, and that we are aware that it is Hashem who
controls the world, and most expectantly awaits our reaction to His action.
Especially in the month of
Elul, we should be mekabel (accept upon ourselves, B’li Neder), to make some
kind of effort in this regard. Here are some suggestions:
- Because we all live in
a fast-paced world (and the pace keeps on getting faster and faster, as
we race towards Moshiach’s times), we may look for the easiest or “more
convenient” place to daven or to do a mitzvah, even if it is not
necessarily the nicest or optimal way of performing the mitzvah. For
instance, one may go “to the shul around the corner” to “catch” a Maariv,
even though one wouldn’t consider it to be his shul, and wouldn’t think
of davening there on a Shabbos morning or on a regular basis without
good reason. Similarly, one may choose to call or visit a person not
feeling well, or perform the mitzvah of nichum aveilim at a time which
best suits the visitor’s schedule, as opposed to a time where the visit
is really more needed or meaningful. Consciously choosing to avoid the
“most convenient” way of performing a Mitzvah is a beautiful way of
demonstrating your belief that Hashem is in charge of the World, because
you are fulfilling the teaching of Chazal: “Asei Ritzono K’Rtzonecha--treat
His will as if it were your own will…” (Avos 2:4)
- As we are caught up in
straightening out our relationship with Hashem (Bein Odom L’Makom) in
Elul, all the damage to people and property by the “natural disasters”
mentioned above could serve as a reminder to us to remember our Bein
Odom LeChaveiro, as well. In this area we have two basic suggestions:
a. Be sure
to look for and sincerely compliment at least one family member or close
friend or associate every day, and, perhaps, every night--at least this
off and eliminate any vestige of the “Nirgan” within you. What do we mean
by “Nirgan”? It certainly doesn’t sound like something any of us would want
to be! Actually, it is someone who views people and situations negatively
to the extent that he regularly judges people “L’Chaf Chov--as having done
something wrong”--and even if they have done something right, it must have
been for the wrong reasons. We are constantly judging people in our daily
life--family, friends, and acquaintances. When you catch yourself and
realize that you are in the process of judging someone--make the conscious
decision--”I am not going to be a nirgan!”
3. Make it a habit, after
Shacharis, Mincha and Maariv to think about one thing that happened over the
last few hours that you can correct, fix or change--and how you will behave
or conduct yourself next time--so that if it happens again your response
will be better or more appropriate. Even if it happened to someone
else--you can learn and grow from the experience (it is said that a wise
person learns from the mistakes of others). With this special focus on
concern and caring for what is going on around you, you will be fulfilling
the order of the day--thought, improvement and change.
May our own actions obviate
the need of further “natural” reminders--as we move closer to Hashem and
fulfilling His Mandate--and our eternal goals and purpose--in this
incredibly meaningful world!
Special Note One: We received
the following Alerts and Information issued by Star-K Kosher Certification:
Chivas Brothers Lochan Ora Liqueur - has
recently changed its formulation and is now Not Kosher.
Wine from Israel - Please be aware that
there is wine being sold at liquor outlets originating from Israel that
does not bear any Kosher certification. Please be vigilant when
purchasing wine and check that it bears a reliable Kosher certification.
Strauss Symphonia Cheese with Pepper,
bearing an OU, was erroneously manufactured using peppers that were
grown under Heter Mechira. The OU does not certify Heter Mechira
products. Corrective action is being taken.
Vita Herring in Real Sour Cream (32 oz.)
contains dairy ingredients as listed on the ingredient panel but the
dairy designation has been inadvertently omitted. The product is OU
Astrix Energy Drink (made in Austria) is
being sold with an unauthorized OK symbol. This product is NOT
certified by the OK.
Mirrors used under fruit and other food for
decorative purposes must be tovelled before use.
To receive this monthly bulletin and other
alerts electronically, please send a blank email to
Note: Our reference to various Kashrus Organizations, whether national,
private or other, does not indicate our endorsement of any of the Kashrus
organizations policies or Hashgachos.
Special Note Two: Keren
HaShviis provides the following attractive, and truly unbeatiable, offer:
“Can you imagine going into the Yomim Noraim with the great zechus of
Shmittah? The next chance to participate in Shemittah is in seven years!
The Keren HaShviis Contribution Hotline is 1-888-9-SHMITTAH. Please
participate in the mitzvah of Shemittah, one last time, for the next seven
Special Note Three:
Contemporary Teshuva: The following are two brief thoughts on how one can
demonstrate Teshuva--his resolve and ability to change--with his cellphone:
When receiving a beep, buzz, or ring on your
phone while talking to someone or doing something important, controlling
yourself and not looking to see who the party is.
Sending three less text messages a day from
now until Yom Kippur.
Hakhel Note: May we suggest
that you personalize your own Teshuva for your own foibles and weaknesses
with your phone or other electronic communication device.
Special Note Four: If you
begin today, the third day of Elul, to learn just three (3) Mishnayos a day
of Mesechtos Rosh Hashana, Yoma, and Sukkah, **starting with** Mesechta Rosh
Hashana, continuing on to Mesechta Yoma, then on to Sukkah, you will have
completed all three Mesechtos by the end of Sukkos. A wonderful Kaballah!
Special Note Five: In
Growth Through Torah on Parshas Re’eh, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita,
makes the following outstanding points:
1. On the first word of the
Parsha--Re’eh (“See” in the singular)--the Ibn Ezra writes: “He (Moshe) is
talking to each one, individually.” Although Moshe was speaking to the
entire Jewish people, he started off in the singular to tell everyone that
they should listen to what he had to say as if he were speaking to him
alone. When someone is delivering a lecture or giving a class, it is easy
to think, “He is speaking to everyone else here. I don’t have to take what
he says seriously since he is not really directing his words to me.” But
this is an error. The way to grow from lectures and classes is to view the
words of the speaker as if they were directed only to you.
Try it out. The next time you
are in an audience listening to inspiring words, don’t be like the person
who thinks “This is a great lesson for So and So.” Instead, tell yourself,
“It is only by Hashgacha from Hashem that I am listening to this Speech/D’var
Torah. The speaker has me in mind. Let me see how I can utilize what he
says for self-improvement.”
2. At the outset of the
Parsha, the Torah provides only two (2) options--a Blessing or a Curse. Sforno
explains that there is no middle way. If a person follows the Torah, his
life will be a blessed life. If a person fails to live by the commandments,
he will live a cursed life. At first glance, this might seem to be an
extreme statement. But just a little thought will show that this is so.
Life is either purposeful and meaningful or not. A life of meaning is a
blessed life. A life without meaning is a life devoid of satisfaction. How
then can there be a middle way? Living with an awareness of the Almighty
gives one’s life a context that makes everything one does a step towards
eternity. Living without this awareness makes each day another day closer
to oblivion. How then can people live meaningless lives, as many people
seem to be living? The answer is that they are sleepwalkers. They are in a
semi-drugged state of unawareness. They live each day without thinking of
their purpose in this world. If they do wake up from their hypnotic state
to ask themselves about the meaning of their lives, they have two choices.
They will either look at life as meaningless. All that they are involved
in will not make any real difference when life is over. This is the
greatest curse that could possibly befall anyone. On the other hand, if
they become aware of the Creator and decide to live a life of fulfilling His
will, they will experience the greatest of blessings in this world. Each
day will be an exciting adventure full of the joy of doing the Creator’s
will. Truly then there is no middle way: only a curse or a blessing. The
choice is yours to make: Choose the life of Blessing!
3. On the Pasuk
“U’semachtem…--And You Shall Rejoice Before the Almighty” (Dvorim 12:12),
Rabbi Pliskin brings the following story:
Rabbi Nochum of Horadna was
always very joyous on Simchas Torah. During his last Simchas Torah he
jumped on a table and said, “Nochumka, if you were no longer alive and the
Almighty came to you and said, ‘Nochumka, arise from your grave and rejoice
on Simchas Torah,’ think of the great joy you would experience. You would
dance with much ecstasy and elation. Nu, so what if you are still alive, you
can still experience that same joy!” And with this he felt even greater joy
In truth, there is no reason
to limit this story and this joy to Simchas Torah--it is the joy of living a
Torah life every single day!