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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):


  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.]


  1. 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!


  1. 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 kavod.”


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 beautifully!



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 I):


“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).


2.      There 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!

(b)   The Round 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.


3.      The 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.


4.   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 info@prayingwithfire.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 moreshesaviva@aol.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 by clicking 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 Yisroel:


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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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?!”


  1. 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!


3.      The Sifsei Chaim (HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Zt’l), in Moadim I teaches:


A.     After 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.


C.     “Derech 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.


D.      We 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….”


4.      Finally, 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.


We are 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:


(a)   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.

(b)   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.

(c)    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 info@priority-1.org.


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 Kavey at projectkavey@optonline.net 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 immeasurable:

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 718-951-3696

b.  Daily email of Shmiras HaLashon Yomi:  Send a subscription request to editorial@chofetzchaimusa.org

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 845-352-3505.



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 Birchas HaMazon. 



Special 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.


We note 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 strides.

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.


Special Note Seven:  The following great advice is supplied, courtesy of Yated Ne’eman:


“Did You Know I've Stopped Smoking? “


Rav A. 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 valued reader:

“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 world.”


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 working).”


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):


  1. 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.

  2. Soiled or torn garments are not muktzah if they can be worn in a situation of extreme necessity.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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:




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


Notes on 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 Tefillah:


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 situation.


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.


1.      Coming to Shul on time for davening without having to skip.

2.      Coming to Shiur on time.

3.      Wearing truly appropriate clothing while davening.

4.      Making 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!

5.      Reciting 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.

6.      Reciting 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, Hashem.”

9.      Making sure that the Hashgacha you are eating from is truly a good one.

10.   Not wasting time in frivolous chatter or nonsensical discussions.

11.  Not making sarcastic comments, and not using biting words.

12.  Having Kavannah for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim and the coming of Mashiach three times a day in Shemone Esrei.

13.  Sticking to the Truth.

14.  Avoiding a response based on laziness.

15.  Curbing a particular desire in some way every day; certainly not overeating or overindulging.

16.  Avoiding inane or impure thoughts which hurt the Neshama.

17.  Making 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.

20.  Showing 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 kissing them).

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.

26.  Looking 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 at projectkavey@optonline.net 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, please click here.


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 produce.


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, Shlita):


  1. 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 177:3).

  2. 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).

  3. 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.

2.      Although 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).

3.      Beating raw eggs in a bowl is prohibited, because it appears as if he is preparing to cook them (ibid., p.283).

4.      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., page 378).

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 Kallah:


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 onlooker!”


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 “successful” days.


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:


  1. 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)


  1. 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 month!

b.      Shake 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:


  1. Chivas Brothers Lochan Ora Liqueur - has recently changed its formulation and is now Not Kosher.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 Dairy.

  5. Astrix Energy Drink (made in Austria) is being sold with an unauthorized OK symbol.  This product is NOT certified by the OK.

  6. 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 alerts-subscribe@list.star-k.org


Hakhel 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 years--today!



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:


  1. 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.


  1. 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 and enthusiasm.


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!

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