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Inspirational words of Torah from Gedolei Yisroel.

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Blog Image: bais hamikdash.jpg
The Laws of the Nine Days - 5775:
By Rabbi Yossi Michalowicz
1. The Talmud teaches us “When the Jewish month of Av enters, we decrease our happiness.
2. The Jewish month of Av begins Thursday night, July 16th at sunset. This begins a more intense period of national
mourning, which concludes the day after Tisha B’av, which is after Sunday, July 26th.
3. All the restrictions that began at the beginning of the Three Weeks are still in force, but they are now intensified.
4. The Talmud explains that one decreases happiness by:
▪ Decreasing one’s business activities
▪ Refraining from construction and planting intended for joyous reasons.
▪ Not conducting weddings or making a festive meal to celebrate an engagement.
5. Any construction not necessary for one’s dwelling but performed for expansion is prohibited. Similarly, any improvement to the appearance of a house such as painting, hanging new drapes, wall papering and all house decorating can not be done during the Nine Days.
6. Certain types of expansion building would be permitted if it were for necessary living space to accommodate more people living in the home. Consult your local Rabbi in this issue.
7. If you hired a non-Jewish contractor to build an addition, and the contractor wants to work during the Nine Days, the Jew is not required to prevent him from doing so. Preferably, one should offer the contractor some financial compensation to refrain from working during the Nine days, but one is not required to offer a significant amount of money to get him to wait until after Tisha B’av.
8. It is permitted to weed, water, or mow the lawn during the Nine Days, since these activities are not for enhancement. It is also permitted to plant and maintain a vegetable garden during the Nine Days.
9. One may not wear new clothes during the Nine Days, nor may one tailor or purchase new clothes or shoes.
10. One who does not have appropriate shoes to wear on Tisha B’av may buy them during the Nine Days.
11. Similarly, it is prohibited to dry-clean clothes or iron them.
12. We refrain from changing tablecloths, towels, and bed linens during the Nine Days, unless it is absolutely necessary.
13. It is permitted to repair shoes and clothes during the Nine Days.
14. We refrain from doing laundry and wearing freshly laundered clothing during the Nine Days.
15. Therefore, one should prepare before Thursday night, July 16th at sunset sufficient clothing already worn since it was last laundered. This is ideally accomplished by putting on and wearing a garment for at least a short while [1/2 hr.]
Towels should also be used at least once before the Nine Days begin in order to be able to use them.
16. If one’s clothing becomes sweaty or soiled during the Nine Days, one is permitted to change into clean clothes.
17. It is permitted to launder children’s clothes and linens during the Nine Days.
18. It is permitted to spot-clean a garment if one is concerned that the stain will set. Furthermore, it is permitted to soak a
garment that is dirty without completing its laundering in order to make it easier to clean after Tisha B’av.
19. We do not bathe or go swimming for pleasure during the Nine Days, but bathing for hygienic and health purposes is permitted. One may go to the Mikveh. Washing only one’s face, hands, or feet with cold water is permissible at all
times.
20. We do not eat meat or drink wine or grape juice during the Nine days. A sick person may eat meat, under doctor’s
orders. It is permitted to eat meat or drink wine for all Shabbos meals or at a Mitzva meal [such as a Bris or Siyum,
etc.].
21. One may not eat fleishig [meat] leftovers from Shabbat meals or of a Mitzva meal during the remaining Nine Days. One
may not eat meat for Melava Malka.
22. It is permitted to use wine vinegar for cooking. It is also permitted to drink beer, whiskey, and other alcoholic
beverages.
23. One is permitted to bathe and to put on freshly laundered clothing in honor of the Shabbat.
24. One can make Havdalah on wine or grape juice. If a young child present is old enough to make a blessing but not old
enough to understand that we do not eat meat during the Nine Day, that child should drink the Havdalah cup. If there is
no such child available, the person reciting Havdalah should drink the wine or grape juice himself.
25. A Jew should avoid scheduling litigation / adjudication during the Nine Days, since this is a month in which the Mazel
for Jews is bad.
26. Polishing shoes is permitted. Shining shoes in honor of the Shabbos is also permitted.
27. The Midrash teaches that Hashem will bring forth ten new creations in the era of Moshiach [e.g. death will perish
forever, everyone will be joyful, and there will be an end to all sighing and worry]. The Kaf HaChayim states that everyone who meticulously observes the laws of the first ten days of Av, thereby demonstrating his personal mourning over the destruction of Yerushalayim, will merit witnessing these ten miracles. May we all merit seeing these miracles speedily and in our days.
© 2015 Rabbi Yossi Michalowicz


Posted 7/17/2015 1:24 PM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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Hilchos Tisha B’Av 5775 one article by Rabbi Weber, one by Rabbi Rothman, and one by Rabbi Michalowicz)
Hilchos Tisha B’Av 5775 from Rabbi Weber, Rav of Clanton Park

Shabbos Chazon, July 25th, we daven Mincha at 5:50 p.m. The early Mincha allows time to return home for an appropriate pre-fast Seudah Shelishis. No classic pre-Tisha B’Av rules (i.e., eating on the floor, eggs, ashes et al) apply to this meal. The meal may include all foods, including meat and wine. Finish eating before sunset (8:48), when eating becomes prohibited. Other aspects of Tisha B’Av (low chair, non-leather shoes et al) are not, according to contemporary custom, applicable until after the Borchu of Maariv .

Motza’ei Shabbos is at 9:38. Wait until 9:38 and say baruch ha-mavdil bain kodesh le-chol before doing work or making any preparations for Motzaei Shabbos.
Our shul delays Maariv (followed by Eichah) until 9:55 to allow people to drive to shul after Shabbos.

If you begin to walk to shul for Maariv before Motzaei Shabbos (9:38), then wear your Shabbos clothes and shoes. In that case, bring Tisha B’Av shoes to shul before Shabbos, (bringing them on Shabbos for Motzaei Shabbos use is forbidden) so that you can slip into them right after the sheliach tzibbur says the Borchu of Motzaei Shabbos Maariv. Those who leave their homes after 9:38 and say baruch ha-mavdil bain kodesh le-chol can switch to Tisha B’Av shoes at home, although it better to wear proper shoes until after we begin Maariv.

We do not make a Motzaei Shabbos Havdalah. The aish-fire beracha is said, all by itself, on Motzaei Shabbos. The rest of Havdalah (without the introductory hinei) is said on Motzaei Tisha B’Av, Sunday night, without fire (done the prior night) or besamim (the besamim beracha is not said at all). We use grape juice/wine for this Havdalah, even though it is the night of the 10th of Av (when grape juice/wine is prohibited) because Havdalah is a mitzva . Ill people, who are eating on the fast, should use chamar medina (beer) rather than grape juice/wine for Havdalah. If need be, coffee or tea may be used. Cool the coffee/tea, so that you can drink them within the short time span required by halachah. Although the ill person says Havdalah and the aish-fire beracha on Tisha B'Av, he deletes the introductory hinei passage and besamim beracha. May the Beis ha-Mikdash be rebuilt speedily in our days.

[1] SA, OC, 652, 10

[1] Rema, OC, 652, 10

[1] Shemiras Shabbos ke’Hilchasah, 62, footnote 88

[1] As per Shemiras Shabbos ke’Hilchasah, 62, footnote 88

[1] SA, OC, 656

[1] Mishnah Berurah, 656, 3, although see Arukh ha’Shulchan, 656, 2

[1] See Mikra’ei Kodesh, Pesach, 2, 47

The Laws of the Nine Days by Rabbi Avram Rothman, Rav of Thornhill Community Shul

In addition to the restrictions that apply to the three-week period, during the nine days (between the 1st of Av until after Tisha B’Av) the following take effect:

Activities of Pleasure and Joy

1. One should not purchase an object of joy that will be available after Tisha B’Av for the same price.
2. Building for beauty that is not required for dwelling should be suspended.

Eating Meat and Drinking Wine

1. The custom is to refrain from eating meat and poultry or drinking wine and grape juice during the nine days.

2. The prohibition of meat includes foods cooked with meat or meat fat.

3. Eating meat and drinking wine is permitted for Shabbat. Even one who has ushered in the Shabbat on Friday afternoon before sunset, or extends the third meal of Shabbat
Into Saturday night may also eat meat and drink wine.

4. One may drink the wine of Havdalah. Some have the custom to give the wine to a child of 6-9 years old, or to use beer for Havdalah.

5. Meat and wine are permitted at a meal in honour of a mitzvah like a brit milah or completing a tractate of Talmud.

6. A person who requires meat because of weakness or illness, (including small children and pregnant/nursing women) who have difficulty eating dairy, may eat meat. However, whenever possible poultry is preferable.

Laundering

1. Laundering is prohibited even for use after Tisha B’Av.
2. The prohibition of laundering includes linens, tablecloths, and towels.
3. A person who has no clean clothes may wash what he needs.
4.
Children’s diapers and clothing that constantly get dirty may be washed.

Wearing Freshly Laundered Clothing

1. It is forbidden to wear freshly laundered clothing during the nine days. This includes all clothing except that which is worn to absorb perspiration.

2. Therefore, one must prepare before the nine days by wearing freshly laundered suits, pants, shirts, dresses, blouses and the like for a short time so that they may be worn during the nine days. Socks, undershirts and underwear need not be prepared.

page4image19968

3. One may wear freshly laundered Shabbat clothing, as well as use clean tablecloths and towels.

4. Since one may wear freshly laundered garments on Shabbat, if one forgot or was unable to prepare enough garments before the nine days, he may change for Friday night and then change again on Shabbat morning. These garments may then be worn during the week.

Wearing, Buying and Making New Clothes, Repairing Garments

1. One may not buy new clothes or shoes even for use after Tisha B’Av, except in a case of great necessity, for example, for one’s wedding
.
2. Repairing torn garments or shoes is permitted.

Bathing and Swimming
1. The custom is not to bathe for pleasure even in cold water.

2. Bathing in cold water for medical reasons or to remove dirt or perspiration is permitted. (Where cold water is required, hot water may be added to cold water as long as the mixture is no more than warm.)

3. Soaping or shampooing and washing with hot water are prohibited, unless it is required medically or to remove the dirt and perspiration.

4. One who bathes every Friday in honour of Shabbat with hot water, soap and shampoo may do so on the Friday before Tisha B’Av.


The Laws of Tisha B’av – 2015 : By Rabbi Yossi Michalowicz, Westmount Shul

Tisha B’av Occurring on Shabbos:

  1. Tisha B’av occurs on Shabbos this year. The fast is pushed off and commences at the conclusion of Shabbos - 8:49 PM -lasting through to Sunday evening.

  2. The prayer of “Av Harachamim” is said on Shabbos morning, but “Tzitdkoscha Tzedek is not said in Shabbos afternoon.

  3. Marital relations are prohibited on Shabbos unless Friday evening is when the wife is to go to the Mikveh.

  4. There is no “Seuda Mafsekes” prior to the fast. There are no restrictions on what one can eat at Shalosh Seudos. One may even eat meat and drink wine and sing Zemiros during Seudah Shlishis. However, the mood should be somewhat subdued. One must stop eating before sunset, which is at 8:49 PM. It is permissible to eat Shalosh Seudos together with your family at home or in Shul if that is what you are accustomed to doing throughout the year. You may say Birchas Hamazon after sunset, but should try to wash Mayim Acharonim before sunset, if possible. You may say Birchas Hamazon together with Zimun. One does not sit on the floor or a low chair or change shoes before 9:39 PM.

  5. Some Poskim permit the learning of any Torah on this Shabbos afternoon; while many Poskim limit the learning to topics of torah which are permitted on Tisha B’av.

  6. One who is in Shul when Shabbos ends, must wait until after “Borchu” to remove their Shabbos shoes and put on Tisha B’av compliant shoes. The Chazzan should say “Baruch Hamavdiul Bein Kodesh L’chol” , exchange his shoes, and then say “Borchu.” This all must happen after Shabbos is over at 9:39 PM. Alternatively, everyone in Shul, after 9:39 PM, can say “Baruch Hamavdil Bein Kodesh L’chol’ and exchange their shoes before Borchu. [One who is in Shul when Shabbos ends should, therefore, bring Tisha B’av compliant shoes, an Eichah, and a comfortable low chair or pillow when coming to Shul the day before on Friday for Mincha,]

  7. When removing shoes, care should be taken not to touch them with your hands, because that would require washing of the hands.

  8. If you are at home at nightfall, say “Baruch Hamavdil Bein Kodesh L’chol” at 9:39 PM, change your shoes, and then drive to Shul for Ma’ariv. Sitting on a chair is prohibited for everyone at 9:39 PM.

  9. The customary Havdallah is not said. After nightfall, the blessing of “Borei Meorei Ha’aish” is said upon seeing candlelight. This should be said after Ma’ariv before the reading of Eichah. The Brocha over spices is not said. “Atah Chonantanu” is said during Ma’ariv. Women should be advised not to do any Melacha until they say “Baruch Hamavdil Bein Kodesh L’chol” - as after any Shabbos. They may also say “Borei Meorei Ha’Aish.”

Tisha B’av Evening (10th of Av):
10. All other prohibitions of Tisha B’av begin at sunset. Sunset is at 8:49 P.M. this year

[2015].

  1. One is permitted to drive to Shul and sit normally in the car.

  2. On Tisha B’av it is prohibited to:

    • ▪  Eat or drink

    • ▪  Bathe or wash for pleasure

    • ▪  Anoint oneself

    • ▪  Have intimate relations

    • ▪  Learn Torah [except for those portions which sadden the heart.]

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13. You should deprive yourself somewhat from a comfortable sleep - i.e. to sleep with no pillows or one pillow less than usual.

Eating & Drinking:

  1. A person, who is sick, or an old or weak person who may become ill if he does not eat or drink [even if his illness will not endanger his life] is permitted to eat as much food as he usually does.

  2. A woman up to thirty days after giving birth [even if the baby was stillborn] is also permitted to eat. She should try to postpone eating for a few hours, unless this causes undue hardship.

  3. Pregnant and nursing woman [thirty days after giving birth] should fast the entire day even if they are suffering. However, if they are suffering greatly [even if there is no danger to life], they should discontinue fasting. In all cases of doubt, contact your Rabbi.

  4. Since Tisha B’av has been pushed off this year, there is more room for leniency for unwell people to eat. Please consult with your Rabbi.

  5. A person with only a headache or similar discomfort is required to fast.

  6. If a person is not required to fast because it is dangerous, he is prohibited from fasting.

  7. Boys under the age of 13 and girls under the age of 12 are not required to fast at all.

  8. Swallowing capsules, bitter medicine tablets, or bitter liquid medicine without water is

    permitted. According to some opinions, it is permitted to swallow a bit of water along with

    the medication if the medication can not be swallowed otherwise.

  9. Even those people, who are not required to fast, should not indulge or eat more than is

    necessary to preserve their health.

  10. One, who is accustomed to rinse his mouth or teeth daily, may do so only in an instance if

    the bad taste in his mouth causes him great distress. Since care must be taken not to swallow the water, he should bend over when rinsing.

Bathing & Washing:

  1. All washing for pleasure on any part of the body is prohibited.

  2. You may wash your hands or other portions of your body if they are dirtied or stained. You

    may only wash the dirty or soiled portions, but not beyond the soiled area.

  3. Upon awakening in the morning, you may wash your hands in the usual manner [three times alternately on each hand]. However, you should be careful not to wash further than the joints at the end of your fingers. While your hands are still moist after drying them, you may pass them over your eyes. If your eyes contain glutinous substances, you

    may wash them.

  4. You are permitted to wash your hands after using the bathroom and/or touching a part of

    your body that is normally covered. You should not wash further than the joints at the end

    of your fingers.

  5. You are permitted to wash your hands before davening. You should not wash further than

    the joints at the end of your fingers.

  6. If you are cooking or preparing food on Tisha B’av, you may wash a piece of meat and the

    like – if necessary – even if your hands will get wet.

  7. Washing for medical reasons is permitted.

  8. A woman may wash the parts of her body which must be washed before beginning her

    Seven Clean Days. A woman may not go to the Mikveh on Saturday night – but may go to the Mikveh the night after.

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31. It is prohibited to cool yourself by placing your face or other portions of your body against a pitcher or other utensil containing water. However, you may cool yourself by placing a cool empty utensil, fruit, and the like against your face.

Anointing / Intimacy:

  1. You may not rub or apply onto your body any substance – liquid or solid – commonly applied to the body. Therefore, you may not apply onto your body oil, soap, hair tonic, or cream, ointment, perfume and the like.

  2. You are permitted to anoint for medical reasons such as skin conditions.

  3. The use of deodorant or anti-perspirant to remove a bad odor is permitted.

  4. Since intimacy is prohibited, a husband and wife may not even touch each other.

Wearing Leather Shoes:

  1. It is prohibited to wear shoes that are made, even partially, out of leather.

  2. Shoes made out of cloth, wood, rubber, plastic, and the like are permitted.

  3. It is permitted to wear crocs.

  4. Wearing leather shoes is permitted in the case of:

    A person who has to walk a long distance over stones or mud, and no other suitable footwear is available.

    Medical reasons.
    Children who are too young to understand about the destruction of the Temple.

Learning Torah:

  1. The heart rejoices from the study of Torah. Therefore you are prohibited to learn or teach Torah – except for those topics which are relevant to Tisha B’av and mourning.

  2. A Rav may rule only in those questions of Halacha which are required for Tisha B’av.

  3. You are permitted to prepare the Torah reading for Tisha B’av.

  4. You may say Tehillim for sick people or for the presently dangerous situation in Eretz

    Yisroel.

Other prohibitions for the entire day:

  1. It is extremely important to stay focused on the serious nature of the day by staying in touch with your soul and not being distracted by other physical things. Therefore, there are additional prohibitions.

  2. Tisha B’av is not a time for socializing, idle chatter, schmoozing and the like.

  3. You are prohibited to greet someone. Not only is enquiring after one’s well–being prohibited, but even greeting a person with “good morning” and the like is prohibited. One,

    who is greeted, should respond softly – to show that greeting is prohibited.

  4. It is prohibited to give gifts. However, you may give a gift to a poor person.

  5. Taking a walk or a trip for pleasure is prohibited.

Prohibitions until Halachik Mid-day – 1:24 P.M.:

49. It is prohibited to sit on a chair or bench that is 12’’ or higher. One may sit on the floor, a cushion or on a low bench or chair.

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  1. Any type of work which requires time to do is prohibited. This applies to skilled and unskilled labor. Even housework should be postponed until after Halachik Mid-day. Wherever possible, it should not be done the entire day.

  2. If at all possible, one should avoid going to work / business the entire day. If one must go to work, it should be after Halachik mid-day. The Rabbis say that he who works on Tisha B’av will see no blessing from the money earned.

  3. Preparation for the meal after Tisha B’av should not take place until after Halachik Mid-day.

Talis & Tefillin:

  1. The Talis and Tefillin are not worn at Shacharis. Your Talis Koton [Tzitzis] should be put on in the morning, and you may make a blessing on it. Many have a custom to leave the Tzitzis under one’s clothes until after Halachik mid-day.

  2. The Talis and Tefillin are worn for Mincha.

Other Customs:

  1. There is a custom to visit a cemetery after completion of the morning services.

  2. There is a custom to wash the floors and clean the house in the afternoon. The custom is based on a tradition that Moshiach will be born on Tisha B’av afternoon and that it is therefore appropriate to commemorate the redemption and strengthen people’s hopes

    and prayers.

Restrictions on the 11th of Av:

  1. Generally speaking, all the restrictions of the 3 weeks and the Nine Days continue until Halachik Mid-day of the 10th of Av. (although see point #59 below)

  2. It is customary to perform “Kiddush Levana” [blessing the new moon] together with the congregation on Sunday evening after Ma’ariv. Others say it privately after eating and changing one’s shoes.

  3. When Tisha B’av falls out on Shabbos and is postponed until Sunday (as is the case this year), eating meat and drinking wine is permissible on Monday morning. Bathing, washing clothing and taking haircuts and shaving are permitted on Sunday night.

  4. Some opinions permit listening to music on Sunday evening, but some permit only on Monday morning.

  5. This year Havdallah is said on a cup of wine, grape juice, or beer. The Havdallah only consists of the Brocha on the wine, grape juice, or beer and “Baruch Hamavdil.” Spices are not used. No blessing is made again on candlelight.

  6. With the exception of water, it is forbidden to eat or drink anything before Havdallah. This also applies to women.

    The fast and Tisha B’av restrictions end at 9:39 P.M. on Sunday evening.
    One who finds fasting difficult may eat at 9:30 P.M.
    The Talmud teaches that “Whoever mourns over Jerusalem will merit to see her

    happiness, and whoever does not mourn over Jerusalem will not merit to see her happiness, May we all merit to experience the happiness of Jerusalem soon!

© 2015 Rabbi Yossi Michalowicz 



Posted 7/17/2015 12:05 PM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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Halacha of the Week: Some Pre—Shavuot & Shavuot Halachot
by Rabbi Avrom Rothman
Since Erev Shavuot is Shabbat, there is a Halacha we need to keep in mind. One should not really have a meal before sunset on Erev Shavuot, however, normally; we would have Sholosh Seudot at that time. Therefore, it is the practice that one should eat Sholosh Seudot earlier in the day and then come to Shul for Mincha and Yom Tov Maariv.
In our Shul, we make Shabbat Mincha slightly later than usual, we do not offer Sholosh Seudot following Mincha. Then one either stays in Shul until Maariv or returns in time for Maariv.
Another important point about Shavuot, which does not apply as much this year, is that one does not start Shavuot at all early. The reason is that Shavuot starts at the conclusion of “seven complete weeks” of Sefirat HaOmer. In order to make sure that we have seven COMPLETE weeks, we wait to start Shavuot, which concludes those seven weeks, until the actual time of nightfall.
So, while usually we attempt to start early, whenever possible, on this holiday specifically we wait until total nightfall so that we start Shavuot after the conclusion of Sefirat HaOmer.
One more question that comes up repeatedly on Shavuot is what the proper bracha to recite on cheesecake is. The filling, which in this case is the overwhelming majority of the cake/pie, since it is cheese, would require a blessing of she’acol. The crust, however, acquires a bracha of mezonot.
In the case of cheese cake, one needs to know what the purpose of the crust is for the specific cheesecake they are eating. If the crust is only present to hold the cheese and is not there for its taste, then the crust becomes secondary to the cake and the blessing is she’acol. However, if the crust of your cheesecake is made to add to the taste of the cake and is not specifically only to hold or bind the cake together then the blessing would be mezonot.
Keep in mind, if the blessing is she’acol, then one does not fulfill the Mitzvah of kiddush by eating the cheesecake. If the bracha is actually mezonot then one would fulfill the mitzvah of making kiddush together with food by eating the cheesecake.
Looking forward to an inspired and worthwhile Shavuot


Posted 5/22/2015 11:19 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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Tzitzis - Wool or cotton?
Wool or Cotton? (Part II)

Behar- Bechukosai
Iyar 5775
Lilmod v'La'asos - Bringing the Mitzvos to Life - Excepts from Torah Emeth in-house Dirshu halacha shiur. A project of the Daf Hayomi Institute


THE CHAZON ISH
Last week, we left off saying that the Chazon Ish wore a cotton tallis Kattan. Did he not agree with the Mishnah Beruras synopsis that a yirei shamayim should wear wool? In fact, it is recorded that the Vilna Gaon wore cotton as well. Let us begin by understanding why the Gaon was not concerned
with the Mechaber’s view that only talleisim made of wool or linen are obligated min hatorah. There are known to be two possible explanations.

R’ Shmuel Salant suggested that the Gaon was already fulfilling the mitzvah min hatora since he wore a woolen tallis gadol the entire day. It was not necessary to do the mitzva twice. Furthermore by wearing a cotton tallis katan there was a chance to gain an additional mitzvah he would otherwise not have if he had worn wool. Since cotton, according to the Mechaber, is only obligated midrabanan, it is possible he would be fulfilling the mitzvah of “Loh Sasir” which means that one should comply with the gezeiros of Chaza”l. By wearing both wool and cotton the Goan may have gained two separate mitzvos.

Siach Eliyahu suggests that the Gaon was concerned with a shatnez issue. There is a view that wearing a wool or linen garment directly one on top of the other is considered shatnez, especially if the bottom one can’t be removed without first taking off the upper garment. Since they used to make linen undershirts, wearing a tallis katan made of wool on top of it would be violating shatnez according to this stringency. The Gaon felt it was not worth entering a question of shatnez in exchange of a hidur in the mitzvah of tsitsis.

However, both reasons still do not justify the way of the Chazon Ish. The Chazon Ish did not wear a tallis gadol the whole day nor was there any issue with shatnez . So, we are back at where we started. Why did the Chazon Ish wear cotton?!

The Steipler asked the Chazon Ish, who replied, ”The Gaons motive behind wearing cotton was to publicly demonstrate that the halachah is with the Rema. Since the Goan wore cotton we follow his practice.”

REB CHAIM KANIEVSKY SHLIT”A
Reb Chaim Kanievsky Shlit”a commented that he never fully understood the meaning of this comment, however it is possible that the Chazon Ish wished to conceal his true reason. In speculation about what that reason may be, Reb Chaim Shlit”a suggests it was based on a Tosfos in Nida(61: D”H Aval) . Tosfos seems to imply that if one is not having any pleasure from wearing a garment, the garment is exempt from tzitzis. The Chazon Ish was afraid that in Bnei Brak’s high temperatures it may be impossible to derive any pleasure from a woolen tallis kattan rendering it exempt from tzitzis according to Tosfos’s view. (Reb Chaim admits that his explanation only suffices during the summer months, but added that perhaps the Chazon Ish felt it was not enough of an issue to necessitate one to have two tallis katans).

Reb Shlomo Zalman Orbach Ztz”l, however, clearly writes that even if one does not derive any pleasure from a garment it is still considered “wearing” and therefore is obligated in tzitzis, including the brachah.

HALACHAH LEMASEH
The following are three questions posed to R’ Chaim Kanievsky Shlit”a.

Question: Is it preferable to wear a tallis katan made from wool rather than other materials?
Answer: according to the Mishna Berrura one should be mehader in this, however this is not the minhag.

Question: If one is not a talmid, or a talmid of a talmid, of the chazon ish should he go with the opinion of the the Mishna Berura and wear wool tzitzis?
Answer: One is not obligated to be stringent.

Question: Is it okay for one who is accustomed to wearing wool tzitis to switch to wearing cotton because of his discomfort during the summer months?
Answer: He should make a Hatars nedarim.

Tzitzis on Jackets?!

BAIS YOSEF
Are you supposed to have tzitzis sewn on to your suit jacket? In theory a suit jacket should require tzitzis since it has four corners. The custom is not to put tzitzis on jackets, but the Bais Yosef among others struggle to try and explain this custom. The Bais Yosef’s answers that only clothing which is meant to protect the body from heat or cold is obligated in tzitzis. Even though the suit fills this purpose as well, since the suit is originally intended for formal dress it is therefore exempt from tzitzis.

REMA
The Rema strongly refutes this thought saying “It is worthless to me”. If that is the case, asks the Rema, how can we be fulfilling a mitzvah with the tallis kattan since the entire purpose for wearing it is for the mitzvah and not for protection?

Why do jackets not need tzitzis?
To be continued.


Posted 5/15/2015 12:35 PM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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Halacha of the Week: The Mitzvah of Being Safe
Reprinted from AishTCS/Rabbi Avram Rothman

In light of the very sad occurrence last Shabbat in Brooklyn, where a family was decimated by seven siblings being killed in a fire, I thought I should go over two items as the “Halacha of the Week”. First, in light of smoke alarms and other similar safety devices. There is no question that it is a Torah Mitzvah for a person to safeguard their family by ensuring that working smoke alarms and CO2 alarms are installed throughout the home. When having such alarms are not only simple to maintain, they are also the law in Vaughan, one is negligent and cruel if they do not ensure the safety of their family by having these items operational in their home.
Secondly, there are numerous times when our religious practices require us to have an open flame in our home. Be it Shabbat candles, a Menorah or a yahrzeit candle, these flames when neglected or left unguarded in our homes can present a dangerous situation. Not to mention, similarly, our Shabbat and Yom Tov requirement to have hot food can present a real problem to the safety of our family.
In this recent case, a hot plate caused the fire which destroyed the family and their home. So, allow me to discuss the hot plate. First, one must make sure that it is in excellent working order. Secondly, do not put flammable items on the hot plate. We know that, right? Well, many people put a dish towel on top of the pot that they leave on the hot plate. The dish towel’s purpose is to increase the heat in the pot, which is permissible according to Torah. However, if left there, it can also ignite and start a fire.
As well, as long as one does not have “wet food” like soup or chulent on the hot plate it is permissible to use a shabbat clock to turn it off at night and back on in the morning. This elevates all issues of the hot plate running all night. One should be sure to leave the hot plate in a well ventilated area, so that the heat will not build up (be it under a shelf or cabinet). The bottom line, while we observe the laws of Shabbat, we, also, must observe the laws of safety for our homes and family.
We need to look at our homes and practices with an eye for detail to be sure that we can observe Torah in the area of fire, heat and safety. What happened in Brooklyn last Shabbat is certainly rare, however, looking at statistics- most fatalities in a home fire are young children, most home fires happen due to open flames and electrical mishaps. Let us be sure that our homes are holy and safe for all concerned, in every way possible.


Posted 3/27/2015 1:25 PM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (1)


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Olam Hazeh - Mashal.

In a mother's womb were two babies. One asked the other: "Do you believe in life after delivery?" The other replied, "Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later."
"Nonsense" said the first. "There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?"

The second said, "I don't know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can't understand now."

The first replied, "That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded."

The second insisted, "Well I think there is something and maybe it's different than it is here. Maybe we won't need this physical cord anymore."

The first replied, "Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere."

"Well, I don't know," said the second, "but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us."

The first replied "Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That's laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?"

The second said, "She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist."

Said the first: "Well I don't see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn't exist."

To which the second replied, "Sometimes, when you're in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above."




Posted 3/25/2015 1:34 PM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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Bais Hamussar - Vayikra
Vayikra

Sefer Vayikra introduces the concept of korbanos. The offering of a korban is a function which brings one close to Hashem. In general, writes Rav Wolbe (Alei Shur vol. II p. 352), one does not have to boost himself up in order to achieve this connection. As a matter of fact, the very opposite is true. This relationship can only be attained when one submits himself before the Creator.
The korban expresses this complete submission: A person brings a korban to the Bais Hamikdosh and the kohein slaughters it, sprinkles its blood and offers its limbs onto the mizbeiach. All the while the penitent individual perceives all that was done to the animal as if it was performed on his own flesh and blood. "In reality" he muses, "It should have been my soul that was sacrificed, my blood sprinkled and my limbs offered before Hashem." This submission in and of itself promotes the closeness to Hashem.
With this in mind, we can understand the introduction to tefillas Shachris. Immediately after birchos hashachar, whereby we acknowledge that Hashem is the Creator of the world and it is He Whom we must thank for everything we have, the tefillah continues with "Ribon kol Ha'olamim lo al tzidkoseinu." We declare that it is not in the merit of our righteousness that we approach Hashem in prayer. "What are we? What is our life? What is our kindness? What is our righteousness? What is our salvation? What is our strength? What is our might?" Before petitioning our Creator we must realize exactly where we stand in relation to Him. If one does not subjugate himself before Him, then his prayer cannot be considered a true prayer.
The tefillah continues, "However, we are Your nation, members of your covenant, the offspring of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov." We understand that true greatness is directly proportionate to a person's submission before Hashem, as we have gleaned from our forefathers.
This leads into the korbanos recited thereafter. As mentioned above, the idea of a korban is the stark realization of the person offering the sacrifice that in reality it is he himself who deserves to be sacrificed. Ingraining this acute sense of submission is imperative before commencing pesukei d'zimra and the rest of davening.
We should take a moment to remind ourselves of the awesome beneficence of our King Who, in the days of the Bais Hamikdosh, allowed us to literally save our skin by offering an animal in our stead. The daily recitation of the korbanos, and the krias haTorah of the next few weeks, should arouse us to the greatness of The Creator and the severity of disobeying Him. This will in turn produce a greater level of submission which is the main ingredient in the recipe for a connection with Hashem!


Posted 3/20/2015 3:33 PM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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Parshas Terumah
The month of Adar – which we have welcomed today – is the happiest of the year. As Chazal say, “When Adar enters, we increase our Simcha.” Yet, true Simcha is often elusive; many obstacles seem to stand in the way of our gaining this precious commodity.

Perhaps the root of our problem is that we tend to confuse two meanings of the term. Simcha can mean celebration which entails feasting, singing, dancing, and so on. We can safely assume that in Adar we will have a fair amount of this type of Simcha, especially on the day of Purim itself. Simcha, however, has another meaning – a sense of satisfaction and contentment with one’s life; a feeling that one’s existence is purposeful and filled with genuine achievement. This, of course, is harder to find.

The fact that in the Hebrew language – Lashon HaKodesh – these two concepts share a single noun points to a deep connection between the two.

We would be better able to achieve genuine contentment if we were not so burdened with the worries of life. Community pressures, job pressures, financial pressures, and the frenetic pace of our twenty-first century lives all conspire to distract us from the simple activities, pleasures, and reflections that would lend so much satisfaction to our lives. As experts in time-management would say, “The urgent is displacing the important.” Days of celebration – if we utilize them properly – can give us the relief from the life stresses that would allow for reconnection to meaning and fulfillment.

There is, however, one condition: We must leave our baggage behind as we enter that day of celebration. If we drag it along, it will remain as the proverbial “monkey on our back”.

Perhaps this can best appreciated by an analogy to the theme of this week’s Parsha. The Mishkan sanctuary was designed to be an enclosed space, a bounded area of holiness for the service of Hashem. Many commentators take the position that if not for the sin of the Golden Calf, we would not have been given the command to build the Mishkan. As Hashem says (Shemos 20:21), “Any place that I will cause My name to be mentioned, I will come and bless you.” (See Seforno on this verse.) There would not have been a need for a reserved site in geographic space.

What changed?

The Gemara (Avoda Zara 5a) teaches that if not for the sin of the Golden Calf, the Jewish people would have been as angels. Angels, being free from physical necessities and emotional needs, could link with the Divine Presence anywhere and at any time. Once we were reduced to the level of human beings, there needed to be a place to which we could escape to have that connection to the Divine. Thus the Mishkan became a necessity.

We no longer have the benefit of Mishkan or Bais HaMikdosh – the Bais HaKnesses and the Bais HaMedrash will have to suffice until the advent of the Messianic Age – but the idea still holds; connection to holiness and ultimate meaning often requires some type of getaway.

But this does not necessarily have to be a sanctuary in space; it can be a sanctuary in time. The days of rest and celebration were designed for this purpose. They come in many varieties, each with its unique flavour and tempo – Shabbos, Yom Tov, Chanukah, Purim, and so on. Each in its own way provides an opportunity for a type of spiritual experience that will contribute to our sense of satisfaction and well-being.

The Divrei Torah of the weekly bulletins are now archived at www.emlebinah.blogspot.com.

Rabbi Breitowitz
Rosh Yeshiva


Posted 2/20/2015 2:48 PM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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Kigel Shalom Bayit Thought of the Week #184
The miracle of Chanukah was precipitated by Yehudis, the Maccabees' sister. One of the Greek tactics to destroy the Jews' connection to holiness was to have the Greek general deflower any Jewish bride on her wedding day. On her wedding day, Yehudis accused her brothers of doing nothing to defend her honor and subsequently (there are several stories about her) cut off the general's head and put it on a stake by the walls of Jerusalem. When the Syrian Greek army saw their commander's head on a stick, they fled.

The Jewish concepts of purity (tahara) and holiness (kedusha) are perhaps the most crucial aspects of our identity as Jews and they have preserved us through the centuries. Make sure you are not sacrificing the purity of your marriage. Some examples to avoid:
1. talking excessively or flirtatiously with other men
2. dressing up to leave the house and shlepping around at home.
3. oversharing about your marriage to others (pick one mentor to get advice from)
4. displaying parts of your body for other men to see and admire.

In the merit of Yehudis and her bravery, women are instructed to sit by the menorah each night and not do any work, as a reward and a commemoration for our part in the miracle.


Posted 12/24/2014 12:43 PM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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Kigel Shalom Bayit Thought of the Week #183
Special for Chanukah!
Tonight we begin the holiday of Chanukah, whose central theme is anti-assimilation. The Greeks did not want to annihilate us; they wanted to destroy our connection to our G-d and our Torah. The Maccabees fought back and encouraged their fellow Jews to remember that we are different-- our goal should not be to "melt" into the rest of the population. We have a special role to play in the world and this year when we light the menorah, we can focus on how we as individuals, and as Jews, can light up the world with holiness and goodness.

Reprinted with permission from Devorah Kigel 


Posted 12/16/2014 11:39 PM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


Kigel Shalom Bayit Thought of the Week #182

If you convey to your husband that you believe in him, he will usually rise to your expectations. In contrast, if he feels nothing he does is ever good enough, he will stop trying to please you.
We learn from Akiva's wife Rachel the power of believing in and nurturing your husband. She recognized in this illiterate 40 year old man the potential to be the gadol ha'dor (greatest sage of the generation). She enabled him to learn, even at great sacrifice to herself, and he ended up becoming Rabbi Akiva.
When he introduced his thousands of students to his wife, he told them: "Everything I am, and everything you are, is due to her."

Reprinted with permission from Devorah Kigel. 


Posted 12/14/2014 11:37 PM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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SF - Our Priceless Treasure
THE PSALMS OF KIND DAVID\8:2
 
"HaShem, our G-d, how mighty is Your Name over all the earth; You place Your glory upon the heavens."
 
The royal ministers were traveling to the palace with the glorious crown that was commissioned for the coronation of the new king. The elegant crown sparkled with gold and diamonds. As they approached the city gates, the ministers came upon some peasants who were plowing a field.
 
The ministers showed the crown to the peasants, who were amazed by the beauty of the crown. Then one of the  ministers asked the peasants if they would trade their plow for the crown.
 
"The crown is beautiful but if we traded away our plows we would be unable to farm the land," claimed one of the peasants.
 
"You are not thinking clearly," said the minister. "If you possessed this crown you could sell it for millions of dollars. You could buy these fields and hire your own workers!"
The crown in the story represents the invaluable Torah. It is worth it  for us "to trade some of our time" during the day for the precious gift of Torah study. The holiness, light, and eternal benefit that we receive from the Torah is worth far more than all the gold and gems in the world.     
 
Even the angels desire the Torah, and proclaim, "You place Your glory upon the heavens." For the words of Torah are set like radiant diamonds on HaShem's Crown. Through the words of Torah HaShem created heaven and earth. May we embrace the Torah and connect to LIFE, itself.    
[Based on the parables of the Chofetz Chaim]
 
TODAY: Set aside a daily period to engage in the precious study of the holy Torah.


Posted 5/30/2011 11:57 PM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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SF - The Advantages of Friendship
PIRKEI AVOS/ETHICS OF THE FATHERS __________________________1:6

6) Yehoshuah ben P'rach'ya said: Make a Rabbi for yourself, acquire a friend for yourself, and give everybody the benefit of the doubt.

There are three spiritual advantages that a friend provides. First, a friend helps one improve the quality of his Torah study. The Talmud (Ta'anis 7a) teaches this idea: "I learned much from my teachers, I learned even more from my friends, and I learned the most from my students."

Second, friends strengthen each other in Mitzvoth observance. Even a friendship where one person is more spiritually inclined than his friend can engender positive results. For instance, let's assume that Shimon is more spiritually advanced than Reuven. Yet, even when Shimon is occasionally tempted to transgress-he will withhold himself because his conduct would have a negative impact on Reuven (i.e., Reuven will think if Shimon does that misdeed, than certainly I can). Instead, Shimon will urge Reuven to strengthen his commitment to Mitzvoth-and in turn- Reuven will see to it that Shimon stays on the proper path. Hence, in a properly structured relationship, good friends will influence each other to spiritual improvement.

The third advantage of friendship is good advice. A person should reveal his secrets to no one but his trusted and proven friend. If he confides in his friend (who sincerely cares for him) concerning all the matters of his life-his friend will give him good counsel-that will illuminate the path to success in his endeavors. Shlomo HaMelech taught (Mishlei 15:22) the importance of taking advice-Thoughts are frustrated when there is no counsel, but through an abundance of counsel they will be established.

Hence, friends are so valuable and indispensable that the Mishnah says acquire a friend, i.e., meaning that it is worth it to befriend him even if you have to spend money or draw him close with gentle words. Once you have established your friendship, do not argue with him if he disagrees with you. No two human beings see all things the same way. Therefore, do not sacrifice your precious friendship over an insignificant issue.

Rebe Akiva said that the essential principle of the Torah is Love your fellow, as you love yourself. If we appreciate the incomparable worth of friends we will see much success, spiritual growth, and happiness in all aspects of our lives.

[Based on the commentary of Rabenu Yonah]


TODAY: Reach out to a friend and strengthen your bond of friendship.



New SF Blogpost: SPIRITUAL BODY LANGUAGE
eMussar" Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Zvi Miller and The Salant Foundation |


Posted 5/10/2011 12:28 PM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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Only Four Weeks left until Shvuos.
Question of the Week: In Chutz LaAretz, we keep two days of Yom Tov because of the original Sefeika D’Yoma (doubt as to which day Yom Tov really came out) in Chutz LaAretz which was far from Yerushalayim, which remained our Minhag even after we became sure of the actual dates--such as which day is really the 15th of Nissan. This being so, why don’t we keep two counts for Sefira--one beginning on the second night of Pesach as usual, and a second count beginning on the third night of Pesach as the Sefeika D’Yoma of the previous night? It would not, after all, be so complicated at all--with our simply reciting that today is the 20th day of the Omer, pausing a few seconds and saying that today is the 21st day of the Omer. We eat Matzah and Maror, and maintain an entire Seder on the second night of Pesach--can’t we do the same for our precious Sefira count --with the second additional count simply being completed--on the second day of Shavuos instead of the first!

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An Important Source! Many of us are familiar with the words of the Sefer Chovos HaLevavos (Sha’ar HaChniyah, 7) in which he teaches that one who speaks Loshon Hora against another loses his zechusim to that person and inherits that person’s aveiros as well. What are the mekoros, sources for these severe punishments as presented by the Chovos HaLevavos, and reiterated by the Chofetz Chaim in the Sefer Shemiras Halashon? The Sefer Tallelei Oros at the end of Parshas Emor, presents the words of Chazal from which these important teachings are drawn. We refer you there for further depth.

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Special Note One: We received the following from a reader regarding HaRav Soloveitchik’s position on Hallel on Yom Ha’Atzmaut: “I would like to add, since I was there in the shiur on that day in Iyar 1978, that Rav Soloveitchik, zt"l, specifically said that if one chooses to say the chapters of Hallel as Tehillim after Kaddish Shalem, as you describe, he may NOT make a bracha!” Hakhel Note: We intended to convey that, and apologize if that was not clearly expressed.



Special Note Two: Before taking leave of Parshas Emor, we must provide one final dramatic but practical teaching of the Rabbeinu Bachya, derived from the parsha of the mekallel. Rabbeinu Bachya writes that the mekallel did not simply brashly utter Hashem’s name with r’l a curse connected to it--he slowly and surely expressed the Name--with aforethought and intent. If this one time act, teaches Rabbeinu Bachya, was able to shorten, to snuff out, the mekallel’s life by sekila being meted out against him, then IMAGINE, just IMAGINE the arichus yomim, the bracha, that a life long dedication to reciting Hashem’s name slowly and surely when reciting a bracha will bring to each and every one of us. Such is r’l the power of a k’lala for the wrongdoer--and such is the power of a bracha for us--as the zerah beirach Hashem--to learn and apply. Remember: Not fast and gobbled, or even mediocre and unthinking --but Slow and Sure. The difference is, literally, life itself!



Special Note Three: We are now only four weeks from the giving of the Torah in 5771. The following is excerpted from the wonderful work Leading Jews Back by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita, based upon the teachings of HaRav Avraham Pam, Z’tl: “What did Rus see in Naomi that impressed her so much? The Midrash (Rus Rabbah 2:5) gives an explanation: Why was she called Naomi? Because her actions were sweet and pleasant. Rus saw in Naomi what a life devoted to Torah and Avodas Hashem can do for a person. She saw her sterling middos, her nobility of spirit, her warmth and caring personality. That was what attracted Rus and motivated her to give up a life of ease and luxury and “return” to Yiddishkeit as a penniless, widowed convert, forced to live off the charity of others. This is the enormous power a person with a pleasant, warm personality and good middos has on other people. He attracts followers like a magnet and can have great influence on their lives. This is a proven method to bring closer to Yiddishkeit those who are estranged from the heritage of their forefathers. While philosophical discussions and proofs of the existence of a Creator are certainly tools in bringing Ba’alei Teshuvah back to their roots, a critical factor is to show how the ways of Torah are pleasant and all its pathways are peace (Mishlei 3:17). This has the drawing power to influence people to a Torah way of life. Derech Eretz precedes Torah (Vayikra Rabbah 9:3). This concept underlines the vital importance of Torah Jews conducting themselves with the utmost courtesy and respect in their interpersonal relationships. They must not forget that wherever they go--whether in the business or professional world, or as neighbors or friends--they represent the Torah. One does not have to be a Rabbi or kiruv professional to influence others. Every Torah Jew presents an image to those around him which, depending on his conduct, will either bring others closer to Yiddishkeit or, c’v, cause estrangement from it. It is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. This can be seen by the great influence one woman (Naomi) has on another (Rus), which set into motion the chain of events which led to the founding of Malchus Bais Dovid and planted the seeds of Moshiach.



Hakhel Note: It is no coincidence that the Sefira is a time of growth in Bain Odom LeChaveiro, as a necessary prerequisite to Kabbalas HaTorah. Rabbi Frand’s Hakhel Sefira Shiur this past Sunday on narcissism was an OUTSTANDING review and presentation of how a Torah Jew is to conduct his life both inwardly and outwardly. We urge those who were not present to obtain a copy of the Shiur ( tape or cd), by contacting 718-252-5274. Listening to and applying Rabbi Frand’s great teachings will emanate far beyond this Sefira period--long and far into life!





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Hakhel MIS

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Posted 5/10/2011 12:24 PM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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The Key Element to Successful Relationships

PIRKEI AVOS/ETHICS OF THE FATHERS _______________4:12
 
"Rabbi Eliezer ben Shamu’ah said: Let the honor of your student be as dear to you as your own; and the honor of your friend as dear to you as the reverence of your Rabbi; and the reverence of your Rabbi like the reverence of Heaven."
 
Respect is the foundation and essence of interpersonal relationships. The various relationships that we have require befitting levels of respect. Hence, the respect that we hold for each person should be commensurate to his or her relative status and stature. Yet, how do we determine the appropriate quality and quantity of respect for each person?  In addition, why does the above Mishneh instruct us to raise the level of respect up one notch in the specified relationships?
 
Because of the vital role that relations play in our lives; and the critical role that respect plays in relationships - the yetzer hora (the negative impulse) seeks to undermine our relationships - by blinding us to the proper level of respect that we should give to others. For instance, teachers tend to view the best of their students as mediocre. Therefore, in order to correct this distortion the Mishneh advises: "Let the honor of your student be as dear to you as your own."
 
Likewise, we tend to decrease the fitting level of honor that we should accord our friends. Thus, the Mishneh teaches: "and the honor of your friend as dear to you as the reverence of your Rabbi." We also devalue the tremendous level of respect that we owe to our Rabbi. In fact, here, the level of respect upgrades to reverence. Therefore, the Mishneh directs us: "And the reverence of your Rabbi like the reverence of HaShem."
 
In conclusion, by aiming for a higher level of respect in all of our relationships, we approach the proper level of respect due to our students, friends, and rabbis. As a result, we will enhance our interpersonal relationships with peace, joy, and dignity.
[Based on the commentary of Rav Chaim Voloshin to Pirkei Avos]
 
Today: Upgrade the level of respect in your relationships and bring harmony into your life.



Posted 11/19/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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11 cheshvan - Yarzeit of Rachel Imeinu
As we all know, today is the Yahrzeit of Rochel Imeinu.
The Pasuk in Yirmiyahu (31:14) writes that Rochel cried over the exile of
her children and that Hashem, in turn, responded to Rochel that she need not
cry further.
HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl, while once at Kever Rochel, was overheard to
have said that although Hashem had instructed Rochel Imeinu not to cry, he,
“Chaim,” was asking her to cry for her children.  The question is clear--if
Hashem told Rochel Imeinu not to cry, how could HaRav
Shmuelevitz--“Chaim”--seemingly go against this order and ask her to cry?

Some say, that HaRav Shmuelevitz himself answered the question by explaining
that while a father (Hashem) could tell his daughter to calm down and not
cry, a child (such as HaRav Shmuelevitz) could ask his mother to show a
special care and concern for her children.

A second explanation is given in the name of HaRav Moshe Aharon Stern, Z’tl,
who teaches that Hashem, by telling Rochel that she didn’t have to cry, was
actually inviting further supplication and tears.  HaRav Stern draws the
parallel to Hashem’s response to the sin of the Golden Calf, where He tells
Moshe Rabbeinu, “Leave me alone and I will destroy them,” even though Moshe
had not yet asked for mercy from Hashem for the Chait HaEgel (See Shemos
32:10 and Rashi there).

There is an extremely important lesson for us here.  HaRav Matisyahu
Salomon, Shlita, notes that the Bais HaMikdash is referred to as the “Sukkas
Dovid HaNofoles” (Amos 9:11)--as the falling/fallen booth of Dovid.  He
explains that the word “Nofoles” is meant to inspire us to picture a person
or a precious object as it is falling and as it finally falls.  He or it is
not in its natural or proper position.  Something that is falling or has
fallen, must be picked up and placed where it is supposed to be.

The Navi teaches that Rochel Imeinu cried for her children.  HaRav
Shmuelevitz asked her to keep crying.  Likewise, the Navi tells us that we
must recognize that the Bais HaMikdash is Nofoles.  We, too, must do
everything in our power to pick it back up.  How?  May we suggest that at
some point in the day we follow in the footsteps of our Mama Rochel.  We
should take a moment out to envision the falling in front of us--and do what
we can to stop the fall by asking Hashem to raise up, and keep up, that most
precious possession, to Him and to us, the most special place on earth, the
Bais HaMikdash.

May the words of Hashem to Rochel--“there is a reward for your actions--and
your children will return to their borders” then ring true for our actions,
as well, speedily and in our day!

*Special Note Two*:  In the Sefer Sifsei Chaim, HaRav Chaim Friedlander,
Z’tl, provides a common denominator of three special middos that a person
could and should have.  These Middos are: (a) being Dan L’Chaf
Zechus--judging another favorably even if the odds seem to be against it;
(b) being Ma’aver Al HaMidos--overcoming one’s initial reaction to a person,
issue or event, being flexible, and overlooking personal affront; and (c)
being a Ba’al Chesed--being known as someone who constantly helps others.
What is the real common denominator among these three middos?  It is more,
Rabbi Friedlander writes, than just he is a “nice person” or that he has a
good temperament, or even that he had fine parents or a good upbringing.
Rather, it is that a person with these three Midos together has successfully
overcome the selfish element of “I” within him and has included those around
him as part of himself.  Because such a person is so successful at life, Rav
Friedlander concludes that there is simply no way that this person will be
judged in Shomayim in the same manner as other people.  It is for this
reason that we are urged to work on these particular Middos prior to the
Yemai HaDin.
When we had suggested to our readers that they review the Sefer Mesilas
Yesharim in Elul, a reader wrote to us then as follows:  “It seems that it
would be more appropriate for people to learn Mesilas Yesharim and Sefarim
of Mitzvos Bein Adam Le’Chaveiro between Succos and Rosh Chodesh Elul and
begin acting properly during the year so that from Rosh Chodesh Elul through
Yom Kippur we will already know what it means to be a Mentsh.  Lo Hamidrash
Haikar Ela Hamaase!”

An excellent point!  Why wait until next year prior to the Yemai Hadin when
you can work on this “Three-in-One” Midos combination far in advance.  Your
thin and limited , narrow one-line of an “I” will certainly be much broader
and larger--and may very well be as wide as a “We” (also compare the word
“Ani” to the word “Anachnu”)!

*Special Note Three:*  As we begin to study the actions and words of Avrohom
Avinu, we continue our notes on the first brocha of Shemone Esrei, “Avos”:
1.      The Brocha is so primary to a person’s day that HaRav Tuvia
Goldstein, Z’tl, made it a point in his later years, whenever he spoke at a
public gathering on any topic, to devote the first part of his Shiur to the
importance of proper Kavannah in the first Brocha, with detail as to that
proper Kavannah.
2.      One should understand the difference between “Elokei Avraham”,
“Elokei Yitzchak”, and “Elokei Yaakov”, and the parallel distinction between
“HaGadol”, “HaGibor”, and “HaNorah”.  We are not using extra words or being
mellifluous.  The distinctions are important, and most certainly assist us
as we draw and learn from the zechus of each of our Avos!
3.      The commentaries note that the words “U’maivi Goel L’Vnei
V’neihem--and brings a Redeemer to their children’s children” is recited in
the present tense.  Two suggestions are offered for this.  First, that every
day we move a step closer to the Geulah Shelaima--that the Geulah is
occurring as we speak!  Second, that Hashem gives us each our own personal
Geulos--redemptions and yeshuos from issues and matters affecting us in our
daily life.  We can certainly have both intentions in mind.
4.      There are, of course, two ways that the Geulah can come--through our
own merit or even if we do not merit it, “Lema’an Shemo”--so that the Chilul
Hashem of Golus comes to an end.  Even if Hashem must redeem us “Lema’an
Shemo”, it will, the bracha teaches us, still be “Be’ahava”--with love.  His
love for us will be unaffected.  From this, we should begin to appreciate
how great His love for us really is (HaRav Chaim Friedlander).  Hashem was,
is, and always will be, the “Ohaiv Amo Yisroel”!

--------------------------
Hakhel MIS


Posted 10/30/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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A Formula for Joyful Living
THE FAITH OF AND TRUST OF PSALMS   55:23
"Transfer your burdens to HaShem and He will sustain you."

There was once a royal servant, who knew that the king was extremely generous, merciful, and kind. What’s more, the king faithfully compensated his servants according to the difficulty and effort of their labor. Accordingly, whoever faithfully served the king was assured of great honor, dignity, and wealth.

In light of the king’s wonderful qualities, the servant firmly trusted in the king’s goodness. He rejoiced in whatever task the king assigned him to perform. Indeed, the harder the task the more he rejoiced, because he knew the king would remunerate him proportionally to the intensity of his efforts.

This parable illuminates the relationship between faith and trust in HaShem. Faith in HaShem is founded upon our recognition that HaShem is infinitely good, compassionate, and kind. Even more, He compensates His servants with countless blessings, splendor, and reward.

Once a person has attained faith in HaShem’s goodness, he will then place his full trust in HaShem, just as the royal servant trusted in his king. His faith and trust in HaShem’s compassion and care will insure that he is always happy! Even if he has difficulties he continues to rejoice, because he knows that HaShem will generously reward him according to level of his exertion.

May we reflect on HaShem’s infinite goodness and place our sincere trust in Him. As a result, we will discover the path of a joyous life, as King David said, "Transfer your burdens to HaShem and He will sustain you."

[Based on Orchos Tzadikim, The Gate of Happiness]

TODAY: Rejoice in HaShem’s love for you and His faithfulness to compensate your efforts with countless blessings and reward.


Posted 10/30/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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THE WISDOM OF THE TALMUD\BRACHOT 12a
THE WISDOM OF THE TALMUD\BRACHOT 12a
The Temple service was performed by Kohanim (Priests). The Kohanim were divided into groups and each group was assigned to perform the service during a certain time period. When one group finished their service, the next group would enter the Temple and begin their shift.
On the Sabbath, the Kohanim that had finished their shift said a special prayer to the incoming group:
"May the One, Who dwells in this house dwell amongst you - and bless you - with love, brotherhood, peace, and friendship."
The Divine Presence dwelt in the holy Temple. When the Nation of Israel worshiped HaShem in the Temple, blessings and light descended from Heaven upon the Temple. In turn, the divine blessings filled Jerusalem, permeated the Land of Israel, and HaShem’s blessing spread upon all the nations of the world.
The highest blessing is peace, as our sages remarked, "Without peace there is nothing." The Sabbath is a day of rest.; a time to commune with the Creator and recognize His eternal and infinite goodness. Moreover, on Shabbos the very angels of peace bless us with peace. Accordingly, Shabbos carries the blessing and manifestation of peace, itself.
Since the service of the Kohanim in the Temple brings the blessings of peace into the world, it is important that they be at peace and friendship with each other during their service. To be sure, the more the Kohanim were at peace with each other, the more peace would descend upon the world.
Therefore, on Sabbath - the day of peace, the Kohanim - the lovers of peace, would bless each other with peace in the Temple - the place of peace. Resultantly, blessing of peace would descend from HaShem - the Source of Peace. These sweet blessings of peace would fill the Temple and spread throughout all the nations of the world.
May HaShem rebuild His holy Temple in Jerusalem so that we will perform our service to HaShem. Then, Israel and all mankind will be united with love and friendship. Peace - the greatest of HaShem’s blessings - will fill the hearts of all mankind!
TODAY: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, Israel, and all mankind.


Posted 10/29/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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The Beauty and Wisdom of Peace
OHR HATORAH\TORAH EMANATIONS 

After settling in the Land of Israel, Avraham was blessed with abundant flocks and herds. Avraham’s nephew Lot, who accompanied Avraham on his journey to Israel, also had a great number of livestock.

In time, a dispute over grazing rights, broke out between the shepherds of Lot and the shepherds of Avraham. Lot felt that since HaShem had promised the Land of Israel to Avraham, it was Avraham’s rightful land - even before the promise was fulfilled. Accordingly, Lot instructed his shepherds to allow his flocks to graze on privately owned fields.

Although there was an element of truth to Lot’s line of reasoning, Avraham wisely disagreed. At the present, Avraham was enjoying peace with his neighbors, who were powerful nations, far greater in number than him. However, if he allowed the flocks to graze on his neighbor’s fields, they would feel threatened by his "imperialistic yearnings," and rise up against him.

Therefore, for the sake of peace, Avraham asked Lot to part from him. Lot chose to live with the immoral people of Sodom, who would not be concerned with his grazing policy.

Avraham valued peace above everything, as our Sages said, "If there is no peace, there is nothing." It was Avraham’s love of peace that made him beloved in the eyes of man and G-d. Just as he pursued peace, his life was blessed with every manner of peace and tranquility.

May we follow in Avraham’s footsteps of loving and pursuing peace in all of our relationships. In turn, HaShem will bless us with peace, happiness, and a pleasant life.

[Based on the commentary of Rashi and the Kali Yakar]

TODAY: Maintain peace by not making "waves" in your personal relationships. Foster peace by avoiding all behavior which could be interpreted as antagonistic. 


Posted 10/27/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)


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The Way of Pleasantness
PIRKEI AVOT\ETHICS OF THE FATHERS 2:9   

Rabban Yochanon ben Zakkai said to his students, “Go out and find the straight path – to which a person should devote himself.” Rabbi Eliezer said, “A good eye.” Rabbi Yehoshua said, “A good friend.” Rabbi Yosi said, “A good neighbor.” Rabbi Shimon said, “To foresee the repercussions of your actions.” Rabbi Elazar said, “A good heart.”

Rabbi Yochanon responded, “I concur with the view of Rebbi Elazar, for all of your ideals are contained in a “Good heart.”  

A “Good Heart” refers to a person who is pleasing – and pleasant – to others. Primarily, he has endless reserves of patience, distancing himself from every manner of anger. He responds to everyone with gentleness, regardless of the circumstance. What’s more, even if someone wrongs him, he bears it, without issuing a harsh word. All of the words that flow from his lips are sweet and pleasant.

A person of such inner excellence is good to his family, friends, neighbors, as well as to the entire world. He also possesses the golden trait of generosity. For if he dedicates his heart and spirit to fulfill the will of others, he will surely grant them financial assistance.

“A Good Heart” includes every other good virtue because the steadfast desire to do absolute good, regardless of circumstance, is more difficult to attaint than the performance of a good deed. For it is easier to move one’s body to do a good deed, than to devote one’s entire heart – unequivocally – to goodness, decency, and bringing joy to others.

May we merit the wonderful character trait of a Good Heart,” then we will be pleasing and pleasant to all of our family, friends, neighbors as well as the entire world.

[Based on the commentary of Rabenu Yona]  

TODAY: Make a special effort to say a kind and pleasant word to every person with whom you come in contact.


Posted 10/14/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)

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