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Blog Image: Hakhel.jpg
Power of Tznius

Hakhel sent this message
Dear Binah,
It’s that very busy time of year for mothers.  Costumes and Mishloach Manos followed closely by the shmatte-wringing, vacuuming frenzy!  As exhausted as we are just thinking about this, there are some of us who wish we could be part of it (anything, even scrubbing Duplo in the bathtub!).  We are a group of mothers who spend day after day in the oncology ward with our innocent children.  We are fighting the battle for their lives, and we are appealing to all of you who truly feel for us in your hearts, to help us.  Help us gain zechuyos to tip the scale to complete our children’s refuah.  We have heard many stories of the power of tznius to effect yeshuos, offer protection, and annul harsh decrees.  Please join our battle by calling (732) 901-7513 to order the inspirational book Daughters of Dignity.  The book contains two-minute lessons on tznius which are easy to read and are guaranteed to uplift you.  Those who do better with audio can hear the lessons by calling (416) 800-2146 (Kol Haloshon) and pressing 1 - 5 - 12 - 3 - 2.
We thank you for your tefillos, empathy, and most of all, every zechus you engender for our children.

Sincerely,
The mothers of Miriam bas Esther Rochel, Sara Leah bas Chaya Nechama and
Leah bas Chana.



Posted 3/18/2010 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest | Comments (0)


Blog Image: Tehillim[1].jpg
TONIGHT THURSDAY Tehillim teleconference for women and girls only

THE BOYS IN JAPAN

*“hena bo yom hadin” The day of judgment is coming*

YAAKOV YOSEPH BEN RAIZEL DESPERATELY NEEDS OUR TEFILLOS ‘NOW’.

As you read these words, the judge is deciding his fate:

Will he be confined to a Japanese jail for the next 13 years, CHAS VASHOLOM or with Hashem’s help be released to the loving embrace of his family and klal yisroel?

His verdict will be forthcoming next Wednesday March 24th, the ninth day of Nissan.

At the request of the askanim in Japan who are helping these boys, they have asked women the world over to gather in our Tehillim groups this evening,  Thursday March 18 at 8:15 PM NY time to beseech the Ribono Shel Olam to have rachmanius on Yaakov Yoseph ben Raizel.

We will be saying Tehillim together over the phone at this time.

Phone Number: 212-990-8000 pin number 3067 pound

In the merit of Noshim Tzidkanos,  our forefathers were redeemed from Mitzraim and in the merit of Noshim Tzidkanios will we merit the future redemption.  May it take place soon in our days.

Let your friends know about this Tehillim gathering over the phone and ask them to join us as we daven for rachamim for:

*Yoel Zev ben Mirel Rissa Chava*

*Yaakov Yoseph ben Raizel*

*Yosef ben Ita Rivka*



Posted 3/18/2010 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest | Comments (0)


Blog Image: Salant.JPG
The Secret of Self-Esteem

OHR HATORAH/TORAH EMANATIONS
 
Our Sages (Yalkut Yehoshua 14) tell us that when Eisev was a child he attained a spiritual equivalency of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaacov. However, in his youth he committed improper deeds and denounced his first-born status. Consequently, his level of greatness diminished and "he became small."
 
While it is true that "he became small," in light of his many misdeeds, it would be more correct to say he became immoral or corrupt. What is the import of "he became small?"
 
Rather, this passage illuminates the path to greatness. HaShem created man as a Tzelem Elokim, i.e., an "Image of HaShem." Therefore, our true essence and nature is kind, merciful, and holy. Just as HaShem is unchangeable in His goodness, so the human being - the "Image of HaShem" - is eternally good.
 
Eisev’s downfall was not caused by his sin but rather by his identifying himself as a "sinner." He "became small" because he saw himself "as small" after he sinned. However, the goodness of the soul is permanent and unchangeable. Moreover, HaShem is always ready to accept our repentance.
 
May we remember that we are inherently - and unalterably - good! Then we will traverse the path of greatness, in the footsteps of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaacov.
 
TODAY: Define yourself not by your misdeeds - but rather by your GOOD, KIND, AND HOLY ESSENCE. 



Posted 11/16/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest | Comments (0)


Blog Image: Hakhel.jpg
Brachos for specific foods -cont

We continue with our series on the Halachos of Brachos. The following Halachos are found in the Sefer Pischei Halacha--Hilchos Brachos, by Rabbi Binyomin Forst, Shlita.

a. If one heard two brachos at the same time, he should respond with the words "Amen V’Amen".

b. If one tastes a food in order to determine whether it needs salt or spices, he makes no brocha rishona or achrona.

c. One should make a brocha on a ma’achal choshuv--on an important dish. Accordingly, if one believes that the food is lacking salt or spices, he should add them prior to making the brocha. Similarly, if one intends to eat several fruits, he should make the brocha on the cleanest and nicest one.

d. If one does not know what brocha to make on an item, and accordingly recites a Shehakol out of ignorance, he is referred to as a "boor", a halachically ignorant individual.

e. If one is eating a fruit salad comprised of some fruits whose brocha rishona is a Borei Pri Haeitz, and other fruits whose brocha is a Borei Pri Hoadomo, and both fruits typically come up in every spoonful, (i.e., he is eating and enjoying all of the fruits alike), one should make the brocha on the fruit which is in the majority. Accordingly, if the fruit in the majority is a cantaloupe, then one would make a Borei Pri Hoadomo. On the other hand, if the majority fruit is orange, then one would make a Borei Pri Haeitz. If one eats the fruits separately, and not in spoonfuls, he would make a Borei Pri Haeitz and a Borei Pri Hoadomo.



Posted 2/5/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest | Comments (0)


Blog Image: Hakhel.jpg
Brachos for specific foods -cont

We continue with our series on the Halachos of Brachos.

Water: If one is not thirsty at all, but drinks water because he is going out on the road for awhile, or because it is the evening before a fast day, or, if for health purposes, one must drink water, or to flush down something stuck in his throat, one should not make a brocha rishona or brocha achrona on the water if he is not at all thirsty for it. It is best in these instances to make a Shehakol on something else to avoid any questions as to whether or not a person is thirsty or can make a brocha. However, one who drinks warm water on an empty stomach for health purposes must make a brocha, for it is not possible that he will not derive pleasure from the warm drink even if he does not necessarily feel thirsty. (Piskei Teshuvos 2: pp. 721-722).



Posted 2/4/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest | Comments (0)


Blog Image: Hakhel.jpg
Brachos for specific foods -cont

A. Meatballs and Spaghetti: The Halachos of Brachos Handbook by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita (Feldheim p. 59), writes: If meatballs are small and eaten in the same forkful with spaghetti, one brocha, Mezonos, is made. If meatballs are eaten separately, one should make two brachos, first Mezonos on the spaghetti, and then Shehakol on the meatballs. Two brachos achronos would then, of course, follow.

B. Cholent: The Laws of Brachos by Rabbi Binyomin Forst, Shlita (Artscroll, p. 217), writes: If the cholent contains barley, beans and potatoes, and they are eaten together and not separated, only a Mezonos is required despite the fact that barley is a minor ingredient. If, however, the pieces of potato are large and are eaten separately, a Ho’adomo would be required, as well.



Posted 2/3/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest | Comments (0)


Blog Image: Hakhel.jpg
Brachos for specific foods

In the coming days, we hope to provide several important points in the laws of Brachos, for it is not only essential to make Brachos with Kavannah, but also to make the appropriate brachos, as well. The following is an excerpt from the Halachos of Brachos Handbook (Feldheim, p. 33), by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita.

"Crackers with Cheese or Tuna: The Poskim write that when crackers are eaten with another food (e.g., cheese or tuna), the other food is often used [merely] to enhance the crackers, in which chase a Mezonos on the crackers will cover the other food, as well. However, if the other food is not being eaten [merely] to enhance the cracker, two brachos are required (e.g., he enjoys both the tuna and the crackers equally, but he eats them together because he enjoys the way they taste together). First, one should make a Borei Minei Mezonos and eat some cracker, and then make a Shehakol and eat some tuna [or cheese]. Each of the two foods then requires their respective Brocha Achrona, if the shiur of each is eaten."

Likewise, The Laws of Brachos, by Rabbi Binyomin Forst (Artscroll, p. 222-223), writes that if one desires to eat jam or peanut butter, independent of the cracker, two Brachos must be said. Additionally, one who uses a bland-tasting cracker merely to hold the jam or peanut butter recites no brocha on the cracker, which is being used in the place of a spoon or fork, and not for food purposes, and thus loses its status completely.

Hakhel Note: The two-brachos ruling would apparently also apply to one who, at a Kiddush, places a piece of herring on a flat cracker (kichel), in a situation where he really wants to eat the herring, as well, and puts it on the kichel because he enjoys the taste of the two of them together. As with all other matters, one should consult with his Rav or Posek for a final P’sak.



Posted 2/3/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest | Comments (0)


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Special Edition OU-IPA Washington Wire - Dec. 29, 2008
Works, Not Words

By Nathan J. Diament

How Obama can appeal to religious voters without abandoning his party’s principles.

Published: Monday, December 29, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama remains under fire from some liberals for inviting Pastor Rick Warren--an evangelical who is pro-life and anti-gay marriage--to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Say what you will about the Rick Warren controversy, one reason Barack Obama will be sworn in on January 20 is that he courted and won the votes of more religious Americans than any other Democratic candidate in a decade. He received more votes from Catholics and Evangelicals than John Kerry, and improved upon both Kerry and Al Gore’s performances with those who attend worship services more than once a week by eight percentage points. 

Obama began his faith outreach effort long before he announced his presidential run, delivering a much-discussed speech in 2006 embracing a robust role for religion in public life, and expanding on the ideas further in The Audacity of Hope. Throughout the campaign, he honed the art of showing respect for religious voters even while disagreeing with them on policy. He spoke at Warren’s Saddleback megachurch and other religious venues, even though he knew the audience was skeptical. He met with religious leaders across the ideological and denominational spectrum and granted interviews to religious media outlets. On the trail, he often recounted his decision to revise his Senate campaign website when an Illinois voter confronted him about its harsh language about pro-life advocates. "I will listen to you, especially when we disagree," became one of his most popular refrains. His choice of Pastor Warren is his latest, and most controversial, symbolic outreach toward religious voters.

But a president does more than listen and offer symbols--he acts. In office, Obama has a chance to show his sensitivity to religious voters’ concerns, and, in some cases, advance policies that are important to them, without sacrificing Democratic principles. 

Perhaps the most difficult issue area to strike this balance in is abortion. Despite the Democratic Party’s position on the issue, about 20 percent of Obama’s supporters were pro-life. Why would they support a pro-choice candidate? According to the Beliefnet poll, 87 percent of Obama’s pro-life voters believe that the best way to reduce abortion is not by criminalizing it, but "by preventing unintended pregnancies (through education and birth control) or providing financial assistance to pregnant mothers." Doug Kmiec, a prominent figure in the pro-life movement, publicly endorsed Obama and gave as one of his reasons the hope that he might deliver policies that would reduce the number of abortions. For the first time ever, the Democratic platform this year included the goal to "reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions"--a clause that drew praise from religious voters.

Obama is already being pressed by abortion rights advocates to rescind the "Mexico City Policy," which bars American aid organizations from receiving federal funds if they support abortion in their overseas work. Religious voters were under no illusion that they were voting for an anti-abortion president. But if Obama follows the example of Bill Clinton, who rescinded it within 48 hours of taking the Oath of Office, he should make good on his stated commitment to find common ground by proposing new programs relating to health care, education, and other social welfare initiatives designed to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first instance, and provide services to support mothers’ decisions to keep and raise their children, including pre- and post-natal health care, child care support, and job training and other educational services. Obama should also provide greater support for adoption programs. In such a context--with Obama actually working to make abortions rarer--he can support pro-choice policies without alienating pro-life supporters.

If abortion rights are the longstanding wedge between Democrats and many religious voters, gay rights are the most current. Here too, though, there’s an opportunity for Obama to forge compromise. Although California’s Proposition 8, reversing court-imposed gay marriage rights, grabbed headlines, there are a host of other policy questions on which religious liberty and gay rights conflict. While many religious Americans oppose same-sex marriage, they are less offended by other gay rights measures. However, when they see their churches penalized for their views, these faithful feel that the expansion of gay rights is sought at the expense of their religious liberties. 

Here, Obama should follow the example of Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank, who supported religious exemptions in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed by the House last year. Obama should similarly ensure, through cabinet department regulations, that religious welfare agencies can still operate federally subsidized housing for the poor or elderly even while objecting to homosexuality, and that religious colleges can remain accredited even if their curriculum or dormitory policies object to homosexuality. Thus, Obama could be the first president to not only promote the expansion of gay rights, but also forge their durability by including religious protections within those very same laws. This would go a long way toward assuaging of those who view gay rights as a threat to their religious liberty.

Beyond balancing the tensions on hot-button issues, Obama will have the opportunity to promote initiatives that will benefit religious voters and communities and are not at odds with fundamental Democratic values.

For example, statistics show that religious discrimination in the workplace has steadily risen over the past decade, with workers having difficulty securing flexible scheduling for Sabbath or holy day observance, permission to wear yarmulkes, turbans or headscarves, or have other conscience issues accommodated. During the campaign, Obama endorsed carefully crafted legislation to prod employers to accommodate their employees’ religious needs in the workplace. In the past, such legislation has been stymied by an unusual alliance between business lobbies like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which opposes imposing requirements on employers, and groups like the ACLU, who fear that such laws could, for example, enable a pharmacist with a religious objection to disrupt access to "morning after" pills or contraception. Obama could build on the success of such workplace religious accommodation laws in states like New York and Massachusetts, and work to pass a religious accommodation law at the federal level.

Education funding offers another opportunity for Obama. The number one "kitchen table" issue for many middle-class faith families is the cost of sending their kids to a K-12 parochial school. For all their talk about "school choice" over the past years, Republicans delivered little concrete support to parochial schools and their families while the GOP held power. While school voucher programs may be a bridge too far for a Democratic president and Congress, Obama could materially assist these families and their schools by including them in the overall education improvement plans already on his drawing board: universal pre-kindergarten, energy efficiency grants to modernize and "green" school buildings, and publicly supported teaching materials and technology. Despite concerns that such funding would violate the separation between church and state, pursuing this path would be consistent with the kinds of "supplemental assistance" programs that already exist and have passed constitutional muster (such as government-provided busing, books, computers, and special education instructors).

Finally, Obama committed during the campaign to create a White House Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This council would be tasked not only with guiding efforts to tackle issues such as poverty and education, but, as Obama said, "help set our national agenda." Although it hasn’t come up yet during the transition, it is important that Obama follows through and creates this council. Its members should reflect not only the United States’ denominational diversity, but also its ideological diversity--including religious leaders who may oppose aspects of his agenda--and the council’s director should rank high enough to have access to the president and real impact on policies affecting religious communities. Obama should also follow through on his commitment to continue the federal government’s support and partnership with faith-based social welfare organizations--and in a fashion that protects the religious liberties and character of these organizations.

In their faith-outreach efforts, Democrats were wont to quote the Book of James’ statement that "faith without works is dead." If there were a Talmudic commentary to the Christian Bible, it might suggest that, having won the power to govern, Democrats ought now to reread this verse to say, "Without work, faith outreach will be dead."

 

Nathan J. Diament is the director of public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.



Posted 1/1/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest | Comments (0)


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SEFER MITZVOTH HABITACHON/THE BOOK OF FAITH
There is one axiomatic-and universal-response for every circumstance in life: Hope in HaShem. So powerful is this perspective-that it is the primary antidote, source of healing, and genesis of redemption-in all human affairs.
The Midrash (Vayachie 98) states: "Rabbi Yitzchak said, ’The success of everything is dependent upon hope, i.e., unwavering trust in HaShem.’

Thus at times of hardship one should be hopeful that HaShem will deliver him. Likewise, when one is sanctifying the name of HaShem, he should be trustful. Also, when a person prays in the merit of our Patriarchs, his heart should be filled with optimism. And our yearning for a share in the World to Come should be infused with hope.

The Torah (Yeshayahu 26:8) enlightens us to the relevancy of hope concerning these specific realms: ’Even when in the path of your judgments (i.e., hardships), HaShem we have hoped for you. The desire of our soul (i.e., alludes to the World to Come) is to Your name (refers to sanctifying the name of HaShem), and to the remembrance of You (pertains to the Patriarchs).’

Moreover, finding favor in the eyes of HaShem depends on our longing for His help, as the verse (Yeshayahu 32:2) states: ’HaShem, be gracious to us, we have hoped for You; be their strength every morning, also our deliverance at the time of trouble.’

In addition, Divine forgiveness depends upon our hope that HaShem will forgive our shortcomings. As King David said (Tehillim 130:4-5): ’There is forgiveness with You; I hope for HaShem, my soul hopes, and I await His word.’"
The message of this profound teaching is that even if a person is unworthy, nevertheless, hopefulness and optimism in HaShem awakens Divine assistance.

May our hope in HaShem bring about great miracles for ourselves and all of Klal Yisrael.

TODAY: Strengthen your hope in HaShem and bring tranquility and joy upon your soul.

To subscribe (free) to eMussar send email to Salant or visit our website www.salantfoundation.org


Posted 4/10/2008 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest | Comments (0)


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Forty Days

If you start learning Mishnayos Megillah on the fourth day of Adar (Tuesday, March 11th) and learn just three Mishnayos a day (after Maariv, with your son, etc.), you will complete the entire mesechta on Purim, and if you then continue to learn Mishnayos Pesachim starting on Purim (it is a mitzvah to begin learning Hilchos Pesach on Purim, as brought in the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 429; Mishne Berurah seif katan 2), you will complete Mishnayos Pesachim before Pesach!

Many of us are familiar with the "segula" of davening (or having a shliach daven for you) at the Kosel for forty days in a row in order to obtain a particular yeshua that is needed. In fact, Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita (Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 4:61) writes that this segula can be accomplished in any Bais HaMedrash or Bais Haknesses, if you expressly enter to daven for this particular need. The key to success is temidus (consistency and constancy) in a Makom Kadosh.

Note: Perhaps this very fact--that your shul can serve as your Mikdash Me’atcan reignite your sensitivity to your very own shul’s kedusha.

-------------------------

Reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS

--------------------------



Posted 3/10/2008 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest | Comments (0)


POST-PURIM POINTS
Imagine how you would feel the day you won the lottery! It would make no difference whether it was $45 million, $161 million or $276 million. A spirit of overflowing glee and insurmountable joy would exude from every part of your being. Undoubtedly, the unquashed, exuberant feeling would last for at least a day or so, and would only slightly wane over the next several days and weeks. In a more spiritual vein, the feeling of pristine spiritual purity attained after Yom Kippur likewise continues with us in the days that follow as we try to not let go of our elevated plane. The days after Purim are unique in that they combine the thrill of our physical lives being spared together with the spiritual elevation attained from an understanding of the Megillah’s events, and the profound lessons to be learned from the Mitzvos performed on Purim day. At the very least, we should now be experiencing the joy of being alive--and of having the zechus of making the most of our precious life through the study of Torah and performance of Mitzvos. The Megillah relates that after Haman was advised that he was the only minister to be invited to an exclusive party with the King and Queen, he felt especially “Sameach V’Tov Lev” (Esther 5:9)--**happy and glad of heart**. Why was he so happy and glad of heart? Because there was no other person in the world like him--it was the King, the Queen...and him alone! Rav Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita, explains that we, too, should feel this same elation in that we have been especially chosen--chosen like no other nation--to be Hashem’s standard bearers for the world by dutifully performing the Torah and Mitzvos. He incredibly points to the words of the Tochacha (the reproof) in the Torah which unequivocally teaches, in an almost identical language, that the reason we will suffer the Tochacha’s fate, is “because you did not serve Hashem “**happy and a glad of heart**”--i.e., that we did not properly appreciate and bask in our own uniqueness (Devarim 28: 47)! Furthermore, in contrast to Haman, however--who lived only for himself and for his position in this world--we live for infinitely greater purposes and for eternity. Winning the state lottery compared to the enormity of what we can accomplish would be like telling a short joke at a four-hour long Purim Seudah! It is fascinating to note that Rav Amram Goan writes that the Minhag in the two main yeshivos during the time of the Geonim, Sura and Pumbedisa, was to actually recite Tachanun on Purim--“for it is a day of miracles, and upon which we were redeemed, and so we must ask for mercy that we will be redeemed in the end in the same way that we were initially redeemed.” As we enter the portal between the Geulah of Purim and the Geulah of Mitzraim, a time in which for the next two weeks we will all be reciting Tachanun and/or other prayers for Geulah, we should be very mindful to recite them with strong and special Kavannah because, without mincing words, it is, simply stated, a time of Geulah. Everyone should try and keep a daily record, or at least a real mental note, of the special and sincere prayers he has made for the Geulah during this auspicious period. Although we take leave of the Megillah for the time being, we must always remember the words of the Chovos HaLevavos (Shaar Cheshbon HaNefesh)--“Ki HaYamim Megillos--for each one of our days are scrolls,” we must write upon them that which we should [be proud to] remember about them. Each one of us is important, and each page, each scroll, of the book of our life, is filled with potential that only we--and no one else--can achieve. We should be as elated every day with the results of our own personal Megillah, as we are with the outcome of the Megillah on Purim! -------------------------- Reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS --------------------------


Posted 3/8/2007 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest


The Miracles of Hanit
from Rabbi Lazer Brody October, 2006 Israeli Missile boat "Hanit" was tugged into Ashdod port after having been hit by a Hizbulla missile off the Beirut shore on July 14, 2006. Yesterday, a young Israeli Naval sergeant boarded the northbound train in Tel Aviv. I was on my way to a moshav in the Haifa area and he was returning to his base in the Haifa port. He sat down across from me, looking at me intently while I was learning my Gemorra. I looked up at him, smiled, said "Shalom aleichem!" He sighed deeply, as if relieved, and sheepishly asked, "Can I talk to you, Rav?" "Of course," I answered, asking him how he knows that I'm a "rav". He said that he heard me eulogize one of his fallen friends during the recent war. The sailor had a relatively new beard, an almost new knitted kippa on his head, and the beautifully pure innocence in his eyes of a new Ba'al Tshuva. To make a long story short, he was a crewman on board the Hanit when it was hit in Beirut. The sailor, who we'll call Moshe, began to relate the dozens of miracles that happened aboard the Hanit the night that it was hit. "It was Friday night. Usually, the crew would eat Friday night dinner in two shifts. But this time, since we were in a war zone, our three religious crewmen went to Lt. Col. A - the skipper - and begged that we all need Hashem's help. The first miracle is that the skipper agreed to leave only 4 sailors on the bridge, and allowed the whole entire crew to pray together; we piled into the chapel, and said a lengthy mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat. I was bored and wanted to eat quickly then catch a few hours sleep, because I had the midnight watch. But, I stayed with the rest of the crew. Then, all of us had a Shabbat meal together - 15 different sailors said Kiddush, each in the custom of his fathers; I'm talking about guys that aren't (weren't) even religious! The meal was drawn out - I had a headache and was dying to sleep. The religious guys started to say the grace after the meal, and BOOOFF! The missile hit, but on the opposite end of the craft. It should have sank the boat, but it hit a crane right above the chopper landing pad. What a miracle! If that's not enough, the helicopter-refueling tank - filled to the gills with chopper fuel - didn't explode despite the fact that the whole end of the boat was burned..." At least twenty other crewmen aboard the Hanit should have been killed, but they were saved by Shabbat dinner on the other end of the ship. Moshe had beads of sweat on his forehead; tears glistened in his eyes. "The newspapers don't write about the miracles that we all saw. I ran to my bunk on the deck right below the landing pad. It was charcoal; my metal bunk was completely melted down and all my possessions were ashes. If I hadn't been detained in the chapel and in the dining hall for Shabbat meal, I'd have been charcoal too. I haven't stopped thanking Hashem since - I've changed my life..." Moshe continued with more miracles, including the engine room burnt to a crisp but a pair of tefillin was found unscathed. If that's not enough, amidst the embers of destruction, the sailors found a Book of Psalms - also unscathed - opened to Psalm 124. Read Psalm 124 and your hair will stand up! The train was nearing my station, so I gave Moshe a blessing and a fatherly embrace, and we parted. The Hanit took a direct hit from a Hizbulla missile, but Moshe has turned the navy's setback into a victory. ******* Every day, I meet more and more "Moshes". Unlike the misguided and corrupt Israeli leaders, the Israeli on the street - especially the soldiers and the reservists - are diamonds looking to be polished, and have started to ask the real questions in life. They're looking for emuna. Were it not for the war, they wouldn't have bothered. The whole purpose of the war was to bring us closer to Hashem. Hashem does everything for the best - always. [link=http://lazerbrody.typepad.com]Click here to read this article, and others from Rabbi Lazer Brody[/link]


Posted 2/17/2007 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest


Yarzeit of Baba Sali 4th of Shvat
4th of Shvat is the yarzeit of the Baba Sali. Some information about him appears below, excerpted from Judaicaplus.com Rabbi Yisrael Abuchatzeirah, was of a well-known rabbinical dynasty. His grandfather was the famous tzaddik, Rabbi Yaakov Abuchatzeirah[link=http://nehora.com/tzadikim/tz_viewer.cfm?page=abuchatzeira.htm](To view more information, first click 'To Read More' below in blue, and then click here)[/link]) . He had great skill in Talmudic interpretation and many of his halachic decisions were accepted and took root among his followers. He was regarded as someone who possessed the Ruach Hakodesh or "Divine Spirit". Although still very young, people flocked to R' Yisrael for blessings for their parnassa (income), family, and health. Consequently he became known as "Baba Sali," (our praying father) because of the prayers that he would invoke on behalf of those who sought out his guidance. One day, young Yisrael's father told him, "My child, you have a great power to bless people which you cannot measure. Your words can bring great help to men. From now on, you must use this power to say good things about others and to bless them." Young Yisrael gave his word. Soon it became known that the blessings of this young child brought miraculous results. He became famous as Baba Sali. May the merit of the Baba Sali, Rav Yisrael Abuchatzera, be a blessing for us.


Posted 1/23/2007 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest


Received this message from Eretz Yisrael:
As you are know, the situation here is very serious. Last night, at a Tehillim gathering, the Bostoner Rebbe spoke about the terrible danger we are facing. He said the situation is much more serious than we think it is. This is a [blue]Time of Trouble for Yakov.[/blue] Hence, we must look to our Gedolim for guidance. The [blue]Moetzet Gedolei HaTorah call on us to strengthen ourselves in mitzvos, to better our treatment of other people, to look at the good in every person and not their deficiencies, to strengthen the holiness of our homes, and to stay away from technologies that could lead to sin.[/blue] We must engage in the craft of our Fathers and [purple]cry[/purple] a great and bitter cry to our Father in Heaven. We must [purple]recognize[/purple] that our sins have brought these troubles, and we must [purple]do teshuva[/purple]. [purple]We ask for the rachamim, mercy of Heaven, and beg Hashem to remove this terrible evil that has beset us[/purple]. [blue][i]Below is a (freely translated) letter signed by Rav Elyashiv and Rav Shteiman, Shlita, Gedelei Hador:[/i][/blue] Klal Yisrael is suffering terribly, and we have nothing to rely on except our Father in heaven. We have to search our deeds. We don't know the ways of Heaven, but certainly each one of us must search through his deeds. It is very possible that this is part of what Chazal, refer to as "[green]the birth pangs of Moshiach[/green]". They explain that what a person should do to be saved at the time of Chevlei Moshiach is to put efforts into Torah and acts of kindness. 1- [red]Occupying ourselves with Torah[/red] always is something that we should strengthen, certainly at that time. Each person should try to strengthen his own commitment to be occupied with Torah. 2-We certainly should do everything to see that we at least are not behaving in a way that is the opposite of kindness. That is to say, that we may not bring grief to any individual or to any community. Chazal tell us that Achavs's generation worshipped idols, but because they were not fragmented, they went to war and won. When there is machlokes (quarrels)this is not the case, may Hashem rescue us! [red]We must try very hard to bring peace to our interpersonal relationships.[/red] 3- We know [red]how beloved our observing Shabbos is to Hashem, [/red]and how much its opposite is despised. Recently efforts have been made to strengthen our resolve to avoid patronizing places that defile Shabbos publicly. This is especially true in the cases where using their services doesn't effect human life in any significant way. Unfortunately there are some segments of the community that find it hard to give up patronizing places that break Shabbos, and rent their premises. This gives credibility to the idea that Shabbos is not that important to them, and it is enough to keep Shabbos personally, without considering whether or not they are belittling Shabbos. 4- [red]Tznius-dressing modestly [/red]needs a lot of work. This is especially important since it says that when there is no tznius the Shechina- Hashem's protective aspect "Turns aside from you". It is important for us to strengthen ourselves. We are not coming to say that we know why this suffering has come upon us. Nonetheless, it is certainly true that strengthening ourselves may help turn Hashem's wrath aside. 20 Tammuz, 5766 (Rav) Yosef Shalom Eliashiv (Rav) Aharon Y. Shteiman


Posted 7/26/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest


"THANK YOU" IN WAR
In the brocha immediately preceding Shema in the morning, we conclude: “And You have brought us close to Your great name forever in truth, to offer praiseful thanks to You and proclaim Your oneness with love…” We see from this brocha that the FIRST listed reason that Hashem has brought us close to Him is so that we can offer appropriate thanks. Let us consider the following: Although every injury is traumatic and every death is equivalent to the death of an entire world, if we note the hundreds upon hundreds of missiles and other projectiles that have been hurled by murderers upon our men, women and children in populated cities, towns, and villages over the last days (140 missiles just during yesterday) and compare it to the actual number of tragic casualties, we will find what the murderers would deem to be an incredible (miraculous) failure. On the very same days that the rockets were landing among apartment houses and city centers, individual suicide bombers and limited tsunamis in other areas of the world were taking seemingly far greater tolls. We understand that stories have already been written about the miracles taking place in Tzefas and other areas where the missiles have fallen, or not fallen. Thus, as we continue to implore Hashem to shower His mercy upon us, let us not forget to take the special effort to thank Hashem for the miracles that are with us daily, in war as well as in peace. The most appropriate place for offering these thanks would appear to be in the brocha of Modim in Shemone Esrei each day. With respect to our continuing Tehillim recitation, especially the recitation of Chapters 83, 130, and 142 in public, each shul’s Rav may have a particular p’sak about such recitation on Shabbos. See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 288:9) and Mishne Berurah there; also see Teshuvos V’Hanhagos (3:97). Finally, we have received the text of a Public Proclamation signed by 30 leading Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva in the United States calling on Shuls and Yeshivos to gather together this coming Sunday between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. for Tehillim and Selichos on behalf of each and every member of Klal Yisroel who is in tzara--in captivity--or otherwise needs a yeshua. May the coming days take us from distress to relief, from darkness to light and from subjugation to redemption


Posted 7/21/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest


CRISIS RELIEF
With the crisis situation and tragedies of the previous weeks, we experience a feeling of fear and strict justice. Bilaam himself exclaimed, "Oi-Mi Yichyeh M'Sumo Kel-- OH! who will survive when He imposes these?" (Bamidbar 24:23) It would seem appropriate, especially as we enter the period of the Three Weeks, for each one of us to do what we can to avoid this din, this strict justice, upon us individually and upon our families. After all, Hillel teaches in Avos, "Im ain ani li mi li--If I am not for myself who will be for me?" (Avos 1:14) Here are three recommendations--life vests supplied in turbulent waters: 1. The Gemara (Rosh HaShana 17A) teaches "For one who passes over his Middos (e.g., does not anger, does not take vengeance, and does not react--even when the situation may completely justify it)--Hashem will, in turn, pass over his sins. The Cheshbon is simple-you control yourself even when justified, and Hashem likewise controls His anger against you--even when justified. 2. The Gemara (Sotah 21A) teaches that the study of Torah does not only save one from punishment once punishment has commenced--but actually even shields and protects one before the onset of any new punishment, as well. The Gemara explains (based upon the Posuk in Mishlei (6:23)), that Torah is compared to the light of the sun, which unlike the light of a candle that eventually is extinguished, successfully provides light for a person day after day. In the summertime, when the Tinokos Shel Beis Rabban--the schoolchildren--study less than when in school, we should try to make up the slack by learning a little more ourselves. 3. It is said that in the name of Gedolim, that one should make Brachos aloud in order to cause others to answer "Amen." This special level of gratitude and faith serves as an affirmation and reaffirmation of Hashem's control over the world, obviating the need for Hashem to remind us personally in other ways. For an excellent review of this concept, you can order the tape "Attitude of Gratitude" (Rabbi Jonathan Rietti and Rabbi Yechiel Spero) from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation at 845-352-3505. As is evident from all of the above, Hashem is not asking that we stand on our hands, stretch or shrivel, or do 180 degree flips! Some nicely-made Brachos, some additional Torah study, some self-control in situations which last only a fleeting moment anyway, can be literally life-saving--and as troubles reach us all over, we must light up the darkness long enough and strong enough for us to survive until daybreak. Reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS


Posted 7/12/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest


ChanochL Na-ar al pi Darko
Beautifully done video presentation.[link=http://www.raisingsmallsouls.com/wp-content/themes/179/aschool.html]click below on the blue then click here to view presentaion[/link]


Posted 7/10/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest


PROPER KAVOD
It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word for honor,'kavod', is also used as a synonym for the Neshama--soul, as Dovid HaMelech pleads in Tehillim: 'Lem'aan yezamercha kavod...'--so that my soul praises you. Yet, the gematria of kavod is 32, which corresponds to the Lev, heart, symbolizing feeling. Thus, the term kavod uniquely combines both Neshama, symbolizing our superior intellect, and Lev, demonstrating our unique humane feeling. When we properly show kavod, we unite our powerful intellect and unparalleled feeling, to display true respect, whether due or earned. Let us turn for a moment to the kavod of Torah. There is, in fact, an entire Siman in Shulchan Aruch devoted to kavod of Rabbonim (Yoreh Deah 242) and two other entire Simanim dedicated to the honor of Talmidei Chachomim in general (ibid., Simanim 243 and 244). We will note here, however, the Siman in Shulchan Aruch dedicated to the kavod due the Sefer Torah, sefarim and Holy Objects (ibid. Siman 282). Given the depth of the term kavod, it behooves us to pay special attention to the kavod of these special items which assist and guide us in our great task of Torah Study. As we previously noted from HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Shlita, one must study Torah in a manner which shows true respect. This may begin with the kavod of the Sefarim that we learn Torah from. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, relates that when he was younger the Chazon Ish noticed that he was studying Torah with his elbows on the Gemara, but that he was careful not to put any other Sefer on top of his Gemara. The Chazon Ish advised him that he acted incorrectly--no elbows were allowed on his Gemara, but another Sefer, even that of a later commentary, was. Many of us were trained as children that when a Sefer falls, you pick it up and kiss it. What if two sefarim fall? Both Sefarim should be picked up as quickly as possible--and then kissed together. Some common examples where we can show Kavod Hatorah are: - when noticing Seforim strewn about or in disheveled pile--straightening them out -r eshelving sefarim, even if they were taken out by others - not permitting children's books with Torah content to be placed, or remain, on the floor - not tossing Sefarim (Hebrew or English0 even from short distances or onto the table - not placing Sefarim on your lap or sitting on the same level that Seforim are placed - not holding a Sefer below you waist, or letting it bang against your leg - not keeping Sefarim unlocked in your car, or on the seat where someone will sit down near or upon them - kissing a Sefer before and after use (and perhaps even during use--if you learn something from it that really excites you) -taking a Sefer with you when travelling--as Rav Quinn Z'TL was known to always remark 'You're always safer with a Sefer!' Every day we are privileged with opportunities to show proper kavod to those Holy Objects which give us our respect. As Chazal teach --All who honor the Torah are honored by all of creation (Avos 4:8). May we be blessed with the Neshama and the Lev to be successful with these opportunities! -------------------------- Reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS


Posted 5/30/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest


THE RAMCHAL
Today is the Yahrzeit of the Ramchal, HaRav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, Z"TL, who lit the world with the great works Mesilas Yesharim, Derech Hashem and other powerful chiburim. The GRA himself is reputed to have said that there is not one superfluous word in the first eight (8) chapters of the Mesilas Yesharim. The Ramchal starts the Mesilas Yesharim with the words 'Yesod HaChasidus V'Shoresh HaAvodah'--the foundation of saintliness and the root of perfection in the service of Hashem'. The Ramchal passed away during Sefira--on the day whose attribute is 'Yesod SheBeYesod' (Foundation of Foundations). It is clear that with his Ruach HaKodesh, he foresaw that he would provide us with the foundation of foundations for hundreds of years to come. In view of what the Ramchal has done for us all, we wish to highlight the timeless words which conclude the Mesilas Yesharim (Translated from The Path of the Just, Feldheim Publishers): "We can easily understand that every person needs direction and guidance in accordance with his skills and his occupation, since the path of piety appropriate for one whose 'Torah is his vocation' is unsuitable for one who must place himself at the employ of another; and neither of these ways is suitable for one who is engaged in his own business. And this is the case regarding all the other particulars of human affairs in the world. There is a path to piety that is suitable to each and every individual, whatever his [vocation]. That is not to say that the nature of piety varies, for it is the same for everyone, since its goal is to bring pleasure to the Creator. But in view of the fact that circumstances are always changing, the means leading toward the implementation of the goal must also vary, according to the circumstances that prevail. It is possible that someone who out of necessity is a simple artisan may become a completely pious person, like an individual who never stops learning. And it states (ibid 16:4): 'The Eternal created everything for His own sake.' And it says (ibid 3:4): 'In all of your ways know Him, and He will direct your paths.' "May the Blessed One, in His mercy, open our eyes through His Torah and guide us in His ways and lead us in His paths, and may we be worthy of glorifying His name and pleasing Him. 'May the glory of the Eternal endure forever, let the Eternal rejoice in His works' (Tehillim 104:31). 'Let Israel rejoice in its Maker, let the Sons of Zion exult in their King' (ibid. 149:2) Amen, Amen, Amen!" We should absorb these very precious words of the Ramchal--for they are directed to us. It is each and every one of us whose role in life is to follow the Path of the Just. May we always have the alertness, sense, ability and fortitude to bring honor, glory and pleasure to our Creator! Reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS


Posted 5/24/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest


OUR LAG BAOMER
As we reach the Lag BaOmer milestone, we are faced with a perplexing question: What is really the sudden cause for celebration at this time? After all, from what we know of our past during the Omer period, 24,000 senior scholars--the students of Rebbe Akiva passed away for not properly respecting each other; even Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai, one of the surviving students, eventually passed away on this day; later, the Crusades took their great toll on Ashkenazic Jewry during Sefira; then, the great Posek for Ashkenazim, the Rema passed away on Lag BaOmer, like Rebbe Shimon; and, most recently, much of Hungarian Jewry was hurriedly annihilated during the period from Pesach to Shavuos in 1944--to such an extent that the survivors of Hungarian Jewry who do not know when their relatives or friends were murdered observe the Second Day of Shavuos as their Yahrzeit. So, what is the joy--the songs, the bonfires, the bows and arrows about? Why are weddings allowed, and Tachanun not recited? Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (following the lines of the Gra's Commentary on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim, 493) teaches we celebrate that in all events, there were those who remained. Indeed, the resemblance in all of the aforementioned tragedies is striking: Rebbe Shimon passed his legacy to his students (it is no coincidence that so many other future generations of Tannaim are buried right around Rebbe Shimon in Meron). Similarly, even after the Crusader massacres killing Rabbeinu Tam and many others in many communities, the Baalei Tosfos flourished for many generations, culminating in the Rosh, and his son, the Tur, as the basis for our Shulchan Aruch; the Rema, rather than being the final word in Halacha for Ashkenazim, became the basis and guide for the scores of future poskim; the remnants of Hungarian Jewry fill the Yeshivas from Bnei Brak to Borough Park. But it is more than that we are just survivors. It is the fulfillment of the Posuk (Devorim 32:23): 'Chitzai Achaleh Bom'--I will finish my arrows in them--which Chazal (Sotah 9A) explain to mean--my arrows will be finished in them, but they will not be finished. Hashem has guided us through events, times, places and tragedies of immense proportions, while the other 70 nations of the world disappeared from far less calamitous events. Perhaps this is the symbol of the bow and arrow on Lag BaOmer--the arrows are done, but we are not. Why is this so--why has our history--our experience in this world been so different than all other nations? We suggest that the answer to this, too, brings us to this time of year--it is, once again, not coincidental that all of this is happening as we prepare to receive the Torah--for it **IS THE TORAH** that has made our lives so different and so endurable. It is the Torah, created well before the world as we know it was created, that has given us the 'supernatural' force for us to thrive and survive. At this special time of year, we should especially demonstrate our recognition of the importance of Torah in our lives and in the lives of Klal Yisroel. PRACTICAL SUGGESTION: For the coming two weeks until Shavuos, in whatever you are learning, whether it is a thought on the Parsha, Daf Yomi, or even a Torah email, think about how important Torah study in our lives. It is not academics, nor a body of knowledge, but the one part of our life that permeates and invigorates us--and the bonfire that warms and enlightens us every day of our lives. -------------------------- reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS


Posted 5/16/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest



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