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Yahrtzait of Moshe Rabbeinu
7th of Adar (Sunday February 25th) is the Yahrtzait of Moshe Rabbeinu.

Posted 2/25/2007 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Special Prayers

Yom Kipper Katan for Adar
Today, the 27th of Shvat is the Yom Kippur Katan for Adar. Please join the worldwide effort to say tehillim each month on the Yom Kippur Katan (Erev Rosh Chodesh)by saying tehillim tonight (Wednesday February 14th) or Thursday. This effort is in cooperation with ANEINU tehillim groups and the network of women's tehillim groups in Eretz Yisrael. For further information, please email Key Tffila

Posted 2/14/2007 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Tehillim

Parshas HaMan - Parnassah Segulah
Reb Mendel M'Riminov said that saying [red]Parshas Ha'monn [/red](Shneyim Mikroh V'Echod Targum) on [red]Tuesday Parshas B'Shalach[/red], is a [b][blue]Segulah for Parnasah [/blue][/b] Make sure to read Parshas HaMan with Onkelus at the following site: [link=]Click first on 'Read More' below, and then click here.[/link]. The sequence is one sentence from the parasha said twice, followed by saying a sentence from Onkelus once. Shnayim Mikroh V'Echod Targum (layning it twice with the Trup, then saying the Unkelus once). It is a Segullah for Paranassah.

Posted 1/28/2007 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Special Prayers

Parshas Bo
Candlelighting for Friday January 26th is 5:02 pm. This week's Parsha is Parshas Bo. The Haftorah is read from Jeremiah 46:13-28. Daf Yomi is Taanis daf 19. The final time for the Kiddush Levanah, sanctification of the New Moon of Shevat, is the entire night following Thursday Feb. 1 (14 Shevat).

Posted 1/26/2007 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov

It is reported about a great Rav and his Rebbetzin that they made a pact with each other upon their marriage--when either of them would begin to get upset at the other, they would say to themselves 'Zeit Mevater--I am going to give in.' More than 50 years later, they recalled how successful their 'pact' had been. Interestingly, when someone recently went to the home of HaRav Binyomin HaTzadik Zilber, Shlita, in Bnei Brak, and asked for a Bracha for his home, HaRav Zilber responded, 'Be Mevater'you be the one to give in! Indeed, the Gemara (Rosh Hashana 17A) relates that Rav Huna, the son of Rav Yehoshua, was about to pass on to the next world, and another Amora asked that shrouds be brought in to take care of the soon to be deceased as soon as possible. Incredibly, the dying Amora recovered. When he was asked how this could have happened, he responded that he had undergone Heavenly Judgment, and that Hashem had told the Heavenly Court that because he was 'maavir al midosuv--he looked the other way' and didn't take the potential hurt to heart, the Heavenly Court also looked the other way and allowed him to live. Applying this concept of 'Zeit Mevater' only two or three times a day, whether it is in the home or elsewhere, can have a tremendous impact on one's personality--and ultimately can actually save one's life!! The Michtav M'Eliyahu (Volume 4, p.77) brings in the name of HaRav Yisroel Salanter, Z'TL, that even if the gates of prayer are closed, the gates of prayer for Hashem's assistance in ruchniyus, in spiritual matters, always remain open. This is a tremendous gift! When each of us davens, in Shema Koleinu or in Elokai Netzor, we should add a sincere request that we reach and even go beyond (for anything is possible) our potential in ruchniyus, that our actions bring about Kavod Shomayim--Hashem's Honor, and that Hashem be able to say about us '...Avdi Ata Asher Bichu Espaer' 'you are my servant, and I am glorified by you' (Yeshiya 49:3). It is said about the Brisker Rav, that he would at various points throughout the day recite the words 'Lishuoscha Kivisi Hashem--For Your salvation do I long for, Hashem.' Reciting these concise and potent words throughout the day with the thought that you wish to improve as a person, in this area or that area, or in this respect or that respect, can go a long way, traveling through those wide open gates. Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us 'Biyom Tova Heyei B'Tov' (Koheles 7:14)--when things are going well, or at least better than you had otherwise expected, Shlomo HaMelech reminds us to express in no uncertain terms our recognition and our appreciation for the good. Here is a brief sampling of various things which may be 'going good' for us today, on a particular day, or every day. Everyone can make his own list, and modify it (Be'Ezras Hashem always adding to it) from time to time. The good that I thank Hashem for includes  Clothing: warm, comfortable, more than one of each kind, makes me look better, helps identify me, and gives me respect  Food: nutritional, tasty, attractive, good aroma, so many different kinds of so many different foods, different foods for different age groups  Body: eyes that see, ears that hear, hands that touch, legs that walk, teeth in order to eat, air to breath, water to drink, mouth to help people with, a working heart, a working liver, working kidneys  Environment: the sun, the rain, the streets, the sidewalks, the grass and trees, the home Of course, all of these are only general categories. One can literally take a notebook(s) and continue to add and add on to what he has and what he has to be thankful for. Now, add on to all of this, our Eternity(!)--accomplished or through the infinite gifts of Torah and mitzvos, performed with care and love--and our thanks becomes everlasting!! -------------------------- Reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS ------------------

Posted 1/22/2007 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week

The Torah, in describing the moment of Yosef's 'meeting' his brothers starkly relates: "V'lo Yochlu Echav La'Anos Oso--and his brothers were unable to respond to him, because they were perturbed in his presence.' (Beraishis 45:3) In commenting on the core lesson to be learned from this Posuk, Chazal teach: 'Woe to us from the day of reckoning, woe to us from the day of rebuke....' If Yosef's brothers, who as a matter of Halacha weighed, determined, and acted upon, what they felt was correct (knowing and taking into account their own prejudices), how will we, acting sometimes impetuously, sometimes impulsively, sometimes inanely, respond to the detailed accounting of the Heavenly Court upon the actions, inactions and reactions we undertook, or failed to undertake, during our lifetimes?' A sobering thought. But Chazal, in their great mercy, share this thought with us while we are still alive--so that we can do something about it! On reflection, however, what is it exactly that we can do? After all, we are mere mortals, somewhat above the animals around us, but not even domiciled in the same sphere as the next highest stage of creation--the angels. Perhaps the answer lies in the question itself. Chazal (Chagiga 16A) list the ways in which we are compared to an animal. One of those ways, in which we are involved daily, is eating. If we can, in this very animal-like activity, raise it to what are truly human heights, if we can rise above the animal part of intake and digestion in some way, we should be able to obviate some of the disconcertion and shed some of that shame on the day of Heavenly Judgment. We mean something more than stopping to read the back of cereal boxes (animals don't do that, anyways), or even the front of the boxes (how have so many cereals become 'whole grain'--and why haven't the brochos changed as a result?). Instead, we mean contemplating at these times that **all** of our activities have a purpose if they are done L'shem Shomayim, for the sake of Heaven. If we make a brocha before we eat the food, and after we eat the food, imagine the sanctity we can imbue into the act of eating itself! To analogize, compare this to the obvious difference between putting on/taking off your Tefillin and the actual wearing of the Tefillin themselves, or to setting/cleaning off the Shabbos table to the actual Shabbos table itself. If we could only then spend an additional few moments while eating to also contemplate  that Hashem provides us with all of this and that it simply would not be here without Him;  the incredible make-up of the different food items being consumed--from atom up (could all of this have really come from a 'Big Bang'--or even two?);  that you/others have taken efforts to ensure that the food is Kosher and otherwise prepared in accordance with Halacha;  the complexity of what it took to get this relatively small amount of food to your table and the human labor and planning that were required to help feed little you;  that you can obtain nourishment from tasty food, rather than painful injection;  that you are saying thank you to your body for hosting your soul;  that you are energizing your soul by converting the physical strength derived from food into spiritual strength (isn't it much harder to learn, or not to act agitated, on a Ta'anis then a day in which you have eaten well?);  that this is a valuable moment because you are fulfilling mans purpose in life--sanctifying the mundane... and the special thoughts go on. You can even move on to use this G-d given break from work/daily chores to figure out a shidduch for someone, or think about a practical way to get out of a particular bad habit in your davening. And so, if we take the Heavenly, and bring it right down to us now in our earthly, and erstwhile earthy, activities, we should be in a much better, much less shocked, disconcerted, perturbed, or disgraced position, when that great day of outlook, of clarity, of Heavenly Light , reviews our potential...and our accomplishments! -------------------------- Reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS

Posted 1/10/2007 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week

Among the brochos that Yaakov Avinu eternally blessed his children with was the brocha which he gave to his Bechor, Reuven. The words of this brocha include 'Pachaz KaMayim Al Tosar'--You acted with water-like impetuosity.' There is a preliminary question here: Where is the brocha contained in these words? It is said in the name of HaRav Yerucham Levovitz, Z'TL, that the biggest brocha that a person can have is to know his capabilities and understand his limitations. Shaul HaMelech, for instance, thought that the Kingship belonged to him and his descendents, and was tortured by the fact that it was being taken away. Reuven, on the other hand, was given the brocha to know, fully and finally, that neither the Kingship nor the Kehuna--the Priesthood--would be his, and that, accordingly, he should not spend unnecessary and, in fact, wasteful, pain and effort working towards those unattainable goals. Each and every one of us may want to be, for example, the one who is wise enough or erudite enough to win all arguments; wealthy enough to buy all that we perceive as our needs; and successful enough to be the 'boss' and not the employee. We should, however, recognize and appreciate what our capacities truly are and develop ourselves within that framework of potential. Looking back again at these words of Ruach HaKodesh from Yaakov Avinu to Reuven, his precious first-born, we find another amazing insight, this time made by HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita. HaRav Salomon explains once again, that Yaakov's words to Reuven are not words of punishment, but, in fact, a lesson to us all. Yaakov told Reuven that he did not have the capability of Kingship and the Kehuna because he lacked Menuchas HaNefesh--calmness, tranquility and peace of mind--and the clarity that goes along with it. One who acts hastily and sometimes out of confusion, makes mistakes, and certainly cannot consistently make clear decisions. For success, a sense of serenity and peace of mind is required. Kingship and Kehuna are extreme examples in which this composure is so important, but it is the very same Menuchas HaNefesh that is required of each and every one of us to be successful at our particular mission in life. In the Yeshivos of Kelm, Navardok, and, later, Gateshead and Lakewood, the Orchos Chaim LaRosh (a succinct compellation of Halachos, Mitzvos, and Mussar teachings authored by the great Rishon, the Rosh) was [and is] recited with fervor during the month of Elul. In Kelm, the three words in the Orchos Chaim to which were given the greatest of emphasis were 'Al Tivahel Ma'asecha--Do not act with confusion.' Hastiness, disorder, and lack of necessary care all lead to patent and latent error, explains HaRav Salomon, and this leads to a lack of achievement and life fulfillment. Indeed, every day, at the end of the tefillah 'Uva L'Tzion' we request 'V'lo Neylayd Le' that our actions are not confused, so that our accomplishments are not futile' (see Artscroll Siddur). HaRav Salomon adds that Chazal teach that Noach 'found favor in the eyes of Hashem' (Bereishis 6:8) precisely because of, as his name indicates, his 'menuchas hanefesh', his equanimity in a world of upheaval and turmoil. Each and every one of us is subjected to a pace of life which would lead us straight down the stream of 'behalah' if we allow ourselves to be forced along by its strong current. HaRav Salomon suggests, therefore, that we must be vigilant with ourselves to take the slogan of 'Al Tivahel Maasecha' with us when confronting the foibles of our daily lives. He suggests something which he calls 'simple but not easy'. A person must have a method by which he could stop the pace--not immediately going from one completed item to the next. Instead, he should get used to stopping and asking himself, 'What am I doing?' 'Am I doing it in an orderly fashion?' 'Am I doing it right?' 'What have I done?' and 'What am I going to do?' Just as we stop an automobile engine from overheating by putting it into neutral, every so often through the day, we must put ourselves into neutral as well, compose ourselves and order our lives. What a great lesson the Torah teaches us for success in life. Noach, whose very name bore his essence of calmness and peace of mind, allowed the entire world to survive. Reuven, the great Bechor of Yaakov Avinu, on the other hand, could not carry the positions of responsibility of his people because he lacked the requisite composure and tranquility. How much better our lives would be if we could bring the words of HaRav Salomon, Shlita, with us into our work and home environments--that added degree of serenity, of composure could very well mean the difference between a gross error and an unbelievable achievement! So, let us put those occasional checkpoints into our daily routine, and into an otherwise hectic situation--so that we, too, will find favor in the eyes of Hashem! -------------------------- Reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS --------------------------

Posted 1/9/2007 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week

Parshas Vayechi
Shortly before Yaakov Avinu passed away, he requested that Yosef swear that he would bury him in Me’aras Hamachpeila. After Yosef complied with his father’s wish, Yaakov Avinu prostrated himself towards the head of the bed. Rashi comments that he specifically bowed towards the head of the bed because the Shechina rests above the head of someone who is ill. Rav Wolbe asks (Shiurei Chumash Parshas Vayechi) why is the Shechina located specifically above the head of an ill person? He explains that Hashem’s closeness to a person is directly in proportion to the extent that the person feels that he cannot depend on himself. The more a person feels that he can “get by” on his own, the further he is from Hashem. In contrast, someone who is ill and realizes his complete lack of strength is much less complacent. Hence, he subjugates himself before his Creator, thereby meriting a special closeness to Hashem. Additionally, our Sages tell us that an ill person’s prayers are more effective in procuring his recovery than the prayers of another for him. It is because he is more cognizant that his only help is from Hashem that Hashem favors his tefillos. When Yitzchok and Rivka prayed together that they merit bearing children, the Torah tells us that Hashem acquiesced to Yitzchok’s prayers as opposed to Rivka’s prayers. Rashi explains that the prayers of someone whose parents are wicked cannot be compared to the prayers of someone whose parents are righteous. Rav Wolbe (ibid. Parshas Toldos) quotes The Alter of Kelm who explains the reasoning behind this phenomenon with the above concept. Someone whose forbearers were wicked knows that they can’t depend on their merits. However, someone whose ancestors were righteous might feel that he need not pray so intensely since he has plenty of merits on which to rely. If nonetheless he completely subjugates himself before Hashem and prays with the proper intensity, he has worked on his tefillos to a greater degree then someone without special merits. This is the form of tefilla that is awarded special treatment by Hashem. Rabbeinu Yonah writes that someone who is haughty does not merit Heavenly assistance. The reason being that he feels that he is ‘something special’ and therefore does not subjugate himself before Hashem. Similarly, the Gr’a writes that children merit special Providence (we can witness miracles involving children on a daily basis) because they realize that they are completely dependent on others. Their lack of self-reliance is their key to receiving Divine intervention. “Hashem is close to all those who call out to Him – to all who truly call out to Him.” Hashem listens to every single prayer without regard to the supplicant’s spiritual level. However, he must realize when he prays, that he is completely dependent on Hashem and it is only He who has the ability to assist him. The effectiveness of our prayers and our closeness to Hashem are directly proportionate to the extent that we subjugate ourselves before Him. This dvar Torah was compiled by the family of the Mashgiach l’iluy nishmas the Mashgiach Harav Shlomo ben R’ Moshe z”l.

Posted 1/6/2007 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Parsha Pearls

Tehillim Thought for 13th of Tevet
13th of Tevet, January 3, 2007 "Tremble before Him, all (peoples of) the earth (Psalm 96:9)." Who must tremble before G-D? All people of the earth must tremble before G-D, Creator of heaven and earth. But this verse may be interpreted differently. The individual who trembles does so from fear- fear of punishment and of negative consequences. Who is this fearful individual? It is the person who is " of the earth", who is attached to all things material and physical. Such an individual is governed by his needs and wants; he is hostage to his own desires. Because he is immersed in the physical world, he is profoundly disconnected from Hashem and from his own spirituality. He trembles with terror at having lost his soul connection to G-D, fearful of the consequences that will ensue. Tehillim thoughts composed by Rachel Lerner. Reprinted with permission of Rachel Lerner. To contact Rachel, click here

Posted 1/3/2007 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Tehillim

Will we let Aseres B’Teves pass us after partaking of a bagel and juice or some other break-fast? Our body remembers the fast for a while after our abstinence. Our souls should remember it at least as long. Chazal (Shabbos 31A) teach that one of the first six questions a person is asked by the Heavenly Court is ’Tzipisa L’Yeshua--Did you long for the Redemption?’ How can we express this longing? We suggest that this week during the ’Es Tzemach Dovid’ brocha of Shemone Esrei (in which we state our longing for the Moshiach) we recall something that we have longed for (the bus or train to come, the luggage to arrive off the airplane, etc.), and feel some heartfelt hope for the arrival of Moshiach. You can put a little Post-It note or make some small highlight (by highlighter or otherwise) next to this brocha in your siddur. Show yourself and others that ruchniyus opportunities are not supposed to merely boomerang off us after they touch us, but are to penetrate within us like a fine, pure oil. -------------------------- Reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS --------------------------

Posted 1/2/2007 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week

Tehillim Thought of the Day
12th of Tevet, January 2, 2007

"You led Your nation like a flock, by the hand of Moshe and Aharon (Psalm 77:21)." Who is qualified to be a leader of Israel? David gives us the answer in this verse- an individual with the qualities of Moshe and Aharon. Moshe’s singular quality was humility and humbleness, despite his greatness. The Torah testifies to Moshe’s humility in Bamidbar 12:3 [numbers], "And the man Moshe was exceedingly humble, more than any other person on the face of the earth." Moshe, who ascended to Heaven to receive the Tablets, knew his place in the cosmic scheme. He was not humble at the expense of self, but aware of his flaws and limitations. A true leader must be cognizant of his strengths, and even more aware of his weaknesses. Such a leader will seek guidance when necessary, and be empathic to the vulnerabilities and failures of his people.

The second quality of a leader is the quality embodied by Aharon, the Cohen. In Pirkei Avot 1:12, Aharon is described as "loving peace and pursuing peace." Aharon invested his considerable intellect and talents in promoting peace. He sought to reconcile people, to assist individuals in bridging their differences and acting in unison. A nation divided is weak at its core. Today, we are witness to the divisive effects of lack of unity. We need leadership that can unite us, for we are only strong when we are strong together.

Tehillim thoughts composed by Rachel Lerner. Reprinted with permission of Rachel Lerner. To contact Rachel, click here.

Posted 1/2/2007 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Tehillim

A [blue]SHMIRAS HALASHON YOMI CAMPAIGN [/blue]has been started for the sole purpose of [red]accumulating zechuyos for singles.[/red] When you join, you will recieve 2 halochos on shmiras haloshon via email, daily. The Halachos are written in a clear and interesting manner and questions are welcome. LEARN TWO HALACHOS A DAY AND HELP END THE SHIDDUCH CRISIS!! To join this exciting program visit [link=]the following link by clicking first "To Read More" below in blue, and then click here[/link]

Posted 12/28/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Special Prayers

Dont forget my list
Your best friend is going to Eretz Yisroel to visit for a few days. You give him your 'wish list'--the things you really need him to bring back for you, and a couple of personal things to take care of. '...and please don't forget my list!' Upon his arrival back to Chutz L'Aretz, you ask him, 'Did you remember my list?' He responds, 'Yes, of course I did not forget it--I read the list every single day of my trip.' With this response, you realize that he has not accomplished what you had hoped. When we light the Neiros Chanukah, we read 'She'asa Nisim La'Avoseinu', and we say 'Haneiros Halalu...K'dei L'hodos Ul'Hallel...' It is imperative that we not merely read from the list, for if we do that, we are only reading it, without actually accomplishing our task of acknowledgement and thanksgiving. Instead, we should take some time to think about the great revealed miracles of Chanukah--the few and the weak defeating the many and the strong; the oil continuing to burn--and through this to exuberantly give thanks and praise to Hashem for all of the miracles--small and large, open and hidden--that he has performed for our people and for each of us individually through the millennia, then and now. In fact, the Alter of Kelm (1:125) writes that the primary obligation of pirsumei nisa, spreading awareness of the miracles, applies to the person himself--when he lights the neiros, he should think about and feel the profundity of the miracles and accept upon himself Ol Malkus Shomayim with heartfelt simcha. Source: Sifsei Chaim (Moadim 2:29 ) Practical Suggestion: Before reciting the 'She'asa Nisim' every night, attempt to recall and appreciate some of the nisim of Chanukah, miracles through the ages, and miraculous events that you more recently have experienced. Perhaps you can even shed a tear of joy at some point. Is this too lofty a concept? Would you merely read your friend's list--or bring back what he wanted? If you can do this, your 'Maoz Tzur' will be more than a well-known jingle or nursery rhyme, but a song of appreciation as pure as the olive oil for our miraculous salvations throughout the ages, from Galus Mitzrayim through the unparalleled miracles of the 'Ketz HaYeshua.' In the zechus of our true appreciation of, and refinement through, Hashem's miracles, may we be zoche to the fulfillment of 'Oz Egmor B'Shir Mizmor Chanukas HaMizbayach.' -------------------------- Reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS --------------------------

Posted 12/19/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week

Chanukah celebrates the incredible military victory by a sacred few. We are reminded of the three Shevuyim: [red]ELDAD BEN TOVA, EHUD BEN MALKA, and GILAD BEN AVIVA[/red]. Perhaps it would be appropriate to [b]recite a Kepital Tehillim [/b]for them every day of Chanukah--[i]to symbolize our faith that they can be returned to their families unscathed in spite of their current situation[/i]. Please spread the word. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Hilchos Chanukah, 139:1) writes: [red]'We increase our Tzedakah during the days of Chanukah,[/red] for these days are especially endowed with the ability to rectify shortcomings of the soul through tzedakah--and especially Tzedakah which supports Torah Scholars in need.' The days of Chanukah are days especially dedicated [red]'L'Hodos U'Lehalel--to thank and praise'[/red], for when all is said and done we remained and remain separate and distinct as a people--unmuddled by the false ideologies, philosophies, and beliefs of the outside world. Of course, both thanks and praise involve the spoken word. However, when we speak, our words are intended to emanate from our hearts. Everyday, when reciting Al Hanisim and Hallel, they should not be viewed as an 'extra' which lengthens the davening in honor of the Holiday, but rather as an opportunity to demonstrate your 'Avoda Shebalev--your service of the heart' in true thanks and sincere appreciation for our lives--and for the ordinary and extraordinary miracles that we have, and B'ezras Hashem will continue to be blessed with. -------------------------- Reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS --------------------------

Posted 12/17/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week

Parshas Vayeshev - Chanukah - Shabbos Mevorchim
Don't forget: Chanukah candles are lit before Shabbos candles on Friday, and after Havdalah on Motzo'ei Shabbos. A freilichen Chanukah! We bless the new moon of Teves this Shabbos. Gut Shabbos.

Posted 12/15/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov

Parshas Vayeishev
Immediately after the Torah relates that Yaakov settled in the land of Canaan, the Parsha commences with the narrative regarding the dreams and subsequent selling of Yosef. Rashi explains that Yaakov yearned to be able to “settle down” and live without any further aggravation, and shortly thereafter he experienced the debacle of Yosef and his brothers. Our Sages tell us that although righteous people wish to live in peace, Hashem counters, “Is it not enough what awaits them in the World-to-Come that they also want to live in the present world without difficulties?” Rav Wolbe asks (Shiurei Chumash Parshas Vayeishev) that when Yaakov requested serenity, his intention was not that he would have the quiet time needed to sit back on a recliner and smoke a cigar. Yaakov Avinu, the very embodiment of perpetual Torah study, felt that a cessation of adversity would give him the clarity one needs for the proper understanding of Torah. This being the case, why was Yaakov not granted his request? Rav Wolbe quotes Rav Yerucham Levovitz zt”l who said, “In a factory you will never find a recliner.” Since everyone is busy working, there is no time to sit back and relax. Likewise, this world was not created with the intention that we mosey on through life in a utopian setting. Such feelings of tranquility are set aside for the Next World. Yaakov Avinu, the “chosen” among our forefathers, had the most difficult life of them all. He was born and grew up with Eisav who was bent on killing him, and consequently he fled to his uncle Lavan, who cheated him day in and day out. On his way back to his parent’s house, he experienced the kidnapping and violation of his daughter Dinah. When he finally arrived home, Yosef is sold by his brothers - eventually leading to Yaakov’s exile to Egypt. All the aggravation that he experienced was meted out to him in order that he realize that in this world he must rise above adversity and perform to the best of his ability. Often one feels that it is difficult to concentrate when he is in certain situations or has other obligations, and therefore he is exempt from performing specific mitzvos. How can he possibly concentrate enough to study Torah or daven when he feels that his life is in such turmoil? However, it is specifically in these situations that we are expected to prove that we can rise above the external factors that were placed as a hindrance, and achieve that which is incumbent upon us. Rav Chaim Soloveitchik once asked his son (later known as the “Brisker Rav”) to bring him a specific sefer. After completing the task, Reb Chaim asked his son what he was thinking about. His son told him that he had a difficulty in the Rambam that he was trying to answer. Reb Chaim stated that he could have gotten the sefer himself, however, he wanted to habituate his son to think in Torah even when he is preoccupied with other matters. Rav Wolbe commented that he sometimes found that when he had quiet time to study he would not arrive at a chiddush. However, when the phone was ringing, students needed attention, things had to be organized, and he had places to go, often new and novel chiddushim would occur to him. It is specifically in busy times that we have to make the effort to perform to the best of our abilities, so that we can reap the boundless rewards. This dvar Torah was compiled by the family of the Mashgiach l’iluy nishmas the Mashgiach Harav Shlomo ben R’ Moshe z”l. L”n Hilda Leah bas Bernard Boruch.

Posted 12/14/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov

On Chanukah, we celebrate not only the defeat of the Greeks, but also our staunch dedication against the Greek influence. It is interesting to note that the Chofetz Chaim, in his explanation of the siddur, writes that the brocha of 'Sheloh Asani Goy' is intended to cover not only that we were not born goyim, but also that we don't have the same conduct and thoughts as the other nations. Chanukah is an auspicious time for us to evaluate our conduct--have we allowed into our mind or home something that would taint this brocha? Some nice inner reflection may be in order. In any event, a nice avodah over Chanukah would be to recite this brocha with a special thanks, and with a silent prayer, that we not be influenced in a negative way by the world around us, so that each and every one of us can fulfill our important special mission in life. -------------------------- Reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS --------------------------

Posted 12/12/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week

SHEMA project on first night Chanukah
On the first night of Chanukah, after lighting the Chanukah menorah and followed by the Shabbat candles, Jews in many communities will stand with their families and friends, and recite the Shema Yisrael prayer. It may also be recited at the ensuing Shabbat dinner after the blessing on the wine (Kiddush). The first night of Chanukah is Friday night, Dec. 15, 2006 (25 Kislev). The effort is coordinated by the Chicago-based Shema Yisrael Now committee, after consultation with rabbinic authorities and a Gadol Ba'Torah. Joining in unity with Jews around the world is of paramount importance in our turbulent times. The Chanukah night Shema effort is a statement of that unity. As Jews in numerous communities confront anti-Semitism and threats, it is all the more important to make a statement that we will stand together as a united community. The power of spiritual light which bursts forth on Chanukah, along with the powerful unity of the Jewish people reciting our most basic prayer, the Shema, can help bring protection for the Jewish people during these troubling times. The basic Shema prayer that many will recite on the first night of Chanukah is comprised of six words: Shema Yis-ra-el A-do-noi E-lo-hei-nu A-d-noi E-chad Translation: Hear, Israel, Hashem is (now) our G-d, Hashem is the One and Only. This is followed by the whispered recital of the following six holy words: Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuso LeOlam Va'ed Blessed is the Name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity. This refers to our silent aspiration that the entire world should soon recognize G-d's kingship over the world. The Shema Yisrael Now committee's mission is to raise awareness of the Shema Yisrael prayer and its protective power for the Jewish people. It encourages all Jews to recite the Shema twice a day, on rising in the morning and on retiring at night. All members of the Jewish community are encouraged to increase their concentration (kavana) when reciting the Shema prayer and to speak to co-workers, neighbors, friends and extended family members about joining the Shema effort. More information on the Shema Yisrael Now committee and its projects may be found [link=]by clicking here.[/link] .

Posted 12/12/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Special Prayers

Parshas Vayishlach
Yaakov Avinu, in an attempt to appease his brother Eisav, prepares for their encounter with an impressive gift. Upon meeting each other, Eisav tells Yaakov to take back all that he had sent because, “Yaish lee rav – I have plenty.” Yaakov answers, “Please accept my gift, for Hashem has shown me grace - vechi yaish lee kol – and I own everything.” Rav Wolbe explains (Alei Shur vol. II pg. 327) that Eisav, whose entire life revolved around pleasures and materialistic acquisitions, only allowed himself to say that he owns plenty. Though he might continuously acquire more and more, such a person will never agree that he has everything because there are always additional things that can be acquired. Our sages tell us. “He who has one hundred wants two hundred and he who has two hundred wants four hundred” and as a result, “A person does not leave this world with even half of what he desires.” On the other hand, Yaakov Avinu, whose life was rooted in spirituality, was not only completely content with what he owned; he had no interest in acquiring more possessions. Hence, he was able to declare, “I have everything.” Yaakov realized that being content with what one has is not a post facto sigh of, “I will have to make due with what I have.” Rather, it is an initial frame of mind that, “I have one hundred and I am perfectly fine without two hundred.” One who is constantly obsessed with buying the latest fashions and home furnishings will never succeed in feeling that he has all that he desires. While someone who is happy with his lot has acquired the trait of Yaakov and the benefits that come along with it. What are the fringe benefits of being content with what one has? Chazal tell us (Bava Basra 16b), “Three people were given a taste of the next world while still in this world: Avraham, Yitzchok, and Yaakov…Yaakov as it is written, Vechi yaish lee kol. Three people were not ruled by their yetzer hora: Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov as it is written [about each of them respectively] bakol, mekol, kol (Vechi yaish lee kol).” Rav Wolbe explains that the yetzer hora is the driving force behind the craving to acquire more possessions and bigger and better pleasures. Someone who works on being content with what he has and begins cultivating feelings of “Yaish lee kol”, has to some extent put his yetzer hora in check. Additionally, a lifestyle centered around materialistic acquisitions is one that expresses itself as a quest for quantity. In contrast, someone who is satisfied with what he has leads a lifestyle in pursuit of quality. Through that which he focused on the quality of what Hashem bestowed upon him, Yaakov Avinu was able to savor a spiritual otherworldly taste in his materialistic acquisitions and pleasures. How can we introduce such lofty feelings into our daily lives? The first step is to make a point of concentrating on the beracha of “she’asa lee kol tzorki- He has provided me with all my needs.” If we truly believe what we are stating, then we will begin appreciating that which we do have, thereby setting us on course to reach the levels that were attained by Yaakov Avinu. This dvar Torah was compiled by the family of the Mashgiach l’iluy nishmas the Mashgiach Harav Shlomo ben R’ Moshe z”l.

Posted 12/6/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov

Yahrtzeit of Rebbe Yehuda HaNassi today
Today, 14th of Kislev, is the yahrtzeit of Rebbe Yehuda HaNassi, the final codifier of our Mishnayos. It would only be fitting for everyone capable to learn a Mishna L'Ilui Nishmaso. We all know that our Mishnayos are the basis of Torah SheBaal Peh, and that many mesechtos of Mishnayos do not currently have Gemara written upon them, which makes Mishna study all the more essential. Indeed, the Shela HaKadosh writes: 'It has been transmitted from previous generations to me that one who is well-versed in Mishnayos will not be 'roeh pnei gehenom'--will not encounter the face of gehenom.' As we have mentioned from HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, the Steipler Gaon, Z'TL, advised his daughters to learn Mishnayos Avos on their mother's Yahrtzeit. If one studies just two Mishnayos a day, he will have studied 730 mishnayos a year. Without the need for complex mathematics, this means that several years of only several minutes a day, translates into thousands of Mishnayos studied, and your very own Siyum HaShas. This is an incredible personal opportunity, and today is an auspicious--and segulah filled--day to begin! Reprinted with permission from Hakhel MIS

Posted 12/5/2006 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week

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