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Blog Image: Hakhel.jpg
Shmonei Esrai - second Bracha plus shavuos mitzvos.
At the Hakhel Shiur yesterday, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, advised that before beginning Shemone Esrei, one should picture himself about to enter Heichal Kadsho, to have a personal encounter with the Melech Malchei HaMelochim!  He provided two additional suggestions to help prepare for the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei:  First, as one takes three steps forward, he/she should straighten out his/her clothing, much in the way as when you have just been called into an interview, you fix your jacket, tie, or dress, so that it appears correct.  Second, he suggested simulating the Bracha in a practice exercise from time-to-time, so that without pressures one could review the words and the phrases slowly, gaining insights which will improve the Bracha’s recitation going-forward. 
We continue now with a few brief thoughts on the second Bracha of Shemone Esrei, which is where we are focusing our special Kavanna this week, building on last week’s Kavanna in the first Bracha: 
a.  Chazal teach that a person who sleeps is experiencing ‘one-sixtieth of death.’  Therefore, we suggest that every morning one should have special appreciation for the Gevuras Hashem in bringing him back to life! 
b.  We recite Mi Chamocha Ba’al Gevuros--Gevuros is not only in the plural because there are so many Gevuros Hashem, but also because they are so very diverse.  The same Hashem who protects me personally BeHashgacha Pratis--also brings the sun, rain, and sustenance to the entire world! 
c.  The Sefer Berumo Shel Olam brings from the Sefer Reishis Chochma, that the Gevuros referred to in this Bracha are all tied to and sweetened by Chesed (Gevurah Keshura B’Chesed).  Recite the phrases with this meaning--Mechalkel Chayim B’Chesed, Mechayeh Meisim B’Rachamim Rabbim, Someich Noflim, VeRofeh Cholim, U’Matir Assurim, U’Mekayeim Emunaso….  Indeed, even when we say Melech Maimis--it is immediately followed by U’Mechayeh.  We should greatly appreciate, then, how the purpose of all of Hashem’s Gevurah is to bring Chesed upon us!
Special Note Three:  The oft-quoted words of HaRav Boruch Ber Lebowitz, Z’tl, Rosh HaYeshiva of the Kamenitz Yeshiva is quoted in Growth Through Torah (p.287) as follows: “What can I compare to my situation?  I wake up in the morning, and it is as though I have the Shaagas Aryeh, the Ketzos HaChoshen and Rebbe Akiva Eiger at my bedside.  I can’t wait to wash my hands and arise to my riches!”
Truth be told, the riches referred to by Rav Boruch Ber are not unique to Roshei Yeshivos or world renowned Talmidei Chachomim, but, as Shlomo HaMelech teaches in Mishlei (3:14 ) “For its [the Torah’s] commerce is better than the commerce of silver, and its gain [is better] than fine gold.”  We must remember that unlike money, which is fixed, objective and extrinsic (you put it in your pocket--not in your heart or brain), Torah is so infinite, subjective and internal that it relates to every single person living at any time in his own way and on his own particular level.  In fact HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, learns that when the Gemara (Nidah 30B) teaches that an Angel learns Torah with a fetus in his mother’s womb--it does not necessarily refer to all of Torah, but **TO THAT PERSON”S **chelek, or part, in Torah.  While we are expected to cover some ground in Torah before some ground covers us, in no event will two individuals’ quantity or quality of learning be the same.
It is truly a primary responsibility to discover our part in Torah, in at least the same way as we try to be successful in our business, at our jobs, or even when shopping.  Not always is what is easy or convenient most meaningful.  The G’ra writes in Sefer Evan Sheleima that one can go to many lectures, and hear many “shmuessen”--but ultimately a person’s strategy must come from within--from his particular self-knowledge, to be successful.  As succinctly stated by Hillel in Avos (1:14)--“If I am not for myself who will be for me?”
As we reach closer and closer to Shavuos, we all, men, women and children alike, should begin to prepare for the “closing”--for the acquisition of something more precious than anything we can even imagine.  Somehow the coveted contract is ours--unbelievably, we are the purchasers!  So what can we do to prepare for this day?  Each person must reflect upon, research and study what he is going to do with his new acquisition.  Is he learning enough now?  What is his potential?  What must he change?  Will he leave more learning to retirement age--even though the wisest of all men has already told him which business is more important?
This reflection can be accomplished by actually sitting down with a pad and paper and an open mind.  This is by no means limited to men--there are many Halachos and Hashkafos, shiurim, books and self-study that are imperative for women, as well.
We **ALL** should wake up every morning to our riches at our bedside--why leave them in the locked Bais HaMedrash?
Special Note Four:  It is now about one week to Shavous…and counting (Baruch Hashem)!  We should remember that in addition to our commemoration of receiving the Torah, there are other mitzvos associated with Shavuos.
Firstly, although Shavuos is only one or two days, the Mitzvah of Simcha is no different on Shavuos than on Pesach or Sukkos.  To properly prepare for this Mitzvah, we must make sure that everyone has what they need to be in the proper state of Simcha on Yom Tov (including sleep!).  This especially means that meat, wine, new clothing and special treats must be purchased as needed.  Indeed, the Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Siman 529, seif koton 2) quoting Chazal (Baitza, 16A), writes that a person’s exact income is determined on Rosh HaShanah, except that if one expends additional monies on certain designated Mitzvos, his income will be increased “dollar for dollar” for the additional monies spent on these Mitzvos.  One of these Mitzvos is additional money spent for the sake of Yom Tov. [One should consult with his Rav or Posek if he is already in credit card or other debt, or cannot pay his bills in the ordinary course, for Halachic instruction on Yom Tov purchases.]
Secondly, the Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) writes that one must make sure that the “Ger, Yasom, Almonah, together with other poor people, are taken care of on Yom Tov, as well.”  Accordingly, we must give Tzedaka now (i.e., today!) to make sure that others less fortunate than ourselves have the opportunity to celebrate Simchas Yom Tov in Eretz Yisroel and abroad.  Tzedaka organizations in Eretz Yisroel are especially hurting—hurting--for funds to feed the poor.  You can go to right now to help a family in the Holy Land smile and be happy on Shavuos together with you, to fulfill Chazal’s teaching--“I was happy, and I made others happy too.”
Thirdly, we should remember that there are certain mitzvos relating to the Yom Tov--actually, essential to the Yom Tov--which we will be unable to perform this Shavuos unless the Moshiach arrives first.  The Mitzvos of Aliyah L’Regel to the Bais HaMikdash--yes, even for only one day; the various Karbonos, including the special Kivsei Atzeres, Shtai Halechem, Olas Re’iya,Shalmei Chagiga and Korbanos Musaf are all physically and spiritually, shatteringly and irreplaceably, lost from us if the Moshiach does not come.
At the very least, we should attempt to study these Mitzvos as a preparation for or at least on Yom Tov itself, so that we are not totally forsaken of them.  For starters, one can study the Sefer HaChinuch, the Siddur Bais Yaakov of HaRav Yaakov Emden, or even easier, the Parshios of the Torah relating to these many Mitzvos. We should also purposefully daven over the next week that we fully and finally celebrate this Shavuos with the Shechina in Yerushalayim Ihr Hakodesh!
Hakhel MIS

Posted 5/31/2011 8:49 AM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest | Comments (0)

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