Avodah Mailing List
Volume 09 : Number 079
Wednesday, August 21 2002
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2002 23:13:03 -0400
From: Jacob Ellis <email@example.com>
Subject: Kotel Kam on Shabbos
There are several sites on the web that allow a user to view live
pictures of the kotel (actually, they are usually updated every 10-15
minutes). To my knowledge these pictures are taken and posted to the
website automatically. It is even possible for a user in the America to
view a picture of the kotel when it is erve Shabbos in the US but it is
already Shabbos in Yerushalayim. Has anyone heard or does anyone know of
possibl problems with using this to view pictures of the kotel while it
is Shabbos where the pictures are being taken?
Go to top.
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 09:41:08 -0400
From: "Gil Student" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Chata'im Velo Chotim
I saw a ma'amar Chazal that seems to contradict Beruriah's famous statement
of chata'im velo chotim.
In four places in the Sifrei (on Devarim 13:6, 17:7, 22:21, and 24:7) it
explains the phrase "uvi'arta hara mikirbecha" as "ba'eir osei haraos
miyisrael" (destroy the doers of evil from Israel). Although, you could be
meyashev bedochak that it is only talking about those who refuse to do
teshuvah. Perhaps a simpler yishuv is that this is a tizvuy to the beis din
and teshuvah does not stop a beis din from punishing someone.
Go to top.
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 01:16:30 EDT
Subject: Lo sosur and 'even if they tell you left is right and right is left'
> I could easily have missed something, but from what I saw, the Rambam does
> say that going against Beis Din Hagadol consitutes Lo Sasur, but he doesn't
> seem to discuss where a person went against a psak that came from elsewhere,
> such as a local Beis Din or an individual musmach.
> I think it is absurd to think that Lo Sasur does not apply to the psak of a
> local Beis Din, because if that is the case, then they really have no power
> at all. Let's say that their power derives from being a shaliach of the Beis
> Din Hagadol.
> In that case, why not say that the individual musmach is also shaliach of the
> Beis Din Hagadol? If your answer is that Lo Sasur can apply to various Batei
> Din but not to individuals, then Real Semicha is then meaningless except to
> make a person qualified to be on a Beis Din, but he has no other authority. I
> suppose I can accept that, but it sounds different than what I've heard
> before. I'll check at home.
From: Eli Linas <email@example.com> [on Areivim -mi]
>>It's chukot ha Goyim not to allow a woman to drive. It comes from
>>Islam. For example in Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive.
>>It's time we stopped making muslim attitudes towards women our own. Torah
>>Jews follow halacha not sharia
> I guess that makes one of the universally recognized Gedoei HaPoskim ...
> a Kadi, because I was told a few years back that at
> least at one point (and admittedly, that might have changed now, but the
> point is, a well-respected poseik did at least consider it) he was notah to
> say that women can't drive because of kli gever. Perhaps Gedolim have other
> shikulim than the rest of us; after all, we're supposed to follow them even
> if "they say left is right, and, as the CC points out, it's well known that
> the da'as of a ba'al habayis is different than that of a T.Ch.
I believe, as I stated previously, that 'Lo sosur......yomin usemol'
(see Devorim 17:8-13) and the well-known words of Chaza"l attached to
them ('afilu im yomru licho al yemin shehu semol vial semol shehu yemin')
only apply to decisions of beis din hagodol.
R. Miller seems to worry that this leaves no basis for any type of
Rabbinic authority. I think that is not a concern, as there are other
bases for such authority and there is no need to quote 'lo sosur' for
it. Not only is there no need, but since lo sosur and the accompanying
words of Chaza"l do not apply to such cases, citing them is wrong and
dangerous and could be a problem of 'moreh baTorah shelo kahalocho'.
A few additional points (focusing on Devorim 17:8 and 17:11)
1) Chazal comment at the beginning of the inyan - bimuflo shebibeis din
hakosuv midabeir - the scenario is about when something is not known
to beis din - not an an individual. The Netzi"v states that it is when
there is no agreement / sofeik among botei din of a city.
2) If one says that lo sosur applies on opinions rendered by 'rebbes' in
a Yeshiva/ school/ cheder, Rabbis of Shuls/botei midroshim (many of whom
are not really roui lihora'ah [also recall 'ki rabbim challolim hipilo'
and divrei Chaza"l on it]), so would posuk 17 : 12 mandating the death
penalty for wantonly disobeying them apply too ? If not, why not ?
3) The Torah Temimah on 17 : 13 is quite illuminating. Evidently Rash"i
didn't quote the Sifrei verbatim, and that left room for confusion among
some. If one looks at the actual proper text of it, however, it states
that even if they ruled in a way that APPEARS to be saying that right
is left and vice-versa, still heed them....Implied - if they actually
do so, making an actual error, that is different, which is exactly what
a Yerushalmi brought by the TT states.
Let us remember that the Torah talks explicity elsewhere about botei din
and leaders making mistakes - we don't have a concept of Rabbinical
/ Rabbinical court infallibility as catholics have one of papal
infallibility (since 1870 C.E. or so, IIRC).
As I stated before, citing lo sosur to students who have may have doubts
(possibly for good reasons in which they are more correct than their
'decisor') about things a Yeshiva rebbe (esp. low-level one) / Rav, etc.,
tells them, is not only wrong, it is foolish and dangerous. Correct and
on-target Torah decisions can stand on their own feet without such 'help'.
Such tactics, unfortunately used by some, are, IMHO, dangerous to Torah,
ultimately backfire and should have no place in proper discourse.
Go to top.
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 11:16:54 EDT
Subject: Re: Eilu va'Eilu Continued - Too Long, but some useful material if you skim!!!
In a message dated 8/20/02 10:09:12am EDT, firstname.lastname@example.org
[quotes R' Meier Becker, who] writes:
> One additional point. While it is true that Eliyahu Hanavi will adjudicate
> halacha based not on nevua but human psak I don't think he will rely on
> logic, or in your words, solid proof, alone. I would certainly hope that,
> like R. Shlomo Zalman, Eliyahu will be a sensitive and compassionate
> posek. Like R. Shlomo Zalman, Eliyahu will need great intuition and wisdom
> (not just logic or analytical skills) to arrive at psakim acceptable to
> Neturai Karta, Lubovitch, Modern Orthodoxy, Maier Becker and Aryeh Frimer.
Thanks to R'YGB for posting a long but extremely interesting discussion.
On the question of Eliyahu, The Maharatz Chiyut has a long essay.
IIRC he first differentiates throughout Jewish History where a navi acts
in the role of navi versus where he acts in the role of dayan. When he
acts as a dayan, he acts according to all the standard rules of psak.
How then do we understand teku (tishbi yitaretz kushyot vaabayot)if lo
[Tangent -- R'YBS as a young boy asked R"MS how could it be that there
could be such a thing as teku, he replied that the lesson is the same
as that as a chok, that no matter how much we know or use our intellect,
there are some things that are beyond our understanding]
IIRC He goes through the teku's and explains that while Eliyahu can't
through nevuah be michadesh dinim but will be able to establish facts
that halachik process can operate on. How do others understand teku -
that it will be through superior intellect or intuition or broad enough
shoulders to make a call in unclear areas?
Go to top.
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 12:26:07 -0700 (PDT)
From: Hakhel Bulletin <email@example.com>
Subject: The Hakhel Community Awareness Bulletin vol II, issue 1
[Volume II issues 1-4, by public request. I particularly want to draw
people's attention to v2n1, item #2 "Nine Practical Suggestions to Daven
with Kavana". Some of the below really belongs on Areivim, but I'm not
investing the time to split it up. -mi]
THE HAKHEL COMMUNITY AWARENESS BULLETIN
Reviewed by HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita
Volume II, Number 1
The purpose of this Bulletin is to alert the public regarding timely
issues which raise serious shailos, so that the informed person can ask
his Rav the right questions. This Bulletin is not intended to provide
the answers to these issues. It is intended to heighten each member
of our community's awareness of important shailos in our community,
and to receive his own p'sak on each of these issues.
1. The Gedolim's Directive. Unlike the nations of the world,
we are blessed to have the guidance of our Gedolim in all situations,
in war and in peace, individually and collectively. Our Gedolim have
guided us to say Tehillim Chapters 83, 130 and 142, daily. We must be
vigilant in our recitation of these "k'pitlach", better even with kavana.
Moreover, they have urged us to come to shul on time and daven each word
of the entire davening, in addition to other matters.
Let us demonstrate our Emunas Chachomim by carefully following the
directives of our Gedolim on a daily basis.
2. Nine Practical Suggestions to Daven with Kavana. In light of
the Gedolim's directive, it is imperative that we consistently improve
our daily Tefilos. As Dovid Hamelech teaches us in Tehillim (147:10),
"Lo begvuras hasus yechpatz...[Hashem does not desire the mighty horse or
the mighty warrior-Hashem looks to those who fear Him, those who await
His chesed.]" Our wars are not won on the battlefields, but with the
quality of our prayers. Here are some practical suggestions to improve
the "Hakol Kol Yaakov":
Suggestion 1: Prepare Yourself Before Davening-It's Crucial.
Come early and settle down. Stop and think about what you can accomplish
with your Tefilos.
Suggestion 2: Personalize Your Prayers Making Them More Relevant.
Prior to davening think about what you need and how Hashem can bless you
with it. Daven to Hashem to maintain your health, security, shalom bayis,
and for whatever else you know He can help you with.
Suggestion 3: You Can Control Foreign Thoughts During Davening.
Hashem only requires of us that which we can accomplish. If you had an
opportunity to count a stack of $100 bills and could only keep them if
your count was accurate, would you allow other plans or responsibilities
to enter your mind at that time?
Suggestion 4: Recognize That You Are Standing Before Hashem.
As often as you can (preferably, at least before the end of every brocha),
visualize yourself thanking the King and asking for His compassion
and mercy. Rejoice that you are supplicating before the only One who
can really grant your request and fulfill your needs.
Suggestion 5: Daven From a Siddur.
This includes Ashrei, Shema and Shemone Esrei. Slow down and don't slur
over the name of Hashem. When we daven from a siddur, we see meanings
in the words which we otherwise would not see.
Suggestion 6: Periodically Regenerate Your Davening In Some Way.
Be innovative. Change your siddur. Decide to focus on something
new in davening today. Try to have kavana when saying Hashem's name.
Look for nuances. Make different personal requests in the brocha Shema
Koleinu or in Elokai Nitzor in the Shemone Esrei.
Suggestion 7: Daven in a Place Conducive to Having Kavana.
Don't daven in a place where people walk back and forth or near "talkers".
Avoid places which are known for their talking. Try to daven in the
Rav's minyan. Try to daven near a wall, and in a place where you can
Suggestion 8: Refrain From Improper Speech.
A doctor performing life-saving surgery does not use unclean equipment.
Our tool for prayer, our mouth, must also be kept clean.
Suggestion 9: Keep a Record of Your Success.
"All of your deeds are written in a book." Keep your own record of
success in increased kavana. Your book in this world will positively
reflect in your book in the next world.
3. Tefilah Pointers.
a. There is one brocha in Shemone Esrei where we ask for Hashem's help
using the word "be'meheyra" - speedily - three times in one brocha.
Which brocha is it? Once you find it, in light of current events, we urge
you especially to have kavana when saying the word be'meheyra each time in
this brocha. This will B"EH be a great z'chus for all of K'lal Yisroel.
b. The Gemara in Shabbos (32A) states that we should daven to stay
healthy, because greater z'chus is required to be healed from sickness
than is required to stay healthy and not get sick in the first place.
Where in the brocha of Ref'ainu do we beseech Hashem to keep us well?
4. Tefillin Reminder. When making the brocha of "L'honeach Tefillin"
one must have in mind not only the Tefillin Shel Yad - but also the
Tefillin Shel Rosh, as the brocha relates to both batei Tefillin (Mishna
NOTE: We heard a Rav remark "I recently davened Shachris with a minyan
where the mispallilim were so uninspired that you literally could not
tell whether they were putting on their Tefillin or taking them off."
Each of us can avoid this unfortunate scenario by remembering the specific
kavanos that the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 25:5; and Mishna Berurah
seif katan 15) requires us to have when putting on Tefillin. We urge
you to review, think about and remember these kavonos.
5. Brochos Confusion I-Granola Bars. Granola, or roasted kernels of
grain, may be manufactured into different products by various processes.
As a result, special care must be taken as to the appropriate brocha
rishona and brocha achrona. The final opinion of the sefer V'zos HaBrocha
(Rav Aleksander Mandelbaum, Shlita) and the sefer The Halachos of Brochos
(Rav Pinchos Bodner, Shlita) is that the appropriate brocha rishona on
Granola Bars is borei pri ha'adoma (only if the whole grains adhere to
each other as a result of the cooking process, would the appropriate
brocha be borei minei mezonos). As for the brocha achrona, the sefer
The Halachos of Brochos states, "There is, however, uncertainty among
the Rishonim, as to which brocha achrona is most appropriate for roasted
grain products. The Shulchan Aruch suggests, therefore, that a yorei
shomayim should try to avoid having to make a brocha achrona on such
products either by only eating them during the course of a bread meal
or by eating less than a k'zayis within k'dei achilas praas." We urge
you to ask your Rav for a final p'sak on the brocha achrona.
6. Brochos Confusion II-Rice Cakes. There is a great machlokes of
our contemporary poskim as to the appropriate brocha rishona for rice
cakes. The sefer V'zos HaBracha concludes that the appropriate brocha
is borei pri ha'adoma. This is also the conclusion of The Halachos
of Brochos. On the other hand, the sefer The Laws of B'rachos (Rav
Binyomin Forst, Shlita) concludes that the appropriate brocha rishona
is borei minei mezonos. Rav Dovid Feinstein, Shlita, poskens that the
appropriate brocha is borei minei mezonos. According to all opinions,
the appropriate brocha achrona is, of course, borei nefashos.
7. Brochos Confusion III-Soy Chips. Soy chips is a new snack
product which has soy flour and rice pieces as its main ingredients.
The appropriate brocha rishona on soy chips will depend on whether the
rice pieces constitutes a rov, or majority, of the product.
We inquired of the Rav HaMachshir of one "heimishe" soy chip product
who advised us that he believed that soy (and not rice pieces) was the
rov in that particular product, and that, accordingly, the appropriate
brocha rishona was shehakol and not mezonos. The appropriate brocha
achrona is, of course, borei nefashos.
8. Kashrus Alert. The Kashrus Information Service of Brooklyn has
recently issued the following Kashrus Alert:
"Due to the very hot weather this past summer, there is a very serious
problem with infestation of grain products. A number of various brands
of products have been found to be infested.
"After consultation with Rabbonim Machshirim and Kashrus organizations,
we strongly advise that prior to using any grain products such as pastas,
noodles, bow ties, macaronis, farfel, orzo, barley, matzah meal, and rice
etc., a thorough check should be made for the presence of any foreign
matter such as worms, insects and larvae.
"This applies to both the commercial and the consumer products."
We have received some additional information from a very experienced
Rav HaMachshir. The infestation is currently most prevalent in pearl
barley, matzah meal, orzo and rice. At this time, one should place
grain products either into a clear bowl of water or examine carefully
with your hands on a white plate. Additionally, it is a good practice
to check the water when cooking the above products. Of course, all such
products should be stored in a cool, dry place.
**NOTE: Please do not rely upon this Bulletin for all of your Kashrus
Alerts and updates. There is much more to be aware of. The offices of
Kashrus Magazine maintains an updated list of Kashrus Alerts, Mislabelings
and other important updated kashrus information, which is also included
in each issue of its magazine. Its phone number is 718-336-8544.
9. Cool Mint Listerine Pocket Packs. This new product, which is
being sold in stores and distributed as a promotion by dentists, has a
number of ingredients which require hashgacha. There is currently no
hashgacha on this product.
10. Chocolates. It is important to realize that many chocolate
manufacturers kasher their milk chocolate machines using liquid chocolate
(and not water) in order to make pareve chocolates. Not everyone agrees
that this kashering method is appropriate. Additionally, someone who
is allergic to milk should be wary of eating such pareve chocolates.
There is at least one "heimishe" chocolate brand which distributes pareve
chocolates only produced on machinery exclusively used for pareve.
Note: There has been a recent proliferation in the kinds, sizes and
shapes of kosher chocolates. Some chocolates contain raisins, others
contain peanuts, and yet others house almonds, coconut or the like.
Some chocolates are still even plain (NOTE 1)! What brocha or brochos
does one make on a chocolate served at a simcha or at someone's home if
you do not know what is inside? This may be a good topic for a shiur.
11. Shabbos Halachos-Chapped Lips. During the winter months, many
suffer from dry or chapped lips. Although there is now a kosher lip balm
on the market which can be utilized on weekdays, please note that it is
prohibited to use any lip balm on Shabbos because the rubbing of the balm
stick onto the lip constitutes the melacha of memachek. Additionally,
special care must be taken not to bite the skin off the lips on Shabbos.
In fact, according to The Shabbos Home (Rav Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita),
biting skin off the lips "does fall under the Biblical prohibition
[of gozez] since this skin is normally removed by biting."
Note: With regard to lipstick itself, we note that from a kashrus
perspective, lipsticks require proper kashrus certification. On Shabbos,
once again, use of lipsticks would be prohibited because of memachek.
12. Shabbos Halachos-Ices. According to The Shabbos Home, in order
to avoid the prohibition of koreah: "One should not cut open the top of
'freeze-pop' ices on Shabbos. These ices should be opened before Shabbos,
or should be cut open lengthwise on Shabbos and the ices removed. It is
forbidden to cut open containers of ices that are made of molded plastic."
13. Shabbos Halachos-Pre-Cut Tissues. For a long time, people have
been using fan-folded, pre-cut Shabbos toilet paper. Many shuls, yeshivos
and private homes have even installed Shabbos toilet paper dispensers
to hold this type of paper. Recently, however, it has come to our
attention that some brands of pre-cut toilet paper are not fully pre-cut.
Instead, there is a small attachment from one piece of paper to the next.
Separating or disconnecting the individual pieces is prohibited because
of mechatech. Please check that your Shabbos toilet paper (both at
home and where you daven) is properly pre-cut. If it is not, change to
a brand that is and notify your Shomer Shabbos grocery store to carry
only the fully pre-cut brand. Additionally, you should notify the person
responsible for purchasing supplies for your local shul/yeshiva.
Note: Some facial tissues are also manufactured in a manner which results
in many of the tissues in a box being attached, at least partially, to
the tissue underneath. Accordingly, you should check your tissue box
(or at least the brand of tissue) before Shabbos.
14. Cholov Yisroel-but Not Pas Yisroel. We are aware of at least one
ice cream cake product which is labeled "Cholov Yisroel", the cake part
of which is not pas Yisroel (for those who are medakdek on pas Yisroel).
There is no statement on the label on whether it is or is not pas Yisroel.
We must be very careful not to make any assumptions if we are to be
successful consumers of kosher products.
15. "Non-dairy" Creamers. There are some creamers on the market
with reliable hashgochos labeled "non-dairy" that are really milchig.
Make sure to check that the coffee creamer you are using with your
fleishig meals is really pareve.
16. By Popular Demand. The following item appeared in Volume I,
Number 1 of our Bulletin. We have been asked to reprint it:
"Kosher" Liquors. Have you ever noticed and wondered why there is such a
lack of disclosure on a liquor bottle as compared to a food item? All you
see is that it is a product of Scotland (or Russia)...and not much else.
According to a recognized kashrus expert in this field, the liquor
industry is shrouded in mystery because of the strong lobbying efforts
that the industry has at its disposal. Because many of the finer single
malt scotches are aged in casks previously used for different types of
wines, several popular single malt liquors are not recommended by kashrus
experts. This is not to say that such products are not kosher. It is
merely to state that halachic issues are involved which require inquiry.
Additionally, all liqueurs require hashgacha because of problematic
ingredients, such as wine, flavorings, or even non-kosher glycerin.
Among those single malt scotches NOT RECOMMENDED are Glenfiddich,
Glenmorangie (those aged in port wood casks), The McCallen and Balvini
Double Barrel. Some of the very popular liqueurs that are NOT RECOMMENDED
are Southern Comfort, Kahlua (not bearing the OU), Bailey's Irish Cream
and Meyer's Spiced Rum. Additionally, liquors NOT RECOMMENDED to the
Kosher consumer include Canadian Club Classic and flavored vodkas.
Call your kashrus agency or speak to your Rav before buying shnapps for
your next simcha.
17. Tznius: A Contemporary Question. Does the current style, which
requires women to wear a fashionable hat over a fashionable sheitel
enhance tznius--or does it have the opposite effect? If you are unsure,
ask your Rav.
18. Giving Advice to Others. The following is a little-known Halacha,
which is excerpted from a publication of the Choshen Mishpat Kollel
(Passaic, New Jersey):
Advising Someone Not to Shop at a Certain Store or Use a Certain
If Reuvain tells Shimon that he is definitively planning on buying a
given product at a specific store, or that he is planning on using a
particular professional for a service, it is not permissible for Shimon
to tell Reuvain anything that would now steer him away from buying at
that store or using that professional. (NOTE 2) Even though Shimon has
good intentions and is trying to save Reuvain money or hassles by sending
him elsewhere, he has no right to do so. He may not cause a "loss" to
the storeowner or professional in order to benefit Reuvain. Shimon's
mitzvah of "ViAhavta lireacha kamocha" should and does apply as much to
the storeowner as it does to Reuvain. (NOTE 3)
There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule.
Exceptions - Cases Where it is Permissible to Guide Someone to a
* If the storeowner is grossly overcharging for his wares. If a store
charges 16% or more over what the going rate is for a given item,
the store owner is in violation of the halacha of "ona'ah." (NOTE 4)
In such a case, one is permitted to inform a prospective buyer at that
store that he can find the item he is looking for at a cheaper price
elsewhere. Similarly, if the seller uses false weights or measures,
it is obligatory to tell someone not to shop there. (NOTE 5)
* If the prospective buyer is a relative to the one offering advice.
In such a case, the poskim site the law of "mibasarcha al tis'aleim,"
(NOTE 6) one may not "hide" from helping his own flesh and blood.
Based on this, the responsibility to help one's relatives overrides the
loss caused to the merchant. (NOTE 7) Some poskim even include close
friends of the one giving the advice in this category as well. (NOTE 8)
* If the potential buyer asks for advice. In this case, it is clear from
the fact that he is seeking guidance that he has not completely made up
his mind to shop in a particular store or use a particular professional.
Therefore, when advising him to spend his money elsewhere, one is not
causing a loss of profit that was surely going to be coming to the
storeowner or professional. (NOTE 9)
In all of these cases, however, the one offering advice must be sure
not to say anything negative regarding the store or professional in
question - that would still be a violation of Loshon Hara. (NOTE 10)
Rather, he should merely advise the buyer that it might be in his best
interest to shop elsewhere.
Extending These Ideas to Other Areas
The Chazon Ish, in his work "Emunah U'Bitachon," writes that knowledge
of halacha must be a prerequisite to the learning of Mussar. (NOTE 11)
A principal tenet of mussar and ethical behavior is to constantly be on
the lookout for those who are being hurt or oppressed and to do whatever
possible to come to their aid. In most every situation between two
people, there is a rodeif - the aggressor - and a nirdaf - the "victim."
Although we must always seek to help the nirdaf, we must know the halachos
that pertain to every situation to be able to properly identify who is,
in fact, the rodeif and who is the nirdaf. Misdirected compassion or
assistance can at times actually be a violation of halacha.
19. SPECIAL NOTES:
a. Asey Lecha Rav. It is important that a person be consistent and not
"shop around" for a p'sak with which he/she agrees. We note that there
are halachos regarding asking for "second opinions" in p'sak. See the
Rema in Yorah Deah 242:31.
b. Dangerous Noise Levels at Simchas. In our last issue, we referenced
the topic of damaging noise levels at simchas. In the interim, a
major piece was published on this topic in The Jewish Observer (Elul
5761 issue). Accordingly, we refer you there for more information on
this very important topic.
c. Back Issues. We received a very positive response to our first three
Bulletins and we thank all those who have given us chizuk in this matter.
If you would like a copy of any of our previous three Bulletins please
send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for each Bulletin requested to
Hakhel, 1327 East 26th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11210.
d. 5762 Gemach List. Hakhel's 5762 Flatbush/Boro-Park Gemach List,
containing over 150 Gemachs of all kinds (simcha, clothing, baby needs,
kallah needs, services, money and others) is now available. For a free
copy, mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to our address above.
e. Changing the Way We Daven. The nationwide Commission on K'dushas
Bais Hak'nesses of Agudath Israel of America, together with Project
Awareness and Hakhel have recently embarked on a major nationwide effort
to "Change the Way You Daven." Two masterful series of shiurim which
provide essential hashkafos of tefilla and practical ways to improve
tefilla, have thus far been produced -- a three-part series by Rabbi
H. Kleinman Shlita (call 718-252-5274 for copies) and a five-part series
by Rabbi P. Jung Shlita (call 845-426-1999 for copies). If you would
like additional information or materials, or would like to volunteer
for this important Project, fax your request to 718-252-3646.
f. Block Tehillim Groups. The Aneinu organization provides a version
of Sefer Tehilim which can be divided up so that the entire Sefer is
said by a group in 15 minutes to one-half hour. There are now hundreds
of women's Tehillim groups who meet weekly (typically on their block)
to say all of Sefer Tehilim together! If you would like to start a
group in your local area, call 718-253-5497.
* * *
Do you know about something important you would like to make your
community aware of? Is there something you would like to help your
community with? Let us know by writing to Hakhel at the address above.
The Hakhel Bulletin will B'EH appear periodically, as necessary.
1 Although the appropriate brocha rishona on chocolate itself would seem
to be a borei pri hoetz, it is known that the Minhag HaOlam is to make
2 Based on Chofetz Chaim Hilchos Rechilus 9, 10 in the hagah.
Also Mishpatei HaTorah by Dayan Tzvi Spitz vol. 3, 8.
3 See Mishpatei HaTorah ibid. Chelkas Binyamin (on Chafetz Chaim)
Rechilus 9, s.k. 19 and Sefer Zera Chaim (also on Chafetz Chaim) 9, 2.
4 Choshen Mishpat 227, 1-2.
5 Mishpatei HaTorah ibid. Also Chofetz Chaim Hilchos Rechilus. There
may be other instances when it is permissible to tell others regarding
inferior products or workmanship. A Shailoh must be asked to make sure.
6 Yeshayah 58, 7.
7 See note 4.
8 Zera Chaim ibid. Based on Rashi in Yevamos 63a s.v. Az Tikra.
9 See note 4.
10 Chofetz Chaim 10, 2 and 14. Anytime the desired result (i.e. getting
the buyer to shop elsewhere) can be achieved without speaking actual
Loshon Hara, one must do or say whatever they can to avoid speaking
11 Chapter 3, 1. See also Ohr HaChaim al HaTorah beginning of Parashas
Bichukosai (Vayikra 26, 3 #6).
Go to top.
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 10:57:34 -0700 (PDT)
From: Hakhel Bulletin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Hakhel - vol II num 3
THE HAKHEL COMMUNITY AWARENESS BULLETIN
Volume II, Number 2
1. What's the Bracha?
a. Potato Poppers. This new heimishe snack product lists "potato flakes"
and "potato pieces" as its first two ingredients. The Rav Hamachshir
of this product advised us that the appropriate bracha, nevertheless,
b. Snack'n Fries. Despite the appearance of the words "potato snack" and
"fries" on the label of this product, the appropriate bracha is shehakol,
as the main ingredients are corn meal and granulated potato.
c. Tortilla Poppers. This new heimishe snack product lists "whole yellow
corn" as its first ingredient. The Rav Hamachshir of this product advised
us that the appropriate bracha is shehakol.
d, Mini Krispy Snack. This new heimishe snack product appears to closely
resemble miniature rice cakes, however, the first two listed ingredients
are "rice pieces (rice flour, salt), corn (with germ removed)". We asked
the Rav Hamachshir what the proper bracha was on this newfangled product,
and he responded that the appropriate bracha is shehakol.
e. Peanut Chews and Nutty Chews. The candy products "Peanut Chews"
and "Nutty Chews" contain peanuts, molasses, cocoa powder and other
ingredients. What bracha do you make on these products? According to
the sefer Halachos of Brochos (Rabbi Pinchos Bodner, Shlita), peanut
"a candy made from chocolate, caramel and peanuts. If one regards the
chocolate and caramel as an enhancer to the peanuts, make a borei pri
hoadomah. If he regards the peanuts as an enhancer to the chocolate and
caramel, make a shehakol. If neither food is regarded as an enhancer to
the other, make a bracha on the majority ingredient."
As is evident from all of the above, one should take at least a moment to
make a thoughtful determination as to what he is about to consume and why
(NOTE 1), so as to make the appropriate bracha on his food.
2. Open Milk Containers, Cheese, and Tuna Fish Sandwiches. What do open
Cholov Yisroel milk containers, cheese and tuna fish sandwiches have in
common? They each require a satisfactory "chosom" or seal, while being
transported by an akum or in the possession of an akum (Yoreh Deah 118:1)
in order to ensure that the food has not been tampered with or exchanged.
Among other ramifications, this means that:
a. When ordering a tuna fish sandwich, or, for that matter, any non-whole
fish item, or an item containing cheese, such as pizza, to be delivered
by an akum delivery person, the bag or box must be sealed in such a
manner as to easily determine if the container was opened. Typically,
a proper hashgacha will require tape with the name of the establishment
over packaging which can be detected if tampered with.
b. One should not drink instant coffee available for sale or as a
courtesy at gas stations or other non-Jewish stores, since the Cholov
Yisroel milk is open and not sealed.
c. One should ask his Rav what he can purchase in a fresh fish store
owned and/or operated by an akum, even, of course, when the akum claims
to sell "Kosher Fish Only."
You may think of other, additional applications of this important issue.
3. Liquid Cough Syrups, Pain Relievers and Anti-Histamines. With cold
and flu season in full force, we have been asked to reprint the following
alert, which was released by a nationally recognized kashrus agency and
which appeared in Volume I, Number 1 of our Bulletin:
"The public should be aware that many liquid medicines such as cough
syrups, pain relievers and anti-histamines contain non-kosher ingredients.
They are present in substantial amounts and are generally pleasant-tasting
and thus are neither batel nor pogum.
As such it is assur to use them unless taken to protect against a
life-threatening condition. Common opinion that permits their use is
based, by and large, on misinformation. We are fortunate that comparable
kosher products have become available to us, which are produced under
Rabbinical supervision and are of the same degree of effectiveness as
the finest alternate non-kosher medications... No one should assume
that anything else is permitted without first asking a competent Rav...
Heaven forbid that the issur of 'prohibited foods which clog the heart'
should be taken lightly, and allowed to be condoned by public apathy."
4. Pizza. What is the appropriate bracha combination on pizza? This is
a rather complicated question. The sefer Halachos of Brochos concludes:
In the US (or any other country where [it is] difficult to determine if
eaten as a snack or as a meal), the poskim advise us to do as follows:
If the individual eating the pizza is doing so for a snack (and he plans
to eat less than a shiur seuda (NOTE 2)), he should make a borei minei
mezonos and al hamichya. If he is eating the pizza as a meal, he should
wash, make a homotzi and bentch (even when eating less than a shiur seuda)
The Laws of Brachos (Rabbi Binyomin Forst, Shlita) concludes:
Pizza... present(s) difficult halachic problems... In addition, since
pizza itself is often eaten as a meal, it is difficult to assume that
pizza is merely a snack, albeit that it also cannot be assumed with any
certainty that pizza is primarily eaten as a meal. Faced with these
problems, it is difficult to offer a clear halachic decision on this
matter. Perhaps, since the status of pizza as a snack or meal is vague,
its subjective intent governs... Although this argument is far from
convincing, the common custom is to recite a mezonos on one slice of
pizza when eaten as a snack.
What should you do? First, be honest with yourself as to whether or not
the pizza that you are about to eat is your meal or merely an appetizer,
to temporarily "hold you over" until your next meal. Then, if necessary,
ask a shaila.
Note: If one made a borei minei mezonos and ate a small amount, then
changed his mind and ate a shiur seuda, he is required to bentch.
If there is a shiur seuda in what he has not yet eaten, he should wash,
make al nitlas yadaim and hamotzi, as well (Orach Chayim 168:6 and Mishna
Berura Seif Katan 26).
5. Kashrus in Flight. Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern, Shlita, in an article
printed in Kashrus Magazine entitled "Kashrus in the Air," highlighted
the following points about kosher airline food:
a. Don't be fooled by the word "mehadrin," unless you recognize the
hashgacha as valid.
b. Make sure that any meal served you is double wrapped when it reaches
your seat. The flight attendants cannot have "already removed" the
c. Sodas and other drinks under hashgacha in the United States may not
be under hashgacha in a foreign country. Never be fooled by the term
"natural juice" without a hashgacha.
d. Prepared or brewed coffee and tea served from the airline's coffee pots
are problematic because they are washed with non-kosher pots in hot water.
Use your own disposable cup and instant coffee, and add hot water directly
from the hot water urn and not a pot, percolator (or coffee machine).
e. If you drink cholov stam, make certain that you know the country that
the milk comes from has governmental controls on milk. Additionally, on
"non-dairy creamers," make sure that the label explicitly says "pareve."
f. A "Mezonos roll", especially when eaten together with your meal,
is a contradiction in terms.
6. Travel Advisory. In the post September 11 era, with heightened
security in many public places, and especially at airports, a word of
caution regarding married women's head-coverings. Part of the security
procedure in many airports is that security personnel in front of the
metal detectors ask people to remove their hats. While not a problem
for men wearing both yarmulkes and hats, it is a very big problem for
women wearing hats or snoods. It therefore may be appropriate for women
to wear a shaitel when traveling by airplane.
7. The Gift of Shabbos. A poor man once came to R' Shmelke of Nikolsberg
and begged for a donation. R' Shmelka could not find even a groshen
to give him. Looking about frantically, he found his wife's gold ring
and without hesitation, give it to the pauper. When R' Shmelke's wife
came home, he told her what had transpired. His wife exclaimed, "Oh,
no! That poor man has no idea how much that ring is worth. He may
sell it for much less than its true worth."
R' Shmelka and his wife chased after the man and finally, after a long
search, located him and told him the price of the ring.
The following Friday night, R' Shmelke related the incident to his
Chassidim. He continued, "This is what Hashem meant when he told
Moshe Rabbeinu to tell the Jews about the precious gift of Shabbos.
Moshe Rabbeinu was to convey to them the fact that Shabbos is priceless,
that it is a day of limitless spiritual potential. Otherwise, they
might trade it away for nothing more than a piece of kugel."
8. Brushing or Combing Hair on Shabbos. In The Shabbos Home, Rabbi Simcha
Bunim Cohen, Shlita is posek:
It is absolutely forbidden to brush or comb one's hair or beard on Shabbos
with a brush or comb that has hard bristles. This applies equally to men
and women. Since all people have some loose hair or some knotted hair,
brushing or combing with a hard bristled implement inevitably pulls out
some hair, in violation of the melacha of shearing. It is permitted,
however, to straighten out hair with one's fingers.
Rabbi Cohen , Shlita, provides three conditions under which a specifically
designated Shabbos brush with very soft bristles may be used in a limited
manner on Shabbos (ibid, page 163). We urge you to study these conditions,
and, if necessary, review them with your Rav.
Based upon the foregoing, hair brushes and combs are muktzeh and should
be put away before Shabbos. Of course, all of the same prohibitions as
to brushing and combing would apply to children, as well.
9. Kiddush-The Shiur to Drink; Bracha Achrona. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach
Chayim 271:14) poskens that when making kiddush, l'chatchila, one person
(most preferably the one making kiddush) must drink a minimum of "melo
luguv" (a cheekful, which to the average-sized person is a majority of a
reviis), but in no event need he drink more than a reviis (as explained
in the Mishna Berura there, se'if katen 68 and 72). According to Rav
Moshe Feinstein zt'l, the reviis on leil Shabbos is 4.42 ounces, and,
accordingly, a rov (majority) would be 2 1/4 ounces.
As for the bracha achrona on the kiddush wine, although the Chofetz
Chaim has difficulty with Birchos Hamazon exempting wine drank before
the seudah (such as kiddush wine (NOTE 4)), one should at a minimum have
specific intent before benching to include the wine drank at kiddush
(Shmiras Shabbos K'hilchoso 49:21).
10. Shalosh Seudos-For Women. The third meal of the on Shabbos is a
crown which distinguishes Shabbos from the other days of the week.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 291:6) devotes a specific se'if to
the following p'sak halacha: "Women are obligated in Seuda Shlishis."
The Mishna Berurah there explains that this p'sak is because men
and women are equal in all Shabbos matters, and women also benefited
from the miracle of the mon. It is for this reason that women are also
obligated in lechem mishne. Accordingly, every adult should be careful,
especially in the winter months, to leave enough room for Shalosh Seudos.
The Gemara (Shabbos 118A) explicitly states that one who upholds the
mitzva of three meals on Shabbos is saved from three punishments-the
pangs of Moshiach, the Judgment of Gehinnom and the War of Gog U'Magog.
Husbands and fathers who choose to spend Shalosh Seudos in shul should
ensure that their homes maintain the appropriate level of Kedushas
Shabbos and that family members eat Shalosh Seudos.
11. Havdala-Bracha Achrona. In the face of the multitude of activities
that may take place after Havdala, the mavdil should not forget to make
a bracha achrona (NOTE 5). Instead, the mavdil should take care to drink
a reviis of wine/grape juice immediately, and make the bracha achrona
of al hagefen before folding his talis, cleaning up, etc.
12. Bracha Achrona Points. The Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasa (18:45) poskens
that one should not place anything in his pockets on Shabbos-even while
inside. Experience shows that no matter how careful a person is about
checking his or her pockets before going outside on Shabbos, there will
probably be a few slip-ups each year. Once a few slip-ups each year
are expected, how far is it from negligence to put anything in your
pockets on Shabbos? We can analogize this point to the brachos achronos.
Especially when a person is talking, busy, tired or otherwise occupied,
he may not remember whether or not he made a bracha achrona. One excellent
way of remembering to make a bracha achrona is by committing to always
make it from a siddur or "bracha achrona card." This added effort will
not only cause the person to remember to make the bracha, but will have
the added benefit of making the bracha with more kavana! Making brochos
with kavana will help us strengthen our emunah in these troubled times.
13. Zimun Obligation. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 199:7) poskens that
when men are obligated in zimun, women who have eaten together with the
men b'kvius are obligated to answer their zimun. This means that before
starting their zimun, men should wait for the women to return to the table
to answer the zimun and that women, as well as men, should be advised
at a chasuna to find a seat somewhere in the hall as "benching and sheva
brachos are about to begin." See Igros Moshe Orach Chayim 5:9, Anaf 10.
14. Personal Prayers.
a. A Silent Prayer. The newest Manhattan bus advertisement reads, Rachmana
Litzlan, "Sin Is In". Before beginning one's daily sojourn on the subways,
buses and streets, a personal prayer to Hashem would be in order, asking
the Al-mighty to save him from the physical and spiritual dangers of
the street. One should personalize this tefilah-by referring to the
specific nisyonos that face him, and take personal caution to minimize
nisyonos. For a specific example of a tefilah before entering the street,
see Sifsai Chayim (Rav Chaim Friedlander zt'l) Volume 1, Page 26.
b. A Work Prayer. The Gemora (Kesuvos 50A) states that one who supports
his family members by working fulfills the mitzva of "Oseh Tzedaka
B'chal Ais" (Tehillim 106:3). As with any mitzvah, one should daven to
Hashem (Who is the One Who is actually mefarnes the whole world) that
he properly perform this mitzva, that his parnosa should be b'nachas and
not b'tzaar, b'kavod and not b'bizui, b'heter and not b'issur, and with
shefa and bracha. One should ask for guidance and assistance in any of
the particular situations that face him specifically in the workplace.
Note: It is very worthwhile to procure a copy of a new, small sefer
entitled Nine to Five by Rabbi Shmuel Neiman, Shlita, which provides
excellent halachic guidelines for workplace situations.
15. Shalom Aleichem. On leil Shabbos, as we sing the Shalom Aleichem,
it appears that we ask numerous times "Mimelech Malchei HaMelochim." Who is
the King of kings?... And that we respond: Hakodosh Boruch Hu! In fact,
the words "Mimelech Malchei HaMelochim" are not a question at all, but a
statement-that the malachim who have just entered our homes are sent from
the Malchei HaMelochim-Hakodosh Boruch Hu. Our misunderstanding of daily
or weekly tefillos which we have literally recited hundreds and thousands
of times is the reason we should make a seder to study basic be'ur hatefila.
For various Hakhel tapes on tefilah, call 718-252-5274.
Note: Be careful not to mispronounce "Malachei Hashareis" and "Malachei Elyon"
(which means "Angels from Above") as "Malchei Hashareis" and "Malchei Elyon"
(which means "Kings from Above" R'L), as many unfortunately do.
16. Amen. Chazal (Brachos 53B) teach us that a person who answers Amen
to a bracha is more worthy that the mevarech himself! The Alter of Kelm is
reputed to have said that the entire world's creation was worthwhile if only
for the recitation of one Boruch Hu U'voruch S'hmo, and that 1,000 Boruch
Hu U'voruch S'hmo do not equal one Amen. The word Amen is an acronym for
"Kel Melech Neeman [Al-mighty, Trustworthy King]" and is not to be taken
lightly or wasted. In fact, the Mishne Berurah (215:16) prohibits answering
Amen to the bracha of a child under the age of chinuch. (See Chinuch Yisroel
(Pages 126-7) for the views of others). The Halachos of Amen are primarily
found in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim Chapters 124 and 215. The Rema (Orach
Chayim 124:7) writes that one should teach his young children to answer Amen,
and that a child immediately attains a chelek in Olam Habo upon his beginning
to answer Amen! Following are several important points about Amen:
a. The Shliach Tzibur should wait until a majority of the Tzibur has
answered Amen before commencing the next bracha of Shemone Esrei (Orach
b. The person making kiddush or hamotzi over lechem mishna should wait
until the Amen from those he is being motzi has been concluded before drinking
the wine or cutting the challah (Rema, Orach Chayim 167:2, and Mishne Berurah,
Seif Katan 20, 84 and 85).
c. It is prohibited to answer Amen before the bracha has been fully
completed. This is considered one form of Amen Chatufa (Mishne Berurah 124:8).
It is dangerous for a person to respond with an Amen Chatufa (Brochos 47A).
d. Amen should be said in the time it takes to say "Kel Melech Neeman"
(Orach Chayim 124:8). When saying Amen, one should have in mind that the
specific intent of the bracha is true (NOTE 6), that he believes that Hashem
has this power, and in the case of a bracha of request (such as the middle
brachos of the Shemone Esrei), that may it be Hashem's will that He grant
our requests in this bracha (Orach Chayim 124:6 and Mishneh Berurah Seif 25).
We urge you to study Orach Chayim Siman 124 and Siman 215, which are dedicated
to answering Amen to brachos.
17. Asher Yotzar. The awesome bracha of Asher Yotzar, thanking Hashem
for the continuous daily miracle of the proper functioning of our body, is
available in a beautiful color poster format, suitable for posting in the home
or in public places, and in a pocket-sized edition, all especially designed
to increase kavana when reciting the bracha. The posters are available in
several sizes and nusachos and translated into numerous languages.
As Kenneth M. Prager, M.D., stated "While in medical school I began to
understand the appropriateness of this short prayer. After seeing patients
whose lives revolved around their dialysis machines, and while caring for
patients with colostomies and urinary catheters, I realized how wise the
Rabbis had been [to institute this prayer]."
For copies of these wonderful materials, call Foundations at 800-700-9577.
18. Tevilas Keilim-Pointers.
a. If a utensil requires immersion, it may not be used at all without
immersion (not even once) (Yoreh Deah 120:1).
b. Disposable aluminum pans which are used and thrown away do not
require tevilah. According to Rav Moshe Feinstein z'tl, these pans can even
be used two or three times without tevilah and then discarded (Igros Moshe,
Yoreh Deah 3:22,23).
c. A fruit and vegetable peeler requires immersion (Sefer Tevilas Keilim,
19. Mezuza Pointers.
a. The Shulchan Aruch (and Aruch HaShulchan Yorah Deah 291:1) is posek
that Mezuzos in homes should be checked once every 3 1/2 years.
b. The Rema (Yorah Deah 285:2) brings the now famous Maharil that
"one who leaves his home should place his hand on the Mezuza and say the
posuk of Hashem Yishmor Tzeisi U'voee Meatah V'ad Olam, and when one enters,
he should place his hand on the Mezuza." In fact, according to the Arizal,
the middle finger should be placed on the Mezuza, then kissed and the person
should pray to Hashem , as the Al-mighty, to protect him (Birkei Yosef 285).
For further beautiful hanhagos relating to what to do when approaching
the Mezuza, see Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:23,24, Chayei Odom 15:1 and Aruch
HaShulchan Yorah Deah 285.
c. If one is taking down his Mezuzos to check, and they will be down
overnight, one is required to make a bracha when putting back up the Mezuzos
(Aruch Hashulchan 289:4) (NOTE 7). One should endeavor not to leave his
house overnight without the shemira of Mezuza. There is a Mezuza Gemach in
Boro Park which can be reached at 718-853-4743 and one in Flatbush which can
be reached at 917-847-1025. You may want to start one in your community.
In the absence of a Gemach, find a qualified sofer who makes "house calls,"
or urge your sofer to provide "same-day service."
20. Yichud Issues: Babysitting and Work. The Shulchan Aruch dedicates
an entire siman (Even Hoezer 22) to the prohibition of Yichud. Seforim and
taped shiurim (call 718-252-5274 for tapes) are available which discuss
contemporary Yichud situations. We wish to highlight the following:
a. Babysitting. A boy above the age of nine may not remain alone with a
female over the age of twelve. A girl of three or over cannot remain alone
with a male over the age of thirteen. Accordingly, care should be taken in
b. Work. A male and female may not remain alone with each other,
even in business situations (employer/employee; proprietor/customers).
This means that one who has a trade dealing with women may remain alone with
a woman only if an unlocked door is open to a public place and people are
expected to pass by and may likely enter; or there is someone else outside
with the key who generally visits during these hours; or a window is open
to a public area and people are expected to pass by, provided one can look
into the room from the outside without standing on other objects.
Care should be taken before getting yourself into a potential Yichud situation.
Even though there may be a heter of ba'aloh bo'ir, there are exceptions and
a shaila must be asked in each particular situation. We also urge women to
utilize common sense (the "fifth" volume of Shulchan Aruch) before arranging
appointments with servicemen, contractors and the like or before allowing
strangers to enter the home.
21. Kosher Wills.
The Torah's laws of inheritance (Hilchos Nachalos) are very different from
those found in state law here in America. The role of dina demalchusa dina
does not apply to the laws of inheritance according to most poskim (Rema,
Choshen Mishpat 369:11). Accordingly, a will or trust must be prepared
in accordance with Halachic parameters. Anyone accepting money allotted
through the secular laws of inheritance to which he or she is not entitled
according to Halacha may be guilty of an act of theft, unless the inheritors
agree to the distribution. The Bais Din of the Mechon L'Horoa has prepared
an invaluable booklet entitled "Making a Will the Jewish Way." The booklet
explains the Torah's laws of inheritance and provides practical guidance
as to how a person can have a will prepared in accordance with Halacha.
Your lawyer must have knowledge relating to making a kosher will in order
for you and (after 120 years) your inheritors not to violate Halacha.
For a copy of this free booklet, call the Mechon L'Horoa at 845-425-9565.
For the tape of a special Hakhel shiur given by Rabbi Levi Gelbfish, Shlita,
on this topic, call 718-252-5274.
22. Kibud Av V'aim Pointers.
a. Unless a parent is knowingly mochel, it is forbidden to refer to your
father or mother by their first name (even when requested for identification
purposes) without a title of honor preceding the first name, whether or not
they are present and whether or not they are alive. When being called to the
Torah, one must refer to his father as Reb or Avi Mori. Whenever referring
to one's mother, one can use the title HaIsha or Moras (Yoreh Deah 240:2)
b. When honoring parents, very special care and concern must be taken
to do it b'sever ponim yofos-pleasantly (Yorah Deah 240:4). The Sefer
Chareidim (Mitzvos Asei of the Heart 1:35) and Rav Chaim Shmulevitz (Sichos
Mussar 5731:22) both explain that in order to properly perform the mitzvah,
one must mentally gain a true appreciation and honor of their parents and
literally view them as royalty. Indeed, the Chayei Adom (67:3) known for
his succinctness in recording Halacha, writes that the "Ikar Kibud"-the most
important [aspect of] Kibud is that "He should view his parents as GREAT
personages and important dignitaries of the land."
23. Excuses, Excuses. Consider each of the following statements:
1. "But it is true."
2. "I didn't actually say anything bad about the fellow." (when it was hinted)
3. "I did the same thing myself."
4. "Everybody knows it."
5. "I'd say it even if he were here."
6. "I was only joking."
7. "He will never know about it."
8. "I wouldn't mind if someone said that about me."
9. "We're close friends so he won't mind."
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, in Guard Your Tongue, lists these as invalid
justifications for speaking loshon hara. Please avoid them.
24. Bikur Cholim Checklist. Unlike the remainder of the world to whom
"kindness" is defined by the whims of the person performing it, Halacha
provides the laws for properly performing acts of kindness, whether in
the giving of tzedakah (Yoreh Deah 247-259), comforting mourners (Yoreh
Deah 376) or visiting the sick (Yoreh Deah 335). Among the important
requirements of properly performing the mitzva of visiting the sick
a. Davening for the choleh while visiting. Since the Shechina rests
above the head of a sick person, tefilah is more efficacious in front of
the sick person (Rema, Yoreh Deah 335:4). The tefilah should include
the following nusach "Hamokom Yerachem Alecha B'soch Cholei Yisroel",
so that the choleh benefits from the z'chus harabim (Yoreh Deah 335:6).
Tefila in the presence of the choleh can be said in any language, because
the Shechina is present and, of course, understands all language of prayer
(Yoreh Deah 335:5).
b. Seeking help for the choleh, both physically and emotionally-Does
he have everything he needs-all the medications, the deodorant,
toothpaste? Does he need Torah Tapes (718-438-3904)? Does his nurse
know what an important person he is? Does he need to see a Rov or more
friends? (Yoreh Deah 335:8)
c. Providing Positive Reinforcement. Is the choleh kept in the
right frame of mind all day? Provide positive reinforcements, words of
encouragement, bring in light (open the shades) and cleanliness (clean
up the bedroom floor if need be). (Nedorim 40A; Ahavas Chesed 3:3)
25. Tzedaka Pointer. The highest form of tzedaka is to help keep
someone free of financial support by helping him find a job, or giving
him business or work to do (Yoreh Deah 249:6). We all try to give
tzedaka daily. Yet, we also all know someone without a job or out of
work, especially with the economy in a downslide. Why not try to do the
highest form of the mitzva (in addition to v'ahavta l'reacha comocha,
and other mitzvos) by making a few calls or doing some legwork to help
your friend or neighbor in this regard.
26. Nichum Aveilim Pointers. The purpose of comforting aveilim is
to alleviate their tzaar with comforting words (Ahavas Chesed 3:6).
It is forbidden, however, to say to an avel, "What can you do, it is
impossible to change Hashem's decree" because it appears blasphemous
(Rema, Yoreh Deah 376:2). If a person has the mitzva of bikur cholim
and nichum aveilim to perform and:
a. He has time to perform both-bikur cholim comes first so that
he can daven for the choleh in his presence, which is davening before
b. If he cannot perform both-nichum aveilim comes first, because
it is chesed with both the chayim and with the meisim (Kitzur Shulchan
Please note that a person should not talk to the avel until the avel
has begun speaking in his presence (Yoreh Deah 376:1).
27. What a Lesson! Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita records the following
truly enlightening story in Love Your Neighbor:
Although he was very ill and weak, Rabbi Yechezkail Sarna zt'l, Rosh
Yeshiva of Chevron, exerted himself one Motzei Shabbos before his death
to go to the yeshiva to daven Maariv. As he was walking up the steps,
he and the person accompanying him realized that the students had already
finished davening. Nevertheless, Rabbi Sarna continued up the steps.
"Why are you troubling yourself?" asked his companion. "They have
already finished davening."
"Tefilah with the congregation is the fulfillment of a Rabbinical
obligation but blessing the students to have a good week is the
fulfillment of "love your fellow man" which is a Torah commandment,"
said Rabbi Sarna.
...How powerful a "Good morning" or "Gut Voch" can be-if you mean it
28. The Ecstasy of Car Pool. After homework, the most common
complaint of mothers with school-age children is the difficulty of
managing, driving and conducting carpools on legal holidays, Sundays
and other days. There is no question that carpools get high marks on
the aggravation scale. However, the Chofetz Chaim (Chovas HaShmira
Chapter 13) writes that our nashim tzidkonios should be reminded of the
Chazal (Brachos 17A) who teach us that women merit Tichiyas Hameisim
through taking their children to yeshiva. Thus the intense, short-term
aggravation is very special, as it bears the fruits of eternal life.
29. Taking a Haircut.
a. Although apparently a mundane, unimportant and wasteful activity,
taking a haircut (and shaving with a permissible shaver-See Volume I,
Number 1) actually merits an entire siman in Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh
Deah 181). The Peleh Yoetz (Chapter on "Giluach") and Elef Hamagen to
Mateh Ephriam 581:105 advise us that before taking a haircut, one should
have kavana-specific intent in mind-and preferably articulate that he
is about to avoid the aveiros of :
1) Hakofas P'eos Harosh (rounding the corners of the head); and
2) Hashchosas P'eos Zaken (cutting the corners of the beard)
The Peleh Yoetz adds that one should additionally have kavana that he
is taking a haircut l'kovod Shabbos. We may add that one can also have
in mind to fulfill the mitzva of kovod habrios.
b. It is purported that the Rogotchover Gaon (HaRav Yosef Rozen z'tl)
never took a formal haircut because of the "bitul Torah" involved in
not learning while his head was uncovered. We asked Rav Moshe Sternbuch
Shilta, whose shailos v'teshuvos are replete with the ma'aseh rav and
personal stories of many poskim why this was the case. After all,
can't one still "think in learning" with his yarmulke off? At the
very least, one could review the Six Constant Mitzvos (see Item 31
below). Rav Sternbuch replied that while this was true, the quality
of the learning-the pilpul, clarity and depth-would not have occurred
without a yarmulke on! Thus, a proper head covering not only provides
Yiras Shomayim (Shabbos 156B, Mishne Berurah 2:11), but actually improves
the quality of learning!
c. According to the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 4:18-19), after taking
a haircut, one must wash his hands with a cup until the wrist (Mishne
Berurah, seif katon 38).
30. One Thousand Mitzvos in Five Minutes. The Chofetz Chaim (Toras
HaBayis, Chapter 2) writes that when one enunciates words of Torah, he
can say approximately 200 words in one minute, and each word constitutes
a separate mitzvah (as explained by the Gra in his commentary to Mishna
Peah 1:1) for which a separate "defense attorney" malach is created.
This would mean, of course, that if one established a five-minute seder
after Ma'ariv or before going to sleep, he would accumulate 7,000 mitzvos
(and defense-attorney malachim) a week, or 365,000 for the solar year.
In a lifetime, this translates into millions upon millions of mitzvos.
We mention the five-minute seder specifically after Ma'ariv and/or
before going to sleep, because the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 238)
devotes an entire siman to the absolute requirement to set aside time to
learn at night. We urge you to study the fascinating and uplifting words
of the Mishne Berurah on this siman. TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT to start this
"multi-million mitzva" five-minute k'viyus itim as a z'chus for yourself,
your family and K'lal Yisroel.
31. The Six Constant Mitzvos. The Sefer HaChinuch lists Six "Mitzvos
Temidios" or constant mitzvos which are performed through thought at
any time-whether strap-hanging on the subway, waiting for a light at
an intersection, pumping gas or waiting in line on Friday afternoon
(except of course in restrooms and similar unclean places). These
six constant mitzvos are so crucial that they are brought by the Biur
Halacha in Orach Chayim 1:1. See also Chayei Adom Klal 1 and the Aruch
HaShulchan 1:14. We urge you to review and study the original Hebrew.
Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita, has provided the following translation:
Six Constant Mitzvos-Sefer HaChinuch (with unlimited reward)
1. To believe that Hashem created and is in control of everything.
2. There is no other controlling force besides Him.
3. He is One.
4. To love Him with all one's mind, desire and ability.
5. To fear Him (He punishes for misdeeds).
6. To protect oneself from temptation.
For the tape of a practical and meaningful Hakhel shiur on this
topic recently given by Rabbi Yerachmiel Milstein, Shlita, please call
718-252-5274. Additionally, for a business-card sized listing of these
six mitzvos, contact Yeshiva Fund, Box 82, Staten Island, New York 10309.
The Yeshiva Fund has many, many other useful "business cards" and booklets
available. Contact them directly for free sample cards and booklets.
32. Putting Things in Perspective. As noted above, even taking
a haircut can, and should, be transformed from the mundane into the
spiritual. Perhaps one of our most commons faults is our failure to
think of what we are doing in our daily lives. A Gadol once asked: If
the mon was a holy, spiritual food to those who intended it as such, and,
on the other extreme, was a "steak and potatoes" meal to those with earthy
desires, what did it taste like to one who had no specific intention?
He replied that it tasted like
nothing, because if one has no intent, he has nothing.
This can be likened to a non-observant Jew who enters a glatt kosher
restaurant and eats a glatt kosher meal simply because it is convenient
for him, and not because he intended to eat kosher. This person has
not performed a mitzvah (See Orach Chayim 60:4). Not far ahead of him,
is the observant Jew who goes to the glatt kosher restaurant because
he desires to partake of kosher "Greek-Chassidic Cuisine". The true
purpose of eating is, of course, to be strong and healthy to properly
serve Hashem (NOTE 8). Kavana, proper intent, is the key to success.
If one specifically intends not to speak loshon hara, he can be credited
with observing up to 17 mitzvos Lo S'aseh and 14 Mitzvos Aseh (Sefer
Chofetz Chaim, Introduction). Try this exercise once a day: Take
something you have to do during the day and determine how many mitzvos
you are doing. (NOTE 9) It is up to you to transform and elevate your
everyday hassles, obligations, drudgery and difficulties (nobody can do
it for you). Some examples:
1) Doing homework with your third grader who is fighting you every
part of the way
2) Shopping in the supermarket on Thursday evening
3) Cleaning the house
4) Balancing your checkbook
5) Cooking meals
6) Greeting and talking with someone you do not know.
With proper kavana, you are creating z'chusim for yourself for eternity.
* * *
Note: We received a very positive response to our prior Bulletins and
we thank all those who have given us chizuk in this matter. If you
would like a copy of one or all of our prior Bulletins please send a
self-addressed, stamped envelope for each Bulletin requested to Hakhel,
1327 East 26th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11210
A current Hakhel tape list is available by calling 718-252-5274.
5762 Gemach List. Hakhel's 5762 Flatbush/Boro-Park Gemach List,
containing over 150 Gemachs of all kinds (simcha, clothing, baby needs,
kallah needs, services, money and others) is now available. For a free
copy, mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to our address above.
Hilchos Shabbos for the Winter. What can you ask an akum to do in
the winter? Can you make a snowball on Shabbos? Can you shovel snow
or clear away ice? Can you hang up wet coats to dry? These and many
other important and interesting topics are available on a Hakhel tape
on this topic. For a tape call 718-252-5274.
* * *
Do you know about something important you would like to make your
community aware of? Is there something you would like to help your
community with? Let us know by writing to Hakhel at the address above.
The Hakhel Bulletin will B'EH appear periodically, as necessary.
1 See Item 32 for further elaboration.
2 The Shiur Seuda is either equal to the volume of four eggs of bread
with other food or, according to other Poskim, the amount of food the
average person of that age group eats in a regular meal. We note that the
definition of a meal for a child is different than the definition of a
meal for an adult, and that, accordingly, one slice may, in all events,
be a meal for a child.
3 The Halachos of Brochos also concludes "Some establishments knead their
pizza dough with fruit juice in order to "insure" that its brocha is
borei minei mezonos... It should be noted that even for such pizza, if
one intends to eat a shiur seuda, he must wash, make hamotzi and bentch."
4 Because there is a great machlokes both as to: 1) whether benching
covers wine which one drinks before washing, and 2) as to what the
minimum shiur of wine is for a brocha achrona. See Biur Halacha 174,
dibur hamaschil Ve'chen and dibur hamaschil V'afilu.
5 However, if the mavdil is about to start a meal after Havdala, see
Orach Chayim 299:8,9.
6 For example, when responding Amen to the bracha of "Bonei Yerushalayim"
in Shemone Esrei, one should specifically think "It is true that Hashem
will rebuild Yerushalayim."
7 Some say that no bracha is made in the case where there is only one
mezuzah which is to be removed overnight and checked.
8 In fact, the Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 231, Seif Katan 5) writes
that Anshei Maaseh actually state this prior to eating.
9 If you need help with the kinds of mitzvos you are performing, see the
Chofetz Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar and the Chofetz Chaim's Sefer
Ahavas Chesed (translated into English as the Sefer Ahavath Chesed).
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