Avodah Mailing List
Volume 09 : Number 080
Wednesday, August 21 2002
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 10:57:34 -0700 (PDT)
From: Hakhel Bulletin <[email protected]>
Subject: Hakhel - vol II num 3
THE HAKHEL COMMUNITY AWARENESS BULLETIN
Volume II, Number 3
1. A Special Siyum Opportunity. This year, if you start on Shabbos
Parshas Teruma (February 16th) and learn only three Mishnayos a day,
you will make a siyum on the entire Mishnayos Mesechta Megilah on Purim
(only 11 days later), and if you then continue learning only three
Mishnayos a day starting from the day after Purim, you will make a siyum
on the entire Mishnayos Mesechta Pesachim on the first day of Pesach.
Let us utilize our special opportunities! NOTE: For those who plan in
advance-if you start on 5 Elul to learn just three Mishnayos a day of
Mishnayos Mesechta Rosh Hashana, you will finish Mesechta Rosh Hashana
before Rosh Hashana and Mesechta Yoma before Yom Kippur!
2. Urgent Request. In a recent major Kinus under the theme "Klal Yisroel
in a World of Crisis", Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, asked the olam if
anybody had attempted, at least since September 11, to daven an entire
Shemone Esrei at least once with kavana (i.e., without his mind being
diverted from the meaning of the words). If some have not yet attempted
to accomplish this basic yet monumental task, we urge you to try it now
in these desperate times.
NOTE: We have been emphasizing meaningful prayer in recent issues of the
Bulletin because, as the Rishonim and Achronim (quoting Chazal) point
out, just as we were redeemed from Mitzrayim through heartfelt Tefilah,
so will we be redeemed from this, our final Golus, through Tefilah. See,
for example, Rabbenu Bachya Shmos 2:23, Ben Yehoyada to Yoma 55A and
the Chofetz Chaim's Nidchei Yisroel Chapter 5.
3. Your Tefilos Are Needed. Below are the names of the eight Iranian
Jews still being held captive by the Iranian government, Y'mach Sh'mom,
for teaching and learning Torah. Please recite Tehillim for them.
As the Shulchan Aruch (Yorah Deah 252:1) writes, "There is no greater
mitzva than Pidyon Sh'vuyim."
Yaakov ben Mohtairam
Asher ben Soltanat
Natzair ben Furan
Farhad ben Hamdam
Shahroch ben Shahnaz
Farzad ben Eshrat
Doniel ben Soraya
Ramin ben Marzena (Mazal)
There are also other shvuyim being held captive by terrorists and
governments. Please daven for each one of them to be redeemed B'soch
4. The Power of Purim. With the tremendous amount to do in the 24-hour
period of Purim, we must be careful not to let the tremendous potential
and power of Tefilah slip away from us on this day. It is for this reason
that many people daven Vasikin on Purim. The Power of Purim (Lakewood,
NJ) cites the following remarkable quote from the Sefer Segulas Yisroel:
"...on Purim we find that 'whoever asks will receive'.
Not only is this in regard to money, for on Purim our prayers carry
this same strength... and we are answered without being checked who
is asking... The Baal Shem Tov taught that on Purim one should rise
early to daven and ask Hashem for everything that he needs, not only
for himself, but for others as well, as Purim is a time of acceptance
just like Yom Kippur."
Note: The classic Sefer Kav HaYashar writes that likewise on Taanis Esther
one should recite Tehillim Chapter 22 (which was recited by Esther before
she went to see Achashverosh) with kavana, and then beseech Hashem in
the z'chus of Mordechai and Esther. (See The Power of Purim)
5. How Are Men M'kayem the Mitzva of Tosefes Shabbos? The Shulchan Aruch
(Orach Chayim 261:2) poskens that on Friday afternoon, one is obligated
to fulfill Tosefes Shabbos by adding on from Chol onto Shabbos. The
Mishne Berurah (seif katan 19) explains that this is a Torah requirement-a
Mitzvas Aseh D'Oraysa. Women fulfill this mitzva dutifully by lighting the
Shabbos candles 18 minutes before sunset (shkiah) and accepting Shabbos
upon themselves at that time. Men, however, who do not typically accept
Shabbos upon themselves at candle lighting (even when they light Shabbos
candles) have to consciously be mekabel Shabbos upon themselves before
shkiah. Therefore, one should l'chatchila prior to shkiah verbally express
that he is "accepting upon himself Shabbos for the purpose of Tosefes
Shabbos" (Mishne Berurah 261:21) (Note 1). This should be done at least
two to three minutes prior to shkiah (Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 1:96)
and as early as 15 minutes prior to shkiah if possible (Mishne Berurah,
seif katan 22). Merely having in mind to be mekabel Tosefes Shabbos is
only acceptable according to some Poskim (Bach and Gra quoted by Mishne
Brurah 553:2) and should be avoided if possible.
As the Shulchan Aruch (263:15) and the Mishne Berurah (seif katan 43)
pasken that once one has been mekabel on himself Tosefes Shabbos,
he can no longer daven a weekday Mincha, all of the above assumes
that the person has already davened Mincha and is now in a position
to accept Tosefes Shabbos on himself. Many minyonim, however, are in
the middle of Mincha when shkiah arrives. In this event, one should
then fulfill Tosefes Shabbos by verbally accepting Tosefes Shabbos on
himself as soon as he has finished his Shemone Esrei (assuming it is
still prior to shkiah).(Note 2) Notwithstanding his acceptance at that
point of Shabbos, the Shmiras Shabbos K'hilchosa (46:5) poskens that he
may still answer to the Kedushah of Mincha. (This advice will not help
the Shaliach Tzibbur who has to repeat the weekday Shemone Esrei). The
Shmiras Shabbos K'hilchosa further poskens that if a person will not be in
a position to finish his Shemone Esrei prior to shkiah if he davens with
the congregation, he should daven at home alone, be mekabel on himself
Tosefes Shabbos and then go to shul. If a person finds himself in the
situation that he no longer has sufficient time to both daven Mincha
and accept on himself Tosefes Shabbos prior to shkiah, as there is a
machlokes haposkeim as to what one should do, one should consult his Rav.
6. Application of the Prohibition of Borer. Rabbi Mayer Birnbaum,
Shlita, writes (in Shamor L'Kad'sho: Practical Halachos of Shabbos,
p.17), "If siddurim were piled up after a minyan, you may not sort out
the Ashkenaz and Sefard siddurim in order to put them away [however,
if you read a little from each siddur, you may put each one into its
proper place after reading from it] (Hilchos Shabbos by Rav Shimon
Eider, Shlita, p.184 and Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 4:74 Borer #12)."
Of course, Borer on seforim applies to other mixtures of seforim as well.
There may be cases where you may be lenient in this area based on facts
and circumstances. Please consult your Rav with specific shailos.
7. Watch Your Step! In many city homes, the front door leads directly
to front steps which lead to a short path leading to the sidewalk.
We have noticed many unknowing individuals on Shabbos holding a child,
looking into a Sefer, or even taking out a chair to sit on the front
steps outside. We caution that without an eruv around the house, the
front steps may not be considered part of your home, and it may not be
permissible to carry there. The fact that the steps are attached to,
or project from, the house by itself is insufficient. We urge you to
consult with your Rav as to the principles of Gud Achis, Mechitzos and
Reshus HaYachid prior to carrying on your front steps on Shabbos.
NOTE: The above comment similarly relates to the side and front of your
property. With Pesach approaching, we must note that one generally cannot
move his garbage cans from the side of the house to the front of the house
on Yom Tov for garbage pick-up, because it constitutes hotza'ah on Yom Tov
(leaving aside muktzah issues). Similarly, unless one has a p'sak from
his Rav that in his case it is permissible, one cannot take the garbage
out of his house to the garbage cans on the side of his house on Yom Tov.
8. Caught Carrying on Shabbos. In our previous Bulletin, we pointed out
that the Shmiras Shabbos K'hilchaso paskens that one cannot put anything
inside his pockets on Shabbos even inside the house. If someone receives
a p'sak from his Rav that he can put items in his pocket on Shabbos
or if he might have placed an object in his pockets prior to the onset
of Shabbos, he must, as a matter of halacha, check his pockets prior to
leaving the house (Orach Chayim 252:7, Mishne Berurah seif katan 55, 56).
In spite of all of the above precautions, what happens if you find a
tissue, glove, coin or the like while you are walking outside on Shabbos?
FIRST, if you have not stopped walking-DON'T!
IF, IN FACT, YOU HAVE NOT STOPPED WALKING:
a. Ask a goy who is walking near you to take it from your hand (don't give
it to him). Although this may be the least common aitzeh, it is the most
preferred. (Shmiras Shabbos K'hilchaso 18, Note 218); or
b. It is next most preferable that you drop the object kilachar yad (i.e.,
turn your pocket inside out or throw the object from the back of your fingers
and let the object fall to the ground as you are walking) (Rema, Orach Chayim,
266:32 and Igros Moshe Orach Chayim 2:112); or
c. Quickly run to a close reshus hayachid (other than the one you intended
to go to) and remove the object kilachar yad. See Orach Chayim 266, Mishne
Berurah seif katan 36; or
d. If it is within a four amos (approx. 6 1/2 feet) radius of your
discovery. place the item solidly on a makom petur (taller than 9.75 inches and
smaller than 13 inches by 13 inches), such as a fire hydrant or parking meter.
Kitzur Hilchos Shabbos 39:15.
IF FOR SOME REASON YOU PREVIOUSLY STOPPED WALKING IN ORDER TO REST (AND NOT TO
STRAIGHTEN YOUR CLOTHES OR THE LIKE), you cannot use solution (c) above. NOTE:
If the item is expensive, an additional alternative would be to stop walking
every four amos until you return to the Reshus HaYachid from which you left,
and throw the object into your home kilachar yad (See Mishne Berurah 266,
seif katan 29).
9. What's the Bracha? A popular new snack product from Israel, known as
"Chupli" potato snacks, under the hashgacha of the Badatz Eida Hachareidis
lists "potato starch" as the first ingredient, and rye flour and wheat flour
as the third and fourth ingredients. We asked the Badatz what the bracha is
on this product and they informed us that it was a shehakol.
10. Brachos Out Loud. A bracha must be recited loud enough so that you
clearly hear yourself say the entire bracha. B'dieved, if a bracha was
whispered so quietly that you could not hear it, as long as the words were
actually recited, it is valid (Orach Chayim 206:3). We note, however, that
if you fail to recite the bracha out loud:
a. you may unknowingly slur or skip words, rendering the bracha invalid;
b. you fail to take advantage of the "Kol Rom" arousing Kavana (Mishne
Berurah 185, seif katan 3); and
c. you lose the opportunity for achieving the shleimus (completeness)
of a bracha which results from others answering Amen to your bracha
(Rema, Orach Chayim 167:2 and Mishne Berurah seif katan 20 and 85).
11. Amen: Questions and Answers.
QUESTION 1: One enters a room after a bracha has been made and hears
people answering 'Amen'-Should he answer 'Amen' as well?
QUESTION 2: One is already in a room, and does not know what bracha
everyone is responding 'Amen' to, whether because he missed some words
or was not listening-Should he answer 'Amen' anyway?
ANSWERS: No, one should not answer Amen to a bracha if he does not
know which bracha is being recited, as this is one form of Amen Yesoma
(Rema, Orach Chayim 124:8). However, if he knows the bracha that is
being made, even if he did not hear all the words, he must answer 'Amen'
(Mishne Berurah 215; seif katan 6). Moreover, when he hears someone
davening or blessing another Jew (even without mentioning Hashem's name),
one should answer Amen (Ibid, seif katan 9).
NOTE: If a person is called to the Torah and recites Borchu so softly
that ten people do not hear him, the tzibur should not respond with
Boruch Hashem Hamevorach but instead should simply answer Amen to the Baal
Koreh's response of Boruch Hashem Hamevorach (Rema, Orach Chayim 139:6).
12. Ice Cream and Ices.
a. Bracha Achrona: Is ice cream or ices a liquid or a solid?
The differencel'maaseh is whether you make a bracha achrona. If the
ice cream or yogurt is considered a solid, you have up to three or four
minutes to eat a k'zayis to make a borei nefashos. If it is a liquid,
you must consume a reviis in a K'dei Shesiyas Reviis (less than a
minute), which is impossible. The answer to this question is a great
machlokes haposkim. According to Rabbi Aleksander Mandelbaum, Shlita,
in Sefer V'zos HaBrocho, because of the machlokes, one should not make
a bracha achrona on these items, but instead should preferably exempt
these items with a borei nefashos on something else. Rabbi Pinchos
Bodner, Shlita, in The Halachos of Brochos follows the p'sak of Harav
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Z'tl that ice cream is considered a solid, and
if a k'zayis is eaten within three minutes, a borei nefashos would be
required. However, ices would be considered a liquid according to Rav
Auerbach Z'tl because it is made only with water and flavors (and not
with eggs or other ingredients) and no borei nefashos would be made.
Note that on the opposite extreme of temperature is plain hot water,
clear chicken soup and broth, hot tea, coffee and cocoa. In these cases,
the heat and not the cold render them extremely difficult to drink
within the time frame permitted for a bracha achrona to be required.
Accordingly, one should allow a reviis of the beverage to cool off or
make a borei nefashos on another food eaten at the same time and have
in mind to exempt the hot liquid, as well.
NOTE ON TEAS: Flavored teas must have a proper hashgacha. In all events,
please read the ingredients in flavored teas to determine whether the
product is dairy or pareve.
b. Grape Juice Ices: According to The Halachos of Brachos (Rabbi
Binyomin Forst, Shlita), "Frozen grape juice (i.e., grape ices) or wine
may have lost its status as wine since it was transformed into solid food.
One should therefore not recite a Borei P'ri Hagofen either on frozen
wine or wine that was thickened into solid form."
13. The K'zayis: Essential Information. Super Snack products (barbeque
twists, taco flavor, falafel bits, etc.) packaged in small "one ounce"
bags are becoming more and more popular in America. If you make a borei
minei mezonos and consume an entire "one ounce" bag, have you eaten
enough to make an Al Hamichya? Rabbi Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author
of the recently-published sefer The Halachos of K'zayis has performed
scientific testing under laboratory conditions on many foods and products,
all of which are listed in the Sefer. While a one-ounce bag of Super
Snacks is more than enough for an Al Hamichya, Rabbi Bodner concludes
that 8 tortilla chips, 12 regular jelly beans, 30 chocolate coffee beans,
17 licorice bites, 3 baby carrots or 1 2/3 slices of American cheese
are necessary for a borei nefashos. Rabbi Bodner also provides similar
need-to-know shiurim (measurements) on scores of fruits and vegetables,
bread products and other snacks. To explain how he arrived at his
conclusions, Rabbi Bodner states that a "K'zayis means that the item
is the size of an olive. The Shulchan Aruch states that this shiur is
a measurement of cubic volume, and explains that volume is measured by
submerging an item in water and measuring the amount of water that it
displaces. ...an item having the cubic volume of .96 of a fluid ounce
fills the requirement of a k'zayis for making a bracha achrona."
In order to make a bracha achrona on a k'zayis, it must be consumed within
Kdei Achilas Pras, which, according to Rabbi Bodner is l'chatchila is
up to three minutes, and b'dieved, up to four minutes.
Your Rav may have even larger shiurim than those brought in the sefer, so
we urge you to study the laws of brachos, to ask shailos so as to avoid
brachos l'vtala, chas v'shalom, and to make the appropriate brachos at
the appropriate times (Brachos 35A).
14. The 100 Yard Hamotzi. When attending a simcha, dinner, or large
gathering, the place to wash netilas yadayim is very often far away
and in another room from where your table and roll/bread are located.
Caterers often to try to accommodate this situation by placing cut-up
pieces of bread (less than a k'zayis) near the washing station for you
to make a Hamotzi on-as you are standing up and not in the room where
you are eating! The apparent reason caterers provide this amenity is so
that one will not wait the distance of walking 22 amos (approximately
12-15 seconds) between the time one finishes drying his hands and the
time he makes Hamotzi which is the din l'chatchila (Rema Orach Chayim
166:1 and Mishne Berurah, seif katan 4 and 5). However this situation
seems to create more issues than the original problem:
* One should preferably make a Hamotzi on a shalem and not on a perusa
(broken piece) (Orach Chayim 167:1).
* One should not make Hamotzi on less then a k'zayis (Orach Chaim 167:1;
Mishne Berurah seif katan 8).
* One should eat sitting at the table and not standing up (Rambam,
Hilchos Deos 5:2).
It would seem that a better aitza would be to wash your hands at the
designated station, while not fully drying them until you get to your
table (avoid greeting and shaking hands with people at the simcha on the
way). After arriving at your table, make an Al Netilas Yadaim, finish
drying your hands and then sit down and make a Hamotzi, which will then
be readily accomplished within the requisite time frame of 12-15 seconds.
15. How to Say Thank You. Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Z'tl would never
repeat words during davening. One time, however, he repeated the second
paragraph of bentching, "Nodeh Lecha" (We Thank You) after saying it once.
Startled, his family members asked him what had happened. He responded
that the first time he felt a "Ketzas Hesech HaDaas (slight loss of
concentration)-and to say Nodeh Lecha without kavanah was simply not
thanks. (See The Mashgiach of Kaminetz, page 263)
16. Birchas Habonim. The Peleh Yoetz (Chapter on Brachos) brings the
Medrash that "all of the good and the power that Eisav's descendants
possess come from the importance he attached to his father's brachos when
he cried out bitterly and said 'Borcheini gam ani avi.'" Accordingly,
the Peleh Yoetz writes, one should go out of his way to receive brachos
from his parents because, besides the fact that these brachos are closer
to being fulfilled because they come from the heart, one also fulfills
the mitzva of kibud av v'aim for which he will be rewarded. We should
treasure and seek these irreplaceable brachos.
17. Netilas Yodaim for Early Risers. In the winter months, Alos
Hashachar (when the first ray of light appears on the Eastern horizon)
is quite late in the morning. If one has arisen before Alos Hashachar to
attend a shiur, go to mikva, etc., the Rema (Orach Chayim 4:14) requires
one who has washed his hands in the morning prior to Alos Hashachar
to wash "neigel vasser" again after Alos Hashachar without a bracha.
The Mishne Berurah (seif katan 33) holds that it is preferable not
to make the bracha Al Nitilas Yodaim before Alos Hashachar. Instead,
after Alos Hashachar one should take care of his needs, then make an Al
Nitilas Yodaim and Asher Yotzar.
18. Personalizing Birchos HaShachar. We are all familiar with the
story of the Yerushalmi Jew who, the day after the American presidential
election, went around the streets of Geula asking people who had won
the election. When he was asked why he cared at all, he responded
that when he made the brocha of "Shelo Asani Goy" he did not want to
merely have the kavana of thanking Hashem for not making him a low or
middle class akum. Instead, with the brocha he wanted to thank Hashem
with a full heart for not even making him the "highest class" of akum,
the most powerful figurehead in the world.
We should likewise personalize each one of the remarkable Birchas
HaShachar. The Yesod V'shoresh Ha'Avodah (2:4), for instance, recommends
that we close our eyes and open them prior to concluding the brocha of
Pokeach Ivrim. We should similarly picture ourselves getting out of bed
(hopefully without physical difficulty) when we say "Matir Asurim,"
and delight that we and our family have clothing to wear when saying
"Malbish Arumim." A fresh shot of emunah should precede the brocha of
"Sheasah Li Kol Tzorki," as we emulate our Avos, each of whom said that
Hashem had given them everything they really needed ("Bakol, Mikol, Kol").
If having this in mind is too difficult for all 15 Birchos Hashachar at
once, try focusing on one, two or three brachos a week until you feel
a greater closeness to each and every one of the brochos.
19. Special Kavana in Shma. The Mishne Berurah (25:14) writes that one
should feel love in his heart to HaKodosh Boruch Hu when saying the word
V'ahavta in Shma so that he does not, Chas V'shalom, appear as "speaking
falsely" by not fulfilling that which the Torah requires of him-to love
Hashem (this mitzva in fact is one of the Six Constant Mitzvos-See
Bulletin Volume II, Number 2). How does one feel this special love?
The Chofetz Chaim (Sefer Shmiros Haloshon, Chasimas HaSefer) suggests
that this can be accomplished by contrasting the Greatness of Hashem with
the humility of man and recognizing the great beneficence that HaKodosh
Boruch Hu showers upon us because He loves us. We can affirmatively
demonstrate our love by teaching His Torah to others (Sefer Chareidim,
Mitzvos of the Heart 1:5) or by making Hashem's name beloved in the eyes
of others through our stellar conduct (Chofetz Chaim, Sefer Chomas Hadas
Chapter 15 and Yoma 86A). For the tape of a special Hakhel shiur on
"Bringing Ahavas Hashem Into Our Daily Lives" by Rabbi Yaakov Feitman,
Shlita, contact 718-252-5274.
20. Your Own Daily Prayer. The Mishne Berurah (122:2, seif katan 8,
quoting the Chayei Odom) lists exactly what a person should specifically
daven for daily. We refer you to the original Hebrew, so that the golden
words don't get lost in the translation.
Additionally, the following are available:
* For a copy of the Tefilah of the Shelah HaKodesh for Good Children
or for a copy of the Tefilah of the Shelah and the Chida for Parnosa,
please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Hakhel, 1327 East 26th
Street, Brooklyn, NY 11210
* For a copy of the Chofetz Chaim's Tefilah on Shmiras Halashon (on
stickers, kitchen magnets and in other formats), contact The Chofetz
Chaim Heritage Foundation at 845-352-3505.
21. Tzitzis Pointers.
a. The mitzva of tzitzis is one of the few mitzvos in which the
purpose of the mitzva is explained in the Torah itself. "Limaan Tizkeru
V'asisem es Kol Mitzvosai" (Bamidbar 15:40). Accordingly, the Shulchan
Aruch (Orach Chayim 8:7) poskens that, in addition to the regular kavana
required of all mitzvos-that a person is doing the Mitzva L'shem Hashem
Who commanded us to do it-one must additionally have specific kavana
when putting on his Talis that Hashem commanded us in this mitzva "in
order to remember all of the Mitzvos to perform them." This special
requisite kavana is actually missing from the "LeSheim Yichud" and "Ma
Yakar" tefilos recited prior to and when putting on the Talis Gadol.
Accordingly, it should be recited separately.
b. Although one is required to put on his Talis Katan immediately
after standing up in the morning (Orach Chaim 8:1, Mishne Berurah seif
katan 1), the minhag has become to make a bracha only on the Talis Gadol
and to have kavana when making the bracha that the bracha is covering
the Talis Katan as well (Mishne Berurah seif katan 24). Some, in fact,
separate the strands of their Talis Katan immediately prior to making
their bracha on the Talis Gadol to demonstrate that the one bracha is
covering both the Talis Katan and the Talis Gadol. The question arises,
however, for the person who goes to a Daf Yomi shiur, or otherwise learns
prior to Shacharis-should he make a separate bracha of Al Mitzvas Tzitzis
when putting on the Talis Katan-as he will be waiting over an hour before
putting on his Talis Gadol? We have heard in the name of one Chasidishe
posek that the custom in Europe was that a married man does not make a
bracha on a Talis Katan for any reason. However, Harav Dovid Feinstein,
Shlita, poskens that if a person does not go straight to shul to daven
after getting dressed, he should make a separate bracha on the Talis
Katan at home. This is also the p'sak of Rabbi Zvi Cohen, Shlita,
in his encyclopedic work Tzitzis (8:10), who asserts that this is the
opinion of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita.
NOTE: When putting on the Talis Gadol, even if you are in a rush, you
must stay enwrapped in it for a minimum of three seconds (the distance
to walk four amos) before bringing your arms down. (Shulchan Aruch
Orach Chayim 8:3)
22. Shehechiyanu on a Talis. It is our custom for the brocha of
Shehechiyanu on a mitzva to be made only on a periodic mitzva, i.e.,
a mitzva that recurs at set times such as Yom Tov, Netilas Lulav,
Hadlakos Ner Chanuka, Krias HaMegilah, etc. However, a Shehechiyanu is
made on a new Talis not because it is a mitzva, but because it is a new
"keli", since the wool Talis begged itself is choshuv (typically costing
over $100!). According to the Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 22:1 seif
katan 2), if one is making the Shehechiyanu the first time he puts on the
Talis, he should first make the brocha of L'hisatef B'tzitzis and then
Shehechiyanu. (NOTE 3) However, please note that the Mishne Berurah is
posek (for those who make a Shehechiyanu on "new" fruits NOTE 4)) that
the Shehechiyanu on fruits is different, and that on fruits the person
first recites Shehechiyanu and then borei p'ri haetz (Orach Chayim 225:3
seif katan 11).
23. Tefillin Assistance as "Practice". Many us of know at least one
or two (or perhaps more) men in shul whose placement of the Tefillin
Shel Rosh is off center or below the hairline and on the forehead.
What can we do to help these poor, often elderly, people, who hope and
believe that they are performing a mitzva, yet day in and day out, they
may R'L instead only be making brochos l'vatala? The Mishne Berurah
(Orach Chayim 27, seif katan 33) decries this practice and urges us to
help them. The mitzvos of Ahavas Yisroel and Hocheach Tochiach, among
others, require us to learn how to properly adjust the Kesher Shel Rosh
and then to respectfully approach the mistaken individual and ask him
if you could try your "new-found skill" on his Tefillin Shell Rosh,
then, after you have made the Shel Rosh smaller, to prove to him that
you properly adjusted the Tefilin-take him over to the rabbi to "kvel"
over your new-found skill.
NOTE: When taking off your Tefillin Shel Rosh, it should be removed by a
right-handed man with the left hand and with the right by a left-hander
(Orach Chayim 28:2, Mishne Berurah seif katan 6), to indicate how
difficult it is for you to part with the sacred Tefillin.
24. Why Was the Car Invented? The Chofetz Chaim (Igoros U'Maamarei
HaChofetz Chaim, Maamar 45) was very bothered by this question, and
summarily rejects the notion that its invention was the result of the
"increased wisdom" of our times. Rather, "Ka'asher Hisbonanti Heitev
B'inyan HaZeh (after much reflection)," the Chofetz Chaim writes, he
determined that in the past, extensive and time-consuming travel did not
involve bitul Torah, because whenever they traveled and wherever they
traveled to, Jews were involved in Torah study. In recent years, with
physical weakness and weakness of Torah study prevalent in the world,
Hashem in His great mercy and kindness relieved us of the burden of
difficult and time-consuming travel so that our Torah study would not
be quantitatively or qualitatively affected. Accordingly, concludes the
Chofetz Chaim, we must give shevach v'hodaah and be makir tov to Hashem
for blessing us with more time to fulfill our purpose in life of Torah
study and mitzvos. All else is an illusion.
25. Teaching Akum Torah. It is forbidden to teach an akum Torah-or even
the Aleph Bais-as the posuk (Tehillim 142) states, "Lo Asah Chen L'chol
Goy" (Chagiga 13A, Yorah Deah 246:6, Gloss of Shiurei Bracha). Many times
a person may be faced with an akum at work or in the neighborhood who
has a "question on the Bible" or who states that there is "something
I don't understand about Jewish ritual." One must, in a polite way,
immediately divert the topic of conversation, just as if it were any other
prohibited activity, like loshon hora. There is also a second potential
issur of Lifnei Iveir (Tosfos, Chagiga 13A dibur hamaschil Ain Mosrin).
Rav Moshe Feinstein Z'tl (Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah 3:89, 90) adds that the
prohibition even includes relating the Agados of Chazal. However, in a
situation where an akum is present in the room when Yidden are learning
together, they need not necessarily stop learning until the akum leaves
(See Ibid.). For the tape of a masterful Hakhel shiur on this topic
entitled "Ambassadors of Torah" given by Rabbi Yosef Viener, Shlita,
26. Don't Look Now! As we all know, the Yetzer Hora goes to great
lengths to stop a person from learning Torah. This is simply because
the study of Torah destroys the Yetzer Horah-The Gemora states, "Borosei
Yetzer Hora, Borosei Torah Tavlin K'nedgo" (Kiddushin 30B). One of the
Bad One's great tricks is either to make noise, have someone enter the
room or otherwise cause the Torah student to raise his head and look up
and around in order to interrupt his limud HaTorah. In Kelm, this would
most certainly have been the subject of a k'nas. In a similar vein, the
Sefer Lev Eliyahu (Volume 1, page 27) states that Rav Eliyahu Lopian Z'tl
was once waiting for a considerable amount of time for a bus. He looked
up to see if the bus was coming, although his looking up would not have
made the bus come sooner. As a result, he felt the need to do teshuvah
for the needless act of looking up. The Chazon Ish (Kovetz Igros, Part
I, Letter 3) writes "Constant (uninterrupted) learning is the secret of
holiness and...one should figure out ways to learn without interruption,
and to daven for this always."
27. Hiring Workers. The Chofetz Chaim (Sefas Tomim Chapter 5) writes
that in order to avoid the Torah prohibitions of gezeilah (robbery) and
oshek sechar sochir (withholding compensation) one should fix a price with
a worker (repairman, painter, etc.) or craftsman prior to his starting
a job. The Chofetz Chaim continues that if the ba'al habayis and the
hired worker do not fix the amount and later dispute the amount due and
the worker later receives a prutah less than what he is due, the ba'al
habayis is called a gazlan and oshek sechar sachir Midoraysa. Moreover,
the Chofetz Chaim writes, if no price was fixed before the job commenced,
and the ba'al habayis is a talmid chochom (or perhaps soemeone who "looks
like one"), he may also be guilty of Chilul Shem Shomoyim R'L, unless
he settles on a price with the worker and obtains mechila b'lev sholem.
28. It's All About Money. The Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 584:2
seif katan 8) writes that a mitzva is more elevated if one spends money
on it than a mitzva that comes for free. Indeed, the Yesod V'Shoresh
Ha'Avoda (11:2) writes that the ikar of a mitzva is to purchase it with
money, "as is mentioned in the Zohar HaKodosh in many places-see Parshas
Terumah 128A." Similarly, the Chayei Odom (68:16) quotes Dovid HaMelech
(Shmuel Beis 24:24) who insisted on paying Aravna for the land of the
Beis HaMikdosh "so that sacrifices to Hashem would not be free." Indeed,
we recite in the Shma daily-we are to love Hashem "with all of our heart,
all of our soul (our lives) and all our resources" which Chazal teach
us includes our money. The dedication of our money to Hashem is equated
with the dedication of our heart and even our very lives!
Because a person is close to his money, it is difficult to make
proper judgments as to monetary issues that arise. It is for this
reason that our Gedolim have always urged us to ask a Rav help us
decide and resolve monetary matters, including claims and disputes.
NOTE: Any person involved in business should know and understand that
their Rav cannot be expected to approach them and ask them how they
deal with onaah, ribis, hasagas g'vul, etc. Firstly, the Rabbonim do
not, of course, know the details of each one's business. Secondly,
our Rabbonim are like our spiritual doctors. No doctors knock on our
doors and ask us how they can help us! WE HAVE TO MAKE THE EFFORT
OURSELVES TO SIT DOWN WITH OUR RAV AND REVIEW BASIC HALACHOS AND MAKE
SURE WE PROPERLY CONDUCT OUR PARTICULAR BUSINESS. We are all familiar
with the story of R' Yisroel Salanter's ZT'L talmid who wanted to leave
his position as a shochet because he was worried that perhaps he would
cause a shechita to be improperly performed. R' Yisroel responded,
"What will you become? A businessman? Shechita involves only the
prohibition of neveilah-business involves many prohibitions, such as
stealing, coveting, cheating, lying and keeping inaccurate measurements."
We must always remember that the Torah is Hashem's guide for us-at home,
in the streets and in our business. There are currently many practical
seforim in English relating to Choshen Mishpat. For several series of
excellent Hakhel tapes on the halachos and hashkafos of Choshen Mishpat,
please contact 718-252-5274.
SECOND NOTE: There has been a proliferation of "women's stores," both
in storefronts and in basements, in our communities. It is important
that the women proprietors (who are as equally bound to Torah law as men)
be familiar with the same parameters of Choshen Mishpat and ribis as men
who are involved in business, including such areas as Hilchos Onaas Mamon
(overcharging), Gneivas Da'as (not disclosing mislabeling and hidden
defects), responsibility for defective merchandise and the obligation
to accept returned merchandise, fair competition, Dina D'Malchusa Dina
(including sales and income tax laws), not selling D'varim HaAsurim
(shatnez or goods from a questionable source), and clothing which meets
the requirements of Tznius (such as sleeves past the elbow, dresses
past the knees even when sitting, and no slits). Let us not forget
what sealed the decree of the Mabul (Beraishis 6:13 and Rashi there);
what causes Amelek to come upon us (Rashi on Devorim 25:17); and what we
plead for at Neilah on Yom Kippur (L'Maan Nechdal Mai'oshek Yodeinu, See
the Chofetz Chaim's Sefas Tamim, Chapter 3). Instead, we should remember
that Rashi explains the first word of Birchos Kohanim, "Yevorechacha (May
[Hashem] Bless You)" as "a blessing for wealth." Money comes only as a
result of Hashem's blessing, and not through acumen, cunning and guile,
or even wisdom.
29. Simcha Shel Mitzva. The Chayei Odom (68:13) brings the Arizal's
explanation of the posuk in the Tochacha that the listed tragedies
and suffering have come, "Tachas Asher Lo Avadato ... B'Simcha U'vtuv
Levav", as follows: "Because you did not rejoice in the service of
Hashem more than your rejoicing in obtaining the greatest of luxuries
and the most precious jewels and gems." Let us bring this great lesson
into our daily lives. How do you feel when plodding through the snow
on the ground to make it to shul on time? To walk an extra block to
avoid meeting the wrong crowd? When you put on the sacred Tefillin?
Teaching Torah to your child who is being "difficult"?
Cooking at midnight on Thursday for Shabbos? The Torah provides us
with a remarkable formula: In order to avoid the curses-rejoice in
30. Cohanim- On Guard. Every person must be "on guard" against the
particular nisyonos that will confront him. Cohanim, even in our time,
are uniquely instructed to avoid Tumah (Yorah Deah 369-373). This means
that Cohanim must be careful not only to avoid entering cemeteries,
but also to avoid such issues as trees which simultaneously overhang
both a grave and the sidewalk (the kehillahs of both Flatbush and Kew
Gardens Hills have cemeteries in their neighborhoods), or a grave and
the road (the Interboro Parkway connecting Brooklyn and Queens may have
A new issue in this regard has arisen in air travel to and from Israel.
We understand that many flights out of Lod Airport, instead of flying over
Tel-Aviv in the post-September 11th era now fly over the Holon Cemetery.
We have obtained the telephone number of Kanfei Yonah, an organization
in Israel which provides an updated tape-recorded message in English
as to the current status of flights in and out of Lod. The number
is 011-972-2-587-0358. However, we cannot take responsibility for the
information provided on this tape recording. Every Cohen should check
with his own Rav as to the permissibility and status of flying in
and out of Eretz Yisroel.
As we go to press, we understand there may be a similar issue with flights
arriving into the New York City airports flying over cemeteries in Queens.
Please consult with your Rav for updated information.
31. Ahavas Yisroel Checklist. The Mesilas Yesharim (end of Chapter 19)
writes, "Hakodush Boruch Hu only loves those who love their fellow Jew,
and the more one increases his love for fellow Jews, the more Hakodush
Boruch Hu loves him. (NOTE 5) Many have asked-How can I properly fulfill
the Mitzvas Aseh of V'ahavta L'reacha Comocha-How can I love someone
else as much as myself? Must I buy another a pair of shoes whenever
I buy one for myself? Rav Eliyahu Lopian Z'tl provides an incredibly
practical guideline: The Mitzva is: Do for others what you would want them
to do for you; and do not do to others what you do not want them to do
to you. This it the formula to apply in all of your life's encounters
(Lev Eliyahu, Beraishis, page 253). Using this as your guideline,the
following is a list of practical ideas for a person to grow in the great
mitzva of Ahavas Yisroel:
1. Did you say hello to at least one person before they said hello to you?
2. Did you make someone smile or laugh today? Did you boost someone's
spirits? 3. Were you truly happy to hear good news about a friend? Even
wish that the same good news would happen to you?
4. Did you judge someone favorably today? Did you see people
positively-or did you sum up their lifestyle, pros and cons, with one
glance of the eye?
5. How often did you find yourself talking about someone else?
6. Did you actually do any of the following:
a. Visit a sick person
b. Help the needy in some way
c. Invite a guest without family in town for a Shabbos meal
d. Patronize Jewish products and stores
e. Help a single person find a Shidduch
f. Sincerely ask Hashem to bring the Geulah for all of us (NOTE 6)
For the greatest success, keep a daily record of your accomplishments!
32. Shmiras Halashon Primer. We provide the following definitions
based upon Guard Your Tongue by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:
Loshon Hora: Speaking badly about another Jew, even if true and even
if meant in jest.
Rechilus: Reporting to someone what others have done or spoken against
him in a manner which may cause resentment.
Motzi Shem Ra: Loshon Hora or Rechilus which is not true.
Ba'al Loshon Hora: Someone in the habit of speaking Loshon Hora or
Rechilus-who loses his chelek in Olam Haba.
Example: "Rivka borrowed your book without permission." This is both
Loshon Hora and Rechilus. If it is not true, it is also Motzi Shem Ra.
33. Watch Your Words!
a. Chazal teach us that a person should never "open a mouth to the Satan"
(Brachos 19A). This is brough l'halacha by the Rema in Shulchan Aruch
Yoreh Deah 376:2. We therefore caution you not to make statements such as
"If you go near the stove, you will get burnt," "I feel so sick, I must
have...," or "You are going to fall off that bike!". You can think of
many other practical examples. For further reference, please see the
Rambam, Hilchos Deos 2:4,5.
b. Are "fortunately" and "unfortunately" kosher words or are they
words for "fortune" tellers? It depends on how you use them. If meant
to replace "happily" or "regretfully," it is acceptable. Just as you
should think before making dangerous statements, you should also think
before making any statements. We have heard from a talmid of Rav Pam
Z'tl that he disapproved use of the word "whatcha-macallit," because it
indicated that the person had not thought before speaking.
34. The Right Choice. If one has a choice between a Yoshon-labeled
product and a Chodosh product (cake, crackers, noodles or the like),
and he is not machmir to keep Yoshon generally, is it better for him
to purchase the Yoshon product-or does it make no difference at all?
The answer is found in the Chofetz Chaim's Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar (Mitzvos
Lo Sa'aseh 101) in which the Chofetz Chaim clearly writes that one should
observe Yoshon "B'chol ma sh'efshar lo (as much as possible)."
35. Pre-Pesach Updates. At this time we are not planning on our
next Bulletin appearing until after Pesach. All Pesach inquiries as to
mislabelings, new products, etc. may be referred to Kashrus Magazine,
718-336-8544. Additionally, the major Kashrus organizations all provide
special assistance for Pesach with your questions.
36. Important Community Resources.
a. Employment - The Agudath Israel of America maintains a free
employment service. If you hear of a job opening or are in need of
employment, please call 718-436-1900.
b. The Yitti Leibel Help Line - The only anonymous, free Help Line
under Halachic auspices providing Frum mental health services worldwide.
"When you are hurting and need someone to talk to," call (718) HELPNOW
(435-7669). There are also local numbers in other cities.
c. Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shmiras Halashon Shaila
Hotline - Monday through Thursday and Motzei Shabbos 9-10:30PM.
Poskim specializing in Shmiras Halashon issues. (718) 951-3696.
d. Free Telephone Shiurim - The Torah Communications Network
offers many free telephone shiurim. You may call 718-436-3846 on a
e. Chazak - A project of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation also
offers many inspirational telephone shiurim 24 hours a day. Please call
718-258-2008 and use PIN number 1234.
f. Limud Mishnayos Chart - A handy, practical tool for boys and
men of all ages to record their long-term growth in limud mishnayos is
available by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Congregation
Darchei Tzedek, 7307 Seven Mile Lane, Baltimore, MD 21208.
* * *
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 available. For a free copy,
mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to our address above.
1 The nusach, according to Rav Moshe Sternbach, Shlita (Teshuvos
V'Hanhagos, Orach Chayim 2:297), is "Hareini Mekabel Olai Kedushas
Shabbos Kodesh." For a remarkable teshuva of the Lubliner Rosh Yeshiva
(to the Gerrer Rebbe) on Tosefes Shabbos, see his sefer Shailos U'Tshuvos
2 Rav Moshe Sternbach, Shlita (Teshuvos V'Hanhagos, Orach Chayim 3:83)
gives another novel approach to this issue. He poskens that there are
two kinds of Tosefes Shabbos-one for Kabolas Issur Melacha which one
can be mekabel and still daven the weekday Mincha as long as he stops
doing melacha-and the regular Kabolas Kedushas Shabbos after which one
can no longer daven the weekday Mincha. Accordingly, if one has not yet
davened Mincha but can refrain from doing melacha, he should at least
be mekabel on himself "Tosefes Shabbos L'inyan Issur Melacha."
3 We note that, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z'tl, in Sefer Halichos Shlomo
holds that the Shehechiyanu is made first and the L'hisatef B'tzitzis
4 Today, many poskim hold that it is difficult to make Shehechiyanu
on many fruits because fruits are available all year round and it is
difficult to distinguish first fruits of the new crop. (Rav Aleksander
Mandelbaum, Shlita, in his sefer V'zos HaBrocho, citing Rab Elyashiv,
Shlita). Compare Igros Moshe Orach Chayim 3:34, in which Rav Moshe Z'tl
is posek that one is mevarech, but "Mikol Makom L'maaseh Ulei Yesh L'maet
B'brachos... v'Befrat B'Birchas Shehechiyanu Al Pri Chodosh She'hu Reshus"
(Nevertheless, practically, perhaps one should minimize [in making]
these brachos... and especially regarding the bracha Shehechiyanu on a
new fruit, which is optional [and not mandatory]).
5 We note the incredible statement of the Alter of Kelm (Kisvei HaSaba
MiKelm page 13) that with V'ahavta L'reacha Comocha one can be m'kayem
thousands of mitzvos a minute because for every single Jew that one
loves, he is m'kayem a separate Mitzvas Aseh. (Also see Yesod V'Shoresh
6 This checklist is based largely on a checklist developed by N'shei
Ahavas Chesed of Brooklyn.
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