Avodah Mailing List

Volume 11 : Number 020

Friday, May 30 2003

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 15:17:07 +0300 (IDT)
From: eli turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il>
Subject:
Ezra, Malachi & Mordecha


> Reb Tzadok says they are not necessarily the same people but reflect the
> same persona.

> YGB

 From the sefer Binu Shnot Dor ve-Dor 
by R. Natan David Rabinowitz
(a book about historicak problems from a 
traditional viewpoint - haskamot from many gedolim)

Megillah 15a - R. Nachman (other girs Rav) Malachi=Ezra The gemarah
brings a beraita that both were neviim at the same time so they were
different people R. Yehoshua be Levi - Malachi=Ezra Chachamim Malachi
is his name R. Nachman - it seems like R. Yeshoshua ben Levi is correct

Tosafot Yevamot 86b says Malachi is Ezra Rambam in hakdamah lists Ezra
and Malachi separately

Rambam (kle hamikdash 10:10) in the second temple there was urim ve-tumim
but they were not used because there was no ruach hakodesh. (see also
Beit Habakhira 4)

Griz on Rambam asks frpm Sotah 48 that even at the beginning of Bayit
sheni when there were phrophets there was no Urim ve-tumim. POssible
answer there was no Kohen Gadol who had Ruach hakodesh. Griz says that
can't be because Ezra was a Kohen Gadol and had ruach hakodesh since
Ezra was Malachi

(whether Ezra was Kohen Gadol is debateable - Tosafot Rid Yoma 9a says
Ezra was Cohen Gadol and burnt a parah adumah. Abarbanel on Pirkei
Avot does not list Ezra as one of the Cohanim Gedolim see also Shir
haShitim Raba 5 on Kampti Ani. Rashbatz seems to contradict himself on
this point. Griz follows Rambam that Ezra was a Kohen Gadol).

However, Gris is difficult because Rambam says Malachi and Ezra were
different people and if so how does Griz know that Ezra had Ruach
haKodesh and Malachi was not Kohen Gadol and so there were no Kohanim
Gedolim with Ruach haKodesh in the second temple.


the sefer then discusses whether Esther had Ruach hakodesh because
we see that she wrote Megillat Esther and since Ezra wrote his sefer
that implies that he has ruach haKodesh. He aslo discusses Zevachim 62
that R. Elizer ven Yaakov says that the 3 neviim from bayit sheni gave
different testimonies including that the Torah was given in Ashurit
script. The question is why Rambam paskens like R. Yochanan against
R. Eliezer ben Yaakov when we usually say mishnato kav venaki (and of
course he paskens like an amorah against a tanna).

R. Zlivenski answers the Griz that he agrees that Malachi is not
Ezra. However, if the gemara argues if Ezra is Malachi or Mordechai than
obviously he is certainly a navi (IMHO not very convincing).

However, the conclusion of this discussion is that everyone took very
literally the question if Ezra was Malachi or Mordechai and not just a
question of personalities

(I personally agree with RYGB that R. Zadok makes more sense).

kol tuv,
Eli Turkel


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Date: Wed, 28 May 2003 09:33:33 EDT
From: Joelirich@aol.com
Subject:
Eit Laasot-haftora from a klaf


Back to this topic again?

According to at least some(?) authorities the reason for the cessation of
reading the haftora from a klaf was eit laasot because the communities
couldn't afford the klaf. If so, why would the original practice not be
reinstated in "wealthier" times/places? Some argued that the eit laasot
by wrinig down the oral law is "reestablished" in every generation as
still needed. How would this work by the haftora?

KT
Joel Rich


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Date: Wed, 28 May 2003 10:47:16 -0400
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com
Subject:
Re: giving chalah to your wife before eating your own piece


(Note: In this post I will follow R' Carl's lead and use the word
"interlude" so that we can avoid getting bogged down on whether silent
waiting counts as a hefsek or not.)

I asked <<< I agree that cutting for everyone else is NOT part of the
inyan of my making the bracha and eating. However, it IS part of the
inyan of THEM being yotzay in the bracha and eating. Isn't that just
as important?>>>

R' Carl Sherer answered <<< But it's something about which I cannot do
anything. Mima nafshach - they are going to have an interlude where they
are not eating after the bracha. I don't have to have one.>>>

Okay, I think that I now see the difference betwen RCS and myself on
this issue:

As RCS sees it, the m'varech has the ability to keep his interlude down
to zero, and that's not possible for the others. He also feels that while
it is regrettable that the others' interlude will be even longer while
they wait for the m'varech to take his own slice, that's not as bad as
if he would take the time to slice for the others, which introduces a
new interlude (to himself) where otherwise there would be none at all.

If that is a correct understanding of RCS's position, then I'd say that
he is mistaken: It's not true that the m'varech has the option of having
no interlude whatsoever.

The slicing of even the first piece is such an interlude, and this is
proven by Chazal telling us to make a mark on the challah so that even
this interlude will be minimized. (In my experience, the time spent
looking for that mark increases the slicing time to be longer than if
there had been no mark at all, but that's a whole 'nother thread.)

One might respond that the requirement of lechem mishneh makes that
interlude unavoidable, and so it doesn't count. But mima nafshach: If
slicing is an unavoidable interlude and therefore doesn't count as a
"real" interlude for the m'varech, then slicing is also an unavoidable
interlude for the others and doesn't count as a "real" interlude for them
either. Thus, since no one at all has the problem of a "real" interlude,
I feel it is proper to make all the slices before anyone begins eating.

If you don't like the above, try this one:

As R' Carl explains, the mevarech must eat from the first slice to
keep his interlude to nothing more than what is required. If so, then
what happens when the second slice is cut? According to RCS's logic,
he should give that piece to someone before cutting the third slice,
in order to minimize that person's interlude. Then he cuts the third
slice and gives it out, and cuts the fourth slice and gives it out,
and so on until everyone finally has a piece.

I have been to homes where that is exactly how the bread is given out,
and I don't like it one bit. It's great for the people at the beginning,
but awful for the people at the end. It is my belief that this is a
great example of "yotzay s'charo b'hefsedo", as the average time for
each person to get his slice is lengthened considerably. I find that
when I keep my hand on the knife until all the slices are cut, and then
pass the dish forward, it is a much more efficient procedure.

It also has the advantage that each person can talk again at about the
same time. When there is a long delay between the first people and the
last people, there is a great tendency to speak to (or about) the ones
who can't talk yet, and my procedure minimizes that as well.

It is my feeling that if RCS is correct on technical grounds, it can
be only if one looks solely at the Bein Adam l'Makom. If we keep our
eyes open to the Bein Adam l'Chaveiros involved, it is can be a very
different story.

(For those interested in another of my pet peeves where l'Chaveiro seems
to be ignored in favor of l'Makom, see my thread on "The Tenth Man"
in the archives, at http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/getindex.cgi?section=T)

Akiva Miller


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Date: Wed, 28 May 2003 11:13:25 -0400
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Subject:
Re: Musar of Rashi


I agree with you. It is especially noteworthy in light of beginning of
Sotah regarding shiur Stirah that beilah does take a few minutes whereas
nisuch is almost instant as we see from the sugyos in A"Z.

M.Levin


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Date: Wed, 28 May 2003 19:57:13 -0400
From: Elazar M Teitz <remt@juno.com>
Subject:
[none]


> R.Dubin wrote: <I I found the musar vort in the Daf Yomi a few days
> ago interesting. The Gemara asks about the difference between kahanos
> teme'os, and yayin mutar. The Gemara's answer is that liv'ol yesh penai,
> lenasech ein penai. Rashi explains that since the invaders WANT liv'ol,
> there's time, while they don't want lenasech as much, so there's no 
> time.

> I think that one can understand the Rashi(71a) much simpler. Since the
> yetser horah for Avodah Zarah is only minhag avoseihem biyadehem, there
> is no yetser horah lnasech but for b'ilah there is yetser hora.

It's only in chutz la'aretz that it's minhag avoseihem, not in
EY. (Chullin 13b).


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Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 14:06:15 EDT
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Subject:
Re:


True and I was aware of that. However, Rashi speaks of the Yetser
Horah. It is absurd to say that that is fully active in Bovel but not
in Erets Yisroel. Rather, what is meant is that in E"Y, the goim are
not simply mistaken but worship avodah Zora B'Meizid, because they are
exposed to Jews and the truth. Besides the Gemorah does ask a question
in a case that occurred in Bovel.

M. Levin


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Date: Wed, 28 May 2003 14:31:45 -0400
From: "Gil Student" <gil@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Entering the Temple Mount


We've discussed this before but I found online an article by R' Shlomo
Aviner in which he reiterates what many have said before him:

"This is how it was practiced in every generation, not to approach it
[the Temple Mount]. In every generation a scholar arose and wrote that
in his opinion one may enter and in his merit many scholars wrote to
strengthen the prohibition. Whatever was written that seems to permit
entering there was only written in the method of learning and
'pilpul', in order to magnify and glorify Torah, but in practice in
every generation they did not enter.

"Question: Was there not a synagogue on the Temple Mount?

"Answer: There is no clear testimony to that...

"Question: Is there not Muslim testimony that Jews would pray on the
Temple Mount?

"Answer: We can definitely not rely on that..."

http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/kitveyet/shana/al-4.htm

Gil Student


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Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 00:02:40 -0400
From: "JosephMosseri" <joseph.mosseri@verizon.net>
Subject:
www.koshershaver.org


Does any one know about this group??????/

 http://www.koshershaver.org/


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Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 21:46:42 +1000
From: "SBA" <sba@iprimus.com.au>
Subject:
Siman for Kadima in Brochos


I saw this on Chadrei Chareidim - and feel it's worthwhile to pass on:

A siman to remember 'din kadima' in brochos - 
MAGA EISH [ie mem, gimmel, ayin, alef, shin].

Mezonos
Gefen
Aitz

Adomo
SHehakol.

SBA


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Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 01:17:07 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: your mail


On Wed, May 28, 2003 at 07:57:13PM -0400, Elazar M Teitz wrote:
:>                                                              Since the
:> yetser horah for Avodah Zarah is only minhag avoseihem biyadehem, there
:> is no yetser horah lnasech but for b'ilah there is yetser hora.

: It's only in chutz la'aretz that it's minhag avoseihem, not in
: EY. (Chullin 13b).

So the turn of phrase was questionably chosen. The point, that there is
no yeitzer hara for AZ, has been true even in Israel ever since AKhG
trapped it in a lead pot.

-mi


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Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 09:19:43 -0400
From: David Riceman <dr@insight.att.com>
Subject:
haftaroth on klaf


I once asked our shul president if I should assemble a team to donate
a sefer haftaroth on klaf for the shul, and he told me that it was hard
enough to find baalei kriah already, and he didn't want to restrict the
people who could read the haftorah. So there may be pragmatic reasons
for not using klaf.

David Riceman


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Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 09:25:22 -0400
From: David Riceman <dr@insight.att.com>
Subject:
chumrah as neder


See Hochmath Adam 92:14, which seems to have an internal contradiction.
First he says that one must do hatarath nedarim, and then he says one
can't do hatarath nedarim (sounds like a bad movie script). If you look
in SA YD 214, his cited source, you'll see that the latter opinion is
part of the yesh omrim, which the Rama rejects. Is this just a typo in
my edition of Hochmath Adam, and should "v'haminhag kisvara rishona" be
displaced one phrase (as I suspect), or is he disagreeing with the Rama?

Thanks,
David Riceman


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Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 01:34:05 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: persian era


On Wed, May 28, 2003 at 09:32:02PM +0300, eli turkel wrote:
: Thanks for the reference. However, I am pretty sure (have to look up
: the quote) that the Brisker Rav took these gemaras quite literally and
: learned halachot from them.

The latter (learning halakhos) does not imply the former (that he took
the gemaros quite literally).

One need only assert that an aggadic statement would never be phrased
so as to have tzadiqim violate halakhah. Then, one can look for how an
aggadita could comply with halakhah, regardless of historicity.

IOW, one can darshen halakhos from the author of the statement rather
than one is learning from what Ezra actually did.

-mi

-- 
Micha Berger                 Today is the 42nd day, which is
micha@aishdas.org            6 weeks in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org       Malchus sheb'Yesod: Why is self-control and
Fax: (413) 403-9905           reliability crucial for universal brotherhood?


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Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 22:34:32 -0400
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com
Subject:
Re: Persian Era


M. Levin wrote <<< a shtar that we use has to also be correct. L'minyan
shanu monim kan comes to differentiate from minyan shtoros; it does not
come to allow incorrect count. >>>

I understand the words "L'minyan sh'anu monim kan" to mean "according to
how we count here". It has nothing to do with whether or not the figure
is correct, only that it is consistent with actual practice in other
stharos and other situations.

I, too, was taught that this phrase was inserted specifically because
we are uncertain about whether or not the current year really is 5763
from Creation. Isn't there a machlokes on the Seder Olam being off by
one year, so that this year is really 5762? Or is it 5764? In any case,
I don't see how it can affect the validity of a shtar, being that we
have stipulated that it is "the year commonly known as 5763".

Akiva Miller


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Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 10:52:21 -0400
From: "Gil Student" <gil@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: BS"D


On Areivim, Harry Maryles wrote:
> I guess he holds like RAS [R' Ahron Soloveitchik] who says that all
> refferences to God are Kinuyim including BSD and are to be treated like
> Shemos. RAS never [p]ut anything like that on any of his writngs and
> told his Talmidim to do the same.

R' Elazar Teitz wrote:
> Is there a written source for this claim? *All* references to Hashem? Does
> that mean that the terms Ribbono Shel Olam and Hakadosh Boruch Hu
> cannot be discarded? Certainly they are closer to sheim Shomayim than
> "with the help of Heaven." How about Borei Olam? Rachum v'Chanun?
> Shochein bam'romim? If this attribution is accurate, there are many
> more than seven sheimos sheinam nimchakim!

Harry Maryles wrote:
> IIRC, RAS was machmir on all Kinuim including Roshei Tevos. I do not know
> what his source was for this but I do recall him telling us in Shiur
> that we should not write BH or even BSD because that was a reference
> to God as well. Whether RAS considered it ACTUAL Shemos to be buried,
> I don't know. But he certainly felt it was improper to use any reference
> to God where there was a liklihood that it would eventually be thrown in
> the trash. For this reason he told his Talmidim never to write BH, BSD
> (the D... D'Shmaya of the BSD is a reference to to God) or any other
> Roshei Tevos refering to God.

Rambam writes in Hilchos Yesodei Ha-Torah 6:5, "All other kinuyin that
praise God such as 'chanun', 'rachum', 'ha-gadol ha-gibor veha-nora',
'ha-ne'eman', 'kano', 'chazak' and similar are like other parts of
Scripture and it is permissible to erase them."

However, when the Sefer Ha-Chinuch (537) quotes this Rambam, he adds
"it is permissible to erase them *for a need*".

Based on this, R' Ahron Soloveitchik in Parach Mateh Aharon (Mada, p.
45-46) writes very briefly that even according to the Rambam one may
only erase a kinu'iy if there is a need.  Otherwise, one may not erase
it.

Gil Student


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Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 11:05:05 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Subject:
Re: Persian Era


At 10:34 PM 5/29/03 -0400, kennethgmiller@juno.com wrote:
>I, too, was taught that this phrase was inserted specifically because
>we are uncertain about whether or not the current year really is 5763
>from Creation. Isn't there a machlokes on the Seder Olam being off by
>one year, so that this year is really 5762? Or is it 5764? In any case,
>I don't see how it can affect the validity of a shtar, being that we
>have stipulated that it is "the year commonly known as 5763".

If we are off, then there are problems with the luach...

Kol Tuv,
YGB
ygb@aishdas.org  or  ygb@yerushalmionline.org
essays, tapes and seforim at: www.aishdas.org;
on-line Yerushalmi shiurim at www.yerushalmionline.org


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Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 17:55:29 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: Persian Era


At 10:34 PM 5/29/03 -0400, kennethgmiller@juno.com wrote:
:> from Creation. Isn't there a machlokes on the Seder Olam being off by
:> one year, so that this year is really 5762? Or is it 5764? In any case,
:> I don't see how it can affect the validity of a shtar, being that we
:> have stipulated that it is "the year commonly known as 5763".

The machloqes is not about the actual age, but where to place the zero
mark. Shiv'as yemei bereishis could be either year -1, 0 or 1, with the
first full year being 0, 1 or 2.

So, while it would affect shetaros, it has nothing to do with our original
question about knowing how much time has gone by so far.

On Fri, May 30, 2003 at 11:05:05AM -0400, RYGB wrote:
: If we are off, then there are problems with the luach...

Why? The mesorah which gave us the original molad Tishrei post-dates
the Calleged missing years. It doesn't make a difference whether the
constant works because the first molad was at 8am, or because we're
given a number that compensates for 168 years.

:-)BBii
-mi

-- 
Micha Berger                 Today is the 43rd day, which is
micha@aishdas.org            6 weeks and 1 day in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org       Chesed sheb'Malchus: How does unity result in
Fax: (413) 403-9905                               good for all mankind?


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Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 14:13:14 -0400
From: "Gil Student" <gil@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: www.koshershaver.org


I can say that not only did R' Mordechai Willig permit using a
lift-and-cut shaver, he used it himself when he used to shave some of
his beard and his sons used it also.

Gil Student


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Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 14:02:06 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Subject:
Re: Persian Era


At 05:55 PM 5/30/03 +0000, Micha Berger wrote:

>Why? The mesorah which gave us the original molad Tishrei post-dates
>the Calleged missing years. It doesn't make a difference whether the
>constant works because the first molad was at 8am, or because we're
>given a number that compensates for 168 years.
>
>:-)BBii
>-mi

The mesorah PREdates the "missing years" - Sod Ha'Ibbur is from Mattan Torah.

Kol Tuv,
YGB
ygb@aishdas.org  or  ygb@yerushalmionline.org
essays, tapes and seforim at: www.aishdas.org;
on-line Yerushalmi shiurim at www.yerushalmionline.org


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Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 20:23:52 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: Persian Era


On Fri, May 30, 2003 at 02:02:06PM -0400, Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer wrote:
: >Why? The mesorah which gave us the original molad Tishrei post-dates
: >the Calleged missing years. It doesn't make a difference whether the
: >constant works because the first molad was at 8am, or because we're
: >given a number that compensates for 168 years.

: The mesorah PREdates the "missing years" - Sod Ha'Ibbur is from Mattan Torah.

I'm suggesting that the equation need only produce the right results,
which requires the right known value to work forward from for n years.
For that matter, you could use this past Tishrei's molad and do all
future calculations by adding the right number of average molad
lengths from that.

(BTW, does "sod ha'ibbur" include the full calendar and all its
calculations, or only the ibbur part?)

:-)BBii
-mi

-- 
Micha Berger                 Today is the 43rd day, which is
micha@aishdas.org            6 weeks and 1 day in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org       Chesed sheb'Malchus: How does unity result in
Fax: (413) 403-9905                               good for all mankind?


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Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 21:49:09 +0000
From: Hakhel Bulletin <hakhelusa@yahoo.com>
Subject:
Hakhel C. A. B.


[Note the service for shavers on line 522 of this email. -mi]

THE HAKHEL COMMUNITY AWARENESS BULLETIN
Reviewed by HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita
Volume III, Number 3
Sivan 5763

The purpose of this Bulletin is to alert the public regarding
important issues, so that the informed person can ask his Rav the right
questions. It is also intended to heighten each member of our community's
awareness of important contemporary shailos, and to receive his own
p'sak on each of these issues.

What is the Brocha?

a. Tortilla Chips In a previous issue (Volume I, Number 3, Av 5761), we
reported that most tortilla chip products contain ground corn or "whole
white corn". Nevertheless, the brocha rishona is shehakol. In contrast,
the Lieber's Tortilla Chip product lists "whole grain corn" as its first
ingredient. The brocha rishona on that particular brand, as provided
on the wrapper by the Rav Hamachshir, is borei pri haodoma. Consumers
should always be alert to brocha shailos and resolve the shaila before
consuming the product.

b. Cookies and Cream One of the flavors of Klein's parve ice cream is
"Cookies and Cream" which contains cookie crumbs or bits which are
sprinkled through areas of vanilla frozen dessert. The appropriate
brocha rishona on this product is shehakol, but it is k'dai to make a
borei minei mezonos on another product and have in mind at that time to
be motzi the cookie part of the ice cream as well.

c. Rokeach Sour Sticks This snack product lists wheat flour as its third
ingredient, after sugar and corn syrup. The Rav Hamachshir advised us
that the proper brocha combination is shehakol/borei nefashos, because
the wheat flour is present "ledabek" only.

d. Wafers The generally-accepted minhag is to make a borei minei mezonos
on all types of wafers, even those that are coated.

e. Chocoriot Cereal According to the Badatz, which gives the Hashgocha on
this children's cereal, the proper brocha rishona is borei minei mezonos.

f. Fruit Leather The packaging on the Stretch Island Fruit Leather
product states that it consists of "100% fruit" and contains "apples,
cherries, orange puree and natural flavors." Nevertheless, the brocha
rishona on this product is shehakol, because the fruit is first liquified
and then reconstituted.

g. Wraps Over the course of the last year or so, a new food item has
become popularized in America, the "Wrap". Wraps are made by taking a
ball of dough, flattening it to an extremely thin form and then baking
it. Typically, the Wrap is then filled with food, much like a pita. The
question that arises is what is the brocha rishona, and by extension
what is the brocha achrona on a Wrap? Is the brocha an absolute borei
minei mezonos (akin to a very thin liquid batter dough -- see Mishne
Berurah, Orach Chayim 168, seif katan 38), or is the Wrap to be treated
like Pas HaBa'ah B'Kisnin (akin to the flat bread referred to in Shulchan
Aruch, Orach Chayim 168:7) and would accordingly follows those rules? Or,
notwithstanding that it does not have the typical form or shape of bread,
is the brocha always a Hamotzi? In Eretz Yisroel, where Wraps have not yet
been popularized, many Poskim have never seen or heard of a Wrap. Rabbi
Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita, however, who was shown a Wrap, poskened that
it should be treated like Pas HaBa'ah B'Kisnin. Rabbi Yisroel Belsky,
Shlita, poskens that the brocha is always Hamotzi, because it is baked
in the same manner as bread, tastes and feels like bread, is made of a
heavy, bread-like dough and serves to fill and satisfy, just as bread
does. A person is advised to consult his Rav before partaking of a Wrap.

The Power of Amen Yehei Shmei Raba. At a recent gathering, Rabbi Matisyahu
Solomon, Shlita, provided incredible inspiration to recite Amen Yehei
Shmei Raba (V'chulu) with especial intensity:

The Gemorah (Shabbos 119B) states that one who says it with all his might
(Rashi-all his kavana) will have a bad gezeira against him torn up. The
Sefer Chareidim (Chapter 73) writes that this is actually a segula from
Chazal and is a most potent factor in the Teshuva process.

What does "all his kavana" mean? It means that one must be listening
attentively to Kaddish beginning with the words Yisgadal V'Yiskadash
recited by the Shatz, and understanding what the Shatz is saying. He is
praying that the Moshiach come as soon as possible (not only "bchayei
d'chol bais Yisroel," not only "ba'agola," but also "bizman koriv")
so that Kiddush Hashem will come to the world-so that Kovod Shomayim is
reinstated and that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is finally recognized by everyone
as the Source of all Blessing. Our tefillos are not marked by prayers
which ask for everything to go back to normal-but rather to go forward
to change.

To demonstrate our dedication to the principle of Kaddish, the Shulchan
Aruch itself (Orach Chayim 56:1) states that a person should run to hear
Kaddish. We run for what we really want.

Practical Application: Try at least one time per day to concentrate
intently on the words of Kaddish as recited by the Shatz and your
responses. The Middah K'negid Middah will be self-evident-since you
fervently want Hashem's status in the world to change from its current
state of Chilul Hashem to a glorious state of Kiddush Hashem, Hashem
will change any negative gezeirah against you to a positive one.

Solutions Are Not Necessary. At a recent shiur on the current world
situation, Rabbi Reuvain Feinstein, Shlita, reminded the gathering that
when we daven, we should not be giving Hakadosh Boruch Hu the solutions
to our problems. Instead, we should be pleading to Him, setting forth
our lackings. Hashem will "decide" how to deal with our needs. As an
example, at Mei Merivah, K'lal Yisroel sinned by asking for water, when
instead they should have been mispallel merely that they were thirsty! It
is reported that the Satmar Rebbe Z'TL once remarked that when wealthy
people come to him, they give him money and take his eitzas, while when
poor people come to him, he gives them money and they give him eitzas!

Who is Hashem Close To? Dovid Hamelech, through his Ruach HaKodesh,
shares a fundamental principle of life with us: Hashem is close to
all who call on Him-to all who call out to Him in truth (Tehillim
145:18). In layman's terms this means that a heartfelt, tearful, prayer
brings Hashem's presence down from above the Seventh Heaven to be close
to the one who calls!

At Least That! One of our Gedolim recently pointed out that there is
actually a greater possibility that the Moshiach will come today than it
is that you will win the regular weekly lottery drawing. The calculation
is simple-there are 236  years left until the year 6000. This is
only approximately 86,200 days. Thus, the "chance" that Moshiach will
come today is only 1:86,200. The chance that you will win the New York
Lotto is about 1:45,000,000. Conclusion: At the very least, we should
anticipate and yearn for achieving the Redemption as much as those who
are addicted to the lottery hope to win it-since the chances of such an
occurrence are truly that much greater!

A Separate Gehinom. The Chofetz Chaim in the sefer Shmiras Haloshon
(Shaar Hatevuna, Chapter 13) writes that there is a separate Gehinom
which a person must withstand for each type of aveirah he commits. There
is not one standard Gehinom or even one category of Gehinom into which
a person falls. Just as there is no mass reward for mitzvos, as every
mitzvah is treated independently, so, too, is every aveirah weighed and
studied. The Chofetz Chaim there tells that ka'as (anger) is the gateway
to many aveiros. Therefore, Chazal teach that if a person gets angry,
"All types of Gehinom rule over him (Nedarim 22A)," because many types
of aveiros will result from his anger.

Don't Touch. One should be careful to make washing negel vasser his very
first activity of the day after opening his eyes and reciting Modeh Ani
(Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 4:1,2,3). If one mistakenly handled food
before washing negel vasser (three or four times alternately on each
hand) in the morning, the Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 4;
Mishne Berurah, seif katan 14) writes that the food is not prohibited,
but l'chatchila, one should be very careful not to touch any food prior
to washing. If inadvertently done, one should rinse the food three times
before eating (ibid.).

Nightime Asher Yotzar. If a person wakes up in the middle of the night
to use the restroom, he should first wash negel vasser (Shulchan Aruch,
Orach Chayim 4:1,3) and be sure to recite an Asher Yotzar immediately
thereafter. One should not wait until Shachris to recite the Asher
Yotzar, because by doing so, if he takes care of his needs again upon
awakening in the morning, he will have missed the original Asher Yotzar
opportunity. The reason is that the "window of opportunity," for Asher
Yotzar is only until the next time he takes care of his needs (Shulchan
Aruch, Orach Chayim 4; Mishne Berurah, seif katan 3 and Orach Chayim 7,
Mishne Berurah, seif katan 6).

Washing Again. If a person arises before Alos HaShachar and washes
negel vasser, the Rama poskens that he should wash negel vasser again
after Alos HaShachar without a brocha (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim
4:14). This procedure is especially important to those who arise early
to daven vasikin or for a shiur or when traveling.

Kashering of Chocolate Plants. Because of problems water may cause
in the production of chocolate, chocolate companies are hesitant to
allow water to go through their machines. Accordingly, some well known
European chocolate companies use cocoa butter or liquid chocolate to
kasher their equipment. Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z'TL (Igros Moshe, Yoreh
Deah 1:60), holds that this is unacceptable, even b'dieved. According
to Rav Moshe, kashering can be done only with water and not with "other
liquids." Moreover, cocoa butter may not even be considered an "other
liquid," as it is a solid at room temperature.

Failing to kasher the machines according to Rav Moshe's p'sak results
in the following halachic concerns:

1) Chocolate companies generally use the same machinery for both dairy
and parve chocolates. As a result of a kashering process which is wholly
ineffective according to Rav Moshe, parve chocolates may not be considered
really parve and Cholov Yisroel chocolates may not be considered Cholov
Yisrael (assuming milk that was not Cholov Yisroel was previously used).

2) Moreover, in Europe, non-kosher oils (i.e., from neveilos) are
commonly used in chocolates not under kosher supervision. If machines
using these oils are kashered (to make a run under hashgocha) using
ineffective methods, the kosher chocolates produced on those machines
may not be considered kosher at all.

While many American hashgachos are careful to kasher according to the
p'sak of Rav Moshe, European hashgachos are, generally, not careful
to kasher in this way. Alprose, under the hashgocha of both the OU
and Rav Weismandel of the United States, is currently the only Swiss
chocolate company known to kasher their machines in a way that would
be acceptable according to Rav Moshe. The other "famous" heimshe Swiss
kosher chocolate companies with European heimshe hashgochos which may
be otherwise well known follow Poskim in Europe who hold differently
than the commonly-accepted p'sak here in America.

Bakery Horrors. We were given access to the baking area of a certain
bakery with "heimshe" hashgochos. The bakery owner, a straightforward
"yungerman," revealed to us the following about his operation:

a. The hashgachos do not require the bakery to have a Shomer Shabbos
worker at all times when it is open, not even during the actual baking
process. In fact, typically, an akum who has his own set of keys opens
the bakery and, together with another akum, begin to bake at 4:30AM by
themselves until a Frum Yid comes in to work anywhere from one to three
hours later. The Frum Yid does come in at the same time as the akum
occasionally (apparently to show the akum that he can get up early, too!).

b. There is no log kept as to when challah is taken. Typically, challah
is taken in the morning when the dough is made, and then at the end
of the day, at which time the person taking the challah stated that if
challah was not taken earlier, this later taking should cover it.

c. Eggs are not checked by Frum Yidden, as this is too costly and
time-consuming. Instead, an akum who checks them is paid $1.00 for every
egg he finds containing a "blitztrop" (blood spot).

d. There is no separate milchig oven. Milchig products are typically made
by the akum around the end of the day, and the oven is then "burned out"
for about a half an hour before starting "parve" production again.

Representatives from each hashgacho agency typically come in about once
a month or so. It is challenging to conjecture as to what these visitors
hope to observe during their infrequent drop ins.

Questions: While everything described above might be claimed to be
halachically valid, parve and challah considered taken-are these the
standards you would allow in your home? Are these the standards that
hashgachos should allow?

Note: Further investigation into bakeries under one of these hashgochos
has yielded some additional information:

 Typically, many batches of dough are made, baked and packaged for
distribution in the night/early morning, while only akum are present. By
the time the challah-taker arrives later in the morning, many of these
products have already been delivered. A worker (akum) removes a blob
of dough from each mixture during the night/early morning and these are
presented to the challah-taken when (and if) he arrives. Does the akum
worker have ne'emonus that he separated a blob out of each batch? You
better believe it!

 Challah is almost never separated from "b'lilah rakka" such as sponge
cake, contrary to the view of most, if not all, poskim.

 The various methods of making the product Pas Yisroel are highly
innovative and questionable. A full discussion is beyond the scope of
this publication.

 The various rules used in determining what to label "mezonos" bread
are even more innovative. A recent Kuntres issued by Rabbonim of the
Beis Din of Rav Wosner, Shlita, calls into question the whole concept
and concludes convincingly that the brocha is almost always Hamotzi.

Interesting Fact: We have been advised that the Dayan of one major
community has advised his constituents to take their own challah at home
without a brocha from baked goods purchased in his neighborhood.

Final Note: The Kashrus Information Center of Flatbush (KIC) and the
Kashrus Information Service of Boro Park (KIS) have advised us that they
are both well aware of problems existing in certain bakeries. In fact,
they believe that, as a direct result of this knowledge, they have been
denied permission to monitor bakeries under certain hashgochos, so that
they are unable to provide any information about them to the rabbonim
they service.

Only through strong public pressure upon the establishments and upon
their certifying agencies can these problems be rectified. As long
as there is no independent monitoring systems such as the KIC or KIS,
the multiple problems most likely will continue to exist.

Kiddush Wine. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 210:1) brings a Machlokes
Haposkim as to the minimum shiur of wine one needs to drink in order
to be required to make the brocha achrona of Al Hagefen. According to
some opinions, the shiur for a brocha achrona of Al Hagefen is only one
k'zayis (which the Mishne Berurah explains is one-third of a reviis, or
approximately only one ounce). Accordingly, when distributing Kiddush Wine
around the table, we should be careful to give only a very small amount
(less than one ounce) to each person to avoid a safek brocha achrona.

A Door Opener. If one's door knob falls off on Shabbos, it is prohibited
to even loosely place the doorknob back in the handle to open the door
because (i) it resembles the melacha of boneh; and (ii) the doorknob is
muktzeh. There is also the possibility that a person might continue to
completely rebuild it (shemah yetokah). Instead, one should use a knife,
bobby pin, handle of a spoon, or, if necessary, a screwdriver to open the
door (The 39 Melachos, Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita, Volume IV, page 1090).

Shabbos Bows. One is permitted to make bows on Shabbos, but only for
items which typically would come apart on Shabbos (i.e., are not meant
to last more than one day), such as shoe laces. Accordingly, when one's
trash bag is full, he should not close it by tying a bow on top, since
he never intends to open it afterwards (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 317,
Mishne Berurah, seif katan 29).

Shabbos Nap. The Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 8, seif katan 42) writes
that if one naps during the day, one should leave his tzitzis on, or
at least cover himself with his tzitzis, because there is a Machlokes
Haposkim as to whether sleeping is a "hesech hadaas", requiring a new
brocha on the tzitzis.

Note: One should consult with his Rav as to the necessity of making
a new brocha of Al Mitzvas Tzitzis when putting back on his tzitzis
(and certainly when putting on a specially-designated pair of "Shabbos
tzitzis") after bathing on Erev Shabbos.

Additional Note: The Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 8, seif katan 26)
makes the following incredible statement: "It appears from Kesuvim that
the Jews who will be left at the End of Days will be metzuyanim in the
mitzvah of tzitzis, as the posuk states...and as Chazal teach...." It
would seem that there is no better time than now to be especially careful
and exacting in the performance of this mitzvah.

A Mirror Image. When you are davening to Hashem you must remember that
it is forbidden to face a mirror or a window or door which shows your
reflection (even with your eyes closed), so that it does not appear as
if you are davening to yourself, who are also created in the "image" of
Hashem (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 90, Mishne Berurah, seif katan 71;
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 18:8).

Joining Together. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (12:2) and the Mishne
Berurah (Orach Chayim 92: seif katan 36) write that it is appropriate
to give tzedaka before davening. The Kitzur also adds (as is found in
many siddurim) that one should be mekabel on himself the mitzvah of
V'Ahavta Le'Reacha Comocho before davening as well. The Kitzur provides
the following fascinating explanation for this declaration at that time:
Through the uniting of the bodies below, the souls unite above, and as a
result, our tefillos also unite. When Klal Yisroel's tefillos are united,
it is pleasing before Hashem Yisborach.

Al Netilas Yodayim. If you have washed and made an Al Netilos Yodayim,
but have not yet made Hamotzi, can you still answer Amen to someone
else's brocha of Al Netilos Yodayim? The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (41:2)
poskens that one is permitted to answer Amen to another's brocha (of
any type), even though you have still not made a Hamotzi and may not
otherwise have hesech hadas until partaking of bread.

Our Meals Have Spirit. The Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 6, seif katan 6)
writes that the neshama benefits from the ruchniyus part of the food in
the same way as the body benefits from the gashmiyus portion. This is
the explanation of "U'Mafli La'asos" in the brocha of Asher Yotzar-that
Hashem performs great wonders-in remarkably providing us with ruchniyus
and gashmiyus in every bite!

Don't Wait. After you complete a meal or a snack, it is extremely
important to make the brocha achrona immediately so that you do not later
forget to make the brocha. The Chofetz Chaim writes that l'chatchila,
one should not step out of his house for any reason prior to making a
brocha achrona (Orach Chayim 178: Mishne Berurah, seif katan 7, 35 and
36). If you take that phone call, do that one more errand, or do just
that one more thing around the house, experience shows that you will
likely forget to make the brocha.

Note I: What if you fell into the above-described trap-time passed
and you forgot whether you made the brocha? In such a case, the best
eitza would be to make a new brocha rishona on more of the same item
(or something else with the same brocha achrona), and have in mind that
your new brocha achrona cover the first food as well (Orach Chayim 208,
Mishne Berurah, seif katan 80,81). If for some reason you cannot eat
(you have no additional food, etc.) then you could ask someone else who
may be making the same brocha achrona to have you in mind when he or
she recites it.

Note II: A good way to ensure that you made a brocha achrona is to always
recite it from a special card carried in your wallet or pocketbook. The
additional step of taking and putting away the card (in addition to
the kavana you will have by reading the words "inside") will help you
remember whether you made the brocha or not.

Starting the Day Right. When we arrive to work each day, there may be
phone messages and emails to respond to, memos to write, papers to review,
among other tasks. One man from Brooklyn recently advised us that no
matter what the day and what the urgent or pressing need is, he makes
it a point to consciously start his work day off with a mitzvah. Some
examples he provided: calling his father, saying a "kepitel Tehillim" for
a sick person, walking in to someone's office who needs to be cheered up,
listening to a TorahPhone message, or simply saying a personal tefilla
to Hashem that the particular project he is working on brings success
and happiness to himself and to others.

Try this yourself every day in the same way, and see if it helps structure
your work day.

Additional Suggestion: Make the conscious performance of a mitzvah the
last thing you do before leaving your office, as well.

Revisiting the Zoo. Some readers queried on the halacha mentioned in
our last issue (Volume III, Number 2; Adar II 5763) regarding brochos on
monkeys and elephants. After all, are we not used to seeing monkeys and
elephants at the zoo (there are two Chol Hamoed periods per year!) and
in pictures? Do these special creatures still require a brocha even in
our times? In fact, we must point out that, although the Chayei Odom
(63:14,16) does require a brocha on a monkey or elephant if you have
not seen one within the last 30 days and the Aruch HaShulchan (225:13)
apparently requires a brocha on a new monkey or elephant not seen before,
the Mishne Berurah (225, seif katan 30) does pasken that you make the
brocha only once with Shem U'Malchus on the first viewing of each of
these creatures. Thereafter, every 30 days on a different monkey or
elephant, you make the brocha without Shem U'Malchus by saying "Boruch
Meshane HaBrios." What if you have never made the brocha and you are now
40 years old-would you make it one time now that you realize a brocha is
to be made? What if you made the brocha as a katan/katana under Bar/Bas
Mitzvah age-would you make it again as a godol? Please ask your Rav
to posken for you based upon your particular circumstances. Finally,
we note that when making this or any brocha in the zoo, you should be
careful to ensure the place is clean, free of foul odors and that no
improperly-dressed individuals are within your view (Shulchan Aruch,
Orach Chayim 75, 79).

Right Hand Forward. When making a brocha over a food or a birchas hareach
over a flower or pleasant-smelling item, one should hold the object in
his right hand (or for a left-handed person, his left hand). (Shulchan
Aruch, Orach Chayim 206:4 and Mishne Berurah, seif katan 18)

Skyscraping. The Chofetz Chaim (Chovas Hashmira, Chapter 5) writes that
if a person speaks well of his friend below, the malachim above speak
well of him. Obviously, the reverse is also true. Observation: It pays
to have the malachim on your side.

Note: This does not mean you should constantly speak about others-even if
it is always in a positive manner. Listeners may disagree, contradict,
question-and loshon hora can readily result. See Sefer Shmiras Halashon
(Shaar Hatevuna Chapter 3) for guidelines in this area. Remember that
your mouth is like the front door to your home. You should keep your
front door open only when necessary.

Healthy Exercise. In our Viduy, the os of tzadi stands for "tzararnu"-we
have caused others pain or anguish. In fact, it is an Issur D'oraysa to
cause someone (even one's own spouse or children) pain or anguish with
words (Vayikra 25:17). The Sefer Chofetz Chaim (1:8) notes that the
Issur D'oraysa of hurting another person with words applies not only
of the spoken word, but to the written word and to physical gestures,
as well. See Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 228 for examples of Ona'as
Devorim. How can we put the brakes on tzararnu, even if we know we are
guilty only "occasionally"? A tried and true method is for a period of
at least two (2) weeks, at the end of each day, to look back on that
day's events and see if you have hurt anyone. If you have, write it
down and apologize or reconcile no later than the next day. If you have
already apologized "on the spot" write it down anyways. By the end of
the two-week period, your daily written log should have substantially
dwindled. You may want to keep going with the written record to keep
yourself in check. Remember: Ona'as Devorim applies to children under
Bar/Bas Mitzvah, workers, co-workers and any Yid whom you may meet,
even only once.

Finding Favor. We remind everyone of the great statement of the Mesilas
Yeshorim (Chapter 19, end), that "Hakodesh Boruch Hu only loves those
who love other members of K'lal Yisroel. And as a person's love for
K'lal Yisroel increases so does Hakodesh Boruch Hu's love for him." We
understand that Rabbi Matisyahu Solomon, Shlita, has emphasized that
we should specifically be mispallel (in Hashivenu Avinu L'Sorosecha and
other appropriate times and places) for the anti-religious Jews in Eretz
Yisroel that they find their way back to Yiddishkeit.

More on Love Versus Hate. The Torah teaches us that we can control our
emotions, by teaching us how and when to use them. We are commanded,
for instance, V'Ahavta Le'reacha Comocha, to love our fellow Jew as
ourselves. See Bulletin Volume II, Number 3 (Adar 5762), Item 31 for the
parameters of this mitzvah. The Torah teaches us also not to hate any
fellow Jew, except under certain limited circumstances. The only type of
person who you are permitted to hate in your heart is someone who you saw
commit an aveira, who has been rebuked and who has refused to do Teshuva
(Rambam Hilchos Rotzeach 13:14; Sefer Hachinuch 238). As Rashi (Shabbos
32B) explains any hatred other than in these limited circumstances is
likened to sinas chinam (baseless hatred) which, of course, destroyed
the Bais Hamikdosh (Yoma 9A), and also carries the terrible punishments
enumerated in Shabbos 32B. Let us remember whom we "hate" and why, so
that we can demonstrate to Hashem that even our feelings are dedicated
to His service.

Daily Appointment, Nightly Appointment. The Gemara (Shabbos 31A) provides
the six questions that a person is asked on his Day of Judgment after 120
years. On the second question (Did you set aside times for Torah study
daily?), the meforshim (see Maharsha) there point out that the stress
is on the plural formulation "set aside times". This is because there
is an obligation to set aside time both in the day and in the evening
(Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 238; Mishne Berurah, seif katan 1). Since
it may be more difficult because of family or other responsibilities to
find a set time every night, may we suggest that the required set time
be every night immediately after Maariv (wherever you are and whenever
you may daven). All you need to do is keep your pocket Mishnayos, Gemora,
Mesilas Yeshorim or Mishne Berurah with you and learn those two mishnayos,
two halachos, etc.-and when asked the question, you will be able to
respond "Yes-after Maariv every night, and during the day at..."

Note: The Chofetz Chaim (Chovas Hashmira, Chapter 8) writes that the Ikar
Kedushas Hamitzvah is attained when doing a mitzvah "B'kiviyus Gemurah,"
in a set, established way. This indicates a dedication, sincerity
and perseverance not found in a mitzvah performed on a "as can do",
"special occasion", or "when a good shiur comes up" basis.

Choshen Mishpat Corner. The Rabbeinu Bachya (Vayikra 25:50) brings from
the Tosefta in Bava Kamma (10:8) that Gezel Akum is more chomur than Gezel
Yisroel because the issur of Gezel Akum is based upon Chillul Hashem. As
a result of the act of gezel, the akum will reject the Emunas Yisroel
which is a great Chillul Hashem.

Note: The Gemara (Pesachim 87B) expressly states that the reason we
were placed into this long and difficult golus is to spread the Word
of Hashem and bring geirim into the world. Through acts of Gezel Akum,
we undermine our very purpose in this world. (See also Shulchan Aruch,
Choshen Mishpat 348, Be'er Hagolah os daled).

Danger. According to the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 334:44) a person
who keeps a dangerous object in his possession is put into nidui until
he removes the dangerous situation. Rav Avigdor Miller, Z'TL, was once
asked by a father whose son's hand was burned by hot tea that spilled
on the table-What do I have to do Teshuva on? HaRav Miller replied that
his Teshuva is to keep hot drinks away from small children!

Shatnes Alert. All men's suits bearing the Boss label sold at Syms and
other stores have been found to contain shatnes. This is despite their
discounted price and their inaccurate claims by sales personnel stating
that Boss suits no longer contain shatnes. For further information,
please contact the Flatbush Shatnes Test Center at 718-382-5689.

Free Service for Shavers. If you have a "lift and cut" shaver (see
Bulletin Number 1, Spring 5761) and need the lifts removed in order to
render the shaver "kosher" for use according to Rabbi Dovid Feinstein,
Shlita, and Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, following the principles of
Maran R. Moshe Feinstein, Z'TL, please send the blades to Kosher Shaver
Service, 1224 Avenue R, Brooklyn, New York 11229-1016 (no return postage
is necessary) for this absolutely free chesed service. You need not worry
about damage in the mail. The blades will be promptly returned to you.

Tevilas Keilim. We provide the following essential reminders prior to
toveling keilim. Please note that tevilas keilim is not a metaphysical
or mystical concept. If not done properly, a k'li should not be used
until toveled correctly.

General Tevila Reminders

 Submersion must be supervised only by an individual over Bar/Bas
Mitzvah. A child may be tovel keilim if an adult sees him do it.

 The entire k'li (even if oversized) must be fully submerged all at once
(not one-half first, then the other half immediately thereafter).

 All chatzitzos (i.e., stickers or other items or markings not part
of the k'li which neither the owner nor most people would use with this
item on the k'li) must be removed prior to submersion.

 Do not hold the k'li tightly, so that the mikva water can reach
everywhere. If necessary, dip your hand in the mikva first, and then
take hold of the k'li and submerge it in the mikva. Move your hand to
another part of the k'li while holding it below the water level.

 All keilim should be submerged right side up or on a slant, but not
upside down, in order to avoid the formation of air pockets, which would
render the tevila invalid.

Using Baskets

 Only use baskets for metals and non-breakable items, so that you can
shake the basket vigorously up and down and to and fro.

 Lay objects side-by-side in the basket or loosely one on top of
the other.

 WHILE SHAKING THE BASKET VIGOROUSLY, YOU MUST MAKE SURE THAT EVERY
PART OF each object comes into contact with the mikva water. EXERCISE
GREAT CAUTION-you cannot tovel a full service of flatware in one or two
basketfuls. DO NOT BE PRESSURED by impatient people in back of you. This
is a one-time mitzvah. You must do it right, or you are prohibited from
using the k'li until done properly.

The Brocha

 "Al Tevilas Keli" for one item, "Al Tevilas Keilim" for more than
one item.

 If the k'li is involved in food preparation which will require further
processing (such as a kneader, grinder, beater, etc.), no brocha is
recited.

 A k'li which is made by Jewish workers for non-Jewish manufacturers
or vice-versa requires tevila without a brocha.

 Hold the k'li in your hand (or basket) and be ready to tovel immediately
after making the brocha.

Focus. The Chofetz Chaim's sefer Ahavas Chesed is dedicated to the need
to do chesed and provides us with needed details as to how to properly
perform such mitzvos as tzedaka, maaser, lending money and objects,
bikur cholim and nichum aveilim. Accordingly, it is very significant that
near the conclusion of this sefer (Section 3, Chapter 4), the Chofetz
Chaim writes:

"There are three precious and honorable matters which a person must
constantly seek to fulfill in this World, in descending order of priority:

1) The study of Torah, which is greater than them all, with a reward
which is greater than all of the other mitzvos, and which has a punishment
for failure to study that is greater than all other sins, as we all know;

2) Teshuva, which is also very precious and beloved before Hashem
Yisborach; and

3) To search for and run after mitzvos and Maasim Tovim (good deeds),
and this, too, is an honorable matter."

Thus, even among honorable and proper pursuits, there are priorities
to follow. The study of Torah takes precedence over all. In fact, the
Chofetz Chaim near the conclusion of the very same sefer on chesed writes,
"And you should know further, that the study of Torah in a group is a
mitzvah fourfold-for Hashem's house is sanctified through learning with
the public...as Chazal teach, one cannot compare one person performing
a mitzvah to a few together performing the same mitzvah. Additionally,
when learning in a group, the Shechina dwells between its members." To
reiterate, let us focus on the order of our priorities-(1) the Study of
Torah, (2) Teshuva, and (3) Mitzvos and Maasim Tovim.

Note: The Chofetz Chaim (Zechor L'Miriam Chapter 12) brings the follwing
from the Sefer Chareidim: "Gehinom will not help one who has wasted
his days and hours from the study of Torah, for Gehinom only helps to
correct the defilement of the soul from the commission of sin, but for
his failure to study the mesechta or the perek [that was his chelek in
Torah], Gehinom cannot provide this for him."

Your Gramophone. The Chofetz Chaim (Zechor L'Miriam Chapter 9) writes
that the gramophone (predecessor to the tape recorder) teaches us the
following great lesson: If you initially record beautiful and pleasant
songs, you will always hear beautiful and pleasant songs, making you and
all listeners happy. However, if you initially record wails and cries...

Everyone in life is given a gramophone. What will we choose to record
with it?


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