Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Section: TARYAG MITZVOS Category:MITZVA OPPORTUNITY Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Fri, 03 Dec 2021 03:00:00 +0000 240 Parshas Re'eh: Netziv - Feeling Your Own Pain
The Torah forbids us to harm ourselves in any way when mourning over the dead because we are a Holy nation.  לֹא תִתְגֹּדְדוּ וְלֹא תָשִׂימוּ קָרְחָה בֵּין עֵינֵיכֶם לָמֵת כִּי עַם קָדוֹשׁ אַתָּה לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ (Re'eh 14:1-2).  The Netziv says as follows regarding this pasuk.  

"You need to know that any pain or bad thing that happens r"l is the will of Hashem and done for His honor or to forgive your sins which is also His honor.  It is befitting of a people who are Hashem's people to nullify their pain in the face of Hashem's will.  However crying and mourning over the dead in the measure that the Torah prescribes is the will of Hashem to honor the dead.  We see that honoring the dead takes precedence over other mitzvos of the Torah."

This Netziv clearly says that a person cannot be sad or grieve over his bitter plight for any reason whatsoever.  The only time a person can grieve is for the dead, but not because it is such a severe blow that we allow our human emotions some leeway.  Our emotions are never allowed to overtake us.  Only Kavod and Ratzon Hashem.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Vilna Gaon - Mitzvos Aseh Are Not Extra Credit It is brought from the Vilna Gaon in Even Shleima (5:9) that not performing a Mitzvas Aseh is worse than violating a Lo Saaseh, because with the Lo Saaseh you only violate it once, whereas by not doing the Aseh you have a new aveira every moment.  This can create quite a tally.

Rav Shmuel Maltzan zt"l in his peirush on Even Shleima writes that people tend to think, writes Rav Maltzan, that if you a mitzva you receive a reward but if you choose to pass up the opportunity it is your loss but no harm is done.  Because of this they are happy to take the easy ones but anything that requires effort or is costly, they let it slip by as they patiently wait for the next one.  Therefore it is incumbent upon us to teach people that the loss of this mitzva is far worse than the punishment of an aveira.  By passing up a mitzva because of laziness, he says, you are being Porek Ol, throwing off the yoke of your Creator, and disgracing him.

He brings from the Shela HaKadosh that while we find punishments of Malkos and Misa for violating Mitzvos Lo Saaseh, the punishment for not doing a Mitzvas Aseh is not possible to express through words, so the Torah does not write it.

Mitzva hunting is not a passive activity.  We need to proactively search them out.  After all life is but one big treasure hunt and the winner reaps huge rewards.  Whether Chesed or Talmud Torah or any other mitzva, if you find one that looks a little tricky, think ten times before passing on it.

Mon, 30 Nov 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Because "Hi" Is Not "Sholom" "Hi?" my Rebbi would complain, "What is a "Hi"?  We are Jewish and we have a beautiful word rich in meaning and packed with power, "Sholom".  Why greet someone with a Hi?  What does that word mean anyway?

"Sholom", is a name of Hashem yet we are granted special permission to use it to greet people.  Apparently greeting people is of very special importance.  The Ran says in Nedarim that if someone is put into Cherem in his dream, he must find 10 Talmidei Chachomim to take him out out of it.  If he can't find them he should sit in a busy intersection looking for them.  In the meantime he should say Sholom to all those who pass by so that they will return his greeting.  The power of their Sholom will protect him from punishment until he finds the 10 people he needs.

Sholom is a "Kli Machzik Bracha"; it is a bracha that contains all the brachos inside of it.  It is the mother of all brachos.  The Medrash in Naso spends a lot of ink talking about Sholom.  The dead need it, the malachim need it, it protects even ovdei avodah zara, Hashem's name can be erased for it, no bracha takes effect unless there is Sholom with it.  Avrohom got it, Yaakov asked for it, Aharon chased it, Pinchos earned it.  Every aspect of the Torah is all about Sholom. On and on and on.

The Eved HaMelech in Lech Licha says that giving another Yid a bracha is a Mitzva of "Va'Avorcha Mivorachecha"; those who bless you will be blessed.  With this simple word you will not only bring bracha to your friend and to yourself but you will also have the mitzva of "V'Ahavta L'Rei'acha Kamocha" which is no small fry according to Rebbi Akiva.

So next time you meet someone in the street or pickup a phone or send mail, remember that whether you prefer Shalom, Sholom, or Shulem, saying this simple word is more than just a greeting.  It is a big mitzva with great benefit to both parties.  And it is only one more syllable that the word "Hi".

Tue, 27 Oct 2009 03:00:00 +0000
The Chazon Ish's Succah Walls The Zohar says, "Everything needs its Mazal including the Sefer Torah in the Heichal."  The Chazon Ish used to buy very expensive walls for his Succah, in time when, as he said, people were content to find a few pathetic slats of wood that had no shape or form, from Hefker.  Yet on the other hand they are willing to pay a king's ransom for a beautiful esrog.

Succah is a mitzva for which you are chayav to beautify, "Zeh Keili V'Anveihu", no less than the Arba Minim, said the Chazon Ish.  Moreover he says, when Chazal give us examples of what it means to beautify mitzvos, first on the list comes none other than "Aseh Lifanav Succah Na'eh", make before Him a beautiful Succah!  (Chaim SheYesh Bahem)

Thu, 08 Oct 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Vilna Gaon - The Hardest Mitzva In The Torah The Vilna Gaon was once asked, what is the hardest mitzva in the Torah to be Mikayem?  The Gra answered that after thinking long and hard about it, he came to the conclusion that the hardest mitzva is "V'Samachta B'Chagecha", to be happy on Yom Tov.

He continued and said, think about it.  On Succos a Jew needs to be happy eights days straight, day and night without a break.  That means that not a single worry or sad thought may enter his mind during this period so as not to interfere with his happiness. Is this not hard work and a most difficult mission? (Chaim Sheyesh Bahem)

Instead of becoming depressed thinking about this, look on the bright side.  Every moment that you can muster up feelings of Simcha, you are Mikayem a mitzva!  (Chaim Sheyesh Bahem)

Wed, 07 Oct 2009 03:00:00 +0000
The Chasam Sofer Closes A Good Deal At the table of the Chasam Sofer sat a guest.  At the end of the meal the Chasam Sofer honored him with the Kos Shel Bracha for Birchas HaMazon.  Upon giving him this honor, the Chasam Sofer enthusiastically mentioned the words of the gemara (Chulin 87a), that a Kos Shel Bracha is worth 40 gold coins.  Upon hearing this, the guest joked that he's prefer the 40 gold coins.  Immediately the Chasam Sofer took back the Kos and took out a bag a gold coins.  After counting 40 of them and handing it over to his guest, he started Birchas HaMazon.

The value of even the smallest mitzva is not comparable to any worldly sum.  If Chazal put a price tag on it for whatever reason, you can be sure that the one paying is getting a great bargain and the one giving it up is a fool.   The Chasam Sofer understood this and was willing to pay the price without thinking twice.  When a mitzva comes you way, grab it first and worry about the cost later.  Be it out of pocket cost or missed opportunity cost.  Even a minyan or even an Amein is something to give up lots of money for.  Eternity does not really have a price tag.  It is priceless.

Although the ending of the story it is not relevant for our intelligent readers, nevertheless we will share it, just to appease curiosity.  The Meoros HaShabbos (vol. 5-Parshas Shemos) ends the story by saying that on the way out of town, the guest lost the 40 gold coins, teaching him not to cheapen mitzvos.

Sun, 18 Jan 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Don't Be On Display - A Mitzva For Tough Times The global economy was in shambles after the great famine wiped out all the food reserves in civilization.   Yaakov and his family were somehow spared the effects of the downturn.  Nevertheless Yaakov tells his sons go to Mitzrayim like everyone else and wait on line for food.  "Lama Tisra'u", why should you be on display in front of our relatives from Yishmael and Eisav who are starving, explains Rashi (Mikeitz 42:1).

Rashi in Taanis (10) says that if the place where you are is having a local fast day you must fast with them.  If you ate b'dieved, do not show yourself in public.  This is, says Rashi, so that you should not look like a Chosson walking around among aveilim.  The Eved Hamelech in his Sefer HaMitzvos on chumash brings this as one of the mitzvos (not from the taryag).

Fortunate are those who have not been affected by the economic crisis, we are currently suffering.  Blessed is your lot, that in these times that your brothers help the most, Hashem has chosen you as a shaliach to help alleviate their suffering.  But... do it a quiet manner with the utmost tznius.  Even those who you help may be envious of your good fortune if you put it on display. 

Most importantly when it comes to your own spending, true that you are in the a same position as you were previously and you can still afford to do things in grand style as in the past, however you should remember the commandment of our well to do grandfather Yaakov and heed his call, "don't be on display".  Even by postponing purchasing a new car that is not really needed or waiting a little longer before renovating your home, you can be Mikayem the mitzva of Lama Tisra'u.  Show some consideration, everyone is watching with an envious eye.  Galgal Hu SheChozer BaOlam (Shabbos 151b), the world is always spinning.

Wed, 24 Dec 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Aleh, The World's Most Relied Upon Posek

One of the most popular justifications given for performing a halacha the wrong way or omitting it altogether is "but everyone does it" or its yiddish counterpart "Aleh Tu'in Azoi".  When someone would be silly enough to try this on my Rebbi, he would always respond, "Oh! Rav Aleh paskened again."  The he would say, "don't worry, Gehinom is a very big place.  There is room for Aleh."  In fact the gemara in Ta'anis (10a) tells us that Gehinom is 60 time bigger than Eden, 3600 time bigger then Gan, and 21,600 time bigger than the entire world.   Some even say that Gehinom is limitless.

If we were to follow the majority and their claim that the torah requires this, than we are certainly practicing the wrong religion, being heavily outnumbered by many other popular religions.  The answer however as echoed by Rav Yehonoson Eibushitz, The Chasam Sofer, and the Kotzker among many others, is that majority is only when two possible legitimate interpretations are offered, then we follow the majority.  However, a majority based on nothing other than convenience or ignorance is not legitimized by the amount of people it can recruit to it cause.  This is explicitly stated in the Torah (Mishpatim 23:2), "Lo Sihiyeh Acharei Rabim L'Ra'os", do not be follower of the majority for evil.

So next time Rav Aleh tries to pasken a Shaila for you, remember that by not listening you will not only have reward for not doing the wrong thing, but you will also have the mitzva of not being oveir the special Lav that the torah gives to all Rav Aleh's loyal constituency.  Even given the comparatively small size of Gan Eden, rest assure that it is quite spacious since "Aleh" are hanging out in a far bigger place, with their not so holy Rabbi.

Sat, 22 Nov 2008 03:00:00 +0000
What Is Your Mitzva? The Sefer Chareidim says that even though a person must keep all the mitzvos, still each person should have one mitzva that he holds onto with all his might.  You must know all the halachos inside out and be careful to keep this particular one to the "nth" degree.  He explains that the the Torah is a tree of life.  In order to attached yourself to it you cannot grab hold of the whole tree in its entirety, rather you grab hold of a single branch and through that branch you lift yourself onto the tree. 

We see this in the gemara where an Rav Yosef the son of Rabbi is asked about his father, which mitzva was his "specialty".  We see many gedolim were famous for their caution in a certain mitzva.  Rav Naftali of Ropshitz once said that his neshama is tied to the mitzva of Succah and every single day of the year he is somehow involved in that mitzva.

This would explain the enigmatic memra of Rebbi Chanaya ben Akshaya who says that Hashem gave us many mitzvos as a great favor.  You would think that less mitzvos would be a greater favor, so as not to leave us so much room for error.  In light of the Chareidim, we see that it is a great favor to give us tree with so many branches to climb on to.  If one branch proves too difficult an access point for us, we have many other choices.

So go ahead choose a mitzva, any mitzva.  The choices are endless.  Climb up and hold on to the tree of life!

Sun, 16 Nov 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Dried Out Tires And Luscious Esrogim

So we are finally on the way back from our vacation.  The trip already cost a lot of money.  Now my wife decides that the back right tire "just doesn't look right".  I dismiss her complaint but after the tenth time she mentions it to me, I bend down to take a closer look and I find that the inner portion of the tire looks a little worn out. I am not really interested in spending another $100 after all the money we already spent.  I thought when I woke up on the last day that the money hemorrhaging was over.  As a courtesy to her I pull over to a tire place on the side of the road.  The person working there tells me that the tire is dried out.  I ask him if I can make it back home safely.  He tells me... maybe.  Decision time.  

My wife wants me to spend more money, I don't.  Suddenly it hits me.  I am not a big baki in these things, but I think to myself this could be mitzva.  There is "Vinishmartem Me'od LiNafshoseichem", guard your well being carefully (Devarim 4:15).  "V'Asisa Maakeh L'Gagecha, V'Lo Sasim Damim BiVeisecha", you  should make a gate for your roof and not spill blood in your home (Devarim 22:8).  There are stories about Amora'im crossing bridges and walking under leaning walls.  Clearly the Torah makes safety and health an important priority.  Eerily, Rav Shimshon Pincus would often speak about the dangers of hurtling yourself down a highway at 60 mph, transforming yourself into a human missile.  

Now I am thinking I don't need to spend another $100 because it is my unlucky day and my tire is getting old.  Rather I can spend another $100 on a mitzva.  This isn't a waste of money, on the contrary it is $100 that I won't waste; it will go to a good cause.  Sure it's not as glamorous as spending money on an esrog, but hey, the tire is going and now I get to turn it into a great investment that will pay itself back many times over in Olam Habah.  Besides as the signs on the highway say, good tires save lives.  In our case their are a good few a stake.  So next time you change your tires pay with a smile and remember it can be a golden mitzva opportunity.

Sun, 24 Aug 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Tzipisa L'Geula - Are You Waiting Anxiously? When you come to Shamayim one of the first things they will ask you is “Tzipisa L’Geula”; were you anxiously awaiting the Geula?  More than being one of the 13 fundamental principles of Yehadus, the Rambam in Peirush HaMishnayos says that you need to be Mispalel for the Geula to come.  In Hilchos Milachim (11:1) he says that whoever does not wait and expect Moshiach’s imminent arrival is a Kofer BaTorah.  What this means, say Rav Yosef Rubinstein in his Kuntras Bais Kodsheinu V’Sifarteinu, is that if you are not waiting anxiously it is because you don’t really believe that great things will happen when he comes.

According to the Smak waiting for Moshiach is even a Mitzvas Aseh.  It is included in the Mitzva of “Anochi Hashem Elokecha Asher Hotzaeisicha MeiEretz Mitzrayim”.  The Smak says that this Mitzva of Anochi means that just like hashem took us out of Mitzrayim, so too will He take us out of this Galus and bring the Geula.  Rabbeinu Peretz explains the Smak, saying that since the Aseres HaDibros are commandments, Anochi is also a commandment to wait for the Geula and not just a matter of belief.

It was not for nothing that the Chofetz Chain kept a packed suitcase always at hand, ready to go at any moment.  It is not for nothing that tzaddikim cry bitter tears every night while saying Tikun Chatzos over the Churban and the Galus HaShechina.  Maybe we aren’t quite ready for this, but everyday we daven three times a day in numerous Brachos in Shemoneh Esrei for the Geula, Yerushalayim, and Moshiach.  This is a Mitzva D’Oiraisa.  Let’s make it count!

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 03:00:00 +0000 The Ramban and other Rishonim count among the Mitzvos Aseh the mitzva of remembering and saying with your mouth each day what Hashem did to Miriam when she spoke about her brother Moshe in what Hashem considered to be a disrespectful manner.  The Chofetz Chaim in Shaar Tvunah Perek 12 says that being Mikayem this mitzva can save you from the aveira of Lashon Hara.  More than just saying the pasuk, says the Chofetz Chaim, one must think about the incident in order for it to have its intended effect.

In honor of Parshas Bahaloscha where this story is recorded, and after a wonderfully successful Sefiras HaOmer daily reminder campaign from which we received a tremendous amount of positive feedback, we will B’Ezras Hashem launch a new Daily Email reminder called “Zechiras Miriam”.

This will be a very short email with a Maamar Chazal, story, halacha, vort, or some other short poignant quote reminding us of the importance of Shemiras Halashon as forgetfulness is the main cause of speaking negatively.  Who knows, it may arrive just on time to inspire you to switch topics in your conversation and make yourself a better person and the world a better place!

Look for our sign up box in the coming days.  Tell your friends… it will make it that much easier for you and it will be a tremendous Zikui HaRabim!

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 03:00:00 +0000
L'Chvod Chag Shavuos: Available For Free Download - Beautiful Shirei Mitzvos by Rav Yehonoson Eibushitz

Readers are welcome to view/download Shirei HaMitzvos from Rav Yehonoson Eibushitz.  Each day is approximately 88 mitzvos and designed in the theme of Maaseh Bereishis highlighting the order of the Alpeph Bais used for that they.  For more background see Shirei Mitzvos Introduction .  It is worth look and certainly worth going through on Yom Matan Torah.  Let us know what you think.  Enjoy and good Yom Tov.

Yom Rishon

Yom Sheini

Yom Shlishi

Yom Revi'i

Yom Chamishi

Yom Shishi



Sat, 07 Jun 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Slave Labor?

The Torah tells us in Parshas Behar (25:46) “U’B’Acheichem Bnei Yisroel Ish B’Achiv Lo Sirdeh Bo B’Farech”; do not work your brother with “Avodas Perach”.  The Meforshim discuss the exact meaning of “Farech”.  Explanations range from hard work to unnecessary work to humiliating work.  Either way none of them are very nice.

Although Min HaTorah this aveira applies only to an Eved Ivri (a Jewish slave) and not a free person, nevertheless these principles should be adhered to by anyone whose actions or words cause others to do work, including employers, managers, teachers, parents, and anyone who has people under their control.  This can include the waiter or waitress serving you or even an office clerk.  It can include the janitor or the gabbai who cleans up after you in Shul.

When it comes to an Eved Kena’ani, the Rambam at the end of Hilchos Avodim (9:8) tells us that we may work them “B’Farech”.  Even if this is technically correct says the Rambam, this is not proper behavior for the children of Avrohom.  We will end with the words of the Rambam (who wrote Halacha and not Mussar) regarding an Eved Kena’ani to give you an inkling of idea of the great care and respect you must show for a Jewish helper/employee.  

“It is permissible to work an Eved Kena’ani, B’Farech. However, even though this is the Din, it is within Midas Chasidus and Darkei HaChochma that a human being be merciful and run after justice. One should not place a heavy yoke on his slave and torment him, but he should give him to eat and to drink from all his own food and drink.  The early Chachomim were in the habit of sharing with their slaves every dish they ate, and they fed the cattle as well as the slaves before they fed themselves…  

Nor should a master physically or verbally abuse or disgrace his slave.  The pasuk gave them over to slavery but not to disgrace.  He should not scream at them angrily, but should listen to their complaints.  So clearly states the pasuk in Iyov, “If I ever spurned justice from my slaves and maidservants when they contended with me…Did not He who made me in the uterus not make him too? And did not One shape us in the womb?" (31:13-15).

Cruelty, is frequently found among the idol worshippers, but for the children of Abraham, the people upon whom Hashem bestowed the goodness of the Torah, commanding them to observe laws of the laws of the righteous, they are merciful towards all creations…”

Powerful words, powerful lesson, powerful demand.  Halevai we should be zocheh to treat Acheinu Bnei Yisroel with the dignity that the Rambam expects us to have for an Eved Kena’ani.

Sun, 11 May 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Getting Rid of Your Chometz Every mitzva has a secret meaning behind.  Perhaps the secret meaning behind Chometz on Pesach is the world’s worst kept secret.  All the Baalei Mussar say that Chometz represents the Yetzer Hara.  He is very sophisticated and one of his key weapons is to make you rise on hot air.  He will convince you that following him is actually a mitzva but there is nothing solid behind it.  It is merely an illusion.  

Chometz symbolizes Gaava or pride that cause many of our aveiros.  Matza on the other hand is a simple yet substantial food.  It sustains life as well as Chometz does.  Yet it is low and humble and makes no pretenses. The letters of Chometz and Matza are identical except that Chometz has a “Ches” while Matza has a “Hey”.  The difference between Ches and Hey is that the left leg of the Ches is a drop higher.  Raise yourself even one bit higher and you will turn yourself into Chometz.

The Shach in Poel Tzedek, his sefer on Taryag Mitzvos, says that the reason why the Torah specifically forbids Chometz for seven days is because these days represent the seventy years of a person’s life in which he should make sure to stay clean and pure and avoid Chait.  Make sure to stay away from Chometz on Pesach… All kinds!

Wed, 09 Apr 2008 03:00:00 +0000
A Bris Mila For All Ages and Genders

The Torah tells us that on the eighth day of a baby boy’s life “Yimol Bsar Urlosoi” circumcise his “Urlah”.  This kind of Mila is not a mitzva that one gets to do on a regular basis, however the Torah uses the word “Urel” in other contexts as well.  Specifically in the Parshas HaYirah (Devarim 11) the torah says (Devarim 11:16) “U’Maltem Es Urlas Levavchaem”; circumcise your heart.  There Moshe Rabbeinu tells the Bnei Yisroel that all Hashem asks from us is to fear him.  The reason we don’t is because we have closed and stuffed hearts that are not open and not receptive to the Kedusha that Hashem bestows upon us.  We are then commanded to circumcise our hearts and open it up to Hashem. 

The Sefer Mitzvas HaKoton (Smak) says that this pasuk teaches us the Mitzva D’Oiraisa to listen to and love Tochacha, rebuke.  The reason we don’t improve is because we are not receptive to someone telling us that we are wrong.  We either attack the person rebuking us claiming that he is no better or we justify and convince ourselves that the charge is simply not true.  The Smak hods that however unpleasant, by listening and taking heart when we are being "told off" is a Mitzvas Aseh.  The Lo Saaseh if we do not listen, says the Smak, is “V’Urpichem Loi Sakshu Oid”, do not continue to be stubborn.

Rav Moshe Singer points out a remez that this is a Mitzva of Mila. In the beginning of the Parsha (pasuk 12) it says that the only thing Hashem asks of us is, “Ki Im L’Yirah”, only to be afraid.  If we take the first and last letters of these three words we have the words “Ach Mila” only Mila.  Hashem only requests from us one thing, “Only Mila”.  What is Mila? The remaining three letters tell the answer “Yareh”, to be afraid of Hashem and not be too proud to listen to rebuke.  This kind of Mila can be far more painful than a baby's Bris Mila.  Fortunately or unfortunately we have more than ample opportunity to do this mitzva.

Sun, 30 Mar 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Amalek and The Triple Crown

This is the time of year that we start to take our "Graggers" out ready to pounce at the mere mention of the name Haman. When we were kids we'd write Haman and Amaleik on the bottom of our shoes so we can erase them with every step. Despite the fact that Purim is a jolly time, Mechias Amalek is a very serious matter. There are 3 Mitzvos D'Oiraisa associated with it. Zachor, which is to remember with your mouth, Lo Sishkoch, do not forget in your heart, L'Hachris Zaro to physically wipe them out.

While the first two are mitzvos that easily doable even today, the last one, says the Chinuch, applies on each individual if he happens to come across a certified Amaleiki. Not to likely nowadays.

Some people would say two out of three ain't bad. However if we look a little deeper into what Amalek represents, then although we cannot physically destroy Amalek we can have a Cheilek in the Mitzva by uprooting the spirit or the evil of Amaleik even today. Some say Amaleik represents Chilul Hashem. Others say Amaleik represents casting doubt in Hashem and believing in happenstance. Some say any evil is Amaleik and must be wiped out.

Either way, the first two mitzvos are ones that you should grab, by at the very least saying Parshas Zachor after davening or having it in mind in Ahava Rabba (as mentioned in last week's column). For those with more time who are willing to understand Amaleik with more depth you can achieve the Triple Crown by actively wiping out the spirit of Amaleik your whole life.  This is the perfect time of year.  Take advantage.

Sun, 09 Mar 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Ahava Rabba: You Are Stepping Over A Treasure Trove!

Shema Yisroel is one of the highlights of davening. We all know that Shema is a Mitzva D'Oiraisa. But did you realize how many mitzvos you can get when saying Ahava Rabba (Ahavas Olam) right before Shema. Each day we are supposed to remember six things commonly referred to as the Sheish Zechiros. Some people are Noheg to say them after davening and it is printed in most siddurim. The Mogen Avrohom says from the Arizal that they are Mitzvos Min HaTorah and we should have four of them in mind when we say the Bracha of Ahava Rabba.

When we say "U'Vanu Bacharta"; you chose us, we should remember Matan Torah. V'Keiravtanu; and you brought us close, should remind us of Ma'amad Har Sinai. When saying Lishimcha HaGadol; to your great name, we should have in mind Zechiras Maaseh Amalek since Hashem's name is not complete as long as Amalek exists. When saying L'Hodos Licha, we should have in mind that Hashem gave us a mouth to say his praises and not gossip about others. This is the Zechira of Miriam who spoke about Moshe and was punished with Tzara'as.

Rounding them out are the last two zechiros which are in Shema itself. UZichartem Es Kol Mitzvos Hashem, is Shabbos which is equal to all other mitzvos combined. Last comes Yetzias Mitzrayim. The Mogen Avrohom brings that some hold we must remember Cheit HaEigel every day. This can be covered when saying the word "B'Ahava"; reminding us of the time that we betrayed Hashem's love.

So don't skip over Ahava Rabba in your rush to say Shema. There are four or five good reasons to take your time and pick up Mitzvos D'Oiraisa along the way. If you forget this you can always say the Sheish Zechiros after davening.

Tue, 26 Feb 2008 03:00:00 +0000
The Last Diet Plan You'll Ever Need

There are many great diet plans on the market. Millions of books are sold to people who want the ultimate in weight loss. Everybody wants to lose weight and eat more. Sounds like a plan? Well if you tried them you know the truth. It simply doesn't work.

But here is an idea that fuses both a brilliant new diet plan with a real live Mitzvas Aseh according to the Sefer Chareidim. He says that when a person holds himself back from excessive eating he is Mikayem a Mitzvas Aseh Min HaTorah of "Kedoshim Tihiyu". Amazing! Aside from feeling better the next morning and being able to close your clothing without struggling, you actually get a Mitzvas Aseh. This is not Mussar, not hanhagos tovos, it is a real mitzva d'oiraisa!

There are many added benefits as well. The seforim hakedoshim say that when a person holds himself back from eating that "last" piece of food, it is the equivalent of a Taanis, a complete fast day. A moment of anguish sure beats a day of hunger. It is also a wonderful in exercise in Sheviras HaMiddos, which the Vilna Gaon says is our chief task in this world.

One more thing I can guarantee you if you manage to control yourself from taking the extra bite. Within six hours the pain will completely disappear and you will be a happier person with no regrets and no worse for the experience.

Sun, 17 Feb 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Knock Before Entering

The Peleh Yoetz says that it is important to know the reason for the Mitzvos. This way even if a certain mitzva is not relevant nowadays nevertheless you can be Mikayem it by keeping the spirit of the law if not the letter of the law.

The Me'il which is one of the Bigdei Kohen Gadol had Pamonim, bells on the bottom of it. Chazal tell us that this was in order that the Kohen should not come in unannounced to the Kodesh HaKodoshim. Based on this Rebbi Akiva instructed his son Rebbi Yehoshua (Pesachim 112a) not to enter, even his own home, without knocking first to let people know he is coming in.

The Alshich in a different context explains that the Pamonim were made out of gold. Gold he points out is a very soft metal. When a gold bell rings it does not make as much noise as the clanging of other metals.

From here we can learn that even when you do knock it is not necessary to scare everyone in the house into believing that someone is about to break down the door. A simple soft knock loud enough to let people know you are there should do the trick, just like it did in the Bais HaMikdash.

Some mundane yet holy thoughts to think about before entering!

Mon, 11 Feb 2008 03:00:00 +0000
The Less Painful Good-Bye

"Kasheh Olai Preidaschem"; it is difficult for me to part ways with you. These are the famous words of Hakadosh Baruch Hu after seven beautiful days with Am Yisroel in the Succah. We echo there same sentiments every day, only we are looking lovingly at our ‘hard earned" money when we say this. This is especially applicable when we are approached to give tzedoka. If you know what I am talking about then I have some very interesting information for you that may make this sad good-bye somewhat easier.

The Pasuk says in Mishpatim (22:24) "Im Kesef Talvah Es Ami"; if you will lend money to the poor of my nation whom are with you. Rashi says that Rebbi Yishmoel says that anytime the Torah says "if" it is a reference to a voluntary non- mandatory act with three exceptions in the Torah. This pasuk is one of the exceptions. You "must" lend money and it is not optional.

Although the mitzvah of chesed has many different facets, the mitzvah of lending money is the greatest chesed of all since there is a special mitzvos aseh to lend money. A person must set aside a certain amount of his income for loans to other people. The Rambam says that it is a greater mitzvah to lend money to a poor person to help him stay afloat than to give him tzedoka. There are poor people who do not wish to make their plight known and will not accept handouts. By lending them money you are helping them hide their plight from becoming known.

Ideally says the Chofetz Chaim one third of one's maaser money should be used for the mitzvah of lenning money with the other two thirds to be given to tzedoka.

So whether your budget for tzedoka is maaser (10%) or a chomesh (20%) keep some aside for loans that you can make to people in need or better yet give it to an established G'Mach that has experience with the ins and outs of lending money. This "donation" with strings attached is an important aspect of tzedoka. More importantly is perfect suited for us psychologically sensitive souls since we don't need to say good-bye forever.

Sun, 03 Feb 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Heart to Heart Conversation

As a parent how strange would you find it if your five year old child went knocking on the neighbor's door asking for food because they are hungry? How about if you overheard your ten year old talking to their friend saying that he needs to find a job because he is not getting enough food at home and needs to supplement his meager rations? Not very good I am sure. Shouldn't he ask you and not them?

Every day we daven three times a day. That is a lot of time spent on a mitzva that can actually be done in a much less time. The Rambam tells us that Min HaTorah there is no set time for davening nor is there any set "nusach". Everyone just turned to Hashem an asked Him for the things they need. Tefila is called "Avoda SheBiLev" service of the heart. The whole point is to understand that Hashem our father in heaven is the "Mekor HaShefa" who controls the whole world and is the source of all good that comes to this world. Therefore if you need something, He is the one to turn to and no one else. Not your boss, not to other people, and not your ingenuity.

When people began having trouble with Tefila the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah instituted a set time for Tefila with a set Nusach. This Tefila was written with Ruach HaKodesh and besides for being all encompassing, its words are packed with incredible power to help your tefilos reach the heavens. All you need to do is to understand that you are standing before Hashem and that He is listening and would love to help you if you really ask.

This approach made life easier for those who couldn't gather their thoughts correctly but in a sense due to our lack of true belief has caused us to miss out on the Mitzvas Aseh of Tefila altogether. With a set nusach we often put our mouths into action while our mind drifts thousands of miles away robbing ourselves of the very essence of tefila itself. It is conceivable to go weeks, months and even an entire lifetime davening three times a day yet never once actually having a conversation with the real and very tangible King of all Kings and master of the universe.

This week Bli Neder I will try to concentrate more on my Tefila but more than that I propose that if we have a specific need that we should ask for it in Shema Koleinu or any time of day. The heartfelt asking is what earns you the Mitzvas Aseh of Avodah SheBiLev. To think that Hashem not only gives you what you ask for but he also give you a huge reward for asking, is mind boggling. Asking for something from Hashem doesn't mean verbalizing your inner desires. It means truly recognizing that there is a great King standing before you and that you are asking Him to fulfill your wishes.  How silly to pass up the opportunity.

Sun, 27 Jan 2008 03:00:00 +0000
I Am 99% Sure

You are faced with a dilemma. Is it kosher or is it not? Is it Lashon Hara is it not? Or many similar situations where you are not sure if something is permissible or not.  Here is where your brain (i.e. yetzer hara) starts working overtime. He already has you right where he wants you. Not only are you having trouble overcoming temptation (after all you are hungry or it is a really good story) now the Yetzer Hara doesn't even need to convince you to do an aveira. He will give you a hundred and one good reasons why it is probably not assur. Maybe he will even convince you that it is a mitzva, since you need to eat. How foolish would you feel going hungry when the food turned out to be 100% kosher? There is no glory or mitzva in avoiding something that is actually kosher. Or is there? The Sefer Chareidim says there is.

Among the Mitzvos Aseh, the Chareidim counts avoiding something that may be assur as a mitzva. Which mitzva is that? "U"Barcharta BaChaim"; choose life. Many times we avoid doing things that are only remotely dangerous because we don't want to risk our lives or health. That is called choosing life. Certainly says the Chareidim, when faced with a Safek Issur which will affect your eternal life you should avoid things which have a remote possibility of causing harm even if the odds are slim. Chazal say a person should avoid 100 gates of "heter" to avoid the possibility of "issur".

Rav Shimshon Pincus gives an example of a person sitting in a restaurant located across the street from a mental institution. A crazy person runs into the restaurant and screams that he put cyanide into the soup. Does anyone believe him? No, of course not he is a loony. Would you order the soup? Probably not. Why not? Why take chances, life is too precious and the soup is not worth it. There are plenty of other things on the menu. If we understood the implications of a eating something not kosher or the damage caused by a single utterance from our mouths we'd judge our Sfeikos quite differently.

U'Bacharta BaChaim. Choose life. Unlike avoiding potentially poison soup, this is a win-win situation since by not eating you have a Mitzvas Aseh. When caught in moment of temptation make the right decision. Even it if it turns out to be "Mutar" you have earned a big mitzva and you are guaranteed to be the big winner at the end.  You earned Life!

Sun, 20 Jan 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Little Boo Boo?

Do you occasionally stub your toe, get a cut or scrape, or bang your hand? Is it a coincidence? Is it carelessness on your part or a person next to you? Think correctly and you have an important and easy opportunity to get a mitzva. The Sefer Chareidim says that "Tziduk HaDin"; acknowledging Hashem's Din is a Mitzvas Aseh counted among the Taryag Mitzvos according to the Smag and Smak. This means, says the Chareidim, that anytime something bad happens big or small, whether to your body, your money, or your children you need to acknowledge that it is Hashem that is punishing you. The Pasuk says "V'Yadata Im Livavecha Ki Ka'asher YiYaser Ish Es B'no Hashem Elokecha Miyasreka"; you should know in your heart that like a father punishes a child, Hashem is punishing us. You should bow your head and remain silent.

If you believe that these incidences are pure coincidence says the Chareidim then in the famous words of the Tochacha, Hashem will leave your whole life to coincidence and not watch over you causing you trouble upon trouble. The Chareidim doesn't mention this but I imagine that blaming the person who left on the floor the book that you tripped over is probably even worse.

The truth is that this mitzva applies to every facet of our lives. From the big things like bad breaks at work and in business to health issues to the minutest detail of the way the person on the road in front of you is driving and causing you to be late. Everything that happens is orchestrated by Hashem and you should take your complaints to him. Why because it's the only way to really get things done and because it's a mitzva.

The Baal Shem Tov adds one very important detail in explaining the famous gemara that says, if you reach into your pocket to take out three coins and only pull out two, it is considered yisurim. He says this applies only if you acknowledge that it was from Hashem. You may as well or else Hashem will need to send you a stronger wake up call.

So what we are proposing this week is something relatively easy and small just to help get ourselves off the ground and thinking in the right direction. If you have a run in with any sort of object that inflicts on you any slight pain don't get upset. Just smile and say "Thanks Hashem, I know that was from you. I guess you are trying to tell me something." Of course this should extend to all matters big and small but we need to start somewhere. You already got the boo boo so you may as well get the mitzva.

Have a very safe week!

Sun, 13 Jan 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Calling All Mezuzah Kissers

Affixing a mezuzah to a door post and making the bracha is not a something we do often.  So how can we take part in the mitzva of mezuzah on a more regular basis?  Granted there are a fair share of mezuzah kissers out there but I am not sure what that really does for anybody.  Recently I came across a Rambam that really moved me.  Loosely translated the Rambam says (Hilchos Mezuzah 6:13) "A person must be careful about the mitzva of Mezuzah since it is an obligation for everyone constantly.  Every time you go in or out you rendezvous with the unity of Hashem's name.  You should remember his love and awaken from your sleep and the craziness and triviality of the world.  You should know that nothing lasts forever only the knowledge of the name of Hashem.  This should restore you sane mind and you can then continue on the proper path."

After seeing this I thought about how many times I go in and out past a mezuzah without thinking twice.  How many times on my way into my house would I benefit from an awakening of my sane mind before entering?  Mitzvos are meant to penetrate our neshama, make us closer to Hashem and as a result make us better people.  This Rambam seems to reveal this power within the simple and often ignored message of omnipresent mezuzah. 

This week my goal is to at least three times when coming home at night, stop at the mezuzah and contemplate this Rambam for 20 seconds.  "Nothing lasts forever only the name of Hashem"...hmmm.  In theory by this time next week I should be a better Jew and hopefully a more patient and less critical and demanding customer at the hungry man's restaurant my wife runs in our kitchen.  Maybe even a smile at the kids and spend some time with them.  Who knows?  The possibilities are endless! 

Mon, 31 Dec 2007 03:00:00 +0000