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The residents of Baranovitch requested of the revered local Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Elhanan Wasserman zs"l, that he speak before them about the parashah of teshuvah, Parashat Haazinu. He agreed, walked to the podium, and began his speech. "Mosheh turns to the heavens and earth and urges them to serve as witnesses to what he is about to say - 'Listen, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.' Doesn't this seem somewhat arrogant, that a human being, flesh and blood, orders around the heavens and earth? In his continuation, though, Mosheh explains himself: 'For the Name of God I call, give honor to our God.' Mosheh here reminds us that he enlists the services of the heavens and earth not for his own purposes, not to further his own interests, but for the honor of the Almighty. And for Hashem's honor one can make us of the entire creation, since every being and creature in obligated to honor Hashem!

"Similarly, everyone wishes for all the best for the new year, that his fortune will see an abundance of blessing. But why? In what merit? For what purpose? If we wish for good for the sake of the honor of Hashem - a comfortable living to help us educate our children comfortably along the path of Torah and our marvelous tradition, good health to allow us to properly fulfill all the missvot and raise out children to Torah and missvot - if this is our perspective, then we can rightfully ask for all the goodness in the world, and we will receive it in plenty!"

And so, the speech was short and to the point, but enough to bring about a proper perspective on the Days of Judgment and our prayers and requests during this time of year.


Once in Manhattan a dispute broke out between two partners. They were old friends and upright, honest businessmen. The two partners were also God-fearing and dealt pleasantly with other people. They had ran a joint business in the paper industry, and one of them manufactured a new product in association with a certain branch. The new product earned him tens of thousands of dollars. He claimed that this venture was purely private, independent of his shared business with the other partner. His partner, however, claimed that the new product was included in the partnership.

They wisely decided that before the argument flared up out of control and caused intense hatred and animosity between them, they would present the case before a posek and hear the ruling of the halachah. In the meantime, it was decided, the money in question would be kept with a reliable, neutral third party. They knew of a certain young yeshivah student who was studying for his "kabbalah" (license) for shechitah and whose mind and experience was far from the world of commerce. And so they agreed to leave the disputed money with him while they bring their case to Rav Mosheh Feinstein zs"l.

The two partners went to the home of the young shechitah student and brought the stack of bills. "What is this?" he asked, and they proceeded to tell him the entire story of their dispute. "It will be interesting to hear how Rabbi Mosheh rules," he said. "In the meantime, I will look into the matter, as well."

They left his home and made their way to the home of Rav Mosheh Feinstein, one of the great poskim of the last generation. He greeted them warmly, as he would greet all his visitors. He heard their claims, researched the relevant sources, and issued his ruling: in such a case, the first partner, the one who manufactured the product, is right. The money rightfully belongs to him."

He finished speaking and the second partner's face lit up. "If this is the halachah," he said, "then I ask forgiveness for raising an incorrect argument. Please consider it as if I hadn't said anything!"

The other partner agreed to forgive, and Rabbi Mosheh warmly wished them success in their business. The two returned to the home of the student. "Give him the money," said the one partner, "he is right."

"What, this was Rabbi Mosheh's ruling?! I also researched the halachah, and, as it turns out, the other partner is right! I am terribly sorry, but Rabbi Mosheh made a mistake..."

"What are you talking about!" scolded the partner. "Rabbi Mosheh is a world-renowned posek; he knows the Shulhan Aruch by heart! How can you, just a young student, take issue with his ruling!" "What's the problem," the student arrogantly responded. "Even a great posek can make an error."

And so the two partners walked back to Rabbi Mosheh's home. They told the rabbi that the third party with whom they kept the money refuses to give the money over to the first partner, claiming that Rabbi Mosheh's ruling is incorrect.

Rabbi Mosheh listened and then asked for the name of the brazen student. They looked up his phone number and Rabbi Mosheh called the young student to invite him to his home and present his arguments. "Perhaps he is a brilliant scholar and found some mistake in my reasoning. This is Torah, and I need to learn!"

The student came, the smile of victory stretched along his face. "Why do you think I am wrong?" the great gadol asked the young student.

"From logic," answered the brazen student. Rabbi Mosheh then patiently and clearly presented before him all the relevant sugyot in the Gemara and rishonim, through the rulings in the Shulhan Aruch and its commentaries. With brilliant coherence, he clearly demonstrated the correctness of his pesak. The youngster answered, "I am still not convinced; I need to look over the sources again by myself."

The two partners listened and were infuriated. They had never seen such outright brazenness and arrogance. The great sage was also terribly upset, as here was an outright infringement upon the honor of the Torah. Yet, he kept silent. He took a piece of paper and jotted down the list of sources and handed it to the student. "Review these sources as soon as possible, and then return the money to the first partner."

Some time later, the young student came back to the home of Rabbi Mosheh. Rabbi Mosheh welcomed him warmly and asked him to sit. He told the rabbi that he passed his required exams in the laws of shechitah and was even offered a job. However, his employers require a recommendation from Rav Mosheh.

"Gladly," answered the sage. He quizzed the student in hilchot shechitah and, when it became evident that the student was proficient in the relevant halachot, Rav Mosheh wrote him a flattering recommendation.

Those in his home, who had heard the initial meeting between Rav Mosheh and the young student, were incensed at what just happened, but they could do nothing about it. Only after the young shochet left did they approach Rav Mosheh and complained, "This man insulted you so much!"

Rav Mosheh answered, "I don't understand you. Have you forgotten that Yom Kippur had passed in the interim, and we forgave everyone who may have insulted us?!"


"Return, Israel, unto Hashem your God, for you have stumbled in your sins"

This pasuk is the first pasuk of our haftarah. The chapter, however, begins one pasuk earlier: "Shomron is guilty, for it rebelled against its God. They shall fall by the sword, their children will be crushed and its pregnant women will be split open." This pasuk foretells the unspeakable tragedy of the destruction of the ten tribes. The prophet then says, "Return, Israel, unto Hashem your God, for you have stumbled in your sins."

Rashi explains that this call to teshuvah is directed towards the people of Yehudah, as a warning lest they suffer the same fate as the Northern Kingdom. Rashi then presents a parable of a province who rebelled against the king, who in turn sent his general to crush the revolt. The general, experienced and confident in his capabilities to thwart the rebellion, issued a statement to the province, "I will give you some time to withdraw your forces. Otherwise, I will do to you what I did to such-and-such province, and such-and-such city, etc."

It is for good reason that this haftarah was chosen as the reading for the Aseret Yemei Teshuvah. It reminds us to reflect upon the troubles of the past year, its many crises and the pain suffered by so many, and to mend our ways so that we earn forgiveness and a "gemar hatimah tovah"!

"Return, Israel, unto Hashem your God, for you have stumbled in your sins"

The Malbi"m zs"l, too, notes the juxtaposition between these two pesukim.

He explains that the prophet addresses the remnant of the Northern Kingdom, after the elimination of the corrupt government and nobility that incited the people to idolatry. "Shomron" is the capital city, the seat of the sinful government. Only the capital city is found guilty; the commoners are not, as they were misled and forcefully detached from their heritage and tradition. To this element of the population the prophet turns and says, do not say that it is hopeless, do not allow the situation to get even worse, do not say that you have already been separated and distanced from the tradition, that you have sinned beyond the point of return. Absolutely not!

"Return, Israel, unto Hashem your God, for you have stumbled in your sins."

You did not sin out of a sense of revolt against the Almighty, but rather you were fooled and made to stumble by the sinful kings of Shomron.

Therefore, you have the ability to return and correct your mistakes.

How applicable are these eternal words to our generation!

"Return, Israel, unto Hashem your God, for you have stumbled in your sins"

The Abarbanel zs"l explains that generally, when a relationship had been broken over the course of many years and the parties then seek to restore the relationship, the party that began the conflict must initiate the process of appeasement. But during the Yamim Nora'im, we ask the Almighty to Himself initiate the process and return to us. Comes along the prophet and tells us, not so - "Return, Israel, unto Hashem your God." We ourselves must take the first step and improve our deeds, "for you have stumbled in your sins," we are the ones who broke the relationship in the first place, through our sins and transgressions.

"Return, Israel, unto Hashem your God, for you have stumbled in your sins"

The Alshich zs"l explains that during the Days of Judgment everyone repents out of a sense of fear of punishment, in hope of a favorable decree for the coming year. As Hazal tell us, repentance as a result from fear can transform intentional violations into inadvertent violations, but no more than that. Thus, the individual remains somewhat distant from the Almighty.

The prophet therefore urges, ""Return, Israel, unto Hashem your God," referring to teshuvah not out of a sense of fear but rather out of a sense of love, because until this point you have only "stumbled in your sins," meaning, you have only accomplished that your sins will be considered accidental.


Rabbi Benssiyon Kohen zs"l

Rabbi Benssiyon Kohen zs"l was a "dayan" in Bezuarah, Lov. Before Yom Kippur, he was asked by one of the members of his community, "Why did the Torah command us to eat and drink on Erev Yom Kippur? Even without such a commandment, we would have eaten and drank anyway in preparation for the fast! Secondly, why did the Torah afford such great importance to this eating, to the point that the reward is that of fasting for two days?" The rabbi answered with a parable of a woman who had one son and, out of her intense concern for his well-being, hired a private nanny to care for him. One cold, wintry day, the boy returned home filled with dirt and filth. The nanny took him by his hand and brought him to the washroom.

She attached a house to the sink, turned on the faucet and began spraying him with a gush of cold water.

The mother saw what was happening and cried, "What are you trying to do?! He's shivering from the cold!"

The nanny came to her own defense and said, "But look at him - he's filthy!"

"So what?" asked the mother, as she turned on the boiler and prepared warm water. She then began washing her son gently and softly.

The rabbi then proceeded to present his answer. "In anticipation of Yom Kippur, we have all conducted our "heshbon hanefesh" (introspection), and we know full well that we are filled with dirt head to toe from our sins.

But we hope for a good, sweet year, and we know that to that end we must be cleansed from our many sins by fasting on Yom Kippur.

"However, through the missvah of eating and drinking on Erev Yom Kippur, and the great reward granted for the fulfillment of this missvah, Hashem signifies to us that he cleans us lovingly and compassionately, like the loving mother washing off her only son. This commandment, which expresses so much love and concern for our health and well-being despite our many sins, is enough for us to feel a genuine and heartfelt sense of regret for having sinned against our merciful Father, Who, as He has in the past, does and always will deal with us kindly. These feelings of love will bring us ever closer to our Father, our Shepherd, that He may inscribe us for good life, and bring us the redemption speedily and in our days.


A Series of Halachot According to the Order of the Shulhan Aruch,
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a

By Rav David Yossef shlit"a, Rosh Bet Midrash Yehaveh Da'at

Chapter 10: The Laws of Ssissit

If a garment did not previously have four corners, such as a round garment that was folded and then tied or sewn such that it now has four corners, its obligation of ssissit in doubt. Therefore, ssissit should be affixed, but no berachah should be recited.

If the corners were sewn in the manner in which the professional tailors sew, that is, the corner was folded and placed inside, and then sewn such that the fold cannot be seen at all, and this stitch is a permanent one and the owner has no intention of having it undone, then the original corners have been effectively eliminated. Therefore, we consider the corners as they appear now, in their current state. If they are round, the garment does not require ssissit; if they are square, then the garment does require ssissit.

A garment made of leather, be it a single piece of leather or a series of strips woven together into a garment, does not require ssissit. A garment whose corners are made from leather, such as a garment whose corners were cut and replaced by sewing pieces of leather in their place, does require ssissit, since we follow the main part of the garment, rather than just the corners. Conversely, if the garment is made from leather and the corners from some other material, the garment does not require ssissit.

If a garment is made from two pieces that were attached, one piece is leather and the other is of some other material, then if the majority of the resultant garment is from the other material, and this amount of this material in the garment independently contains the required measurement to require ssissit, then such a garment requires ssissit. If, however, the segment made from the other material does not contain the necessary measurement independently, but only when combined with the leather segment, then according to some views the garment does not require ssissit. If the majority of the garment is from leather, then it does not require ssissit, even if the minority portion - which is made from the other material - independently contains the minimum measurement for ssissit.

If a garment is made from two layers, one from leather and the second from a material requiring ssissit, then some aharonim maintain that if the outer layer is from leather and the inner layer is from another material, the garment does not require ssissit. If, however, the outer layer is from another material and the inner layer is from leather, then the garment does require ssissit, since the outer layer is considered the main part of the garment. Other authorities, however, hold that the requirement of ssissit of such a garment is in doubt. This certainly holds true regarding a two-layered garment that may be worn from both its sides. Similarly, a question exists regarding a garment made from leather attached to wool or fur. Thus, it is best not to wear such garments to fulfill the missvah of ssissit. One who does wear such garments should affix ssissit without a berachah.

If a garment has only three corners, and thus does not require ssissit, but the individual tied ssissit to the three corners anyway, and then added a fourth corner to the garment, he must untie the ssissit on the other corners and then tie them on all corners. This is because the Torah writes (Devarim 12:12), "You shall make fringes on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself." Hazal (Masechet Menahot 40b) derive from the term, "you shall make" that ssissit must be actually tied onto the four cornered garment, not just be there previously. Since in our case the ssissit were placed when no obligation existed, one must untie them and tie them again after the garment reaches the point when it requires ssissit.



The word "marsupial" has become synonymous with the word "kangaroo." However, it is important to realize that the kangaroo is only one of dozens of marsupials. The kangaroo's popularity results from the fact that the kangaroo is simply more prevalent than the others, some of which have become extinct over the years, as well as the kangaroo's size - it is the biggest of all marsupials. Today we have identified twelve general species of marsupials, which divide up into a total of around two hundred different types, and they all live in Australia. The king of the marsupials is undoubtedly the kangaroo, whose hind legs are exceptionally long, thus enabling it to jump as far as nine meters. Its speed often approaches 50 kph. Interestingly, a baby kangaroo is but two and a half centimeters long, and its width is that of a pencil. Right at its birth, it must embark on the longest and most dangerous journey it will undergo throughout its life.

It climbs with its fingernails onto its mother's fur and struggles to reach the pouch, where it drinks its mother's milk. As it grows older, it begins leaving the pouch for short excursions until it becomes tired, at which point it returns to its upholstered pouch. When it reaches its first birthday, it leaves it warm home and by the time it reaches two years of age it is considered an adult in every sense of the word. Some smaller marsupials are the size of small bees, and generally only about thirteen of the twenty babies born reach the mother's pouch.

It is truly amazing to see how these animals protect their young crowded in the mother's pouch. It seems as though there are no mothers more committed to their children than they, as they carry their young actually inside their bodies to protect them. But upon further reflection, we take note of the mother's indifference immediately following childbirth. As the youngsters race up her fur towards the pouch, she pays no attention to the weak ones.

Those who reach the pouch have made it not as a result of the mother's concern for their well-being, but rather because of their natural instinct.

Quite frankly, the mother wouldn't care one way or the other if all the youngsters remain outside the pouch or if they all crowd inside.

How tragic it is to see similar behavior among human beings, that some people demonstrate absolute apathy towards others. Among Jews, however, this is not the case. We recognize the inherent importance and value of each soul and, to the contrary, specifically the weak ones require assistance and extra support. The moral responsibility rests not only upon the family members, but rather, as we know, "All of Yisrael are responsible one for another."


The Deserted Woman of Jerusalem (13)

A story taken from the book, "Hasaraf MiBrisk,"
the story of the life of Maharil Diskin zs"l

Flashback: Mereishah, the deserted woman of Jerusalem, left at the order of the "Saraf" of Brisk to Paris to look for her unscrupulous and corrupt husband who left her penniless. The Saraf told her that upon her arrival in Paris she should meet with the local rabbi. She arrived in her motel and was told that the rabbi would be coming there that night to officiate at a wedding. She went to the wedding and when she saw the groom she fainted.

As she was recovering, the manager of the inn told the rabbi that she came from Jerusalem, where she had been told by the Saraf of Brisk to speak to the rabbi. The bride's father suggested that the rabbi first perform the wedding ceremony and thereafter speak to the woman.

"If she has already recovered," said the rabbi, "then I want to hear what she has to say. It won't take long." Indeed, Mereishah had recovered from her fall, though she was still pale and her eyes seemed to weigh heavily upon her face. The manager's wife took her by the hand and led her to the "yihud" room. She sat Mereishah down on the chair reserved for the bride and the rabbi followed, leaving the door slightly ajar. The manager's wife left the room, and the bride's father took out his gold watch from his vest pocket and looked with obvious annoyance.

"My dear father-in-law," came the jubilant voice of the groom, "there is no wedding without some kind of delay. May this be the only delay, that no other cloud shall ever darken our lives!"

The father-in-law smiled proudly to hear the words of encouragement from his daughter's groom. The door then opened widely, and the rabbi finally came out. He motioned to the father-in-law and made his way over to the table of the bride and groom. He leaned over to the groom and whispered, "Baruch Mordechai."

The groom jumped in shock, the color left his face and his eyes rolled in their sockets.

"What kind of funny name did he call you?" joked the bride.

"This is my Jewish name," answered the groom. "He needs it in order to sign the ketubah, our marriage contract." He got up from is seat, walked around the table and went over to the rabbi. "How did you know?" he muttered. "How much?"

"How much what?" asked the rabbi innocently.

"How much will it cost me to have this matter silenced?"

"Come," said the rabbi. "Let's discuss this in a more comfortable setting."

The manager heard the rabbi's request in amazement. "Certainly, if the rabbi wants my office is available. There you can talk with no one disturbing you." The rabbi took hold of the groom's hand as the manager looked on in wonderment. So many weddings have been conducted in this hall, but the rabbi never asked for a private meeting with the groom moments before the "hupah." Interesting timing the rabbi has - when all the guests had assembled and everything is set for the wedding!

The bride's father looked on furiously, and once again threw a glance at his watch. Nobody remembered anything about the deserted woman, sitting in the bride's chair in the "yihud" room.

To be continued...


The scales are being balanced, and our hearts tremble. "Those in the middle [i.e., whose missvot and sins are equal, such as us] are held in abeyance [until Yom Kippur]." We have been given just a few more days to add missvot on one end of the scale, and do teshuvah to lighten the load on the other side.

But we are scared. Even during this period we have not become perfect ssadikim. We haven't taken full control of our mouths, we have yet to purify our hearts. What will be? What shall we expect? We have perhaps added to the "left" scale, Heaven forbid, and we are no longer considered "in the middle"...

Imagine someone would come along and reveal a secret: there is one missvah whose value is that of one hundred missvot. One hundred such missvot, thus, are worth ten thousand missvot! How thrilled we would be! We could so easily weigh the scales down in our favor. But hold on - is it difficult? Does it require a lot of time and effort? A favorable judgment is well within our reach?

Indeed, there is such a missvah, and its value is more than a hundred missvot. It is worth six hundred missvot and even more. The Talmud Yerushalmi writes (beginning of Masechet Pe'ah) that every word of Torah study is worth more than all six hundred and thirteen missvot. Keriyat Shema itself has close to two hundred and fifty words. Its worth, therefore, is that of over one hundred and fifty-three thousand missvot!

And how long does the recitation of Shema take - three minutes?

But that's not all. Rabbenu Yossef Hayyim zs"l, the Ben Ish Hai, writes in the name of the Kabbalists that an hour of Torah study on Shabbat is considered in heaven as one thousand hours of weekday Torah study. So, for example, if one recites keriyat shema - which we all know fluently, and constitutes "divrei Torah" - on Shabbat, the reward is around one hundred and fifty-three million missvot. Not to mention five minutes of study, fifteen minutes of Tehillim or Pirkei Avot, or an hour of serious Torah learning. All this can add millions of missvot on the right scale and decide our fate for life, for us and our families!

If, as the Berayta states, "If one did one missvah - he is fortunate, for he has swayed the scales for himself and the whole world towards merit," then how much fortune is yielded by an hour of Torah study, particularly on Shabbat!

It would be a travesty to waste even a minute of this Shabbat sitting idly in our homes or walking about. Let us pursue more merits in our favor, by a reciting pesukim and studying Torah!

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