Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Archive for the ‘Rabbis’ Category

You’re Doing Great!

Revised and translated from the lessons of Rabbi Nissan Dovid Kivak shlit”a

Rebbe Nachman teaches us what serving Hashem really means and how to best invest all of our time in this world. The main service of Hashem is Torah and mitzvos – to look at the inherent wisdom and inner essence of everything, to understand that there is a Creator, one G-d, and to take this into our hearts. We need to live with the light of Emuna, to think about how Hashem constantly renews the creation, and about how He is running our lives with great love and kindness. This is the most important thing in Yiddishkeit – that a person connects himself to the inherent wisdom in everything, to the point that whenever he does a mitzvah, he looks to the inner essence of the mitzvah. He puts on Tzitzit and Tefillin and thinks about the inner meaning of these mitzvos; he looks for the deeper essence of everything he does. There are the books of the Tzaddikim, and especially Reb Nosson’s Likutei Halachos – incredible things that help us understand the inner essence.

The general underlying idea is simply to connect to Hashem, and this is the main thing in Yiddishkeit, to look for the inner spiritual essence in everything we do. In everything that we are busy with, whether it’s at work or at home, or just generally if we are tired and don’t have much strength to learn, or if we are facing all sorts of hassles and things to take care of – to not get confused by this, and to know that this is also serving Hashem. In each thing, look for it’s inner spiritual essence and for what there is to fix there. When you do this, it becomes part of serving Hashem. This is a principle of the Baal Shem Tov and the Tzaddikim, that when a person looks for the inherent wisdom in everything, he lives with true charm in serving Hashem.

Our Rebbe in the first discourse in Likutei Moharan greatly expands on this idea, and he adds to it. He tells us, “I know that there is a problem here – that you feel that you can’t do this. You feel that you can’t look for and connect to the deeper essence and inherent wisdom of things, and that you can’t become enflamed by your Emuna that there are sparks here to elevate and corrections to make. I know that you are weak people – you forget things and get all confused and confounded. You aren’t sure of things, and you haven’t got any strength, and the Yetzer Hora (evil inclination) is pushing you relentlessly and you fall again and again and again. Despite all this – I’m still directing my words to you, and I’m telling you that you can connect to this wonderful light and you can be connected to the true charm of serving Hashem. It’s the truth! Even if you make mistakes and fall, each time that happens, come back and focus yourself – ‘I don’t want to be superficial! I want to look at things with inherent wisdom.’”

Just like the Moon. The Moon shines very beautifully at night. What does it do? It simply stands itself facing the Sun. We have to do the same thing. “I want inherent wisdom. I know that I need to constrain myself.” When there’s an overabundance of light – when a person wants things too much, then he can easily get discouraged, and this isn’t good. Too little light also isn’t good, because then a person thinks that he doesn’t want to act in the ways described in the books of the Tzaddikim. Neither of these ways works. What does work is the way our Rebbe describes here – “Take what you already have; you don’t need more than that. Whatever it is that Hashem has arranged for you, your simple Yiddishkeit. Baruch Hashem you have a beard and peyos, you have Tzitzit and Tefillin and you pray every day. Now grab as much Torah and mitzvos as you can, and rejoice with whatever you manage to do. Take hold of these things – this is your holy servitude, your acceptance of Hashem’s yoke, and here your closeness to Hashem can shine.”

The main service of Hashem is Tefillah. Tell Hashem what you’re going through. “Ribono Shel Olam, I wanted to be like this… (XYZ). I’ve wanted this for sixty years… and I still want it! For today, I want to be close to You with what I have. Not an overabundance of light, with what I don’t have, but to rejoice with my Shabbos observance – ‘I’m the most successful man in the world! I’ve done it! I’m a billionaire! I have ten cars outside, and a private jet. I fly to Uman every few hours. Ah! I have such a good life – with what? Because I keep Shabbos! I’ve already succeeded’. Be happy in what you’re doing. Get rid of the fantasies that you can’t serve Hashem if you’re not some great Rosh Yeshiva or Kabbalist – that’s nonsense! Realize how everything else is just false illusions. Just rejoice with Hashem. You’re already great. “Here – I ate kosher food. I’ve guarded my thoughts, and my speech. One moment of silence is worth all the riches in the world.” Now, you’re free to serve Hashem with a smile in everything you do. Do you know why? If you look at yourself properly, you’re already doing a wonderful job.

 

Spirit of Purim

By Rabbi Micha Golshevsky shlit”a

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 141, 1: 1

From the onset of Adar one should magnify his joy. (Mishenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha.) If a Jew has an alter-cation with a non-Jew he should take him to court during Adar since it is an auspicious time.
The Ohev Yisrael, zt”l, writes that the word “b’simcha” has the same numeri-cal value as the word “shana,” year.[1] The more b’simcha, joyous, one is dur-ing Adar, the more joy one will experi-ence the entire year!
The Chidushei HaRim, zt”l, states that just as we go into the illumination of Tishrei through Elul, we attain the dveikus, or intimate connection with Hashem, of Nisan through Adar. In Adar, our repentance is born of love and is stronger than the teshuva of Elul which is rooted in fear.

The Divrei Shmuel explains the deeper meaning of the preference to take a gentile to court during this month. On a deeper level, this refers to judging the non-Jew within us which is the aspect of Amalek within. One who has difficul-ty struggling with the negative inside himself (and who doesn’t in our gener-ation?) overcomes this with much greater ease during Adar.
The Chidushei HaRim writes further that Adar is a conjunction of the phrase Aleph-Dar (א – דר=אדר) . Aleph refers to Hashem, sometimes known as Alufo Shel Olam, the lofty One of the uni-verse, and dar literally means dwells.[2] This means that during the month of Adar, due to the boundless joy we ex-perience, it is easier for us to become a
dwelling place for Hashem.

Chazal say, “One who wishes to pre-serve his property should plant an Adar on it,” which could mean either planting a type of tree known as an adar, which is usually understood to be a maple, or to plant the tree during the month of Adar. As it says in Tehilim (93:4,) “Adir bamarom Hashem”—“Hashem is All Powerful on High.” But what does the verse have to do with securing one’s material wealth? The Chashva L’teshuva, zt”l, explains that the needs of every Jew are allocated from heaven. The reason why people lack is because their heavenly allot-ment is being withheld. What should one do to avoid losing out, then? “Plant an adar.” Adar refers to one who is steadfast as a mighty maple in his faith that Hashem is All Powerful!

Once, two friends met and one com-plained to the other that things were very difficult financially. He was literal-ly at the end of his rope and didn’t know what to do or where to turn.
“Well,” responded his friend, “Rebbe Nachman writes that ‘one who is al-ways happy will succeed.’ So I recom-mend that you strive a to feel happy all the time.”
“But that is one of the most difficult things to do! How can I possibly work towards such a lofty goal?” complained the disgruntled man.
“Nu, what won’t people do to make a living?” his friend answered.

[1] Both equal 355. )ב= 2 ש= 033 מ= 03
) ח= 8 ה= 5 & ש= 033 נ= 53 ה= 5
]2[ To this day an apartment in Hebrew

Worriors of the Heart

Translated from the orginal Hebrew of Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Kletzky shlit”a

Question:

Why are there so many difficulties concerning every good thing which I want to accomplish?

Answer:

This is exactly the goal for which you came into this world, to choose the good.  In order that there be freedom of choice, it’s necessary for there also to be a power opposing holiness. On the contrary, each time that a difficulty or obstacle arises in learning, praying, faith or any other Mitzvah, we have to strengthen ourselves exceedingly and tell ourselves, that this is a sign that Hashem does indeed love our Mitzvos very much and He also believes in us – He is therefore sending us this difficulty in order that we have proper free will, and when we do overcome it, we will give Him satisfaction.

An analogy which we can use to understand this concept can be of a soldier, who after performing a heroic act, is recognized by superiors to be a valiant soldier, and he is sent on a even more dangerous mission deep in enemy territory. The soldier becomes angry and says, what do they want from me, I’ve already proven my abilities, why do I deserve such a punishment? His commanders answer him with a warm smile; you don’t understand at all your role in the army. This isn’t a punishment at all, and this isn’t the place to show your heroism. You have to understand that there is a real war going on with enemy forces which need to be annihilated. Therefore, when you first joined the army we started off slowly, and when we saw your successes, we decided to send just you.

Hashem loves us very much, and believes in our abilities, that we are capable. He therefore sends us on battles and missions, sometimes even more difficult ones that the previous ones.

Question:

The analogy isn’t precise, because I’m not a successful soldier, and in many cases the evil wins over me.

Answer:

Indeed the analogy isn’t exact, because in a simple war, we want to see results – conquering enemy territory. It really doesn’t make any difference to the king what the soldiers’ feelings towards him are during the war, and if they really have the king’s honor in mind or not. The main thing is that the soldiers will follow orders, and win the war.

On the other hand, in this holy war, there is an entirely different goal. Hashem wants us to connect with Him with a sincere heart, with longing and desire.  The war in Yiddishkeit between good and evil takes place in a different arena – it’s to be found in the heart.  Is there a desire and longing for Hashem or some type of spiritual obliteration, coolness and tiredness?

It’s therefore untrue to say that we haven’t been successful at war.

Even if we didn’t actually win and conquer, still, Hashem checks our heart, how much have we tried and exerted ourselves to come close to Him, how many internal battles did we have until we were beaten

The main thing which Hashem wants from us, is that we should awaken within ourselves a want and a desire, and this itself is already called ‘victory’.

Question:

If the main thing is the desire, what advice is there to boost the will and the desire?

Answer:

We’re now going back to the original question which you asked, why does everything in holiness have to come together with so many battles. Here you have another explanation. Hashem meets out tremendous kindness with us by causing obstacles and difficulties before everything. If everything would go easy, we would be performing mitzvos and serving Hashem without awakening any longing for Him. He therefore has to set up barriers which bring about an awakening of holy passion and longing. The distance itself causes longing.

This is a tremendous rule throughout the Rebbe’s teachings: Obstacles are there to stir up the enthusiasm. This isn’t just a saying – this is exactly how it is. Anyone who wants to come close to Hashem must pass through many points of distance and falls in every prayer, every Torah-study, every act of charity or kindness which he wants to do.

On the contrary, the more things get in the way, the more the desire is truly awakened. We see ourselves that when a person is hungry, the more time passes and he doesn’t find what to eat, the feelings of hunger just become stronger. Every moment that passes, all of his mental capabilities concentrate fully and sharpen his understanding that the only thing that should be interesting him now is the quest for food.

Question:

It seems to be just the opposite, the more I see that I’m not successful in accomplishing, I become weaker and more dejected. Slowly, I stop wanting and longing for many holy things the same way that I did in the past.

Answer:

Why when we need food don’t we give up when it doesn’t come easy? In material things it is obvious to us that that is what we need, and we have no way to escape to a place where we won’t have to eat. This isn’t the case by spiritual matters, where we inside we think it’s possible to get by without it.

This is Amalek’s tactic. He knows the secret that the more he’ll disturb us, the more he’ll awaken within us a greater desire. So what does he do? He inserts into our ideology thoughts that maybe in reality there is something else besides Avodas Hashem. In general he shows us, “see how people are succeeding in living without fear of Heaven.” When he’s unsuccessful in convincing us in general, he then tries before each individual Mitzvah, deriding and cooling off the importance of the Mitzvah – what the outcome will be if you don’t stand this trial, and so on.

We therefore have to clearly define our soul’s true position, that even if it’s hard to accomplish everything that we have to, we should still keep in mind the truth, that life is about the light of Torah and serving Hashem.

When this point is clearly in focus, then the more the obstacles become stronger, we will perceive the longing itself becoming stronger.

Therefore, it’s very important to sit every day with Hashem and tell Him everything in your heart. Tell Him all of your inner wants and how much you want to come close to Him, and go into detail as much as possible. This action strengthens and sharpens the heart with the understanding that it’s primary food is spirituality, and there is no substitute.  And the more that the heart is reinforced with this aspiration, the more you will be able to see how every obstacle and difficulty in fact  only helps to strengthen one’s desire and longing for Hashem.

Spirit of the Law: Tu B’Shvat


Almond Trees in Blossom

Almond Trees in Blossom

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Chapter (140 #26) :

“The fifteenth of Shevat is Rosh Hashana for trees…The custom is to eat many different species of fruit on this day.”

I: Rav Nosson of Breslov, zt”l, writes that every human being is always longing for Hashem. A Jew’s longing for connection to Hashem is even more powerful. Usually, this longing gets channeled into other areas. People mistakenly think they yearn for money, honor or physical pleasures such as food. Attaining these never satisfies in a lasting way however, since the source, the inner desire for closeness to Hashem has not been addressed, just stifled.

When the Maharil Diskin, zt”l, was asked why the gemara compares the sinners of Israel to a pomegranate, he responded “A pomegranate has a hard exterior upon which no good is noticeable. It is only if you open it up, and delve into it’s depths that one finds the many, many good seeds in the Rimon.” Even if you peel off the outer shell you see only the white insides. You only find the seeds by breaking through the bad. Similarly, every Jew is a neshama kedosha which is always yearning with a powerful longing for his source. “

On Tu B’Shvat the sap begins to rise in trees. It is partially due to this process that the tree later develops in the spring. This is why it is Rosh Hashannah for trees.

The verse states, “Man is as a tree of the field.”The “sap” of each person is the hidden inner essence of each person, their fiery longing for Hashem. Like the sap of trees, the inner essence of each person is aroused on Tu B’Shevat. Connecting to our inner longing is the prerequisite for all spiritual growth.

This is one reason we eat fruits on this holy day. We acknowledge the correlation between bearing spiritual fruits and arousing our powerful yearning for Hashem. The more we connect to our powerful inner longing for Hashem, the more spiritual fruit we will bear in the coming year. The less we connect, the more this longing will be misdirected towards the material and the less spiritual growth we will yield. It is our choice.

May Hashem help us to grow and thrive, and bear an abundance of spiritual fruit.

II: On the subject of Tu B’Shevat, the Chidushei HaRim, zt”l, shares a very powerful concept: the “new year’s” judgment of Tu B’shvat primarily determines one’s access to novel Torah concepts (chidushei Torah) for the upcoming year.

Rav Nosson of Breslov, zt”l, writes that there are two levels of chidushei Torah. The first is the joy and rapture of bearing and sharing the fruit of one’s Torah learning, bringing down and sharing novel Torah concepts. This is the spiritual root of the sweetness of fruit to the palate. Without this feeling of sweetness, a person has virtually no genuine connection to Torah even if he or she learns assiduously and innovates novel interpretations. The second, lower, level of chidush is accessing a feeling of renewal and connection from every bit of Torah learning, prayer, and avodah even when there is nothing objectively novel about the concepts in which one is immersed. One still feels a powerful joy and connection, and this is the ultimate fruit of Torah study, as we say in the daily blessing: “Hashem, please make Torah learning sweet in my mouth.”

courtesy of A Fire Burns in Breslov


TU B’SHEVAT- BLOSSOMING ANEW

By Rabbi Avroham Kletzky shlit”a

Question:

What is special about Tu B’Shevat being the New Year for trees, and what relevance does it have for me?

Answer:

Tu B’Shevat is the introduction to Purim.

We are now within forty days before Purim. Now is the time to ask and beg Hashem at every opportunity to save us from our spiritual adversary Haman and Amalek. The days of the month of Shevat are the starting point from where we will gather the strength to erase the memory of Amalek on Purim, and to leave Mitzrayim on Pesach.

When we motivate ourselves to yearn for the joy of Purim, the question is always asked, how can we begin to be happy? Where do we get the strength for that?

This is why we have Tu B’Shevat, which is itself a very novel idea which requires faith in the Tzaddikim – belief in the words of our sages.  Chazal fixed this day as the New Year for trees, which has many Halachic ramifications, such as Ma’asrot and Orlah, etc. This seems puzzling, because it would make more sense to start the year by when the fruit is harvested, just as we do by vegetables, or at least when the fruit has grown at least a third, as we do by grains. But Chazal set the date by the day the fruit takes hold, a time when we see nothing. In colder climates trees are actually wrapped now to protect them. Chazal are teaching us that the New Year for trees is even before we can see anything.

The Tzaddikim reveal even further, that even when we can’t even see the start, still, whoever believes in Chazal knows for certain that he did get off to a good start. Even if the tree looks dead, it’s still totally alive. When we will understand this we will be able to await our salvation, and to proceed towards Purim and Pesach.

Question:

If all Tu B’Shevat is just about a metaphor for a person, as the verse says, “For Man is like a tree in the field”, what is the significance of eating fruit?

Answer:

It’s not just a metaphor comparing a person’s renewal to that of a tree. This is the entire idea behind Tu B’Shevat, to take the fruits of Eretz Yisroel and to taste their sweetness. We taste the sweetness and pleasantness of attaching oneself to Hashem through the fruits of Eretz Yisroel, a sample of what will be revealed in Moshiach’s times, the means of attaching to Hashem through song and praise.

That’s why we have a custom to taste fruits, to recite Berachos aloud, to thank Hashem for the wonderful and diverse tastes which He created. We praise Eretz Yisroel and the G-dliness revealed within it, and which will be revealed with the coming of Moshiach.  This is how we make a new start in always reciting Berachos with concentration and in reciting a hundred Blessings daily, which has the power to save us from spiritual illness and morbidity.

Let’s engrave within ourselves this wonderful path, that even though now we only see the beginning of the fruit, and we are literally holding at the onset of the growth of the sweet fruits, we are still so sure of our ultimate salvation that we are already blessing and thanking Hashem.  Like someone walking through a desert, hungry and thirsty, and crossing upon something to eat like juicy grapes, etc. Can we imagine the excitement he has with each bite? We believe that at least that much will be our excitement with the sweetness of cleaving to Hashem.

This is the proper start and preparation for Purim and to triumph over the dejection which Amalek tries instilling within us.

Practically speaking, we must keep in mind that even if it seems that the world is still and dry, in truth the whole universe is playing a song for Hashem.  Amalek conceals and hides this wonderful and pleasant sound, and even “shows” us that Yiddishkeit and Emunah are difficult and “weighty”.

Shevat is the month in which Moshe Rabeinu began teaching us the Mishne Torah (Devarim), which is the sweet and pleasant reprimand of the Tzaddik in which Emunah obtains the melodic notes which draw our souls closer to Hashem with such sparkling that a person throws away all of his confusion and heaviness, mania and bitterness, and starts to understand that everything that he’s going through is only because he doesn’t have the Torah and the song of the Tzaddik.  All this because Amalek has “swallowed” his mind.

At the beginning of Tishrei, which is Rosh Hashanah, the Tzaddik stands in the way of Amalek’s “swallowing” and causes him to “vomit” out all of the holy sparks which he had already swallowed. This Tikkun is completed on Sukkos, the holiday of ‘gathering”, when all of the holy sparks return and are gathered back into holiness.

But there is still the New Year for trees, when the sparks once again start entering the trees to become part of the pleasant song.  We therefore strengthen ourselves already now, at the beginning of the blossoming, to taste the sweetness of Hashem, to renew our listening to the Tzaddiks’ teachings, to recite blessings with concentration, with song and praise.

(See LKM II 8, Likutei Halachos, Orloh 3)

When will they take notice of me above?

Interpersonal relationships are of the most intricate of the many facets of life. Much takes place in this delicate area, yet behind everything stands mainly the question of “how am I related to.” More than anything that one can receive from his fellow man, one is most in need of the simple feeling that ‘I am needed’ and that ‘I am taken notice of’.

A person seeks only one thing – that others relate to him. Many are the ways that people find to attain this, whether explicitly or indirectly, through hints or outright verbally; whatever it takes to get a dose of this most essential vitamin – some attention.

The first of the believers

Ur-Kassdim – the cradle of foolish beliefs and idol worship. Terach, Nimrod and the masses of worshipers; some found a mighty deity in the form of a clump of clay, others identified the creator with a statute carved of wood. Nature’s forces, the stars and constellations, illusions and warped traditions; each man chose his faith as he pleased. Amidst this darkness wandered one small child who was simply not satisfied and asked again and again: “who created all this?”

The first of our forefathers, Avraham Avinu, recognized his creator at the age of three. He searched, contemplated and investigated until he was able to declare with clarity: “this is it!” Initially, the creation had shown no hint of an answer to his question, nothing seemed to indicate the existence of The Creator, of His will and His providence, yet the more he searched, the more The Creator revealed Himself to him. The veil of concealment gradually faded, the false beliefs began to crumble and emunah began to shine forth in the world.

Avraham had no tradition from his ancestors, no leader and no guide. He embarked on his path completely alone and prepared the way for the rest of the world. He taught da’as (holy intellect) and emunah to the masses and brought thousands under the shelter of the shechinah (divine presence). Torah had not yet descended into the world, neither had the mitzvos, yet nevertheless his entire life was one complete succession of d’veikus (cleaving to Hashem). Day after day, night after night, through winter and summer, ups and downs, challenges and opposition; how did Avraham endure all this, around what was his wondrous connection with the creator woven?

Yearning – this is the secret.

Avraham Avinu was the first one to bring knowledge of Hashem to the world. It is he who brought down the first strand that connects the created to The Creator and his whole life was just one long endless desire – to know Hashem.

At the beginning of any book one can find an introduction that outlines the purpose for which it was authored and in essence gives the reader “the bottom line”. The Torah too, has an introduction. Before the Torah describes 613 mitzvos, the positive and negative commandments, it precedes them with the purpose; the main point and intention that is meant to result from fulfilling all that follows.

Avraham Avinu is the introduction. If you desire to know what the focal point of the fulfillment of the Torah is, take a look at our first forefather; on what hinge did the life of the father of our nation revolve, around what where all his thoughts, words and actions centered?

Avraham Avinu directed his entire life to The Creator, even the minutest motion, thought or action was carefully weighed on the scale of: “I place Hashem before me always” (Tehillim). At every possible moment the desire to know Hashem burned inside him and no perception that he attained could quench his soul’s endless thirst. With ten tests did The Creator test his dedication and sincerity, and he stood up to them all with his clear and wondrous conviction of Hashem’s presence.

The first of the circumcised

How does one merit to such an awakened soul? – we all ask ourselves. The drowsiness that envelopes our senses almost constantly transforms our lives into something dark and heavy, how can we be freed from it? The soul is meant to be naturally aflame with passion for every holy thing, if one would know how much he is wanted above, how much they anticipate every truthful thought on his part and how much weight just one word of truth carries, his legs would take him of their own from the shul to the Beis Medrash, from there to the fields and back in a never ending cycle. Yet our blind eyes see nothing of all this.

Sins, transgressions and iniquities are what form this barrier; they do not allow a person to receive that most essential sustenance – to be related to from above.  The most desired feeling, the deep sense of “The Creator needs me”, is generally buried beneath a thick layer of wrongdoings and the like.

Avraham Avinu was the first of the creation to identify emunah from within the world of physicality; he achieved this through the bris mila (circumcision). The arlah (foreskin) is the barrier that overshadows the senses and does not allow them to perceive anything beyond dark fantasies of evil. When the arlah is removed the soul is aroused to life. The first of the believers was also the first of the circumcised; he was the first man who was sensible enough to remove the barriers of evil.

Lech Lecha – Go to yourself.

Through yearning and desire, searching and request, Klal Yisroel was born. The yearning that burned inside Avraham Avinu is to be found by way of inheritance inside each one of us. This together with the recognition of Hashem’s existence he passed on to us. Inside every one of us is an awakened soul that is full of desire and searching. We need just remove from upon it the layers of arlah, of forgetfulness and tiredness. The ability for this too we inherited. Every tiny drop of arlah that is removed, every piece of evil, of sadness, of illusion and bewilderment that we cast off, reveals in the heart another hint of spiritual alertness.

Everyone has a soul, everyone has desire and yearning, we need just go there – to ourselves. Nothing can prevent the searching soul from attaining its desire. We must cast aside all that seems imperative, unchangeable or “a part of me” and simply get going.

“Lech Lecha” – is said to each one of us: leave aside all the calculations and fears, the heaviness and depression that are rooted in “ארצך” (your land); the corporeality of the element of earth. Leave a little “מולדתך” (your birth place); the negative character traits and natural tendencies that seem to be an inheritance that threatens to accompany us throughout our lives. Abandon somewhat your “בית אביך” (father’s house); the negative influences and philosophies of your surroundings. Go forth towards your soul’s desire, to where you truly yearn to be.

To this place you will be accompanied by your nekudos toivos (good points), by emunah, bitachon and the ancient call of “lech lecha”.  For to your root only you can go, in the light of Hashem’s hashgacha (Divine providence).

The Holiness of the Schach and the Four Species, and how to dispose of them

By HaRav Shimon Anshin shlit”a

1] The Schach of the Sukkah as well as the Lulav should not be treated in a disrespectful manner after the time of their Mitzvah has passed, and they should not be disposed of into a disgraceful place. Still, they do not require genizah, to be specially set away as seforim do. They should not be thrown directly into the garbage, but if they happen to get thrown out as a result of lack of genizah, there is nothing to worry about.

It is wrong for people to leave their schach after Sukkos outside, in places where people step all over them, even though they are not in the trash. One should not even use the walls of the Sukkah for inappropriate use after Sukkos. (summary of Rem”a and Mishna Berura 21:1, ibid: 6-7, and Mishna Berura 678:24)

2] We learn the following Halachos from the above:

A] It is forbidden to dispose of schach into the trash can. Even though this halachah is clearly stated, still, many people don’t realize this and throw out their schach into the garbage, without knowing that it is absolutely forbidden!

B] Similarly, it’s prohibited to place them around the area of trash cans. There are people who are careful not to put the schach directly into the garbage cans yet they place them around the cans. Seemingly they should be able to rely on the Mishna Berura which says, “If as a result of not putting them specially away they get thrown out, there is nothing to worry about.” Nevertheless, I feel that they really don’t have what to rely on, because that’s only referring to schach getting thrown out because of their not being placed into genizah, not putting them around the garbage where they will certainly be taken afterwards into the trash. Sometimes they end up sitting there for a couple of days, and end up being totally neglected.

C] One is not allowed to place the schach where people will step on them. Besides causing others who don’t know better to mistreat the schach, it is also bothering those people who know to be careful in that they have to now go around it.

D] It is forbidden to step on schach, even if the owner already transgressed the above and put them in a place where people walk.

E] As for Sukkah decorations, there are those who say that it’s fitting that they not be thrown into the garbage; nevertheless, if they are well wrapped in a bag, they can then be put into the garbage.

3] The Shulchan Aruch writes in 664:8, “There are those who say that the Hoshana (Arava) in the Lulav as well as the Arava of Hoshana, even though they have been disposed of, they should not be stepped upon. It’s Halachos are as explained above 21:1.”

The Halachos which arise from the Shulchan Aruch as well as Mishna Berurah ibid: 28-29 are as follows:

A] The Four Minim – it’s forbidden to mishandle them, and they therefore should not be placed in the garbage or stepped upon, as we explained above.

B] Hoshanos – have the same rules as the Four Minim. Therefore, it’s befitting to sweep up the floor of the shul from the Hoshana leaves immediately after their use, in order that no one comes to step on them.

The custom to throw them on top of the ‘Aron Kodesh’ has no source in the ancient works. There are those who have questioned it because of the prohibition to make use of an Aron Kodesh, of which the rules of properly respect of its sanctity are very strict. The responsibility falls on the gabbaim that care should at least be taken that they do not afterwards end up thrown in the garbage.

People cannot be expected to act otherwise, since they have already become accustomed to this.

C] The Rings and Holders- should not be treated in an inappropriate way, since they are easily recognized to have been used for a Mitzvah.

D] The Esrog box and Lulav holder – it is better not mishandle them, especially if pesukim or parts of pesukim are written on them, which would require genizah. (The words pri eitz hadar do not require genizah)

E] Keeping the Four Minim in the house – It is brought in seforim that keeping the Four Minim in a home serves as a protection for it. It is also well known that the Rebbe says that Hoshanas are a protection while travelling.

Therefore, it’s better not to dispose of them in any way, on the contrary, to keep them in the house.

Why even burn them with the chametz and lose their protection? However, in order to keep this custom, it is possible to burn the Four Minim from

last year and to keep the ones from this year.

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE:

As this is a translation of the original Hebrew, if you unclear on any of the Laws outlined herein

in any way whatsoever, please consult with a Posek (Halachic Authority).

The Laws of Eating in a Sukkah, and the Beracha of “Leyshev BaSukkah”

By Rabbi Shimon Anshin shlit”a

In order to know when “Mezonos” must be eaten in a Sukkah, and when a blessing is required, we must differentiate between eating a bread-like food such as cake or a cooked dish whose blessing is Mezonos (for instance, kugel), as well as the amount eaten, how it is being eaten, and why, as we will explain.
[1] When eating a bread-like food such as cake in an amount more than a k‟beitza (the size of an egg), in a casual manner on Chol HaMoed, Shabbos or Yom Tov not after Kiddush:

[a] It should be eaten in a Sukkah, [and it may be that one who is lenient and eats it outside a Sukkah has on whom to rely]. Still, the blessing, “Leyshev BaSukkah” should not be recited.

[b] The designation of a “casual manner” in this context is that he is just snacking – meaning he is just enjoying a snack and not eating it to satiate his hunger. Or, even if he is hungry, if he is eating with the intention of eating a small amount in order to hold off his hunger until the mealtime, as the Rambam details in Perush HaMishnayos, Sukkah 2:5.

[c] However, if he is planning on staying in the Sukkah for a significant amount of time after eating, then he can recite the blessing, having in mind both the eating as well as the sitting in the Sukkah. This is because in actual fact, we should be reciting a blessing on just spending time in the Sukkah, as we will explain.
There are those who hold that in such a situation one should first recite “Leyshev BaSukkah” and then Mezonos.

[d] I have not yet found a clear designation of “a significant amount of time”. It would seem that it refers to both quality and quantity. This would
mean spending a slightly extended period of time in the Sukkah, as well as actually making oneself comfortable, and not being in a hurry to get out – i.e. spending the time there just in order to “fulfill the requirement” of spending time. Therefore, just a couple of minutes would not be enough. However, if one studies a little bit, or reads a book for fifteen minutes, it would seem that that is enough to be considered “spending time” in the Sukkah and would already require a bracha.

[e] All this is in one own‟s Sukkah. But when one goes to someone else‟s Sukkah, it would seem that any visit, even just for a few minutes, i.e., for a Yom Tov visit, or a Shalom Zachor, would be already considered spending time [this is in conjunction with the opinion that requires a blessing upon using someone else‟s Sukkah even when not spending time there at all.]

[2] When partaking in a proper meal, during Chol HaMoed:

[a] One is obligated to eat in a Sukkah and to recite “Leyshev BaSukkah”

[b] The designation “proper meal” is for example, to eat cake or pastry in the morning together with a cup of coffee; or without coffee, but instead of breakfast; or to eat together with other people [all these would render the meal to not be any less proper than eating a cooked item which would be considered a proper meal according to the Shulchan Aruch.]

[c] A thoroughly proper meal, which would mean to eat more than three or four beitzim, or entirely with the intention of eating a meal, would require a hamotzi, Birchas HaMazon and would require a Sukkah and a “leyshev BaSukkah.” It would seem that even in such a case, hamotzi and Birchas HaMazon would not be required, still, in regard to Sukkah, he would still be obligated in Sukkah and “leyshev BaSukkah”.

[3] Eating “Mezonos” on Shabbos and Yom Tov after Kiddush, in order to fulfill the obligation of Kiddush being in the same place where a Seudah will be:

[a] Must be eaten in a Sukkah, and a bracha (“Leyshev BaSukkah”) may be recited even if he‟s not staying there a while, and even if the amount eaten is a little bit more than a beitzah.

[b] However, if not eating for this reason, then the Halachos of Chol HaMoed apply.

[4] All this is when eating cake, but when eating a cooked dish made out of any of the 5 grains, i.e., kugel, then the halacha is as follows:

[a] More than a beitzah, in a casual fashion- should be eaten in a Sukkah, but without a Bracha “Leyshev BaSukkah”, [and even if one chooses to be lenient and not eat in the Sukkah, he has on whom to rely.]

[b] More than a beitzah, together with other people – requires a Sukkah with a beracha “Leyshev BaSukkah”.

[c] More than a beitzah, and is eating it as a proper meal – would require more research to establish whether or not a blessing is needed, especially Shabbos after Kiddush.

[d] Someone who eats a considerable amount as a proper meal – requires a Sukkah and a beracha “Leyshev BaSukkah”.

In addition, a cooked item may be eaten in large amounts without requiring HaMotzi or Birchas HaMazon, unlike “mezonos”. Kugel would be in the category of „cooked‟ even though there are those who are of the opinion that since it is also baked it falls under the category of mezonos.

TRANSLATOR‟S NOTE:
As this is a translation of the original Hebrew, if you unclear on any of the Laws outlined herein in any way whatsoever, please consult with a Posek (Halachic Authority).

Laws and Customs of the Three Weeks – Part II

A. Music

Dancing and Musical Instruments: During this period it is forbidden to dance, play musical instruments or listen to them live or pre-recorded.

Vocals-only music:  Even though such music has no musical instruments, if the music is of a joyous nature, it follows the same prohibition as listening to instrumental music. If the music however is of the type that awakens one to deveykus and is required by one specifically for this purpose, then it is permitted as long as it is listened to in private.

Recorded Cantorial music without musical instruments:  Here to, if there is a specific need it is permitted as long as it is in private.

Recordings for Children:  If the content contains both singing and music it is forbidden for children of chinuch age to listen.  However, if the content is primarily stories etc. with some musical accompaniment, there is room to permit this.  However, if the children are not of chinuch age, then it is permissible for them to listen to instrumental recordings.

Nursery schools for children at the age of chinuch:  It is forbidden to play musical instruments to children of chinuch age even if there is a fixed schedule for doing so.  One who’s livelihood depends on playing them musical instruments and stands to loose money from not doing so, should ask the opinion of a Posek.

Singing:  With regards to joyous melodies, there are those that are stringent especially when there are a group of people together.  In the context of a Seudas Mitzvah though, it is permissible to sing, however those present should be cognizant of not becoming exceedingly joyous.

The Poskim allow singing in all of the following cases:

1. On Shabbos.

2. While Learning.

3. When the melodies are of an awakening nature – whether alone or in a group of people who have joined together to strengthen themselves in Yiras Shamayim.

4. In order to keep one awake behind the wheel while driving.

Listening to music against one’s will: With regards to instrumental music that one happens to hear, be it on a bus, while on-hold on the phone or cell phone, is not prohibited on condition that one does not intend deriving enjoyment from the listening.   With regards to one’s own cell phone, it is however correct to change the ringtone to a non-musical one.

Listening to Music while exercising:  In this regard, one should consult with a Posek.

B. Shehechiyanu

One does not make a Shehechiyanu during Bein Hametzarim. According to the essential law, though it is permissible on Shabbos.  Yet according to the Arizal it is forbidden even on Shabbos.

One should not purchase a new item of clothing or a new fruit doing this period in order that one should not have to make a Shehechiyanu .  If however such items will not be available after the three weeks or specifically in regards to a child’s desire for such an item, then it is permissible to allow the purchase and to make a Shehechiyanu. However, it would be preferable if possible to postpone eating the new fruit or wearing the new item of clothing until Shabbos.

A pregnant or sick individual who needs to wear or eat a new fruit, is permitted to do so but without making a Shehechiyanu .

Bris Milah, Pidyon Haben or seeing one’s daughter for the first time:  It is permitted to say in all these cases to make a Shehechiyanu .

HaTov v’Hameitiv:  With regards to an item that requires the blessing of HaTov v’Hameitiv i.e. there are those who are partnered in the joy, such as one’s wife or children, it is permissible to purchase the item as well as make the blessing.

C.  Things that are permitted according to the essential law:

New Clothes and objects (Keilim) :  There is no prohibition in purchasing items or new clothing that do not require a Shehechiyanu during this period, however there are those that hold neither to buy nor to wear such new clothing.  There are those that are stringent only when it comes to purchasing very expensive items that bring one tremendous joy.  And so, if there are items that one does not need specifically during this time, it is correct to be stringent and not purchase them until afterwards.

Dwellings:  There is no prohibition in moving into a new apartment during this time whether rented or purchased.  But there are those that are stringent to refrain from doing so for the sake of a “good omen” (“siman tov”).

Alterations and painting:  There is no prohibition against alterations made to, or painting a dwelling during this time, however, the “Eliya Rabba” writes that is it is correct not to do so.

Outings (tiyulim):  There is no prohibition during this time to go on outings, however one should be careful not to go to places of danger.

Washing: There is no prohibition to bathe during these days in the ocean etc.  However due to the “fear of danger” during this ominous period, it is preferable to refrain from doing so unless there is a specific need.

Laws and Customs of the Three Weeks – Part I

A.  The Fast of Tammuz

a) According to the letter of the law it is permissible to wash on 17 Tammuz.  However, those who are stringent do not wash the entire body with hot water, but either wash the entire body in cold water or just the face, hands and legs with hot water.  However, on all accounts, no-one should wash for the pleasure of it alone.

b) It is permissible to launder on the 17th of Tammuz.

c) Children under Barmitzvah do not need to fast at all – not even a few hours – and can eat as per usual. However, they should prevent themselves from eating candies.

d) Pregnant and nursing women do not need to fast at all and can eat as per usual, however, they should prevent themselves from eating meat or poultry.

e) The fast starts at dawn (Alos Hashachar).  However, those who want to eat at night before dawn in order to alleviate the difficulty associated with the fast should do as follows:

i. One should make a condition (t’nai) before going to sleep that he intends to eat or drink before dawn.  Should one forgot however to make such a condition, he is permitted to drink but NOT eat.  Should one not sleep at all or sleep less than what is considered a “shanas keva” (20 minutes or more), one is not required to make such a condition before eating or drinking.

ii. Since there is a prohibition to eat before praying, the law therefore is as follows:

1. Drinking coffee or tea etc. is allowed until dawn.

2. “Tasting” bread or mezonos less than a kasayis (approx. 29 grams) is permissible until dawn.

3. With regards to eating bread or mezonos more that a kazayis, if one started to eat a half-hour before dawn or more, he can continue to eat until dawn.  However, from half an hour before dawn, it is prohibited to start eating bread or mezonos.

In certain calendars there are 2 times for dawn [based on the differing Halachic Opinions] and one should therefore finish his eating or drinking according to the earlier of the two times [90 minutes before sunrise]. With regards to not starting half an hour before dawn, one can however be lenient in an “emergency” (shaas hadechak) and use the later time of dawn.

f)  According to the Zohar HaKadosh, if one slept and woke up before dawn, he cannot eat in all accounts.  Therefore, with regards to those who follow the customs of the Kabbalists, should it be extremely difficult for them to fast without having eaten before dawn, they have on whom to rely and may eat according to the points outlined above.

B.  Laws of Bein Hametzarim from 17 Tammuz to Rosh Chodesh Av

This period of mourning (Bein Hametzarim) is named after the verse in Eicha: “all of her [Tzion’s] pursuers overcame her between the straits”, which we commemorate by diminishing our joy by refraining to perform weddings, haircuts, blessings of Shehechiyanu and music.  This period of time starts from sunset before 17 Tammuz.  However, one who has an urgent need to have a haircut at this specific time should ask a Posek.

C.  Marriages and Seudos:

Marriages – We do not perform marriages from the 17th of Tammuz until after the 9th of Av.

Engagements – It is permissible to make Shidduchim and Seudas T’naim, however without musical instruments.

Seudos Mitzvah – Barmitzvahs, Bris Milahs and the Completion of Mesechets of Talmud are permitted except without musical instruments.

D.  Haircuts:

Adults – Both men and women are prohibited from haircuts even in honor of Shabbos. [If the hair is long and one’s only intention of cutting is for Shabbos, there is room to be lenient].

Children – Adults are not permitted to cut the hair of children. However if there is a specific need to cut the hair of a child, there is room in which to be lenient.

“Baalei Bris” – Baalei Bris, a Mohel and Sandak, are according to the letter of the law allowed to cut their hair.

Barmizvah, Pidyon Haben, Chalaka (Upshirin) – One should ask a Posek if it is permissible to have a hair cut or not.

Specific Needs – with regards to Shidduchim, Modesty, Barriers (Chatzitzos), Healing, Mustaches which interfere with one’s eating, is it permissible to cut hair.

Brushing/Combing hair – is permissible.

E.  Cutting Nails – is permissible

Tag Cloud