The Daily Companion for the Sephardi Woman

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hilkhot Hodesh Heshvan

Remember to say Yaaleh veYavo in the Amidah and Birkat HaMazon, as well as switching to Mashiv HaRouah uMordi HaGeshem J

In New York:
Hadlakat Nerot 6:13 pm 
Mossai Shabbat Kodesh 7:11pm
Rabbenou Tam 7:42pm
*Please continue to Daven for the immediate and lasting Refouah Shelemah of HaRav Hayim Ovadia Yosef ben Gorjieh. Todah Rabbah!*

Considering that Hodesh Heshvan has no hagim of its own, it wasn't so easy to think of a Devar Torah to write defining it. I realized though that this is what makes Hodesh Heshvan so special--that it is the only month that has no holiday of it own. That is why they call it 'Mar Heshvan'--'Bitter Heshvan'. The fact that this month is void of any hagim means that it becomes a vessel to transfer the Kedushah and Simhah of the hagim of Tishrei (Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Asseret Simhat Torah....) into the rest of the year. When we are able to do this, we turn 'Mar' (Bitter) into 'Ram' (High, Elevate). Let us fill this Hodesh up with our own Semahot!! BH May this be a Hodesh of tremendous Berakhah, Simhah, Yeshuah and Hasslahah Rabbah for all of Kelal Yisrael!!

Hodesh Heshvan Tov uMevorakh!!!!

Hikhot Hodesh Tishrei

(please refer below for very important information about the upcoming days)

Tizku LeShanim Rabbot Neimot veTovot

Hadlakat Nerot in New York
Tonight 7:03pm
Tomorrow night AFTER 7:20pm

Shabbat Kodesh Parashat Haazinu
Hadlakat Nerot 7:00pm
Mossai Shabbat Kodesh 7:59pm
Rabbenou Tam 8:29pm

Sunday Tsom Gedaliah,
in NY the fast begins at 5:05am
and ends at 7:57pm.
If you wish to wake up early to eat before the fast you must make a verbal declaration the night before that you wish to do so, otherwise the fast begins when you go to sleep. 


**Prayers: During Aseret Yemei Teshouvah (The days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippour) a person should pray more carefully than usual. Six insertions and substitutions are made in the Amidah/Shemoneh Esrei as found in all Siddurim. Pay special attention to these changes. The two most important ones are 'HaMelekh HaKadosh' instead of 'HaE-l HaKadosh' and 'HaMelekh HaMishpat' instead of 'Melekh Ohev Sedakah uMishpat' which If forgotten, the Tefillah must be repeated. 

Wishing everyone the best year yet filled with all that is good! May we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Good Life!

4 Tishrei 5774 !!!!

Today  is Som Gedaliah/The Fast of Gedaliah. In New York, the fast ends at 7:57pm. For fast times in your area, check myzmanim.com. For an explanation of why we fast today, see here. May you have a meaningful and easy fast! 

GIVEN THAT IT IS ASERET YEMEI TESHOUAVAH (10 DAYS OF TESHOUVAH)REMEMBER TO MAKE THE CORRESPONDING CHANGES/INSERTIONS IN THE AMIDAH :) Attached is a one-page document with three chartsthat you may print and keep in your Siddur with guidelines of what to do in case you forget to make the substitutions in time.

V. Aseret Yemei Teshuvah
1. The ten days
from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur are singularly designated and dedicated to
Teshuvah. Although Teshuvah is accepted any time, it is accepted even more
readily during these days.

5 Tishrei 5774

Aspects of complete Teshuvah:
1. Viduy - recognition of the sin and confession to Hashem. When done silently it is proper to specify the particular transgression.
2. Abandoning the sinful practice
3. Feeling of regret for having done the sin
4. Resolution for the future
 In making a resolution for the future, it is proper, often necessary, to devise a strategy to cope with temptation. It is appropriate to build a fence around the transgression, that will prevent one from crossing the line, each person as fits his/her situation. Just as one must repent of sins involving actions, so must one repent of any evil dispositions that he may have, such as an angry temper, hatred, jealousy, greedy pursuit of money and honor, gluttony, etc.
** Sins against one's fellow man are not forgiven by HaShem until the sinner has received forgiveness from the injured party and repents. If you haven't already done so be extra careful in this regard and make sure to ask forgiveness until the other side is appeased and both sides have a clear heart.

6 Tishrei 5774
Remember to make insertions and substitutions for Aseret Yemei Teshouvah!

I. Erev Yom Kippur (eve of Yom Kippur)
It is a Missvah to eat well Erev Yom Kippur. One who eats a big meal at this time, it is considered as if he fasted for that day as well, making it two consecutive days of fasting. This meal is called Se'udah HaMafseket.

Se'udah HaMafseket: The final meal before Yom Kippur begins must be completed before sunset, at which time the fast and all halakhot of the day begin. If one completes this meal early it is considered an early acceptance of the fast unless the person stated (or specifically thought) that he/she does not wish to accept the fast yet. When one accepts the fast early, it is understood that all the laws of Yom Kippur take effect for that individual at that time.

7 Tishrei 5774

ll. Prohibitions on Yom Kippur
All work that is forbidden on Shabbat is forbidden on Yom Kippur. The prohibitions specific to Yom Kippur are:
a) eating and drinking
b) washing the body
c) application of ointments
d) wearing leather shoes
e) marital relations.

8 Tishrei 5774
Yom Kippur 5774
Tizku leShanim Rabot Ne'imot veTovot!
Barukh HaShem we are now in the process of transitioning from Rosh HaShanah to Yom Kippur. On Rosh HaShanah, we accept HaShem's reign over us as King, and on Yom Kippur we ask for our sins to be pardoned, as is tradition when a new king is coronated, so that we can recommit to Him on a level closer than a king's subjects. I dare to say that on Yom Kippur we go from being the King's subject to being the King's wife….if we are worthy. On Rosh HaShanah we are betrothed to HaShem and on Yom Kippur we marry Him. (Consequently, Sukkot is our Sheva Berakhot….)
                Many people treat their wedding day like Yom Kippur. We all wear white, Ashkenazim fast, it is a day where the Hattan and Kallah have all their averot pardoned, they are in a state of purity. But how many people treat Yom Kippur like their wedding day? Sure, many of us fast, and sure, we all say the right things and bow when we're supposed to….But how do we feel on this day? What are we actually thinking about on Yom Kippur?
                If Yom Kippur is like our wedding day, then on this day we relate to HaKadosh Barukh Hu as our Hattan and we are His Kallah. We are no longer subjects in a kingdom who have to have their books clear so they won't be executed, we are now given the opportunity to become the Queen, we are given the opportunity to establish a stronger bond with HaShem. To do so requires tremendous inner work—after all, the King doesn't marry just anybody. And so, on Yom Kippur it's no longer about clearing our offenses and not having sinned, it's all about becoming a better and more elevated person, a person worthy of being the King's wife.  It's no longer about fending for ourselves, it's about building a relationship with our beloved Hattan.
Rabbi Lander shelit''a explains to us that there are two elements to Yom Kippur--Kapparah (pardon) and Taharah (purification). Kapparah is getting through the radar, just making it, starting with a clean slate. Taharah is of a whole other dimension. Taharah is purifying oneself, becoming a different person, a better person, it's not an account of actions—it's a mindset, a lifestyle.
At this point, even though our accounts may technically be cleared, are we as people purified? Are we a changed person?  Yom Kippur is not only about replacing each sin we did with a Missvah, it is not a system of withdrawals and deposits. It is not that we just 'cleared our debts'; we're building up-not an account- but our credit.It is a cleansing of the self. Teshuvah has the power of an intrinsic change in the human, not just the extrinsic concept of reward and punishment.
On Yom Kippur we ask to be forgiven for sins we did by coercion, sins we were forced to do. Why should I have to ask forgiveness for something I didn't even choose to do? It's true that I did it, but I didn't really do it! We are not legally held accountable for these things! Why is it considered a sin? BECAUSE YOM KIPPUR IS NOT ONLY ABOUT A LEGAL CLEARING, IT IS ABOUT THE PURIFICATION OF THE SELF, ABOUT TAHARAH. Although we do not pay legally for these actions, we are spiritually damaged by them and must beg forgiveness.
We can better internalize this concept with a powerful story. There is a story of a rebellious boy who did not respect his parents at all, HaShem Yerahem. One day he began to understand the severity of his behavior and expressed remorse for his actions. He was instructed that every time he disrespects his parents, he should hammer a nail into the wall. And so he did. One nail, two nails, three nails, forty nails….Until he began to feel terrible and wished to change. He told himself, every time I do something positive for my parents, I will take a nail out. Finally, after some time and some deep Teshuvah, this boy is able to pull every nail out of the wall. He is elated with joy, 'Look! I restored the harm I caused my parents. I fixed the problem. Good as new!' His elders told him, 'Look again my son, for the holes you have created in the wall still remain'. Even though this boy cleared his account, there was still an effect his actions caused that could not be repaired. The damage was done. The only way to fix this wall is to replace it completely, to CHANGE it. And so, this is how we stand at Yom Kippur. Maybe we have cleared our account balance, but have we really purified ourselves? Do we still have residual 'holes' in our Neshamah? On Yom Kippur, not only do we pray for Kapparah, to be pardoned, but we also pray for Tehara; 'Lifnei HaShem Tit'haru', you will be purified before HaShem. This Taharah is what makes us worthy to marry the King.
                A king can have a conversation with someone who hasn't done anything terribly wrong against him, but he can only have a deep relationship with someone who he sees is pure. Fortunately, our King is so loving and so merciful that He is helping us every step of the way to attain this state of Taharah. He wants us to become close to Him, we have to realize that. He wants to have a relationship with us. HaKadosh Barukh Hu wants us to be His Kallah. Us! Yes, us! This takes some effort on our part, but HaShem is more than willing to help if He sees that we want to have such a loving relationship with Him. Yom Kippur is a day where we are filled with immense fear because our fates will be sealed, but do we realize that it is the day of the year where HaKadosh Barukh Hu has the most Rahamim. Take advantage of this. It is you and HaShem under the Huppah so to speak. What a beautiful moment!
                This is the time we are closest to HaShem. The apex of the year is Yom Kippur. The apex of the day is Neilah, the fifth and final Tefillah service of this immensely holy day. This means the high point of the entire year is the moment of Neilah. To me, Neilah is like the Yihoud room between us and HaShem after the Huppah. We can speak with Him even more privately and bond with Him. We can share with Him our aspirations and desires, our Tefillot. We can love each other in such a pure and natural way. This is our last chance of the day to express how we feel, because after this intense moment, the Hattan and Kallah must separate to attend to their Simhah with the rest of the world, and we can only meet again personally next year….
                Be'ezrat HaShem Yitbarakh, may we be zokhim to be granted a full Kapparah, and ever more so, so become completely Tahor, pure. May we deepen our relationship with HaKadosh Barukh Hu to the point that we can feel that we are His Kallah. May we realize that this entails starting a new life as does a Hattan with his Kallah, and being involved in part of a relationship. May we develop the most intimate relationship with the Ribono Shel Olam and may we always love Him truly and immensely. In this merit, may we attain personal zekhouyot and Berakhot on the level of a Kallah and not a king's subject or slave. May we all be personally written and sealed in the Sefer Hayim Tovim, for a year filled with Berakhah, Simhah, and Hasslahah Rabah. May HaKadosh Barukh Hu answer all of our Tefillot leTovah uleBerakhah! After all, we are His beloved Kallah….

Gemar Hatimah Tovah to you, your families and all of Kelal Yisrael!

9 Tishrei 5773
Tonight is YOM KIPPUR!

In New York:
Hadlakat Nerot/Fast begins by 6:45pm (with the conclusion of Seudat HaMafseket)
Fast ends 7:47pm
Rabbenou Tam 8:18pm

**There is a very big merit to daven for your children and give them Berakhot tonight by the candles on Erev Yom Kippour
May our Teshuvah and Tefillah be completely accepted by HaKadosh Barukh Hu leTovah uBerakhah! KETIVAH VEHATIMAH TOVAH!! SHANAH TOVAH UMEVOREKHET!!
*There is a segulah to have 7 meals consisting of Netilat Yadayim, HaMossi and Birkat HaMazon, today, Erev Yom Kippur, to find the right zivoug. The 7 meals correspond to Sheva (7) Berakhot of a wedding. One may make the Se'udat HaMafseket the 7th meal. I definitely recommend whole wheat bread for this :) May HaKadosh Barukh Hu answer your Tefillot leTovah uleBerakhah! Enjoy!

11 Tishrei 5774
Best Teachers
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Register ASAP to get a spot, BH beli neder we start soon!
kindly see attached flyer for more information :)

And for those of you who are not able to join, here is a little something on "The Secret to Making the Inspiration of Yom Kippour Last All Year"

BH I will not be sending a Halakhah today because I wish for us to direct our focus to something much larger. Yesterday, on Yom Kippur, the entire Kelal Yisrael was cleansed and purified. We were granted another year of life. We all started new. It is very easy for the magnanimity of this reality to quickly escape us and we will return to the mundane lives we used to live beforehand. Take the inspiration, take the commitment, take this treasure and carry it through the upcoming year. We are standing at an extremely high and holy level right now. We each have it in our potential to maintain this level all year long, as long as we remain aware and appreciative of this gift. In this week's Parashah, Parashat Haazinu, HaKadosh Barukh Hu warns us of exactly this--not to forget, not to be ungrateful, to open your eyes and see where everything is coming from, not to be distracted. You have a gem in your hands right now, don't let it wither away, don't let it erode, don't drop it. Let it shine.

Hold on to this gem so that BH by next Yom Kippur we can place it in our glistening crown along with the many other gems we will collect over the up coming year. BH we will be able to use this very crown to place on the head of the Mashiah when he arrives this year, Amen!

12 Tishrei 5774

BH we will be studying the Halakhot for Soukkot that pertain specifically to women.
Women are not required to eat in the Soukkah, as it is one of the positive commandments governed by time (from which they are exempt). If they choose to eat in the Soukkah they fulfill a Missvah. However, they should not recite the Berakhah of leShev baSoukkah, as they cannot properly say 'veSivanu' (He commanded us) --since they werent commanded to do so, and this may be considered as a Berakhah leVatalah (a 'void' Berakhah)

13 Tishrei 5774

Sukkot 5774

 !!!!חג סוכות שמח

I always wonder what in the world goyim think we're doing during the week of Sukkot sitting outside in our little makeshift huts in the middle of the fall. If one examines the construct of a Sukkah and considers its function, it would make logical sense to label it as a structure which provides shade from the sun, something to be used during the warmer seasons of the year. But think about it, we use the Sukkah during the fall season when shade is already plentiful. Why would we need to build a structure like a Sukkah during the fall when it functionally does not make sense?
The Sukkah is also an allusion to the Ananei HaKavod, the Clouds of Glory, which protected Benei Yisrael in the midbar (desert) once they left Missrayim, Egypt, in Nisan. By sitting in the Sukkah, we symbolize that HaKadosh Barukh Hu is protecting us no matter where we build our 'home'. But again, didn't we leave Egypt during the spring season? Why are we commemorating this by building a Sukkah during the fall?
Rabbi Avi Heller points out that according to the Midrash, Moshe Rabbenu gathered Benei Yisrael the very day after Yom Kippur and gave them the instruction to build the Mishkan, HaShem's temporary home. Sure enough, they began to build the Mishkan five days after Yom Kippur, which just so happens to be the first day of Sukkot. Says the Vilna Gaon that it was at this time that the Ananei HaKavodreturned to Benei Yisrael. And this is why we build the Sukkah at this time; to commemorate the building of the Mishkan and the return of HaShem's Glory and Divine Protection over Benei Yisrael. Our Sukkot are actually a form of the Mishkan where the Shekhinah of HaKadosh Barukh Hu can dwell. It's no coincidence that the gematriya (numerical value) of 'Sukkah' (91) is the same gematriya of both of HaShem's names (A-donai and Yud-Heh-Vav-and Heh) added together….
                Sukkot and Yessiyat Misrayim have even more in common. Just as Benei Yisrael were cleansed from their impurity when they left Missrayim and were renewed as people after emerging from this crucible, we as also just walked out of Yom Kippur where we were purified and rejuvenated from our past 'slavery'. And just as they were enveloped in the Glory of Ribono Shel Olam, we also construct for ourselves a surrounding of Kedushah and glory so that the Presence of HaKadosh Barukh Hu could return to us as well.
In both cases, these structures are portable and temporary. The Mishkan and the Sukkah are both intermediary steps as a preparatory stage to a permanent dwelling place. The Mishkan would ultimately become the Beit HaMikdash and after seven days, we eventually trade in the Sukkah for our permanent homes. What both these parallels have in common is that the temporary dwellings are far less extravagant than the permanent ones we would eventually move into; they are far more simplistic than the latter. For at least a short while, we are meant to nullify all the materialism from our lives in order to acquire a certain level of spirituality in preparation for our permanent dwelling places. Once we tap into this spiritual reserve, once we internalize how Kadosh of a people we can become, only then are we able to move from the Mishkan to something like the Beit HaMikdash in all its glory, and only then can we move into our 'permanent' and more beautiful homes from the simple Sukkah. If we can earn spirituality in a portable home, wherever we go, we certainly can maintain it in a permanent place. We must carry over the Kedushah we earned from our temporary and portable homes into the sturdy and permanent homes we have, infusing our physical world with this very spirituality.
If we think about it, this concept is very similar to the relation between Olam HaZeh, this world and Olam HaBa, the next world. Why? This world is our temporary home, it's our more simple home. It is our preparatory stage for our permanent home, the world to come. In this world, we must rid ourselves of all materialism in order to attain the spirituality that we are meant to carry over to the next world, just like we do with the Sukkah. The less extravagant, the more simple we make our temporary dwelling, the better we can prepare for our permanent dwelling in Olam HaBa, the one that is eternal. Maybe this is why we serve HaShem Yitbarakh with a lulav and etrog, leaves and a simple fruit, and not with gold and silver. Instead of 7 days or 40 years, we have the short time span of only 120 years to live in simplicity in exchange for an everlasting life of spiritual luxury. Wouldn't you trade in a mere 120 years in the grand scheme of things for eternal spiritual wealth? I know I would.
Rabbi Nahman miBreslev puts it beautifully, "Worldly desires are like sunbeams in a dark room; they seem solid until you try to grasp one". The only way to take in sunbeams is through the heart, not the hand. Surround yourself with the light of the Torah HaKedoshah and reflect it unto others. Material things are fleeting, they hinder us from our true mission in life. We must focus on things that will cultivate our Neshamah and only uplift it. We can do this best by focusing on the ruhaniut (spirituality) that fills this world, not the gashmiut (physicality) that unrightfully takes its place.
It says about Sukkot 'Ve'Samahta be'Hagekha', be happy during your holiday. It is the holiday of happiness. It is also the least materialistic holiday. Less Materialism= More happiness.
Be'Ezrat HaShem may we develop the proper priorities in life and understand truly why we are here and identify what our purpose is in the world. May we carry through the Simhah and Kedushah of Sukkot into the rest of the year, and may we be zokhim to move from our provisional Sukkot straight into the Beit HaMikdash, Amen!
Wishing everyone a Hag Sukkot Sameah!

14 Tishrei 5773
Tonight is the FIRST NIGHT OF SUKKOT!!!!

Hadlakat Nerot in New York:
Tonight 6:40pm
Tomorrow night AFTER 7:37pm
Shabbat Kodesh 6:37pm
Mossai Shabbat 7:35pm/Rabbenou Tam 8:06pm

 !!!!חג סוכות שמח

A few beautiful and important Halakhot:
-It is a Missvah to decorate the Sukkah and beautify it.
-It is a nice custom to like the Nerot (candles) of Yom Tov in the Sukkah and eat by its light.
-Women do not make the Berakhah of 'LeShev beSukkah' or the Berakhah on the Lulav since they are not hayavot (obligated) in these Missvot.
Additionally, women do not answer 'Amen' to anyone making the Berakhah of 'LeShev beSukkah' since this would be a hefsek (barrier) between the Berakhah on the wine in Kiddush and then she won't be able to drink from the Kiddush wine.
- It is a MISSVAH to be happy on Sukkot and to celebrate with new clothing, nice jewelry, and good food and wine.
- It is also a Missvah to feed the poor for Sukkot.

The following is adapted from Aish.com by Rabbi Joel Padowitz:
The Zohar explains that the Sukkah generates such an intense concentration of spiritual energy, that the divine presence actually manifests itself there in a similar way to Gan Eden. During Sukkot the souls of the seven great leaders of Israel – Avraham Avinu, Yiss'hak Avinu, Yaakov Avinu , Moshe Rabbenu, Aharon HaKohen , Yosef HaSadik, David HaMelekh – actually leave Gan Eden to partake in the divine light of the earthly Sukkot (Zohar - Emor 103a).
Each day of Sukkot, all seven souls are present, but each takes his turn to lead the other six. Collectively these transcendent guests are known as Ushpizin, the Aramaic word meaning "guests." To welcome these illustrious souls, many have the custom to recite a lengthy mystical invitation upon entering the Sukkah for the first time. Additionally, many invite the Ushpizin each time they partake of a meal in the Sukkah. Some Sephardic Jews even have the custom of setting aside an ornately-decorated chair covered with fine cloth and holy books.
  Avraham Avinu represents love and kindness (Hesed)
  Yiss'hak Avinu represents restraint and personal strength (Gevurah)
  Yaakov Avinu represents beauty and truth (Tiferet)
  Moshe Rabbenu represents eternality and dominance through Torah (Nessah)
  Aharon HaKohen represents empathy and receptivity to divine splendor (Hod)
  Yosef HaSadik represents holiness and the spiritual foundation (Yesod)
  David HaMelekh represents the establishment of the kingdom of Heaven on Earth (Malkhut)

18 Tishrei 5774
Today is the fourth day of SUKKOT! Remember to say Ya'aleh VeYavo!
Hallel is also recited today, but women do not make a Berakhah on it (in both the beginning and the end) J
**Today is the Hiloula of Rabbi Nahman miBreslev, daven in his zekhout!**
By Rav Moshe Shamah, the Sephardic Institute
The intermediate days of Pesah and Sukkot, referred to as Hol HaMoed, although not to the degree of Yom Tov, are days of sanctity and happiness and are to be honored and observed accordingly. Holiday prayers are recited and a number of holiday halakhot apply. Families should get together, parents should take children on outings and students should visit their rabbis. The grand concepts fostered by Pesah and Sukkot, the deliverance and providence of the Al-mighty, are to be more deeply implanted in the people by their living a full week with the special symbolism and procedures of these holidays.

19 Tishrei 5774
Today is the fifth day of SUKKOT! Remember to say Ya'aleh VeYavo!
Hallel is also recited today, but women do not make a Berakhah on it (in both the beginning and the end) J
Parashat VeZot HaBerakhah- Ivdu Et HaShem beSimhah!

5. And Moshe, the servant of HaShem, died there, in the land of Moab, by the mouth of HaShem.
ה. וַיָּמָת שָׁם מֹשֶׁה עֶבֶד יְהֹוָה בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב עַל פִּי ה':

Over Sukkot, I couldn't help but to keep humming (okay, singing out loud—like, real loud) the song to 'Ivdu et HaShem beSimhah'—Serve HaShem in Happiness. Of course the emphasis of this pasouk is placed on the word 'HAPPINESS' by most people, even me, but I want to focus a little on the word 'Ivdu'—'Serve'.
                At the end of his life, HaKadosh Barukh Hu refers to Moshe Rabbenu as an 'Eved HaShem' the 'Servant of HaShem'. In the pasouk that informs us of Moshe Rabbenu's passing, this is the way HaShem wants him to be seen and remembered as—a servant of HaKadosh Barukh Hu. What does this mean? Out of all things,  a servant? Not a trustee? A confidant? Rav Elchanan Wasserman brings a Rada''k that explains that just as a servant is there to always fulfill his mater's every wish, this is how Moshe Rabbenu served HaShem—HaShem's will was Moshe Rabbenu's will, there were no questions. Moshe served HaShem with his entire self—his heart, Neshamah, body, abilities and volition. It wasn't that Moshe Rabbenu was doing his own thing, and on top of that also served HaShem completely. He was completely for HaShem, there was nothing else that was of his interest.
                The Ramba''m says that each and every one of us can be just like Moshe Rabbenu. WHAT? Are you serious? Yes I am. Maybe we cannot reach the spiritual heights that he did, but Rav Wasserman explains that we can dedicate our entire selves to HaKadosh Barukh Hu just like Moshe Rabbenu did. Moshe Rabbenu gave his entire being to HaShem Yitbarakh and look where he it got him. Rav Wasserman is here to tell us that we are capable of devoting ourselves on this level as well.
                Sukkot is one of the hagim that we are able to serve HaKadosh Barukh Hu with our entire selves—in more than just one way. Rebbetsin Kohan taught me that there are two Missvot where we are able to perform with our entire bodies. One is the Missvah of Mikveh, where we immerse our entire selves in natural water. The other one is the Missvah of Sukkah, where we enter the Sukkah with our entire bodies and live there for seven days. In this way, the Sukkah is akin to the purifying effects of the Mikveh. There is also another way of serving the Ribono Shel Olam with our entire selves on Sukkot, and that is with the Lulav and Etrog. Huh? But don't we just shake it with our hands for like two seconds and that's it?
Let's learn what the Lulav and Etrog are all about. We learn that each of theArbaah Minim, the Four Species represent our main parts of the body. The Etrog represents our heart, the Lulav represents our spine, the Hadas represents our eyes and the Aravot represent our mouth. These are the main faculties by which we serve HaKadosh Barukh Hu. When we shake the Lulav and Etrong were saying, HaShem, here is all of me. Here are all my limbs. I am dedicating them to You. I am all Yours.
Sukkot is a time of year that is the most and least materialistic at the same time. While we basically live in a hut for a week, we are given a Missvah to eat the best meats and wine, to wear new clothing and don fine jewelry. This makes sense though. We are supposed to take these material things and elevate them. We must use them only to serve HaShem completely, not for our own personal benefit. This is how HaShem wants us to serve Him. The last letter of the Torah, in Parashat VeZot HaBerakhah, is Lamed. The first letter of the Torah HaKedoshah, in Parashat Bereshit, is Bet. This spells Lev; heart. We can learn the Torah back and forth, but the connecting factor, the thing that keeps it going, the thing that creates the link in the cycle is none other than our 'Lev', our heart. This is what matter most to HaShem. So now, we aren't only serving HaShem, we're serving Him with our entire heart--beSimhah, with Happiness. This takes us back to our original pasouk, 'Ivdu et HaShem beSimhah!'

To me, Zot HaBerkhah—This is the Berakhah.

Be'Ezrat HaShem, May we all be zokhim to become servants of HaShem in the true sense of the word. May we devote ourselves whole heartedly to HaShem, our Creator and serve Him not only completely, but with immense joy and happiness as well. This Sukkot may we elevate ourselves and all our belongings to serve only HaShem. This upcoming Simhat Torah may we dance our hearts out with the Torah HaKedoshah, overjoyed that we have such a treasure. May we reach levels as high as Moshe Rabbenu and may we spend all our days in true Avodat HaShem! In this zekhout may we merit the ultimate Avodah—that of the Beit HaMikdash—BE'KAROV, AMEN!

Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh and a most marvelous Hag!

Information and inspiration by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

20 Tishrei 5774
Today is the SIXTH DAY OF SUKKOT and BH tonight and tomorrow is HOSHANA RABBAH!
Remember to say Ya'aleh VeYavo!
Hallel is also recited today, but women do not make a Berakhah on it (in both the beginning and the end) J
The seventh day of Sukkot is called Hoshana Rabbah, and is considered the final day of the divine "judgment" in which the fate of the new year is determined. It is the day when the verdict that was issued on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is finalized. Men stay up all night to learn and daven (women can too, however they are not obligated to stay up--reciting sefer Tehillim is recommended if they do wish to stay up, especially because the Ushpiz/'guest' of this night is David HaMelekh who composed Sefer Tehillim). BH this is the final chance to daven, give Sedakah and due adequate Teshuvah before our fate is sealed for the year. May HaKadosh Barukh Hu accept our Teshuvah and Tefillah and hear our pleas, answering them leTovah uleBerakhah! Tizku leShanim Rabot Ne'imot veTovot! Hag Sukkot Sameah!!

Shavua Tov Umevorakh!

21 Tishrei 5774
Today is HOSHANA RABBAH! Last chance for Teshuvah!
Remember to say Ya'aleh VeYavo and Hallel (without a Berakhah in beginning/end)! :)

Shemini Asseret/Simhat Torah 5774
In New York:
Hadlakat Nerot Tonight 6:28pm
Tomorrow Night AFTER 7:25pm
Shabbat Kodesh 6:25pm
Mossai Shabbat Kodesh 7:23pmRabbenu Tam 7:54pm
BH the next two days are the hagim of She-mini Asseret and Simhat Torah. These are separate hagim from Sukkot. Here is a general idea of what will be happening over the next two days. And PS, in the siddur, we now say 'BeYom Shemini Hag HaAsseret HaZeh' now instead of 'BeYom Hag HaSukkot HaZeh'. Tizku leMissvot Rabot! Moadim leSimhah!!

22 Tishrei Shemini Asseret
We begin reciting Mashiv HaRuah uMorid HaGeshem (acknowledging that the time for rain in Eress Yisrael has arrived) in the Amidah of MUSAF of Shemini Asseret. If one mistakenly recited Morid HaTal he does not repeat the Amidah, as dew is appropriate all year long. We do not begin Barekh Alenu in the Amidah (that includes the ten tal umatar request for rain) until December 4th or 5th.

23 Tishrei Simhat Torah
On this day we conclude the annual reading of the Torah and begin reading it anew. We rejoice and celebrate by dancing with the Torah. It is appropriate to then rededicate ourselves to increasing our study of the Torah this time around.

Although we received the Torah HaKedoshah by Shavuot, we celebrate the joy of having the Torah now all the way after Sukkot. This is like the story of the king who had a daughter of marriageable age and wanted to find her a suitor. The king told all his people that he is willing to marry off his daughter to whom he sees fit as long as this gentleman does not see his daughter until after they are married. This was to see how committed he truly is. Meanwhile, everyone thought there must be something wrong with his daughter and he is trying to hide it. Yet there was one committed young man that understood that if she is the daughter of the king-if the king is this wonderful- then his daughter must be as well. So he approaches the king and asks for his daughter's hand in marriage, even though he still didn't know what he was getting himself into. Their wedding day came and went, and of course it was filled with immense joy. Yet this young man still didn't know the true beauty of his beloved wife. Each day, as he got to know her better and appreciate her more, he fell more and more in love with her. She was more than he could ever ask for or dream of.

On Shavuot, we accepted the Torah with immense joy, however we didn't know exactly what we were getting ourselves into. Each and every day more that we spent with the Torah HaKedoshah, we appreciate its beauty more and see that it surpasses our expectations by far. This is why we celebrate on Simhat Torah. We have completed the Torah cycle, and can say that we are more familiar with its beauty now. We celebrate from pure love and joy that we have such a treasure. BH this Simhat Torah dance your heart out knowing that we have been given a beauty that exceeds all expectations, a beauty that we will continue to fall more and more in love with as we become more acquainted with it!
Hag Sameah veMoadim leSimhah!!

26 Tishrei 5774
**BH we officially say 'Mashiv HaRuah uMorid HaGeshem' in the Amidah instead of 'Morid HaTal'. We will be saying this until Pesah time, when BH we will then be switching back to 'Morid HaTal'
If one mistakenly recited Morid HaTal he does not repeat the Amidah, as dew is appropriate all year long. We do not begin Barekh Alenu in the Amidah (that includes the Ten Tal uMatar request for rain) until December 4th or 5th.

28 Tishrei 5774
Remember to make the switch to Mashiv HaRuah uMorid HaGeshem

Please daven for the immediate and lasting Refouah Shelemah of our Gadol HaDor, HaRav Haiim Ovadia ben Gorjiah. BH may all of Kelal Yisrael have Besorot Tovot to hear!

HUGE MISSVAH OPPORTUNITY!!! Isabel Neman is collecting money for a bride and groom for their wedding!! They really need help!! Please feel free to donate as much or as little as you want!! Every penny counts and with every penny donated all your Teffilot should be answered!! If interested please call Isabel at 5164728508 or email: isabelneman@yahoo.com. Tizku leMissvot Rabbot!

29 Tishrei 5774
Remember to make the switch to Mashiv HaRuah uMorid HaGeshem
Parashat Noah- Noah, the DeLEGate for Kindness
 Please learn the following, and daven, for the immediate and lasting Refouah Shelemah for our Gadol HaDor, Hakham Haiim Ovadia ben Gorjiyah. BH may Kelal Yisrael have Besorot Tovot!
This week we commemorated Shimon HaSadik's Hiloula/Yahrzeit. Who is Shimon HaSadik you ask? He is the one who said 'The world is stands on three things: On Torah, on  Avodah ( 'Service' which refers to Tefillah), and on Gemilout Hasadim (Acts of Kindness)' (Mishnah in Pirkei Avot 1:2 ). Rabbeinu Yona explains that 'the world stands' on these three things means that these three virtues are the purpose of creation; creation happened in order to bring these things into being.

Haza''l teach us that Noah and his sons did not sleep for all twelve months since they always had to be up to feed the animals. Noah and his sons worked tremendously hard in order to ensure the comfort and survival of these animals Rashi brings forth a Midrash on Parashat Noah that Noah was once late to feed a lion so the lion bit him in the leg. WHAT? But look how hard Noah was working! How come HaKadosh Barukh Hu planned it this way that the world had to be destroyed through a flood and Noah would have to work so hard to build a Tevah (Ark) and gather all these animals and take care of them? We see in Parashat Bereshit that HaShem created the world just by willing it to happen this way, why didn't He destroy the world using the same method? Do you know how much work Noah had to do in order to complete what HaShem required of him?? What was the point of making Noah work this hard and what does it mean that a lion bit him in the leg because he was fed late?

Let's find out.

The Midrush teaches us that up until the time that the Torah HaKedoshah was given, there was no 'Torah' required of us that Shimon HaSadik refers to. Likewise, before the Mishkan was built, we had no Avodah, Service, that we were required to do. The only thing that we were required to do was the third leg of Gemilout Hasadim, Acts of Kindess, that the world relies on. Until the Torah was given and the Mishkan was built, the world solely depended on Gemilout Hasadim. Rashi brings the Gemara in Sanhedrin that tells us, although the generation of the Maboul, flood, was guilty of many sins, the Maboul was brought only on the account of the 'hamas' that was in the world, because of the corruption, theft and cheating  (the opposite extreme of Gemilout Hasadim) that went on between people. Since they did not hold up the only pillar that the world relied on, there was no purpose for the existence of such people. This is why the Ribono Shel Olam decided to completely erase these people. This is why He sent the Maboul.

Noah and his family were the only ones that did enough kindness in the world and so HaShem did not want to get rid of them. They were therefore given the enormous task of restoring this kindness, this Gemilout Hasadim, in the world. This is why HaShem did not simply destroy the world as easy as He had created it—there was a rectification to be done. This is why Noah had to work so hard.

Okay but poor Noah, couldn't he at least keep his leg?

We just learned that the world stands on three legs. During Noah's time, the world stood on one leg-- that of Gemilout Hasadim. When Noah was late to feeding the lion, he was weakening the hold on the world's sole leg. When Noah weakened this leg, HaShem weakened Noah's leg. This was a reminder to him to do his task right, to strengthen the leg that the world stands on.

Noah had to go to great lengths to ensure that the kindness in this world was rebalanced. Given the magnitude of his task, feeding the lion late was an infraction of his job. This shows us how important Gemilout Hasadim, acting kind and sensitive to others is. Noah was chosen to perpetuate kindness in the world but we have to take over after him in fulfilling this mission. In reestablishing kindness in the world we cannot afford to slack off or be late, we cannot afford to create faults. Often times we tell ourselves, I am as kind as can be! I give Sedakah each morning, I open up my pockets anytime a person asks! Who can be kinder than me? or I am definitely doing my part with Hesed! Anytime I am asked I do exactly what others request of me, I make sure to do it just right! But even with all of this, our Sedakah and Hesed may not count has veShalom if we don't do it with kindness, with a smile.  When we are asked to do a Missvah, do we groan and moan and make faces that we have to do it? When a person asks for Sedakah do we just throw it in their direction and walk by? It is not enough just to do Hesed, but we must do it beSimhah! The person on the receiving end needs the warmth and kindness of another individual more than the actual accomplishment of what they are requesting of us. Even if we do not have enough time to offer to wash the dishes or if we do not have change in our pocket that day, we could still offer a smile and kind words, and this is more Hesed than anyone could ever ask for. Sometimes the smile and warmth is worth far more than the time or money we give others.
Haza''l tells us that every time we do a Missvah, we create a Malakh, an angel. What many of us don't know is that how we do the Missvah determines what kind of Malakh we create. If we do the Missvah or Hesed in a complete fashion—beSimhah Rabbah, without complaining or doing it halfheartedly—we create a complete Malakh that is Shalem If however, we do a Missvah not the most fitting way, it is true that we create a Malakh, but that Malakh will come out crippled, and who wants a crippled and deformed Malakh to escort and protect them? Not me.

The point is clear. Torah and Avodah are tremendously important, but without Gemilout Hasadim, the world cannot hold itself up. Just like a chair needs a minimum of three legs to stand up, the world needs three legs as well. Be'Ezrat HaShem, let's make sure that when we do our Torah and Avodah, that we can incorporate Hesed in there as well. Let all of our actions be in kindness, and in this zekhout, may we do the Tikkun for Noah's generation and rectify the amount of Hesed that must be brought to our special world. The quicker we are able to do this, the faster we will bring Mashiah Sidkenu BiMeherah BeYamenu, Amen!

BH the next time we have an opportunity for Torah and Avodah, let's make sure that we do it with warmth and kindness, with a GIANT smile and with diginity. Whether it is davening, respecting parents and elders, learning, giving Sedakah or anything else in Avodat HaShem, let us do it beMiddat haHesed!


Based on a Devar Torah from Geshmak Torah at www.gtorah.com