Courtesy of today's Hakhel email:
Special Note Two: Together, we continue through the meaningful Three Week Period. We provide the following timely recommendation that is spreading through our community worldwide:
As you recite the fourteenth bracha of Shemone Esrei, Vlirushalayim Ircha three times daily, spend just an extra few seconds of time and effort to concentrate on the plain meaning of the words, and on the nachas and simcha Hashem and K'lal Yisroel would have with the rebuilding of Yerushalayim and the Bais Hamikdash.
Some Helpful Points:
You may want to highlight the bracha in some way in your siddur to remind yourself.
A tear from time to time, if possible, is also meaningful.
Try to keep a written record of the times you had kavana (maximum three times per day!)
ALL WHO MOURN OVER YERUSHALAYIM WILL BE ZOCHE TO SEE ITS FINAL CONSOLATION
Special Note Three: In the Haftarah of Teshuva, Shuva Yisroel, the Navi Hoshea teaches us that we are to do Teshuva "Ki Koshalta Ba'avonecha"--because you have stumbled in **your sins.** The Navi is careful to point out that one person's sins may be quite different from the sins of another, and that a person must personalize the process. Moreover, the Navi is enjoining us not to merely blame the world's ills upon the 'real resha'im',or even on the 'tinokos she'nishba'u' worldwide (including those who may be in so-called powerful positions in Eretz Yisroel itself and worldwide). Instead, if the Bais HaMikdash is not rebuilt, if the dreaded machalos continue to afflict the old and young, if the worldwide nuclear threat is real, if a world racing ahead technologically is being terrorized by madmen based upon so-called religious precepts, if the international economy (and individual Parnassah) are sorely hurting, then we have to look not outward, then our fingers are not to point here and there, but we are to look inward for the 'avonecha' that we should be healing our bodies and souls of. Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us in Mishlei (21:2)"Kol Derech Ish Yoshor B'Ainov-- a man views his actions as upright". The Rabbeinu Yonah explains that the Pasuk teaches that it is natural for a person to justify his Middos and his conduct. Therefore, the Pasuk cited concludes "VeSochen Libos Hashem--but Hashem resides inside his heart". The Rabbeinu Yonah explains the end of the Pasuk to mean that Hashem intervenes in our lives in order to inspire us to rectify our mistakes (translation from Artscroll Tanach). The events surrounding and, indeed, pervading us today appear to be that direct intervention-- the Sochen Libos Hashem.
In one of the shortest Pesukim in the entire Torah, we are taught in last week Parsha (Bamidbar 26:11)"Uvnei Korach lo maisu--and the sons of Korach did not die'. Chazal explain that they did Teshuva and that, accordingly, a place was designated for them at the apex of Gehinnom. There is an obvious question here --if they did Teshuva, why did they still end up in Gehinnom, albeit at a high point?! HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita answers that their Teshuva was done **after** the earth had already opened. If their Teshuva had been done literally MOMENTS earlier, they would have remained alive in this world! Indeed, at the outset of the Sefer Sha'arei Teshuva, Rabbeinu Yonah alerts his readers to the folly, naivete, and recklessness of one who delays Teshuva. It is for this reason that we wait not until Elul to remind ourselves and our readers of this life-giving need.
We each have to start somewhere. As we have mentioned in the past, HaRav Moshe Cordvero, S'tl in the classic Sefer Tomer Devorah(Chapter 4) writes that one should remind himself to do Teshuva in some way every day. If you really need a jump start, we can mention that a reader advised us (THIS IS UNCONFIRMED) that he had heard in the name of one of the Gedolei HaDor that current world conflict and turbulence is directing us to improve in the area of Ona'as Devorim ( to rectify bad relations among people). The reader added that he heard in the name of another Gadol that to improve our current plight talking in Shul must be curbed (as the Tosfos Yom Tov had commented in light of the 1648-49 Pogroms). Our note is that the common denominator between the two is improvement in the area of speech and silence--knowing what to say--and when and where to say it.
Let us take the Three Week opportunity in which we are currently enveloped to demonstrate to Hashem--and to ourselves--that we understand what we have to do, and that we are acting upon it!
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