Friday, April 23, 2010

New Discussion Group

I started a new google group for discussions.
Is there a topic you would like to discuss and debate related to chassidus?
* Group name: Torah & Chassidus Discussion
* Group home page:
* Group email address
Discuss topics in Torah & Chassidus, such as what was the derech of the Baal Shem Tov?
How can we experience that in our daily lives?
Which chassidus speaks to you?
Share ideas, discuss and debate, hear from fellow chassidim round the world.
Join us!
Anybody can view group content
Only members can view group members list
People can request an invitation to join
Only managers can create and edit pages
Only managers can upload files
Only members can post
All messages are held for moderation
Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Chassidic Classics in the English Language
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
VoIP: 516-320-6022
eFax: 1-832-213-3135
join the mailing list to keep updated about new projects here:
Noam Elimelech, Kedushas Levi, Pirkei Avos more!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

In the merit of Levi Yitzchak ben Sarah Sasha of Berditchev

There is a well known segula practiced by many that when in an es tzara - a time of danger, distress or simply when confronted by obstacles and challenges that they invoke the merit of the advocate extraordinaire of the Jewish people, the defender of Klal Yisroel: Levi Yitzchak Ben Sarah Sasha of Berdichev in whose merit we ask Hashem to help us and saves us!
There are many somber Holocaust tales I have heard from Rabbonim how relatives ran screaming to the G-d of Levi Yitzchak Ben Sarah Sasha of Berdichev to save them as bullets whizzed by their heads and they were miraculously spared!
Then there are more comical tales of being stopped by cops murmuring to the G-d of Levi Yitzchak Ben Sarah Sasha of Berdichev to save them from a ticket, when the officer comes back and says "I have to leave I just an emergency call!" and releases them with no ticket!
Here are two personal stories:
This one is my own true personal story from two years ago:
I had made a big mistake that morning by deciding to take my own car. I used to own a used car. In past tense because after such a lemon drained my wallet I don't own a car anymore!
Anyway it was 21 Adar the Yorzeit of the holy author of the Noam Elimelech, Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk and I was going to Lizhensk for the event! My sponsor had kindly paid for my ticket so that I could serve as a shliach and daven on their behalf and on behalf of the many others who had sent me their names and petitions as kvitelach. I was packed and ready to go. My flight was at 8am and I left prompt and early at 5am. The trip to the airport near Tel Aviv should take about an hour. I had my passport ready and I jumped in the car. About 15 minutes into the drive is when it happened.
I happened to glance at my dashboard and I noticed that the needle on the thermometer was slowly rising to the boiling point! Panic set in as I pulled over to the side, opened the hood and the steaming cap of the water tank and added two bottles of water! I drove to the nearest gas station being unable to stay there at the side of the rode on the shoulder of the highway.
By this time my flight was just an hour and a half away. The gas station attendant saw me showering down my engine and filling the tank. It was bubbling and boiling hot. "Where are you headed?" He asked me, "The airport," I told him nervously, "my flight leaves in an hour and a half!" "Don't worry," he says, "let it cool off for 15 minutes and then you will make it to the airport its not far." True it was about 20 minutes away and what did I know about cars? If he said I would make it I believed him.
Fifteen minutes later I was on my way down Highway 1 to Ben Gurion Int'l airport. And after passing two exits I saw the sign, "Airport" yes I thought! I looked down at the dashboard and then it happened the needle began to rise, ever so slowly. No! I thought, no, no, no! This can't be happening! The flights are all charter flights to Lizensk! The ticket was paid for by someone else for me! And how was I going to make it!?
I began to call out "In the merit of Levi Yitzchak Ben Sara Sasha of Berdichev!" again and again, Hashem please help me make this flight! Please! P-L-E-A-S-E!
Then it happened. The car stalled and shut down and I forced it onto the shoulder. I was devastated.How could this happen? How would I get to Lizensk, how would I pay for this cancelled ticket?! What happened to the segulah!?
I called the towing company, we will be there between 1 and 3 hours. "But I have a flight to catch!" Sorry was the response. I decided to forget about the car, I called them explained that the keys were under the mat on the driver's side (the car didn't start and it wasn't going anywhere anyway!) and I got out of the car.
Now its 7am and my flight is in 1 hour. And I am stranded in early morning traffic on Highway 1 in the direction of Ben Gurion airport! I decided to try and hitch a ride (thinking who in their right mind is going to stop for me on the highway?!)
Literally 2-3 minutes after I began to try and hitch a ride a taxi stopped. "I need to get to the airport," I said in surprise. "Sure hop in," was his response. I threw in my luggage and sat down in shock. Then I noticed that he had another frum yid as his passenger. "I saw you stuck here in the road so I asked my driver to stop for you," he explained. "I am on my way to the Int'l departures terminal for my flight to London," he added.
And that's how Hashem saved me, I arrived just in time to make my flight and I made it to Lizensk. When I got home the car had been towed safely home (I later sold that hunk of junk and got ride of it). Hashem had orchestrated the ride I needed to make my flight and take me straight to the airport and straight to the terminal I was leaving from! In the merit of Levi Yitzchak Ben Sarah Sasha of Berditchev!"
My friend just told me an amazing hashgacha pratis story that happened to him this past Friday erev Shabbos:
He had just landed in Ben Gurion Int'l Airport in Israel from his flight. It was late 3pm in the afternoon on Friday Erev Shabbos and there had been a one hour delay.
Now my friend happens to be a Chabad Chassid and he was bringing in meat with a Chabad Shechita hechsher (which he says he cannot get the same quality meat here with the Chabad schita) and spirits (mashke for you heimishers) for some lechaims at upcoming farbrengens.
Now customs is notorious for stopping suspicious looking people and profiling anyone they think might be carrying stuff.
He travels often and usually makes it through with no problem.
However this time he had a part for his car, a catalytic converter! in a large oversized duffle!
The airport was basically deserted it being an erev Shabbos, only his flight was there. What were the chances he would be able to just zoom by the officials?
As he stood waiting at the conveyor belt wondering and imagining scenarios of how and what he would say to the customs officials he kept saying the segula over and over to himself "In the zechus of Levi Yitzchak ben Sarah Sasha!" again and again. The first bag with meat and mashke arrived and was fine. He placed it on his cart. Then the second bag arrived and joined the first one. He was waiting for the duffle with the converter and after a few minutes a loud buzzer sounded. Five minutes passed, ten minutes. . .nothing was moving. . .
In ripples the word went out to the waiting crowd, "the conveyor belt had broken down and no luggage was coming through!"
He ran to the help desk and explained to the nice ELAL official that being Shomer Shabbos he simply could not wait for his bag. "No problem!, off course we understand," she replied, "we will deliver it and bring your bag to you on Motzaei Shabbat!" she took his papers stamped them and handed them to the official in charge of the customs to wave him through quickly since he was in a hurry."
And that's how he got through the meches, with no problem at all! When I asked him for permission to tell the story he responded that the story gets better:
EL AL brought me the huge duffle bag after shabbos, with a seal from Meches and a note advising me that they confiscated the car part that looks lile a huge exhaust pipe.
I spent all day sunday (over 7 hrs) going from office to office in 3 buildings around the airport. It was a total waste of time. Every red tape was in full force. I kept thinking, there must be a reason for this. I must be here for a reason. Durring my detention awaiting paper pushers who do very little but stamp papers take multiple lunch breaks, I met 2 young tel avivians in their tank tops and shorts.
We shared our frustration. I thought that maybe meeting them was the reason for this waste of a day. At the same time I was worried that meches could have created all sorts of reasons to prevent me from getting the car part. I just kept calm and started to hum the bal shem tovs niggun while thinking of my trip to the ukraine for chai elul where we stopped by Bardichev to daven by his kever.
Suddenly I am told the part is ready for pick up from the wareshouse, no charge, no tax, no penalty. I drove to the warehouse just before they closed and waiting in the room was the 2 tel avivians.
I said to myself if only I had a pair of tefillin. I look out the door and notice a chabadnik with his tefillin case open looking for a customer. I grabbed him and dragged him into the warehouse where the 2 put on tefillin with kavono and pride. I realized that hashem needed me to chase the part all over the world to end up in meches so these guys could do the mitzvah. !
btw Dedications are still available on the new MeOros Kedushas Levi - illuminating insights of Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev "Defender of Klal Yisroel" on the Torah. 
Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Chassidic Classics in the English Language
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
VoIP: 516-320-6022
eFax: 1-832-213-3135
join the mailing list to keep updated about new projects here:
Noam Elimelech, Kedushas Levi, Pirkei Avos more!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dedications Available in a new editions of Noam Elimelech in Hebrew

I am pleased to announce that I am working to produce a new Hebrew Edition of the original complete Sefer Noam Elimelech.
This edition will include original Hebrew stories and will make a wonderful gift for Bar Mitzvas and other occasions.
Dedications are available at $500 for a full page and $180 for half a page.
To Dedicate an entire run (Cover and Title Page for 1,000 copies) $3,000
This holy sefer is well known as a wonderful segulah for many things

It is known that the Rebbe Reb Elimelech said before his passing:

"Whoever studies my sefer (the Noam Elimelech) will merit Parnassah and sustenance, and whoever studies it on Shabbos will merit the extra Neshama Yeseirah as well as the higher levels of Chaya-Yechida Yeseirah on Shabbos!"

Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Chassidic Classics in the English Language
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
VoIP: 516-320-6022
eFax: 1-832-213-3135
join the mailing list to keep updated about new projects here:
Noam Elimelech, Kedushas Levi, Pirkei Avos more!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Making Schlisshel Vhallah Segula for Parnassah

Tefillh we say: attached also

Guest Posting By A Talmid - Shlissel Challah

There is a minhag to bake shlissel challah (shlissel means key in Yiddish)
for the Shabbos after Pesach. Shlisel challos are best known as a segula for
parnasa, though there are other reasons for it, as we will soon see. Some
bake the challah with an actual key inside, some make the challah in the
shape of a key and some put sesame seeds on top in the form of a key. There
are those who make the challah flat to look like matzos. We will discuss
this later on. The Ohev Yisroel says about shlisel challah that "the
minhagim of our fathers are most definitely Torah". There are many reasons
given for this minhag of baking shlissel challah; we will go through some of
them. (Some of the items written below can also be found in Taamei Minhagim,
Nitei Gavriel, Sefer Hatoda'a and Minhag Yisroel Torah)

First of all, the second mishna in Rosh Hashanah says on Pesach we are
judged on the grains, parnasa. Rabbeinu Nissim asks if we are judged on Rosh
Hashana then how are we judged on Pesach? He answers that on Pesach it is
determined how much grain there will be in the coming year for the world,
but on Rosh Hashana it is decided how much of that grain each individual
receives. The Meiri, however, says that on Rosh Hashana it is decided if one
will live or die, suffer or not and other such things, but on Pesach is when
we are judged on the grains. Based on this there are customs in Sephardic
communities to do things Motzei Pesach as a sign that we want Hashem to give
us livelihood. In Aram Soba (Syria) and Turkey they put wheat kernels in all
four corners of the house on Motzei Pesach as a sign of prosperity for the
coming year. (Moed L'kol Chai -R' Chaim Palagi, Beis Habichira). From a
mishna we already see that there is a connection between Pesach and parnasa.

Reasons for Shlissel Challa

1).In Shir Hashirim (which we read on Pesach) it says פִּתְחִי-לִי אֲחֹתִי
רַעְיָתִי - "Open for Me, My sister, My beloved". Chazal say that Hashem
asks us to open up for Him a small whole like the tip of a needle and He
will open up a huge hole for us. Also, Klal Yisroel is called a bride and
they are called the bechina (aspect) of bread. During Pesach all the upper
gates and minds are open and after Pesach they close and we need to open
them. Therefore, we put a key in the challah after Pesach to hint at us
opening a small "hole", through the mitzvah of Shabbos (and, if I might add,
the mitzvah of challah) and now Hashem should open up all His good from his
storehouses and the heavens like He gave the mon to our fathers in the month
of Iyar, and this Shabbos we bless the month of Iyar.

2) After Pesach is when the mon stopped falling and we brought the Omer.
From then on we needed to eat from the produce of the ground; we needed
parnasa, since untill now we had the mon. It is known that everything has a
gate. Therefore just as we daven to Hashem to open up the gates of parnasa
we have a minhag to put the form of a key on the challos to allude that
Hashem should open up the gates of parnasa for us.

3) During sefira we count 49 days till Shavuos, the 50th day, which is the
shaarei bina. We go from gate to gate, and each gate has a key. That is why
we make an image of a key on the challah.

4) It says in Shir Hashirim 1:11 תּוֹרֵי זָהָב נַעֲשֶׂה לָּךְ עִם נְקֻדּוֹת
הַכָּסֶף - "We will make for you circlets of gold with spots of silver." By
the Mishkan it says זהב וכסף ונחשת, putting zahav (gold) before kesef
(silver). In Bereishis, by the creation of the world, the first day it says
Yehi ohr which is chesed (which is represented by silver) and the second day
represents gevurah, which in turn represents gold. The reason is that by the
creation of the world it was pure chesed, as it says "the world was built on
chesed" (Tehilim 89,3), therefore chesed, which is representative of kesef,
precedes gevurah, which is representative of zahav. By the Mishkan, however,
Hashem had to, so-to-speak, contract (tzimtzum) the Shechina (Divine
Presence) to dwell in it, and tzimtzum is from the aspect of gevurah,
therefore zahav precedes kesef by the Mishkan. However, the zahav written
there has the nekudah (vowel sound) of a פַתַּח (it has a patach instead of
the usual kometz), it says זְהַב הַתְּנוּפָה (Shemos 38,24), and that is the
nekuda of chesed –the nekuda of chochma. And פתח (the vowel) also means
opening like פתח ושער- from there comes all the kindness. Putting it all
together, this that we say in Shir Hashirim תּוֹרֵי זָהָב נַעֲשֶׂה לָּךְ עִם
נְקֻדּוֹת הַכָּסֶף means the Mishkan was made with zahav, the aspect of
tzimtzum, but with the nekuda of kesef, meaning the (word "zahav", instead
of having the usual vowel, kometz, is written with the) nekuda of patach,
which is chesed. And the Shabbos after Pesach is always in the second week
of sefira which is gevurah, the aspect of zahav, except that it is menukad
with kesef, nekudas patach. Through this we say that we will open up all the
gates of blessing and since every gate has a מפתח (key) we make the image of
a key on the challah.

5) The previous four reasons are all brought by the Ohev Yisroel in Shabbos
Acher Pesach and Likutim Parshas Shmini. There is a fifth reason brought by
the Ohev Yisroel, also based on the posuk תּוֹרֵי זָהָב נַעֲשֶׂה לָּךְ עִם
נְקֻדּוֹת הַכָּסֶף, connecting the written and oral Torah to challah. (See
Ohev Yisroel, Shabbos Acher Pesach)

6) The matza we ate on Pesach is supposed to instill in us Yiras Hashem. And
Yirah is compared to a key as we see from the following Gemara in Mesechta
Shabbos 31a-b: "Rabbah bar Rav Huna said: Any person that has Torah but
doesn't have Yiras Shomayim is comparable to a treasurer who has the keys to
the inner parts (of the treasure house) but the keys to the outer area was
not handed to him. How can he get to the inner parts (if he can't first get
into the outer parts)?" Therefore we put a key in the challah the Shabbos
after Pesach to show we want the Yirah obtained from the matzos to stay with
us, because if one has Yirah then the Torah will stay attached to him.
(Yismach Yisroel)

7) The Rambam lists out at the beginning of Hilchos Chometz U'Matza that
there are 8 mitzvos (3 positive & 5 negative) involved there. The key we put
in the challah alludes to this Rambam: the letters of מפתח (key) spell פ״ת
ח׳ מ׳צות. (פ״ת is bread, representing the "chometz" and מ׳ is for matza-
these allude to Hilchos Chometz U'Matza, and theח׳ is the 8 mitzvos
involved) (Tzvi LaTzadik)

8) The Shabbos after Pesach we make challos that look like matzos, as an
allusion to the matzos that were eaten on Pesach Sheini. And we put a key in
it to allude to the "gates" being open untill Pesach Sheini. (Imrei Pinchos)

9) The minhag is to put keys in the challah and make them in the form of
matzos. The reason is that in these seven weeks of sefira we are supposed to
work on our Avodas Hashem until we reach the the level of the first night of
Pesach. The way to do this is to put the "left into the right", meaning mix
the trait of ahava (right side) with yirah (left side). In this second week
of sefira we have these two traits in our hands, since the first week of
sefira is chesed- ahava, and the second week is gevura - yirah. That is why
we make the challah look like matza. Matza is representative of the yetzer
tov, the right, and chometz is representative of the yetzer horah, the left.
Now, we have challos which are true chometz, in the form of matza; "the left
is in the right", chometz in matza. (Shearis L'Pinchos)

10) There are many reasons given for the shlissel challah, and I say that
the shlisel challos are the keys to parnasa. (Segulas HaBeShT V'Talmidov
quoting Nachlas Yaakov)

Different ways of making Shlissel Challah

As mentioned above (reasons 8 and 9) there are those that make the challah
round and flattish for this Shabbos, in the image of matza.

Some make the challah in the shape of a key.

Some attach a piece of dough in the shape of a key. Breslov Customs for
Pesach (page 57) says this is the minhag of the family of Reb Elazar Kenig
shlita and of Manistritch.

Sefer Hatoda'ah mentions making the image of a key with sesame seeds on top
of the challah. These first three customs can, perhaps, be seen from the
wording of the Ohev Yisroel in one place where he says we put the image of a
key on the challah.

Some place an actual key in the challah. Perhaps this is done because of the
wording in many places of indenting the challah with a key.

Either way it is done the key or image of the key is usually on top. An
interesting observation about this. The Gemara quoted by the Yismach Yisroel
(reason 6), about the key, is at the top of daf 31b. At the bottom of the
daf is the mishna mentioning the women's mitzvah of challah. Here to the key
is on top and the challah on the bottom.


The Gemara in Taanis says there are three keys that Hashem controls
directly, without the assistance of Malachim. They are rain, which the
Gemara explains is parnasa, childbirth (or conception) and techias hameisim.
If I may humbly add, when we are making the challah to have in mind the
parnasa of others also, and also those who don't have children and most
importantly daven for techias hamaeisim.

Either way one performs this minhag they are all correct and all have holy
sources. When I started writing this I did not realize how much information
there was on this minhag which is done only once a year. I learnt a valuable
lesson. Every minhag and of course every mitzvah has many holy reasons
behind it and it's not done just because someone decided this is a nice
thing to do, as some say. The more I looked into shlissel challah the more I
found in seforim written by Rabbonim who were geonim in every part of Torah,
nistar and nigleh, and tzadikim in every aspect, between "man and God" and
"between man and man". They were able to understand reasons for every little
action we do as a way of serving Hashem. May we all be blessed with parnasa
berevach together with all of Klal Yisroel.

A Talmid's blog Zchus Avos Yogen Aleinu can be seen here.

Note: See here for instructions on how to fulfill the mitzvah of separating
challah - the most important part of baking challah. (There are also recipes
for those that need). It is said in the name of Reb Dovid of Tolna that one
should make sure the dough separated as challah is burnt completely until no
part of it is edible. In addition to being the ideal way to burn the
challah, he says that if a davar tamei eats the unburnt challah it can cause
ones children to go off the derech, chas v'shalom.

posted by A Simple Jew

Rabbi Tal Zwecker added

The segulah that I recieved from my Rebbe the Clevelander Rebbe Shlit"a
of Ra'anana is that on the first Shabbos after Pesach you "knead the challah
dough" with a key. In fact that is the custom recorded and found in the
sefer Ohev Yisroel of the Apta Rebbe. Our custom is to (I wash the key first
in soap and hot water) knead the challah dough and poke the key into the
dough while recting the open the shaarim prayers found in most zemiros
bentchers at the end of the zemiros for Melave Malka where we ask Hashem to
open many gates for us. Other people I have seen also bake a key shape on
the challah but I didnt recieve any such tradition.

A Talmid said...

The Ohev Yisroel says לשבת שאחר הפסח המנהג הוא מימים קדמונים לנקוב את
החלות בשבת שלאחר פסח במפתחות, ונעשה על החלה צורת מפתח
In at least 3 other places the Ohev Yisroel uses similar wording to
ונעשה על החלה צורת מפתח. This is probably where the minhag of some to bake a
key shape image on the challah comes from.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Donating Copies of Noam Elimelech

I am pleased to anounce the donation of several free copies of the English Noam Elimelech to the Retorno Rehab Center Torah Library, a Jewish rehab in the hills of Bet Shemesh that works with youth and adults from all over the world with all types of addictions.
If you know of a shul, synagogue, public library, community center, beis midrash, yeshiva or other worthy non profit organization anywhere in the world that would like a free copy of the sefer please contact me:
Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Chassidic Classics in the English Language
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
VoIP: 516-320-6022
eFax: 1-832-213-3135
join the mailing list to keep updated about new projects here:
Noam Elimelech, Kedushas Levi, Pirkei Avos more!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pita on Pesach

I once heard this story from Rav Amnon Yitzchak and the message is clear, anyone who says that by not keeping mitzvot between themselves and Hashem is still placing the entire Jewish people in danger read on, how can eating chametz on Pesach really physically endanger the entire Jewish people? Without resorting to spirituality and mystical explanations?

Read on:

Perils of Pita and Pesach


[Adapted from a recent issue of "The Jewish Leadership" Newsletter, #7025]


In the first Lebanon War in 1982, the IDF essentially forced the PLO terror organization out of Lebanon and into exile in Tunisia. The PLO was in complete disarray. One of the prisoners in the Israeli detention camp, Ansar, was a senior terrorist, admired by his henchmen. His name was Salah Taamari and he was a broken man.

In the book about Taamari, Mine Enemy, penned by Israeli journalists Amalia and Aharon Barnea, Taamari told Barnea of the transformation he underwent in Ansar. While in prison, he had completely despaired of any hope that the Palestinians would one day realize any of their territorial dreams. He was ready to renounce the struggle and was well on the way to convincing his prison-mates that they would never defeat Israel.

Then, one Passover, he witnessed a Jewish prison guard eating a pita. Taamari was shocked, and asked his jailer how he could so unashamedly eat bread on Passover.  The Jew replied: "I feel no obligation to events that occurred to my nation over 3,000 years ago. I have no connection to that."

That entire night Taamari could not sleep. He thought to himself: "A nation whose members have no connection to their past, and are capable of so openly transgressing their most important laws, has cut off all its roots to the Land."
He concluded that the Palestinians could, in fact, achieve all their goals.


From that moment, he determined "to fight for everything - not a percentage, not some crumbs that the Israelis might throw us - but for everything. Because opposing us is a nation that has no connection to its roots, which are no longer of interest to it."

Taamari goes on to relate how he shared this insight with "tens of thousands of his colleagues, and all were convinced."

Taamari did indeed influence his co-terrorists and breathed new life into the war against Israel. It is hard to exaggerate the damage done by the pita in the mouth of just one Israeli prison guard on the holiday of Passover.

Sent by of Ascent of Safed

Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Chassidic Classics in the English Language
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
VoIP: 516-320-6022
eFax: 1-832-213-3135
join the mailing list to keep updated about new projects here:
Noam Elimelech, Kedushas Levi, Pirkei Avos more!