Synopsis of Slichos and related items

The prolific R’ Reuven Brauner of Ra’anana has much good free material that he compiled and authored available for download at under eclectic compilations as you scroll down. Of present interest is the synopsis of Selichos for Elul and Tishrei.

It is certainly worth noting that Reuven has recently been unwell, (ראובן בן רצה הלוי), pronounced Ratza) and is recovering well now ברוך השם …

On a good note, he and is wife Rachel (our distant cousin) have just been blessed with twins, a grandson and granddaughter. Mazel Tov! May this portend only good things.

Update: In an interesting quirk, one of Reuven’s sons is one of our youngest son’s Rabonim in Yeshivah in Israel. It just clicked between the two of them! In our son’s previous Yeshivah, the Rosh Yeshivah was our cousin, also on my mother’s side. Such a small world.

A concise guide to the basic laws of the Korban Pesach

This is one of many works by Reuven Brauner of Ra’anana (who is married to a cousin of ours on my mother’s side)

I recommend you download it, if you have an interest. It is in English and can be downloaded here

Updated free translation of Pirkei Avos

The indefatigable Reuven Brauner has updated his Pirkei Avos translation here. I should have published this earlier, just after Pesach but … it’s never too late. More can be found on

In his words:

I am pleased to inform you of the availability of my new updated, revised version of Pirkei Avos wherein I have included the complete Hebrew text of the Perek and my translation thereof. Although the “synthesized” Perush is about the same as in the earlier version, I have now added important footnotes based on the commentary of Prof. Hanoch Albeck in his commentary on Mishna, which I found to be to succinct and enlightening, very much in step with the rest of this work.

The new Pirkei Avos is now more useful and user-friendly, and looks wonderful when printed out. If anyone wants the Word version, I will be happy to send it to you. It has a very nice page background which is aesthetically pleasing on the screen, and in print. I hope you like what I have done.

This is really right for these days between Pesach and Shavuous, too. Great to read to the kids at the Shabbos table.

Anyway, enjoy and let me know what you think of it. – and please pass this email on to your friends…………

Kol Tuv and B’hatzlocha,


New free seforim from Reuven Brauner

I am pleased to inform you that several new ETC publications are NOW available on Rabbi Tzvee Zahavy’s wonderful Torah resource site (

Newly uploaded are:

1. An updated and revised edition of 25 RULES FOR PERFORMING MITZVOHS derived from the famous Halachic compendium, the Chayei Odom. This is available at
2. A completely new translation with commentaries of SEFER MISHLEI (the Book of Proverbs). This you can find at
3. The first volume (Bereishis) of Dr. Seligmann Baer’s (author of Siddur Avodas Yisroel) famous MASORETIC TEXT OF THE TANACH. This can be accessed at The remaining books of Tanach (except for Shemos through Devorim which were never produced) will be available, too, but due to their large size we are trying to figure out if it should be made available as zip files or on Drop Box or something like that.
4. Another volume in the Hadgashas Hane’emar series, SEFER YONA Soon to be available on, please G-d, will be Sefer Esther (in time for Purim) and Sefer Ruth BTW, the entire Tanach has been formatted like this and, please G-d, will be made available in due time, as well. I think this format is an excellent study tool, particularly for young students, facilitating faster and better comprehension of the text.

Besides these items, hosts a number of other ETC monographs and works including the comprehensive Hebrew Verb Root thesaurus Shoroshim, hundreds of non-esoteric passages from the Zohar, an index to the usage of all verses and passages from Tanach in our liturgy, called Shimush Pesukim, a nice translation of Pirkei Avos with many unique and interesting lists and lots more unique, fun and educational material.

On top of all this, you have the entire two-column, easy to read and download, REFORMATTED SONCINO TALMUD – the only complete, online, English language translation of the Talmud at as well as the more traditional format of the Soncino, found scrolled-down lower on the same page. Rabbi Zahavy has made available some of his excellent works there, too, including access to an outstanding, world-class and highly-recommended philosophical exposition called Whence and Wherefore written by his late father, Rabbi Zev Zahavy, ztz”l. This book explores the most fundamental issues of the purpose and meaning of the creation, life and existence.

Sefer Shimush Tehillim

My cousin’s husband, Reuven Brauner has another worthwhile compilation published. You may download it here.

What is it? The introduction states:

Sefer Shimush Tehillim is a short and relatively little-known treatise attributed to Rav Hai Gaon (according to the Sedei Chemed) which describes the Kabbalistic uses of particular chapters and verses from the Book of Psalms for prophylactic or healing purposes. These selections are meant to be either recited alone, frequently multiple times, or in conjunction with some other action or prayer. Shimush Tehillim is mentioned in Teshuvas HaRashba (413), by the Chida, and others. This work is not to be confused with bibliomancy which is the use of Biblical verses for predicting the future.

There are numerous instances cited in the Talmud and other sources regarding the utilization of Biblical verses to ward off demons and the Evil Eye, against bad dreams, against the effects of drinking water uncovered at night, and other more serious calamities. Verses were employed to lighten the pain at childbirth, as protection against danger on a journey, fierce dogs, bleeding and wounds, and the effects of fire and fever. Verses were recited to gain favor or improve one’s memory, and so on. (See Sanhedrin 101a and Shulchon Oruch, Yoreh Deoh 179:8-10, et al.)

Yet, it must be noted, there was great opposition to use of the Torah for magical, curative purposes. The Rambam, the Tur (Yoreh Deoh 179), and the Shulchon Oruch (Yoreh Deoh 179:10) forbade such usage. The Rambam in Hilchos Avodas Cochavim 11:12 pointedly writes:

“Regarding one who incants over a wound or reads a verse from the Torah, and so one who reads verses to calm a frightened child or places a Sefer Torah or Tefilin on a child so that he will sleep – it is not bad enough that these people are numbered among the sorcerers and diviners, but they are also counted as heretics to the Torah by using words of the Torah to heal the body. The (words of the) Torah are for healing the soul only, as it is written, ‘and they shall be life for your soul’. However, it is permitted to recite verses and chapters from Tehillim for protection against troubles and harm – by merit of their recitation.”

Protection – yes, curing – no.

Since Tehillim, more than any other Sefer from Tanach, was used to defend against the effects of all types of predicaments and saving from danger, as recorded in Shimush Tehillim, I thought that it might be interesting to prepare the following table1 to illustrate which chapters it suggests be used for which ailment and condition. For the convenience of the reader, I have also added a cross-referencing index.

Nevertheless, since this monograph is meant for general educational purposes only and not practical application, and in deference to the dissenting opinions, I have only provided a selection of chapter usage from the book, and did not list the use of single verses nor what other actions are required in addition to the recitation of the chapter to affect the desired results. For such purposes, the interested reader must consult an actual edition of Shimush Tehillim and ask his rabbi as to how to employ it, if at all. All this aside, it is commendable to recite Tehillim anyway for the efficacy of it as prayer is well-known.

Finally, I made no attempt at trying to determine why each chapter has the effect claimed, as there is no indication of this in Shimush Tehillim itself.

Free english translation of the Talmud

My cousin in Ra’anana’s husband, R’ Reuven Brauner, has assiduously reformatted the original Soncino English translation of the Gemora. This is available as a free download here.

It is a wonderful resource, and you are encouraged to visit, download and make use. Easy to pop onto your iPhone, iPad (or for the cheap skates amongst you, the substandard android devices 🙂

I’m going to encourage him to send it to Roi Reshef and see if it can be integrated into Roi’s incredible free application ובלכתך בדרך.

ישר כוחיכם

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