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Parshas Netzavim-Vayeilech - Revi'i with Rashi

Moshe is farbrenging with the Yidden, on his last day in the world — Zayin Adar:

Look Yidden! You have a choice — you can choose to keep the Torah, which will bring you brachos, or you can choose to chas veshalom not keep the Torah, which will bring not good things.

Uvocharta Bachayim!” “Choose life!” Choose to follow the Torah, so you will be able to live in Eretz Yisroel and get all of Hashem’s brachos!

Moshe Rabbeinu told this to the Yidden who were about to go into Eretz Yisroel, but also to the Yidden in all future generations.

In the maamar “Vechol Bonayich” which the Frierdiker Rebbe said on the Shabbos of the aufruf before the Rebbe and Rebbetzin’s chasuna, the Frierdiker Rebbe explains these pesukim. He brings a vort from the Alter Rebbe that the words of the Torah themselves, “Uvocharta Bachayim,” will help us make the right choice! If we really want to do the right thing, connecting to the kedusha of these words of the Torah will help us choose life, and become a keili to Hashem’s brachos.

Because Parshas Netzavim and Vayeilech are together, we now continue with Parshas Vayeilech.

Moshe Rabbeinu tells the Yidden:

“Today I became 120 years old, and even though I am still healthy and strong, I am not the leader anymore — now Yehoshua is in charge. I am also not able to reveal certain ideas in Torah anymore.

“Hashem won’t let me cross the Yarden, but Hashem will go ahead of you and fight against the Goyim living there, and Yehoshua will lead you into Eretz Yisroel.”

“Hashem helped you win against Sichon and Og very easily, even though they were so strong! Hashem will do the same thing to the Goyim in Eretz Yisroel.

“Don’t be afraid! Hashem is going with You!”



97 - 103

Today’s Tehillim is kapitelach Tzadik-Zayin to Kuf-Gimmel. For Chodesh Elul, we say three more kapitelach: Nun-Ches, Nun-Tes, and Samach.

At the end of today’s first Kapitel (which we also say in Kabolas Shabbos, and in the Machzor before Kol Nidrei), the posuk says “Ohr Zarua LaTzadik” — “Light is planted for the Tzadik.”

The Medrash teaches that when Hashem made the world, there was a very strong light, but it was too hard for the world to live in it! So Hashem hid it for the Tzadikim when Moshiach comes.

But even now there is a place where we can find that special light — in the Torah!



Igeres Hakodesh Siman Tes-Vov

Today the Alter Rebbe gives us some examples of how we use the kochos of our Neshama to connect to Hashem and live the way Hashem wants. Here are some of the examples brought in today’s Tanya:

Chesed (loving, giving): A Yid loves Hashem and wants to act in the ways of Hashem. We want to have good middos, especially those that we learn from the stories in the Torah and from Tzadikim.

Gevurah (strict): To fight with our Yetzer Hara, because we are afraid that we shouldn’t do anything that is not the way Hashem wants.

Tiferes (beauty): We look at the mitzvos that we do as the most precious and beautiful things, so we buy the best Mezuzos and Tefillin and do all other mitzvos in the nicest way.

Netzach (winning): When we know something is right, we stand very strong and don’t let anything make us change our minds or let us act in the wrong way.

Hod (thanking, acknowledging): To thank Hashem for all of the good things that Hashem does for us and not to be a Kefui Tovah.

Yesod (connection): To have a geshmak and chayus in acting the way a Yid should.

Malchus: To have Kabolas Ol. To know that Hashem is in charge and that we have to do what He wants, even though we might understand or want something different.



Chof Elul

Someone who is selfish doesn’t realize it.

Did you ever get into a fight with someone? When your mother or father ask you about it, you say “Well, I didn’t do anything wrong!” Your parents might try explain to you that you aren’t perfect, and that you also weren’t acting the way you should.

Why don’t we think of that ourselves? Because we are so busy thinking about how WE were right that there is no time to think about what was bothering the other person. So we aren’t able to find out what WE did wrong and how we could become better.

Our neshamos are all stuck in a Guf that thinks only about itself. When we daven and learn and make a real Cheshbon Hanefesh in Chodesh Elul, we will see that we need to become much better!



Shiur #62 - Mitzvas Asei #153

In Sefer Hamitzvos, we again learn the mitzvah (Mitzvas Asei #153) that the Beis Din needs to decide the right time for each month to start and calculate when there should be a leap year.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Bo: הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים

The details are explained in Mesechta Sanhedrin perek Alef, Mesechta Rosh Hashana and Brachos.



Hilchos Kiddush Hachodesh

The Rebbe would often speak about Lebn Mit Di Tzeit, learning horaos from the time we are in. One of the things the Rebbe would learn horaos from is the kevius — the type of year it is. Today’s Rambam teaches us about how our calendar is set up, which is how each year has its kevius!

Perek Vov: In this perek, the Rambam teaches us how we can figure out when the molad will be in any month of any year! The molad is when the new moon can be seen in Yerushalayim, which shows us when Rosh Chodesh should be.

We also learn about the Machzor of years, a cycle of nineteen years when the solar year (a year based on the sun) and the lunar year (a year based on the moon) catch up to each other again. In the Machzor, there is a pattern of which years are Peshutah (regular years) and which years are Me’uberes (leap years, with a second Adar added). Here are the years that are Me’uberes in each Machzor: Years #3, #6, #8, #11, #14, #17, and #19.

Perek Zayin: We learn about deciding when the first day of Rosh Hashana will be, which is different in each kind of year. There are certain days of the week that can NEVER be the first day of Rosh Hashana. We remember these days with an expression: “Lo Ad”u Rosh” — the first day of Rosh Hashana can not be on any of the days with the Roshei TeivosAdu”, meaning Sunday (Yom Alef), Wednesday (Yom Daled), or Friday (Yom Vov).

Perek Ches: In this perek, we learn about the types of months. Some months are malei (full), with 30 days, and other months are chaseir (missing) with 29 days. During the year the months go in a pattern, one month malei, and then one month chaseir.

But there are two months that can change — Cheshvan and Kislev. Sometimes both are malei, sometimes both are chaseir, and sometimes they follow the regular pattern, with Cheshvan being chaseir and Kislev being malei. This kind of year is called “Kesidran,” “in order,” because then all of the months follow the pattern!



Hilchos Kriyas Shema - Perek Daled

Some people don’t have the mitzvah to say Kriyas Shema every day. For example, women have a different kind of Avodas Hashem, so they don’t have to do certain mitzvos that have a specific time, like saying Kriyas Shema.

Now we have finished this set of halachos!



Chayus in Our Teshuvah

This week we celebrated a very special day — Chai Elul.

The Frierdiker Rebbe said that the name we call this day, “Chai Elul,” means that this day brings a chayus into Elul. Elul is the month of teshuvah, and Chai Elul brings a chayus into this avodah of teshuvah!

What is teshuvah?

Teshuvah means to think about the things we did wrong, and realize how bad we feel about it. We then make a strong hachlata to do the mitzvos properly from now on — no matter what! Even if we are not in the mood, or it is hard, we are ready to follow everything the Torah teaches.

Chai Elul brings a chayus into this avodah!

Chai Elul is the beginning of Chassidus, the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe. The chayus that Chai Elul brings is how Chassidus teaches us to do teshuvah with simcha!

Of course, EVERY mitzvah needs to be done with simcha, and teshuvah is a mitzvah too.

But part of teshuvah is feeling bad for the things we didn’t do right, and being upset that we let the Yetzer Hara trick us. We might even feel a little angry that the Yetzer Hara got us to do the wrong thing, and decide that we won’t ever fall for his tricks again!

Chassidus teaches that even THAT part of teshuvah needs to be done with simcha! Even though we are upset at the Yetzer Hara, we know that we also have a Yetzer Tov and a neshama! We know that the neshama is the MAIN thing, and that when we do teshuvah, our neshama again becomes close to Hashem. We also have bitachon that Hashem forgives us, and that every Yid will eventually do teshuvah!

Thinking about what Chassidus teaches us about the mitzvah of teshuvah helps us do every part of teshuvah with chayus and simcha! That’s why Chai Elul brings chayus into Elul, into the Avodah of Teshuvah.


For the last 12 days of Elul, we count “Yom Lachodesh,” spending one day doing teshuvah for each month of the year. Today we look back at Chodesh Kislev, seeing what worked or didn’t, so that this coming Kislev will be even better!

Chodesh Kislev is a month full of Chassidishe Yomim Tovim, and the month of Chanukah. We can think about how we used the time to add in learning Chassidus and acting like a chossid, and how we did with our Chanukah mivtzoyim.

See Likutei Sichos chelek Beis, p. 388 ff


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Ledovid Hashem Ori

During the month of Elul, and until Hoshaana Rabbah, we say the paragraph Ledovid Hashem Ori twice in davening — once in Shacharis, and once in Mincha.

There are many ways explain the connection of this kapitel to Chodesh Elul and Tishrei, and there are also many beautiful things we can learn from it. But even the simple meaning of the first posuk has a very important message for us, especially during Elul!

This mizmor begins, “Ledovid Hashem Ori Veyish’i, Mimi Ira” — Dovid Hamelech says, “Hashem is my Light and the One Who saves me, so I have nothing to be afraid of.”

The world can sometimes feel like a dark place, full of tumah and not-good things. It can be hard to realize that Hashem is here.

When we say Ledovid Hashem Ori, we remind ourselves that Hashem is Ori, my light — when we are connected to Hashem, the world won't feel like such a dark place anymore! We also remind ourselves that Hashem is the One Who saves us, and we trust only in Hashem, not in anyone or anything else. When we remember these things, then we have nothing to be afraid of!

And when we are connected to Hashem’s light, it will push away the darkness until the whole world is changed into light, in the time of the Geulah!

See Igros Kodesh chelek Yud-Zayin, p. 323



Hachlatos for Rosh Hashana

On special days, like our birthday and on Chassidishe Yomim Tovim, we make a hachlata of how we will try to be better.

It is also our minhag to take a new hachlata before every Rosh Hashana, how we will be better Yidden this coming year.

In the Sefer Kaf Hachayim, we see a very special way of doing this minhag: During Elul, some people make a hachlata to be extra careful in a certain mitzvah. They write down what they decided, bli neder. Then the next year, before Rosh Hashana, they review what they wrote to see how well they kept their hachlata.

(If you need an email reminder, Chabad.org can help! http://www.chabad.org/1943153)

See Shevach Hamoadim, Kitzur Hilchos Elul, siman Gimmel

לעילוי נשמת הרה״ח ר׳ דניאל יצחק ע״ה בן ר׳ אפרים שי׳ מאסקאוויץ
שליח כ"ק אדמו"ר נשיא דורנו למדינת אילינוי



The First Place in Torah

When the Rambam teaches (in the last two perakim of the whole Mishnah Torah) about Moshiach, he brings sources from the Torah that teach us about the Geulah.

The first place in Torah where the Geulah is talked about clearly is in this week’s Chumash, Parshas Netzavim!

וְשָׁב ה׳ אֱלֹקֶיךָ אֶת שְׁבוּתְךָ וְרִחֲמֶךָ וְשָׁב וְקִבֶּצְךָ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים ... אִם יִהְיֶה נִדַּחֲךָ בִּקְצֵה הַשָּׁמָיִם מִשָּׁם יְקַבֶּצְךָ ה׳ אֱלֹקֶיךָ ... וֶהֱבִיאֲךָ ה׳ אֱלֹקֶיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ

Hashem promises that He will take all of the Yidden out of Golus, and bring them back to Eretz Yisroel!

The Rambam tells us that these words, which are written clearly in the Torah, include in them all of the things about the Geulah which were said by the Neviim later on.

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