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Parshas Devarim - Rishon with Rashi

We are now starting the fifth book of the Torah, Chumash Devarim! This Chumash is different than the other four Chumashim! It is called “Mishneh Torah,” which means to review the Torah, since Moshe Rabbeinu is reviewing the mitzvos the Yidden learned and reminding them about what happened in the Midbar.

This whole sefer is like one long farbrengen with the Yidden, inspiring them to do what Hashem wants from them when they come into Eretz Yisroel. Even though Moshe Rabbeinu himself won’t be able to go in, he wants to make sure that the Yidden are ready for the new challenges of living in Eretz Yisroel.

Moshe Rabbeinu first reminds the Yidden about the mistakes they made in the Midbar, so the Yidden won’t make them again.

The Torah tells us where Moshe said this — between Paran and Tofel and Lavan and Chatzeiros and Di-Zahav. These look like names of places — but really they are hinting to the aveiros the Yidden did in the Midbar. Instead of embarrassing them by saying the aveiros clearly in the Chumash, they are only hinted to in these “names.”

For example, two of the places the posuk says are “Tofel and Lavan.” But there really ARE no places with these names! These places hint to us about how the Yidden “Taflu” — made silly complaints about the Mahn, which was “Lavan” — white.

Then Moshe reviews how when they stood at Har Sinai, Hashem told them to go to Eretz Yisroel! But because of the things they did, only now, 40 years later, are the Yidden ready to go into Eretz Yisroel. (If the Yidden hadn’t sent the Meraglim, they would have been able to go in right away, and wouldn’t even have needed to fight with the goyim there.)

Moshe also reviews with the Yidden how the system of judges started.

Moshe realized that he can’t be the only judge over the Yidden. Hashem expects the leaders to make sure that every Yid behaves properly, and punishes the leaders if they don’t. Moshe Rabbeinu realized that he would not be able to do the whole job himself — he needed to have more judges to help EACH of the Yidden do what Hashem wants.

Still, Moshe is happy that there were so many Yidden that they can’t be judged by just one person. Moshe Rabbeinu gives the Yidden a bracha that there should be many more Yidden!



120 - 134

Today we say the 15 Shir Hamaalos, kapitelach Kuf-Chof until Kuf-Lamed-Daled, like the 15 steps from the Ezras Noshim into the Azara in the Beis Hamikdash!

Kapitel Kuf-Chof-Beis talks about when the Yidden would go up to Yerushalayim. Yerushalayim is called “Ir Shechubra La Yachdav” — “a city that is connected together.”

What is this talking about? Together with WHAT?

In the Gemara it says that there are TWO Yerushalayims! There is a Yerushalayim Shel Maalah, a ruchnius city in Shomayim, and Yerushalayim Shel Matah — the city of Yerushalayim that we see. They are both connected!

The Gemara says that Hashem doesn’t go into the Gashmius Yerushalayim until He goes into Yerushalayim Shel Maalah, the ruchnius Yerushalayim.

What makes Hashem go into these two Yerushalayims? It’s because of what the Yidden do!

The Tzemach Tzedek explains that there are two things that bring Hashem into the two Yerushalayims — and we are learning about them in TanyaTeshuvah Tata’ah and Teshuvah Ila’ah.

When we do Teshuvah, it brings Geulah, bringing Hashem’s Shechinah back into Yerushalayim! Teshuvah Tata’ah brings Hashem into Yerushalayim Shel Matah, and Teshuvah Ila’ah brings Hashem into Yerushalayim Shel Maalah!



Igeres Hateshuvah Perek Yud

Teshuvah means that a Yid returns to Hashem with his whole heart. He decides that he is ready to act ONLY the way Hashem wants.

We learned about the two steps in Teshuvah — getting rid of the aveiros by having Rachmonus on our neshama, and thinking about how aveiros make Yidden be in Golus. Then we do Teshuvah Ila’ah — once the aveiros are gone, we daven and learn and do mitzvos with a NEW chayus, more than before!

Today the Alter Rebbe tells us how we can make these kinds of Teshuvah part of our day.

It used to be the Minhag to say Tikun Chatzos late at night, special tefilos about the Churban of the Beis Hamikdash. That is the perfect time to do Teshuvah Tata’ah — thinking about the Churban that our aveiros make, and having rachmonus on our Neshama.

Then the next morning when we daven is the perfect time to act with the chayus of Teshuvah Ila’ah: Daven with special chayus and simcha, and then learn and do mitzvos with chayus, and with the kavana that we want to be connected and close to Hashem.

If someone can’t do Teshuvah Tata’ah every day, then at least once a week he should, before Shabbos. Then he will have the chayus of Teshuvah Ila’ah for Shabbos! The word Shabbos has the main letters of TeshuvahTof, shin, and beis — and it is a time that is very special for Teshuvah Ila’ah!

(Nowadays, we don’t do Tikun Chazos, but we can make a Cheshbon Hanefesh in Krias Shema She’al Hamita, and especially before Shabbos. But like we learned before, the Rebbe tells us that nothing should stop us from jumping straight to living with the chayus of Teshuvah Ila’ah — Lechatchila Ariber!)



Chof-Zayin Tammuz

In the times of the Alter Rebbe, there were no Chabad Chassidim, because the Alter Rebbe just started to teach Chabad Chassidus for the first time. Some big Talmidei Chachomim used to come to the Alter Rebbe, and they became Chabad Chassidim.

Once a Talmid Chochom came to the Alter Rebbe. He had learned a lot of Torah and lived the way a Yid should, with Yiras Shomayim. After coming to the Alter Rebbe in Liozna (where the Alter Rebbe used to live), he learned a lot of Chassidus.

When he came for his first Yechidus, he asked the Alter Rebbe if he is missing anything. “What else should I be doing?” he asked.

The Alter Rebbe answered, “You aren’t missing anything! In fact, you have TOO MUCH! You are learning and living like you should — but you think too much about yourself. You need to work on having bittul, and not being a baal gaava. For that, it isn’t enough to learn a lot of Chassidus, you need to do AVODAH and live like a Chossid!”



Shiur #10 - Mitzvas Lo Saasei #256, #301, #304, #305

In today’s Sefer Hamitzvos, we learn 4 more mitzvos about how to treat other people:

1) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #256) We can’t make an almanah (widow) or a yasom (orphan) feel bad. We have to be very careful to speak to them and act with them in a VERY friendly and nice way!

We learn this from a posuk in Parshas Mishpatim: כָּל אַלְמָנָה וְיָתוֹם לֹא תְעַנּוּן

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #301) We are not allowed to go around talking about other people — even if the things are true, and even if we aren’t saying not nice things! This is called rechilus. When people share information with other people, they probably don’t want everyone to know about it.

This mitzvah also includes Motzi Shem Ra, saying something not nice that ISN’T true about another person. (In today’s Rambam, we see that this mitzvah also includes Lashon Hara, saying something true that isn’t nice.)

We learn this from a posuk in Parshas Kedoshim: לֹא תֵלֵךְ רָכִיל בְּעַמֶּיךָ

3) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #304) We aren’t allowed to do nekamah — to look for a way to pay someone back for something not nice they did to us. (For example, if you went to a kid and asked to borrow his ball, but he said no, nekamah would mean that the next time he asks you to borrow something, you say no, to pay him back for not lending you his ball.)

We learn this from a posuk in Parshas Kedoshim: לֹא תִקֹּם

4) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #305) We aren’t allowed to do netirah — to stay angry at someone who did something not nice to us, even if we don’t take nekamah! (So if the kid didn’t share his ball, we can’t say to him, “I’m nicer than you because I’m going to let you play with my toy even though YOU wouldn’t let me play with YOURS!”) That shows that we were holding the hatred in our heart, which is asur.

We learn this from a posuk in Parshas Kedoshim: לֹא תִקֹּם וְלֹא תִטֹּר



Hilchos Deios - Hilchos Talmud Torah

Perek Vov: In today’s Rambam, we learn that the people we are friends with, and the people we spend time with, can make a very big difference in the way we will behave! We should make sure our friends are the kind of people we want to be like!

Perek Zayin: The Rambam also teaches us many things about Ahavas Yisroel. We need to care about another person’s respect like we do about our own, and be careful with another person’s money the way we care about our own.

Now we start Hilchos Talmud Torah, the halachos of learning Torah:

Perek Alef: One of the halachos we learn is that a father has a mitzvah to make sure his kids learn Torah!



Minyan Hamitzvos

In today’s Rambam, the Rambam starts to tell us the list of mitzvos again, but shows us where we’ll learn them in the 14 books of the Rambam. These 14 seforim include 83 sections that teach us different sets of halachos.

Here are the first four seforim:

1) Mada — “to know.” In this sefer we learn the mitzvos that are important for a Yid to know FIRST, so he will do all of the other mitzvos. We need to know that Hashem is one, and that we can’t serve Avodah Zarah.

2) Ahava — “love.” This sefer has the mitzvos we need to do all of the time, like loving Hashem. It also has the mitzvos that help us love Hashem, like saying Shema.

3) Zmanim — “times.” This sefer teaches us mitzvos that we do on special days, like Shabbos and Yom Tov.

4) Nashim — “women.” In this sefer, we learn the mitzvos that have to do with marriage and divorce.



Lebn Mit Der Tzeit

Chumash Devarim is different than the other four. In the first four Chumashim, Moshe Rabbeinu writes down the words of Hashem exactly, like a person who copies down what he hears. In Chumash Devarim, Moshe Rabbeinu speaks the words of Hashem the way the Ruach Hakodesh came into his own understanding.

Why was there a change in the way the Torah was given over in this Chumash?

The reason for this change was because Moshe Rabbeinu was speaking to a new group of Yidden. These Yidden were the people who would be going into Eretz Yisroel. They would be dealing with Gashmius, which would be very different from the way they lived in the Midbar. In the Midbar, all of the Gashmius was taken care of for them, but in Eretz Yisroel, they would need to work for it themselves.

That’s why Chumash Devarim needed to come this way. When the Torah came down into Moshe Rabbeinu’s sechel, it was closer to the Yidden’s Gashmius life. This would help them deal with all of the new challenges of living in Eretz Yisroel.

In Chumash Devarim, many of the inyonim from the first four Chumashim were reviewed again, in the style of Chumash Devarim. This way, the Yidden would appreciate the WHOLE Torah, not just Chumash Devarim! They would realize that the WHOLE Torah is important for them to know.

Nowadays, we also have a “Chumash Devarim.” The Rebbeim of each generation teach us Torah in a way which fits with how we live in these times. Through the Torah that they teach, and the horaos and takanos they give us to keep, not only do we have the new things they teach us, but we are able to see how the WHOLE Torah is meaningful for our time!

See Likutei Sichos chelek Daled, Parshas Devarim


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Birchos Hashachar

The Chachomim gave us many brachos to say, to make it easier for us to say 100 brachos every day. In Birchos Hashachar, we say a list of many brachos, thanking Hashem for the things we benefit from every morning.

These brachos go in order of how people used to get up in the morning in the times of the Anshei Kneses Hagedolah. Today we will learn the first six of these brachos:

1) A person would hear the rooster crow to tell him that it is morning, and would bless Hashem who makes the rooster wake people up — Hanosein Lasechvi Vina (“Who gives understanding to the rooster”)

2) He would open his eyes, and give recognition to Hashem that he can see — Pokeiach Ivrim (“Who opens the eyes of the blind”)

3) Then he would start to get up, and thank Hashem that he isn’t stuck in bed anymore like he was when he was asleep — Matir Asurim (“Who frees those who are captive”)

4) He would straighten up, and show recognition to Hashem for being able to sit up straight — Zokeif Kefufim (“Who straightens the bent”)

5) He would get dressed (in those days, they got dressed in bed, under their covers for tznius), and thank Hashem for clothing — Malbish Arumim (“Who clothes the naked”)

6) He would start to feel more awake, that his strength is coming back to him (this bracha was added later, when people got weaker), so he would thank Hashem — Hanosein Laya’eif Koach (“Who gives the tired one koach”)

Tomorrow we will IY”H learn the rest of these brachos.

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman mem-vov



Birchos Hashachar

In the times of the Gemara, the brachos of Birchos Hashachar were said as soon as they happened! A person would get dressed, and right away say the bracha of “Malbish Arumim.”

But now, there is more tumah in the world, and also not everybody can remember all of the brachos by heart. So we can’t say the brachos right away since we need to wash negel vasser, and also we say them all together because not everyone can remember them.

In the times when Yidden would say these brachos right away as things happened to them, they only said the brachos that they actually experienced. But what about nowadays, when we say all the brachos together? If someone didn’t get dressed, for example, should they still say the bracha of Malbish Arumim?

There are different opinions about this, but we follow the opinion that says that these brachos mainly thank Hashem for making the world run this way for most people. That’s why we make the bracha even if we didn’t actually experience it ourselves.

Still, we try to make sure that as many of the brachos as possible will apply to us (by getting dressed first, for example), but even if they don’t, we still say the bracha.

(On days when Yidden all over the world don’t benefit from one of these things, we don’t say the bracha. So on Tisha B’Av and Yom Kippur, when nobody is wearing leather shoes, we don’t say the brachaShe’asa Li Kol Tzorki.”)

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman mem-vov

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



Learning About the Third Beis Hamikdash

As we learned in the previous shiur, it is hard to really understand the nevuah of Yechezkel Hanavi about the Third Beis Hamikdash.

Still, it shouldn’t stop us from learning it as much as possible!

R’ Yom Tov Lipman Heller was a talmid of the Maharal of Prague. He later wrote a famous pirush on Mishnayos, called the Tosfos Yom Tov.

When R’ Yom Tov Lipman Heller was younger, he learned the nevuah of Yechezkel very well according to Rashi. He knew that learning about the Beis Hamikdash is like building it, and he wanted to do the best he could! He drew a diagram of the third Beis Hamikdash, based on everything in Sefer Yechezkel that he could understand.

His friends were very excited! They encouraged him to write a sefer explaining Yechezkel’s nevuah. The Tosfos Yom Tov did write the sefer, which teaches Yechezkel’s nevuah according to Rashi, as clearly as possible. This sefer is called “Tzuras Habayis.”

Unfortunately, we don’t have the diagram he drew of the third Beis Hamikdash, but we do have the sefer! Learning it can help us understand the third Beis Hamikdash as much as possible!

(There is also an English sefer describing the Third Beis Hamikdash, by Rabbi Chaim Clorfene, with pictures and models, called The Messianic Temple. It is based on Tzuras Habayis and other sources, teaching us as much as possible about the Third Beis Hamikdash!)

By following the Rebbe’s takana to learn about the Beis Hamikdash during the Three Weeks, may we be zoche to see the building of the Third Beis Hamikdash bekarov mamosh, Amen!

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