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Parshas Toldos - Shlishi with Rashi

We learned before that Yitzchak went to Gerar because of the hunger, and had a lot of hatzlacha with his fields! Today we learn about how Yitzchak dug wells.

Yitzchak became very rich from all the grain that grew! He also had a lot of animals and owned businesses, and the Pelishtim became jealous of him. They filled up all of the wells that had been dug for Avraham with dirt, because they said that if enemies came, they would use those wells to have water to drink, and be able to fight against them.

Avimelech, the king of Gerar, told Yitzchak to move away from them because he was too strong. Yitzchak moved away to the Gerar Valley. Before he left, he dug up Avraham’s wells and took out the dirt the Pelishtim put in, and gave them back the old names that Avraham his father called them. Then Yitzchak’s servants dug new wells in the Gerar Valley, and found water there!

The shepherds of Gerar got into an argument with Yitzchak’s servants. They said “WE use this place to feed our sheep, so the water is ours!” Yitzchak called the well Esek (“fighting”) because they fought with him.

Yitzchak’s servants dug another well, but the Pelishti shepherds got into a fight again, so Yitzchak called it Sitnah (“bothering”).

Yitzchak moved on and dug another well, and this time they didn’t fight with him over it! Yitzchak called this well Rechovos (“wide open spaces”), saying that now there is room for us to grow!

Chassidus teaches us that our neshama has certain midos that we get from the Avos. We learn how to use these midos properly from the stories about the Avos in the Torah! We get chesed from Avraham Avinu, and we learn how to use our chesed from the stories in the Torah about Avraham’s Hachnosas Orchim. From Yitzchak Avinu we get gevurah, being strict and working on making ourselves around us better, to be the way it is supposed to be. We learn how to use our gevurah from the way Yitzchak dug wells! Digging wells is hard work — digging through hard dirt and stones to find the water deep underground. And for Yitzchak, there were also other people bothering him and trying to ruin the wells he dug! Still, Yitzchak kept trying, and in the end had hatzlacha. We learn from this to work hard and keep trying, even if something is hard. In the end we will have hatzlacha, like Yitzchak Avinu!



1 - 9

In Chodesh Kislev we have a hora’ah from the Rebbe to add in learning from the Torah of the Chabad Rebbeim. We will IY”H try to explain a posuk of Tehillim every day with an explanation from one of the Rebbeim.

In Kapitel Hey Dovid Hamelech asks Hashem not to let the people who are saying not good things about him to Shaul to hurt him. In the end of the kapitel he says. “Ki Ata Tevorech Tzadik Hashem Katzina Ratzon Taatrenu.” “You bentch a tzadik and surround him happily, like a person surrounded by a shield to protect him in a war.”

The Alter Rebbe explains in Tanya that there is a deeper meaning in the words Katzina Ratzon Taatrenu. Hashem surrounds a Yid with His ratzon, the Torah and mitzvos, like someone is surrounded with a shield during the time of a war.

How is a Yid surrounded with the Torah and mitzvos?

When we use our sechel to think Torah, the feelings of our heart to be excited to do mitzvos, and we act the way Hashem wants, then we are completely surrounded with the Torah and mitzvos, and it protects us like a shield in a war!



Kuntres Acharon Siman Gimmel

In the first section of Tanya, we learned that the kavana that we have when we daven and learn goes into the words we say, and changes what happens to them. Depending on our kavana, the words can stay down here in the world, go up a little bit, or go up very high!

In today’s Tanya, the Alter Rebbe tells us that there is a difference between words of Torah without the right kavana, and words of Tefillah without the right kavana. The Alter Rebbe explains what happens to each of them, and why there is a difference.

One of the things the Alter Rebbe brings to help understand the differences is about the Torah and Tefillah of kids! The words of davening and learning of children is very special. Even when they don’t have the right kavanos, and are only learning because they don’t want to get in trouble, their words go up very high! Malochim take their words and bring them up all the way to the Olam of Atzilus, the highest of the Olamos, where the Torah and Tefillah of the greatest tzadikim go!



Alef Kislev

One of the things the Alter Rebbe wanted very much from his Chassidim was that they should spend a lot of time and energy in their davening, Avodas HaTefillah. One of the Alter Rebbe’s Chassidim was R’ Yekusiel Liepler.

R’ Yekusiel Liepler was a very chayus’dike Chossid. He would get so excited about davening that he would spend all day with it! There were even times that he would daven Shacharis, Mincha, and Maariv one after another — there was no time to take a break between them! (Even longer than we would daven on Yom Kippur!)

One thing we can learn from this is how we as Chassidim need to be so excited about the shlichus that the Rebbe wants from each of us. We should be so “into it” that there shouldn’t be any time for anything else to get in the way!



Shiur #131 - Mitzvas Asei #127

Now we have started learning a new set of halachos in Rambam, about Maaser.

(Mitzvas Asei #127) Today we learn the mitzvah of Maaser Rishon. We need to take 1/10th of the food that grows in our fields and give it to the Leviim. This mitzvah is kept only in Eretz Yisroel.



Hilchos Maaser

In today’s Rambam, we learn the first three perakim about Maaser Rishon, which goes to the Leviim.

One halacha is that Maaser is not as holy as Terumah, it is called “chulin.” It doesn’t have kedusha in it the way Terumah does.

Another interesting halacha is that even though Maaser Rishon is given to the Leviim, there was a time when it was given to the kohanim! Ezra Hasofer, who brought many Yidden back to Eretz Yisroel right after the second Beis Hamikdash was built, was upset that the Leviim did not come! So he gave them a knas (like a punishment), he made a takanah that Maaser Rishon would go to the Kohanim instead of to the Leviim for a period of time.



Hilchos Shabbos - Perek Chof-Gimmel

In today’s Rambam, we learn about not doing a sh’vus. A sh’vus is something which the Chachomim said is asur either because it is LIKE the way we do a melacha, or because it is something that might make someone forget and actually DO the melacha. Many of the things we don’t do on Shabbos are because of sh’vus.

Today we learn about the sh’vus for the rest of the melachos.



Chassidishe Yom Tov

Today is a very special Chassidishe Yom Tov! In the year Tof-Shin-Lamed-Ches on Shemini Atzeres the Rebbe became very weak from an illness in the heart. Still the Rebbe did everything on Yom Tov just like he always did. (Doctors later said that they couldn’t believe how the Rebbe continued doing everything even with such pain!) For a few weeks the Rebbe had to rest in his room and chassidim were very worried that the Rebbe should be healthy.

On Rosh Chodesh Kislev, the Rebbe came out of his Yechidus room where he was resting and went home. Chassidim were so excited to see the Rebbe, that they made the day into a Yom Tov! It is a day that we farbreng, show our thanks to Hashem for giving the Rebbe health to be with us for so many more years, and think of how we can strengthen our hiskashrus to the Rebbe today.


One of the things that doctors do sometimes is taking a blood test. They can use a little bit of blood to check what is happening inside of the person. They get the blood by putting a thin needle inside the person, and pulling out some blood using an empty tube.

The Rebbe wanted to teach a lesson in Avodas Hashem, so he asked one of his doctors about this. “What makes the blood come out: The poke of the needle, or the empty tube?”

The doctor answered that the poke of the needle makes the place for the blood to come out, but the empty tube is what pulls out the blood.

The Rebbe said, sometimes a Yid feels like he is empty inside, and not doing what he needs to do as a Yid. It is important to know that this is a special opportunity! When someone is empty, he can bring much more kedusha into himself!


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How can we win over our Yetzer Hara? What if the Yetzer Hara doesn’t want us to do what we are supposed to? Are there any tricks to help us win?

If we know the sixth posuk of the Twelve Pesukim by heart (Vehinei), we have a good chance!

Even though Hashem made the malochim and so many great Ruchnius “worlds” and such a beautiful Gashmius world that we live in, and runs them all in a way of Hashgacha Protis, taking care of each detail, still Hashem puts all of that aside and thinks about each one and wants to see that we are acting like we should.

When we think about this posuk, any time our Yetzer Hara might come up with a trick to get us in trouble, we will remember that what we decide to do is so important to Hashem. That way we will for sure win!

There was a Chossid of the Alter Rebbe, R’ Mottel, whose gaavah made him a Chossid.

Even though gaavah is not a good midah, he was able to use it for kedusha!

R’ Mottel had a Yetzer Hara, which would sometimes give him ideas of what to do. It would say, “Mottel! Do an aveira!”

R’ Mottel would respond with pride and shock. “ME?! I am a chossid of the Alter Rebbe, a gvir and a lamdan! You want ME to do an aveira?!?”

When we think about the fact that Hashem puts everything aside to see what we are going to do, and that the whole world depends on how we behave, we will have the pride to answer our own Yetzer Haras too: “ME?!? Hashem HIMSELF is watching me, and the WHOLE WORLD depends on what I choose! You want ME to do an aveira?!”

See also sicha of Simchas Beis Hashoeiva 5715



How High to Put a Mezuzah

It is a mitzvah to put up a mezuzah on the doorways in our home. But how high up do we put it? Near the top, somewhere in the middle, or at a specific height?

It says in Gemara that it is a mitzvah to put the mezuzah at the beginning of the top third of the doorway. That means that if we split up the doorway into three equal pieces, we would put the mezuzah at the bottom of the top piece.

Even though it is okay if the mezuzah was put up a little higher, the mezuzah should not be lower than this, and we also shouldn’t put a mezuzah less than a tefach (a little over 3 inches) from the top of the doorway. If a mezuzah was put there, it needs to be taken down and put back up (without a bracha)!

What about if the door is very very high?

Many poskim say that with a very tall doorway, we can put up the mezuzah about as high as a regular man’s shoulder (about 5 feet), so that people will be able to notice the mezuzah. Some poskim say that even then, we should put the mezuzah at the beginning of the top third of the door. You can ask your family’s Rav which opinion to follow!

See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch siman Yud-Alef; and “Mezuzah” by Rabbi Dovid Nissan Bressman, chapter 12

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



What Did I Do?

Every day, in Shemoneh Esrei, we say “Es Tzemach Dovid Avdecha Meheira Satzmiach,” asking Hashem that Moshiach should come and save the Yidden. We also say, “Vesechezena Eineinu,” asking Hashem to bring us back to Yerushalayim.

If we think about what we are saying, we will realize how much we want Moshiach. We will ask ourselves, “What did I do today to make this happen? What did I do today to bring Moshiach now?”

See Likutei Sichos 20 p. 384, Migolah L’Geulah p. 158

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