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Parshas Lech Lecha - Revi'i with Rashi

In today’s Chumash, we learn how Avram wins over four very strong kings to save his nephew Lot!

Kedarlaomer, the king of Elam, ruled over the lands of five other kings (Bera from Sedom, Birsha from Amora, Shinav, Shemever, and the king of Bela). For twelve years these five kings allowed Kedarlaomer to rule over them, and then they didn’t want to be ruled! So for thirteen years, they rebelled, not listening to Kedarlaomer anymore.

The fourteenth year of their not listening was the same year Avram came to Canaan. That year, Kedarlaomer had enough! He asked three of his friends, Amrafel, Aryoch, and Sidal, to join with him in Emek Hasidim and fight the five rebelling kings. (Emek Hasidim, the valley of the Sidim, later filled with water and became the Yam Hamelach.)

First, they went to capture more lands. They won over the Refaim, the Zuzim, and the Eimim! They won even over all of the giants there, and the only giant left was Og. They also won over the Chori people, they captured the land that would later belong to Amalek, and they won over the Emori.

Then the five kings that had stopped listening to Kedarlaomer came to Emek Hasidim to fight. The four kings won this war also.

The five kings had to run away! When the king of Sedom was running, he fell into a big hole full of clay. Even though a person usually would sink inside and not be able to live, he was okay! Hashem did this to show the nations that nisim can happen, and now they would believe that Avram was saved from the fiery furnace by a neis also.

Everyone else ran away to the mountains to hide.

Now the group of four kings took everything they wanted from Sedom and Amorah. They also took Lot, who lived there.

Og, who survived the war, ran and told Avram that his nephew was captured. Avram decided that he needs to fight these four kings to save Lot! So Avram made Eliezer, his main servant and student, his general! Avram wasn’t afraid to make a war with the four kings, even though they were so strong and won so many wars before.

Avram won the war with them, and set Lot free and got all of his things back.

When Avram came back, the king of Sedom came out to greet him. All of the people who survived the war called him the prince of Hashem!

Shem (who is also called Malki-Tzedek), the king in Yerushalayim, also came and blessed Avram. Avram knew that there were many leaders of Avodah Zarah, but Shem was the only leader (kohen) of serving Hashem! To show kavod for Hashem, Avram gave Shem maaser from everything he had.

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39 - 43

In today’s Tehillim, it says “Haysa Li Dimasi Lechem Yomam Valayla, Be’emor Eilai Kol Hayom Ayei Elokecha.” “My tears were like my food all day and night, when they say to me all day ‘Where is Hashem?’”

The Rebbe explains that this posuk is saying that for a person to really be close to Hashem, we need to be crying for Hashem ALL the time. We shouldn’t want to be close to Hashem just on Shabbos or only when we’re davening, but even when we’re eating or playing on a regular weekday!

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Igeres Hakodesh Siman Chof-Vov

Yesterday, we said that even though the halachos of the Torah are very holy, still the Torah is called the “Eitz HaDaas Tov VaRa” — “the tree of knowledge, with good and bad.” This is because the things that the halachos talk ABOUT have not good in them.

Today the Alter Rebbe explains that even though the Torah itself is from Malchus D’Atzilus, a very high level in Ruchnius, it puts on the “clothes” of lower levels when it goes there. Since the Gashmius of the world is mixed with good and bad, it makes it look like Torah is mixed with good and bad too.

Really, the source of Torah doesn’t have these things! But for us to understand it, the Torah needs to wear this kind of “clothing.” The Torah comes down to this world in a way we can understand it, so we can connect to Hashem by learning Torah.

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Zayin Mar-Cheshvan

Many people think that to become close to Hashem and live the way a Yid should, we should first think about how the Torah is the right way to live, and how good it is. Then we should discuss it with other people too. After that, we can start to do the mitzvos and live that way.

That USED to be the way to do it, but not anymore!

Avraham Avinu, when he was a very young boy, thought about how Hashem must be the One Who created the world, and that people need to act the way Hashem wants. Then he went and taught about Hashem to everyone in the world!

Finally, he had a Bris Milah. He did a mitzvah in Gashmius so his body would be connected to Hashem!

But after Hashem gave us the Torah, doing the mitzvah itself comes first. That’s why now we do the opposite order: First we do a Bris Milah, and only afterwards do we learn Torah, and only then do we think about why we do it, and how the Torah is the true way a Yid needs to live.

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Shiur #122 - Mitzvas Lo Saasei #42, Asei #120, Lo Saasei #210

Today we learn one last mitzvah about Kilayim, things we can’t mix together. Today’s mitzvah is about Kilayim in clothes!

Shatnez: (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #42) We are not allowed to wear clothes made of wool and linen mixed together. This is called shatnez.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Ki Seitzei: לֹא תִלְבַּשׁ שַׁעַטְנֵז

The details are explained in Mesechta Kilayim, Mesechta Shabbos, and the end of Mesechta Makos.

We are starting a new part of Rambam now, about what we give to the poor. We learn 2 mitzvos about this today, about the part of our fields we leave for the poor, called Pe’ah:

1) (Mitzvas Asei #120) It is a mitzvah to leave over a corner of our fields or orchards for the poor people to take food from there.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Kedoshim: תַּעֲזֹב אֹתָם

The details are explained in Mesechta Pe’ah.

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #210) It is asur to NOT leave over that corner!

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Emor: לֹא תְכַלֶּה פְּאַת שָׂדְךָ בְּקֻצְרֶךָ

The details are explained in Mesechta Pe’ah.

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Hilchos Kela'im - Matnos Aniyim

In today’s Rambam, we learn the last halachos of Kilayim, and start the halachos of Matnos Aniyim.

Perek Tes: We are not allowed to force different kinds of animals to get married to each other. We can only help sheep to get married to sheep and have baby sheep! We don’t have them get married to goats and have baby… shoats?

We are not allowed to make two kinds of animals work together to pull a wagon or other piece of farm equipment. It is asur to even sit in a wagon pulled by two kinds of animals, because that makes them shlep it! But a PERSON is allowed to help an animal pull a wagon!

Perek Yud: In this perek, we learn the halachos of Kilayim in clothing — shatnez. Shatnez means mixing wool and linen together. Any way we mix them — by sewing them together, making a kind of material with wool and linen, or even just sewing one thread of wool into linen — are all asur! But it IS okay to wear a linen belt over wool clothes, because they are not connected.

Shatnez isn’t just for clothes — if it can touch your skin and make you warm, it is also asur! So sheets, towels, and soft squishy couches also can’t have shatnez.

Now we start the halachos about Matnos Aniyim, what we need to give to poor people. We will be learning 13 mitzvos about this, in 10 perakim.

Perek Alef: In this perek, the Rambam tells us about the five gifts that a person has to give to the poor from the things he grows. They are called Pe’ah, Leket, Peret, Olelos, and Shichecha. We will learn them over the next few days in Sefer Hamitzvos and Rambam.

The Chachomim say that a person should leave over 1/60th of his field or orchard as Pe’ah, but if a person was bentched with more than he expected, he should give more. The more you give, the more reward you get!

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Hilchos Biyas Hamikdash - Perek Gimmel

People who are tamei are not allowed to come into the Beis Hamikdash. One halacha is that if a person who is tamei comes in by climbing over the roof, or in a box flying in the air, he doesn’t get Kareis, but he does get Makas Mardusmalkos from the Beis Din.

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Ahavas Yisroel

In the times of the Beis Hamikdash, all of the Yidden had to travel to Yerushalayim to be Oleh Regel for Sukkos.

The Yidden didn’t start asking for rain until the last Yid got back home from Yerushalayim. That could take a long time — from Sukkos until today, Zayin Cheshvan!

Even nowadays, the Yidden in Eretz Yisroel don’t start asking for rain (Vesein Tal Umatar Livracha) until today!

(Outside of Eretz Yisroel, we wait until the time rain was needed in Bavel — this year, it will be Ohr L’Alef Teves.)

The Rebbe tells us that we can learn a very big lesson in Ahavas Yisroel from this! Really, ALL of the Yidden in Eretz Yisroel needed rain right away for plants to grow. Only a few people who lived very far from Yerushalayim had such a long way to travel that they wouldn’t get home until today. Still, ALL the Yidden waited to ask for what they needed, so that even these last few people could get home from Yerushalayim easily, without having to go through a rainy and muddy path. This shows us how much we need to care about the pain of even one Yid, because all Yidden are really one.

See Likutei Sichos chelek Chof, p. 378

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In the year Tof-Shin-Mem-Daled, the Rebbe made a rally on the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul. At this rally, the Rebbe spoke about the Sefer Hamitzvos of that day, which is the same as today’s Sefer Hamitzvos!

The Rebbe taught some lessons we can learn from the mitzvos of Shatnez and Pe’ah.

One thing the Rebbe said is that many people make a mistake about Shatnez. They think it’s just a mitzvah for fathers, who need to check their suits and kapote for Shatnez.

Really, though, Shatnez is a mitzvah for EVERYONE! A woman’s clothes, and even a tichel, are not allowed to be Shatnez. Even children are not allowed to wear Shatnez! It’s an aveira for an adult to put Shatnez clothes on a kid, even if they are too young to understand that it’s asur.

So if we have a woolen sweater or coat, or any clothes that might have wool and linen, we need to make sure that they are not Shatnez!

See Rally of Lamed Av 5744

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We learned about many of the things we need to know and do so we will have real Bitachon. Hashem wants to give us good, but we have to do our part too! We need to work on our Bitachon so we can get the brachos.

The Chovos Halevavos tells us how to have Bitachon. We need to know that everything is up to Hashem. Hashem runs the world and there is nobody else to rely on! We also need to make sure we are living the way Hashem wants as much as we can.

But together with that, the Chovos Halevavos says that we still have to do something in Gashmius.

We also learned that a good time to work on our midah of Bitachon is during davening. In Pesukei Dezimra we can think about how Hashem takes care of everything, and when we say Shema, we take upon ourselves to do what Hashem wants.

Making sure that we are making a keili in Gashmius is also something we can work on during davening!

In davening, our neshama wants to feel close to Hashem. That feeling is called Ratzo. But at the end of davening, we remind ourselves that Hashem wants us to go into the world and use the things in the world to serve Hashem. That is called Shuv.

In Bitachon, we also need to have Ratzo and Shuv.

We need to know that everything is up to Hashem and we can trust Hashem to give us good. At the same time, we need to remember that Hashem made the world as a Gashmius place and wants us to use it.

When we finish davening and remember how important it is to use the Gashmius the way Hashem wants from us, we can also make sure that we are doing this last step of bitachon — that we are making the keili Hashem wants for us to hold the bracha of Hashem.

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Kiddush Levana

It is our minhag that Lechat’chila the first day we say Kiddush Levana is on Yom Zayin of the month.

The Rema writes that we dance and celebrate at Kiddush Levana the way we celebrate at a chasunah! Kiddush Levana is a sign for the Geulah of Yidden, when there will be the chasunah between Yidden and Hashem!

One of the last horaos we got from the Rebbe, in 5752, is to be extra careful with Kiddush Levana. We are careful to do it properly, at the right time, and if possible, we do it in a beautiful way — wearing nice clothing and together with other people!

See Shulchan Menachem, chelek beis, p. 206

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

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Moons and Moshiach

The Gemara says that when a person does Kiddush Levana at the right time, it is like he is greeting the Shechinah!

What does Kiddush Levana have to do with greeting the Shechinah?

During Golus, we are not zoche to greet the Shechinah. But every month, when the moon begins to grow large again, we are reminded that Yidden will also become great again when Moshiach comes. Then we will be able to greet the Shechinah!

That is why one of the things we say in Kiddush Levana is “Dovid Melech Yisroel Chai Vekayam!” The kingdom of Dovid Hamelech is compared to the moon. Like the moon, Dovid Hamelech’s melucha will grow great again — when Moshiach comes!

See Shulchan Menachem chelek beis, p. 205

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