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Parshas Chukas-Balak - Rishon with Rashi

Today we start to learn about the mitzvah of Parah Adumah! Then we learn about when Miriam passed away.

Hashem tells Moshe and Aharon to teach the Yidden about a new mitzvah: The Parah Adumah. This mitzvah is a chok, a mitzvah that we can’t understand.

A person who has Tumas Meis is not allowed to go into the Beis Hamikdash. Tumas Meis can come from touching or being in the same house as a person who passed away. It is the strongest kind of tumah! A person with Tumas Meis can’t become tahor just by going to the mikvah, like with other kinds of tumah. The person needs to be sprinkled with water mixed with ashes from the Parah Adumah!

There are many details about how to prepare the ashes of the Parah Adumah:

Parah Adumah” means “red cow.” It is a cow that is ALL red, that has no mum, and that never was used for work. The Parah Adumah is shechted, and some of its blood is sprinkled in the direction of the Mishkan seven times. Then the cow is burned. The kohen takes a piece of wood, a kind of plant, and some red wool, and throws them into the burning cow. Someone who is tahor takes the ashes from the burned cow, and puts them in a container. These ashes are mixed with a special kind of water called Mayim Chayim.

(The Parah Adumah makes people tahor, but all of the kohanim who work on preparing the Parah Adumah’s ashes become tamei!)

Here’s how to use the ashes of the Parah Adumah:

The person who is tamei needs to count seven days after he stays away from things that give a person Tumas Meis. On the 3rd day and on the 7th day of his counting, he gets sprinkled with the water that was mixed with the ashes of the Parah Adumah.

A person who is tahor takes a branch called an Eizov, and dips it into the water mixed with the ashes. He sprinkles this water on the people who are tomei — and also on anything else that became tomei from a person who passed away.

Then the person who is tomei goes to the Mikvah, and he becomes tahor at night!

But if anyone who is NOT tomei touches this water, he BECOMES tomei — but only for that day, until he goes to the mikvah and waits until nighttime. If he carries enough of this water to sprinkle on someone else, his clothes ALSO become tomei until they are dipped in the mikvah and he waits until night!

This is part of why the mitzvah of Parah Adumah is a chok, a type of mitzvah that we can’t understand: It can make people tahor from the strongest type of tumah, Tumas Meis, but it makes a person tomei when they help with it!

We also learn that if someone touches someone else who has Tumas Meis, he becomes tomei too — but not Tumas Meis. He doesn’t need the ashes of the Parah Adumah sprinkled on him — he only needs to go to the mikvah and wait until nighttime.

Rashi explains that the Parah Adumah helps the Yidden also do Teshuvah for the Cheit HaEgel. He explains how different details of this mitzvah are related to the aveira of the Egel and are a kaparah for what happened.


Now the Torah tells us that Miriam passed away, on Yud Nissan, the year before the Yidden went into Eretz Yisroel.

Once Miriam passed away, the well that used to stay with the Yidden in her zechus went away too, and the Yidden complained. Moshe and Aharon davened to Hashem to give the Yidden water.

We see from here how Moshe Rabbeinu took care of everything the Yidden needed. As long as the water was there in the zechus of Miriam, Moshe didn’t need to do anything about it. But once it went away, Moshe Rabbeinu made sure that it came back for the Yidden. We will see later in the Chumash that the same thing happened with the clouds that were in the zechus of Aharon — after Aharon was nistalek, the clouds went away. But Moshe Rabbeinu brought them back to make sure that the Yidden were taken care of.

The same is true of the Moshe Rabbeinu and the Rebbe of every dor: The Rebbe makes sure that everything that the Yidden need is taken care of.



35 - 38

Today’s kapitelach are Lamed-Hey to Lamed-Ches.

In Kapitel Lamed-Zayin, Dovid Hamelech tells people not to be jealous of the hatzlacha of Resha’im, so that they won’t try to copy them.

The first posuk starts “L’Dovid Al Tis’char Bamereiim Al Tekanei Be’osei Avla” — “A kapitel by Dovid: Do not make competitions with people who do bad things, do not be jealous of those who do aveiros.”

The Medrash Yalkut Shimoni teaches that there is a similar posuk in Mishlei, written by Shlomo Hamelech. That posuk also tells us when we SHOULD be jealous — we should be jealous of people who have Yiras Shomayim!

The Medrash explains that the world couldn’t last without this good kind of jealousy! If people weren’t jealous of other people for the good things they do, people would never plant a field, get married, or build a house. In fact, without jealousy, Avraham Avinu could not have become the first of the Avos, and could not have begun the entire Yiddishe nation!

When did that happen?

Avraham Avinu was once speaking to Malki-Tzedek (another name for Sheim, one of Noach’s sons). Avraham asked him: “What zechus did you have to be able to come off the teivah alive and well?”

Malki-Tzedek said, “It was because of the tzedakah that we gave on the teivah.”

Avraham Avinu was confused! “What tzedakah? Were there any poor people on the teivah? Only Noach and his sons were there!”

Malki-Tzedek explained, “We gave tzedakah to all of the animals and birds! We never went to sleep until we made sure that every single animal and bird had the food it needed.”

When Avraham Avinu heard this, he said: “If doing this kind of chesed to animals and birds was enough of a zechus to leave the teivah, imagine how special it will be if I do chesed for PEOPLE, who are created B’Tzelem Elokim, to look like Hashem!”

He then decided to set up an “Eishel.” The word Eishel stands for Achilah (food), Shesiyah (drink), and Leviyah (bringing them on their way). Avraham Avinu set up his tent in the middle of the desert to give people food and drink, and bring them on their way!



Shaar Hayichud Veha'emunah Perek Yud-Beis

Today we are finishing the second chelek of TanyaShaar HaYichud VeHaEmunah!

The Alter Rebbe called it this because it speaks about Yichud Hashem — how Hashem is one. Even though we see so many different things in the world, EVERYTHING is all really part of ONE HASHEM!

Goyim might believe in Avodah Zarah. They think very foolish things, that different things had to be made by different creators. But we Yidden have a MITZVAH to know all the time that Hashem is one. To do this mitzvah, we need to learn about it — and that’s what the Alter Rebbe is helping us do in Shaar HaYichud VeHaEmunah.

The Alter Rebbe explained to us that even though Hashem has Ratzon, Sechel, Midos and Malchus, they are all one with Hashem.

We learned what the Rambam said — that this is something that we cannot understand. It’s like the moshol of light inside the sun — all of these things together are ONE with Hashem. We can see that Hashem is one because Hashem’s midos work TOGETHER with each other when they create the world.

We need to use our Koach of Emunah for this, because it’s not something that can really be explained.

We also saw how the whole world is botul to Hashem, and in two ways: Yichuda Ila’ah and Yichuda Tata’ah.

Now we can use our minds to think about the Yichud of Hashem, and use our Emunah for the things our mind can’t understand!

Finally, the Alter Rebbe finishes today, telling us that the Asara Maamaros Hashem used to create the world have the parts of the world that need a lot of chayus — like people, animals, plants, and the sun and moon. We can see these things written clearly in the Torah (in Parshas Bereishis). Other things, like rocks and sand, don’t have as much chayus. Hashem makes these things too with the osiyos in the Asara Maamaros, but they are not written there clearly, rather Hashem puts these letters together in different ways. This way, they don’t get as much chayus.

Do you understand? In case you don’t, the Alter Rebbe gives us a mashal so we understand how the chayus is less:

It’s like the light we have in the world. During the day, we have a lot of light! We get it straight from the sun that shines on us. At night we get much less light because we don’t get the light straight from the sun — it is reflected off the moon.

When something is created STRAIGHT from Hashem’s words in the Asara Maamaros, it can have a lot of chayus, like light from the sun! But when it comes from the letters organized into different words, the chayus is much less, like the light from the moon.

But at the end, EVERYTHING is part of the chayus of our Aibershter, Who is only ONE!

Mazel Tov! We have finished learning the second chelek of Tanya with the help of Hashem!

A great talmid of the Alter Rebbe, named R’ Aharon of Strashele, writes that the Alter Rebbe did not finish Shaar Hayichud Veha’emunah — there was more left to explain. The rest of the explanation about Achdus Hashem can be found in the maamarim of the Alter Rebbe and the later Rebbeim .



Vov Tammuz

Chassidus explains that the chayus Hashem gives to the world comes in three different levels:

1) Penimi (something we can feel inside)
2) Makif Hakarov (something surrounding us, but close to us)
3) Makif Harachok (something surrounding us, but far from us)

These three levels are also in our neshama and in our Torah and mitzvos.

What do they mean?

Chayus that comes in a way of Pnimius is a chayus we can understand and appreciate. We can feel how it makes a difference for us! For example, the mitzvos of how to do business properly — we understand why we do these mitzvos and we feel how they change things for us.

Chayus that comes in a way of Makif Hakarov is chayus we can’t understand yet. We can tell that it makes a difference, but we can’t feel it in a strong way. As our connection to Yiddishkeit becomes stronger, we can make it into Pnimius!

Chayus that comes in a way of Makif Harachok is chayus that we will never be able to understand. For example, the mitzvah of Parah Adumah — we know that it is there, but we can’t feel it or understand it. In a way, this kind of chayus is even MORE important and makes a BIGGER difference in our Yiddishkeit!

In today’s Hayom Yom, the Rebbe explains how we can start to understand and appreciate the makif part of mitzvos, the part we usually can’t understand! There are certain mitzvos that help make makif into pnimi.

One of these mitzvos is tzedakah.

Giving tzedakah is a keili to help us understand and feel other mitzvos. That is why it is good to give tzedakah before we do mitzvos, so we will be able to feel our mitzvos in a way of Pnimius!

There is also a way to connect to Makif Harachok, the chayus that is much higher than we can understand. Learning Torah connects us to Makif Harachok, which connects us to Yiddishkeit in an even higher way!



Shiur #328 - Mitzvas Asei #180

Today’s mitzvah (Mitzvas Asei #180) is that if the Beis Din can prove (with two witnesses) that the first witnesses were lying, they are called Eidim Zomemim. The Beis Din gives them the same punishment that they were trying to make the other person get!

Reuven and Shimon came to Beis Din and said that they saw Moshe doing an aveira on Tuesday, and so he needs to get malkos. But before the Beis Din gave the malkos to Moshe, two new witnesses came and said that Reuven and Shimon were lying! They didn’t see Moshe do an aveira on Tuesday, because they were together with them out of town on Tuesday! Now the Beis Din gives malkos to Reuven and Shimon, since that was what they were trying to make Moshe get.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Shoftim: וַעֲשִׂיתֶם לוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר זָמַם לַעֲשׂוֹת לְאָחִיו

The details are explained in Mesechta Makos.



Hilchos Eidus

In today’s Rambam, we finish learning the halachos about witnesses, eidim!

In Perek Chof, we learn more details about today’s mitzvah. The Beis Din only punishes lying witnesses if BOTH of the witnesses are proven to be lying, and only after the Beis Din already issued their psak. But even if they aren’t punished, since we know they are liars, we don’t trust them as witnesses in Beis Din anymore!

Perek Chof-Alef teaches us specific examples about when Eidim Zomemim, witnesses that we proved to be lying, have to pay money to the person they were lying about:

If Eidim Zomemim lied and said that Reuven had to pay back $500 last week, and Reuven says he only has to pay it back next year, the Eidim Zomemim owe Reuven money! They pay him however much it is worth to be able to use $500 for a year.

In Perek Chof-Beis, we learn about what to do when there are two groups of witnesses that come to give eidus about one case, and they each say something different. We know one group is lying, but we don’t know which one!

Let’s say that two groups of people come to Beis Din to be witnesses about a certain case: One group from Yerushalayim, and another group from Chevron. If each group says different things, that means that one of the groups is lying! So if one person from each group later comes to Beis Din to be witnesses about something else, we don’t believe them! That’s because one of them is for SURE a liar, so we really don’t have two witnesses.



Hilchos Melachim - Perek Alef

In Perek Alef of this new set of halachos, the Rambam tells us that there are 3 mitzvos the Yidden have to keep when they come into Eretz Yisroel — in order! First, they have to make a Jewish king, then they have to get rid of Amalek, and then they have to build the Beis Hamikdash.

We learn who can be a Jewish king — only a man, who is not a Ger, who never had a job that might make people think he isn’t important.



Lebn Mit Der Tzeit

In the beginning of this week’s parsha, Parshas Chukas, we learn about the mitzvah of the Parah Adumah. The Torah calls this mitzvah a chok (“Chukas HaTorah”), a mitzvah that doesn’t have a reason we know about. Hashem did not give us the reason for this mitzvah, and some parts of it don’t even make sense to us! (For example, even though the Parah Adumah makes a person tahor from the most serious kind of tumah, anyone who helps prepare the Parah Adumah becomes tomei and needs to go to the mikvah!)

The Medrash tells us that Hashem told Moshe that He would reveal the reason for the Parah Adumah only to him. But if Moshe Rabbeinu knew the reason for the Parah Adumah, why is it called a chok for everyone?

The Rebbe explains in a maamar that even though Moshe Rabbeinu was very great in Torah, that is not what Moshe is all about. The MAIN inyan of Moshe Rabbeinu is that he was the Nasi of the Yidden, taking care of every Jew.

If a Yid didn’t have something, Moshe Rabbeinu would feel like something was missing, even if he had it himself. This was also true with understanding: If the Yidden didn’t understand something, that was what was important to Moshe Rabbeinu. Even if he knew what it meant himself, he felt like it was not understood as long as the Yidden didn’t understand it.

That is why the Parah Adumah is called a chok for everyone, because the Yidden didn’t know the reason, and that meant that even Moshe Rabbeinu felt that it was not understood.

See Kuntres Yud-Beis Yud-Gimmel Tammuz 5751


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Yosheiv Beseiser

After the paragraph of Yaalzu in Kriyas Shema She’al Hamitah, we say part of Kapitel Tzadik-Alef of Tehillim, which starts with the words “Yosheiv Beseiser Elyon.”

In the Gemara in Mesechta Shevuos, it says that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi would say this kapitel at night for protection against the kelipos that are stronger at night. It is called “Shir Shel Pega’im,” the song that protects us against not-good things happening.

This kapitel speaks about Hashem’s protection until the words “Ki Ata Hashem Machsi.” We read these words, and then finish the posuk, “Elyon Samti Me’onecha.”



Saying Pesukim in Shema Multiple Times

In Kriyas Shema She’al Hamitah, there are many different nuschaos and minhagim. The nusach that the Alter Rebbe chose is based on the kavanos of the Arizal, and on things explained in Kabbalah.

One of the things we do in our nusach is to say certain pesukim in Kriyas Shema three times. We say the pesukim describing Shlomo Hamelech’s bed three times, and then again the words Birchas Kohanim three times. (We also repeat many pesukim later on in Shema.)

In Kabbalah, it explains the reason for repeating the pesukim of Hinei Mitaso Shelishlomo three times: These pesukim have 20 words all together. If we say the pesukim three times, we end up with sixty words. This matches the sixty letters in Birchas Kohanim!

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



All of Us Will Gather Together

Most of Sefer Yirmiyah is the Navi warning the Yidden to do teshuvah, or else Hashem will cause the Churban of the Beis Hamikdash. So this sefer is not a very happy one.

In fact, even though the Frierdiker Rebbe learned the whole Tanach baal peh when he was a child, the sefer Yirmiyah was very hard for him to do. It was much too sad.

Still, there are some happy pesukim, where Yirmiyah gives nevuos about Moshiach!

In one of these pesukim, Hashem says through the Navi that all of the Yidden will gather together in Yerushalayim:

הִנְנִי מֵבִיא אוֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ צָפוֹן וְקִבַּצְתִּים מִיַּרְכְּתֵי אָרֶץ בָּם עִוֵּר וּפִסֵּחַ הָרָה וְיֹלֶדֶת יַחְדָּו קָהָל גָּדוֹל יָשׁוּבוּ הֵנָּה

Hineni Meivi Osam Me’Eretz Tzafon — I will bring them from the north land (where they were in Golus)

Vekibatztim MiYarkesei Aretz — And I will gather them from the furthest parts of the world (this is talking about the 10 shevatim that were scattered very far)

Bam Iver U’fiseiach — Including those who are blind and those who can’t walk

Hara Veyoledes Yachdav — Together with the mother who is pregnant and one who just had a baby.

Kahal Gadol Yashuvu Heina — A big group will come back there (to Yerushalayim)!

You may know this posuk from a song about Hakhel! This posuk talks about the big Hakhel of all of the Yidden together, which will happen when Moshiach comes!

See Yirmiyah perek Lamed-Alef posuk Zayin

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