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Parshas Toldos - Sheini with Rashi

There was a hunger, but Yitzchak was not allowed to leave Eretz Yisroel. Instead Hashem told him to go to Gerar, which would later become part of Eretz Yisrael.

Yitzchak went to live in Gerar. Because he was afraid that the people there weren’t good people, he did what his father Avraham did, and told the people of Gerar that Rivkah was his sister.

Avimelech, king of Gerar, didn’t take Rivkah to his palace, so Yitzchak stopped worrying about it, and didn’t keep it such a secret that they were really married.

When Avimelech found out that they were married, he got very angry! “Why didn’t you tell me that you were married? I might have tried to marry her, and then we would be in trouble!” Avimelech warned everyone in Gerar not to bother Yitzchak or Rivkah.

Yitzchak planted grain, hoping to be able to give some to tzedakah. And even though it was a year of hunger without rain and Gerar wasn’t such a great place to plant things, Hashem made a neis and it grew 100 times as much as he expected! Then, when he counted the grain to give maaser, Hashem made another neis, and it grew to be 100 times more than that!



120 - 134

Today’s kapitelach of Tehillim are Kuf-Chof through Kuf-Lamed-Daled.

In today’s Tehillim, Kapitel Kuf-Chof-Ches, it says “Yegia Kapecha Ki Sochel, Ashrecha VeTov Lach” — “when you work hard for your food, it is good for you.” We see that it is important to work for what we need, and not just to take from Tzedakah!

Even though it is very important to work, Chassidus teaches us that the posuk uses very specific words. It says “Yegia KAPECHA” — “the work of your HANDS.” This teaches us that the work should be done with your hands to do it properly, but your HEAD should be busy with Torah the whole time! Even when we need to use our head to think what to do, the chayus in our head doesn’t need to be there. When your mind is always connected to Hashem, then your work will always be done the way Hashem wants.

Maamar Mayim Rabim Tof-Shin-Lamed-Ches



Kuntres Acharon Siman Beis

In today’s Tanya, the Alter Rebbe explains something written in a very deep Kabbalah sefer called Eitz Chayim, about what happens when we do mitzvos with Gashmius.

We want Hashem to bring the Shechina into the world, so we need to make Hashem want it to be here! When we do mitzvos using things from the world (Gashmius), it makes Hashem want to be with us in the world. This is called “Yichud Kudsha Brich Hu Ushechintei.” We learned about it in Perek Mem-Alef in the first section of Tanya, and here the Alter Rebbe explains why it is important to do mitzvos in Gashmius in order to make this happen.

Since the Yetzer Hara deals with the Gashmiyus, we need to make sure that our mitzvos take over first and make it holy so the Yetzer Hara can’t take any part!

Our mitzvos are like someone cutting thorns from a vineyard (where grapes grow), so the thorns can’t scratch the grapes. That’s how mitzvos work — they cut out the Yetzer Hara from the Gashmiyus and only allow the mitzvos themselves to make the Gashmiyus holy! When we do this job, it makes Hashem want to be together with the Shechinah, and to be with us in the world.

Only tzadikim have the special koach to bring the Shechina into the world even without using Gashmius, just by thinking about kedusha!



Chof-Zayin Mar-Cheshvan

Do you want Hashem to love you? Do you want Him to help you and to make you feel close to Him?

R’ Aizik Homiler heard wonderful advice for this: When he came to Liozna (where the Maggid of Mezritch, and later the Alter Rebbe, lived) he found many Chassidim who would always say: “If you love another Yid, Hashem will love you. If you do a favor for another Yid, Hashem will do you a favor. And if you will be mekarev another Yid (bring them close to Hashem), Hashem will make you become close!”

So if you want something for yourself, you can try to ask others to help you — but the best idea is to help someone else get that thing, and then Hashem will make sure you get it too!



Shiur #112 - Mitzvas Asei #95

Today’s mitzvah is that if someone makes a promise and changes his mind, he has to go to a Rav or a Beis Din to take away the promise.

There are some mitzvos that are only a mitzvah to do if we need to do them. For example, it isn’t a mitzvah to become tomei so we can become tahor through the Parah Adumah, but if someone DOES become tomei, it’s a mitzvah to follow the halachos of how to become tahor again!

This is also that kind of mitzvah: It isn’t a mitzvah to change your mind about a promise, but if someone DOES, he needs to follow the halachos of how to take away the promise. For a girl or a woman, her father or husband can take away certain promises (like we learn in Perek Yud-Alef and Yud-Beis of today’s Rambam), and a Rav or Beis Din can be mevatel promises for ANYONE.

In Gemara, this mitzvah is explained in Mesechta Nedarim.



Hilchos Nedarim

In today’s Rambam, we learn more halachos about promises.

Perek Yud: We learn all kinds of halachos about a promise that has to do with time — like if someone makes a promise not to eat fruit for a day, or if he says he will save his bananas until it rains.

Perek Yud-Alef: We learn about what happens if a child (boy or girl) makes a promise in the year before their Bar or Bas Mitzvah. If a girl doesn’t live at home, and isn’t married yet, her promise is a promise! (If she does live at home or is married, her father or husband can take away the promise.) There are also halachos about if a girl is engaged but not married yet — who can take away her promise?

Perek Yud-Beis: We learn about how a father or husband can take away a promise. One interesting halacha is that a father can take away ANY promise, but a husband can only take away a promise that will bother or annoy him or her or make it hard to stay married to his wife. We also learn that he can only take away the promise on the day he hears it — otherwise, the promise stays.



Hilchos Mechirah - Perek Gimmel

In Perek Daled, we learn that if something is put into your containers, it’s like being put on your land, and can become yours. We also learn more about other ways for something to belong to you, like shlepping it or picking it up.



Kinus Hashluchim

We just had the Kinus Hashluchim Ha’olami.

Whether or not you are part of the Kinus, the Rebbe shows us that it has a message for EVERYONE!

The Kinus Hashluchim is a Kinus Ha’olami, an INTERNATIONAL Kinus. Even though each shliach has his main focus on spreading Yiddishkeit in one little part of the world, together all of the shluchim are changing the world!

But that’s not all. Every single Yid and every single shliach is able to make a difference HIMSELF in all parts of the world!


When we meet another person, and share a few words of Torah, the Torah can bring that person a new chayus in Yiddishkeit. That person has friends, and friends from other parts of the world, and he might share those words of Torah with them too. And those friends can share with their friends too, until your Dvar Torah spreads around the world!

This is one of the horaos we should take from the Kinus Hashluchim: That even though we are in one place, we have a tremendous koach to share Yiddishkeit INTERNATIONALLY!

See Sefer Hasichos Tof-Shin-Mem-Tes, Chof-Zayin Cheshvan, se’if hey


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Yehei Shmei Rabah

Between Pesukei Dezimra and the next part of davening, Birchos Kriyas Shema, we say Barchu. One of the reasons we say Barchu is for the same reason we say “Raboisai Mir Vellen Bentchen” before bentching with a mezuman: We tell everyone, “FOCUS! Pay attention!” Now we are reaching the ikar of davening, Shema and Shemoneh Esrei. The Chazan reminds everyone that we are coming to a very important part of davening and we all need to be thinking about what we are saying!

Then, the Chazan says a Kaddish. There are many types of Kaddish, but the first half is the same for all of them. The main part of this is when everyone says “Yehei Shmei Rabah Mevorach,” Hashem’s great Name should be blessed.

The Gemara tells a story that shows that when we answer Amen Yehei Shmei Rabah to Kaddish in shul, it brings Hashem a lot of nachas!

The Tanna R’ Yosi was once traveling. On his way, he passed some of the destroyed houses of Yerushalayim. He went into one of them to daven.

Eliyahu Hanavi waited for R’ Yosi at the door. After R’ Yosi finished davening and came outside, Eliyahu Hanavi greeted him. He asked why R’ Yosi had gone into such a dangerous place. R’ Yosi answered that he was looking for a quiet place to daven. Eliyahu Hanavi told him that it is better to daven a short tefillah on the road so nobody will interrupt you, and not to go into a dangerous place.

After teaching him this, Eliyahu Hanavi asked R’ Yosi what he had heard when he was in the ruined house.

R’ Yosi answered that he heard a voice, cooing like a dove. It said, “How sad it is for the children (the Yidden)! Because of their aveiros, I destroyed My home (Yerushalayim), burned My Heichal (the Beis Hamikdash), and sent them into Golus among the nations!”

Eliyahu Hanavi told him, “I promise you that the Shechinah did not only say this when you were inside the ruined home. The Shechinah cries this way three times during each day!

“And when Yidden say ‘Yehei Shmei Rabah Mevorach,’ that Hashem’s great Name should be blessed, it is like Hashem nods His head! Hashem says, ‘Happy is the king who is praised this way in his home.’ It would be so happy for Hashem to be praised this way in His Beis Hamikdash.

“Hashem continues, ‘How terrible it is for the father who sends away his sons, and how terrible for the sons who were sent away from their father’s table.’ It is so sad for Hashem Who sent away His children, the Yidden, and so sad for the Yidden who were sent away from Yerushalayim.”

When we answer Yehei Shmei Rabah Mevorach, it reminds Hashem how nice it would be to again have the Beis Hamikdash, and makes Hashem feel bad about the Yidden being in Golus!



Standing During Kaddish

Do we need to stand when the Chazan is saying Kaddish?

There are two opinions:

One opinion says that we don’t need to stand up when we hear Kaddish or Barchu. Still, if we are already standing up, like after Hallel, we should stay standing.

The second opinion is that we should stand whenever we hear words of Kedusha! We learn this from a non-Jewish king, a rasha, named Eglon. He stood up to hear the words of the Navi. If even he stood up, of course Yidden should stand to hear words of kedusha! According to this opinion, we should stand up even if we were sitting.

The Alter Rebbe says that it is good to follow this second opinion.

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman 56 se’if 5

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



Kaddish & Geulah

Kaddish starts with the words “Yisgadal Veyiskadash Shemei Rabah.” “Hashem’s great Name should be great and holy.”

The Avudraham (a famous meforash on Tefillah) explains that the words of Kaddish are asking that Hashem’s name should be made holy by bringing the Geulah. Then, everyone will see that Hashem is one!

These first words of Kaddish are based on a posuk from the Navi Yechezkel, which speaks about the war of Gog and Magog, which happens close to the time of Moshiach. The posuk is, “Vehisgadilti Vehiskadishti Venodaati Le’einei Goyim Rabim, Veyadu Ki Ani Hashem.” Hashem says that at this time, “I will become great and holy, and known to many nations, and they will know that I am Hashem.”

When Moshiach comes, EVERYONE will be able to see and understand that there is only Hashem and nothing else!

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