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Chamishi with Rashi

Moshe Rabbeinu tells the Yidden about more of the mitzvos they will soon get a chance to keep in Eretz Yisroel!

Imagine you are a worker in the hot sun. You are picking the most juicy, delicious-looking grapes you ever saw. You are carefully putting them into a big basket so they can be sold in the marketplace. Do you think you’d want to taste a few?

The Torah tells us that when someone is working in another person’s field, helping to pick vegetables or fruits, he is allowed to taste as much as he wants! He can’t take any home with him, but he is allowed to eat while he works.

We learned many times about how a Jewish marriage is full of Kedusha. What happens when someone can’t stay married anymore?

If two people are married, and one of them acts in a way that isn’t right for a Yid, sometimes it is the right thing for them not to stay married anymore. They need to go to Beis Din, who writes a special paper called a Get. It is very hard to write a Get properly! Once the man gives her the Get, they aren’t married anymore, and she is allowed to marry someone else.

The Torah warns other men to be careful about marrying someone if her Get was because she didn’t act like a Jewish woman should — they will probably end up giving her a Get too.

If the man and woman change their minds, they can only get married again if she didn’t get married to anyone else since she got her Get.



66 - 68

Today’s kapitelach are Samach-Vov, Samach-Zayin, and Samach-Ches. We also say three kapitelach for Elul: Lamed-Daled, Lamed-Hey, and Lamed-Vov.

In Kapitel Samech-Vov, Dovid Hamelech says with Ruach Hakodesh words we will say to Hashem when Moshiach comes!

In pesukim Yud, Yud-Alef, and Yud-Beis, Dovid Hamelech tells us how we will thank Hashem for saving us from the tzaros of Golus. We will say that even though Hashem tested us with many tzaros, and that sometimes the troubles even got worse, in the end, Hashem saved us! Vatotzienu Larevaya, we will thank Hashem for bringing us out of Golus to the time of Geulah!

See the Metzudos on this kapitel, and the introduction in Tehillim Ohel Yosef Yitzchok



Igeres Hakodesh Siman Yud-Gimmel

This Igeres is a letter the Alter Rebbe sent with a shliach (Shadar) who was collecting tzedakah in the communities of Chassidim, to inspire them to give tzedakah.

In this letter, the Alter Rebbe explains that even people who usually do mitzvos with a cheshbon, doing them exactly the way they need to be done, have the koach to give tzedakah without a cheshbon. The Alter Rebbe is waking up this koach of their neshama to give tzedakah without a cheshbon, much more than they would plan to give! One of the rewards for doing this is that Hashem will also give brachos without a cheshbon, even more than the person deserves!

First let’s learn about two different ways Yidden can serve Hashem:

A Yid can do mitzvos and learn Torah EXACTLY the way the Torah says. He can work hard to everything just right. All of his Avodas Hashem is just between him and Hashem, and nobody else needs to know! (This is like the derech of Beis Shamai, who were very strict in everything they did.)

Or there is another way — a person could feel so excited about their Yiddishkeit, that they want other people to enjoy it too! They don’t spend so much time trying to make sure everything is perfect, they just are busy doing LOTS of mitzvos, showing everyone how much they love being a Yid! (This is like the derech of Beis Hillel, who were more kind and giving to others.)

A person will have one of these different ways of serving Hashem based on where their neshama comes from — Chesed or Gevurah.



Yud-Beis Elul

The Rebbe Rashab said a very long Hemshech called “Besha’ah Shehikdimu, Te’erav.”

What is a Hemshech? It is many maamarim that need to be learned in order — like one very long maamar!

The Hemshech took more than THREE YEARS to say to the Chassidim — from Shavuos in 5672 (when the Rebbe Rashab was in Lubavitch) to Parshas Vayeira in 5676 (when the Rebbe Rashab was in Rostov)! This last maamar starts with the words “VaHashem Amar.”

There are 144 Maamorim in this Hemshech. (It is the LONGEST hemshech of maamarim in Chassidus!)

In fact, the Rebbe Rashab even had a SECOND part that he didn’t say it to the Chassidim — he just wrote it down.

For many years, Chassidim only had parts of this Hemshech in copies of handwritten notes. In the year Tof-Shin-Lamed-Zayin, the Rebbe asked for it to be printed! The Rebbe gave special instructions how this should be done, and asked everyone to be a part of it! (See Derher magazine, Kislev 5777, for the whole story of when this happened!)

One of the things we can learn from this is about the Avodah we do in Chodesh Elul, where we make hachlatos for the coming year. We can learn from this that it is possible to make a hachlata that will take a long time to finish — even a few years!

Did you ever think about making a hachlata that will take you a long time to finish?



Mitzvas Lo Saasei #195, Asei #37

We learn two mitzvos in today’s Sefer Hamitzvos:

1) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #195) A Ben Sorer Umoreh is an older kid who eats in a grubbe way and does other kinds of things that show that he will be full of aveiros. Being a Ben Sorer Umoreh is a big aveira and the Beis Din has to punish him!

2) (Mitzvas Asei #37) Even though a Kohen is not allowed to become tomei by going near someone who passed away, like to a levayah or a cemetery, he is supposed to become tomei for the levayah of someone very close in his family.

This mitzvah is also where we learn that any person has the mitzvah to mourn (aveilus) for a close family member.



Hilchos Mamrim - Aveil

In today’s Rambam, we are finishing Hilchos Mamrim and starting Hilchos Aveil.

Perek Zayin: In this perek of today’s Rambam we learn about the Ben Sorer Umoreh, a boy who acts in a certain way like a rasha. The Beis Din needs to have him killed so he won’t do more aveiros.

But if you look at the halachos, there are many, many details. If not all of the details are exactly right, he isn’t counted as a Ben Sorer Umoreh! For example, if he ate a meal like a rasha, but it was part of a mitzvah, or part of a different aveira, he is not punished.

There is an opinion in the Gemara that there never WAS a Ben Sorer Umoreh! This is one part of Torah that we learn even if we can never actually do it — and it makes us so close to Hashem —“Drosh Vekabel Schar.”

We finish learning the halachos of Mamrim, and we learn the first two perakim about Aveilus, mourning.



Hilchos Nedarim - Perek Zayin

In today’s Rambam, we are learning more halachos about Nedarim (a kind of promise).

What happens if someone makes a neder not to get ANYTHING from someone? What is he not allowed to take from this person, and what are the times when he can?



Chodesh Elul

In Elul, we make a Cheshbon Hanefesh — seeing how we did this past year, to prepare for the coming year, so it will be much better. Did we do a good job with our mitzvos? Did we start figuring out some of the tricks our Yetzer Hara tries to use on us? Are we doing better in our Avodas Hashem than last year? Are we really using ALL of our kochos to bring the geulah closer?

How do we make this Cheshbon Hanefesh?

The Rebbe’s father, R’ Levi Yitzchak, explained that the word “Elul” teaches us how! If you make the letters “Elul” into numbers, you will get 67. Another word with the same Gematria (making letters into numbers) is Bina, understanding!

There are two ways of understanding something — we can understand something in general, or we can understand it completely with all of the details. When we understand something completely, that is using our koach of Bina.

For our Cheshbon Hanefesh in Elul, we need to have Bina! We can’t JUST think about “Did I have a lot of Kibbud Av Va’em? Maybe I need to do better.” We need to think, “I need to have more Kibbud Av Va’em by doing what Mommy and Tatty tell me RIGHT AWAY, instead of waiting until I’m in the mood.”

When we think about how we acted with Bina, we can figure out how to make every little part better and be sure that we are doing our shlichus in the coming year in the best possible way!

See Toras Menachem Tof-Shin-Mem-Daled, vol. 4, p. 2504


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Ledovid Hashem Ori

Starting from Rosh Chodesh Elul, all the way through Hoshaana Rabbah, we add a special mizmor to our davening each day, in Shacharis and Mincha. This is kapitel Chof-Zayin of Tehillim, which starts with the words Ledovid Hashem Ori.

Adding this kapitel is a minhag that goes back to the time of the Arizal! It is written that if we say this mizmor during Elul, it takes away any not good gezeiros, so that we will be judged only for good. In Ledovid Hashem Ori, there are many hints to the avodah of Elul and the Yomim Noraim:

We say, “Hashem Ori Veyishi,” “Hashem is my light and my salvation.” The Medrash explains that during Rosh Hashana, Hashem shows Himself in a way of Ori, as our light. On Yom Kippur, Hashem shows Himself in a way of Yishi, saving us.

Another hint is near the end of this kapitel, in the posukLulei He’emanti,” “if only my emunah was proper.” The word Lulei is the same letters as the word Elul, only backwards! This hints to the avodah of Elul — looking back on what happened during the past year so we can work on doing better next year.

Chassidus brings that a very important posuk of this Mizmor connected to Elul is “Lecha Amar Libi, Bakshu Fanai” — “My heart says to search out the pnimius of Hashem.” When Hashem is like a king in the field, it is much easier to find the pnimius of Hashem! This is the avodah of Elul, to use the kochos of this time and connect to Hashem in this special way.

See Otzar Minhagei Chabad, Chodesh Elul and sources cited there



Order of Brachos - Review

As Yidden, we try not just to do the mitzvos, but to do them in a beautiful way! That is why we read every word of bentching loudly and clearly, and why we invite LOTS of Shabbos guests.

Saying brachos before enjoying Hashem’s delicious food is also a mitzvah. To do this mitzvah in the best and most beautiful way, we are careful not only to say the right bracha on the food, but to make the brachos in the right order, on the most important foods we have.

We follow the order of brachos in Shulchan Aruch: Mezonos, HaGafen, Ha’Eitz-Ha’Adamah, and Shehakol. (A way to remember the order is with the words “Maga Aish.”)

(We only follow this order with foods that are in front of us, that we are planning on eating now. We don’t have to go find more foods to make other brachos first, or switch around the order of courses to make the brachos in the right order. If we need to eat or drink another food first to enjoy the meal, we can also make the brachos in whatever order makes sense.)

When we have more than one food for a certain bracha, we choose one of two ways to figure out which is the most important food, to make the bracha on:

1) Our favorite: We can choose to make the bracha on the food that WE feel is the most important — the food we usually like most or want to eat most now.

If we choose this way of finding out the most important foods, we pick a food that is whole if we have one, not a food that is broken or cut up. If we are choosing a favorite fruit or vegetable, we can even make the bracha of Ha’adamah before Ha’eitz, but we shouldn’t change the order of any other brachos! We also don’t have to worry about the order of the Shiva Minim.

2) Eretz Yisroel fruit: We can choose to make the bracha on a food the TORAH says is special, because it comes from the Shiva Minim.

If we choose this way of finding which food is most important, it doesn’t matter if the fruit is whole or not. But we should follow the order of the posuk which speaks about the Shiva Minim to see which one the Torah considers most important. That order is wheat, olives, barley, dates, grapes or raisins, figs, pomegranates.

Because olives are so close to the word “Aretz” (the land of Eretz Yisroel) in the posuk about the Shiva Minim, they are after wheat, but come before barley and other grains in importance. So if we have olives along with a non-wheat grain (like oatmeal or spelt cookies), we can choose to go by the order of the Shiva Minim and make the bracha Ha’eitz on the olives before the Mezonos.

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



Moshiach Will Explain

The Navi Zechariah lived at the same time as the Navi Chagai. During those days, the Yidden had returned to Eretz Yisroel and were trying to build the second Beis Hamikdash.

Zechariah started saying nevuos when he was still young, and he says some of the most famous nevuos about the Geulah!

Many of Zechariah’s nevuos are very mysterious. The Navi tells us what he saw, and they are like dreams that we can’t understand. Rashi tells us (in the first posuk of Zechariah) that we will not understand all of Zechariah’s nevuos until Moshiach himself comes to explain them!

IY”H over the next few days we will learn some of Zechariah’s famous nevuos about the Geulah.

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