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Rishon with Rashi

At the end of Parshas Mikeitz, we learned that Yosef’s servant found the “magic” cup in Benyamin’s bag, and now Yosef said he was going to keep Benyamin forever as a slave. Yehuda decided that he will make SURE that doesn’t happen!

Yehudah came to Yosef and said: “Please let me say something to you that might make you change your mind! Please don’t be angry, even though I’m going to say harsh words.

“Do you know that my great-grandmother, Sarah Imeinu, was captured by a Paraoh before? He got makos just from that! Do you think Hashem won’t punish you for keeping Benyamin?”

Yehudah then reminded Yosef of how Benyamin came down to Mitzrayim: Yosef had told him that they NEED to bring Benyamin down to Mitzrayim.

Yehudah continued, “It looks like you were never telling us the truth! You said that you just wanted to see Benyamin, and now I see you want to keep him!”

Yehudah described how Yaakov had been afraid to let Benyamin go. Yaakov had warned the Shevatim of the terrible pain it would cause him if anything happens to Benyamin!



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Today’s kapitelach of Tehillim are Alef through Tes.

Today, we are starting Sefer Tehillim again from the very beginning! IY”H we will finish the whole thing before Rosh Chodesh Shevat!

Kapitel Alef talks about how a person should behave in order to have hatzlacha from Hashem. By making sure that we are involved in Torah and not narishkeit, we get lots of brachos!

In this kapitel, we say a very interesting posuk: “Ki Im BeSoras Hashem Cheftzo, UveSoraso Yehege Yomam VaLayla.” “HASHEM’S Torah is all he wants, and he is busy with HIS Torah all day and night.”

How come it first says HASHEM’S Torah, and then it says HIS Torah (that it belongs to the person learning it)?

We are learning now in Tanya that when a person is learning a part of Torah for the first time, it feels like it’s something that’s not part of him. But when he learns it again and again, he starts to understand it better. When he finally “gets it,” the Torah becomes part of him, like food that you eat, which becomes a part of you and gives you chayus.

So at first it feels like we’re learning Hashem’s Torah, but once we understand it, it feels like OUR Torah!



Likutei Amarim Perek Daled

We learned before about the special tools Hashem gave to our neshama. There is Sechel (the kochos of understanding — chochma, bina, and daas); Midos (the kochos of feeling — like chesed, gevurah, and tiferes); and the Levushim (the “clothes” of the neshama, that it uses to express itself — machshava, dibur, and maaseh).

A person might think: What’s more important — me or my clothes? Of course I am more important, right?

So you might think that your sechel and midos, the main kochos of the neshama, are more important than the levushim, the “clothes” the body expresses itself in.

But that’s not the way it is!

The “clothes” of the neshama are Machshava (thinking), Dibur (speaking), and Maaseh (doing). We use our Machshava to think about what the Torah means. We use our Dibur to speak words of halacha. And we use our Maaseh to actually DO the mitzvos of the Torah!

The kochos of our neshama are a part of Hashem, but it is hard to see that when the neshama is in a body. Torah and mitzvos are one with Hashem in a way that is always clear to see! So by using the levushim of our neshama (Machshava, Dibur, and Maaseh) for Torah and mitzvos, we can become connected to Hashem in an even stronger way than with the sechel and midos of the neshama themselves!



Alef Teves

In today’s Hayom Yom, the Rebbe tells us a few hanhagos we do when it comes to Hallel.

1) When you daven in Shul, on a day when we don’t say the whole Hallel, only the chazan says the bracha when we say “half Hallel.” It is our minhag that if you daven without a minyan, you DO say the brachos at the beginning and the end of Hallel, even on days when we don’t say the whole Hallel (like Rosh Chodesh, which is today — except that today we say the WHOLE Hallel because it’s also Chanukah)!

(In a farbrengen, the Rebbe told us that the minhag of chassidim is that we make a bracha, quietly, even when we say half Hallel WITH a minyan! See Sichos Kodesh 5741, vol. 4, p. 322)

2) We also don’t say the word “Al” in the last paragraph that starts Yehalelucha. (If you look in your siddur, you’ll see it’s in parentheses.)

3) We don’t wear Tefillin during Musaf. So we put them all on and take them off before Davening Musaf. In a different HaYom Yom, the Rebbe tells us that there are certain things we are supposed to learn while wearing Tefillin. Even though we take off the Tefillin on Rosh Chodesh before Musaf, we still learn those things AFTER davening, even without wearing the Tefillin.

(The reason why we don’t wear Tefillin during Musaf is because we don’t want to make the malochim feel bad. In Musaf, we say “Keser Yitnu Lecha Malochim,” that the malochim give Hashem a crown. If we’re wearing OUR crown of Tefillin when we say this, the malochim might feel bad.)



Mitzvas Lo Saasei #193, #153, #194, Asei #146

Today we are finishing the mitzvos about non-kosher food! We are also going to start learning the mitzvos of Shechitah. First we learn a few last mitzvos about food we aren’t allowed to eat:

1) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #193) We are not allowed to eat vegetables or grain that grew in a vineyard (where you grow grapes). This is called Kilai Hakerem.

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #153) We are not allowed to eat food before the Terumos and Maasros (presents to the Kohanim, Leviim, and poor people) are given. This is called Tevel.

3) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #194) We are not allowed to drink wine that was used for Avodah Zarah, called Yayin Nesech.

We also learn a mitzvah from our new set of halachos:

4) (Mitzvas Asei #146) We need to shecht an animal before we can eat it.



Hilchos Maachalos Asuros - Shechitah

Today we learn the last perek of Hilchos Maachalos Asuros, perek Yud-Zayin, and the first two perakim of Hilchos Shechitah. In today’s first perek, the Rambam tells us about MANY important inyanim we need to know about kashrus! Here are some of them:

- Ben Yomo — if a pot was used on that same day to cook non-kosher food
- Toiveling dishes
- We don’t need to kasher a dish only used for cold non-kosher food
- Kashering pots and dishes that were used for non-kosher hot food (hagalah)
- The special halachos of kashering knives
- Bishul Akum (food cooked by a non-Jew)
- Pas Akum (bread baked by a non-Jew)
- Aino Oleh Al Shulchan Melachim — food that a king wouldn’t serve at his table doesn’t need to be Bishul Yisroel

We also learn about the issur of “Bal Teshaktzu,” not doing things that are disgusting, like eating from dirty dishes. This issur also includes that if a person needs to go to the bathroom, he HAS to take care of it right away!

The Rambam finishes this set of halachos by reminding us that these things are what make us holy, to be like Hashem!

Now we start learning the halachos about shechting animals.

One halacha is that the knife used for shechting has to be sharp and smooth! The shochet checks his knife before he shechts, to make sure that it didn’t get a nick in it since the last time he shechted.



Hilchos Shemitah VeYovel - Perek Yud-Beis

Today the Rambam teaches us about the halachos of houses in cities with walls around them. When Moshiach comes, all of these halachos will be kept again!



Zos Chanukah

Tonight and tomorrow is Zos Chanukah!

There is a sefer called the Shaloh written by Yeshaya Halevi Horowitz. He writes that if a person isn’t able to learn for whatever reason, there is a shortcut he can use! He can say the names of the Chumashim, Parshiyos, and Mesechtas, then it will be considered as if he is learning them!

There are many maamorim from the Rebbeim about Chanukah and even special maamorim for the last day of Chanukah, called Zos Chanukah. Even if we don’t have enough time to learn the maamorim themselves, we can at least know about them and say the names of the maamorim, and that is also something good!

There is a maamar from the Alter Rebbe that speaks about how special the last day of Chanukah is. It starts with the words “Havaya Li BeOzrai VaAni Ereh BeSonai,” “Hashem helps me and I will see that my enemies will go away.” The Tzemach Tzedek also talks about the last day of Chanukah in a maamar that starts with the words “Boruch She’Asa Nissim.”

There is also a maamar from the Rebbe on Zos Chanukah, 5738 (which was a Seudas Hoda’ah for the neis of Rosh Chodesh Kislev) which starts with the words, “Mitzvasa MiSheTishkeh HaChama.”


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Halelu Es Hashem

In Hallel, we say “Halelu Es Hashem Kol Goyim,” that the nations of the world will praise Hashem, “Ki Gavar Aleinu Chasdo,” because Hashem showed us His chesed in a strong way. This means that when Hashem shows us His chesed in its full power, the goyim will praise Hashem!

This will happen when Moshiach comes, when all of the nations of the world will join together to serve only Hashem.

But we can even get a taste of it now! By every Yid doing their avodah, especially the avodah of Chanukah, which spreads the lights to the whole world, the goyim will also start to praise Hashem. They will start to recognize that there is only one Aibershter, and want to live the way Hashem tells them to!

See Maamar Zos Chanukah 5738



Rosh Chodesh

Today is Rosh Chodesh!

There is an old minhag that on every Rosh Chodesh, we learn one posuk with Rashi (and other explanations) from your kapitel Tehillim. If your kapitel has less than 12 pesukim (or less than 13 in a leap year), you can learn the same pesukim over again. If your kapitel is long, learn a few pesukim every Rosh Chodesh.

Here is the order of davening on Rosh Chodesh during Chanukah:

1) In Shemoneh Esrei, don’t forget Yaaleh Veyavo and Ve’al Hanisim.

2) Right after Shemoneh Esrei, say WHOLE Hallel, with V’Avraham Zakein.

3) Go back and say Shir Shel Yom, Hoshieinu, and Borchi Nafshi.

4) When davening with a minyan, we take out TWO Sifrei Torah and lein for Rosh Chodesh, and then for Chanukah.

5) Say Ashrei and U’va LeTzion.

6) Daven Musaf for Rosh Chodesh, and don’t forget Ve’al Hanisim!

7) Go back and say Kavei, Ein Keilokeinu, Aleinu, etc.

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



An Exciting Avodah

In Golus, the world can look very messy. There are many times when it is hard to do mitzvos, there are lots of taavos all around us, and many sad or uncomfortable things.

It isn’t always easy to ignore those challenges and do what we are supposed to anyway.

Chassidus teaches us that all of these problems come from the Kelipah and Sitra Achara that Hashem put into the world. And hiding inside of that Kelipah and Sitra Achara are sparks of kedusha!

Our job is to find and fix up those sparks of kedusha, so that the world can become a comfortable place for Hashem, a Dira Betachtonim. We do this by making sure that our Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasadim are strong, and by helping Yidden who got stuck in kelipah and taavos, or grew up that way, to come closer to Yiddishkeit. By doing this, we are making the world ready for Moshiach!

When we realize that the hardships were PUT THERE just for us to overcome them, it won’t be HARD to do our avodah, it will be EXCITING! We will know that every time we see something hard in the world, it is because Hashem wants us to find the kedusha inside of that kelipah! We will be so excited to do our part in bringing the Geulah!

See Maamar Zos Chanukah 5738

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