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Revi'i with Rashi

In today’s Chumash, the years of hunger start. The Shevatim come down to Mitzrayim to get food. Yosef acts mean to them to get them to do Teshuvah, and tells them to bring back Benyamin.

The seven years of hunger: Just like Yosef had said, there were 7 years with a lot of food growing. Then the seven years of hunger started. No food grew. Even though many people had saved food, their food got rotten. Only the food that Yosef stored stayed good.

When people got hungry, they came to Yosef and asked him for grain. Yosef agreed, but he made them have a Bris Milah first! (Avraham Avinu had a mitzvah to give a bris to all of his servants, and now everyone in Mitzrayim was like Yosef’s servant.)

The Mitzriyim came to Paraoh to complain that they didn’t want a bris! Paraoh asked them why they didn’t have their own food, and they told him it was all rotten. “If all of your food got rotten, it must be because of Yosef! All of HIS food stayed good. If he can do that, who knows what he can do to you! You’d better just do whatever he tells you to.” So they all did.

When the hunger got so bad that even the rich people had no food, Yosef opened all of the storehouses and sold it to the Mitzriyim. People from all over came to buy food, because there was no food anywhere! There was also no food in Canaan, Eretz Yisroel. But by a neis, Yaakov’s family still had some food to eat!

Yaakov sends the Shevatim down to Mitzrayim: Yaakov told his children: “Don’t pretend that we have enough food for the whole time — we only have a little. Don’t act differently than everyone else by not trying to do anything about it. There is no promise that Hashem will keep making nisim. Don’t take the chance that you will be hungry! Go to Mitzrayim and buy food. (In Lashon Kodesh, he said “Redu Shama” — go down there. The letters of Redu (רד״ו) add up to 210, which hints that the Yidden would be in Mitzrayim for 210 years.) He told them to each go into Mitzrayim a different way so nobody would see them all together and give them an Ayin Hara.

Yaakov didn’t send Benyamin along for the trip, because he was nervous — after all, Rochel passed away when they were going somewhere, and Yosef also disappeared when going somewhere. He didn’t want Benyamin to go somewhere because it might be dangerous.

Yosef’s dream starts to come true: So the rest of the Shevatim all went down to Mitzrayim. They bowed in front of Yosef, who was selling the food. Yosef knew it was his brothers, but he didn’t tell them who he was. (He wanted to first make sure they did teshuvah for selling him.) Yosef pretended he didn’t know them, and mostly talked in a mean way.

Yosef pretended he didn’t understand Lashon Kodesh, so he had his 7-year old son Menasheh translate what they were saying. He asked them, “Where are you from?”

They answered, “From Canaan, to buy food.”

The Shevatim didn’t recognize Yosef, because he looked so different with a beard. Even though he could have done very mean things to them, because they sold him, Yosef treated them like brothers and had rachmonus on them. Yosef remembered his dream, where the wheat bowed down to him, and saw how now his brothers are bowing to him when they’re buying wheat! He realized that his dreams were coming true, and now he needed Benyamin to come to Mitzrayim too so the dream could finish coming true. So he decided to make them bring Benyamin.

Yosef makes sure that the Shevatim did teshuvah: “You are spies!” Yosef told the brothers.

“No, we’re just coming to buy food! We’re all brothers, and we aren’t spies!”

“But if you’re brothers, why did you all come to Mitzrayim in different ways? You must be liars!”

They answered, “No, we are 12 brothers. The youngest is at home, and one of the brothers is missing, and we all went a different way so we could look for him in different places.”

Yosef asked, “Would you pay a lot of money if you found your brother and they didn’t want to let him go?”

“Of course!” said the Shevatim.

“And what if they don’t want to let him go, even if you give them a lot of money?”

“Then we’ll have to kill them so we can bring our brother home.”

Yosef tries to get them to bring Binyamin: Yosef said: “See! I told you that you are spies! You want to kill people! I see from my magic cup that you killed the people of Shechem, and you want to kill Mitzrayim too!

“I will give you a chance to prove you’re telling the truth: One of you should go get your youngest brother, and the rest of you will stay here in jail. If you don’t bring him, I’ll know you’re liars and I swear by Paraoh’s life that you are spies!” (Whenever he had to swear something that wasn’t 100% true, he promised on Paraoh’s name.)

Yosef put them all in jail for three days to give them a chance to decide.

On the third day, he said “I decided to make it easier for you. Do what I tell you and you can live. You can trust me, I am a person who believes in Hashem.”



120 - 134

Today’s Tehillim is kapitelach Kuf-Chof to Kuf-Lamed-Daled.

In Tehillim, Dovid Hamelech gives us words to tell Hashem how we feel. It is like davening, where the Anshei Kneses Hagedolah gave us words to help us daven to Hashem.

Kapitel Kuf-Chof Dovid Hamelech speaks to Hashem on behalf of every Yid. In the end of the kapitel, he talks about the Golus that Yidden have among the nations. He says, “Ani Shalom, Vechi Adaber, Heima Lamilchama!” “I want shalom, but when I speak about that, it just makes the Goyim want to make Milchama, war!”

This also has a Ruchniyus meaning: Our neshama doesn’t want to be tested by Hashem, to see if it will look for taavos instead of doing what Hashem wants. It just wants to think about Torah and mitzvos! That’s why there is a halacha that we aren’t allowed to go in a place where there is something not tznius, or a road where there is Avodah Zarah. We don’t want to go looking for a war with the Yetzer Hara! That’s what it means, “Ani Shalom” — “I want peace.”

But Hashem makes the Yetzer Hara, and all of the not-good things in the world, to come bother us anyway, like in a real war! That’s what the posuk is saying — “Heima Lamilchama,” “they want war.”

Dovid Hamelech starts this kapitel with the word “Shir,” meaning a song. A person only sings when they are happy! Even though the Yetzer Hara is bothering us, Dovid Hamelech is still happy, because he knows Hashem is only testing us. When the neshama shows that it is strong and won’t let itself be convinced by the Yetzer Hara and the taavos of the world, the deepest kochos of the neshama will come out.

That gives a Yid a WONDERFUL reason to be happy and sing to Hashem!



Likutei Amarim Perek Gimmel

Hashem placed 10 special tools in a Yiddishe neshamasechel and midos — to help us do our Shlichus in the world.

Before we learn today’s Tanya, let’s review a bit about what we are learning here:

We learned in Hayom Yom right before Yud-Tes Kislev that the derech of Chassidus is “Hagbaras Hatzura Al Hachomer.” This means to make the neshama and the Ruchnius stronger than the guf and the Gashmius.

In Perek Alef, the Alter Rebbe taught us that we have a first nefesh, which is the guf along with all of its not-good midos. This is what the neshama will work with, to bring kedusha into the guf and to make the Gashmius more Ruchnius’dik.

This might sound like a hard job, since the guf has so many not-good midos, we don’t need to worry! In Perek Beis, we learned that the neshama we have is so strong! It is a part of Hashem, a Chelek Eloka Mimaal Mamosh! Hashem also gives us a Rebbe who helps us connect our neshama back to where it comes from! With this koach, we will for sure be able to do our shlichus of making Gashmius into Ruchnius.

Now in this perek, the Alter Rebbe tells us about the tools built into the neshama that will help us do our job! The tools are Sechel and Midos. Through using them, we can create feelings of Yirah and Ahava. As we will learn later in Tanya, Yirah and Ahava give us chayus and make it possible for us to do our shlichus ALL the time!

When Hashem created the world, Hashem ALSO used these tools! Hashem gave us the same tools that HE has, because our neshama is a part of Hashem!



Chof-Zayin Kislev

In today’s Hayom Yom, we will learn about the Alter Rebbe’s second arrest and Geulah.

We just celebrated Yud-Tes Kislev, when the Alter Rebbe was freed from jail.

A little less than two years later, people again told the government lies, and they took the Alter Rebbe to prison.

This time, the Alter Rebbe was held in a room in a government building, not in a jail cell. This building was called “Tainy Soviet.”

But the lies that were told were much worse! Instead of saying that the Alter Rebbe was a dangerous person, they said that CHASSIDUS was dangerous! They wanted the government to make learning Chassidus against the law!

Today, the 3rd licht of Chanukah, the Alter Rebbe came out of jail for the second time, in 5561!

(Besides for the great simcha it brought to the Alter Rebbe and to Chassidim when this happened, it made Chassidus much stronger than ever before!)

There is a very interesting story that the Rebbe writes in his Reshimos, that has a connection to this:

R’ Shmuel Munkes heard about a group of sorcerers (people who use tumah magic) who used to bother the Yidden of Beshenkovitch and try to stop them from doing mitzvos with their magic. He came to the sorcerers, and the people who were standing there all said, “You won’t try to do anything to HIM (R’ Shmuel Munkes), because he’s too special!” The sorcerers didn’t like hearing that! They said that they would make a contest with R’ Shmuel to see who is stronger. They decided that the contest would be to do magic on a cup of mashke: R’ Shmuel would have to drink their cup, and the sorcerers would have to drink his. R’ Shmuel drank theirs, and none of their tumah magic helped! He was fine. The sorcerers were very scared, but they had to drink his cup of mashke. Both of them died that year.

Later that year, R’ Shmuel Munkes was on his way to Lubavitch, when suddenly a flock of birds tried to attack him! He fought them off, but they kept coming back. He finally gave up and decided to just stay where he was, but the Alter Rebbe sent some Chassidim to come help him and bring him to Lubavitch. The Alter Rebbe was upset at R’ Shmuel Munkes for getting involved with the sorcerers!

Although they didn’t explain the connection, whenever the Rebbeim told this story, they always said, “That year, the Alter Rebbe was sent to jail for the second time.”



Mitzvas Lo Saasei #173, #175, #176, #177, #178

Today we learn even more mitzvos about eating Kosher!

1) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #173) We are not allowed to eat a non-kosher fish.

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #175) We are not allowed to eat flying bugs.

3) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #176) We are not allowed to eat crawling bugs.

4) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #177) We are not allowed to eat bugs that grow on rotten food.

5) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #178) We are not allowed to eat bugs that grow inside of fruits or seeds once they already came out of the fruit or seeds (even if they went back in later).



Hilchos Maachalos Asuros

Perek Hey: We learn the halachos of Eiver Min Hachai, not eating meat that was taken from an animal while it was still alive.

Perek Vov: In this perek, we learn about the isur of eating blood. The Rambam teaches how we get meat ready to eat, by taking out the blood. One of the ways to do this is to soak the meat in water, and then pour salt on it to help the blood come out. Afterwards, we wash the meat in water until the water doesn’t turn red anymore. This is called Melicha.

(Nowadays, we usually don’t need to do this at home. When we buy meat or chicken from a kosher store, it has already been soaked and salted.)

Perek Zayin: The Rambam teaches us the halachos of cheilev, the pieces of fat from an animal that we are not allowed to eat. We need to take out these pieces of fat, along with certain veins that are asur because of eating blood. (The person who does this job is called a “Menaker.”)



Hilchos Shemitah VeYovel - Perek Ches

We need to be careful not to help a person do an aveira by helping them do something asur during Shemitah. For example, a person is not allowed to sell a plow to someone that we know might use it during Shemitah.



Lighting a Yid's Menorah

Happy Chanukah!

Did you know that the menorah has lessons for us to learn? After we light the menorah, we should listen to the things it teaches us. One very important thing out Menorah teaches us is about our Avodah — the shlichus each of us have to bring another Yid closer to Yiddishkeit.

When we look at the menorah after we light it, we will see the flames dancing happily. Really, inside of each of us we also have a flame! The Torah tells us that “Ner Hashem Nishmas Adam” — our neshama is like a dancing flame of Hashem!

Our neshama-flame shines like our menorah when we keep it bright with Ner Mitzvah VeTorah Ohr — with the light of Torah and mitzvos.

But it’s not enough to just have our own flame shining bright. It is part of our shlichus to make sure that ANOTHER Yid’s neshama can also shine! When we bring another Yid closer to Yiddishkeit, and help him do another mitzvah, we are helping his neshama-flame to burn brightly like the candles in our menorah.

But, the Rebbe teaches us, that’s not the hardest part.

If you have your own menorah, or watched your Tatty set up his, you know that it is not so hard to actually LIGHT the Menorah. The harder part is to set it up, putting it in the right place, and filling it with the wicks and the oil and the shamosh, so it will be ready to light on Chanukah.

Before we help another Yid light up his neshama-flame, we also first have to do a harder job — to help make sure his “menorah” is ready to light.

How do we do that?

We need to go out and find the Yid. Maybe he lives on our block, or works in our school, or is even a relative. We need to go up to him and wish him a “Good morning!” or a “Good Shabbos!” or a “Happy Chanukah!” We can give him a smile, or a piece of chocolate Chanukah gelt!

Then, once made the connection, his “menorah” will be ready to light. He will start to think about his own Yiddishkeit! We can help him do a mitzvah, teach him some Torah, or he can even start doing a mitzvah on his own. This way, his neshama-flame will burn strong and bright, and light up the world!

See sicha of Parshas Mikeitz, Zos Chanukah 5747, Likutei Sichos chelek Chof-Hey, p. 433


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Vesein Tal Umatar

Today (starting from Maariv last night) we start to say Vesein Tal Umatar Livracha in davening.

We started saying Mashiv Haruach already on Sukkos. Mashiv Haruach is in the part of Shmoneh Esrei that praises Hashem, and this is praising Hashem for His koach of bringing rain. We start to say it when the rainy season starts in Eretz Yisroel, which is Sukkos time.

But we don’t start ASKING for rain right away — first we want the Yidden to have time to get home from the Beis Hamikdash. That’s why in Eretz Yisroel, we start asking for rain, with Vesein Tal Umatar, on Zayin Cheshvan, which is enough time for the farthest person to get home.

But we only ask for rain when we need it! In different places, that is at different times.

In Bavel, they didn’t need rain until later, so they didn’t start asking for it until two months after the Tishrei season started. Nowadays, the halacha is that everyone outside of Eretz Yisroel starts asking for rain at the time they did in Bavel.

The seasons, or Tekufos, are based on the solar cycle, which is 365 days and 6 hours long. Tekufas Tishrei usually starts on October 4 on the English calendar, which is also based on the solar cycle. That’s why we start saying Vesein Tal Umatar on December 4th. (See Chabad.org/2060070 to understand why it’s sometimes on the 5th.)

The mitzvah of davening is to ask for the things we need, so it is very important not to miss the things the Chachomim told us we need to ask for! Rain especially is very important, because all of our food grows only because of rain.

If the time we need to ask for rain starts, and we didn’t ask, we missed the point of davening, and we need to daven Shmoneh Esrei again!



Forgetting Vesein Tal Umatar

If we daven without asking for rain during the time of rain, our tefillah doesn’t count, and we need to daven Shemoneh Esrei again!

So what happens if we are in the middle of Shemoneh Esrei and we realize we said Vesein Bracha instead by mistake?

We usually ask for rain during the bracha of Bareich Aleinu. If we remember before we say Hashem’s name in the bracha at the end, we just go back to that part of the bracha, saying Vesein Tal Umatar Livracha and continuing from there.

If we realized after saying Hashem’s name in the bracha of Bareich Aleinu, but before starting the next bracha, we can just say the words “Vesein Tal Umatar Livracha” and go on to the next bracha.

If we already started the next bracha of Teka Beshofar, and then realize we didn’t say Vesein Tal Umatar Livracha, we should continue davening! There is still another place where we can ask for anything we need — in the bracha of Shomeia Tefillah. The place to ask for the rain in this bracha is after the words “Umilfanecha Malkeinu Reikam Al Teshiveinu.”

But if we already said Baruch Ata Hashem in the end of the bracha, then like with Bareich Aleinu, we can say the words “Vesein Tal Umatar Livracha” right after the end of the bracha and then continue with Retzei.

After that, there is no other good place to ask for rain. So if we only remember after starting Retzei, as long as we haven’t finished davening Shemoneh Esrei yet, we go back to Bareich Aleinu and say it properly this time, and then continue from there.

But once we start the second Yihiyu Leratzon near the end of Shemoneh Esrei, it is counted as if we finished davening already. If we realize then, or after Shemoneh Esrei completely, we need to go back to the beginning of Shemoneh Esrei and daven again.

For more details, see the Halacha sheet prepared by the Beis Din of Crown Heights

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



Making Eretz Yisroel Bigger

When Moshiach comes, everyone will agree that Eretz Yisroel belongs to the Yidden!

But it won’t be only Eretz Yisroel the way it is now. Hashem promises to make Eretz Yisroel BIGGER — “Ki Yarchiv Hashem Elokecha Es Gevulcha!” Not only will we have the land we call Eretz Yisroel today, which is the land of seven nations, but the land of three other nations written in the Torah (Keini, Kenizi, and Kadmoni) will be part of Eretz Yisroel too!

This, and all of the other special things we will get in the time of the Geulah, come from the avodah we do in Golus. “Maaseinu Vaavodaseinu Kol Zman Meshech Hagolus,” the avodah and the things we do in Golus are what bring the special brachos of the Geulah!

What do we do in Golus to deserve that Eretz Yisroel will become bigger?

The Rebbe teaches us that we should make OUR Eretz Yisroel bigger too!

What is our Eretz Yisroel? Our connection to Hashem through Torah and mitzvos!

The “regular size” of our Eretz Yisroel is the mitzvos of the Torah and the horaos that the Rebbeim showed us we need nowadays. But just like Eretz Yisroel will get BIGGER than that, we should also do MORE than these things to make OUR Eretz Yisroel bigger!

By us doing more than we need to, our Eretz Yisroel will become bigger. This will bring to Eretz Yisroel also growing at the time of the Geulah — “Ki Yarchiv Hashem Elokecha Es Gevulcha!”

See Likutei Sichos chelek Chof, sicha of Motzei Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sarah 5738, p. 345

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