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Parshas Shemos - Shvi'i with Rashi

The suffering of the Yidden in Mitzrayim becomes very intense. Hashem chooses Moshe Rabbeinu as the one who will take the Yidden out of Golus.

In today’s Chumash we will learn how Moshe begins his shlichus. Moshe and Aharon go to Paraoh, but like Hashem said, he doesn’t listen. Instead, he calls the Yidden lazy and makes them work much harder! Moshe complains to Hashem, and Hashem tells Moshe he won’t get to go into Eretz Yisroel.

Now it was time to go to Paraoh and tell him to let the Yidden go. Even though the leaders of the Yidden were supposed to come too, they were scared and so in the end, only Moshe and Aharon went.

They told Paraoh to let the Yidden go and serve Hashem in the desert for a few days. 

Paraoh said, “Who is Hashem? I don’t know Him, so I don’t have to listen.”

Moshe and Aharon told Paraoh that if he doesn’t let the Yidden go, he will get punished!

Paraoh said, “You’re just trying to make the Yidden stop working! You must be lazy, and they must be lazy. Go back to whatever you usually do.” Then Paraoh decided to make it hard for the lazy Jews! He said that they now need to get their OWN straw to make bricks! Then they will stop being lazy.

Now the work was MUCH harder for the Yidden! They had to get their own straw, and still make enough bricks! All of the Yidden were punished by the Mitzriyim because it was too hard!

Dasan and Aviram saw Moshe and Aharon by the palace and were very angry at them for making things so hard.

Moshe asked Hashem, “Why are You making it so hard for the Yidden? I went to Paraoh, and now instead of making things better, things are worse for the Yidden!”

Hashem wasn’t happy that Moshe was asking questions like that, and He told Moshe that he wouldn’t get to go into Eretz Yisroel. Still he would see how with a mighty hand, Hashem would take the Yidden out of Mitzrayim. Even if the Yidden would not want to leave, Paraoh himself would send them out to their Geulah!



119 (first half)

Today we say the first half of the LONGEST kapitel of Tehillim, kapitel Kuf-Yud-Tes! It has 176 pesukim, 8 pesukim for every letter in the Alef-Beis!

Most of the pesukim in this kapitel talk about how special Torah is and how much we love it! 

Here is one of these pesukim: “Az Lo Eivosh, Behabiti El Kol Mitzvosecha.” It means, “I will not be embarrassed because I think about all of your mitzvos.”

The Rambam uses this posuk at the beginning of his sefer Yad Hachazakah (the Mishnah Torah), where he explains all of the halachos of the mitzvos of the Torah.

Why does the Rambam choose this posuk?

All of the mitzvos are in the Torah. We can find them by learning the pesukim!

For example, the mitzvah of Tefillin comes from the posuk which we say in Shema — “Ukshartam Le’os Al Yadecha, Vehayu Letotafos Bein Einecha.” “You should tie these words as a sign on your hand, and they should be a sign between your eyes.”

But if we try to keep the mitzvah of Tefillin just by learning the words of the Chumash, we will not end up with kosher Tefillin! Someone who tried that would be very embarrassed.

That’s why the Rambam uses this posuk at the beginning of his sefer: Because by learning the halachos in the Mishnah Torah, we won’t need to be embarrassed — we will know how to keep every mitzvah of the Torah properly!

See Yein Malchus (new edition) siman Beis



Likutei Amarim Perek Tes-Zayin

After introducing us to a tzadik and a rasha, the Alter Rebbe teaches us what a beinoni is! In the last perek we learned that a beinoni should also be an OVED, to do more than what we are used to!

In this perek, the Alter Rebbe tells us important rules the beinoni should know, called a Klal Gadol:

1) A beinoni needs to set things up so that the Yetzer Hara can’t pick a fight with him all the time.

The Yetzer Hara always has its own ideas of what to do. It can want things that aren’t good for us, can get angry, can feel lazy and just want to go to sleep, can get us to feel sad for no reason, makes us want to show off to others, and so on.

When a beinoni works hard on davening with hisbonenus, and to feel Yirah and Ahava to Hashem, he will be in control of his feelings (teva). That will keep the Yetzer Hara from even being able to TRY to convince him to listen to most of its ideas! Then, even when the Yetzer Hara DOES manage to try to get him to do the wrong thing, the beinoni will be able to be in control of the feelings from the Yetzer Hara and only do what Hashem wants.

2) Being inspired to do mitzvos with a chayus is enough.

Now that we know the first rule, to have hisbonenus to feel a Yirah and Ahava to Hashem, we might think that it needs to be the kind of Ahava that we REALLY feel!

We know what it feels like to really love someone, like the way we love our parents or baby. We love them so much that we want to do nice things for them, to hug them and kiss them and give them presents.

But what if we don’t feel our love for Hashem that much?

The Alter Rebbe tells us that it’s not possible for every single person to FEEL how much they love Hashem. Many neshamos aren’t able to really love Hashem that strongly. But everyone can THINK about how Hashem is the true existence of everything, and that Hashem created us to keep Torah and mitzvos.

Then we will know that this is what we should be busy with, and will be happy and excited to do our shlichus in the world! We will love being a Yid!

We might still not feel a love for Hashem like we do for a person, but it’s a kind of Ahavas Hashem too! It makes us want to do His mitzvos! This kind of love is called “tevunah” — a kind of love that we have in our mind, even though we don’t have it in our heart.

This is the second “Klal Gadol,” important rule, that a beinoni needs to remember. What’s most important is not to have a glowing feeling of love for Hashem and the mitzvos. All that we need is to be inspired enough by thinking about Hashem and his Torah and mitzvos, so we will want to do what Hashem wants from us.



Chof-Hey Teves

We are learning now in Chumash about Yetziyas Mitzrayim. In today’s Hayom Yom we see how Chassidus is like Yetziyas Mitzrayim, and one of the main differences!

The Rebbe Rashab said in a sicha that Chassidus makes a kind of Yetziyas Mitzrayim!

Being in Mitzrayim meant being stuck in a place that didn’t let the Yidden be the way they should. Yetziyas Mitzrayim is when they left that place and were able to serve Hashem fully!

Chassidus also does that! There are things in the world that distract us from living the way we should, and learning Chassidus and living the way it teaches us helps us come out of that “Mitzrayim” and serve Hashem fully!

But there is one main difference:

When the Yidden came out of Mitzrayim, they were never supposed to go back there! They were FINISHED with it!

But that’s not how we should act with the “Mitzrayim” of the world that tries to distract us. Chassidus teaches that we shouldn’t push it away and try to run away from it. We remind ourselves that Hashem made it and it is good, and figure out how to use it for kedusha!



Shiur #184 - Mitzvas Lo Saasei #144, #108

Today we learn two mitzvos about firstborn animals (bechor):

1) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #144) The bechor has to be brought as a Korban, and the meat belongs to the Kohen. This mitzvah has two parts: Someone who is not a kohen can’t eat the bechor. The second part of the mitzvah is that if the bechor was brought as a korban, the kohen is not allowed to eat it outside of Yerushalayim. (This mitzvah is only kept when the bechor doesn’t have a mum, and it can be brought as a korban.)

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Reeh: לֹא תוּכַל לֶאֱכֹל בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ וְכוּ׳ וּבְכֹרֹת בְּקָרְךָ

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #108) We are not allowed to be podeh (redeem) a bechor for money or for another animal. The bechor itself needs to be given to the kohen and brought as a korban. In the time of the Beis Hamikdash we are allowed to sell it if it has a mum, and nowadays we can sell it even without a mum.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Korach: אַךְ בְּכוֹר שׁוֹר אוֹ בְכוֹר כֶּשֶׂב אוֹ בְכוֹר עֵז לֹא תִפְדֶּה קֹדֶשׁ הֵם



Hilchos Bechoros

In today’s Rambam, we learn about the mitzvah of bechor!

Perek Beis: We learn about a bechor that has a mum. One of the things we learn about is what kinds of mum make a Bechor not good for a korban. If the bechor has one of these kinds of mum, the kohen is allowed to eat it also outside of Yerushalayim.

Perek Gimmel: Now we learn about how the bechor is checked for a mum that would make it not good for a korban. A kohen can’t decide for his OWN bechor! We also learn about using the wool that fell off of the bechor.

Perek Daled: The Rambam teaches us when an animal is patur from being a bechor, and when it’s a sofek — for example, if it belongs to a Yid and a goy, or if we are not sure it is a bechor.



Hilchos Kiddush Hachodesh - Perek Vov

In this perek, the Rambam teaches us how we can figure out when the molad will be in any month of any year! The molad is when the new moon can be seen in Yerushalayim, which shows us when Rosh Chodesh should be.

We also learn about the Machzor of years, a cycle of nineteen years when the solar year (a year based on the sun) and the lunar year (a year based on the moon) catch up to each other again. In the Machzor, there is a pattern of which years are Peshutah (regular years) and which years are Me’uberes (leap years, with a second Adar added). Here are the years that are Me’uberes in each Machzor: Years #3, #6, #8, #11, #14, #17, and #19.



Using Our Body the Way Hashem Wants

In Shlishi of Parshas Shemos, we learned that Moshe Rabbeinu was not happy to see a Yid picking up his hand to hit another Yid. Moshe told him, “Lama Sakeh Reiacha?” “Why are you hitting your friend?” The posuk calls this person a rasha!

We learn from here that a person who even just picks up his hand to hit someone, even if he doesn’t really hit, is already called a Rasha.

Why? What’s so bad about picking up your hand, especially if the other person doesn’t even see? Why does that make someone a Rasha?

There are two kinds of mitzvos: Mitzvos that have to do with the way we act with other people (Bein Adam LaChaveiro), and mitzvos that are just between us and Hashem (Bein Adam LaMakom).

It’s true that picking up your hand when the other person doesn’t see doesn’t hurt him. It is not a problem Bein Adam Lachaveiro. But it still is a problem Bein Adam LaMakom, between us and Hashem!

Why did Hashem give us a body?

Hashem wants us to use every part of our body in a Torah way. Hashem gave us our hand to be used for chesed, like giving tzedakah, and doing other mitzvos. When a person lifts up his hand to hurt another person, he started using his hand for the opposite of why Hashem gave it to him!

Doing something that is against the way Hashem wants is an aveira. That’s why someone who even just picks up his hand to hit another person is called a rasha.

We need to make sure to use every part of our body only the way Hashem wants it to be used!

See Likutei Sichos vol. 31. p. 5, adapted in Dvar Malchus


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Yud-Beis Pesukim - Review

We just finished learning the second group of pesukim, the pesukim from Torah Shebaal Peh. They teach us how we deal with other people. The posuk Kol Yisroel shows us how precious each Yid is, that every Yid is special and made by Hashem. We should treat each one in a way of Ve’ahavta, the way we would want for ourselves.

The pesukim from Torah Shebaal Peh explain to us how to fulfill what we learn in Torah Shebichsav. These two pesukim are also teaching us how to do what we learned in the second pesukim of Torah Shebichsav, Shema and Veshinantam.

In the first pesukim, we learned about the precious gift of the Torah that belongs to each of us, for us to learn and know! Afterwards, we learn about the world around us. We learn how the world is botul to Hashem, through the posuk of Shema. We also learn about our responsibility to teach Torah and mitzvos to other Yidden, in the posuk of Veshinantam.

In these two pesukim from Torah Shebaal Peh now, we learn HOW to do that!

In order for other people to be ready to learn from us, we need to treat them properly. We need to first realize how special and precious they are to Hashem, and then we need to make sure to treat them nicely, the way we would want to be treated ourselves.



Shabbos Mevorchim Shevat

This Shabbos is Shabbos Mevorchim Shevat!

The Zohar says that every Shabbos gives a bracha to the days of the coming week. But Shabbos Mevorchim, the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh, is special! It has a bracha not just for the whole next WEEK, but for the whole next MONTH!

Besides for adding Birchas Hachodesh in davening before Musaf, while the Sefer Torah is out, there are special minhagim that Chassidim have this week.

We say the whole Tehillim on Shabbos morning before davening, which is a takana from the Frierdiker Rebbe, and something the Rebbe encouraged very much.

We make a farbrengen, where we speak about the month we are ending, the new month that is coming, and the parsha of the week, to give us chayus for the coming month!

One of the things that is special about Chodesh Shevat is the Chassidishe Yom Tov of Yud Shevat. It is the yartzeit of the Frierdiker Rebbe, and the beginning of the time that our Rebbe became Rebbe. This year is extra special, since it is 70 years since the beginning of the Rebbe’s Nesius!

See Farbrengen of Parshas Shemos, Tof-Shin-Mem-Vov

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



Believing and Hoping For Moshiach

A Yid has a chiyuv to believe in Moshiach and hope that he will come.

How do we fulfill this chiyuv? What do we need to know or think to be counted as believing and hoping in Moshiach?

The Torah tells us about many special things that will happen when Moshiach comes, and about the rewards Yidden will get for the mitzvos they did in the times of Golus. But the Rambam tells us that main accomplishment of the coming of Moshiach is that we will be able to keep all of the mitzvos of the Torah in the best way.

This is also what our emunah needs to be: That we know that we will be able to keep all of the mitzvos again, and we hope that it will be very soon!

See Likutei Sichos Chelek Yud-Ches, p.280

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