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Parshas Vayeishev - Rishon with Rashi

In today’s Chumash, we start learning about the story of how Yosef was sold as a slave and brought down to Mitzrayim.

So far we have learned from the beginning of Chumash Bereishis about the Creation of the world, and about the Avos — Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. Now we are ready to start learning about how Yaakov’s children went down to Mitzrayim, about the Golus in Mitzrayim, and finally coming out of Mitzrayim to get the Torah.

By now, all of the Shevatim were already born. There were the sons of Leah, the sons of Bilha and Zilpah, and Yosef and Binyamin who were the sons of Rochel. Leah’s sons felt like they were more important than the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, since Bilhah and Zilpah were maidservants.

When Yosef was 17 years old, he was a shepherd together with the other Shevatim. In some ways he acted not so mature (by making his hair look fancy), and in other ways he acted very mature, like spending time with the children of Bilha and Zilpah when they felt bad about how they were treated.

Yosef wasn’t so happy with the way Leah’s sons were acting. He told his father about the things he thought they were doing wrong, like not being so nice to Bilhah and Zilpah’s sons, and eating meat from an animal that wasn’t shechted. (They had reasons for the things they were doing, though.)

Yaakov loved Yosef more than the other Shevatim because he was born when Yaakov was old, and because he looked very much like him. Yaakov taught Yosef everything he learned from Shem and Ever, and he made him a beautiful coat to wear. The Shevatim were jealous when they saw it, and didn’t hide how they were feeling.

Yosef had a dream, that made the Shevatim even more jealous when he told them! He dreamed that they were all gathering wheat in the field, and their bundles of wheat bowed down to his. This made them hate Yosef even more, since it meant that he wanted to rule over them!

Yosef had another dream, and also told his brothers: That the sun, moon, and eleven stars (as a mashal for the Shevatim and his parents) all bowed down to him. Yosef told the story again for his father to hear, but Yaakov told him in front of his brothers that the dream didn’t make sense, because his mother had already passed away. He said this because he didn’t want them to be jealous, but really Yaakov waited and hoped that the dream would really come true.



97 - 103

Today’s kapitelach are Tzadik-Zayin to Kuf-Gimmel.

Once when the Frierdiker Rebbe was a young boy, his father the Rebbe Rashab took him to a Chassidishe farbrengen. It was Sukkos, and the farbrengen was in the freezing cold Sukkah. The farbrengen went until very late, and the Frierdiker Rebbe fell asleep.

Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah (the Frierdiker Rebbe’s mother) came to take him into his warm bed, but the Rebbe Rashab said to let him stay! The Rebbetzin said, “It is cold for him! Doesn’t it say in Tehillim, ‘Kerachem Av Al Banim’ — ‘Hashem has rachmanus on us like a FATHER has rachmanus on his child’? Where is your rachmanus for your son? He might get sick from the cold chas veshalom!” (This posuk is in today’s Tehillim!)

The Rebbe Rashab answered, “Let him sleep close to Chassidim that are farbrenging, and that will keep him warm! This varemkeit (warmth) will stay with him for many generations.”

Many years later, the Frierdiker Rebbe told this story at a farbrengen with Chassidim. After the story, he said, “This is Mesiras Nefesh for Chinuch!”



Hakdomas Hamelaket

Today we learn the first part of the letter that the Alter Rebbe writes to Chassidim before they learn Tanya, called Hakdomas Hamelaket

One of the reasons why the Tanya was written was so the Chassidim wouldn’t have to ask the Alter Rebbe everything about their Avodas Hashem. Instead, they would find their answers in the Tanya!

The Alter Rebbe shows Chassidim that he understands that this might make them worried.

First of all, they would rather have Yechidus to answer their questions, instead of having their questions answered in a sefer.

Also different kinds of people like different kinds of seforim! The Chassidim might be worried that not everyone’s questions can be answered.

In tomorrow’s Tanya, the Alter Rebbe will start to explain why he is doing it this way, and how it is possible for Chassidim to find answers to their questions in this one sefer.



Chof Kislev

Today we learn about the stages in the printing of Tanya, starting from the first time it was printed, to the way we have it today!

The first place the Tanya was printed was in Slavita, today — Chof Kislev, 5557. It had the first two parts of Tanya, Sefer Shel Beinonim and Shaar Hayichud Veha’emunah.

Igeres HaTeshuva, the third part of Tanya, was first printed two years later (5559), in Zolkvi, and then the final version was printed in Shklov seven years later (5566).

The fourth part of Tanya, Igeres Hakodesh (which includes Kuntres Acharon), was printed for the first time in Shklov, in 5574. (This was the year after the histalkus of the Alter Rebbe.)

These four parts of Tanya were corrected to the way we have them now, and printed in Vilna in 5660... and that version has been printed many, many times since then!

The Rebbe instructed that Tanyas should be printed in every place. Is there a Tanya that was printed where you live?



Shiur #150 - Mitzvas Asei #22, Lo Saasei #67, Asei #35, Lo Saasei #83, 84

Today we learn a few mitzvos!

1) (Mitzvas Asei #22) Leviim need to guard the Beis Hamikdash all night. It isn’t because we are worried about thieves, but having guards shows kavod for the Beis Hamikdash.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Korach: וְאַתָּה וּבָנֶיךָ אִתָּךְ לִפְנֵי אֹהֶל הָעֵדֻת

The details are explained in Mesechta Tomid perek Alef, and Mesechta Midos.

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #67) It is asur to leave the Beis Hamikdash unguarded.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Korach: וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֵת מִשְׁמֶרֶת הַקֹּדֶשׁ

The details are explained in the beginning of Mesechta Tomid and Mesechta Midos.

3) (Mitzvas Asei #35) We need to have special oil to put on the Kohen Gadol and a King, to make them ready for the job (Shemen Hamishcha).

Even though Shemen Hamishcha was also used for the keilim of the Mishkan when they were first made, that was a one-time thing and not part of this mitzvah which lasts forever.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Emor: וְהַכֹּהֵן הַגָּדוֹל מֵאֶחָיו אֲשֶׁר יוּצַק עַל רֹאשׁוֹ שֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה

The details are explained in the beginning of Mesechta Krisus.

4) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #83) We are not allowed to make a kind of oil that’s like the Shemen Hamishcha to use for anything else!

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Ki Sisa: וּבְמַתְכֻּנְתּוֹ לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ כָּמֹהוּ

The details are explained in Mesechta Krisus perek Alef.

5) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #84) We can’t smear the Shemen Hamishcha on any other person —it should only be used for the Kohen Gadol and the king!

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Ki Sisa: עַל בְּשַׂר אָדָם לֹא יִיסָךְ

The details are explained in Beginning of Mesechta Krisus.



Hilchos Beis HaBechirah - Klei HaMikdash

In today’s Rambam, we learn the last Perek of Hilchos Beis Habechirah, and the first perakim of Klei Hamikdash — about the keilim that are IN the Beis Hamikdash!

Perek Ches: The Rambam explains how the Leviim and the Kohanim guarded the Beis Hamikdash, and where they stood.

Perek Alef: We learn how the Shemen Hamishcha was made, and how it is used. The keilim in the Beis Hamikdash were different than in the Mishkan — they became holy just by being used and didn’t need the Shemen Hamishcha to be smeared on them. The Rambam also tells us some halachos about these keilim and their kedusha, like what happens if they are broken.

Perek Beis: Now we learn about making the Ketores, and about the mitzvah that the Aron needs to be carried and not transported in a wagon.



Hilchos Shevisas Yom Tov - Perek Alef

In this new set of halachos, we start to learn about resting on Yom Tov:

On Yom Tov, we are only allowed to do the kinds of melacha we need for making food. But even those melachos, we are only allowed to do to actually make food!

There are only two melachos that we can do for other reasons: We are allowed to carry things outside even for other reasons, and we are allowed to light a fire for other reasons (like to be warm).

But the Chachomim warn us not to leave all of the work for Yom Tov, because then we will be working the whole time and not able to enjoy Yom Tov! So we are allowed to cook on Yom Tov so the food will be fresh, but we should not grind wheat on Yom Tov, because we could do that before Yom Tov. Since it wouldn’t make the food taste better to do it later, we shouldn’t push it off until Yom Tov.



Yud-Tes Kislev

On Yud-Tes Kislev, the Alter Rebbe was released from prison. But he didn’t come back home until Chof Kislev, so both days are a Yom Tov!

There is an important lesson we can learn from what happened on Chof Kislev. But first, let’s review what happened on Yud-Tes Kislev in Ruchnius:

Why did the Alter Rebbe sit in jail?

The Alter Rebbe had Mesiras Nefesh to spread Yiddishkeit and to teach Chassidus. Since teaching Chassidus was something new, in Shomayim it wasn’t clear that it was the right thing for it to be revealed now in the world. Therefore also in Gashmius, which is a reflection of what happens in Ruchnius, there were Yidden who disagreed with spreading Chassidus.

Only after the Geulah of Yud-Tes Kislev was it decided in Shomayim, and later accepted in Gashmius too, that Chassidus MUST be learned to prepare the world for the coming of Moshiach!

After the Alter Rebbe left jail, he wrote a letter to the Chassidim, printed in Igeres Hakodesh, telling them how to act with those who were against Chassidus. He told the Chassidim to be humble and not say “Ha, we were right!” or to treat them not nicely in any way.

The Alter Rebbe himself showed an example of this to his Chassidim, which is what happened on Chof Kislev:

Right after the Alter Rebbe left jail, he asked to be brought to the house of one of his Chassidim nearby. In the same house also lived one of the Misnagdim. Mistakenly, the Alter Rebbe was brought to the apartment of the Misnaged instead of to the Chossid!

The Alter Rebbe sat there for three hours, while the Misnaged said many things about Chassidus to hurt the Alter Rebbe. When finally the Chassidim realized what had happened, they came to the Misnaged’s apartment to get the Alter Rebbe. The Chassidim were very upset at the Misnaged and wanted to punish him for bothering the Alter Rebbe! But the Alter Rebbe said that out of respect for his host, since he prepared tea for him, he first wanted to drink the glass of tea.

Obviously, if the kitrug was removed already, the Alter Rebbe didn’t need to go through any more imprisonment and pain. The only reason why it happened was to show an example to Chassidim of how to act after the Geulah. Even though they were very hurt and upset by those who caused the Alter Rebbe to be brought to jail, they should still treat them in a mentchliche, respectful way.

See Farbrengen Yud-Tes Kislev 5738, first sicha


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Yud-Beis Pesukim - Yogaati

The Rebbe gave us 12 pesukim to know by heart and understand well. They have important lessons for us to keep in mind, and can give us chayus in doing what we should. When we are worried or feeling frustrated or upset, the Yud-Beis Pesukim can help us too!

For eample, the posuk Yogaati can be very helpful for us when we are feeling frustrated or hopeless.

Lots of times we try to stop doing an aveira — and it doesn’t work! We mess up again and again. Maybe we should just give up, since we can tell that we’re going to keep doing the wrong thing.

Or there is something we know we are supposed to be doing, but we just can’t seem to make it happen!

When we start thinking that way, we need to remember the posuk Yogaati!

This posuk is from Torah Shebaal Peh, from the Gemara:

Yogaati Velo Motzosi, Al Taamin — If someone says, I tried hard and it didn’t work, don’t believe them!

Lo Yogaati Umotzosi, Al Taamin — If someone says, I didn’t try hard at all, and I was able to do it right away, don’t believe them either.

Yogaati Umotzosi, Taamin — If someone says, I tried hard and it worked, then believe them!

Let’s say that I have a hard time remembering to bring Negel Vasser. I make a hachlata to bring it right after supper, but I STILL keep forgetting! I might want to give up and just stop trying — maybe this is just not for me. But the Torah tells us that if we keep trying hard, then it WILL work!

Or imagine that I am trying not to bite my nails on Shabbos. But every Shabbos, I forget the halacha again! I might feel like it’s just too hard to keep this mitzvah. But this posuk reminds us that we CAN do it! Just keep trying, and we will see that we will have hatzlacha in the end.

Even adults sometimes feel this way! Let’s say I started to learn more Chassidus in honor of Yud-Tes Kislev, but I don’t feel different! I don’t feel like a better chossid! Should I just stop? The posuk Yogaati reminds us to keep trying, because in the end we will see that when we work hard, we WILL have hatzlachaYogaati Umotzosi!



Forgetting Vesein Tal Umatar

We just started saying Vesein Tal Umatar again on Motzei Shabbos, December 5.

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.

In the Southern Hemisphere (like South America, South Africa, and Australia), there are opinions that say that we ask for rain according to the local seasons, which are the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere. So if someone who lives there forgot to say Vesein Tal Umatar, they rely on those opinions and don’t go back and repeat Shemoneh Esrei if they already said Retzei.

For more details, see the Halacha sheet prepared by the Beis Din of Crown Heights, Laws and Customs by Rabbi Lesches

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



Asking for the Geulah

We just started saying Vesein Tal Umatar Livracha in davening, asking Hashem for rain. It is so important to ask Hashem for rain (which is also asking for parnasa), that if we forget to ask in davening, we need to daven Shemoneh Esrei again!

Of course, that’s not the only important thing we need to daven for. We need to daven every day for the Geulah!

The Torah teaches us in many places how important it is to ASK for the Geulah. Here is one of them:

In the halachos of bentching, the Beis Yosef explains why we need to ask for the Geulah in bentching, from a sefer called Shibolei Haleket: “The Chachomim taught that at the time when the Yidden separated from Malchus Beis Dovid, they denied Hashem, the Beis Hamikdash, and Malchus Beis Dovid.”

When did this happen? Many years ago, after the time of Shlomo Hamelech, the Yidden were unhappy with their king. Many of the Shevatim decided to split up into a separate kingdom, with their own king. Even though this meant that they would not have a king anymore from the family of Dovid Hamelech, and even though it turned out that because of that they wouldn’t be able to go into the Beis Hamikdash anymore, since it was in the other kingdom, they didn’t care. They didn’t even want Hashem to be their King, and that they would need to follow what Hashem said.

The Shibolei Haleket continues, “The Chachomim teach us that we won’t get these things back until we show Hashem that we do not agree with how the Yidden felt then, and we ASK Hashem for these things! We should show Hashem that we WANT Hashem to be our King. We WANT to have the Beis Hamikdash. And we WANT to have Moshiach rule over us, from Malchus Beis Dovid!

“That is why we ask for these things in bentching.

“That is also why we ask for these three things in Shemoneh Esrei: We say the bracha of Al Hatzadikim, telling Hashem that we want to be like the tzadikim that are loyal to Hashem — we want Hashem as our King! We say the bracha of Velirushalayim, asking Hashem to build the Beis Hamikdash! And we say the bracha of Es Tzemach Dovid, asking Hashem to make Moshiach, from the family of Dovid Hamelech, the king over the Yidden!”

This is one of the places in halacha where we see that the Torah teaches us to ASK for the Geulah, and only then will the Geulah come!

See Likutei Sichos chelek Lamed, p. 182, footnote 55 and sources there

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