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Parshas Mikeitz - 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 strict 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, now that he was older and had 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 make a war with 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 make a war with people! I see from my magic cup what you did to the people of Shechem, and you want to do the same thing to 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!

See Chanukah Rally for children, Tof-Shin-Mem-Zayin



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 gives chayus to the guf, and our wanting Gashmius things, and the not-good midos we have, come from it. 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, but we don’t need to worry! In Perek Beis, we learned that the neshama we have is very 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 all the time.

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!

As we will learn later, when we bring out the Ahava and Yirah that are hidden in the neshama, we make the neshama strong and able to do its shlichus in the best way! One of the main chances we have to do this is during davening. This is why Avodas HaTefillah is so important!



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!)



Shiur #171 - Mitzvas Lo Saasei #131

(Mitzvas Lo Saasei #131) Yesterday, we learned that we can’t leave any part of the Korban after the time we are supposed to eat it. Today’s mitzvah is that we can’t EAT it after that time!

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Tetzaveh: וְזָר לֹא יֹאכַל כִּי קֹדֶשׁ הֵם



Hilchos Pesulei HaMukdashin

In today’s Rambam, we learn about when Korbanos might need to be brought again.

Perek Ches: If birds for Korbanos get mixed up, we need to know what to do.

Perek Tes: What if our birds for korbanos fly away, or fly to a different group of birds?

Perek Yud: What happens if someone brought birds for two kinds of korbanos, but the kohen brought them all on the Mizbeiach like one kind of korban — do they still count?



Hilchos Pesulei HaMukdashin - Perek Zayin

In this perek, the Rambam teaches us about what can make a bird posul as a korban.

icon of clock


Lighting a Yid's Menorah

After we light the menorah, we should listen to the things it teaches us. One very important thing our Menorah teaches us is about 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 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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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



Menorahs in Shul

The minhag is that we light a menorah in shul during Mincha, before Aleinu.

The Rebbe says that we should try to keep this menorah lit the whole day, as long as people are in shul. This will keep everyone excited about Chanukah! (We should only do this if we are not worried that kids will play with the menorah.)

See Sefer Hasichos 5750, vol. 1 p. 193, ha’ara 81

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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