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Parshas Shoftim - Rishon with Rashi

Moshe Rabbeinu continues to farbreng with the Yiddden, preparing them to go into Eretz Yisroel. In today’s Chumash, Moshe tells them more about the mitzvos that they will need to keep in Eretz Yisroel.

In Eretz Yisroel, the judges will be different than in the Midbar: Now there are judges based on how many people there are (judges for every 10 people, for every 50 people), but in Eretz Yisroel there will be a Beis Din for each city. You need to make Shoftim and Shotrim — judges and policemen for every city. The judges will pasken what needs to be done, and the policemen will make sure that people follow what the judges say!

Make sure the judges know that it is very important to be fair! They can’t be nice to one person and not the other, and they can’t take any presents from people they are judging, because this will make it too hard for them to be fair. If you have good judges, you will deserve to be able to stay in Eretz Yisroel!

Now Moshe tells the Yidden some more mitzvos to be careful to do:

- Don’t plant any trees near the Beis Hamikdash!

- Don’t make a Mizbeiach outside of the Beis Hamikdash!

- Don’t shecht a Korban if you were planning on not following the dinim of eating it at the right time (pigul)!

- If someone worships Avodah Zarah, and there are witnesses, he is punished with Misas Beis Din.

Then Moshe Rabbeinu tells the Yidden some more dinim about judges:

If the judges aren’t sure what the answer is to a question, they need to go ask the Sanhedrin in the Beis Hamikdash! Everyone needs to listen to the Sanhedrin, even a person who is a judge himself and a Talmid Chochom. If he doesn’t listen, he is called a Zakein Mamrei and is chayav misa.



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Today we start the Tehillim again from the beginning! We say kapitelach Alef through Tes.

Many times when Yidden were in trouble, the Rebbe would speak about a posuk from one of today’s kapitelach: “Mipi Olelim Veyonkim Yisadeta Oz” — “from the mouths of children and babies You get koach to destroy the enemies.” The Rebbe explained that the koach of the Torah and mitzvos of children is what gives us koach to destroy all of our enemies!

From this posuk we learn that when even a very small child or a baby says words of Torah or does a mitzvah, it is able to protect Yidden everywhere!

This is why chinuch of small children is so important, because it helps keep all Yidden safe!



Igeres Hakodesh Siman Yud

In this letter, the Alter Rebbe is again encouraging Chassidim to give tzedakah, by explaining to them what tzedakah does! But first we will learn something about teshuvah, which will help us understand later how to give tzedakah in an extra special way.

Mitzvos are in Gashmius, and they need to be done just right so the chayus of Hashem can be be brought down trhough them into the world. That’s why the Shofar has to be made a certain way, and a Lulav has to be a certain size. A Sukkah can’t be too small, and it can’t be too tall!

Tzedakah is also a mitzvah that has a “size!” Tzedakah is a very important mitzvah that brings Chayus to the whole world — it’s one of the mitzvos that makes the world stay. (“Al Shlosha Devarim Ha’olam Omeid!”) The Gemara says that even if you give a lot of tzedakah, you shouldn’t give more than a chomeish (a fifth — $1 out of every $5 you have). Of course, we need to give at least maaser, 10% of what we earn!

Doing mitzvos properly brings Hashem’s chayus to the whole world. But if a person missed a chance to do a mitzvah, or chas veshalom did an aveira, he missed a chance to bring Hashem’s chayus into the world! He lost a chance to have that chayus for himself, and for the world — to bring Moshiach closer.

But Hashem gives us the koach to do teshuvah!

Teshuvah connects us to a part of our neshama that DOESN’T have an amount, and it also brings a chayus from Hashem that doesn’t have an amount! That way, it can even fix up chayus that was missing from before!

In fact, the chayus we bring from teshuvah is even stronger than the chayus a Tzaddik brings — someone who uses EVERY chance he has, ALL the time, to bring Hashem’s chayus into the world!

IY”H in tomorrow’s Tanya we will see what happens when we give tzedakah in a way of Bli Gevul, without an amount, meaning even more than a Chomeish. When we do this, together with our teshuvah, it can bring a chayus from Hashem which is also Bli Gevul, without an amount! This chayus can fill in any opportunities we missed in the past to do Torah and mitzvos properly.



Alef Elul

In today’s Hayom Yom we learn about a minhag that we start doing today, and will continue the whole month of Elul, through the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah!

When the Tzemach Tzedek was nine, the Alter Rebbe told him something that he heard from HIS Rebbe (the Maggid) who heard it from HIS Rebbe (the Baal Shem Tov), who heard it from HIS Rebbe (Achiya Hashiloni)!

Starting from the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul (that’s today!) we say 3 extra Kapitelach of Tehillim every day. We say 36 Kapitelach on Yom Kippur (9 before Kol Nidrei, 9 before going to sleep, 9 after Musaf, and 9 after Ne’ilah). That way, we finish the WHOLE Sefer Tehillim!

If someone didn’t start on time, he should first say the Kapitelach for that day, and he can catch up later.



Shiur #27 - Mitzvas Asei #13

Today’s mitzvah (Mitzvas Asei #13) is to put on the Tefillin Shel Yad, the hand tefillin. The Torah tells us about this mitzvah in FOUR places!

It is a separate mitzvah from the Tefillin Shel Rosh, so if someone can’t put on the Tefillin Shel Rosh for some reason, he should still put on the Tefillin Shel Yad.

Women don’t do this mitzvah, because the Torah connects the mitzvah of Tefillin with the mitzvah of learning Torah all the time, and women don’t have that achrayus.

One of the places we learn this mitzvah from is from a posuk in Shema, in Parshas Vaeschanan: וּקְשַׁרְתָּם לְאוֹת עַל יָדֶךָ

The details are explained in Mesechta Menachos perek Daled.



Hilchos Tefillin U'Mezuzah V'Sefer Torah

Perek Beis: In today’s Rambam, we learn how the parshios of Tefillin are written. The Rambam says that Tefillin NEVER need to be checked if they were written by a good sofer that we can trust! In fact, Hillel HaZokein wore tefillin that he got from his zaidy, and he never got them checked! (Nowadays, though, we are careful to check our tefillin very often.)

Perek Gimmel: The Rambam explains how the leather boxes are made for the tefillin. (Did you ever wonder how leather becomes such a perfect square?) When the leather is wet, we put it into a special wooden mold that helps make perfectly square tefillin, with holes in the right place to put the four pieces of parchment.

The Rambam tells us that the knot for the Tefillin Shel Rosh looks like a daled, but there is no way to describe it — you need to see it to understand it!

Perek Daled: When a person wears tefillin, he needs to be very careful with what he does and thinks. The tefillin are even more holy than the Tzitz that the Kohen Gadol wears on his head! The tzitz only has Hashem’s name once, and each of the Tefillin has Hashem’s name 21 times!



Hilchos Keilim - Perek Chof

In today’s Rambam, we learn more about clay keilim and when they can become Tomei.

The Rambam now teaches us about things that are attached to a clay keili, to know when they are counted as a keili by themselves.



Chodesh Elul

Starting from the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, there are three things we do every day: Saying L’Dovid Hashem Ori in Shacharis and Mincha, saying the three kapitelach of Tehillim after davening, and blowing the shofar.

We also work on fixing up ALL of the areas of Avodas Hashem to prepare for Rosh Hashana. We see this hinted to in the many Roshei Teivos of Elul, which we will be learning about! Today we will see that the month of Elul is a “safety zone” for us to fix things up, to prepare to be bentched with a Shana Tova!


Do you remember learning about the Ir Miklat in Chumash?

If someone kills another person by mistake, he runs away to the Ir Miklat, where he will be safe.

When a person does an aveira by mistake, it’s like he is “killing” (R”L) the neshama. Hashem gives us a chance to go to an “Ir Miklat” in the days of Elul. Doing the avodah of the month of Elul keeps us safe, like an Ir Miklat!

That’s why the words the Torah uses to teach us about an Ir Miklat are “Ina Leyado Vesamti Lecha.” If a person killed someone else by mistake, Hashem gives him a place to go. These words are also the Roshei Teivos of the word Elul!

There are many Roshei Teivos for the word Elul, which teach us lessons about what to do during this month. This posuk teaches us to learn Torah, which is also like an Ir Miklat — like the Chachomim say, “Divrei Torah Koltin,” the words of Torah save!

If we stay in the Ir Miklat by using the time to do Teshuvah and learn Torah, it will keep us safe from any not good things, and Hashem will send us a Shana Tova Umesuka!

See Likutei Sichos chelek Beis, p. 623


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Lamnatzeiach Binginos

The last section before Boruch She’amar is Kapitel Samach-Zayin, which is also called the Mizmor of the Menorah.

This kapitel, which starts with the words Lamnatzeiach Binginos, has 7 pesukim and 49 words. These represent the 7 branches of the menorah, and the 49 pieces (22 cups, 9 flowers, 11 buttons, and 7 oil cups) on the menorah. When we say it every day, it is counted like we are lighting the menorah in the Beis Hamikdash!

This is also connected to the section of Korbanos which we just finished.

Dovid Hamelech had this kapitel engraved on a golden plaque in the shape of a menorah. He would carry it with him when he went out to war, to help him have hatzlacha in battle!



General & Specific Brachos

The brachos we say on food can be general or specific. Shehakol is the most general bracha, it doesn’t speak about any specific kind of food. Ho’adamah is a very general bracha for everything that grows. Ha’eitz is more specific, for only something that grows on a tree. Mezonos is also more specific, because it only is for foods from grain. Hamotzi is even more specific, for only bread made from grain. Hagafen is very specific, only for wine or grape juice.

The halacha is that bedieved, if we said a more general bracha, it can include a food that really has a more specific bracha.

For example, if someone said Ho’adamah on an apple, bedieved their bracha is counted and they don’t make another bracha. That is because even though an apple grows on a tree, a tree also grows from the ground, and Ha’adamah is a general bracha for everything that grows from the ground.

Or if someone said Shehakol on a cookie, bedieved their bracha is also counted, because Shehakol is a general bracha that includes all foods.

See Seder Birchos Hanehenin Perek Alef

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



The End of the Nation of Eisav

After the time of Shlomo Hamelech, the Yidden split into two groups. The Yidden living near Yerushalayim followed the son of Shlomo Hamelech, the first of the Malchei Yehudah. The Yidden living in the northern parts of Eretz Yisroel followed a different king, the first of the Malchei Yisrael.

The kings of the Malchei Yisrael wouldn’t even let the Yidden go to the Beis Hamikdash, since they were afraid that the Yidden would start to follow the Malchei Yehudah. Of course, this was not very good for the Ruchnius of the Yidden!

One of the kings of the Malchei Yisrael was Achav. He married a non-Jewish princess, Izevel, and listened to whatever she said. She worshiped Avodah Zarah and worked hard to make the Yidden do it too. She tried to kill all of the true Neviim so that no one would stop the Yidden from worshiping her Avodah Zarah.

Even though Eliyahu Hanavi tried to punish Achav by stopping rain from falling, Achav did not do teshuvah.

The man in charge of running Achav’s palace was a ger from Edom, named Ovadiah. Even though he lived with these wicked people, he did not learn from them. He decided to protect Neviim, and hid 100 of them in caves. He gave them food and water and kept them safe from Achav and Izevel.

Because of this, Hashem gave Ovadiah the zechus of becoming a talmid of Eliyahu Hanavi. Ovadiah even became a Navi himself! Hashem chose Ovadiah, who was from Edom, to give the nevuah about the end of the nation of Edom.

Here is one of his famous nevuos about the end of Edom, the nation of Eisav:

וְהָיָה בֵית יַעֲקֹב אֵשׁ וּבֵית יוֹסֵף לֶהָבָה וּבֵית עֵשָׂו לְקַשׁ וְדָלְקוּ בָהֶם וַאֲכָלוּם וְלֹא יִהְיֶה שָׂרִיד לְבֵית עֵשָׂו כִּי ה׳ דִּבֵּר

Vehaya Veis Yaakov Eish — The family of Yaakov (the Yidden) will be like a fire

Uveis Yosef Lehava — And the family of Yosef will be like a flame.

Uveis Eisav Lekash — The family of Eisav will be like straw (which burns very easily).

Vedalku Vahem Va’achalum — The Yidden will burn the nation of Eisav completely

Velo Yihiyeh Sarid Leveis Eisav — And there will be nothing left of the family of Eisav,

Ki Hashem Diber — Because Hashem said so.

See Ovadyah perek Alef posuk Yud-Ches

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