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Parshas Vayeishev - Shlishi with Rashi

The brothers throw Yosef into a pit, and sell him to merchants passing by. They show their father Yosef’s coat dipped in goat blood, and Yaakov mourns 22 years for Yosef.

Yesterday we learned that the brothers decided to throw Yosef into a hole in the ground instead of killing him, even though they thought he deserved it.

When Yosef came to his brothers in Shechem, they grabbed him right away! They took away his shirt and the special coat he got from his father. Then Shimon threw him into the hole. There was no water in the hole, but it was full of dangerous animals — snakes and scorpions!

Yosef cried that they should take him out, but they didn’t listen. Instead, they sat down to eat. Reuven was fasting, though, because he was still doing teshuvah for moving his father’s bed. He went home because it was his turn to take care of his father Yaakov.

While the rest of the brothers were eating, they saw a group of men from Yishmael coming on camels! Their camels had spices that they were going to sell in Mitzrayim. (Usually, people from Yishmael sold smelly oil and tar, but Hashem made them bring spices so Yosef wouldn’t have to smell things like that!)

Yehuda said, “Why should we kill Yosef and have to pretend we didn’t do it? Let’s sell him to these Yishmael people.” The brothers agreed. 

In the meantime, another group of people came by also, from Midyan. The brothers pulled Yosef out of the hole and sold him to the Yishmaelim for 20 pieces of silver. The Yishmaelim then sold him right away to the Midyanim, who brought Yosef to Mitzrayim.

The next day, Reuven went back to the hole to save Yosef, but he saw that Yosef wasn’t inside! He was very very sad, and tore his clothes like a person does if R”L someone passes away. He went to his brothers and said “Yosef is gone! I wish there was somewhere to run away to — I don’t want to see how upset our father Yaakov will be. Also, he will think that it’s my fault.”

The brothers shechted a goat and dipped Yosef’s coat inside the blood, since goat blood looks just like blood from a person. They wanted Yaakov to think that an animal killed Yosef.

The brothers agreed not to tell anyone what really happened, unless they ALL wanted to tell, and unless they saw a sign from Hashem.

The brothers didn’t want to show Yaakov the coat themselves, so they sent someone else with the bloody coat. The man asked Yaakov, “Your sons found this coat, do you know whose it is?”

Yaakov knew it was Yosef’s coat, and cried. “Yosef was killed by a wild animal!” All of the Shevatim and the girls tried to make Yaakov feel better, but he stayed sad.

Hashem makes a person forget the pain after a person passes away so they can feel better, but since Yosef was still alive, he didn’t ever forget. That’s why he never felt better. Yaakov was also upset because he knew that it was his avodah to have 12 Shevatim, and if he did, he wouldn’t have anything left to fix in Gehennom after he passed away. Since he thought Yosef had been killed, he didn’t have 12 Shevatim anymore, and that would mean that he would need to fix things up by going into Gehennom.

Yaakov mourned for Yosef for 22 years — until he met Yosef in Mitzrayim! (Hashem did this to Yaakov so he could make up for not having Kibbud Av Va’em for HIS parents for 22 years when he went to marry Rachel.)

When a person is sad, they can’t have Ruach Hakodesh, so Yaakov didn’t have Ruach Hakodesh for those 22 years!

Yitzchak, though, did know through Ruach Hakodesh that Yosef was still alive. But since he saw that Yaakov didn’t know, he understood that Hashem didn’t want him to know, and he didn’t tell him. But since he saw that Yaakov was so sad, he cried also.

Meanwhile, the Midyanim sold Yosef to Potifar, who worked in the government of Mitzrayim.



106 - 107

Today’s shiur Tehillim is kapitelach Kuf-Vov and Kuf-Zayin.

The second kapitel of today’s Tehillim is part of what we say on Erev Shabbos before Mincha. It talks about the four groups of people who thank Hashem for miracles that happen to them. (We say this kapitel Erev Shabbos to thank Hashem for saving us from the hardships and dangers of the whole week, so we can come and celebrate Shabbos!)

One of the groups are sick people who became healthy. The posuk says about them, “Re’eivim Gam Tzemei’im, Nafsham Bahem Tis’ataf.” “They were hungry and thirsty, their neshamos were suffering in them.”

The Baal Shem Tov explains that there is something deeper that this posuk is hinting to. When we are hungry or thirsty for something, it is because our neshama really wants the pieces of Hashem that are hiding inside the gashmiyus! Because the neshama knows that the sparks of kedusha are there, it causes the body to feel a hunger or a thirst, which brings the person to eat or drink and bring those sparks of kedusha to where they belong!



Likutei Amarim Perek Alef

Today and tomorrow IY”H we will be learning the first perek of Tanya.

When a baby is inside of its mother, the Gemara says that there is a malach that teaches it the whole Torah, and makes it promise that it will be a Tzadik and not a rasha when it will be born. This promise gives koach to the Yid later to overcome the Yetzer Hara. The end of the promise is that even if the whole world tells you that you are a tzadik, you should see yourself as a rasha. The Alter Rebbe asks, if someone thinks he’s a rasha, won’t that make him sad? How will he be able to serve Hashem with simcha?

In order to understand this, the Alter Rebbe starts to explain to us what a beinoni is.

The Alter Rebbe brings together many different sources in the Gemara and Zohar that discuss the meaning of Tzadik, Beinoni, and Rasha. The Alter Rebbe makes a pilpul to explain what these words really mean. The first thing that we clearly see is that the true meaning of the word beinoni is someone who can not have ANY aveiros — even something as little as missing out on a chance to learn Torah!

In the first twelve perakim, the Alter Rebbe will explain to us the different levels of tzadik, rasha, and beinoni, and then in Perek Yud-Gimmel and Yud-Daled we will go back and finish explaining the pieces of Gemara that were said here, including the meaning of the promise the neshama makes to be a tzadik and not a rasha. After that we will see what the avodah of a beinoni is and how to do that avodah properly.



Chof-Beis Kislev

In today’s Hayom Yom we learn about the Frierdiker Rebbe’s takana to say Tehillim after davening.

The Frierdiker Rebbe made a takana to say Tehillim every day after davening. This takana was made in the year Tof-Reish-Pey-Zayin, the year he was put in prison and freed on Yud-Beis Tammuz.

On Rosh Hashana of that year, the Frierdiker Rebbe knew with Ruach Hakodesh that it was a dangerous time. He spoke about it publicly, asking that not only Chassidim should take on this takana, but other Yidden as well, if they are willing to. The Frierdiker Rebbe promised special brachos to anyone accepting this takana.

Later the Frierdiker Rebbe said that many Yidden were saved because of this takana!

Here is the takana that the Frierdiker Rebbe started: Every morning after davening (including Shabbos and Yom Tov), we say the Tehillim for the day. (That’s part of Chitas!)

If you say it with a minyan, there is Kaddish Yasom afterwards.

The Tehillim is divided into THIRTY parts. So what happens if there are only 29 days in a month? When that happens, on the last day, you also say the Tehillim for two days — the 29th and the 30th day.



Shiur #152 - Mitzvas Asei #23, Lo Saasei #72, Asei #32, #36

Today’s mitzvos are about Kohanim and Leviim:

1) (Mitzvas Asei #23) The Leviim need to do their jobs in the Beis Hamikdash, like opening and closing the doors, and singing when certain korbanos are brought. This mitzvah tells us that they can’t choose if they want to be involved in the Avodah, they need to do it whether they want to or not.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Korach: וְעָבַד הַלֵּוִי הוּא אֶת עֲבֹדַת אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד

The details are explained in many places in Mesechta Tamid and Mesechta Midos.

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #72) The Kohanim and Leviim are not allowed to trade jobs with each other. The Leviim are not even allowed to trade jobs between themselves — the ones who are in the group of singers are not allowed to guard or open the doors.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Bamidbar: אִישׁ אִישׁ עַל עֲבֹדָתוֹ וְאֶל מַשָּׂאוֹ

3) (Mitzvas Asei #32) We need to give kavod to the Kohanim, like by giving them the first Aliyah to the Torah and having them lead bentching. Even if he’s not able to work in the Beis Hamikdash, because he has a mum, he still gets this kavod.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Emor: וְקִדַּשְׁתּוֹ כִּי אֶת לֶחֶם אֱלֹקֶיךָ הוּא מַקְרִיב קָדשׁ יִהְיֶה לָּךְ

The details are explained in many places in Mesechta Makos, Chulin, Bechoros, Shabbos, and others,

4) (Mitzvas Asei #36) We need to give each kohen a turn to serve in the Beis Hamikdash — only during the Yomim Tovim do they all work together. The posuk in Divrei Hayamim says that Dovid Hamelech and Shmuel Hanavi split the kohanim into 24 groups (Mishmaros) so the turns would be organized.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Shoftim: וְכִי יָבֹא הַלֵּוִי וְגוֹ׳ וּבָא בְּכָל אַוַּת נַפְשׁוֹ וְגוֹ׳ שֵׁרֵת בְּשֵׁם ה׳ אֱלֹקָיו כְּכָל אֶחָיו הַלְוִיִּם הָעֹמְדִים שָׁם לִפְנֵי ה׳ חֵלֶק כְּחֵלֶק יֹאכֵלוּ

The details are explained in the end of Mesechta Sukkah.



Hilchos Klei HaMikdash

In today’s Rambam, we learn more about the Avodah in the Beis Hamikdash.

Perek Vov: Really, when someone brings a korban, he needs to be there to see it. But how can ALL the Yidden be there to see the korbanos that are brought for all the Yidden, like the Korban Tomid, which is brought every day as a Korban Tzibur for all of the Yidden?

A group of Yidden who had Yiras Shomayim were chosen as the Anshei Maamad, to watch when those korbanos were brought on behalf of the rest of the Yidden. This perek tells us how these Maamados worked.

Perek Zayin: In the Beis Hamikdash, there were 15 officers in charge of different things — like the Ketores, locking the gates, or taking care of sick kohanim. Each officer had a lot of helpers. The Rambam explains the job of each of these officers.

Perek Ches: Now we learn about the clothes of the kohanim. The clothes had to be perfectly neat and clean — otherwise their Avodah was no good! The Rambam teaches us about the materials they were made of, and where they were kept. The clothes the Kohen Gadol wore on Yom Kippur were only worn ONCE, and then they had to be buried! The clothes of the kohanim wouldn’t get washed — once they got dirty, they were made into wicks. In the Beis Hamikdash, they had a very organized way to store all the clothes!



Hilchos Shevisas Yom Tov - Perek Gimmel

Even though we are allowed to do many melachos on Yom Tov to prepare fresh food for Yom Tov, there are some things we need to do differently. For example, even though freshly ground pepper is better than pepper that was ground before Yom Tov, we are not allowed to use a pepper grinder on Yom Tov — we can only crush it with a mortar and pestle.



Pirsumei Nisa

Part of the mitzvos of Chanukah is Pirsumei Nisa, to show everyone the neis Hashem did for us.

But that isn’t only something that we should do on Chanukah, we really need to tell people about EVERY neis Hashem does for us! By praising Hashem in front of others, we are thanking Hashem for the neis.

This is also important to bring Moshiach!

The Gemara says that Hashem wanted to make Chizkiyahu Melech Yehudah into Moshiach. But the Midas HaDin complained to Hashem. It said, how can Chizkiyahu be Moshiach, if he never praised Hashem in public for saving him from Sancheriv or making him healthy?

So when we praise Hashem in public for our nisim, there will be no reason to wait, and Hashem will bring Moshiach now!

See Sicha of Parshas Vayeishev 5752 p. 185


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Yud-Beis Pesukim - Yogaati

One of the messages of the posuk Yogaaati is that especially when we are learning Torah or growing in Yiddishkeit, we need to work hard — Yogaati!

But the posuk also tells us that the hatzlacha we will have is much more than the effort we put in!

The posuk says, “Yogaati Umotzosi,” I worked hard and I found.

The Gemara could have said, “I tried and I succeeded,” “I tried and I did it.” But instead it uses the word “Motzosi,” I found.

When we find something, it isn’t based just on how much work we put in. A person can dig a little hole in the ground and even find a diamond that is worth a huge amount of money!

Here the Gemara is telling us that when we work hard, with yegiyah (Yogaati), then we will have hatzlacha from Hashem in a much greater way than what we expect to come from it (Umotzosi)!

The girls of the Chabad school in Kiryat Gat wrote a letter to the Rebbe when they were starting 8th grade. They asked for a bracha for hatzlacha in their learning. The Rebbe answered them with this posuk of Yogaati, and said that even though bracha comes from Hashem, we need to work hard, we need to put in effort! But when we do this, the hatzlacha will be way more than the effort we put in! Hashem promises that when we do our part, Hashem will give us much more than we expected.

See Igros Kodesh chelek Chof-Gimmel, p. 448



Where to Light

Many Yidden have the minhag to put their menorah in the window of their home. This way, people passing by can see the menorah, which is the idea of Pirsumei Nisa! But the Rebbeim had a different minhag — to light the menorah in one of the doorways inside the house. This way we are surrounded by mitzvos — with the mezuzah on one side, and the menorah on the other.

Even though we do Pirsumei Nisa in many other ways, like public Menorah lightings and menorahs on our cars, why don’t we do the Pirsumei Nisa with the Menorah that we light at home?

Of course, the main reason is, as the Gemara teaches, because it is important to follow the minhag of our Rebbeim!

But the Rebbe also gives other reasons why lighting in our window is not necessarily the best way for Pirsumei Nisa:

Many windows are higher than 20 amos from the ground, especially people in apartment buildings. A menorah higher up than this is not considered Pirsumei Nisa in halacha, because people don’t usually look up so far.

Also, many menorahs are made with a back plate (like mivtzoyim menorahs). With those menorahs, if you put them facing the window, then nobody inside can see the flames, and if you put them facing inside, then there is no point in putting them by the window!

Therefore, the minhag Chabad is to light our menorahs at home in one of the doorways, and use many other ways to fulfill the inyan of Pirsumei Nisa, to spread the miracle of Chanukah!

See Likutei Sichos chelek Hey p. 456

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



Learning About the Geulah

The Baal Shem Tov says, “Bemakom Shemachshavto Shel Adam, Sham Hu Nimtza.” “Where a person’s thoughts are, that’s where he is.

This helps us understand why it’s so important to learn about the Geulah! When we are thinking about the Geulah, then in a certain way, we are already there! This also gives us the koach to speed up bringing the Geulah for all the Yidden.

See Farbrengen Parshas Balak 5743

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