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Shishi with Rashi

In today’s Chumash, the last Shevet, Benyamin is born. His mother Rachel passes away, and is buried near the side of the road. We also learn how Yitzchak passes away, and about Eisav’s family.

Hashem finishes talking to Yaakov: Hashem was in the middle of speaking to Yaakov and giving him brachos before he came into Eretz Yisroel. Hashem promised Yaakov that he would get Eretz Yisrael, and then finished talking to Yaakov. Yaakov built a matzeivah there out of stone. He poured wine and oil on it as a present to Hashem. Then Yaakov said again that this place is called Beis Keil, the house of Hashem.

Rachel has a baby: They traveled to Chevron, and didn’t reach Efras yet, when it was time for Rachel to have a baby. It was very hard for her, and the midwife (who helps Mommies to have babies) told her not to be afraid because she was going to have another baby boy! She had triplets, a boy and two girls!

Rachel passes away: But Rachel passed away right after the babies were born. She called the baby boy “Ben-Oni” which means the son of my sadness. Yaakov, though, called him Benyamin, meaning “son of the south,” since he was the only one born in Eretz Yisrael, which is south from Padan Aram (where Yaakov was with Lavan before).

Rachel was buried by the road going to Efras, also called Beis Lechem. Yaakov could have buried her in Me’aras Hamachpeila, which isn’t so far away, but Hashem told him to bury Rachel there so when the Yidden go into Golus they will pass by her kever. When Rochel sees them going into Golus, she will cry to Hashem to have rachmonus on her children, and Hashem will promise that they will come back to Eretz Yisroel in her zechus.

Now that Rochel passed away, where should Yaakov keep his bed? It used to be in Rochel’s tent. Yaakov decided to move into Bilhah’s tent, since Rochel told Yaakov to marry her, and she was Rochel’s helper.

Reuven moves his father’s bed: Reuven was very upset. He felt that Yaakov should move into Leah’s tent, since she is Rochel’s sister, and Bilhah is only her helper. So he moved Yaakov’s bed without permission. Since it wasn’t Kibbud Av Va’em to move his father’s bed, Yaakov was upset and told Reuven what he did wrong, and he did teshuvah right away.

The Shevatim: Now that Binyamin was born, there were 12 sons:
From Leah: Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehudah, Yissachar, Zevulun
From Rochel: Yosef and Binyomin
From Bilhah: Dan and Naftali
From Zilpah: Gad and Asher

Each of the shevatim (except Yehuda and Yosef) married the twin sisters born to the other shevatim. (If you remember, two of the shevatim had 2 triplet sisters — Shimon and Binyamin. So 4 of the shevatim married two wives. Shimon also married Dina.) Before Matan Torah, it was a good thing for brothers and sisters to marry each other. After Matan Torah it became Asur.

We will go back later to talk about Yaakov’s family, but first the Torah will tell us about the end of Yitzchak’s life and about Eisav’s family.

Yitzchak passes away: In the year 2208, Yaakov came to his father Yitzchak in Chevron (Elonei Mamrei / Kiryat Arba). Yitzchak lived for 180 years, longer than his father Avraham who lived 175 years. Twenty years after Yaakov came back to Chevron, Yitzchak passed away, and Eisav and Yaakov buried him in Me’aras Hamachpeila.

Eisav’s family: Here is Eisav’s family (Eisav is also called “Edom”):
Eisav’s wife Adah had a child Elifaz; Eisav’s wife Basmas had Reuel; Eisav’s wife Oholivama had Yeush and Yalam, and also she married Elifaz and had Korach.

Once Yaakov came back to Chevron, Eisav moved away to Har Seir. He took his family and all of his things, so he wouldn’t be too close to Yaakov, since there wasn’t enough land to feed all of their animals in the same place. (Really, Eisav could have told Yaakov to go live somewhere else, since Eisav was there first. But Eisav knew that if he gets Eretz Yisrael he will have to get Golus, and he didn’t want that. He was also embarrassed about selling the bechora, so he preferred to leave than to argue about staying.)

The Torah tells us the names and the heads of the families of the children of Eisav.



77 - 78

Today’s shiur Tehillim is kapitelach Ayin-Zayin and Ayin-Ches.

In today’s Tehillim, there is a posuk that says “Nachisa Katzon Amecha BeYad Moshe VeAharon,” “You led Your nation like sheep, in the hands of Moshe and Aharon.”

Why does Dovid Hamelech say that Hashem led the Yidden with Moshe AND Aharon? Wasn’t MOSHE RABBEINU the Rebbe of the Yidden then? Why does Hashem say that Moshe AND Aharon were the leaders?

The Tzemach Tzedek explains this:

Hashem gave Yidden the Torah. He wants Yidden to live exactly like the Torah tells us. But Yidden aren’t born automatically living that way! Just like we need our parents to help us grow to be good Yidden, the Yidden also needed help when they left Mitzrayim. Yidden were just “born” from a hard Golus and became Hashem’s nation. All of the sudden, Hashem gave them a Torah that had so many instructions! How could they be ready to do it all right away?

But Hashem didn’t expect them to do it all right away! Hashem gave them a leader with one Neshama that was split into two people, and both of them worked together to help the Yidden.

Moshe Rabbeinu had the shlichus to teach Yidden the proper way to live, whether they were ready for it or not. He told them the way things need to really be! Aharon’s shlichus was the other half of the job — to help Yidden be the way Hashem wants. He needed to take each Yid by the hand and help them become closer to the Torah. He showed each one what they were ready to start doing now, and what they should get ready to start later. He helped each individual Yid to become the best he could.

In later times, these two halves of neshama came together in one Yiddishe leader. There is a posuk in Tehillim that says that this started in the times of Shmuel Hanavi, and the Rebbe teaches that with the Chabad Rebbeim it was the same way. They teach — in their maamorim and sichos and by showing us an example — the truth of how Hashem wants us to live, and then — through Yechidus and Igros and by sending Shluchim — helps each person grow to be the best Yid he can be!



Kuntres Acharon

Yesterday we learned how the Torah is so special, that a tiny detail of a mitzvah can bring the chayus of Hashem into the world!

Dovid Hamelech went through a lot of tzaros in his life. He had many enemies who didn’t want him to be king.They chased him and tried to hurt him, and it was very hard for him!

But there was one thing he tried to think about to make himself happy. He shares it with us later in Tehillim! “Zemiros Hayu Li Chukecha Bevais Megurai” — “Your mitzvos were like songs for me!” Dovid Hamelech thought about what we just learned, how important every detail of Torah is, and thinking about it made him so happy!

Later in Dovid’s life, when things became better, and they were bringing the Aron back from the Pelishtim to the city of Dovid, Dovid Hamelech forgot a halacha, and because of that something not good happened.

Hashem told Dovid Hamelech, “Do you know why this happened? Because you were only excited that the Torah is what makes the world get its chayus. That’s the chitzonius, just one part, and not the most important part either!

“Instead you should have been the most excited that the Torah is Hashem’s special treasure! That’s like the “neshama” of Torah, the main part. Because you were excited only about the chitzonius of Torah, you were able to forget a part of Torah! Forgetting comes from the chitzonius of a person — we don’t forget things that are very important to us.”

This siman in Kuntres Acharon shows us how precious the Torah is! This gives us chayus to make sure to never miss an opportunity to learn Torah, and that we should learn Torah in a way that we will LIVE according to the Torah we learn!



Tes-Vov Kislev

The Rebbe shows us a correction in Torah Ohr for this week’s parsha.

The Alter Rebbe (whose Chag Hageulah is in a few days!) told the Mitteler Rebbe (whose Chag Hageulah was a few days ago!) something very important that the Baal Shem Tov taught:

We have to have Mesirus Nefesh, to be ready to do ANYTHING for Ahavas Yisroel for another Yid — even one that we never met or never saw!



Mitzvas Lo Saasei #357

Today we learn one last mitzvah (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #357) about Yibum and Chalitza — nobody is allowed to get married to the yevama until she does Chalitza.

A yevama is a woman whose husband passed away before they had children, and her husband has a brother. He is supposed to get married to her so they will have a baby to name after her husband. Until she does chalitzah, she can’t get married to anyone else.

The details of this mitzvah are explained in Mesechta Yevamos.



Hilchos Yibum V'Chalitzah

In today’s Rambam, we learn more halachos about chalitzah.

One halacha is that these mitzvos only need to be done if the yavam is ALLOWED TO get married to her. For example, if the almanah’s brother-in-law is already married to her sister, he doesn’t need to do chalitzah. That’s because he wouldn’t be able to marry her even if he wanted to, since the Torah doesn’t let us marry two sisters.

Today we finish the halachos about Yibum and Chalitzah, Perakim Vov, Zayin, and Ches, and tomorrow we will IY”H start a new set of halachos!



Hilchos Bikurim - Perek Ches

Do we need to separate challah, Hafroshas Challah, from flour? Usually we don’t, but if the flour all gets stuck together, we do.



Hachana for Yud-Tes Kislev

When the Alter Rebbe was in jail (and the Mitteler Rebbe too) the government asked them many questions. One question was why Chassidus says that the Sefira of Malchus (“kingship”) doesn’t have anything of its own. This sefira gets chayus from the other Sefiros.

They said that because he says this, it proves that the Alter Rebbe doesn’t think the government of where he lives important, and he will do something against them!

The Rebbe explains that really there was a Ruchnius question from the Beis Din in Shomayim happening at the same time, also about Malchus:

Chassidus teaches about being close to Hashem and how to have Yiras Shomayim. EVERYONE needs to learn that, right? Not just men, but also women — whose neshamos come from Malchus — and children!

But in Shomayim there was an argument if this is really the way it should be. The government represented in this world the part of Shomayim that said NOT to share Chassidus with everyone. When the Alter Rebbe was set free on Yud-Tes Kislev, it showed that also in Shomayim they agreed that Chassidus needs to be spread to everyone! We need EVERY Yid — men, women, and children — to have chayus in Avodas Hashem by learning Chassidus, and help bring Moshiach!


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Shema and Vehaya Im Shamoa

The Tzemach Tzedek explains the difference between Shema and Vehaya Im Shamoa, based on the Mishna: A neshama has two different kinds of feelings.

The first, “Ratzui,” is how the neshama wants to be Ruchnius’dik and feel close to Hashem.

Then there is “Shuv,” how the neshama realizes that Hashem put it into the Gashmius’dike world for a reason, and that it has a shlichus to do here, with Torah and mitzvos.

When we say Shema, it is a time when our neshama feels Ratzui. It thinks about how nothing exists except for Hashem, and all it wants is to feel close to Hashem!

Then in Vehaya Im Shamoa, the neshama remembers that it has a shlichus in the world. It needs to work together with the guf to learn Torah and do mitzvos. The neshama reminds the guf that only by acting the way Hashem wants it to, will it be bentched with all of Hashem’s brachos that are described in the paragraph of Vehaya Im Shamoa.

See Sefer Halikutim os Kuf, p. 228




When we daven, we are not supposed to even hold something except for a siddur, because it will distract us from having kavana.

There are also halachos like this with bentching!

When we bentch, we shouldn’t do any kind of work, even something easy that we don’t need to concentrate for, like clearing off our plates or sweeping off crumbs. Doing that makes it look like we don’t care so much about the bracha. Of course, we shouldn’t do something that we DO need to think about, even something holy, like listening to a shiur or a Dvar Torah! We need to be able to have proper kavana when we are bentching.

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman 96, and siman 183 se’if yud-daled

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



Why We Need Chassidus Today

Chassidus is so special! It helps us understand the deepest secrets of Torah, and gives us a special chayus to serve Hashem in a much better way!

But if Chassidus is so special and important, how come the great Chachomim and Tzadikim from all times didn’t have it? Why didn’t Hashem give Chassidus to the Yidden a long time ago?

We learned that there are two reasons why Hashem gave Chassidus just in OUR time:

1) Because the Golus is so dark and so hard now, we need the extra koach of Chassidus to be able to handle it!

2) Because we are so close to the Geulah now, we are getting a little taste of it now, through the things we learn in Chassidus!

The Rebbe teaches us that both of these reasons are actually connected. It is our taste of Geulah that helps us handle the darkness of Golus.

What will happen in the time of Geulah?

In Golus, there are many things that cause pain and darkness. But deep inside, in their etzem, they are really the chayus of Hashem, just very very hidden.

In the time of the Geulah, the etzem of everything will be clear to see! We will see how the etzem of EVERYTHING is the chayus of Hashem, and all of the darkness and pain that make Golus so hard will turn into happiness and light!

And our Chassidus now is a taste of Geulah! That’s why Chassidus can give us the koach to handle the darkness of Golus, until the time of Geulah when we will be able to see how the darkness of Golus will be turned into light!

See Likutei Sichos chelek Tes-Vov, p. 288

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