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Parshas Vayeitzei - Chamishi with Rashi

Yaakov becomes rich from the sheep and goats that are born even though Lavan tries to trick him, and Hashem tells him to go back to Eretz Yisroel.

Lavan wanted Yaakov to stay so he could get more brachos in Yaakov’s zechus, but Yaakov didn’t want to.

So Yaakov said, “I worked very hard for you! You gave me just a few animals to watch. Now there are so many animals, because Hashem gave you brachos in my zechus.

“Until now, I worked only for you, and left my children to work THEMSELVES to have parnasa. But I want to make sure my children will be able to save money for later, so I can’t work anymore for free.”

Lavan asked what he should give Yaakov.

Yaakov said, “You don’t need to pay me anything! Let’s just make a deal that I can keep some of the sheep and goats. I will take the sheep and goats that are different colors than usual: Usually goats are black or brown, I’ll take the ones that have big or small spots. Usually sheep are plain white, so I’ll take the ones that are brown or black.

“If sheep look at black sheep, their baby sheep will a lot of times be black too. So take away all of the animals that are the kind that I will be keeping so the animals can’t look at them. Your sons will watch them.”

Yaakov made sticks with stripes or spots, and put them near the water. When the animals looked at the sticks, many of their babies were born with stripes and spots. (The Zohar teaches us that this is how Yaakov did the mitzvah of Tefillin b’ruchnius!)

When Lavan saw that many of the sheep and goats that were born would belong to Yaakov, he changed the rules so more of them would belong to him. But Yaakov just set things up differently, so with Hashem’s help, the right kinds of animals were born.

Yaakov became very rich from all of his sheep and goats, and sold some to buy maids, servants, camels, and donkeys. Lavan’s sons were jealous, and said that Yaakov was stealing from Lavan. Yaakov could see that Lavan wasn’t so happy with him.

Hashem told Yaakov to go back to Eretz Yisroel. So Yaakov called Rochel and Leah and told them: “I see that your father is not happy with me, that he thinks I stole from him. You know that Hashem helped me, and I worked very hard. Even though he changed his mind 100 times about what I should get paid, Hashem helped and the right kinds of animals were born.

“Hashem reminded me that I built a mizbeiach and promised to bring korbanos on it. Hashem told me that it’s time to go back to Eretz Yisroel.”

Rochel and Leah said, “Of course! After all, Lavan doesn’t really care about us, now that he has sons. Instead of giving you money when we got married, he made you work to get married to us! And then instead of paying you for your work, he only let you have the animals you worked for! The only thing that belongs to us and our children is the money Hashem earned for you. So do whatever Hashem wants you to.”



39 - 43

Today’s kapitelach of Tehillim are Lamed-Tes through Mem-Gimmel.

In today’s tehillim there is a posuk that says, “Ach Betzelem Yis’halech Ish. “A person walks in the dark (because only Hashem knows the way things really are).

In a maamar,the Rebbe Rashab explains this posuk in another way! “Ach BeTzelem Yis’halech Ish” — a person goes with Tzelem, with a koach called “tzelem” that helps a Yid in his Avodas Hashem.

We all sometimes need a push to get us started in doing the right thing!

A thought can come into our mind and get us excited to do something good. This could be from a Bas Kol, a voice from Hashem that the neshama hears, that makes it really want to act the way Hashem wants. Even though we can’t hear it, our neshama does, and it puts thoughts into our head that can make us do teshuvah!

Every morning, when we wake up, Hashem puts a special koach in the air! It makes us excited about starting the day right and acting the way Hashem wants.

All this is part of the Tzelem that the posuk is talking about, the hidden koach that goes with a Yid and inspires him to do what’s right!



Kuntres Acharon Siman Daled

In this section of Kuntres Acharon, Tanya, the Alter Rebbe is telling us a lot about how special DOING a mitzvah is. Kavana is very important, but isn’t the main thing! (This is explaining in a much more detailed way what was mentioned earlier in the first part of Tanya, Likutei Amarim.)

When a person has kavana, HE wants to become closer to Hashem. But when a person does a mitzvah, he wants to bring HASHEM closer to himself and to the world. Of course Hashem wants a neshama to be close to Him, but that’s not the main goal! If it was, the neshama could have stayed in Gan Eden, where it’s VERY close to Hashem. The reason Hashem sent the neshama into the world is to make Hashem able to be felt here, and that happens only when we do mitzvos!

The best way is to DO the mitzvah, WITH kavana — because then you have both things! But the main part is doing it, and bringing Hashem’s Shechinah into the world.



Zayin Kislev

A Yid was put in the world to live like Hashem wants, to have Yiras Shomayim and midos tovos. But Hashem put gashmiyus into the world, and a Yid has a Yetzer Hara that can make him act differently. What do we do?

There are three ways to deal with it and they are different ways in Torah. Today we will see how special Chassidus is!

The first way is called mussar. It teaches how the gashmiyus is very dangerous and we need to stay away from it. When the gashmiyus is weakened then the ruchniyus can be strong.

The second way is called chakira. It teaches about how special ruchniyus is, and says that when we learn about ruchniyus, the gashmiyus won’t get in the way.

Chassidus, however, teaches us that BOTH the gashmiyus and the ruchniyus are special. They are both created by Hashem. Hashem made them both for one purpose — so that the world will be able to see and feel Hashem through the mitzvos that we do, especially when Moshiach comes.

That’s why Chassidus teaches that we need to have both in our Avodas Hashem. We need to learn and daven and feel ruchniyus, but it needs to make our guf and the gashmiyus also become more aidel so that the ruchniyus and kedusha can also be felt in them!



Shiur #122 - Mitzvas Lo Saasei #42, Asei #120, Lo Saasei #210

Today we learn one last mitzvah about Kilayim, things we can’t mix together. Today’s mitzvah is about Kilayim in clothes!

Shatnez: (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #42) We are not allowed to wear clothes made of wool and linen mixed together. This is called shatnez.

We are starting a new part of Rambam now, about what we give to the poor. We learn 2 mitzvos about this today, about the part of our fields we leave for the poor, called Pe’ah:

1) (Mitzvas Asei #120) It is a mitzvah to leave over a corner of our fields or orchards for the poor people to take food from there.

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #210) It is asur to NOT leave over that corner!



Hilchos Kela'im - Matnos Aniyim

In today’s Rambam, we learn the last halachos of Kilayim, and start the halachos of Matnos Aniyim.

Perek Tes: We are not allowed to force different kinds of animals to get married to each other. We can only help sheep to get married to sheep and have baby sheep! We don’t have them get married to goats and have baby… shoats?

We are not allowed to make two kinds of animals work together to pull a wagon or other piece of farm equipment. It is asur to even sit in a wagon pulled by two kinds of animals, because that makes them shlep it! But a PERSON is allowed to help an animal pull a wagon — people aren’t animals!

Perek Yud: In this perek, we learn the halachos of Kilayim in clothing — shatnez. Shatnez means mixing wool and linen together. Any way we mix them — by sewing them together, making a kind of material with wool and linen, or even just sewing one thread of wool into linen — are all asur! But it IS okay to wear a linen belt over wool clothes, because they are not connected.

Shatnez isn’t just for clothes — if it can touch your skin and make you warm, it is also asur! So sheets, towels, and soft squishy couches also can’t have shatnez.

Now we start the halachos about Matnos Aniyim, what we need to give to poor people. We will be learning 13 mitzvos about this, in 10 perakim.

Perek Alef: In this perek, the Rambam tells us about the five gifts that a person has to give to the poor from the things he grows. They are called Pe’ah, Leket, Peret, Olelos, and Shichecha. We will learn them over the next few days in Sefer Hamitzvos and Rambam.

The Chachomim say that a person should leave over 1/60th of his field or orchard as Pe’ah, but if a person was bentched with more than he expected, he should give more. The more you give, the more reward you get!



Hilchos Mechirah - Perek Yud-Daled

Perek Yud-Daled teaches us more about ona’ah. The Beis Din needs to make fair prices for things so that nobody will pay too much.

The second half of this perek teaches us the halachos of today’s mitzvah, Ona’as Devarim. We need to be careful how we talk, not telling someone to buy something in a store that doesn’t really sell it, or pretending that we want to buy something when we really don’t want to. This mitzvah is also important when we aren’t doing business, that we can’t say something that will hurt another person or end up leaving him feeling bad.



Ahavas Yisroel

Yidden have a minhag that when they meet, one says “Shalom Aleichem,” and the other person answers, “Aleichem Shalom.”

It’s not just a pattern of talking, it means something very special!

But why do we do it that way? Why does the other person answer the opposite?

There is a joke that it’s because two Yidden can never agree on anything, but that’s not the real reason!

Every person has his own understanding and his own opinion. When we get together, we want to have Achdus! We want that two different people should be able to help each other become better.

So the first Yid says, “Shalom Aleichem!” “Let’s bring Shalom among the different opinions that we have!”

The other Yid doesn’t just repeat what the first person says. He shows that he really agrees, and says it in his own words too: “Aleichem Shalom!” “Yes, I also want that!”

See Likutei Diburim vol. 1 p. 3, Likutei Sichos vol. 25 Parshas Vayeitzei


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Vesein Tal Umatar

Tonight (starting from Maariv on Thursday night, December 5th) we start to say Vesein Tal Umatar Livracha in the bracha of Bareich Aleinu (the 9th bracha of Shemoneh Esrei).

We started saying Mashiv Haruach already on Sukkos. Mashiv Haruach is in the part of Shmoneh Esrei that praises Hashem, and this is praising Hashem for His koach of bringing rain (the 2nd bracha). We start to say it when the rainy season starts in Eretz Yisroel, which is Sukkos time.

But we don’t start ASKING for rain right away — first we want the Yidden to have time to get home from the Beis Hamikdash. That’s why in Eretz Yisroel, we start asking for rain, with Vesein Tal Umatar, on Zayin Cheshvan, which is enough time for the farthest person to get home.

But we only ask for rain when we need it! In different places, that is at different times.

In Bavel, they didn’t need rain until later, so they didn’t start asking for it until two months after the Tishrei season (Tekufas Tishrei) started. Nowadays, the halacha is that everyone outside of Eretz Yisroel starts asking for rain at the time they did in Bavel.

The seasons, or Tekufos, are based on the solar cycle, which is 365 days and 6 hours long. Tekufas Tishrei usually starts on October 4 on the English calendar, which is also based on the solar cycle. That’s why we start saying Vesein Tal Umatar on December 4th. (This year, it is on December 5th; see Chabad.org/2060070 to understand why.)

The mitzvah of davening is to ask for the things we need, so it is very important not to miss the things the Chachomim told us we need to ask for! Rain especially is very important, because all of our food grows only because of rain.

If the time we need to ask for rain starts, and we didn’t ask, we missed the point of davening, and we need to daven Shmoneh Esrei again!



Forgetting Vesein Tal Umatar

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.

For more details, see the Halacha sheet prepared by the Beis Din of Crown Heights

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



Chassidus in Our Times

There are two reasons why Chassidus was only revealed in OUR times, so close to the time of Moshiach. The first reason is because we need the koach of Chassidus to help us with this darkest time of Golus. The second reason is to give us a taste of the Geulah, when the world will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem!

Really, ANY kind of Chassidus can give us koach to win over the darkness of Golus. It doesn’t have to be Chabad Chassidus. We see that ALL of the students of the Baal Shem Tov, before the time of Chabad, were able to bring light into the darkest times for the Yidden.

But to have a taste of the Geulah, we need Chassidus Chabad! The other kinds of Chassidus can save a Yid and help him overcome the dark times of Golus, but only the Alter Rebbe’s Chassidus helps us UNDERSTAND the knowledge of Hashem and be prepared for the Geulah!

See Likutei Sichos Chelek Lamed, sichas Yud-Tes Kislev

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