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Parshas Toldos - Shvi'i with Rashi

Rivkah asked Yitzchak to give Yaakov more brachos, and he did.

After giving Yaakov a bracha to find a wife, Yitzchak sent him off to Padan Aram, to the house of Lavan, his uncle (Rivkah’s brother). Yitzchak sent him with presents for his wife, like Avraham did when he sent Eliezer.

When Esav saw that Yitzchak had sent Yaakov to get married and told him not to marry a girl from Canaan, he realized that Yitzchak felt that the Canaani girls were resha’im. To show how he was better than Yaakov, he went and got engaged Machalas, Yishmael’s daughter. He wanted to show that HE didn’t need his father to even tell him to, and that HE married someone from Avraham’s family, not just a cousin.

(Yishmael passed away before they got married, so everyone called her “Achos Nevayos” — the sister of Nevayos, because she took care of the chasuna instead of her father. But he didn’t get rid of his Canaani wives, because this chasunah too was just to trick people.)



29 - 34

Today’s kapitelach are Chof-Tes through Lamed-Daled.

In Kapitel Lamed-Daled, Dovid Hamelech says “Taamu Ureu Ki Tov Hashem.” Taste and see that Hashem is good!

What is Dovid Hamelech telling us here?

The Tzemach Tzedek explains that all Yidden together are like one big heart. Just like the heart gives chayus to the body, the chayus of the whole world comes through Yidden!

Our heart is where we feel things. Sometimes when a person is having a very hard time, they can’t feel much in their heart. That’s how it was when the Yidden were in Mitzrayim. The Golus was so hard, the Yidden didn’t have any feelings about Hashem. All they had was Emunah.

When we got to Eretz Yisroel, after all the nissim we had in the Midbar and when we fought to get Eretz Yisroel, the “heart” of the world (all of the Yidden!) was able to finally appreciate all of those things, and feel Hashem’s kindness to us! That is what Dovid Hamelech is talking about — when the Yidden are able to “taste and appreciate that Hashem is good.”

Now that Yidden have the light of Chassidus, we ALL can come and taste how Hashem is good, by learning Chassidus and acting in the ways it teaches.

Once the Alter Rebbe (who taught Chassidus Chabad; Chassidus that people can understand and appreciate) came into a Shul. He klapped on the Bimah and said with a special niggun, “Taamu Ureu Ki Tov Hashem, Farzucht Vet Ir Zen Az Der Aibershter Iz Gut.” (“Taste and you will see that Hashem is good.”)

Many people who heard this were very moved. They followed the Alter Rebbe to learn Chassidus and became Chabad Chassidim.



Kuntres Acharon Siman Daled

Now we are going to learn about how special mitzvos are!

When we do a mitzvah there are two parts: There is DOING the mitzvah, and the KAVANA in the mitzvah.

The kavanah is something that we have in our mind, what we think about when we do the mitzvah. But when we take an esrog and hold it (for example), we become attached to Hashem in a stronger way than we can become with what we think.

When we have kavana, we are thinking about Elokus, but we can’t really understand it because a Gashmius mind doesn’t really understand the mehus, what Ruchnius really is. But when we HOLD the mitzvah, like holding an esrog, we ARE holding on to the mehus of Elokus in that mitzvah!

Because even though the esrog is Gashmius too, Hashem doesn’t hide in Gashmius things that are used for mitzvos!

The Alter Rebbe says that this is also true when we LEARN the halachos about a Gashmius mitzvah, like the halachos of Esrog. We are also holding onto the mehus of Elokus!



Hey Kislev

Today’s Hayom Yom talks about the inyan of davening the way it is explained in Chassidus!

Davening is like a ladder. Do you remember the ladder in Yaakov’s dream, where it sat on the ground but reached up to Shomayim? That’s just what davening is!

When we start to daven, we are like people on the ground. Our neshama is still a little bit sleeping and we don’t feel so ruchnius’dik. With each part of davening, our Neshama begins to spread into our body, and our body starts to feel more ruchnius and close to Hashem. The highest part of the ladder of Davening is when we connect to Hashem in the closest way possible, when we say Shmoneh Esrei.

The Rebbe took this Hayom Yom from a maamar of the Frierdiker Rebbe, said in the Bnei Ruven shul in Chicago when the Frierdiker Rebbe visited America for the first time in Tof-Reish-Tzadik (1930). In this maamar, the Frierdiker Rebbe explains what we think about on each step of the ladder of davening so we can reach the top! On the bottom, we can only admit that Hashem is there, even though we don’t feel it. But at the top of the ladder, we feel that we are standing before Hashem with complete bittul, asking for our needs!



Shiur #135 - Mitzvas Asei #127, #128, Lo Saasei #152

Today we finish learning the set of halachos in Rambam about Maaser, and we’re starting the halachos of Maaser Sheini. So we will learn the same mitzvah again, and then learn some new mitzvos.

1) (Mitzvas Asei #127) It is a mitzvah to bring Maaser Rishon, 1/10th of the food which is grown, to give to the Leviim.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Korach: כִּי אֶת מַעְשַׂר בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר יָרִימוּ לַה׳ תְּרוּמָה

The details are explained in Mesechta Maasros.

We also learn two mitzvos about Maaser Sheini:

2) (Mitzvas Asei #128) It is a mitzvah to take Maaser Sheini, another 1/10th of the food that grows. This food is brought to Yerushalayim and eaten there. (This mitzvah is kept only in the time of the Beis Hamikdash, and only in Eretz Yisroel.)

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Re’eh: עַשֵּׂר תְּעַשֵּׂר אֵת כָּל תְּבוּאַת זַרְעֶךָ הַיֹּצֵא הַשָּׂדֶה שָׁנָה שָׁנָה

The details are explained in Mesechta Maaser Sheini.

3) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #152) If someone couldn’t bring the food all the way to Eretz Yisroel, he can sell the food and use the money to buy different food in Yerushalayim and eat it there. This mitzvah is that the money can ONLY be used to buy food. We are not allowed to use the money to buy anything that is NOT food — even if it’s for a mitzvah.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Ki Savo: וְלֹא נָתַתִּי מִמֶּנּוּ לְמֵת



Hilchos Maaser - Maaser Sheini VeNeta Reva'i

In today’s Rambam, we finish learning the set of halachos about Maaser, perakim Yud-Gimmel and Yud-Daled, and then start learning about Maaser Sheini.

Perek Alef: Maaser Sheini is only done in certain years. How do we calculate which year something was grown in? We count from the Rosh Hashana for plants (that’s the regular Rosh Hashana), and from Chamisha-Asar Bishvat if it’s a tree!

We also learn what happens if food from one year gets mixed with food from another year!



Hilchos Shabbos - Perek Chof-Zayin

In this perek, we learn how far the Techum Shabbos is. According to the Torah, you are allowed to go 12 mil, because this is how big the camp of the Yidden was when they got this mitzvah. Moshe Rabbeinu told them not to go out past this camp, so we understand that the Techum Shabbos must be 12 mil. The Chachomim said, though, that we shouldn’t go out even 1 mil past the city, which is 2,000 amos.

We also learn what happens if a person does go out past the Techum — it is asur for him to go in any direction until after Shabbos!



Chodesh Kislev

The month of Kislev is called a Chassidishe Chodesh. There are so many Chassidishe Yomim Tovim! Here are some of them:

It’s the month when the Alter Rebbe came out of prison, and it was decided in Shomayim that whenever there is something that gets in the way of Chassidus, Chassidus will always win.

It is the month when there was the Geulah of the Mitteler Rebbe, and the day the seforim came back to 770.

It has in it the birthday and yartzeit of the Mitteler Rebbe, and the chasuna of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin. On Rosh Chodesh the Rebbe was again able to be with chassidim after having a dangerous illness that made chassidim very worried.

It finishes with Chanukah, a Yom Tov all about light, which is what Chassidus brings into the world.

The whole month is full of days that remind us and help us live like a Chossid! We need to use this month to its fullest so that we can become the best chassidim that we can be and bring Moshiach now.

One thing the Rebbe tells us that we need to do is to learn more Chassidus every day, from each of the Rebbeim! We learn the Chassidus of the Baal Shem Tov all the way to the chassidus that the Rebbe teaches us. There is so much we can learn! (In the daily Tehillim for Kislev, we are explaining a posuk according to the Chassidus of one of the Rebbeim.) What will YOU learn extra today?


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Birchos Kriyas Shema

In Shema, we say that we are ready to have Mesiras Nefesh to do whatever Hashem wants. The brachos before Kriyas Shema help so that when we say Shema, we really mean it!

The first bracha, Yotzer Ohr, speaks about the Malochim who praise Hashem. They call Hashem “Kadosh,” which means holy and separate. Even the Malochim can’t understand the greatness of Hashem, so they feel that Hashem is separate from them.

But where is Hashem? “Melo Chol Ha’aretz Kevodo!” Hashem’s glory is right down in Olam Hazeh, with the Yidden.

The second bracha tells us that even though Hashem has so many powerful Malochim, Hashem puts aside all of them to bring the Yidden close to Him. Hashem loves every Yid, and chose us to be His special people at Matan Torah!

When we think about this in the brachos of Shema, we will want to love Hashem right back! We will also be ready to put aside everything else to do mitzvos and come closer to Hashem. When we say Shema, we will be ready to have Mesiras Nefesh to do all of Hashem’s mitzvos!

See Tanya Perek Mem-Tes



Ahavas Yisroel

When we praise another person, it is good for him and good for us! It is good for him because now he will want to do more special things. It is also good for us, because Hashem has nachas to hear us talking this way, and will want to give us more brachos!

There are halachos that help us make sure that the words we say only help the person we are talking about!

One halacha is that we should be careful about praising someone about how he was such a great host. We don’t want other people to hear and all start going to be his guest, until he has nothing left!

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman 156 se’if Yud-Gimmel

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



Chassidus Before the Geulah

The Ruchnius reason that the Alter Rebbe was put into jail was because of spreading Chassidus. When the Alter Rebbe was freed from jail, it was a message from Shomayim that he should continue!

We are so lucky to have the Alter Rebbe’s Chassidus taught to us in a very clear way in the Rebbe’s Torah. We are so lucky to even be part of spreading it further, through Mivtzoyim and Shlichus!

But if Chassidus is so special, why did Hashem not let Moshe Rabbeinu teach it to all of the Yidden? Why only nowadays?

There are two main reasons:

1) Close to the time of the Geulah, the Golus gets very dark. We need extra kochos to win over it! So Hashem gives us a deep part of Torah, which helps us use the deepest parts of our neshama to win over the darkness of Golus.

2) Since we are so close to the Geulah, Hashem wants us to have a taste of it! When Moshiach comes, the whole world will be busy understanding Hashem. That’s what Chassidus is all about. We get to learn Chassidus now, as a taste of what we will learn in the time of Moshiach!

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