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Chamishi with Rashi

In yesterday’s Chumash we learned the sad story of Kayin and Hevel. We also learned about Kayin’s children and grandchildren, until his great-great-great-grandson Lemech was born. Today the Torah tells us more about Lemech and his children, and in tomorrow’s Chumash we will see the end of the story with Kayin.

By now, the people living in the world were not acting the way Hashem wanted.

Lemech married two women — one of them to have children (Adah), and the other one just to have a pretty wife (Tzilah). He was afraid that if she had children, she wouldn’t look as beautiful anymore!

Adah had two boys — Yaval and Yuval.

Yaval invented a new way of being a shepherd. He would bring his sheep around to wherever he could find good grass for the sheep to eat, and set up a tent there to live. When that grass was finished, he would take his tent and his sheep and move to another place. He also built places for Avodah Zarah.

Yuval invented playing musical instruments. He also played these instruments for Avodah Zarah.

Even though Lemech didn’t want her to have any children, Tzila had children too. She had a son, Tuval-Kayin, who made tools and weapons like Kayin did. She also had a daughter, Naamah, who later became Noach’s wife.



119 (first half)

In today’s Tehillim, we start kapitel Kuf-Yud-Tes. It is the longest kapitel, and we only say half of it today — it takes us two days to finish it in Chitas! This kapitel goes according to the Alef-Beis, and every letter has eight pesukim that start with it.

In the letter Beis, there is a posuk that says “Bameh Yezakeh Naar Es Orcho Lishmor Kidvorecha.” The posuk means, “How does a person make the way he acts pure? By listening to what Hashem says.” By doing mitzvos and acting the way Hashem tells us in the Torah, we will be pure and holy.

But there is another meaning to this posuk too!

The Alter Rebbe once went to his Rebbe, the Maggid, and asked for a bracha to have a baby. The Maggid said: “Bameh Yezakeh Naar? How does a person have the zechus to have a baby? ‘Es Orcho’ — by having Hachnosas Orchim.”



Igeres Hakodesh Siman Chof-Hey

Today we are starting a new letter from the Alter Rebbe. In this letter, the Alter Rebbe will give us advice about what we can do so we don’t get angry.

When someone says something to us that we don’t like, sometimes we get angry at them. Today the Alter Rebbe tells us that if we had stronger Emunah in Hashem, we wouldn’t get angry.

What does Emunah have to do with getting angry?

The Alter Rebbe explains: Why does a person get angry when someone says something not nice to him? Because he is sure that the person wanted to hurt him on purpose! That’s a good reason to get angry, right?

But it isn’t really true! Everything that happens in the world is from Hashem. Even if someone is saying something not nice to you, it is only because the chayus of Hashem is in that person and is letting him say that not nice thing. If Hashem didn’t want him to say it, he wouldn’t be able to!

(Of course there is no excuse to say or do not nice things to other people! Someone who does is doing an Aveira, and Hashem will take care of that. But that is HASHEM’S business! What WE need to know about is that it was Hashem who gave the person koach to say what they did.)

Instead of getting angry at the other person, we should think about the chayus of Hashem that is doing it, ask why Hashem is making it happen, and what we need to do to make it stop.

Sometimes we are so upset about what’s happening that it’s hard to think about our Emunah in Hashem. There is an eitzah brought in sefarim that when we get angry we should just be quiet and wait to calm down. That’s why some people walk away for a few minutes or just take some deep breaths, to remind themselves that everything is really from Hashem, and they don’t have to get angry.



Chof-Hey Tishrei

The Alter Rebbe made ten niggunim. Some are only very short tunes and not even a whole niggun, but they were made by the Alter Rebbe himself!

The niggunim that we have from the Mitteler Rebbe aren’t really made up by the Mitteler Rebbe — they were made by chassidim and sung in front of the Mitteler Rebbe. 

The Mitteler Rebbe had a choir, a “kapelye.” Some chassidim would sing, and some played instruments. The songs that they sang in front of the Mitteler Rebbe are what we call the Mitteler Rebbe’s niggunim.

There are certain times, like at the end of Yomim Tovim, when it is a minhag to sing the niggunim of all the Rebbbeim. We sing a niggun made by the Alter Rebbe, and a niggun called “Kapelye” from the Mitteler Rebbe which was made by these chassidim.

For many years, on Simchas Torah, the Rebbe would teach a niggun himself! Those are the niggunim that we call “the Rebbe’s niggunim.” There were also niggunim that Chassidim wrote or sang for the Rebbe’s Yom Huledes, with a posuk from the Rebbe’s kapitel. Many times Chassidim would whistle during niggunim when the Rebbe would want them to!



Mitzvas Asei #19

Today in Sefer Hamitzvos we learn the same mitzvah again (Mitzvas Asei #19) — that after we eat, we need to bentch. (In today’s Rambam, we learn the last two perakim of halachos that are related to this mitzvah.)

But since we also start a new set of halachos, Hilchos Milah, we learn another mitzvah too! This is the mitzvah (Mitzvas Asei #215) that every Jewish boy needs to have a Bris Milah.



Hilchos Brachos - Milah

Perek Yud: In addition to making brachos before we enjoy things, the Chachomim taught us that we need to say brachos to Hashem as a way of thanking and praising Hashem constantly. Some examples for those are the brachos we say in Birchos Hashachar every morning, Shehecheyanu, and Hagomel. (Can you think of any other examples? In this perek of Rambam, you will see many more of these kinds of brachos!)

Did you know that there is a bracha for good news, and a bracha ALSO for things that don’t seem good at all? Because it’s a mitzvah to thank Hashem for NOT-good news just like we thank Him for good news!

At the end of this perek, the Rambam tells us to remember to ask Hashem for help, thank Hashem for what He does for us, and praise Him as much as we can!

Perek Yud-Alef: In this perek, we learn halachos about another type of brachos, called mitzvah-brachos, like the bracha for washing Netilas Yodayim, or the bracha for Tefillin. Usually we say the bracha before we do the mitzvah.

The Rambam finishes off this perek and section of halachos that you say as many brachos as you can, but you should be careful not to say brachos that are not necessary. Like Dovid Hamelech says in Tehillim, “Bechol Yom Avarcheka, Va’ahalela Shimcha Le’olam Va’ed.” “Every day I will bentch You, and I will praise Your name forever.” (Do you know where that posuk is from?)

Now we start to learn Hilchos Milah, about a Bris Milah:

Perek Alef: We start learning about the mitzvah of giving a baby a bris, when he is 8 days old. The halacha is that if the baby is sick, we don’t do the bris right away, because danger for life pushes away all mitzvos. We can do the bris later, when it’s not dangerous for the baby.



Hilchos Matnos Aniyim - Perek Ches

We learn that saying that we will give Tzedakah is like making a neder, and we need to keep it. We also learn about a Goy giving Tzedakah, and finally about the great mitzvah of Pidyon Shevuyim, helping a Yid come out of jail. The Rambam says that there is no bigger mitzvah than this one!



VeYaakov Halach Ledarko

The whole Tishrei was so special
Each day, there were mitzvos anew
It made us feel so close to Hashem
With so many favors to do!

Rosh Hashana we accepted Hashem as our King
With the shofar blowing loud and strong
We started our year in a sweet sweet way
And said Tehillim all day long!

On Yom Kippur we had private time with Hashem
And felt like Malochim must feel
We just davened to Hashem the whole time
Without getting distracted by a meal.

Right away it was time for Sukkos
In a little hut made safe by Hashem
We showed our Achdus with a Lulav and Esrog
Hadassim and Aravos together with them.

Simchas Torah we were the Torah’s feet!
We danced and we showed our joy
As we started the Torah once again
With an Aliyah for every little boy!

But now we’re back to school and work
Has the Ruchnius gone away?
We feel like things aren’t as special as before
Now it’s just a regular day.

But wait! We’re looking at this wrong!
The Ruchnius is here to stay!
It is in our minds and hearts
Each and every day.

In fact, now that it might feel
That the Ruchnius did disappear
We can serve Hashem in a REGULAR world —
And that’s the whole reason we’re here!

Hashem wants us to do mitzvos
Even when it isn’t exciting
And that makes the world ready for Hashem
A world that feels inviting!

After Tishrei is over, we show Hashem
That our Yiddishkeit is here to stay!
We aren’t just Yidden on Yom Tov
But also on every day!

So no, we didn’t step down at all
From the Ruchnius we had before —
Actually, we have reached the goal
That we were created for!

See Hisvaadus Shabbos Bereishis 5744


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Mesiras Nefesh

The Alter Rebbe says in Tanya that when we daven and learn Torah, it’s really a kind of Mesiras Nefesh.

Why? It doesn’t put us in danger!

The words “Mesiras Nefesh” mean “to give up the neshama.” When a person does Mesiras Nefesh, he gives up the life of his guf and returns his neshama to Hashem. We do the same thing, in a different way, when we daven!

We give up the life of our guf by not paying the guf as much attention as usual. We eat before if we need to, so that it won’t bother us in the middle of davening. We focus completely on the words of our tefillos and on our connection to Hashem. Our neshama is returned to the way it felt when it was in Gan Eden, when nothing Gashmius’dik distracted it!

That’s a kind of Mesiras Nefesh.

So when it comes time to stand before Hashem and daven, we need to do it in a way of Mesiras Nefesh. At least during Shema and Shemoneh Esrei (the most important parts of tefillah), we should forget about all of our Gashmius distractions. Only think about how the neshama stands before Hashem, pouring out its heart to Hashem, hoping to be connected to Him and do His Ratzon all day.

See Tanya end Perek Mem-Alef



Dipping Challah Into Salt

We started dipping our challah into salt again, instead of honey.

Why do we dip challah into salt?

One reason is that the Chachomim teach us that our table is like a Mizbeiach! When we eat a meal, it is in a way like we are eating a korban. And the Torah teaches us to always put salt on our korbanos!

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, siman Kuf-Samach-Zayin se’if Ches

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



Chassidus Brings Moshiach

A chossid once wrote a letter to the Rebbe, sharing good news.

In the letter back, the Rebbe asked that this chossid shouldn’t just share this kind of good news, he should also include another very important kind of good news! “Ain Tov Ela Torah” — “There is no good except for Torah!” The Rebbe asked the chossid that he should also write about his learning Torah, especially Chassidus!

Learning Chassidus is especially important, since it brings the Geulah! As R’ Chaim Vital, a talmid of the Arizal, explains, not learning enough Pnimius HaTorah keeps the Geulah from coming faster.

The Gr”a, the Vilna Gaon, also writes about this, in his pirush on Mishlei.

And it is important to not only learn Chassidus, but to also spread the teachings of Chassidus to others, so that the Geulah comes much faster!

See Igros Kodesh chelek Yud-Gimmel, p. 32

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