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לעילוי נשמת הרה״ח הרה״ת הר׳ משה פינחס בן הר׳ אברהם מרדכי הכהן כ״ץ
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Parshas Ki Seitzei - Shishi with Rashi

Moshe Rabbeinu is reviewing and explaining the mitzvos with the Yidden so that all of the 613 mitzvos will be clear for the Yidden going into Eretz Yisroel, and for all generations!

People that don’t have to take any part in a war: In last week’s parsha, we learned about the announcement of the Mashuach Milchama, the kohen who tells certain people not to fight in the war — like someone who got engaged, or bought a house and didn’t move in yet. But even though those people don’t fight, they still need to help the army in other ways.

But there are other people that should not help with the war at all! Someone who is in his first year of marriage needs to spend time with his new wife and make her happy. Someone who bought a new house and is still in his first year of living there, or planted a new vineyard and this is the first year he can eat the fruits, also shouldn’t take part in the war.

Not taking keilim needed to make food as a Mashkon: Sometimes a person borrows money, but cannot pay it back. The Beis Din can take some of his things as a Mashkon, to make sure the person will pay back the loan. But the Beis Din CANNOT take keilim used to make food with as a Mashkon.

Kidnaping: If someone kidnapped another person and uses him as a slave, after being warned not to, he is chayav misa in Beis Din.

Keep the halachos of Tzoraas: We learned the details of this mitzvah in Chumash Vayikra. Moshe Rabbeinu tells the Yidden to be very careful with Tzoraas, and not to try to take off the signs of Tzoraas — they should show them to the kohen. If they don’t want to get Tzoraas, they should not speak Lashon Hara! They can remember this from the story of Miriam, when she said Lashon Hara and got Tzoraas.

Taking a Mashkon: If someone borrows something from you, you might want him to give you something as a Mashkon, to show that he really will give back what he borrowed. But you can’t go into his house to take a Mashkon — he needs to bring it out to you.

If he is poor and you take his pajamas as a Mashkon, for example, you need to make sure that he has them back at night when he needs to go to sleep! He will thank you, and even if he doesn’t, Hashem will consider it a zechus that you are helping him give back what he borrowed and STILL making sure he has what he needs when he needs it.



66 - 68

Today’s kapitelach are Samach-Vov, Samach-Zayin, and Samach-Ches. We also say three kapitelach for Elul: Lamed-Daled, Lamed-Hey, and Lamed-Vov.

In Kapitel Samech-Vov, Dovid Hamelech says with Ruach Hakodesh words we will say to Hashem when Moshiach comes!

In pesukim Yud, Yud-Alef, and Yud-Beis, Dovid Hamelech tells us how we will thank Hashem for saving us from the tzaros of Golus. We will say that even though Hashem tested us with many tzaros, and that sometimes the troubles even got worse, in the end, Hashem saved us! Vatotzienu Larevaya, we will thank Hashem for bringing us out of Golus to the time of Geulah!

See the Metzudos on this kapitel, and the introduction in Tehillim Ohel Yosef Yitzchok



Igeres Hakodesh Siman Yud-Gimmel

This Igeres is a letter the Alter Rebbe sent with a shliach (Shadar) who was collecting tzedakah in the communities of Chassidim, to inspire them to give tzedakah.

In this letter, the Alter Rebbe explains that even people who usually do mitzvos with a cheshbon, doing them exactly the way they need to be done, have the koach to give tzedakah without a cheshbon. The Alter Rebbe is waking up this koach of their neshama to give tzedakah without a cheshbon, much more than they would plan to give! One of the rewards for doing this is that Hashem will also give brachos without a cheshbon, even more than the person deserves!

First let’s learn about two different ways Yidden can serve Hashem:

A Yid can do mitzvos and learn Torah EXACTLY the way the Torah says. He can work hard to everything just right. All of his Avodas Hashem is just between him and Hashem, and nobody else needs to know! (This is like the derech of Beis Shamai, who were very strict in everything they did.)

Or there is another way — a person could feel so excited about their Yiddishkeit, that they want other people to enjoy it too! They don’t spend so much time trying to make sure everything is perfect, they just are busy doing LOTS of mitzvos, showing everyone how much they love being a Yid! (This is like the derech of Beis Hillel, who were more kind and giving to others.)

A person will have one of these different ways of serving Hashem based on where their neshama comes from — Chesed or Gevurah.



Yud-Beis Elul

The Rebbe Rashab said a very long Hemshech called “Besha’ah Shehikdimu, Te’erav.”

What is a Hemshech? It is many maamarim that need to be learned in order — like one very long maamar!

The Hemshech took more than THREE YEARS to say to the Chassidim — from Shavuos in 5672 (when the Rebbe Rashab was in Lubavitch) to Parshas Vayeira in 5676 (when the Rebbe Rashab was in Rostov)! This last maamar starts with the words “VaHashem Amar.”

There are 144 Maamorim in this Hemshech. (It is the LONGEST hemshech of maamarim in Chassidus!)

In fact, the Rebbe Rashab even had a SECOND part that he didn’t say it to the Chassidim — he just wrote it down.

For many years, Chassidim only had parts of this Hemshech as copies, but not as a printed sefer. In the year Tof-Shin-Lamed-Zayin, the Rebbe asked for it to be printed! The Rebbe gave special instructions how this should be done, and asked everyone to be a part of it! (See Derher magazine, Kislev 5777, for the whole story of when this happened!)

One of the things we can learn from this is about the Avodah we do in Chodesh Elul, where we make hachlatos for the coming year. We can learn from this that it is possible to make a hachlata that will take a long time to finish — even a few years!

Did you ever think about making a hachlata that will take you a long time to finish?



Shiur #68 - Mitzvas Asei #59, Hilchos Megillah V'Chanukah Perek Alef - Beis

In today’s Sefer Hamitzvos, we learn the same mitzvah again (Mitzvas Asei #59): That we blow trumpets at certain times. We blow them when we bring the special korbanos of Yom Tov, a happy time. We also blow them in a sad time — when we are davening to Hashem because hard things are happening. They can remind us that it’s from Hashem, and we have to do teshuvah.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Behaalosecha: וּבְיוֹם שִׂמְחַתְכֶם וּבְמוֹעֲדֵיכֶם וּבְרָאשֵׁי חָדְשֵׁיכֶם וּתְקַעְתֶּם בַּחֲצֹצְרֹת

The details are explained in Sifri, Mesechta Rosh Hashana, and Mesechta Taanis.

Since there is no mitzvah for the next set of halachos (Megillah V’Chanukah), we learn these perakim of Rambam inside.

Today we learn the first two perakim of Hilchos Megillah V’Chanukah inside, as part of Sefer Hamitzvos, along with those who learn three perakim of Rambam every day.



Hilchos Taaniyos - Megillah V'Chanukah

In today’s Rambam, we are finishing the halachos about fasts.

There are five fasts each year because of sad things that happened to the Yidden:

1) Tzom Gedaliah (Gimmel Tishrei) — when Gedaliah was killed. He was the governor of the Yidden, and they hoped he would help them live in Eretz Yisroel. When he was killed, the Yidden realized they were REALLY in Golus.

2) Asara B’Teves — When Nevuchadnetzar blocked anyone from going out or coming into Yerushalayim.

3) Shiva-Asar B’Tammuz — 5 sad things happened: The luchos were broken, the Yidden couldn’t bring korbanos anymore (in the first Beis Hamikdash), the walls of Yerushalayim were broken (in the time of the Second Beis Hamikdash), Apostomos the rasha burned a Torah, and he also put an idol in the (second) Beis Hamikdash.

4) Tisha B’Av — 5 sad things happened: The Yidden in the Midbar were told they wouldn’t get to go into Eretz Yisroel, the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed (both), a city called Beitar was captured and everyone was killed (including Bar Kochva, who many Chachomim said could be Moshiach), and the rasha Turnus Rufus plowed the ground of the Beis Hamikdash (this is something the Navi said would happen).

The Yidden also took the minhag of fasting one more fast:

5) Taanis Esther (Yud-Gimmel Adar) — we fast Erev Purim to remember how all of the Yidden fasted in the time of the gezeira of Haman.

We don’t blow the trumpets on any of these fasts.

What happens if these fast days are on Shabbos? We fast after Shabbos instead — except for Taanis Esther, because if we fasted after Shabbos, we would be fasting on Purim! Instead, we fast on the Thursday before (because it’s not kavodik for Shabbos for us to fast on Friday). If the other fasts are on Friday, though, we fast on Friday. (This hardly ever happens because of how our calendar is set up.)

The Rambam tells us the halachos of Av and Tisha B’Av, which is the only one of these fasts that we fast also at night. We also learn about “Zecher LeChurban,” things we do to remember that the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed.

But don’t worry, at the end of Rambam we learn something very happy! The same Navi that hints to all of these fasts also reminds us that they will all be very happy days when Moshiach comes!


We also start learning the halachos about Purim today, in a new set of halachos!

Even though there are mitzvos for Purim and Chanukah, they are mitzvos from the Chachomim, and not mitzvos that are said in the Torah.

The mitzvah of Purim is to hear the Megillah. The Rambam tells us how to make sure to do the mitzvah right. One thing the Rambam says is that we should make sure kids get used to hearing the Megillah too!

We also learn the other mitzvos of Purim: the Seudah, Shalach Manos, and Matanos L’Evyonim.

The Rambam says that when Moshiach comes we won’t need to learn the Neviim and Kesuvim anymore. (In another place, it explains that this is because we’ll be able to see it all from the Chumash.) Still, we will always need to learn Megillas Esther!



Hilchos Maaser Sheini VeNeta Reva'i - Perek Gimmel

We need to treat Maaser Sheini with respect — for example, we are not allowed to make it tamei.



Chodesh Elul

In Elul, we make a Cheshbon Hanefesh — seeing how we did this past year, to prepare for the coming year, so it will be much better. Did we do a good job with our mitzvos? Did we start figuring out some of the tricks our Yetzer Hara tries to use on us? Are we doing better in our Avodas Hashem than last year? Are we really using ALL of our kochos to bring the geulah closer?

How do we make this Cheshbon Hanefesh?

The Rebbe’s father, Harav Hakodosh Harav Levi Yitzchak N”E, explained that the word “Elul” teaches us how! If you make the letters “Elul” into numbers, you will get 67. Another word with the same Gematria (making letters into numbers) is Bina, understanding!

There are two ways of understanding something — we can understand something in general, or we can understand it completely with all of the details. When we understand something completely, that is using our koach of Bina.

For our Cheshbon Hanefesh in Elul, we need to have Bina! We can’t JUST think about “Did I have a lot of Kibbud Av Va’em? Maybe I need to do better.” We need to think, “I need to have more Kibbud Av Va’em by doing what Mommy and Tatty tell me RIGHT AWAY, instead of waiting until I’m in the mood.”

When we think about how we acted with Bina, we can figure out how to make every little part better and be sure that we are doing our shlichus in the coming year in the best possible way!

See Toras Menachem Tof-Shin-Mem-Daled, vol. 4, p. 2504

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Ledovid Hashem Ori

Starting from Rosh Chodesh Elul, all the way through Hoshaana Rabbah, we add a special mizmor to our davening each day, in Shacharis and Mincha. This is kapitel Chof-Zayin of Tehillim, which starts with the words Ledovid Hashem Ori.

Adding this kapitel is a minhag that goes back to the time of the Arizal! It is written that if we say this mizmor during Elul, it takes away any not good gezeiros, so that we will be judged only for good. In Ledovid Hashem Ori, there are many hints to the avodah of Elul and the Yomim Noraim:

We say, “Hashem Ori Veyishi,” “Hashem is my light and my salvation.” The Medrash explains that during Rosh Hashana, Hashem shows Himself in a way of Ori, as our light. On Yom Kippur, Hashem shows Himself in a way of Yishi, saving us.

Another hint is near the end of this kapitel, in the posukLulei He’emanti,” “if only my emunah was proper.” The word Lulei is the same letters as the word Elul, only backwards! This hints to the avodah of Elul — looking back on what happened during the past year so we can work on doing better next year.

Chassidus brings that a very important posuk of this Mizmor connected to Elul is “Lecha Amar Libi, Bakshu Fanai” — “My heart says to search out the pnimius of Hashem.” When Hashem is like a king in the field, it is much easier to find the pnimius of Hashem! This is the avodah of Elul, to use the kochos of this time and connect to Hashem in this special way.

See Otzar Minhagei Chabad, Chodesh Elul and sources cited there



Ledovid Hashem Ori

There are many different minhagim about when to start and finish saying Ledovid Hashem Ori, what part of davening to say it in, and in which of the daily tefillos to say it.

Our minhag is to start early — on the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, even though it is still part of Chodesh Av. We continue saying it until Hoshaana Rabbah, the end of the time of din.

We say Ledovid Hashem Ori in Shacharis and Mincha, but not in Maariv.

In Shacharis, we say Ledovid Hashem Ori after the Shir Shel Yom, before the kaddish of the Shir Shel Yom.

In Mincha, we say it before Aleinu.

Even though this is our minhag, it is more important to follow the halacha of saying Aleinu together with the minyan. So if we are davening Mincha with a minyan that says Ledovid Hashem Ori after Aleinu, we should say Aleinu and Ledovid Hashem Ori afterwards, together with the minyan.

See Otzar Minhagei Chabad Chodesh Elul, os Hey, Igros Kodesh vol. 19 p. 30

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



Moshiach Will Explain

The Navi Zechariah lived at the same time as the Navi Chagai. During those days, the Yidden had returned to Eretz Yisroel and were trying to build the second Beis Hamikdash.

Zechariah started saying nevuos when he was still young, and he says some of the most famous nevuos about the Geulah!

Many of Zechariah’s nevuos are very mysterious. The Navi tells us what he saw, and they are like dreams that we can’t understand. Rashi tells us (in the first posuk of Zechariah) that we will not understand all of Zechariah’s nevuos until Moshiach himself comes to explain them!

IY”H over the next few days we will learn some of Zechariah’s famous nevuos about the Geulah.

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