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Parshas Shoftim - Shvi'i with Rashi

Moshe Rabbeinu tells the Yidden two things: To try to make peace with the Goyim before attacking them, and about the mitzvah of Eglah Arufah.

Hashem promised the Yidden the cities in Eretz Yisroel. So the Yidden need to make sure that the people living there all leave! But if the Yidden are fighting a war with a different city, they have to first ask the people living there if they want to make Shalom (peace) first.

Moshe Rabbeinu tells them what to do if the people DO want to make shalom (they should pay taxes and can continue to live there), and what to do if they DON’T want to make shalom (that the Yidden should then make a war with them).

Still, when they are fighting, they shouldn’t cut down a fruit tree — “Ki HaAdam Eitz HaSadeh?” “Is a tree a person?” Why should you cut down the tree? You are just fighting with the people! Don’t cut down the tree because of Bal Tashchis.

Now Moshe Rabbeinu tells the Yidden about the Eglah Arufah:

If someone finds a person who passed away, lying in a field, and nobody knows who killed him, the Beis Din needs to come and see where it is. They measure to see which city is closest.

The Zekeinim of the closest city take a young cow (eglah) and kill it in a valley where nothing grows, to be a kaparah for the person who was killed. It’s a cow that is young so it never had any children, in a place that doesn’t grow anything — to make up for someone killing a Yid who now can’t “grow” any mitzvos.

The Zekeinim say, “It wasn’t our fault that the person was killed!” And the kohanim say, “Hashem, please forgive the Yidden.” And Hashem forgives them. (Still, if they find the person who did it later, they need to punish him.)



39 - 43

Today’s kapitelach of Tehillim are Lamed-Tes to Mem-Gimmel. We also say kapitelach Yud-Tes, Chof, and Chof-Alef.

In today’s Tehillim, it says “Haysa Li Dimasi Lechem Yomam Valayla, Be’emor Eilai Kol Hayom Ayei Elokecha.” “My tears were like my food all day and night, when they say to me all day ‘Where is Hashem?’”

The Rebbe explains that this posuk is saying that for a person to really be close to Hashem, we need to be crying for Hashem ALL the time, not just on Shabbos or only when we’re davening, but even when we’re eating or playing on a regular weekday.



Igeres Hakodesh Siman Yud-Beis

In this Igeres Hakodesh, the Alter Rebbe is encouraging Yidden to give tzedakah, even when it is hard!

We said that in Shomayim, there are Malochim that are different than each other — and even opposites, like Michoel and Gavriel! One is strict, and one is kind.

When Hashem shows them a greater light than before, they are able to see that really they are BOTH doing what Hashem wants! Then they are able to make shalom.

When a Yid does something in this world, Hashem does something in a matching way.

When we give tzedakah, we are giving another person something he didn’t have before. So when we do that, Hashem also gives “tzedakah” to the malochim, and shows them this great light so they will make shalom!

There is also a shalom which happens below in the Yid who gives the tzedakah. This shalom happens between the two opposites in the person— the Yetzer Tov and Yetzer Hara. We will IY”H learn more about this in the next part of this letter.



Zayin Elul

Every word in the Torah is EXACT. We know all of the words and letters, and a sofer has to be very careful to write every single one perfectly!

There is only one letter in the Torah that we aren’t SURE about: That letter is in next week’s Chumash, Shlishi of Parshas Ki Seitzei, in the word “Daka.” There are two ways to write this word — with an Alef at the end, or a Hey at the end.

It says in today’s Hayom Yom that the Alter Rebbe says the word “Daka” should be with an Alef.

The Frierdiker Rebbe talks about Sifrei Torah he saw where the word “Daka” was written with an Alef! One of those Torahs was in Prague, where there was a Sefer Torah that the Yidden said was checked over by Ezra HaSofer! Another place was in Wurms, where there was a Torah written by R’ Meir M’Rotenburg, also with Daka spelled this way.



Shiur #33 - Mitzvas Asei #19

Today in Sefer Hamitzvos we learn the same mitzvah again (Mitzvas Asei #19) — that after we eat, we need to bentch.

We learn this from a very famous posuk in Parshas Eikev: וְאָכַלְתָּ וְשָׂבָעְתָּ וּבֵרַכְתָּ אֶת ה׳ אֱלֹקֶיךָ

The details are explained in Mesechta Brachos.



Hilchos Brachos

Perek Zayin: The Rambam teaches us the halachos of Derech Eretz B’Seudah — the mentchlich way to act at a meal. For example, you shouldn’t look at someone else eating, or at someone else’s plate, so that you won’t embarrass him. Another halacha is that you shouldn’t throw food or ruin it.

Perek Ches: We learn about the brachos on food, aside for Mezonos and Hamotzi, which we already learned earlier.

Many of the Geonim before the Rambam said that sugar cane is either Ha’eitz or Ho’adamah. The Rambam says that it is not a fruit, and we need to make a Shehakol.

If you put food into your mouth without making a bracha, what do you do? Do you know?

Perek Tes: Just like we’re not allowed to enjoy eating food without a bracha, we aren’t allowed to enjoy a good smell without a bracha. We do this at Havdalah every week — Borei Minei Besamim!

There are specific brachos for smells, depending on where the smell comes from, like from a plant or from a flower. Just like Shehakol is a general bracha for food, Borei Minei Besamim is a general bracha for smells.

There are certain smells we don’t make a bracha on at all, like smells from Avodah Zarah.



Hilchos Keilim - Perek Chof-Vov

In Perek Chof-Vov, the Rambam tells us about when keilim that were broken, taken apart, or attached to other keilim can get the tumah of Midras.



Chodesh Elul

We learned a lot of pesukim that start with the letters of Elul! Today, let’s learn another one. The sefer Megaleh Amukos writes that the letters of Elul also stand for the words of the Chachomim, “Oy LeRasha, V’Oy LeShcheino” — “Oy! for a Rasha, and oy! for his neighbor!”

These words explain that things don’t go so good for a Rasha — and someone who lives near him can also end up with problems because he spends so much time with a Rasha.

So why would we want to say that this Maamar Razal is the letters of Elul!? It doesn’t sound like a good thing!

The Rebbe explains this, and the connection between Chodesh Elul and Chodesh Av, the month before. According to what the Rebbe explains, we can understand that this IS a good thing! When a person does Teshuvah, he says “OY!” When a person says “OY!” and does teshuvah for something he did that was like a Rasha, it makes the people near him (his neighbors) want to do Teshuvah too — “OY!”

So really, this Maamar Razal is a very good one! When we use the month of Elul to do teshuvah, it helps others do teshuvah too!

See Shaarei Hamoadim Chodesh Elul, p. 46


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Mizmorei Shabbos

Really the Chachomim had many other kapitelach of praise to Hashem that they wanted to put in davening. But that would have made the davening much longer! Since working during the week is a very important part of serving Hashem, these kapitelach are not part of davening on a weekday, to give us more time to work.

But on Shabbos, when we have more time to spend on davening and learning, we add 12 kapitelach of Tehillim, along with Ho’aderes Veha’emunah, before Boruch She’amar. This way, we say the many praises of Hashem!

The meforshim explain why these kapitelach specifically were chosen. There are reasons in Niglah and in Kabbalah.



L'Kavod Shabbos

To have a special Shabbos, we need to prepare before! We need to go shopping, cook, clean, set up, learn, and more!

In Shulchan Aruch it says that we should make sure that all of these things we do are with the kavana that they are L’Kavod Shabbos.

Everything we buy, we should SAY that it is L’Kavod Shabbos! And everything we do, we should THINK that it is L’Kavod Shabbos!

One of the differences between buying and doing is that when you buy, there is at least one other person there, that you are buying from. When you SAY that it is L’Kavod Shabbos, not only do you know about it, but the other person will also think about Shabbos!

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman Reish-Nun, se’if Vov

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



There Will Be No More War!

The Navi Micha lived at the same time as the Navi Yeshaya, before the Churban of the first Beis Hamikdash.

When Hashem sends a message through a Navi, the Navi tells the Yidden what he saw. Sometimes, Hashem showed the same thing to both Yeshaya and Micha! When we look at these pesukim, we see that each Navi used almost exactly the same words to tell the Yidden what Hashem showed them.

Here is a nevuah about the Geulah that we learned from Yeshaya, this time the way Micha saw it:

וְשָׁפַט בֵּין עַמִּים רַבִּים וְהוֹכִיחַ לְגוֹיִם עֲצֻמִים עַד רָחוֹק וְכִתְּתוּ חַרְבֹתֵיהֶם לְאִתִּים וַחֲנִיתֹתֵיהֶם לְמַזְמֵרוֹת לֹא יִשְׂאוּ גּוֹי אֶל גּוֹי חֶרֶב וְלֹא יִלְמְדוּן עוֹד מִלְחָמָה

Veshafat Bein Amim RabimMoshiach will judge any arguments between the many nations of the world

Vehochiach LeGoyim Atzumim Ad Rachok — And will tell the strong and the faraway nations to change the way they are acting.

Now the nations won’t have any reason to fight with each other anymore, since Moshiach will have told them what is right and what is wrong! Now what will they do with their weapons?

Vechitsu Charvoseihem Le’itim — They will bend their swords into plows for their fields

Vechanisoseihem Lemazmeiros — And they will bend their spears into pruning hooks!

(Pruning hooks are poles with a curved knife at the end, to cut off extra branches from trees so they will grow better.)

Lo Yis’u Goy El Goy Cherev — No nation will lift up their swords to fight with each other anymore,

Velo Yilmedun Od Milchama — And they won’t even learn about or practice fighting, since they will all know that there will NEVER be another war!

See Micha perek Daled posuk Gimmel

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