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CHUMASH

Parshas Mikeitz - Chamishi with Rashi

Today we learn how the Shevatim go back to get Benyamin, and what happened on the way.

In yesterday’s Chumash, we learned how Yosef accused the brothers of being spies. He said he would only believe them if they brought back Benyamin. In the end of yesterday’s Chumash, he said that they would all sit in jail, and one of them would go get Benyamin. They all sat in jail for three days, and then Yosef gave them a different idea:

Yosef said: “Here’s how you can show me you aren’t spies: I’ll keep one of you here in jail, and the rest of you will go bring your food home, and then come back with your youngest brother. Then I’ll know that you were telling me the truth.”

The Shevatim said to each other, “Do you know why this is happening to us? Do you know why this Mitzri leader isn’t having rachmanus on us? Hashem is doing it because we didn’t have rachmanus on Yosef when we threw him in the pit and sold him, even though he begged us to let him go.”

Reuven saw that this was an important time to help his brothers do teshuvah, so he said, “Didn’t I tell you not to do it? You didn’t listen to me!”

Really, Yosef heard all that they said. (They didn’t know that he understood what they were saying, because there was usually an interpreter there.) Yosef moved away from them and cried because he heard that they felt bad for what they did. But then he came back and continued to act strict. Yosef had the guards tie up Shimon. (He chose Shimon because Shimon was the one who threw him into the pit in the first place, and also so Shimon and Levi wouldn’t be together to come up with ideas to hurt him.)

Yosef had the servants fill up the Shevatim’s bags with grain, and to secretly put back the money they paid. (Yosef also had them fill up Shimon’s bags, and put them on his donkey so his family would have food too.)

The brothers loaded their donkeys and left. After they left, Yosef had the servants untie Shimon and give him food to eat.

When the Shevatim got to an inn, Levi opened his bag to feed his donkey. He saw his money right there! He told his brothers, and they were all very upset. They were sure the Mitzrim put the money back so that they could say the brothers were stealing!

When they came home, they told their father Yaakov all that happened. They told him how the leader was mean to them and called them spies, and how he said they need to bring Benyamin to prove they are telling the truth. Then when they opened their bags to take out the food, ALL of the Shevatim saw their money inside, and Yaakov and the brothers were afraid of what would happen.

Yaakov wasn’t sure that the Shevatim were telling the truth. Because now TWO of his sons were missing — Yosef and Shimon. He said, “Yosef is gone because of you, Shimon is gone because of you, and now you want to take Benyamin too?!”

Reuven said, “I promise you I will bring Benyamin back! I know you are worried about your son, I also have sons! I will even give you their lives as a guarantee that I will bring Benyamin back!”

Yaakov ignored what Reuven said — Reuven’s sons were his own grandchildren, how did it help for their lives to be a guarantee? He said, “You are not responsible! Benyamin can’t go down with you, I don’t want him to travel! His mother and brother died on the way, and I am afraid he will die on the way too! And if you make Benyamin die, then I will not be able to live either!”

Yehuda had some more things to say, but since he saw that Yaakov was so against it, he decided to wait until most of the food ran out, and then to talk to him again.

The food still didn’t grow in the whole Canaan. Once they ate up all the food they brought from Mitzrayim, Yaakov told the Shevatim to go back and buy more. Yehuda said, “The one in charge of the food won’t let us come unless Benyamin comes too! Unless you send him, none of us can go.”

Yaakov asked, “Why did you tell the Mitzri man that you have another brother?!”

The brothers felt that really this was to punish them for selling Yosef, but they didn’t want to tell Yaakov that. So they just told Yaakov exactly what happened. “First he asked us about our families, and if our father is alive. He told us what kind of wood our cribs were made of — and he was right! He asked if we had more brothers. So we had to tell him the truth. How could we have known he would ask us to bring our brother?”

Yehuda tried to convince Yaakov: “If you send Benyamin, maybe something will happen to him, or maybe not. But if we don’t go to buy food, we will ALL die for sure! So let me take Benyamin, and we will go so we can ALL live.”

“I know you are afraid we won’t take care of him. Don’t worry, I will be the one in charge. If chas veshalom I don’t bring him back, I will lose my Olam Haba! Now let’s go already — we’ve spent so much time talking about this, we could have been already back twice, and brought Shimon home so you won’t have to worry about him!”

Yaakov said, “You need to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. Bring some presents (spices, honey, and nuts) to the leader of Mitzrayim, bring twice as much money for food in case the price went up, and also bring back the money you found — maybe it was a mistake. Take your brother and go.

“Those are all of the things we can do in nature, but we also need to ask Hashem for help. I will daven for all of you. I will also ask Hashem to stop making things so hard for me (I had trouble with Lavan, Esav, Rochel, Dina, Yosef, Shimon, and Benyamin!). I will daven that he let your other brother go free! (Yaakov meant Shimon, but it was a nevuah and he didn’t know it — the “other brother” was Yosef who would “go out” of hiding later!) For me, it will be like I lost Shimon and lost Benyamin until you come back with them.”

So the brothers took the present and double the amount of money, along with Benyamin. They came to Mitzrayim and bowed down in front of Yosef.

 
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TEHILLIM

135 - 139

Today’s kapitelach are Kuf-Lamed-Hey through Kuf-Lamed-Tes.

In today’s Tehillim there are some kapitelach we say during Shacharis on Shabbos. The kapitel “Hodu Lashem Ki Tov, Ki Le’olam Chasdo”, also called Hallel HaGadol (Kapitel Kuf-Lamed-Vov), is one of them.

In Hallel Hagadol, one of the things we thank Hashem for is the big lights that shine on the world — the sun, the moon, and the stars. We say, “Le’oseh Orim Gedolim, Ki Le’olam Chasdo! — Hashem makes the big lights, because He has so much chesed!”

We learn from this that Hashem is ALWAYS making the world! Because it doesn’t say “Hashem MADE the big lights,” but “Hashem MAKES the big lights” — Hashem is always creating the world from nothing, every single second, and is making everything exactly the way it is with Hashgacha Protis!

 
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TANYA

Likutei Amarim Perek Daled

As we learned, our neshama has special tools to stay connected to Hashem even after if comes into a body. Using these tools will keep our neshama strong, so we can keep our promise to Hashem, to try to be like a beinoni.

Our neshama has Sechel, what it understands about kedusha. It has Midos, what the neshama feels because of that — that it always wants to be connected to Hashem and is afraid to become separated. It also has Levushim, ways it can act in this world based on what it knows and feels — through learning Torah and doing mitzvos, as we learned in yesterday’s Tanya.

We might think that what the neshama knows and feels is greater, because that is part of the neshama itself. Mitzvos are not really a part of the neshama itself, and we do them with Gashmius things.

But that’s not true! The kochos of our neshama are a part of Hashem, but they become a little bit separate, especially when the neshama comes into a body. Torah and mitzvos are one with Hashem even when they are in Gashmius! So by using the levushim of our neshama (Machshava, Dibur, and Maaseh) for Torah and mitzvos, we can become connected to Hashem in an even stronger way than with the sechel and midos of the neshama themselves!

When the neshama comes down to the world, it goes for a long trip that hides more and more kedusha from it. But when Torah comes down to the world, it doesn’t change!

The Alter Rebbe uses a mashal to understand this: Torah is like water. When water comes down (like a waterfall or rain) the water didn’t change! When the Torah comes down into the world, it doesn’t change at all. So even though the Torah and mitzvos talk about Gashmius things, and our Sefer Torah is written with Gashmius ink, it has the same kedusha and Elokus, that Hashem is letting us feel in this Gashmius’dike world!

And when the neshama uses its levushim to do these Torah and mitzvos, it unites with Hashem! So we see that actually learning Torah and doing mitzvos (not just making the neshama inspired) is the HIGHEST way for the neshama to be connected to Hashem in this world!

 
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HAYOM YOM

Chof-Ches Kislev

In today’s Hayom Yom, we learn about gatherings the Rebbeim made in honor of Chanukah, and how they gave Chanukah gelt.

The Tzemach Tzedek had a special minhag: One night of Chanukah he would make a “Latkes Ovent” (“Latke Night”) for the whole family. His daughters-in-law came along with their husbands, the children of the Tzemach Tzedek. (This was also a minhag that the Alter Rebbe and the Mitteler Rebbe had.) Some of the stories they told over and talked about were the same every year, even though they were already talked about the year before.

The Rebbe Rashab would give Chanukah gelt on the fourth or fifth night of Chanukah.

 
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SEFER HAMITZVOS

Shiur #143 - Mitzvas Asei #82, #135, Lo Saasei #220, #221, #222

Today we learn 5 mitzvos: One more about presents of the kohanim, and then four about Shemitah — the new set of halachos we are learning.

1) (Mitzvas Asei #82) If someone doesn’t want to give the kohen his firstborn donkey (Peter Chamor) then the donkey needs to be killed. (We learn about this mitzvah in today’s first perek of Rambam)

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Ki Sisa: וְאִם לֹא תִפְדֶּה וַעֲרַפְתּוֹ

The details are explained in Mesechta Bechoros.

2) (Mitzvas Asei #135) We are not allowed to do farm work during Shemitah.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Ki Sisa: בֶּחָרִישׁ וּבַקָּצִיר תִּשְׁבֹּת

The details are explained in Mesechta Shevi’is.

3) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #220) We can’t plant during Shemitah.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Behar: שָׂדְךָ לֹא תִזְרָע

The details are explained in Mesechta Shevi’is.

4) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #221) We can’t work on our trees during Shemitah.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Behar: וְכַרְמְךָ לֹא תִזְמֹר

The details are explained in Mesechta Shevi’is.

5) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #222) We are not allowed to gather what grew in the field by itself during Shemitah. We can eat from it, but we can’t go gather it like we do during other years.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Behar: אֵת סְפִיחַ קְצִירְךָ לֹא תִקְצוֹר

The details are explained in Mesechta Shevi’is.

 
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RAMBAM

Hilchos Bikurim - Shemitah VeYovel

Perek Yud-Beis: We learn about the mitzvah of Peter Chamor, redeeming a firstborn donkey. We aren’t allowed to just give the donkey to a kohen, we need to trade it for a sheep or for money, and give THAT to a kohen.

Now we start learning Hilchos Shemitah:

Perek Alef: We are not allowed to do any kind of work that helps things grow during Shemitah. We are allowed to do things to keep trees from dying, but not to help them grow better.

Perek Beis: We even need to be careful not to do things that LOOK like we are working in our fields during Shemitah.

Some kinds of garbage can help fields grow! Peels and seeds and eggshells turn into a kind of fertilizer called compost. We aren’t allowed to put those kinds of garbage into our fields during Shemitah. We are allowed to make a big pile of compost, though, since you can see that a big pile of compost won’t help your field unless you spread it around!

 
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RAMBAM PEREK ECHOD

Hilchos Zechiya U'Matana - Perek Hey

Perek Hey teaches us about what happens if two people argue over a field: One says that it was sold to him, and the other one says he got it as a present. This could happen if the person gave a present secretly. That’s one of the reasons why a person shouldn’t give presents secretly, so there won’t be arguments who it belongs to!

 
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INYANA D'YOMA

Chanukah Gelt

The Rebbe told us that it’s important to give Chanukah gelt every night, but it’s a good idea to give even MORE on the fourth or fifth night of Chanukah, like we see in today’s Hayom Yom!

A person once asked the Rebbe about a problem he was having with one of his children. The Rebbe asked if he gave his child Chanukah gelt this past year, and the father said yes. The Rebbe asked if the child received Chanukah gelt on EVERY night of Chanukah, and again the father replied yes. The Rebbe said, “If so, there’s nothing to worry about.”

(see Beis Chayeinu)

 

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TEFILLAH

Menorahs in Shul

The minhag is that we light a menorah in shul during Mincha, before Aleinu.

The Rebbe says that we should try to keep this menorah lit the whole day, as long as people are in shul. This will keep everyone excited about Chanukah! (We should only do this if we are not worried that kids will play with the menorah.)

See Sefer Hasichos 5750, vol. 1 p. 193, ha’ara 81

 
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HALACHOS HATZRICHOS

Milchigs on Chanukah

Some people have a minhag to eat foods made out of milk or cheese on Chanukah. We do this to remember the neis that happened with Yehudis and the cheese:

Yehudis, the daughter of Yochanan Kohen Gadol, was very brave. She thought of a plan to save the Yidden of her city. She went out to the Greek general, bringing him a present of very salty cheese. He was very happy, and let her feed him a lot of it. Then the general was very thirsty, so Yehudis gave him lots of strong wine. The wine made him so drunk, he fell asleep! Yehudis pulled out his sword and chopped off his head.

When the soldiers found out that their general was dead, they were so scared that they all ran away! The Yidden were saved.

To remember this neis, we also eat milchig foods on Chanukah.

See Shevach Hamoadim, Kitzur Hilchos Chanukah

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

 
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GEULAH U'MOSHIACH

Making Eretz Yisroel Bigger

We learned yesterday that to deserve that Eretz Yisroel will become bigger when Moshiach comes, we need to add something MORE in our Avodah nowadays.

What do we do? We need to make our Ruchnius Eretz Yisroel bigger! Our Ruchnius Eretz Yisroel is doing mitzvos during Golus. We make it bigger by doing even MORE than the strict halacha! Doing more than what we need to is called going “Lifnim Mishuras Hadin,” further than the halacha says we have to.

This is something that has a special connection to Chanukah!

According to halacha, did you know how many candles we need to light each night of Chanukah? Only ONE, and only one person in the family needs to light it.

But the Rama writes that it is a “minhag poshut,” an accepted minhag, for ALL Yidden to do this mitzvah in the best way possible! Even Yidden who usually aren’t so careful to do everything right, light the menorah in a way of Mehadrin Min Hamehadrin, the very best way! We all light one more candle each night of Chanukah, and have many menorahs in every home!

This shows us that even if we aren’t doing everything right, we can still add more than what we need to do. This way we will deserve to have an Eretz Yisroel where Hashem will add more land, in the time of the Geulah!

See Likutei Sichos chelek Chof, sicha of Motzei Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sarah 5738, p. 345

 
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