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Sheini with Rashi

There was a hunger, but Yitzchak was not allowed to leave Eretz Yisroel. Instead Hashem told him to go to Gerar, which would later become part of Eretz Yisrael.

Yitzchak went to live in Gerar. Because he was afraid that the people there weren’t good people, he did what his father Avraham did, and told the people of Gerar that Rivkah was his sister.

Avimelech, king of Gerar, didn’t take Rivkah to his palace, so Yitzchak stopped worrying about it, and didn’t keep it such a secret that they were really married.

When Avimelech found out that they were married, he got very angry! “Why didn’t you tell me that you were married? I might have tried to marry her, and then we would be in trouble!” Avimelech warned everyone in Gerar not to bother Yitzchak or Rivkah.

Yitzchak planted grain, hoping to be able to give some to tzedakah. And even though it was a year of hunger without rain and Gerar wasn’t such a great place to plant things, Hashem made a neis and it grew 100 times as much as he expected! Then, when he counted the grain to give maaser, Hashem made another neis, and it grew to be 100 times more than that!



120 - 134

Today’s kapitelach of Tehillim are Kuf-Chof through Kuf-Lamed-Daled.

In today’s Tehillim, Kapitel Kuf-Chof-Ches, it says “Yegia Kapecha Ki Sochel, Ashrecha VeTov Lach” — “when you work hard for your food, it is good for you.” We see that it is important to work for what we need, and not just to take from Tzedakah!

Even though it is very important to work, Chassidus teaches us that the posuk uses very specific words. It says “Yegia KAPECHA” — “the work of your HANDS.” This teaches us that the work should be done with your hands to do it properly, but your HEAD should be busy with Torah the whole time! Even when we need to use our head to think what to do, the chayus in our head doesn’t need to be there. When your mind is always connected to Hashem, then your work will always be done the way Hashem wants.

Maamar Mayim Rabim Tof-Shin-Lamed-Ches



Kuntres Acharon

We are starting the fifth (and last) section of Tanya, called Kuntres Acharon! In Kuntres Acharon, the Alter Rebbe explains more about things we learned before in Tanya, to understand them even better and deeper. At the end, there are also some letters that were not included in Igeres Hakodesh.

Now we are going back to something we learned in Perek Mem of Likutei Amarim, how it is important to have kavana in order to make our Torah and mitzvos go up to Hashem.

In today’s Tanya, the Alter Rebbe explains the difference between thinking words of Torah and saying them.

To connect with the ruchnius that only our neshamos can see, that is done especially through our thought. So if you just read stories in the Torah and think about them, you might be inspired by them. It will accomplish something in Ruchnius!

But to bring Hashem into the world and do your special shlichus in the world, that is not enough. You also need to SAY the words of Torah. By using your mouth in this world, that brings Hashem into this world.

The difference between thinking and speaking is that thinking about Ruchnius’dike things brings us UP and elevates the mitzvos we do, making them more beautiful. But that isn’t enough! Speaking (and doing) brings Hashem DOWN into the world — and that is the main reason we are created.



Chof-Zayin Mar-Cheshvan

Do you want Hashem to love you? Do you want Him to help you and to make you feel close to Him?

R’ Aizik Homiler heard wonderful advice for this: When he came to Liozna (where the Maggid of Mezritch, and later the Alter Rebbe, lived) he found many Chassidim who would always say: “If you love another Yid, Hashem will love you. If you do a favor for another Yid, Hashem will do you a favor. And if you will be mekarev another Yid (bring them close to Hashem), Hashem will make you become close!”

So if you want something for yourself, you can try to ask others to help you — but the best idea is to help someone else get that thing, and then Hashem will make sure you get it too!



Mitzvas Asei #153, #59

Today in Sefer Hamitzvos, we learn the same mitzvah (Mitzvas Asei #153) for the last time: How the Beis Din needs to make a calendar and calculate the months and the years. This is the mitzvah of Kiddush Hachodesh.

Today we also learn a new mitzvah, (Mitzvas Asei #59) to 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.



Hilchos Kiddush HaChodesh - Taaniyos

In today’s Rambam, we are finishing the halachos of Kiddush Hachodesh! In perek Yud-Ches and Yud-Tes, we learn more about how the Beis Din knows if the witnesses are telling the truth that they saw the moon. They make calculations to figure out if it is possible to see the moon on a certain night.

But just because there IS a new moon doesn’t mean that anyone can see it! Sometimes the moon is very low in the sky and someone needs to be on top of a mountain to see it, or it might be hidden behind clouds.

The Rambam explains what the Beis Din does if nobody sees the moon for many months — they can’t just make every month be 30 days long, because that will mess up the calendar! The Beis Din follows a pattern, like we do nowadays: one long month, and then one short month. That way, even if there are no witnesses, the Yidden will all be keeping a proper calendar.

One of the questions the Beis Din asks people is, “Which way was the moon pointing when you saw it?” The Rambam explains how the Beis Din knows if their answer makes sense: It depends on where the sun is! The part that we can see of the moon is because the sun is shining on it and making it lit up. (You can try this yourself using a ball and a flashlight in a dark room!)

The sun’s “path” (orbit) around the earth and the moon’s orbit aren’t like two circles on a flat piece of paper. They are both tilted in different directions, so sometimes the sun is a little bit higher or lower in the sky than the moon is. Since it is shining down at the moon, or up at the moon, it makes the moon look like it’s pointing in a different direction! (You can try this with your flashlight too!)

The Rambam tells us how to calculate this ourselves, so we can know which way the moon should be pointing on Rosh Chodesh.

We also learn the first perek of a new set of halachos about fasts that the Chachomim make for the whole town. If something scary happens, we need to daven to Hashem of course, and also fast to ask for Hashem to help us. The Rambam talks about WHO needs to fast, and WHEN we’re not supposed to make this kind of fast.

The Rambam says that if a person says that something just happened by chance, it is cruel! Hashem wants us to do teshuvah, and by saying that it was just by nature, it will stop us from doing teshuvah properly, and we won’t be able to get all of Hashem’s special brachos.



Hilchos Maaser Sheini VeNeta Reva'i

Today we start a new section of halachos!

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!



Kinus Hashluchim

We just had the Kinus Hashluchim Ha’olami.

Whether or not you are part of the Kinus, the Rebbe shows us that it has a message for EVERYONE!

The Kinus Hashluchim is a Kinus Ha’olami, an INTERNATIONAL Kinus. Even though each shliach has his main focus on spreading Yiddishkeit in one little part of the world, together all of the shluchim are changing the world!

But that’s not all. Every single Yid and every single shliach is able to make a difference HIMSELF in all parts of the world!


When we meet another person, and share a few words of Torah, the Torah can bring that person a new chayus in Yiddishkeit. That person has friends, and friends from other parts of the world, and he might share those words of Torah with them too. And those friends can share with their friends too, until your Dvar Torah spreads around the world!

This is one of the horaos we should take from the Kinus Hashluchim: That even though we are in one place, we have a tremendous koach to share Yiddishkeit INTERNATIONALLY!

See Sefer Hasichos Tof-Shin-Mem-Tes, Chof-Zayin Cheshvan, se’if hey


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Yehei Shmei Rabah

Between Pesukei Dezimra and the next part of davening, Birchos Kriyas Shema, we say Barchu. One of the reasons we say Barchu is for the same reason we say “Raboisai Mir Vellen Bentchen” before bentching with a mezuman: We tell everyone, “FOCUS! Pay attention!” Now we are reaching the ikar of davening, Shema and Shemoneh Esrei. The Chazan reminds everyone that we are coming to a very important part of davening and we all need to be thinking about what we are saying!

Then, the Chazan says a Kaddish. There are many types of Kaddish, but the first half is the same for all of them. The main part of this is when everyone says “Yehei Shmei Rabah Mevorach,” Hashem’s great Name should be blessed.

The Gemara tells a story that shows that when we answer Amen Yehei Shmei Rabah to Kaddish in shul, it brings Hashem a lot of nachas!

The Tanna R’ Yosi was once traveling. On his way, he passed some of the destroyed houses of Yerushalayim. He went into one of them to daven.

Eliyahu Hanavi waited for R’ Yosi at the door. After R’ Yosi finished davening and came outside, Eliyahu Hanavi greeted him. He asked why R’ Yosi had gone into such a dangerous place. R’ Yosi answered that he was looking for a quiet place to daven. Eliyahu Hanavi told him that it is better to daven a short tefillah on the road so nobody will interrupt you, and not to go into a dangerous place.

After teaching him this, Eliyahu Hanavi asked R’ Yosi what he had heard when he was in the ruined house.

R’ Yosi answered that he heard a voice, cooing like a dove. It said, “How sad it is for the children (the Yidden)! Because of their aveiros, I destroyed My home (Yerushalayim), burned My Heichal (the Beis Hamikdash), and sent them into Golus among the nations!”

Eliyahu Hanavi told him, “I promise you that the Shechinah did not only say this when you were inside the ruined home. The Shechinah cries this way three times during each day!

“And when Yidden say ‘Yehei Shmei Rabah Mevorach,’ that Hashem’s great Name should be blessed, it is like Hashem nods His head! Hashem says, ‘Happy is the king who is praised this way in his home.’ It would be so happy for Hashem to be praised this way in His Beis Hamikdash.

“Hashem continues, ‘How terrible it is for the father who sends away his sons, and how terrible for the sons who were sent away from their father’s table.’ It is so sad for Hashem Who sent away His children, the Yidden, and so sad for the Yidden who were sent away from Yerushalayim.”

When we answer Yehei Shmei Rabah Mevorach, it reminds Hashem how nice it would be to again have the Beis Hamikdash, and makes Hashem feel bad about the Yidden being in Golus!



Standing During Kaddish

Do we need to stand when the Chazan is saying Kaddish?

There are two opinions:

One opinion says that we don’t need to stand up when we hear Kaddish or Barchu. Still, if we are already standing up, like after Hallel, we should stay standing.

The second opinion is that we should stand whenever we hear words of Kedusha! We learn this from a non-Jewish king, a rasha, named Eglon. He stood up to hear the words of the Navi. If even he stood up, of course Yidden should stand to hear words of kedusha! According to this opinion, we should stand up even if we were sitting.

The Alter Rebbe says that it is good to follow this second opinion.

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman 56 se’if 5

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



Kaddish & Geulah

Kaddish starts with the words “Yisgadal Veyiskadash Shemei Rabah.” “Hashem’s great Name should be great and holy.”

The Avudraham (a famous meforash on Tefillah) explains that the words of Kaddish are asking that Hashem’s name should be made holy by bringing the Geulah. Then, everyone will see that Hashem is one!

These first words of Kaddish are based on a posuk from the Navi Yechezkel, which speaks about the war of Gog and Magog, which happens close to the time of Moshiach. The posuk is, “Vehisgadilti Vehiskadishti Venodaati Le’einei Goyim Rabim, Veyadu Ki Ani Hashem.” Hashem says that at this time, “I will become great and holy, and known to many nations, and they will know that I am Hashem.”

When Moshiach comes, EVERYONE will be able to see and understand that there is only Hashem and nothing else!

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