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Parshas Shemos - Rishon with Rashi

We are now starting a new Chumash, Chumash Shemos!

In the last Chumash, Chumash Bereishis, we learned about the creation of the world. We learned about the Avos, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, and his children the Shevatim. We learned the things that happened to them and what they did.

All of this is a preparation for what we will learn in this next Chumash: We will learn how Hashem takes us out of Mitzrayim and gives us the Torah so we become a nation! But first we learn about the Golus Mitzrayim that the Yidden had to go through for that to happen.

In today’s Chumash, we learn how the Golus starts. The Yidden grow and become a big nation, and Paraoh makes decrees to try to stop them from growing.

First the Torah reviews that when the Yidden came down to Mitzrayim, there were only 70 people. But they had a bracha to have many children, and many times the mothers would have six babies at a time! Soon Mitzrayim was full of Yidden.

Yaakov’s sons were getting older now, and they all passed away (Levi passed away last). Unfortunately, as time went on, many of the Yidden stopped keeping all of the mitzvos — except for the families in Shevet Levi.

Now a new Paraoh, who didn’t know Yosef, became king. He said he was afraid that the Yidden would fight against the Mitrziyim, since there were so many Yidden. He wanted to do something to stop them!

Paraoh asked his advisors what to do. Bilam, who was one of his advisors, gave Paraoh a sneaky idea that would stop the Yidden from having a lot of babies, and would get them to start to act like the Mitzriyim. (Yisro, another advisor, told Paraoh not to do it, but Paraoh didn’t listen to him. Because Paraoh was upset at him, Yisro had to run away to Midyan.)

Paraoh decided to do Bilaam’s idea: He called all of the Yidden to come, and when everyone was there, he started making bricks. Everyone of course started to help — everyone except for Shevet Levi, who stayed home to learn Torah. At the end of the day, the Mitzriyim told the Yidden to count how many bricks they made. “You will have to make this many bricks EVERY day!” they told the Yidden. That’s how they tricked them into becoming slaves.

The Mitzriyim made the Yidden work very hard to build the cities of Pisom and Ramses. But Bilam’s plan wasn’t working. Even though the Yidden were working so hard, they still kept on having lots of children! 

The Mitzriyim were very frustrated! They thought of another idea: Now the Yidden would have to work even HARDER, and do work they weren’t used to doing. This way the parents would be too tired to have more children. But the Jewish women knew that having children is the most important thing!

Paraoh saw that the Yidden were STILL having children! He realized that his plan wasn’t working. Then his advisors told him that the person who would take the Yidden out of Mitzrayim would be born soon!

So he came up with a new plan, to stop the Yidden from growing and to make sure that nobody would take the Yidden out of Mitzrayim. He would kill all of the baby boys, and take the girls away so they wouldn’t know they were Yidden. Paraoh called the Yiddishe midwives (women who help Mommies have babies), Shifra (Yocheved, Amram’s wife) and Puah (Miriam, their daughter). 

Paraoh told Shifra and Puah to kill all of the Yiddishe baby boys, and only to let the baby girls live. Of course Shifra and Puah didn’t listen! They helped the baby boys to stay healthy instead.



77 - 78

Today’s shiur Tehillim is kapitelach Ayin-Zayin and Ayin-Ches.

In Kapitel Ayin-Ches, which is in today’s Tehillim, there is a posuk that says “Vayakem Eidus BeYaakov, VeSora Sam BeYisroel” — “Hashem set up the Torah and mitzvos for Yaakov and Yisroel.” The kapitel continues that this was in order to pass it on to the next generations.

Chassidus teaches that each one of the Avos has something different and special about them, which they passed on to every single Yid. (For example, Avraham Avinu passed on his koach of chesed and Hachnosas Orchim, being kind to others and teaching them about Hashem.) In this posuk, which speaks about Torah, we mention the name of Yaakov and Yisroel, the third of the Avos.

Yaakov Avinu’s special koach was in learning Torah day and night. Yaakov is called a “Yoshev Ohalim,” someone who sits in the tent of Torah! The Torah tells us how Yaakov Avinu spent many years working very hard for his parnasa and to raise a family. Still, he made sure to use his time whenever he could to say Shir Hamaalos and to learn Torah! When things were easier too, like his last seventeen years in Mitzrayim, Yaakov Avinu also used that time in the best way, learning Torah with his children and grandchildren. He passed on this koach of being dedicated to learning Torah to each and every one of us.



Likutei Amarim Perek Yud

In the first twelve Perakim of Tanya, the Alter Rebbe will explain what a beinoni is, so we’ll understand how a beinoni needs to act! First we need to understand what is a tzaddik and a rasha, and then we’ll understand what is a beinoni.

In this perek we are going to learn about a tzadik.

A tzadik is someone who is born with two nefashos, like everyone, but Hashem gives him a special koach to work very hard making his Nefesh Elokis strong. It becomes SO strong that the Nefesh Habehamis has no koach to be active in the guf!

Because he loves Hashem so much, the tzadik is only interested in things that help with Hashem’s shlichus. Just enjoying gashmius with no purpose makes him disgusted.

Because the tzadik loves Hashem so much, he hates anything that goes against what Hashem wants, like the Yetzer Hara! The more he loves Hashem, the more he hates the Yetzer Hara.



Tes-Vov Teves

The Rebbe points out a correction in a maamar from Torah Ohr for Parshas Vayechi.

The Friediker Rebbe said: “Yidden, listen carefully! Now is the time for Moshiach to come! All of the sad things happening in the world are because Moshiach is so close. Remember that only Hashem will save us — and it is only because we will do teshuva! Let us do teshuva and prepare ourselves and our families to be Mekabel Pnei Moshiach Tzidkeinu, who will come bekarov mamosh!”



Shiur #189 - Mitzvas Asei #71

Today’s mitzvah (Mitzvas Asei #71) is that a person who does certain aveiros needs to bring a ram as a Korban Asham, called an Asham Vadai. It is brought for four kinds of aveiros:

- Someone who does Me’ilah (using something that is holy and belongs to the Mizbeiach or to the Beis Hamikdash)

- Someone who gets married to a Shifcha Charufa (a slave girl that is engaged to someone else, and was set free by one of her owners)

- Someone who steals money (Gezeilah) and then lies in Beis Din that he did not steal, and even makes a shevuah

- Someone who has something that belongs to someone else that he needs to give back, and lies in Beis Din when he makes a shevuah, saying that he doesn’t have it (Shevuas Hapikadon)

The dinim of these mitzvos are explained in Mesechta Krisus.



Hilchos Shegagos

In today’s Rambam, we learn about more korbanos a person brings if they do an Aveira.

Perek Tes: We learn the halachos of the Asham Vadai brought for an aveira a person knows that he did (the details of today’s mitzvah).

Perek Yud: The Rambam teaches us about the Korban Oleh V’yored that depends if a person is rich or poor.

Perek Yud-Alef: The aveira of coming into the Beis Hamikdash or eating korbanos when a person is Tamei has different halachos than other aveiros that a person brings a Korban Oleh V’yored for.



Hilchos Me'ilah - Perek Alef

Me’ilah is using something that was set aside for Hashem, which is asur. One of the things we learn about is using the wool of an animal that is hekdesh, and when this is considered Me’ilah.

icon of clock


Hachana L'Yud Shevat

After a week of celebration following Hey Teves in 5747, the Rebbe told us that we need to start getting ready for Yud Shevat, with the help of a mashpiaAsei Lecha Rav! But what’s a mashpia?

A mashpia is someone who has more Yiras Shomayim and more experience in life than we do. We can report to our mashpia how we are doing in Avodas Hashem so that we will know that someone knows what we are doing, which will help us feel a push to do more.

A mashpia can also help us if we’re not sure about something. Should I take on a hachlata to learn extra Tanya, or to give extra tzedakah? Is it okay to read a book about non-kosher animals? Should I be Maavir Sedra after I clean my room, or offer to help my mother set the table?

The Rebbe said that children should also have a mashpia — mashpios for girls, and mashpiim for boys.

See Likutei Sichos vol. 29 p. 247

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Modeh Ani

We just finished going through the explanation of the short davening for small children. The next thing we are going to learn is Birchos Hashachar. Even though we already learned about Modeh Ani, we will learn a little more about Modeh Ani before going on to the rest of the Birchos Hashachar.

The Rebbe Rashab’s older brother, the Raza, was very careful with dikduk, especially in davening. He was careful to pronounce the nekudos perfectly, and to say each posuk properly.

Once, when the Rebbe Rashab was about 9 years old, the Raza was teasing him by asking dikduk questions about davening. He asked him, “Why is there a dot after the word ‘bechemlah’ in Modeh Ani?”

The Rashab answered, “That’s the whole reason for davening! When we daven, we take that dot, that nekudah that is inside of us, and spread it.”

The Raza asked next, “Why do we daven every day?”

The Rashab answered, “Because we want the nekudah to be spread out inside of us every single day.”

Then he added that the word “bechemlah” is in two places in davening, in Modeh Ani and in Ahavas Olam (before Shema). There is no nekudah after the “bechemlah” in Ahavas Olam, because the davening spread it out already!

Years later, the Rebbe Rashab explained that the nekudah is the “Nekudas Halev,” the Pintele Yid. When we daven, this little spark of the neshama spreads out into our whole body.

See Sicha Yud Shevat 5723



Netilas Yodayim

We are learning some of the halachos of washing our hands for bread. Today we will learn about shifshuf.

After carefully washing our hands with plenty of water, making sure it reached every part of our hands, we hold a little bit of water in the palm of the hand we just washed (our left hand) and go on to the next part of Netilas Yodayim. We hold our hands up to our heart, and make the bracha. Then we rub our hands together with the little bit of water that is left. This is called “shifshuf.”

Shifshuf is part of the mitzvah of Netilas Yodayim, to make our hands extra tahor.

Usually, we say a bracha BEFORE doing a mitzvah, but the Chachomim didn’t want us to make a bracha right before our hands are tahor. Instead, we say the bracha afterwards. But the best way to say the bracha is before doing shifshuf, so that the bracha is still at least before doing PART of the mitzvah. (If we forget, we can say the bracha even after drying our hands.)

Seder Netilas Yodayim L’seudah, se’if daled

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



Learning About the Geulah

The Baal Shem Tov says, “Bemakom Shemachshavto Shel Adam, Sham Hu Nimtza.” “Where a person’s thoughts are, that’s where he is.

This helps us understand why it’s so important to learn about the Geulah! When we are thinking about the Geulah, then in a certain way, we are already there!

By having our thoughts and our Ratzon in the time of the Geulah, we will also be excited to do whatever we can to make it happen sooner! So learning about the Geulah also gives us the koach to speed up bringing the Geulah for all the Yidden.

See Parshas Balak 5743

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