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Parshas Chukas-Balak - Shishi with Rashi

Bilaam brings korbanos, and asks Hashem for a nevuah. Hashem gives him a nevuah, and instead of cursing the Yidden, he gives them many brachos! Balak is very angry!

Yesterday we learned how Bilaam finally came with the officers of Moav to the king, Balak. Balak wanted Bilaam to curse the Yidden, since he was afraid that the Yidden were strong and might want to attack Moav, like they did to Sichon and Og.

That day, Balak took Bilaam to a big city in his land, with busy marketplaces full of people. Balak wanted him to see the people of Moav, so that he should feel bad for them and want them to be safe.

In the evening, Balak prepared only a cow and a sheep for Bilaam and all of the officers that were with him. Balak had promised to give Bilaam a lot of kavod and treat him well, but now he hardly even gave him enough food for everyone!

The next morning, Balak took Bilaam up to the high place where they did Avodah Zarah, because he could see part of the Yidden’s camp from there. That would be a good place, he thought, to curse the Yidden from!

Before he could try to convince Hashem to let him curse the Yidden, Bilaam decided it would be a good idea to give Hashem a korban. He told Balak to build 7 Mizbechos, and to bring two korbanos for each Mizbeiach — a Par (bull) and Ayil (ram). Balak and Bilaam brought these korbanos.

Then Bilaam told Balak to stay by the Mizbeiach, because he was going to try to get Hashem to talk to him, even though it was during the day, and Hashem usually only talked to him at night.

Hashem decided to talk to him for the sake of the Yidden, but Hashem appeared to Bilaam in an insulting way. Bilaam said to Hashem, “Look! I made as many Mizbechos as the Avos did! And I brought even MORE korbanos than they did!” (If you look at all of the places where the Avos made a Mizbeiach for Hashem, you will see that there were seven, and that Avraham only brought one Ayil.)

Hashem gave him a nevuah, showing Bilaam that Hashem loves the Yidden and he won’t be able to curse them. Hashem told him to go back and tell Balak.

Bilaam went back to Balak, who was standing with his officers, and said his nevuah: “Balak the king of Moav brought me here, asking me to curse the Yidden! But how can I curse people that Hashem didn’t curse? And how can I get angry at them if Hashem isn’t angry?

“I see the Yidden from their beginning, from the Avos. I see that they are as strong as mountains! In the zechus of the Avos and Imahos, they will live alone and not be destroyed like the other nations will.

“Who can count the Yidden, who were promised to be as many as the dust of the earth? I wish I was like them!”

Balak now was FURIOUS! “What did you do? I asked you to curse my enemies, and you are giving them brachos!”

Bilaam answered, “What can I do? I have to say whatever Hashem tells me to say!”

Bilaam and Balak try again: Balak thought that maybe it would be easier to curse a few of the Yidden, since he won’t see them all together with all of their mitzvos. So they went up onto Har Nevo. Bilaam and Balak also knew that something sad for the Yidden would happen there, and thought this would be from their curse! (Really, this is the mountain where Moshe Rabbeinu would later pass away.)

Hashem tells Bilaam to give the Yidden brachos: Again Balak made 7 Mizbeiachs and brought 2 korbanos on each. Bilaam tried to talk to Hashem again, and Hashem gave him another nevuah. Hashem told him that he can’t curse the Yidden, but he should BLESS them! Bilaam didn’t want to go back to do it, but Hashem told him he has to.

Balak made fun of Bilaam, asking him what Hashem told him THIS time. First Bilaam told Balak that Hashem is not a person — He never changes His mind. Then he told him what Hashem said — Hashem wants the Yidden blessed — so that is what he will have to do:

Bilaam gives the Yidden brachos: “Hashem doesn’t look at the aveiros of the Yidden — Hashem loves them very much! The Yidden DESERVE brachos. They say Shema every day in the morning and at night, and Hashem protects them.”

Balak said, “Don’t curse them and don’t bless them! If you can’t curse them, don’t say anything!”

But Bilaam reminded Balak that he has to say whatever Hashem tells him to…



60 - 65

Today’s kapitelach of Tehillim are Samach through Samach-Hey.

In today’s Tehillim, Dovid Hamelech says how his neshama wants to be close to Hashem. He compares himself to a person who is thirsty for water in a place where there is none: “Tzoma Lecha Nafshi!”

The Rebbe explains that when a person is VERY thirsty and doesn’t have any water, when he finally gets the water it tastes so delicious to him, much better than any other water!

The same thing is when the neshama feels like it’s not close to Hashem, and it’s really “thirsty” to feel close.Then, when it DOES learn Torah and do mitzvos and feel close to Hashem, the Torah that it learns and the mitzvos that it does are much more geshmak!

That’s why Dovid Hamelech says in the next posuk, “Kein Bakodesh Chazisicha” — “If only I would see You like this bakodesh,” even when I feel holy and I don’t feel far away. Even then, I wish I would feel the same geshmak in the Torah and mitzvos!

When Moshiach comes, we will all be able to see Hashem! Halevai that then we should feel the geshmak in Torah and mitzvos like we do when our neshama is “thirsty” during Golus.



Igeres Hateshuvah Perek Gimmel

We learned how we do the mitzvah of Teshuvah: We make a hachlata to do whatever Hashem wants, and of course never to do this specific aveira again. If we do this, we will not be punished chas veshalom, but we still won’t have the same connection to Hashem as we had before the aveira was done! To become close to Hashem again, we need to give Hashem a present. In the time of the Beis Hamikdash, that present was a Korban. After the Churban, when the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed, that present was fasting. But now that also changed!

Nowadays, we can’t use fasting as a “korban” to come close to Hashem. Our bodies aren’t as strong as they used to be, so fasting will hurt us.

A Yid’s body doesn’t belong to him — it belongs to Hashem. Hashem only lets us USE it, and we need to take good care of it. If fasting will hurt us, that’s not a way to come closer to Hashem! It will chas veshalom accomplish the opposite.

Even in the times of the Mishna and Gemara, only people who were healthy and could fast without it hurting them, or making it hard to daven or learn, were allowed to fast.

So what CAN we do, if we can’t fast so much?

We can give tzedakah! Since it takes hard work to get money, it’s like we’re giving a piece of OURSELVES to tzedakah, just like fasting is giving a part of ourselves to Hashem. Even if we didn’t work hard for the money (like if we got it for a present), since we COULD have gotten something for ourselves with the money, and instead we gave it to tzedakah, it’s like we gave that part of us to Hashem! So it’s like fasting — giving a part of ourselves to Hashem.

So nowadays this is the eitzah we use: To give of ourselves through tzedakah, which brings us back to be close to Hashem, the way bringing a korban did in the times of the Beis Hamikdash.



Yud-Alef Tammuz

Today the Rebbe tells us a little bit about the history of the part of Tanya we are learning now.

Igeres HaTeshuvah was printed for the first time in a city called Zalkvi, in the year 5559 (Tof-Kuf-Nun-Tes). This year has the same Gematria as the words “Mevaser Tov” — sharing good news (because it is the year that the Alter Rebbe came out of prison on Yud-Tes Kislev)!

We know from the Hayom Yom of Chof Kislev that the first Tanya was printed in Tof-Kuf-Nun-Zayin, but that was only the first two chalakim. Only two years later, in Tof-Kuf-Nun-Tes was this third chelek printed.

The first time Igeres HaTeshuvah was printed, it was a little bit different — it wasn’t split up into perakim. There were also a few differences in the way the Alter Rebbe wrote things.

Igeres HaTeshuvah was printed for the first time the way we have it today only 7 years later, in Tof-Kuf-Samach-Vov, in the city of Shklov.

On Shavuos in Tof-Shin-Lamed-Ches, the Rebbe asked that the first version of the Tanya and also the maamarim and kesovim of the Alter Rebbe which have other versions, should all be printed. The Mahadura Kama (first version) of the Tanya was printed by Kehos in the year Tof-Shin-Mem-Beis. If you look in the sefer Likutei Amarim Mahadura Kama, you can actually see the version that is mentioned in today’s Hayom Yom!



Shiur #333 - Mitzvas Lo Saasei #167

Today’s mitzvah (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #167) is that the Kohen Gadol has to be careful not to move or touch something that can give him Tumas Meis. (That sounds just like yesterday’s mitzvah, that a Kohen Gadol should not become Tomei, but the Rambam shows us how really they are two separate mitzvos — not to be in a place that can make him tomeiLo Yavo, and not to touch or move something that can make him tomeiLo Yitama!)

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Emor: וְעַל כָּל נַפְשֹׁת מֵת לֹא יָבֹא



Hilchos Aveil

Today’s Rambam (perakim Vov, Zayin, and Ches) talks about the halachos of a person who is mourning for someone who passed away.

Very soon when Moshiach will come, there will be no more reason for Hashem to take a person’s neshama away from their Guf. In fact, Hashem will return every neshama to their proper guf with Techiyas Hameisim!



Hilchos Melachim - Perek Vov

Perek Vov teaches us about how to fight wars for the Jewish people. Before we fight, we always have to first ask the people if they want to make shalom and keep the Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach. If we surround their cities, we should leave a way out so they can escape, and that way we can take over the city without fighting them.

Even in a time of war, we shouldn’t ruin things for no reason (Bal Tashchis). A war for the Yidden is a holy thing — we fight even on Shabbos!




In today’s Hayom Yom, we learned about the Tanya that we are learning now, the beginning of Igeres Hateshuvah. We will also learn two minhagim about Tanya that kinderlach need to know:

1) We need to have a Tanya in our room! (Along with a Chumash, Siddur, Haggadah, other sefarim, and Tzedakah) This way it becomes a Cheder Tzivos Hashem, like our own little Beis Hamikdash, where we can get ready for the big Beis Hamikdash! We should also make sure that we are USING the Chitas from our Cheder Tzivos Hashem.

Can you make sure yours are still in your room?

2) When we learn Alef-Beis with little kids, it is our minhag to start with looking in the Tanya. This helps have a Chassidishe Chayus in the Alef-Beis!


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Shir Lamaalos

There are many reasons why we say Kriyas Shema She’al Hamitah, and different parts of Kriyas Shema are said because of these different reasons.

One reason for Kriyas Shema before bed is to finish off the day with a Cheshbon Hanefesh, seeing where we could do better, so that tomorrow will be better than today. We say Kapitel Nun-Alef of Tehillim, which talks all about teshuvah, to help us with that.

After Kapitel Nun-Alef, we say another kapitel of Tehillim, Kapitel Kuf-Chof-Alef. We say this kapitel for a different reason; because Kriyas Shema She’al Hamitah protects us from the koach of kelipah which is stronger at night.

This kapitel, which starts with the words “Shir Lamaalos, Esa Einai El Heharim,” speaks about how Hashem is the Protector of the Yidden. We say, “Hinei Lo Yanum Velo Yishan Shomer Yisroel!” Hashem doesn’t rest or sleep — He is constantly watching over the Yidden!

Saying this kapitel reminds us that Hashem is always watching over us, and we have nothing to be afraid of.



Learning at Night

We need to learn Torah all the time, but there are some times that make learning Torah EXTRA important and extra special! One of those times are at night. In many places in Gemara, we learn how important it is to learn Torah at night.

For example, the Gemara says that the “Rina” (song) of Torah is only at night! It also says that if Hashem sees a person learn Torah at night, Hashem puts a “Chut Shel Chesed,” a string of kindness, on him during the day.

Nighttime is an especially good time to learn Chassidus!

One of the reasons why we make a Cheshbon Hanefesh during Kriyas Shema at night is because the nighttime makes a person feel more humble. Feeling humble is also very important to learn Chassidus properly! To feel the kedusha of the Torah and of Hashem as explained in Chassidus, a person can’t be a Baal Gaavah, and needs to feel humble. That’s why the night is a very good time to learn Chassidus.

See Shulchan Menachem p. 368, Likutei Sichos vol. 34 p. 42

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



A Taste of Geulah

In Parshas Balak, Bilaam says a nevuah about the Yidden. The Rambam in the halachos about Moshiach (Hilchos Melachim) writes that this is a nevuah about Dovid Hamelech, who brought a Geulah for his generation. It is also a nevuah about Melech HaMoshiach, who will bring the final Geulah to the whole world!

This nevuah is very special, but one thing is strange. This nevuah is one of the most important nevuos about Moshiach — and it was said by a goy! All of the other nevuos about Moshiach were said by the greatest Yidden!

The Rebbe explains that this is what Moshiach is all about! When Moshiach comes, everyone will serve Hashem — even the goyim. The goyim will realize that Hashem is the ruler of the entire world, and will respect Hashem’s nation, the Yidden.

So not only does Bilaam’s nevuah help us understand Moshiach, it even lets us TASTE the time of Moshiach! We can have a “taste” of how the world will be when Moshiach comes from this nevuah. We see in the nevuah of Bilaam how the whole world, even a goy, is there to help Yidden in our shlichus to make the world a Dira Betachtonim.

See sefer Pninei Geulah, from Likutei Sichos chelek 23 Balak Alef

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