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Parshas Vayeitzei - Sheini with Rashi

Yaakov comes to Charan and wants to marry Rochel.

Since Hashem promised Yaakov in his dream that he would be safe, he went to Charan happily, knowing it would be good. On his way, he had to cross the Yarden river. Hashem made a neis and the river split so he could walk across easily!

When he reached Aram Naharayim, he saw a well, covered with a big rock. Near it were three flocks of sheep together with their shepherds, sitting and waiting. They were waiting for everyone else to get there so they could move the rock, since it was too heavy to do it without everyone helping.

Yaakov asked the shepherds if they knew Lavan, and they said yes. “How is he?” Yaakov asked. “He’s fine,” said the shepherds, “and as a matter of fact, here’s his daughter Rochel coming with his sheep!” (Lavan had Rochel take care of his sheep, since he didn’t have any sons to do it.)

Since Yaakov didn’t know that the rock was so heavy, he asked the shepherds why they were just waiting there instead of giving the sheep water and taking them back to the fields. They explained that they needed to wait for everyone to come. They were still talking to him when Rochel came with the sheep to the well.

When Yaakov saw her, he rolled the rock off the well all by himself, and gave water to his uncle Lavan’s sheep.

Yaakov kissed Rochel and cried, because he knew with Ruach Hakodesh that they would get married. But he also knew that they wouldn’t both be buried together in Me’aras Hamachpeilah, which made him cry. He was also cried because he didn’t have any presents to give to her. (Eisav’s son Elifaz had stolen everything from him on the way.)

Yaakov explained to Rochel that he was her cousin, and that he wanted to marry her. Rochel told him that her father was very tricky! Yaakov said he wasn’t worried — he could be as tricky as Lavan if he needed to be, but if Lavan would be honest, Yaakov would be honest too.

Rochel ran and told her father (her mother had already passed away). Lavan ran to meet him, hoping that Yaakov had a lot of money, like when Eliezer came to get Rivkah. Lavan hugged and kissed Yaakov, but not because he loved him or because he was happy to see him — really he just wanted to see if he was hiding any money. When he saw there wasn’t any money, he brought Yaakov home anyway. Yaakov explained that he was running away from Eisav, and that Elifaz had taken all of his money, but he didn’t tell Lavan yet that he wanted to marry Rochel.

Lavan said, “Since you have no money, you can only come here since you’re my nephew. You can stay here for a month if you work as my shepherd.” So Yaakov stayed a month and watched his sheep.

Lavan then asked Yaakov how to pay him. He said to Yaakov, “Just because we’re related, do you have to work for free?”

Yaakov had an idea of the payment he wanted ­— that Lavan should give him permission to marry Rochel!

To understand what is about to happen, the Torah tells us that Rochel had an older sister.

Lavan had twin daughters, Leah and Rochel. Everyone always thought that since Lavan has twin girls, and Yitzchak has twin boys, they would marry each other. So Leah (who was older) always thought she would have to marry Esav, the older twin, and she cried so much about it that her eyes were always red and swollen — but Rochel was beautiful.



39 - 43

Today’s kapitelach of Tehillim are Lamed-Tes through Mem-Gimmel.

In today’s tehillim there is a posuk that says, “Ach Betzelem Yis’halech Ish. “A person walks in the dark (because only Hashem knows the way things really are).

In a maamar,the Rebbe Rashab explains this posuk in another way! “Ach BeTzelem Yis’halech Ish” — a person goes with Tzelem, with a koach called “tzelem” that helps a Yid in his Avodas Hashem.

We all sometimes need a push to get us started in doing the right thing!

A thought can come into our mind and get us excited to do something good. This could be from a Bas Kol, a voice from Hashem that the neshama hears, that makes it really want to act the way Hashem wants. Even though we can’t hear it, our neshama does, and it puts thoughts into our head that can make us do teshuvah!

Every morning, when we wake up, Hashem puts a special koach in the air! It makes us excited about starting the day right and acting the way Hashem wants.

All this is part of the Tzelem that the posuk is talking about, the hidden koach that goes with a Yid and inspires him to do what’s right!



Kuntres Acharon Siman Daled

The Tanya is still talking about how special doing mitzvos is, even more than our feeling to Hashem (Ahava VeYirah). Today the Alter Rebbe tells us three more reasons why. Here is one of them:

Why does a person need to eat from plants and animals, even though they are not as ruchnius’dik as a person? Because inside of them are pieces of kedusha (nitzutzos) that are from an even higher place of ruchniyus than the neshama!

When we eat food with nitzutzos of kedusha, our neshama is able to use the gashmiyus of the food to make the neshama stronger, and to bring these pieces of kedusha that are hidden in gashmiyus close to Hashem.

That’s another reason why we need to do mitzvos with gashmiyus things: Because only they have this high ruchniyus koach inside of them, and only through the mitzvos can we bring them out of hiding and use them the way Hashem meant them to be!



Zayin Kislev

A Yid was put in the world to live like Hashem wants, to have Yiras Shomayim and midos tovos. But Hashem put gashmiyus into the world, and a Yid has a Yetzer Hara that can make him act differently. What do we do?

There are three ways to deal with it and they are different ways in Torah. Today we will see how special Chassidus is!

The first way is called mussar. It teaches how the gashmiyus is very dangerous and we need to stay away from it. When the gashmiyus is weakened then the ruchniyus can be strong.

The second way is called chakira. It teaches about how special ruchniyus is, and says that when we learn about ruchniyus, the gashmiyus won’t get in the way.

Chassidus, however, teaches us that BOTH the gashmiyus and the ruchniyus are special. They are both created by Hashem. Hashem made them both for one purpose — so that the world will be able to see and feel Hashem through the mitzvos that we do, especially when Moshiach comes.

That’s why Chassidus teaches that we need to have both in our Avodas Hashem. We need to learn and daven and feel ruchniyus, but it needs to make our guf and the gashmiyus also become more aidel so that the ruchniyus and kedusha can also be felt in them!



Shiur #137 - Mitzvas Lo Saasei #141, #142, #143

Today we learn three mitzvos, about the three kinds of Maaser Sheini we are not allowed to eat outside of Yerushalayim. There is a separate mitzvah for each kind of food.

1) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #141) We are not allowed to eat grain of Maaser Sheini outside of Yerushalayim.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Re’eh: לֹא תוּכַל לֶאֱכֹל בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ מַעְשַׂר דְּגָנְךָ

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #142) We are not allowed to drink wine of Maaser Sheini outside of Yerushalayim.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Re’eh: לֹא תוּכַל לֶאֱכֹל בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ מַעְשַׂר דְּגָנְךָ וְתִירשְׁךָ

3) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #143) We are not allowed to consume olive oil of Maaser Sheini outside of Yerushalayim.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Re’eh: לֹא תוּכַל לֶאֱכֹל בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ מַעְשַׂר דְּגָנְךָ וְתִירשְׁךָ וְיִצְהָרֶךָ



Hilchos Maaser Sheini VeNeta Reva'i

In today’s Rambam, we learn the next three perakim of Hilchos Maaser Sheini.

Perek Hey: We learn about being podeh Maaser Sheini, changing it for money. Usually when we are podeh the Maaser Sheini we need to pay an extra fifth. One of the things we learn in this perek is when we need to add that extra fifth AND when we don’t.

Perek Vov: We learn what happens when Maaser Sheini, or money from being podeh Maaser Sheini, gets mixed up with other food or money, and other sfeikos about Maaser Sheini.

One interesting halacha is about a son whose father passed away, and he is not sure where the Maaser Sheini of his father is. If he has a dream that it is in a certain place, then even if he finds the food there like he heard in the dream, it’s not considered maaser. Words in dreams don’t count in halacha.

Perek Zayin: We learn halachos for the things that are bought with the money of Maaser Sheini.



Hilchos Shabbos - Perek Chof-Tes

In this perek, we learn the halachos of Kiddush and Havdalah. We learn what kind of wine to use for Kiddush, and that we need to make Kiddush in connection with a meal (“Kiddush Bemakom Seudah”). The Rambam also tells us why we need to have besamim in Havdalah: Because the neshama is sad that Shabbos is over, so we make it happier by giving it something good to smell.



Ahavas Yisroel

Yidden have a minhag that when they meet, one says “Shalom Aleichem,” and the other person answers, “Aleichem Shalom.”

It’s not just a pattern of talking, it means something very special!

But why do we do it that way? Why does the other person answer the opposite?

There is a joke that it’s because two Yidden can never agree on anything, but that’s not the real reason!

Every person has his own understanding and his own opinion. When we get together, we want to have Achdus! We want that two different people should be able to help each other become better.

So the first Yid says, “Shalom Aleichem!” “Let’s bring Shalom among the different opinions that we have!”

The other Yid doesn’t just repeat what the first person says. He shows that he really agrees, and says it in his own words too: “Aleichem Shalom!” “Yes, I also want that!”

See Likutei Diburim vol. 1 p. 3, Likutei Sichos vol. 25 Parshas Vayeitzei


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Boruch Sheim

The words of Shema come from the Torah. But in the Torah, it says, “Shema Yisroel… Hashem Echod. Ve’ahavta Eis Hashem Elokecha.” Why do we add “Baruch Sheim” after the first line of Shema?

Before Yaakov Avinu was nistalek, he wanted to tell his children when Moshiach would come. But the Shechinah left him, because Hashem didn’t want him to tell them. Yaakov Avinu was worried that maybe the Shechinah left because some of his children didn’t believe in Hashem properly!

All of his children answered, “Shema Yisroel, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echod!” “Listen our father Yisroel, we all believe that Hashem is our Aibershter, and Hashem is only One!”

Yaakov Avinu was so happy to hear this! He praised Hashem, saying, “Boruch Sheim Kevod Malchuso Le’olam Va’ed!” “May Hashem’s holy Name be blessed forever!”

Because of this, it became a minhag for Yidden to add the praise of Yaakov Avinu after we say Shema.



Boruch Sheim

It is a minhag to add the words “Baruch Sheim” after the first line of Shema, like we learned from Yaakov Avinu.

But why do we say this line quietly?

In Shulchan Aruch, the Alter Rebbe explains that we want to show that it is different than the other parts of Shema. The other parts come directly from the Torah, and we don’t want it to look like Baruch Sheim is also a posuk in Torah. But we can’t skip Baruch Sheim, since it is the words of one of our Avos!

So we say Baruch Sheim quietly, to show that it is different, but still very important!

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman 61 se’if 13

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



Chassidus in Our Times

There are two reasons why Chassidus was only revealed in OUR times, so close to the time of Moshiach. The first reason is because we need the koach of Chassidus to help us with this darkest time of Golus. The second reason is to give us a taste of the Geulah, when the world will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem!

Really, ANY kind of Chassidus can give us koach to win over the darkness of Golus. It doesn’t have to be Chabad Chassidus. We see that ALL of the students of the Baal Shem Tov, before the time of Chabad, were able to bring light into the darkest times for the Yidden.

But to have a taste of the Geulah, we need Chassidus Chabad! The other kinds of Chassidus can save a Yid and help him overcome the dark times of Golus, but only the Alter Rebbe’s Chassidus helps us UNDERSTAND the knowledge of Hashem and be prepared for the Geulah!

See Likutei Sichos Chelek Lamed, sichas Yud-Tes Kislev

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