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Parshas Chukas - Revi'i with Rashi

The Yidden ask Edom if they can travel through their land on the way to Eretz Yisroel, but Edom says no.

Now the Yidden tried to go further on their way to Eretz Yisroel.

Since Hashem said that now the Yidden aren’t allowed to fight with Edom, they had to either ask Edom for permission to go through their land, or else they had to go around it.

Moshe sent messengers to ask them for permission. They told Edom how Hashem had saved the Yidden from Mitzrayim, so that Edom would be scared to say no. They said that the Yidden only want to go through on the roads, and will be very careful not to ruin any fields or eat from anything that is not theirs. Even though they have water and food, they will buy from Edom, so Edom will get a lot of money!

But the king of Edom said NO! He was proud to come from Esav, and liked to fight.

The Yidden tried asking again, but Edom said no again, and got an army ready to stop the Yidden in case they would try coming without permission.



39 - 43

Today’s kapitelach are Lamed-Tes to Mem-Gimmel.

In one of today’s Kapitelach Tehillim, there is a posuk that says “Ach Betzelem Yis’halech Ish.” It means that people don’t understand what to do in the world, it’s like they’re walking in the dark.

The word “tzelem” (darkness) also means image (picture)! So we can translate the posuk as “Only with the picture can a person go.” What picture? A picture of the Rebbe!

We should think about how the Rebbe is our Nasi and picture the Rebbe in our mind. We should know that the Rebbe is watching what we do and has nachas when we make good decisions!

Thinking about the Rebbe will help us do the right thing, and do it with simcha and chayus!

A girl once wrote a letter to the Rebbe, saying that she sometimes feels like she is not interested in doing what she is supposed to do. The Rebbe answered her with a Ksav Yad Kodesh, a handwritten note. The Rebbe told her that when she feels that way, she should look at a picture of the Rebbe. She should remember that since the Rebbe is a true Ro’eh (like a shepherd) that Hashem sends to take care of the needs of the Yidden, when she is looking at the Rebbe’s picture, the Rebbe is looking at her too! This will help her to do what is right.



Shaar Hayichud Veha'emunah Perek Yud-Alef

In the second section of Tanya, the Alter Rebbe is explaining to us what we need to have in order to be able to keep the mitzvah of having Ahavas Hashem and Yiras Hashem. This is a mitzvah that we all need to keep — men, women, and even children (because of chinuch)! The first thing we need in order to keep this mitzvah is to make sure we have our pure emunah in the oneness of Hashem, our emunah that Hashem is all that exists.

In order to do this, the Alter Rebbe explains to us whatever Hashem made it possible for the sechel of a person to understand, so that our sechel is full — it understands completely whatever it is able to. Then the Alter Rebbe shows us the parts that we cannot understand — which is also a certain way of connecting to them with our sechel. Finally, the Alter Rebbe tells us the things that are much higher than sechel, which we need to take with emunah.

We all know what it says in the beginning of Chumash Bereishis, that Hashem said certain things to create the world, like “Yehi Ohr” — “there should be light.” These things are called the Asara Maamaros. The Asara Maamaros are explained in many seforim, especially in seforim of Kabbalah, but here the Alter Rebbe gives us two main ideas to understand:

1) Hashem didn’t just create the world 5,779 years ago, Hashem is CONSTANTLY creating the world! The chayus of Hashem is constantly in the world, creating it again so it will stay, and that is the existence of everything! Hashem creates and takes care of everything with Hashgacha Protis.

2) Tzimtzum is not kipshuto (the plain meaning of the word)! What does that mean? The word tzimtzum means to make smaller. Even though Hashem’s chayus comes into the world in a way of tzimtzum, it doesn’t mean that Hashem goes away from the world at all! Hashem just hides the chayus so it can LOOK like Hashem is not here.

In today’s Tanya, the Alter Rebbe explains why and how Hashem creates the world with ten sayings, the Asara Maamaros. We understand this from a mashal in our own nefesh! We understand that these “words” of Hashem are not like our words, which are separate from us. The Asara Maamaros are still one with Hashem!



Zayin Tammuz

Today the Rebbe teaches us the importance for a chossid to keep seder.

Even though Chassidus shows that everything is important, still there needs to be seder (order). Even something very important and special needs to be done in the right time and the right way!

The Rebbeim showed us how important seder is. From the beginning, the Baal Shem Tov was a mesudar, and the Maggid was very careful with seder. The Alter Rebbe made sure that the chassidim were also mesudarim, organized. We can see this in his maamarim, in his letters, and in his niggunim!

There were even committees that the Alter Rebbe set up, to make sure there was seder for the Chassidim! Everyone had a set time when he could come to the Rebbe. A chossid wasn’t allowed to change that time without permission from the Rebbe, and he couldn’t get permission unless there was a good reason.

We also see this from the Vaad that the Alter Rebbe set up to take care of the seder by Chassidim, which was run by the Alter Rebbe’s brother the Maharil (R’ Yehuda Leib). There was also a Vaad for the newly married Chassidim, the yungerleit, which was run by the Mitteler Rebbe, the Alter Rebbe’s son.

We see from here how important it was to the Rebbeim for there to be seder, and how important it should be for us!



Shiur #313 - Mitzvas Asei #176, Lo Saasei #284, Asei #175

We have started to learn the last Sefer in Rambam! There are 3 mitzvos today, related to the halachos of courts:

1) (Mitzvas Asei #176) This mitzvah is that we need to set up a system that makes sure that Yidden follow the Torah. We need to have Shoftim (judges) and Shotrim (officers to make sure people listen).

In a big city, there should be a “small Sanhedrin,” with 23 judges by the gates of the city. In Yerushalayim, there should be the full Sanhedrin of 70 judges, with a Nasi over them. In a city that is too small for a small Sanhedrin, there should at least be a Beis Din of 3 judges to pasken on smaller questions, and send people to a bigger court if needed.

There should also be Shotrim to go around to the marketplace and make sure people are doing business according to Torah.

A judge can only get semicha in Eretz Yisroel, but he can pasken outside of Eretz Yisroel too. Still, a question about if someone is chayav misa can only be paskened when the Beis Hamikdash is standing.

We learn all of this from the posuk in Parshas Shoftim, שֹׁפְטִים וְשֹׁטְרִים תִּתֶּן לְךָ בְּכָל שְׁעָרֶיךָ

The details are explained in Mesechta Sanhedrin.

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #284) This is an aveira for the person in charge of making someone a judge:

A person is fit to be a judge if he is an expert in Torah and its halachos, and acts according to them. It is asur to choose a person to be a judge for any other reasons.

For example, we can’t choose someone as a judge because he is good looking, or because he is strong. We can’t choose someone as a judge because he knows many languages, because he is related to us, or because he did us a favor. Only a judge who is an expert in the chochmah of Torah and follows the mitzvos properly will be able to judge right!

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Devarim: לֹא תַכִּירוּ פָנִים בַּמִּשְׁפָּט

3) (Mitzvas Asei #175) This is a mitzvah about judges, but also a mitzvah about deciding halacha in general.

When Chachomim don’t agree about a halacha, we decide what to do based on what most of the Chachomim say.

When judges disagree, we pasken based on what MOST of the judges think.

This is clear from a posuk in Parshas Mishpatim: אַחֲרֵי רַבִּים לְהַטֹּת

We can find the details of this mitzvah in many places in Mesechta Sanhedrin.



Hilchos Sanhedrin

In today's Rambam, we learn the first three perakim of Hilchos Sanhedrin.

In Perek Alef, the Rambam teaches about the BIG Sanhedrin with 71 judges, the SMALL Sanhedrin (which should be in most cities) with 23 judges, and in a small city there should be 3 judges. There are halachos about how the Sanhedrin should sit, and about who writes down what happens. When Moshiach comes, we will have a big Sanhedrin again, in the Beis Hamikdash!

In Perek Beis, we learn about who is allowed to be a judge. For a regular judge, there are seven qualifications which are written in the Torah. They are: Chochmah to know the halachos of the Torah well, Yiras Shomayim, to be humble, to hate money, love truth, people should like him, and he should have a good name. The Rambam explains what all of these are, and how we see them in the pesukim when Moshe Rabbeinu chose judges for the Yidden.

The judges in the big Sanhedrin need to have all of these things and many more!

Perek Gimmel talks about when the Sanhedrin should get together to judge. A small Sanhedrin or a Beis Din should start after Shacharis, and stop at chatzos. A big Sanhedrin starts in the morning and ends at Mincha time. A Sanhedrin is not supposed to start judging a case at night.

One halacha is that the big Sanhedrin with 71 judges didn’t always need all of the judges there at the same time, but there have to be at least 23 there always. So if a judge from the big Sanhedrin has to leave, he needs to make sure there will be at least 23 left — otherwise he has to stay!



Hilchos Shaar Avos Hatumah - Perek Gimmel

In today’s Rambam, we learn more Avos HaTumah.

This perek teaches us about dead birds, and how they make things Tomei.



Lebn Mit Der Tzeit

In the beginning of this week’s parsha, Parshas Chukas, we learn about the mitzvah of the Parah Adumah. The Torah calls this mitzvah a chok (“Chukas HaTorah”), a mitzvah that doesn’t have a reason we know about. Hashem did not give us the reason for this mitzvah, and some parts of it don’t even make sense to us! (For example, even though the Parah Adumah makes a person tahor from the most serious kind of tumah, anyone who helps prepare the Parah Adumah becomes tomei and needs to go to the mikvah!)

The Medrash tells us that Hashem told Moshe that He would reveal the reason for the Parah Adumah only to him. But if Moshe Rabbeinu knew the reason for the Parah Adumah, why is it called a chok for everyone?

The Rebbe explains in a maamar that even though Moshe Rabbeinu was very great in Torah, that is not what Moshe is all about. The MAIN inyan of Moshe Rabbeinu is that he was the Nasi of the Yidden, taking care of every Jew.

If a Yid didn’t have something, Moshe Rabbeinu would feel like something was missing, even if he had it himself. This was also true with understanding: If the Yidden didn’t understand something, that was what was important to Moshe Rabbeinu. Even if he knew what it meant himself, he felt like it was not understood as long as the Yidden didn’t understand it.

That is why the Parah Adumah is called a chok for everyone, because the Yidden didn’t know the reason, and that meant that even Moshe Rabbeinu felt that it was not understood.

See Kuntres Yud-Beis Yud-Gimmel Tammuz 5751


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In the Arizal’s nusach for the siddur, we say Tachanun in Kriyas Shema She’al Hamitah. This is based on the Zohar, which explains that it is important to make a Cheshbon Hanefesh before returning our neshama to Hashem at night. When we say Tachanun, and admit the things we did wrong, this is a type of Cheshbon Hanefesh.

In the Hayom Yom for Vov Kislev, the Rebbe tells us about the inyan of Kriyas Shema She’al Hamita according to Chassidus:

The Rebbe Rashab once said that Kriyas Shema She’al Hamitah is similar to the Vidui that a person says before passing away.

But there is one main difference: When a person is about to pass away, he is completely finished his avodah in the world. When we say Tachanun at night, we still have another day tomorrow to do more.



Tachanun in Shema on Motzei Shabbos

On Shabbos, we don’t say Tachanun in davening, or in Kriyas Shema. So do we say Tachanun in Shema on Motzei Shabbos, when part of the kedusha of Shabbos is still in the world?

The Rebbe wrote about this to a few different people. The Rebbe said that if a person is saying Kriyas Shema She’al Hamitah before Chatzos on Motzei Shabbos, they don’t say Tachanun. But if they say Shema after Chatzos, they should say Tachanun.

(We do something similar when we say Selichos. The first night of Selichos is always Motzei Shabbos, and we wait until after Chatzos to start. This is because Selichos is Tachanun, and we don’t say Tachanun before Chatzos on Motzei Shabbos.)

See Shulchan Menachem chelek alef, p. 377

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



Gathered Together

Even though most of the nevuos of Yirmiyah are about the Churban, there are also some beautiful nevuos about Moshiach! In this posuk, the Navi tells us about how the goyim will all see that Hashem will gather together all of the Yidden!

שִׁמְעוּ דְבַר ה׳ גּוֹיִם וְהַגִּידוּ בָאִיִּים מִמֶּרְחָק וְאִמְרוּ מְזָרֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל יְקַבְּצֶנּוּ וּשְׁמָרוֹ כְּרֹעֶה עֶדְרוֹ

Shimu Dvar Hashem GoyimGoyim, listen to the word of Hashem!

Vehagidu Va’iyim Mi’merchak — Talk about it on the islands from far away.

Ve’imru — Say:

Mezarei Yisrael Yekabtzenu — Hashem will gather together the Yidden that He sent into Golus all over

U’Shmaro Ke’roeh Edro — And guard them like a shepherd guards his sheep.

See Yirmiyah perek Lamed-Alef posuk Yud

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