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Parshas Mikeitz - Revi'i with Rashi

In today’s Chumash, the years of hunger start. The Shevatim come down to Mitzrayim to get food. Yosef acts mean to them to get them to do Teshuvah, and tells them to bring back Benyamin.

The seven years of hunger: Just like Yosef had said, there were 7 years with a lot of food growing. Then the seven years of hunger started. No food grew. Even though many people had saved food, their food got rotten. Only the food that Yosef stored stayed good.

When people got hungry, they came to Yosef and asked him for grain. Yosef agreed, but he made them have a Bris Milah first! (Avraham Avinu had a mitzvah to give a bris to all of his servants, and now everyone in Mitzrayim was like Yosef’s servant.)

The Mitzriyim came to Paraoh to complain that they didn’t want a bris! Paraoh asked them why they didn’t have their own food, and they told him it was all rotten. “If all of your food got rotten, it must be because of Yosef! All of HIS food stayed good. If he can do that, who knows what he can do to you! You’d better just do whatever he tells you to.” So they all did.

When the hunger got so bad that even the rich people had no food, Yosef opened all of the storehouses and sold it to the Mitzriyim. People from all over came to buy food, because there was no food anywhere! There was also no food in Canaan, Eretz Yisroel. But by a neis, Yaakov’s family still had some food to eat!

Yaakov sends the Shevatim down to Mitzrayim: Yaakov told his children: “Don’t pretend that we have enough food for the whole time — we only have a little. Don’t act differently than everyone else by not trying to do anything about it. There is no promise that Hashem will keep making nisim. Don’t take the chance that you will be hungry! Go to Mitzrayim and buy food. (In Lashon Kodesh, he said “Redu Shama” — go down there. The letters of Redu (רד״ו) add up to 210, which hints that the Yidden would be in Mitzrayim for 210 years.) He told them to each go into Mitzrayim a different way so nobody would see them all together and give them an Ayin Hara.

Yaakov didn’t send Benyamin along for the trip, because he was nervous — after all, Rochel passed away when they were going somewhere, and Yosef also disappeared when going somewhere. He didn’t want Benyamin to go somewhere because it might be dangerous.

Yosef’s dream starts to come true: So the rest of the Shevatim all went down to Mitzrayim. They bowed in front of Yosef, who was selling the food. Yosef knew it was his brothers, but he didn’t tell them who he was. (He wanted to first make sure they did teshuvah for selling him.) Yosef pretended he didn’t know them, and mostly talked in a strict way.

Yosef pretended he didn’t understand Lashon Kodesh, so he had his 7-year old son Menasheh translate what they were saying. He asked them, “Where are you from?”

They answered, “From Canaan, to buy food.”

The Shevatim didn’t recognize Yosef, because he looked so different, now that he was older and had a beard. Even though he could have done very mean things to them, because they sold him, Yosef treated them like brothers and had rachmonus on them. Yosef remembered his dream, where the wheat bowed down to him, and saw how now his brothers are bowing to him when they’re buying wheat! He realized that his dreams were coming true, and now he needed Benyamin to come to Mitzrayim too so the dream could finish coming true. So he decided to make them bring Benyamin.

Yosef makes sure that the Shevatim did teshuvah: “You are spies!” Yosef told the brothers.

“No, we’re just coming to buy food! We’re all brothers, and we aren’t spies!”

“But if you’re brothers, why did you all come to Mitzrayim in different ways? You must be liars!”

They answered, “No, we are 12 brothers. The youngest is at home, and one of the brothers is missing, and we all went a different way so we could look for him in different places.”

Yosef asked, “Would you pay a lot of money if you found your brother and they didn’t want to let him go?”

“Of course!” said the Shevatim.

“And what if they don’t want to let him go, even if you give them a lot of money?”

“Then we’ll have to make a war with them so we can bring our brother home.”

Yosef tries to get them to bring Binyamin: Yosef said: “See! I told you that you are spies! You want to make a war with people! I see from my magic cup what you did to the people of Shechem, and you want to do the same thing to Mitzrayim too!

“I will give you a chance to prove you’re telling the truth: One of you should go get your youngest brother, and the rest of you will stay here in jail. If you don’t bring him, I’ll know you’re liars and I swear by Paraoh’s life that you are spies!” (Whenever he had to swear something that wasn’t 100% true, he promised on Paraoh’s name.)

Yosef put them all in jail for three days to give them a chance to decide.

On the third day, he said “I decided to make it easier for you. Do what I tell you and you can live. You can trust me, I am a person who believes in Hashem.”



120 - 134

Today’s Tehillim is kapitelach Kuf-Chof to Kuf-Lamed-Daled.

In Tehillim, Dovid Hamelech gives us words to tell Hashem how we feel. It is like davening, where the Anshei Kneses Hagedolah gave us words to help us daven to Hashem.

Kapitel Kuf-Chof Dovid Hamelech speaks to Hashem on behalf of every Yid. In the end of the kapitel, he talks about the Golus that Yidden have among the nations. He says, “Ani Shalom, Vechi Adaber, Heima Lamilchama!” “I want shalom, but when I speak about that, it just makes the Goyim want to make Milchama, war!”

This also has a Ruchniyus meaning: Our neshama doesn’t want to be tested by Hashem, to see if it will look for taavos instead of doing what Hashem wants. It just wants to think about Torah and mitzvos! That’s why there is a halacha that we aren’t allowed to go in a place where there is something not tznius, or a road where there is Avodah Zarah. We don’t want to go looking for a war with the Yetzer Hara! That’s what it means, “Ani Shalom” — “I want peace.”

But Hashem makes the Yetzer Hara, and all of the not-good things in the world, to come bother us anyway, like in a real war! That’s what the posuk is saying — “Heima Lamilchama,” “they want war.”

Dovid Hamelech starts this kapitel with the word “Shir,” meaning a song. A person only sings when they are happy! Even though the Yetzer Hara is bothering us, Dovid Hamelech is still happy, because he knows Hashem is only testing us. When the neshama shows that it is strong and won’t let itself be convinced by the Yetzer Hara and the taavos of the world, the deepest kochos of the neshama will come out.

That gives a Yid a WONDERFUL reason to be happy and sing to Hashem!

See rally to Tzivos Hashem, Chanukah 5747



Likutei Amarim Perek Daled

In today’s Tanya, we learn how to use the “Levushim” of the neshama to connect ourselves to Hashem!

Let’s review what we learned so far in Tanya:

In the Shaar Blatt, the Alter Rebbe told us that the Tanya will show us that “Ki Karov Eilecha Hadavar Meod, Beficha Uvilvavcha Laasoso.” We are able to serve Hashem with chayus! In the first few perakim, the Alter Rebbe tells us why it could be hard, and the incredible kochos Hashem gives us so that this will be Karov Me’od — VERY doable!

Perek Alef: First of all, we learned that Hashem makes the neshama promise that it will try to be a beinoni (and even in some ways like a tzadik), and gives it the koach to keep its promise. We learned that the first nefesh to come into the body is the Nefesh Habehamis, which is where a person gets their bad midos from.

Perek Beis: Then we learned that we have a neshama, which is a part of Hashem! Because it goes through many stops before it comes into the world, it doesn’t feel connected to Hashem. But, the Alter Rebbe tells us, we can still stay connected to Hashem, our source! We do this by staying connected to neshamos of tzadikim — hiskashrus.

Perek Gimmel: The Alter Rebbe told us the kochos we have in our neshama, which make us WANT to stay connected to Hashem. These are our sechel and our midos. Through our sechel (ChaBaD) we can think about Hashem, and that makes our midos feel that we want to stay connected — we use our sechel by learning Chassidus Chabad and davening, Avodas Hatefillah.

And now in Perek Daled, we will learn about the Levushim of the neshama, the koach the neshama has to connect a Yid to Hashem through Torah and mitzvos.

A person has 613 parts. We need to connect every part to Hashem! We do that through the 613 mitzvos.

How does a neshama do that? It uses the Levushim!

1) MaasehDoing all the mitzvos of the Torah that it can
2) DiburLearning aloud the 613 mitzvos and their halachos
3) MachshavahThinking as much Torah as it can

Using all of these levushim to learn Torah and do the mitzvos connects all 613 parts of us with Hashem!

The Levushim also connect our ten Ruchnius kochos of Sechel and Midos with Hashem. Thinking Torah connects our Sechel to Hashem, and when we do mitzvos properly, it connects our Midos with Hashem!

That’s because to do mitzvos properly, we need to use our midos, Ahava and Yirah! They make us WANT to be close to Hashem by doing mitzvos, and make us afraid to become separate from Hashem, by doing the opposite.

That’s how learning Torah and doing mitzvos connects every part of us to Hashem!



Chof-Zayin Kislev

In today’s Hayom Yom, we will learn about the Alter Rebbe’s second arrest and Geulah.

We just celebrated Yud-Tes Kislev, when the Alter Rebbe was freed from jail.

A little less than two years later, people again told the government lies, and they took the Alter Rebbe to prison.

This time, the Alter Rebbe was held in a room in a government building, not in a jail cell. This building was called “Tainy Soviet.”

But the lies that were told were much worse! Instead of telling the government that the Alter Rebbe was a dangerous person to them, they said that CHASSIDUS was dangerous! They wanted the government to make learning Chassidus against the law!

Today, the 3rd licht of Chanukah, the Alter Rebbe came out of jail for the second time, in 5561!

(Besides for the great simcha it brought to the Alter Rebbe and to Chassidim when this happened, it made Chassidus much stronger than ever before!)



Shiur #142 - Mitzvas Asei #80, #81

Today we learn two mitzvos, about two kinds of firstborns — firstborn baby boys, and firstborn donkeys! Both of these are presents Hashem said we need to give to the Kohanim because they work in the Beis Hamikdash. To keep this mitzvah, we need to redeem the firstborn. We do this by giving money to the Kohen and keeping the firstborn ourselves.

1) (Mitzvas Asei #80) Pidyon HaBen: For a firstborn baby boy we pay the Kohen 5 sela’im. (We start learning about this in the third perek of today’s Rambam!)

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Mishpatim: בְּכוֹר בָּנֶיךָ תִּתֶּן לִי

The details are explained in Mesechta Bechoros.

2) (Mitzvas Asei #81) Peter Chamor: For a firstborn boy donkey, we give the kohen a sheep instead, or pay what the donkey is worth. (We learn about this mitzvah in the first perek of tomorrow’s Rambam.)

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Ki Sisa: וּפֶטֶר חֲמוֹר תִּפְדֶּה בְשֶׂה

The details are explained in Mesechta Bechoros.



Hilchos Bikurim

In today’s Rambam, we learn about more presents that we need to give to the Kohen.

Perek Tes: There are parts of each animal we shecht that are “Matanos” — given as a present to the kohanim. (This was yesterday’s Sefer Hamitzvos.) We learn which kinds of animals we need to give Matanos from, and what happens if we aren’t sure if they were given.

Perek Yud: We give the kohen part of the wool of a sheep the first time we cut its hair, called Reishis HaGeiz (yesterday’s Sefer Hamitzvos). This mitzvah makes sure that the kohanim will have wool to make clothes!

Perek Yud-Alef: The Rambam teaches us about the mitzvah of Pidyon HaBen, paying the kohen so we can keep our firstborn boys. We do this mitzvah after the baby is thirty days old.



Hilchos Zechiya U'Matana - Perek Daled

In Perek Daled the Rambam teaches us that usually you have to agree to take a present, or else it’s not yours. But sometimes another person can agree FOR you.



Lighting a Yid's Menorah

After we light the menorah, we should listen to the things it teaches us. One very important thing our Menorah teaches us is about the shlichus each of us have to bring another Yid closer to Yiddishkeit.

When we look at the menorah after we light it, we will see the flames dancing happily. Really, inside of each of us we also have a flame! The Torah tells us that “Ner Hashem Nishmas Adam” — our neshama is like a flame of Hashem!

Our neshama-flame shines like our menorah when we keep it bright with Ner Mitzvah VeTorah Ohr — with the light of Torah and mitzvos.

But it’s not enough to just have our own flame shining bright. It is part of our shlichus to make sure that ANOTHER Yid’s neshama can also shine! When we bring another Yid closer to Yiddishkeit, and help him do another mitzvah, we are helping his neshama-flame to burn brightly like the candles in our menorah.

But, the Rebbe teaches us, that’s not the hardest part.

If you have your own menorah, or watched your Tatty set up his, you know that it is not so hard to actually LIGHT the Menorah. The harder part is to set it up, putting it in the right place, and filling it with the wicks and the oil and the shamosh, so it will be ready to light on Chanukah.

Before we help another Yid light up his neshama-flame, we also first have to do a harder job — to help make sure his “menorah” is ready to light.

How do we do that?

We need to go out and find the Yid. Maybe he lives on our block, or works in our school, or is even a relative. We need to go up to him and wish him a “Good morning!” or a “Good Shabbos!” or a “Happy Chanukah!” We can give him a smile, or a piece of chocolate Chanukah gelt!

Then, once made the connection, his “menorah” will be ready to light. He will start to think about his own Yiddishkeit! We can help him do a mitzvah, teach him some Torah, or he can even start doing a mitzvah on his own. This way, his neshama-flame will burn strong and bright, and light up the world!

See sicha of Parshas Mikeitz, Zos Chanukah 5747, Likutei Sichos chelek Chof-Hey, p. 433


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Go'al Yisroel

After Kriyas Shema, we say another bracha. This bracha starts with the words “Emes Veyatziv,” and finishes with the words “Go’al Yisroel.”

In this bracha, we repeat what we decided in Shema: That we are ready to have Ol Malchus Shomayim, to do whatever Hashem wants us to!

We finish the bracha of Emes V’Yatziv by praising Hashem for Yetziyas Mitzrayim. (This is why even women need to say this bracha, since women also have a mitzvah to speak about Yetziyas Mitzrayim.)



Tznius for Little Girls

At what age does a little girl have to start wearing Tznius’dike clothes and acting in a Tznius’dike way?

The Rebbe tells us that based on the Shulchan Aruch, a girl needs to dress and act in a tznius’dike way starting at age 3.

But it should be in a nice way, we don’t have to be mean about it!

See Likutei Sichos vol. 18 p. 448, translated in Beautiful Within

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



Making Eretz Yisroel Bigger

When Moshiach comes, everyone will agree that Eretz Yisroel belongs to the Yidden!

But it won’t be only Eretz Yisroel the way it is now. Hashem promises to make Eretz Yisroel BIGGER — “Ki Yarchiv Hashem Elokecha Es Gevulcha!” Not only will we have the land we call Eretz Yisroel today, which is the land of seven nations, but the land of three other nations written in the Torah (Keini, Kenizi, and Kadmoni) will be part of Eretz Yisroel too!

This, and all of the other special things we will get in the time of the Geulah, come from the avodah we do in Golus. “Maaseinu Vaavodaseinu Kol Zman Meshech Hagolus,” the avodah and the things we do in Golus are what bring the special brachos of the Geulah!

What do we do in Golus to deserve that Eretz Yisroel will become bigger?

The Rebbe teaches us that we should make OUR Eretz Yisroel bigger too!

What is our Eretz Yisroel? Our connection to Hashem through Torah and mitzvos!

The “regular size” of our Eretz Yisroel is the mitzvos of the Torah and the horaos that the Rebbeim showed us we need nowadays. But just like Eretz Yisroel will get BIGGER than that, we should also do MORE than these things to make OUR Eretz Yisroel bigger!

By us doing more than we need to, our Eretz Yisroel will become bigger. This will bring to Eretz Yisroel also growing at the time of the Geulah — “Ki Yarchiv Hashem Elokecha Es Gevulcha!”

See Likutei Sichos chelek Chof, sicha of Motzei Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sarah 5738, p. 345

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