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Parshas Vayeitzei - Rishon with Rashi

In today’s Chumash we learn about the beginning of Yaakov’s journey to Charan.

Yaakov left Be’er Sheva, on his way to Charan. Now that he was gone, the people in Be’er Sheva stopped acting as nicely!

Eisav sent his son, Elifaz, to kill Yaakov, since he was angry at him for getting the brachos. Elifaz caught up to Yaakov, but he had learned from his zaide, Yitzchak, and felt like he shouldn’t do what his father told him. He asked Yaakov what to do! Yaakov told him to take all of his money, because a poor person isn’t counted as being alive in some parts of Torah. Then he could tell his father that Yaakov was not alive.

Yaakov knew that Charan was a very not-good place. He wanted to make sure he was very strong in Ruchnius before he went, so he learned in the Yeshivah of Ever for 14 years.

Then, finally, he went on his way to Charan. When he got there, he realized that he had passed Har Hamoriah, where his father and grandfather had davened, and HE didn’t daven there! He turned around and went back towards Har Hamoriah. But Hashem moved it to Beis Keil, and so Yaakov didn’t even realize that he was already there! Hashem made it get dark early, so that Yaakov would sleep there.

Yaakov davened Maariv (he was the one who started this Tefillah!) and got ready to sleep. He put stones around his body to keep himself safe from wild animals. Then he took another stone to use as a pillow. Since ALL of the stones wanted to have the zechus of being a pillow for Yaakov Avinu’s head, Hashem made them into ONE stone!) Then Yaakov lay down to sleep. (This was the first time he was going to lie down to sleep in 14 years, since he had only taken naps in Yeshivah!)

Yaakov had a dream, where he saw a very tall ladder. The bottom was standing strong on the ground, but the top reached up to Shomayim! The malachim who had come with Yaakov until now were going up the ladder, and the malachim that were able to come with him out of Eretz Yisroel were coming down the ladder.

He saw that Hashem was standing over him. Hashem told him, “I am Hashem! I will give you the land you are sleeping on, for your children!” (Hashem folded the land of Eretz Yisroel under him, so Hashem was giving him the WHOLE Eretz Yisroel!) You will have many children coming from you! ‘Uforatzta’ — you will spread out all over, and everyone will bentch themselves that they want to be like you.

“Don’t be afraid of Esav or Lavan! I will take care of everything you need, and everything that I promised to Avraham’s children will be given to your children!”

Yaakov woke up from the dream. He realized that this was a very holy place to have such a dream! He said, “If I knew that this was a holy place, I wouldn’t have gone to sleep here! This must be Har Hamoriah, where our Tefillos go through to go up to Hashem.”

Yaakov woke up in the morning, and set up the stone he slept on as a Mizbeiach, putting oil on it, like we do for the keilim of the Beis Hamikdash. The place where he was used to be called “Luz.” But now, Yaakov said, it should be called Beis Keil, the house of Hashem!

Yaakov made a promise to Hashem: If Hashem would take care of him like He promised, keep him safe be’ruchnius, and bring him back in peace to his father’s home, then he would bring korbanos to Hashem on this mizbeiach, and give 10% of all he had for tzedakah.



18 - 22

Today’s kapitelach are Yud-Ches to Chof-Beis.

Because we are in Chodesh Kislev, we will learn a piece of Chassidus on today’s Tehillim:

One of the pesukim in today’s Tehillim is, “Ve’Ata Kadosh, Yosheiv Tehillos Yisroel.” “You, Hashem, the holy One, sits on a throne because of the praises of the Yidden.”

The Frierdiker Rebbe tells a story of the Baal Shem Tov about this posuk:

Before the Baal Shem Tov became known, he would travel around from village to village. He would ask the men, women, and children in the village how they were doing. The Yidden would answer things like, “Boruch Hashem, we are doing well,” or “The Aibershter should continue being kind to us,” or “The Ribono Shel Olam is good to us.”

The Baal Shem Tov enjoyed hearing all of these answers!

Once, the Baal Shem Tov came to a town where there was a very great Talmid Chochom, who was also a porush — he didn’t spend much time with Gashmius. The Baal Shem Tov, who was dressed like a simple person, also asked this porush how he was. The porush did not like to interrupt his learning, so at first, he ignored the Baal Shem Tov. When the Baal Shem Tov asked him again and again, the porush got annoyed and pointed to the door, wanting the Baal Shem Tov to leave!

The Baal Shem Tov asked him, “Why are you refusing to give Hashem parnasa? Why are you letting Hashem be hungry?”

The porush did not understand, so the Baal Shem Tov explained: “Hashem’s parnasa comes from the Yidden who praise Hashem! That is what the posuk in Tehillim is saying — Hashem sits on His throne because of the Yidden who praise Him.”

In the maamar, the Frierdiker Rebbe explains why this is: When Yidden praise Hashem for the Gashmius things that they have, they are giving Hashem what He needs — we make the world more aidel! Then Hashem gives us our parnasa — the Gashmius’dike things that we need to have.

See Maamar Ve’Ata Kadosh, Sefer Hamaamarim Yiddish



Kuntres Acharon Siman Daled

The Alter Rebbe teaches that DOING a mitzvah is very special! Even if a person is able to THINK about how great Hashem is, and that makes him FEEL very close to Hashem and love Him very much, or to be afraid to do things that aren’t what Hashem wants, it’s not the same as DOING a mitzvah.

In this section of Kuntres Acharon, the Alter Rebbe explains why!



Gimmel Kislev

The Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid acted in different ways:

The Baal Shem Tov would travel a lot to many places, and the Maggid stayed in Mezritch. Not only did the people of Mezritch come to the Maggid, but people travelled from all over to come to him! They already had heard about Chassidus, since the Baal Shem Tov had made sure to spread Chassidus all over.

One of the things we can learn from this Hayom Yom is about the two different kinds of Shlichus we do: One way is like the Baal Shem Tov, to go out on mivtzoyim, and the second way is to make a beautiful and welcoming Beis Chabad so that people who have heard about it can come and make a special connection to Yiddishkeit.



Shiur #118 - Mitzvas Asei #145, Lo Saasei #110

In today’s Sefer Hamitzvos, we learn two mitzvos:

1) (Mitzvas Asei #145) We learn about if a person says that something is Cherem. That means it is set aside for Hashem. Usually, it goes to the kohanim, unless he said “Cherem LaHashem,” which would go to the Beis Hamikdash. We learn many halachos about this in today’s Rambam!

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #110) Something that is the kind of cherem that needs to be given to a kohen is not allowed to be sold. It needs to be given the kohen the way it is. (The kohen can decide to sell it later if he wants, because it belongs to him.)



Hilchos Erchin V'Charamin

Perek Hey: We finish learning the halachos about giving a field as a donation to the Beis Hamikdash. We also learn the halachos of donating a house, or an animal that can’t be a korban (like a non-kosher animal or one with a mum). An animal that IS good for a korban is sold to people who need to bring a korban, and the money goes to Bedek Habayis (maintenance of the Beis Hamikdash).

Perek Vov: Now we start learning the halachos of Charomim (things that are cherem). We learn the halachos of today’s mitzvos in Sefer Hamitzvos. We also learn what happens if someone gives something that wasn’t his, or promises to give something that isn’t there yet (like a fruit that didn’t grow yet), or if someone gives by mistake.

Perek Zayin: we learn many halachos about pediyah — redeeming, meaning buying back something that was donated to the Beis Hamikdash.

One interesting thing that we see in these halachos is that the Beis Hamikdash always gets the best of any deal! This way, any donation to the Beis Hamikdash is used as much as it can be.



Hilchos Mechirah - Perek Yud

In Perek Yud, we learn what happens if a person is FORCED to sell something. Whether it’s because someone yelled at him, or because someone told him he would steal it otherwise, it’s not considered selling according to the Torah!



Chodesh Kislev

The month of Kislev is a Chassidishe Chodesh, a Chassidishe month! It is a Chassidishe Chodesh because there are so many special days in Kislev that are connected with Chassidus, learning Chassidus, and Hiskashrus. We already had 2 of them, and we are only in the beginning of the month!

The Rebbe tells us that we need to act differently all month, to show what kind of special month we are in!

How do we do that?

1) We learn extra Chassidus!

2) We join extra farbrengens!

See, for example, sichos of Chodesh Kislev 5749


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Bechol Dor Vador Chayav Adam Liros Es Atzmo Ke’ilu Hu Yatza Mimitzrayim.” The Mishna tells us that in every generation, we need to think that we are going out of Mitzrayim.

The Alter Rebbe tells us that this doesn’t only happen once a year on Pesach, but we come out of Mitzrayim every single day!

What is this Mitzrayim?

Our guf is our Mitzrayim. Our neshama very much wants to be close to Hashem, but the guf has other ideas. It wants to eat and drink things, to play and rest and feel good. That is very hard for the neshama! It feels like it is trapped in Mitzrayim, with no way to get out.

But when we say Shema, we leave our Mitzrayim!

How does that happen?

When we say Shema, we are saying that we are ready to be mekabel Ol Malchus Shomayim. We are saying that we realize that nothing is really there except for Hashem! The neshama is able to connect to Hashem in a very strong way, as if the guf wasn’t there!

So saying Shema is like Yetziyas Mitzrayim for the neshama!

That is why, at the end of Shema, we speak about Yetziyas Mitzrayim. Even though remembering Yetziyas Mitzrayim every day is its own mitzvah, we do it together with Shema, because Shema is also a Yetziyas Mitzrayim!

See Tanya Perek Mem-Zayin



How High to Put a Mezuzah

It is a mitzvah to put up a mezuzah on the doorways in our home. But how high up do we put it? Near the top, somewhere in the middle, or at a specific height?

It says in Gemara that it is a mitzvah to put the mezuzah at the beginning of the top third of the doorway. That means that if we split up the doorway into three equal pieces, we would put the mezuzah at the bottom of the top piece.

Even though it is okay if the mezuzah was put up a little higher, the mezuzah should not be lower than this, and we also shouldn’t put a mezuzah less than a tefach (a little over 3 inches) from the top of the doorway. If a mezuzah was put there, it needs to be taken down and put back up (without a bracha)!

What about if the door is very very high?

Many poskim say that with a very tall doorway, we can put up the mezuzah about as high as a regular man’s shoulder (about 5 feet), so that people will be able to notice the mezuzah. Some poskim say that even then, we should put the mezuzah at the beginning of the top third of the door. You can ask your family’s Rav which opinion to follow!

See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch siman Yud-Alef; and “Mezuzah” by Rabbi Dovid Nissan Bressman, chapter 12

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



A Sign of Moshiach

It says in the Zohar that when we will come close to the days of Moshiach, we will see that even children will know about the hidden secrets of Torah.

This is one of the signs of Moshiach that we can see today! Even small kinderlach learn and understand Chassidus, the hidden secrets of the Torah!

See Zohar 118a

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