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Chamishi with Rashi

Now Hashem tells Moshe to count Shevet Levi. But they get counted differently! Instead of only the men that are at least 20 being counted, every boy that is even just one month old is counted!

Rashi says that this is not the first time that Shevet Levi is counted at this young age — when the Yidden came into Mitzrayim, Yocheved, from Shevet Levi, was just born. Still, she was counted as number 70!

At first Moshe asked how he could do this, because it might not be tznius to go into the tents of each family to see how many children they had. Still, Hashem told him that he should do his part, and Hashem would do the rest. When he reached the door of each tent, a Bas Kol came out and announced how many children were in that tent! So Moshe counted the Leviim, just like Hashem said.

He counted each of the families in Shevet Levi. Here are the names of Levi’s sons and their families:

Two families of Leviim came from Gershon: Livni and Shimi
Where they camp: behind the Mishkan — on the west
Their Nasi: Eliasaf ben La’el
What they’re in charge of: the curtains of the Mishkan and the chatzer
How many Moshe counted: 7,500

Four families of Leviim came from Kehos: Amram, Yitzhar, Chevron, and Uziel
Where they camp: on the south side of the Mishkan (near Shevet Reuven)*
*Korach is from the family of Kehos, and because Shevet Reuven was near him, a lot of that shevet made the mistake of listening to Korach. “Oy l’rasha, oy lishcheino!” It’s bad for a rasha, and bad for his neighbor...
Their Nasi: Elitzafan ben Uziel
What they’re in charge of: the Aron, Shulchan, Menorah, Mizbeiachs, and their tools; and the Paroches
How many Moshe counted: 8,600

Two families of Leviim came from Merari: Machli and Mushi
Where they camp: on the north side of the Mishkan
Their Nasi: Tzuriel ben Avichayil
What they’re in charge of: the walls of the Mishkan and the poles for the Chatzer
How many Moshe counted: 6,200

So who camped at the FRONT of the Mishkan, on the east? Moshe, Aharon, and his children, the Kohanim. They were near the Shevatim of Yehudah, Yissachar and Zevulun. Because they were so close to Moshe, they started learning lots of Torah too! “Tov letzadik, tov lishcheino!” It’s good for a tzadik, and good for his neighbor!

All together (except for Aharon), Moshe counted 22,000 Leviim.



18 - 22

One of the kapitelach in today’s Tehillim is Kapitel Yud-Tes (19). It tells us that a person can see the greatness of Hashem by looking at the great creations of Hashem, like the Shomayim, and by learning the Torah that Hashem gave us!

In Posuk Tes, it says “Pikudei Hashem Yesharim, Mesamchei Lev, Mitzvas Hashem Bara Me’iras Einayim,” “What Hashem tells us to do shows us the right way to live, and they make us happy; Hashem’s mitzvos are clear and make us see things clearly!”

On Motzei Shabbos, there is a minhag to dip our pinkies into the Havdalah wine on the plate. The Rebbe’s minhag was to put some of this wine over his eyes, and he said this posuk, how Hashem’s mitzvos make us see things clearly!



Likutei Amarim Perek Nun-Gimmel

Today we are finishing Sefer Shel Beinonim, also called Likutei Amarim — the first sefer of Tanya!

Today the Alter Rebbe goes back to what we learned in Perek Lamed-Hey, when he gave a mashal from the Zohar, that a Yid is like a candle that burns with oil. We said that the Shechinah that shines on the Yid is like the flame, the oil is the mitzvos, and the body of the person is the wick.

We asked the question: Everything in the world is a mashal for something from Hashem. In Kabbalah and Chassidus, “oil” is a mashal for Hashem’s chochmah, which includes Torah and mitzvos! So how come the Zohar says that the oil is mitzvos? The Torah should be enough! We talked about how important mitzvos are, and how special they are. But only today are we going to answer the question!

We just said that the Shechinah needs to have a cover to be felt in the world, and that cover is chochmah, Torah. Since a Yid wants the Shechinah to shine on his neshama it needs the Torah to make that happen.

So why does the Zohar say that MITZVOS are the oil?

If a Yid was just a neshama, then Torah would be all the oil we need. That’s how a neshama in Gan Eden works!

But we want the Yid’s body to be a wick. The way a wick works is that part of it needs to be burned and turned into a flame! That only happens with the bittul a Yid has in doing mitzvos.

Instead of doing what WE want, we do what Hashem wants. Then it’s like we’re “burning” our Yetzer Hara, so the flame of the Shechinah will stay on us! (By a tzadik, this “burning” changes the Yetzer Hara to be like a Yetzer Tovis’hapcha, and by a Beinoni it is forcing the Yetzer Hara to do what Hashem wants — iskafya — this brings Hashem a special nachas, like we said earlier in Tanya!)

When we “burn” our wick by doing what Hashem wants even when we don’t want to, then our neshama can shine with the light of the Shechinah!

There is a story of a famous chossid, R’ Hillel Paritcher. He was very careful in his mitzvos. In fact, he was so careful that he wouldn’t even sit on a couch because he was worried there might be shatnez in the couch!

Someone asked him why he’s so careful with mitzvos. R’ Hillel answered that it’s so he can feel and appreciate Hashem and chassidus. That’s like what we see here — that to feel the Shechinah that shines on a Yid through Torah, you need to make sure that you’re doing all the mitzvos the way Hashem wants.

נשלם חלק ראשון בעזרת ה׳ יתברך ויתעלה

“We have finished the first part of Tanya, with Hashem’s help!”



Gimmel Sivan

Today is forty-seven days of the Omer!

Today starts the Shloshes Yemei Hagbalah, the three days of preparation for Matan Torah. Even though there is a source in halacha for cutting hair starting today, the Rebbe Rashab didn’t like when people did it before Erev Shavuos.

One of the most famous meforshim on Gemara is called Tosfos. In one place in Gemara where it talks about Shavuos, we learn something very important from what Tosfos says!

Shavuos is a very special time. During the time of blowing Shofar on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Hashem confuses the Satan so he can’t say not nice things about the Yidden! On Shavuos also, Hashem confuses the Satan so he can’t make problems for the Yidden!



Mitzvas Asei #99

Today’s mitzvah (Mitzvas Asei #99) is about Tumas Niddah. We are careful about this kind of tumah nowadays also. The halachos about Tumas Niddah are also called the halachos of Taharas Hamishpacha, and only married people need to keep them.



Hilchos Keilim

In today’s Rambam, we learn more about how keilim become tomei and pass on their tumah to things inside of them:

In Perek Yud-Beis the Rambam explains what happens if a keili became tomei, then was broken (so now those pieces are tahor), and then someone put those pieces back together. If the keili was made of wood, or bone, or leather, the new keili is tahor. If it was made of metal, it is tomei.

Perek Yud-Gimmel teaches us that tumah is passed on differently with keilim made of clay. Usually the halacha is that if something is touching a tomei keili, it becomes tomei too. But with a clay keili, something touching the outside won’t become tomei. Only something that is INSIDE of it, whether or not it is touching it, will become tomei. For example, if you have an oven made out of clay, and something fell inside and made the oven tomei, everything inside becomes tomei too!

Perek Yud-Daled explains how something can keep tumah from being passed on. If you fill a pot with food and then seal it closed, and put it into a tomei oven, the pot and the food stays tahor. But if you put something that GIVES tumah inside of a pot and seal it closed, it can make the whole oven tomei.



Hilchos Gerushin - Perek Beis

In this perek the Rambam explains the halachos of using a shliach to give or take a get.



Hachana L'Chag Hashavuos

The days before Shavuos we get ready for Shavuos. The Rebbe teaches that in a certain way, GETTING READY for Shavuos has something that is even more special than Shavuos itself! Why?

We see something similar with davening. Shacharis is BEFORE we start our work for the day (learning in Cheder, or taking care of our family, or going to work or shlichus). We are getting ready for the day.

Maariv is AFTER we finished the work of the day. It is quiet and we can think about the past day.

But Mincha is in the middle — we have to stop whatever important things we are doing, and only think about Hashem. When we stop what we are doing and only think about Hashem, it brings Hashem a lot of nachas! That’s why when Eliyahu Hanavi needed a special bracha, he only got it during mincha time.

The same thing, the Rebbe says, is with Shavuos. ON Shavuos, our whole job is to think about Hashem and getting the Torah. But the days BEFORE Shavuos are regular workdays! We’re busy doing our Avodah! So when we stop and think about how to get ready for Shavuos, this makes Hashem SO happy — in some ways even more than on Shavuos when we think about Hashem the whole time!

This teaches us how special the time of preparation for Shavuos is, and how important it is to use it properly!

One of the ways the Rebbe told us that children should prepare for Shavuos is to be part of a Shavuos rally!


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What Do We Live For?

In davening, we ask Hashem for all of the things we need.

Chassidus shows us that this is not the only reason for davening. When we reach out to Hashem, we are connecting to Hashem! During the time of davening, we are able to stop all of our busy work for a few minutes, and think about our connection to Hashem. We remind ourselves why we are here in this world at all — in order to serve Hashem!

The two oldest sons of the Rebbe Maharash were the Raza and the Rashab. One day, when they were playing outside, they had an argument about the difference between Yidden and Goyim.

The Raza said that Yidden are more special because of all of the Torah that they learn, and the kavana they have when they daven.

But the Rebbe Rashab said that couldn’t be. Because many Yidden COULDN’T learn Torah or have kavana, but they still had to be different than goyim!

When the Rebbe Maharash heard about their argument, he called them over. He told them to bring Ben-Tzion, a simple Yid who helped in their house. The Rebbe Maharash asked Ben-Tzion a few questions:

“Ben-Tzion, did you eat?”

“Yes,” Ben-Tzion answered.

“Did you eat well?”

Ben-Tzion shrugged. “Well? I ate enough, Boruch Hashem.”

The Rebbe Maharash asked further: “Why do you eat?”

“So I can live,” Ben-Tzion said.

“And why do you need to live?”

“To be a Jew and do what Hashem wants,” Ben-Tzion answered with a sigh.

Then the Rebbe Maharash asked that the coachman, Ivan, come. The Maharash asked Ivan the same questions:

“Ivan, did you eat?”

“Yes!” Ivan answered.

“Did you eat well?”

Ivan smiled. “Yes, I did!”

“And why do you eat?”

“I need to eat so I can live,” Ivan said.

“And why do you need to live?”

“To enjoy a good drink of mashke and something good to eat!” Ivan answered.

The Rebbe Maharash thanked Ivan.

Now his sons were able to see for themselves what is special about even a simple Yid.

The time of davening is a very good time for us to remind ourselves why we need to live, and to make sure we’re living that way!




The third mitzvah of the “constant mitzvos,” the mitzvos we are able to keep ALL the time, is “Leyachdo.” That means to realize that Hashem is ONE — Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echod.

When we look around, it looks like there are many different creations, and kochos coming from the things we do. But when we learn more about Hashem and think deeply about Him, especially during davening, we realize that these are all really the same Hashem shining in different ways!

This is explained very clearly in Chassidus, starting with Shaar Hayichud VeHa’Emunah of the Alter Rebbe, and in the many maamarim of the Rebbeim.

When we learn about this Oneness of Hashem (Achdus Hashem), and make this understanding part of us, we are fulfilling the mitzvah of Leyachdo.

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



Moshiach'dike Davening

When we are davening, we need to think about the basic meaning of what we are saying. In Shemoneh Esrei, we say, “Vesechezenah Eineinu Leshuvcha Letzion,” “Our eyes should see the return to Yerushalayim.” We say, “Es Tzemach Dovid Avdecha Meheira Satzmiach,” “The plant of Dovid Hamelech (Moshiach, who comes from Dovid) should quickly grow.”

Then, we will ask ourselves a question: “What did I do TODAY to make this happen?”

See Likutei Sichos chelek Chof, p. 384, Chassidim Ein Mishpacha, gilyon Chof-Zayin

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