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Parshas Devarim - Rishon with Rashi

We are now starting the fifth book of the Torah, Chumash Devarim! This Chumash is different than the other four Chumashim! It is called “Mishneh Torah,” since Moshe Rabbeinu is reviewing the mitzvos and reminding the Yidden about what happened in the Midbar.

This whole sefer is like one long farbrengen with the Yidden, helping them be inspired to do what Hashem wants them to when they come into Eretz Yisroel. Even though Moshe Rabbeinu himself won’t be able to go in, he wants to make sure that the Yidden are ready for the new challenges of living in Eretz Yisroel.

Moshe Rabbeinu first reminds the Yidden about the mistakes they made in the Midbar, so the Yidden won’t make them again. He wants to make sure that they will keep the Torah properly in Eretz Yisroel!

The Torah tells us where Moshe said this — between Paran and Tofel and Lavan and Chatzeiros and Di-Zahav. These look like names of places — but really they are hinting about the aveiros the Yidden did in the Midbar. Instead of embarrassing them by saying the aveiros clearly in the Chumash, they are hinted to in these “names.”

For example, two of the places the posuk says are “Tofel and Lavan.” But there ARE no places with these names! These places hint to us about how the Yidden made silly complaints (Taflu) about the Mahn, which was white (Lavan).

Then Moshe reviews how when they stood at Har Sinai, Hashem told them to go to Eretz Yisroel! But because of their aveiros, only now, 40 years later, are the Yidden ready to go into Eretz Yisroel. (If the Yidden hadn’t sent the Meraglim, they would have been able to go in right away, and wouldn’t have even needed to fight with the goyim.)

Moshe also reviews with the Yidden how the system of judges started.

After the Yidden began doing aveiros, Moshe realized that he can’t be the only judge over the Yidden. Hashem expects the leaders to make sure that every Yid behaves properly, and punishes the leaders if they don’t. Moshe Rabbeinu realized that he would not be able to do the whole job himself — he needed to have more judges to help EACH of the Yidden do what Hashem wants.

Still, Moshe is happy that there were so many Yidden that they can’t be judged by just one person. Moshe Rabbeinu gives the Yidden a bracha that there should be many more Yidden!



18 - 22

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

In today’s Tehilim, there is a posuk that is explained in the first section of Igeres HaKodesh, which we will soon start learning!

In Kapitel Yud-Tes, there is a posuk that talks about Torah: “Toras Hashem Temimah, Meshivas Nafesh.” “The Torah of Hashem is complete, it makes the neshama feel good.”

The Alter Rebbe uses this posuk to show why he was so happy to hear that the Chassidim learned the whole Shas (Mishnayos and Gemara) in many places over the year. When the Torah is complete — the whole Torah is learned — it makes the Neshama happy!

Chassidim STILL have this minhag to learn the whole Shas over a year — it’s called Chalukas HaShas. Each chossid takes one Gemara to learn over the year, so that together, we finish learning the whole thing! Do you know which Mesechta YOUR Tatty is learning?

This is also the reason we make a siyum on a Mesechta in the Nine Days! Finishing a section of Torah brings us simcha, and we need to find ways to increase in Simcha that are allowed in halacha during the Nine Days. Simcha Poretz Geder — simcha is able to change the way things usually are, and we need to try every way we can to make these days of sadness become days of joy!



Igeres Hateshuvah Perek Yud-Alef

We said that a person should do Teshuvah Tata’ah and Teshuvah Ila’ah at different times, because they make us have different feelings. Teshuvah Tata’ah makes a person feel serious, and Teshuvah Ila’ah makes us feel besimcha! So we usually do Teshuvah Tata’ah at night, and Teshuvah Ila’ah in davening in the morning.

Today the Alter Rebbe tells us that really we can feel both kinds of Teshuvah AT THE SAME TIME in davening, even though they are different feelings! Since they come for two different reasons, we won’t be confused.

Teshuvah Tata’ah comes because we have rachmanus for what our aveiros did, and Teshuvah Ila’ah is because we are so happy that we can still become so close to Hashem!

Here is a story that shows us how we can feel both ways at the same time:

One time Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was learning with his son R’ Elazar. They were learning secrets of the Torah about the Churban of the Beis Hamikdash. When R’ Elazar heard these secrets, he felt happy and sad! He was sad because the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed, but he was happy to hear these secrets from Hashem’s holy Torah.

The same way, we can also feel Teshuvah Tata’ah and Teshuvah Ila’ah at the same time!

Another thing that makes it possible to feel BOTH is that when we are sure that Hashem forgives us for what we did wrong, we aren’t so sad, even with Teshuvah Tata’ah! We are happy that even though aveiros can bring Golus, Hashem forgives us anyway, and promises us that by doing teshuvah we will bring the Geulah. This way BOTH kinds of teshuvah make us happy, and we can feel them both in davening at the same time!



Gimmel Menachem Av

In the Nine Days, we think about how sad it is that the Yidden are in Golus. We ask Hashem for Moshiach now! Today we will learn a certain way to think about Golus, which will give us chayus to make sure we use every chance we have in Golus to do good things.

The Rebbe Rashab said in a sicha that when Moshiach comes very soon, we will miss the days of Golus. It will bother us that we didn’t use all of the chances we had in Golus to serve Hashem properly. Then we will realize that it was a very special time which we had only during Golus.

Now is the time to use out this opportunity the best we can and do whatever is possible to prepare for the Geulah!



Shiur #338 - Mitzvas Lo Saasei #46, Asei #190, Lo Saasei #56, #57, Asei #192, #193

We are so close to the end of the whole Rambam! In today’s Sefer Hamitzvos, we learn 6 mitzvos:

1) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #46) Yidden should not go back to Mitzrayim to live there, so we don’t learn from the Mitzriyim. We are allowed to go there for business or to pass through.

2) (Mitzvas Asei #190) Before fighting with a country in a war that is not a mitzvah (Milchemes Hareshus), we should first try to make shalom with them (that the Yiddishe kings will rule over them, and they will pay taxes).

3) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #56) With the nations of Amon and Moav, we don’t ask them first if they want to make shalom.

4) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #57) We can’t cut down fruit trees for no good reason when we’re having a war. This aveira includes any kind of Bal Tashchis, like destroying clothes or keilim for no reason.

5) (Mitzvas Asei #192) There should be a place outside of the army camp for soldiers to use as the bathroom, so the place where they are camping stays tahor. This is not like the goyim, who just use the first place they see as a bathroom.

6) (Mitzvas Asei #193) Every soldier should have a shovel together with his weapons, in case he needs to go to the bathroom when there isn’t a bathroom around. This way he can dig a hole to use, and then cover it up.



Hilchos Melachim

Perek Zayin: Before the Yidden go out to war, a kohen is given the job as “Meshuach Milchama.” He needs to speak to the Yidden before they go out to fight. One of the things he tells them is that anyone who should not be fighting (like if he just got married), or anyone who is afraid and doesn’t trust in Hashem, should go home.

In Perek Ches, we learn about what to do when we capture a city from the goyim. One of the things is to make sure that the goyim keep the Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach — the seven mitzvos that goyim need to keep.

Perek Tes teaches us many details about the Sheva Mitzvos, and the punishment for a goy who does not keep them.



Hilchos Tumas Ochalin - Perek Ches

If a part of a food became tomei, sometimes not the whole thing becomes tome. For example, if a piece was sticking out of a loaf of bread, sometimes it’s considered separate from the bread, and only that part becomes tomei. Or if only a tiny part became tomei, sometimes it can be botul. We also learn more halachos about a Tvul Yom.



The Nine Days

Especially during the Nine Days, Yidden tgink about how hard it is to live without the Beis Hamikdosh, and to be in Golus. There are many things we are not allowed to do in the Nine Days, like swimming and doing laundry, because we are mourning, like an avel (chas veshalom) for the Beis Hamikdosh.

But, the Rebbe says, a Yid needs to be besimcha! That will bring Moshiach closer!

So what ARE we allowed to do in the Nine Days that will bring us Simcha? Learning Torah! Like we learned today, when you finish learning a part of Torah it brings simcha! (On Shabbos, we finished a whole sefer of Chumash, and tomorrow we will be making a siyum on the whole Rambam!)

The Rebbe made a takanah that every day of the Nine Days we should be part of a Siyum on a Mesechta of Gemara, since that is a way that we ARE allowed to be happy during this time. This kind of simcha will for sure bring Moshiach closer!

Visit for a daily siyum by NCFJE!


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Hareini Mekabel

A story told by the Frierdiker Rebbe:

…At my Bar Mitzvah, my father the Rebbe Rashab called me by my name and said, “Yosef Yitzchok, ask something.”

So I asked my father, “It says in the siddur that we should say before davening, ‘Hareini’ — that I am taking on myself the mitzvah of Ve’ahavta Le’rei’acha Kamocha. Why does it say this specifically before davening Shacharis? If we are supposed to do Ahavas Yisroel first thing in the morning, it should be connected to morning brachos!”

My father answered me: “When a father has many children, his greatest nachas is when he sees that they all have achdus and they love each other. Davening is when we ask Hashem for our needs — both our Gashmius’dike needs and our Ruchnius’dike needs. Before we ask Hashem for our needs, we need to do something that will bring Hashem nachas. For that reason, it was established that we should accept upon ourselves the mitzvah of Ahavas Yisroel as a preparation for davening…”

See Sefer Hasichos 5700, p. 157



Tzedakah Before Davening

In the Gemara, it talks about a Tanna R’ Elazar, who had the following minhag: In the morning, he would give a perutah (a small coin) to a poor person, and then go daven Shemoneh Esrei.

R’ Elazar did this because the posuk says, “Ani Betzedek Echezeh Panecha,” “With tzedek (tzedakah) I will see Your face.” Rashi explains that he learned from this posuk to first take care of the “tezdek” by giving tzedakah, and then “Echezeh Panecha,” to “see Hashem’s face” in davening!

Based on this Gemara, the Shulchan Aruch tells us that we should give tzedakah before davening. In the time of R’ Elazar, Shemoneh Esrei was the whole davening, but now we give tzedakah before starting Shacharis.

(On the same page as the Gemara tells us this story, it also tells us that “Tzedakah Mekareves Es Hageulah” — Tzedakah brings Moshiach! That is something else we should think about when we give tzedakah!)

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman Tzadik-Beis, se’if yud

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



Learning About the Beis Hamikdash

The third Beis Hamikdash will be the same as the second in many ways, but not exactly. We can learn about the second Beis Hamikdash in Mesechta Midos of Mishnayos, or Hilchos Beis Habechirah of the Rambam, but that’s not going to be enough to build it right. The Navi Yechezkel told us details about how the third Beis Hamikdash will be different, but a lot of the things he says aren’t so clear.

Hashem will need to show many of the details when Moshiach comes. So why is it so important for us to learn about the Beis Hamikdash now?

The answer is that there is a mitzvah in the Torah, “Ve’asu Li Mikdash Veshachanti Besocham.” Hashem tells us to build Him a Mishkan, and He will rest among the Yidden.

This mitzvah wasn’t only a mitzvah in the Midbar or only in Eretz Yisroel — it is a mitzvah for ALWAYS!

Nowadays we can’t build Hashem a Gashmius’dike Mishkan with our hands, but we can do the mitzvah by learning about the Beis Hamikdash that we will need to build.

When we learn as much as we can about the Beis Hamikdash, we are doing the mitzvah the best way we can. Also, when Hashem sees us so interested in learning about the Beis Hamikdash, He will make sure that we can actually build it faster, by sending us Moshiach right away!

See Likutei Sichos chelek Yud-Ches, parshas Masei — Three Weeks

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