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CHUMASH

Parshas Vayigash - Sheini with Rashi

Yehuda is arguing with Yosef, telling him that he shouldn’t keep Benyamin.

Yehudah continued speaking to Yosef. He said, “If we go back and my father sees that we didn’t bring Binyamin, he will die, and it will be because of YOU!

“I promised to make sure Benyamin comes home, and if I don’t, I won’t even be with him in Olam Haba!

“So please, let me be your servant, instead of Benyamin. I will do a better job than him anyhow! Just please, don’t make me go back without Benyamin — I don’t want to see what would happen to my father.”

When Yosef heard that, he was sure that his brothers had all done teshuvah, and knew that now was the time to tell them who he was. But he didn’t want them to be embarrassed, so he told all of the servants to go out of the room. Yosef started to cry so loudly that everyone could hear — even the people in the other room!

Yosef said to his brothers, in Lashon Kodesh, “I am Yosef. You thought I was dead because you couldn’t find me. Really, I was alive the whole time! Our father Yaakov was sad for all of these years, because Hashem only makes us forget someone who passed away! It’s a neis that he is still alive if he was crying so long!”

But the brothers were so embarrassed they didn’t answer. They moved away because they were so ashamed.

Yosef then said in a softer voice, “Please come close and see that I am a Yid too. I am Yosef your brother, that you sold to be a slave in Mitzrayim. But don’t feel bad about it, because Hashem wanted me to be here so I could give you food. The hunger (when no food will grow) has already lasted for two years, but there are still five years left! Hashem sent me here to make sure you have food.”

 
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TEHILLIM

10 - 17

Today’s shiur Tehillim is kapitelach Yud through Yud-Zayin.

In Kapitel Tes-Zayin, there is a posuk that says “Shivisi Hashem Lenegdi Somid,” “I place Hashem before me all the time.”

In the first paragraph of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, it says that remembering this is very important in serving Hashem. When we know that Hashem is always watching us, we will behave very differently.

When someone important is watching, we are much more careful with how we act! When we remember that Hashem is watching us and is with us all the time, it will help us act the way we should.

This is also the meaning of the sixth posuk of the twelve Pesukim, “Vehinei.” This posuk reminds us that Hashem is always watching us to make sure we are acting properly, and cares about what we decide to do. When we think about how Hashem is looking at everything we do, we will make sure we are acting the way we should.

This is also called Yirah Tata’ah, the lower level of Yiras Shomayim. This is the first step of Avodas Hashem, and what makes our Avodas Hashem strong! No matter what happens, if we know Hashem is watching, it will keep us behaving the way Hashem wants us to.

 
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TANYA

Likutei Amarim Perek Vov

So far we learned about our “friends,” the things we are given to help us fulfill our neshama’s mission, to be a tzadik and not to be a rasha. We learned about the neshama we have, the neshamos of tzadikim, Torah and mitzvos — and especially Torah. All of these help us stay connected to Hashem! Now we will learn about our “enemies,” the things that try to stop us from serving Hashem, and the Gashnmius things we need to be careful about, because they CAN be used to serve Hashem — but only if we use them the right way.

There is a posuk that says “Zeh Le’umas Zeh Asa Elokim” — everything in kedusha has a matching thing in kelipah. Hashem made it this way so we will have to choose to do what Hashem wants, and Hashem will reward us for our effort. If we look around the world, we will see a lot of things that give us a lot of help in kedusha — but can also be used for very strong kelipah. Also inside each of us, for every koach in kedusha, there is a matching one in kelipah.

Just like the Nefesh Elokis has midos, the Nefesh Habehamis has midos too. It’s just that the midos of the Nefesh Elokis are midos of kedusha, and the midos of the Nefesh Habehamis are midos of tumah! We talked about these midos in Perek Alef of Tanya. They are things like getting angry, showing off, and getting very excited about Gashmius. A person’s midos are based on their sechel, what they understand. That’s why a little kid can easily get very angry about something small and silly, and gets very excited even about things that aren’t important, because they think that is a big deal. An older person understands that other things are important, and gets upset only about those things.

What the sechel and midos of the Nefesh Habehamis want is OPPOSITE of what the sechel and midos of the Nefesh Elokis want! The sechel of the Nefesh Elokis makes a Yid think Ruchnius’dike things and feel close to Hashem, and the Nefesh Habehamis understands and wants Gashmius, which feels separate from Hashem.

Then there are the levushim, the “clothes” of the Nefesh Habehamis. These are the Machshava, Dibur, and Maaseh — the way the Nefesh Habehamis changes how we think, speak, or act. The levushim of the Nefesh Elokis are holy. They are “clothes” of Torah and mitzvos, and they connect the neshama with Hashem. But the levushim of the Nefesh Habehamis are very different! The Zohar calls them Levushei Mesa’avu, clothes of tumah.

Whenever a person lets the Nefesh Habehamis decide how he should think, speak, or act, he is wearing these tomei clothes, and they separate a Yid from Hashem.

We shouldn’t think that this only means terrible aveiros — ANYTHING that a person does that isn’t to serve Hashem is included in these clothes of tumah! That’s what Sitra Achara means — the other side. Anything that isn’t from the side of kedusha is automatically from the side of kelipah.

And what is the side of kedusha? Kedusha is something that is botul to Hashem. It is just there to fulfill the Ratzon of Hashem.

 
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HAYOM YOM

Beis Teves

In “Ve’al Hanisim” we say what the Yevanim wanted to do: “Lehashkicham Torasecha Ulehaaviram Meichukei Retzonecha.” To make the Yidden forget Hashem’s Torah and Hashem’s mitzvos.

The Medrash tells us that the Yevanim told the Yidden to “Write on the horns of the ox that you have no part of Hashem.” They were fighting against our connection to Hashem!

The Yevanim didn’t have as much of a problem with the Yidden learning Torah or doing mitzvos that make sense. The MAIN thing they didn’t want is that it should be HASHEM’s Torah or HASHEM’s mitzvos — they didn’t want the Yidden’s Torah and mitzvos to bring them a special closeness to Hashem.

 
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SEFER HAMITZVOS

Shiur #147 - Mitzvas Lo Saasei #169, #170, Asei #183, Lo Saasei #228, Asei #20

Today is a very exciting day in Rambam! We are going to finish a whole Sefer in Rambam, Sefer Zeraim, and start the next one — Sefer Avodah! And what’s the very first set of halachos in this sefer? Hilchos Beis Habechirah — all about building the Beis Hamikdash!

Today we learn 4 mitzvos about Shevet Levi’s place in Eretz Yisroel:

1) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #169) Shevet Levi are not allowed to take a place in Eretz Yisroel like the other Shevatim.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Shoftim: לֹא יִהְיֶה לַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם כָּל שֵׁבֶט לֵוִי חֵלֶק וְנַחֲלָה

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #170) Shevet Levi cannot take part of the treasures that the Yidden take when they win the war to come into Eretz Yisroel.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Shoftim: לֹא יִהְיֶה לַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם כָּל שֵׁבֶט לֵוִי חֵלֶק וְנַחֲלָה

3) (Mitzvas Asei #183) The Yidden need to give Shevet Levi cities to live in Eretz Yisroel.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Masei: וְנָתְנוּ לַלְוִיִּם וְגוֹ׳ עָרִים לָשָׁבֶת

4) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #228) The cities for Shevet Levi need to have 1000 amos of open area and 2000 amos of fields around. We are not allowed to switch around those spaces, or use them for any other reasons.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Behar: וּשֲׂדֵה מִגְרַשׁ עָרֵיהֶם לֹא יִמָּכֵר

The details are explained in the end of Mesechta Erchin.

Then we learn a mitzvah that we all know very well!

5) (Mitzvas Asei #20)Ve’asu Li Mikdash” — it is a mitzvah to build a Mishkan or Beis Hamikdash which should be used to serve Hashem!

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Terumah: וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ

The details are explained in Mesechta Midos. The details about the Menorah, Shulchan, and Mizbeiach Hazahav are in Mesechta Menachos and Mesechta Yoma.

 
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RAMBAM

Hilchos Shemitah VeYovel - Hilchos Beis HaBechirah

In today's Rambam, we learn the last two perakim of Hilchos Shemita VeYovel and the first perek of Hilchos Beis Habechirah!

Perek Yud-Beis: The Rambam teaches us about the halachos of houses in cities with walls around them, which we learned about in yesterday’s Sefer Hamitzvos.

Perek Yud-Gimmel: We learn about how Shevet Levi doesn’t get their own part in Eretz Yisroel. They have certain cities that belong to them. Why? Because their whole job is to serve Hashem, and they don’t fight the wars like the rest of the Yidden. Instead, Hashem takes care of everything for them. The Rambam tells us that anyone who decides to serve Hashem with all of his koach will ALSO have that bracha, that Hashem will take care of everything for him, just like Hashem did for Shevet Levi! This is a very famous halacha, which the Rebbe would quote often!

This is the end of Sefer Zeraim. Now we start the Sefer Avodah, and the halachos of how to build the Beis Hamikdash!

Perek Alef: Now the Rambam starts to teach us about the mitzvah to BUILD the Beis Hamikdash — not leaving any wood sticking out, making sure nothing is broken, and not cutting things in the Beis Hamikdash with iron.

One very interesting halacha is that EVERYONE needs to help build it — but we don’t stop kids from learning Torah to build the Beis Hamikdash, because when kids learn Torah it is even MORE important!

 
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RAMBAM PEREK ECHOD

Hilchos Zechiya U'Matana - Perek Tes

A Shechiv MeRa is someone very sick. Perek Tes has halachos about times when we might think the Shechiv MeRa’s presents shouldn’t count.

 
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INYANA D'YOMA

Zos Chanukah

Today is the last day of Chanukah, also called “Zos Chanukah.”

The words “Zos Chanukah” mean “this is Chanukah.” Why do we call it that?

One reason is that the Kriyas HaTorah for the last day of Chanukah starts with the words, “Zos Chanukas Hamizbeiach.”

But there is also another reason!

One of the mitzvos of Chanukah is to light a menorah to remember the neis of the oil in the Beis Hamikdash that lasted for eight days. We only do this mitzvah completely when we actually light all eight lights.

According to Beis Hillel, the day we do this is on the last day of Chanukah, Zos Chanukah! That’s why THIS is Chanukah, because this is the day we actually DO the mitzvah!

This teaches us an important lesson about bringing Moshiach!

We can get rid of the darkness of Golus by learning lot of Torah (which is compared to a candle) and doing many mitzvos (which are compared to light). We need to make sure to actually LEARN the Torah and DO the mitzvos, like on Zos Chanukah when we actually light all eight lights. When we actually have so much of the Torah and mitzvos light, the darkness of Golus will turn into the light of Geulah!

See Likutei Sichos chelek Chof-Hey, sicha Zos Chanukah

 

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TEFILLAH

Modeh Ani

Why do we say Modeh Ani in the morning?

We are thanking Hashem for giving us back our neshama!

The Gemara says that we are not allowed to enjoy anything in the world without first saying a bracha to thank Hashem for it. The first and most important thing we enjoy all day is getting back our neshama and being alive again!

Of course we can’t thank Hashem BEFORE we start to enjoy it, like with other things, because we aren’t awake yet! But as soon as we wake up, we thank Hashem right away for the gift of life.

That is why we say Modeh Ani.

See Kuntres Inyana Shel Toras HaChassidus, os yud

 
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HALACHOS HATZRICHOS

Zos Chanukah

Today is Zos Chanukah.

Zos Chanukah is the last day of Chanukah. Parents need to chap arein and give their kids Chanukah gelt!

The Rebbe says that even if the kids already got Chanukah gelt, the parents should give more! Since their kids bring them lots of Chassidishe nachas, and IY”H will bring them even more Chassidishe nachas from the Chinuch they are getting, the kids DESERVE to get more Chanukah gelt!

At the end of Chanukah, we also farbreng about what we learned from Chanukah, so that we can use these kochos throughout the year!

One important lesson we learn from Chanukah is that every day we need to add more in our connection to Hashem and Yiddishkeit!

See Hisvaaduyos 5750, chelek beis, p. 92; Halachos Uminhagei Chabad p.117

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

 
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GEULAH U'MOSHIACH

Zos Chanukah

Today is the last day of Chanukah, the eighth day, called Zos Chanukah.

Chassidus explains that the number eight is a very special number. Hashem created the world in seven days, so the number seven means the regular way the world works. But eight means HIGHER than that!

When Moshiach comes, there will be a lot of things with the number eight. One of them is that Dovid Hamelech’s harp which used to have seven strings will now have eight strings, to play a special Moshiach song! This will show that the time of Moshiach is completely different than the way the world is today.

On the eighth day of Chanukah we are reminded of the special time we are in now — right before Moshiach comes!

 
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