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Parshas Vayeishev - Revi'i with Rashi

Yehudah left his brothers and moved to another town. He had a family there, but two of his sons and his wife died. Later, he married Tamar, and had twin boys. One of them is Peretz, the ancestor of Moshiach!

The Shevatim had listened to Yehudah and sold Yosef, since they looked up to Yehudah as their leader. Now, after seeing how upset it made their father, they decided to stop listening to Yehudah. So Yehudah decided to move to a different city, where he worked together with a man named Chirah.

Yehuda married the daughter of Shua, a famous merchant there. They had three boys, Eir, Onan, and Shailah. After Yehudah’s wife stopped having children, they called the place where they lived then Keziv, because it means “stopping.”

When his son Eir got older, Yehuda found him a wife — Tamar, the daughter of Shem. Eir was afraid that Tamar wouldn’t stay beautiful if she had children, so he didn’t want to have any babies. This was a big aveira, and Hashem made Eir pass away.

There is a mitzvah called yibum, that if a husband passes away without having children, his wife needs to marry his brother. That way it is counted as if the first brother also had a child, since the mitzvah is done because of him. Yehudah kept the mitzvos even before Matan Torah, so he had his second son Onan marry Tamar.

But Onan didn’t want Tamar to have children either, because he knew that they would be considered like Eir’s children according to Torah. So he did the same aveirah as his brother. Hashem was upset at him too, and Onan also passed away.

Yehudah was afraid to let Shailah marry Tamar, because he was afraid that it was Tamar’s fault that Eir and Onan died. He told Tamar to wait until Shailah gets older, but he wasn’t really planning on letting her marry Shailah at all.

Tamar went to live in her parents’ house while she waited.

About a year later, Yehuda’s wife passed away. Yehuda was very sad. Later, after he felt better, he went with Chirah, his partner, to Timna to watch them cutting the hair of the sheep (shearing).

Tamar heard that Yehuda was going to Timna, and she knew which way he was going. She wanted to have children from Yehudah’s family, and she saw that Shailah was older but still Yehudah wasn’t letting her marry him. So she decided to do something to get Yehudah to marry her.

Before Matan Torah, a person didn’t need to have a chuppah or Kiddushin in order to get married. If a man met a woman, they could decide to get married right then and would be husband and wife.

Tamar took off her veil and sat by the side of the road, like a woman who is looking to get married. When Yehudah saw her there, he didn’t recognize her, since Tamar was so tznius’dik and Yehudah hardly ever saw her when she was married to his sons. Yehudah wanted to just keep on going, but a malach made him go and ask if she wanted to get married to him. Tamar agreed, and Yehudah said he would give her a fine goat as a gift.

Tamar made Yehudah give her his ring, his special coat, and his stick until she gets the goat, and they decided to get married. Then Tamar went back home and put on her regular clothes. Yehudah still had no idea that it was Tamar!

Yehudah sent Chirah with the goat to keep the promise he had made, but he couldn’t find Tamar! He asked everyone where the woman was, but nobody knew. So Yehudah said, “I tried to give her the goat I promised! At least now she will keep the things I gave her before.”

Three months later, people could see that Tamar was going to have a baby. Since she wasn’t married, that could mean she had become a zonah, getting married to many men! In those days, someone from a special family (like Tamar, who was the daughter of Shem) who did that kind of aveirah could get a big punishment. So Yehudah said, “Bring her and we will have to punish her, because that is the law.”

Tamar didn’t want to embarrass Yehudah in public, even if she might get put to death. So while they were bringing her to punish her, she had someone show Yehudah his ring and coat and stick, saying “I am having a baby because of the person who owns these things! Please tell the truth so nobody has to die.”

Yehudah knew the things were his, and understood that it was because of him — Tamar had wanted to make sure she has children from Yehudah’s family, and he hadn’t wanted her to marry Shailah. She wasn’t a zonah, marrying many men, she had only gotten married to Yehudah.

Hashem said, “I was the One Who wanted this to happen! Because Tamar was always so tznius’dik, I decided that the kings of Bnei Yisrael should come from her. Really they were supposed to come from Eir and Onan, but because of the aveiros they did, I arranged that Tamar have children with Yehudah instead!”

Yehudah now understood that it wasn’t Tamar’s fault that Eir and Onan passed away, Yehudah knew it wasn’t dangerous to have her as a wife, so he stayed married to her.

When Tamar was having her babies, the midwife saw that it was going to be twins! One of the babies started to be born, and a hand came out. The midwife tied a red string so she would remember which baby was born first and would be the bechor, but the hand went back in and the other baby was born first! Since he pushed ahead, Yehudah called him “Peretz” which means breaking through. (Moshiach comes from Peretz!)

Then his brother was born, and they called him Zarach, because of the shining red string.

Because Tamar only had these children for the right reason, the twins were strong and tzadikim like their father Yehudah.



97 - 103

Today’s kapitelach are Tzadik-Zayin to Kuf-Gimmel.

Once when the Frierdiker Rebbe was a young boy, his father the Rebbe Rashab took him to a Chassidishe farbrengen. It was Sukkos, and the farbrengen was in the freezing cold Sukkah. The farbrengen went until very late, and the Frierdiker Rebbe fell asleep.

Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah (the Frierdiker Rebbe’s mother) came to take him into his warm bed, but the Rebbe Rashab said to let him stay! The Rebbetzin said, “It is cold for him! Doesn’t it say in Tehillim, ‘Kerachem Av Al Banim’ — ‘Hashem has rachmanus on us like a FATHER has rachmanus on his child’? Where is your rachmanus for your son? He might get sick from the cold chas veshalom!” (This posuk is in today’s Tehillim!)

The Rebbe Rashab answered, “Let him sleep close to Chassidim that are farbrenging, and that will keep him warm! This varemkeit (warmth) will stay with him for many generations.”

Many years later, the Friediker Rebbe told this story at a farbrengen with Chassidim. After the story, he said, “This is Mesiras Nefesh for Chinuch!”



Likutei Amarim Hakdamas Hamelaket

Today we learn the first part of the letter that the Alter Rebbe writes to Chassidim before they learn Tanya, called Hakdomas Hamelaket

One of the reasons why the Tanya was written was so the Chassidim wouldn’t have to ask the Alter Rebbe everything about their Avodas Hashem. Instead, they would find their answers in the Tanya!

The Alter Rebbe asks, how can one sefer answer every chossid’s question, when every person is very different?

IY”H in tomorrow’s shiur in Tanya, we will see the answer!



Chof Kislev

Today we learn about the stages in the printing of Tanya, starting from the first time it was printed, to the way we have it today!

The first place the Tanya was printed was in Slavita, today — Chof Kislev, 5557. It had the first two parts of Tanya, Sefer Shel Beinonim and Shaar Hayichud Veha’emunah.

Igeres HaTeshuva, the third part of Tanya, was first printed two years later (5559), in Zolkvi, and then the final version was printed in Shklov seven years later (5566).

The fourth part of Tanya, Igeres Hakodesh (which includes Kuntres Acharon), was printed for the first time in Shklov, in 5574. (This was the year after the histalkus of the Alter Rebbe.)

These four parts of Tanya were corrected to the way we have them now, and printed in Vilna in 5660... and that version has been printed many, many times since then!

The Rebbe instructed that Tanyas should be printed in every place. Is there a Tanya that was printed where you live?



Shiur #135 - Mitzvas Asei #127, #128, Lo Saasei #152

Today we finish learning the set of halachos in Rambam about Maaser, and we’re starting the halachos of Maaser Sheini. So we will learn the same mitzvah again, and then learn some new mitzvos.

1) (Mitzvas Asei #127) It is a mitzvah to bring Maaser Rishon, 1/10th of the food which is grown, to give to the Leviim.

We also learn two mitzvos about Maaser Sheini:

2) (Mitzvas Asei #128) It is a mitzvah to take Maaser Sheini, another 1/10th of the food that grows. This food is brought to Yerushalayim and eaten there. (This mitzvah is kept only in the time of the Beis Hamikdash, and only in Eretz Yisroel.)

3) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #152) If someone couldn’t bring the food all the way to Eretz Yisroel, he can sell the food and use the money to buy different food in Yerushalayim and eat it there. This mitzvah is that the money can ONLY be used to buy food. We are not allowed to use the money to buy anything that is NOT food — even if it’s for a mitzvah.



Hilchos Maaser - Maaser Sheini VeNeta Reva'i

In today’s Rambam, we finish learning the set of halachos about Maaser, perakim Yud-Gimmel and Yud-Daled, and then start learning about Maaser Sheini.

Perek Alef: Maaser Sheini is only done in certain years. How do we calculate which year something was grown in? We count from the Rosh Hashana for plants (that’s the regular Rosh Hashana), and from Chamisha-Asar Bishvat if it’s a tree!

We also learn what happens if food from one year gets mixed with food from another year!



Hilchos Mechirah - Perek Chof-Zayin

In Perek Chof-Zayin, we learn about what is included when selling other things, like boats, carriages, or animals. The Rambam tells us at the end that in general we go by the minhag of the place where we live, to know what people usually mean when they sell something. But if there is no minhag, we follow what the Chachomim teach us in these perakim.



Yud-Tes Kislev

On Yud-Tes Kislev, the Alter Rebbe was released from prison. But he didn’t come back home until Chof Kislev, so both days are a Yom Tov!

There is an important lesson we can learn from what happened on Chof Kislev. But first, let’s review what happened on Yud-Tes Kislev in Ruchnius:

Why did the Alter Rebbe sit in jail?

The Alter Rebbe had Mesiras Nefesh to spread Yiddishkeit and to teach Chassidus. Since teaching Chassidus was something new, in Shomayim it wasn’t clear that it was the right thing for it to be revealed now in the world. Therefore also in Gashmius, which is a reflection of what happens in Ruchnius, there were Yidden who disagreed with spreading Chassidus.

Only after the Geulah of Yud-Tes Kislev was it decided in Shomayim, and later accepted in Gashmius too, that Chassidus MUST be learned to prepare the world for the coming of Moshiach!

After the Alter Rebbe left jail, he wrote a letter to the Chassidim, printed in Igeres Hakodesh, telling them how to act with those who were against Chassidus. He told the Chassidim to be humble and not say “Ha, we were right!” or to treat them not nicely in any way.

The Alter Rebbe himself showed an example of this to his Chassidim, which is what happened on Chof Kislev:

Right after the Alter Rebbe left jail, he asked to be brought to the house of one of his Chassidim nearby. In the same house also lived one of the Misnagdim. Mistakenly, the Alter Rebbe was brought to the apartment of the Misnaged instead of to the Chossid!

The Alter Rebbe sat there for three hours, while the Misnaged said many things about Chassidus to hurt the Alter Rebbe. When finally the Chassidim realized what had happened, they came to the Misnaged’s apartment to get the Alter Rebbe. The Chassidim were very upset at the Misnaged and wanted to punish him for bothering the Alter Rebbe! But the Alter Rebbe said that out of respect for his host, since he prepared tea for him, he first wanted to drink the glass of tea.

Obviously, if the kitrug was removed already, the Alter Rebbe didn’t need to go through any more imprisonment and pain. The only reason why it happened was to show an example to Chassidim of how to act after the Geulah. Even though they were very hurt and upset by those who caused the Alter Rebbe to be brought to jail, they should still treat them in a mentchliche, respectful way.

See Farbrengen Yud-Tes Kislev 5738, first sicha


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Seeing Hashem Clearly - Reuven

When we daven Shemoneh Esrei, we need to have proper bittul to Hashem. In the parts of davening before Shemoneh Esrei, we prepare to have this bittul. These parts of davening are hinted to in the names of the Shevatim — Reuven, Shimon, and Levi.

Reuven was called by that name because Hashem SAW (Re’u) what Leah wanted. So Reuven is the idea of seeing something.

In davening, there is a way for us to “see” Elokus. When we think about our lives, we can clearly “see” how Hashem runs the world! Every one of our lives is full of Hashgacha Protis, times when we can clearly see that Hashem was making things happen just the way they did.

When we see how Hashem is in charge, we will want to live the way He tells us to in the Torah.

This is what the first paragraph of Shema is about. First we say that there is no existence other than Hashem

(Shema), and then we say Ve’ahavta, that we are ready to act the way Hashem wants us to. This is the first part of preparing for the bittul in Shemoneh Esrei.

(Pesukei Dezimra and the brachos of Shema are a preparation to feel this way, so they also go together with Reuven.)

Maamar Yehuda Ata 5738, Likutei Sichos chelek Chof p. 347



Friends Eating Milchigs and Fleishigs

Let’s say you go on a trip. If one of your friends has a salami sandwich for lunch, and you have a cream cheese sandwich, you need to put something called a “Heker” on the table. The heker will remind you not to sneak a taste of your friend’s food!

One heker that Shulchan Aruch teaches us is for one person to eat on a tablecloth, and the other person not to. Another heker can be putting something between you that you usually don’t put on the table, like maybe your Chitas!

See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch siman Mem-Vov

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



It's All for the Good!

Parshas Vayeishev is a very busy parsha. Many things are happening — and not all of them look like good things.

The Medrash tells us that the Shevatim were busy selling Yosef, Yosef was busy crying about being taken away from his father’s house, Reuven was crying and doing teshuvah for things he did, and Yehuda was busy trying to get married.

But what was Hashem doing? Hashem was busy preparing the light of Moshiach — making sure that Peretz was born, since Moshiach comes from Peretz!

There is a posuk in Yirmiyahu (29:11) that tells us this:

כִּי אָנֹכִי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת הַמַּחֲשָׁבֹת אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי חֹשֵׁב עֲלֵיכֶם נְאֻם ה׳ מַחְשְׁבוֹת שָׁלוֹם וְלֹא לְרָעָה לָתֵת לָכֶם אַחֲרִית וְתִקְוָה

Hashem knows that the thoughts He has for the Yidden are for good. Even if it looks like not good things are happening, Hashem is planning to bring a wonderful ending!

See Medrash Bereishis Rabah 85:1

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