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Parshas Vayeira - Revi'i with Rashi

A lot of things happen in today’s Chumash! First we learn how Sedom is destroyed and what happens to Lot after he is saved. Avraham needs to move again, and again Sarah is captured. At the end of today’s Chumash, Sarah and Avraham finally have a baby, Yitzchak, the second of our Avos!

Lot was running away from Sedom, which was going to be destroyed! The malach agreed that Lot could run to Bela, the fifth, smaller city. Since it was a newer city, only 50 years old, not as many aveiros had been done there. The malach said Hashem wouldn’t destroy the city as a favor to Lot. “But hurry!”

Lot ran to Bela, which would be called Tzo’ar, small, from now on. It got this new name because it was saved because it had a smaller amount of aveiros. Lot arrived in Tzo’ar in the morning.

Hashem made rain pour down on Sedom and Amorah. At first it was regular rain, in case the people living there would still do teshuvah. When they didn’t, Hashem poured down fiery rain. Then Hashem picked up the whole ground and turned the cities upside down!

Lot’s wife wanted to see what was happening, and she looked back. She was punished for looking when she was told not to, by becoming a pillar of salt. This specific punishment was Midah Keneged Mida — the TYPE of punishment matched her aveira — because she didn’t want to give salt to her guests.


The Torah tells us what Avraham was doing at this time:

Avraham woke up in the morning to daven Shacharis. (Avraham Avinu was the one who started the idea of davening Shacharis, and we still daven his tefillah until today!) When he woke up, he saw smoke coming from the place where Sedom and Amorah used to be.


Now we go back to Lot:

Even though Lot had permission to live in Tzo’ar, he was afraid because it was so close to Sodom. So he ran away to a cave. Hashem made that there was wine in the cave. Lot’s daughters were afraid that not just Sedom was destroyed, but the whole world was destroyed, like at the time of the Mabul! They realized that if they didn’t have children, then the world would be left without any people. So they decided to fool their father into getting married to them so they could have children. They got him drunk, and when he was drunk they acted as if they were married to him.

They both had babies, Moav and Ben-Ami. (The nation of Ammon came from Ben-Ami.)


After the cities were destroyed, there weren’t a lot of guests coming to Chevron anymore. Avraham decided to move closer to people, and he traveled until he was near the city of Gerar.

Just like in Mitzrayim, the people of Gerar asked about Sarah. Avraham said (like last time) that she was his sister. The king of Gerar, Avimelech, sent messengers to bring Sarah to him. But when he came close to Sarah, a malach wouldn’t let him touch her, and made Avimelech very sick.

Hashem came to Avimelech in a dream and told him that he would die because he tried to take Sarah. Avimelech said “It’s not my fault! I thought she was Avraham’s sister!” Hashem told him to give Sarah back, and Avraham would daven for him.

So Avimelech gave Sarah back, but was very upset at Avraham for saying that she was his sister, instead of telling the truth that she was his wife. Avraham explained that by asking if Sarah is his wife or his sister he right away knew that they have no Yiras Shomayim. That kind of question SHOWS that the people here would not act properly, and would have taken Sarah anyhow! The only difference would be that they would get rid of a husband, and not a brother. So to save his own life, he had to say Sarah was his sister.

Avimelech realized that Avraham was right, and gave him a lot of presents because he was sorry. Avraham davened for Avimelech, and he was cured of his sickness.

But before listening to Avraham’s tefilos and making AVIMELECH feel better, Hashem had already remembered what AVRAHAM needed for himself — a baby! So Hashem made Sarah become pregnant. (From here we learn that if we daven for another person, Hashem will answer us first!)

On Pesach, the next year, Sarah had a baby boy! Hashem made Yitzchak look EXACTLY like Avraham, so that everybody would know that Avraham was really his father.

Avraham named him Yitzchak, and gave him a bris when he was 8 days old, as Hashem told him to.



72 - 76

Today’s shiur Tehillim is kapitelach Ayin-Beis to Ayin-Vov.

When we say Kapitel Ayin-Daled, one of the things we think about is how much we want the Geulah. It speaks to us about how the Mishkan and Beis Hamikdash were destroyed, and we don’t see nisim from Hashem anymore. We need the Geulah so much, and we cry out to Hashem “Ad Mosai!”

One of the pesukim in the Kapitel is “Ad Mosai Elokim Yechoref Tzar” — “Hashem, Ad Mosai? How long will You let the goyim say chutzpa’dike things?”

Still, even in Golus, there are times when Hashem shines in the world and we can see real nissim!

These nisim remind us that Hashem is WITH US in Golus and that the Geulah is coming very soon!



Igeres Hakodesh Siman Chof-Zayin

After R’ Menachem Mendel of Horadok passed away, the Alter Rebbe wrote a letter to the Chassidim, to comfort them. In this letter, he reminded them what the Zohar says, that a tzadik is alive even more after his histalkus.

At the end of this letter, the Alter Rebbe also wrote a biur, an explanation on what he wrote in the letter.

The Zohar says that a tzadik who passes away is present in all of the worlds even more than in his lifetime.

How does it make sense that a tzadik is there even more in ALL of the worlds?

It’s easy to understand that a tzadik is there more in the RUCHNIUS worlds, but how can we say that a tzadik is there even more in this Gashmius world? Once the tzadik’s neshama isn’t in a Gashmius body anymore, it seems that he is here less!

To start to understand, the Alter Rebbe first explains to us what a tzadik’s life really is.

While a tzadik is alive in this world, we can see him in a Gashmius body. But that is NOT what a tzadik’s life is all about!

For us, the Guf may take up a big part of our life. If something doesn’t taste good, it bothers us. But for a tzadik, his body is just clothes that let the neshama show itself!

The tzadik’s REAL life is his neshama.

And what is a tzadik’s neshama? It is full of Emunah, Yiras Shomayim, and love for Hashem.

THAT is the life of a tzadik!

When we understand this, we will be able to see how these kochos stay in the world even after the histalkus! In fact, not only are they still here, but we can connect to the tzadik even MORE than before!



Yud-Daled Mar-Cheshvan

In today’s Hayom Yom, we learn that by being involved in “Ruchnius’dike parnasa” by strengthening Yiddishkeit, we get brachos from Hashem in a way that is higher than teva! The Rebbe will explain two pesukim, one from this week’s parsha and one from Tehillim, that will show this to us.

We learn in this week’s parsha, Parshas Vayeira, that Hashem spoke to Avraham before He destroyed Sedom and Amora. The Torah also tells us why Hashem told him — one reason is because Hashem loves Avraham.

Why does Hashem love Avraham? The posuk also tells us why! “Ki Yedaativ Lemaan Asher Yetzaveh Es Banav Ve’es Beiso Acharav, Veshamru Derech Hashem…” “Hashem loves him because he is going to teach his children and his family after him that they should follow the Derech Hashem (way of Hashem) … which will bring brachos to Avraham and his family.”

What is the “way of Hashem” that Avraham is teaching his family? The Rebbe tells us today that really there are two different ways to live in the world.

1) Derech Elokim — This is the way of nature. Elokim is the name of Hashem which hides Him in the world and makes it seem like the world runs by itself according to the rules of nature.

Living according to the Derech Elokim is living the way goyim live in the world.

2) Derech Havaya (Derech Hashem) — This is the way a Yid behaves in the world. We follow the laws of Torah and mitzvos, which don’t have to make sense in the rules of nature. (Havaya is the name of Hashem which is above nature.)

When we keep the Derech Hashem, doing mitzvos which don’t have to follow nature, then Hashem gives us brachos that are much more than would make sense in nature, too!

This helps us understand the meaning of a posuk in Tehillim: “MeHashem Mitzadei Gever Konanu Vedarko Yechpatz” — “Hashem sets up the steps of a person, because He wants His derech.” This means that Hashem puts every person in the place that they are, for a reason — because He wants us to follow the Derech Hashem! He wants us to keep the Torah and mitzvos, which will make the world a Dira Betachtonim, a comfortable place for Hashem.

So wherever we end up, we need to look for ways to follow the Derech Hashem. We need to work hard to find opportunities to strengthen Torah and mitzvos, just like we work hard to find ways to make money to live.

That is why Hashem loved Avraham, because he taught us, his children, to follow the Derech Hashem! This brings down brachos that are even higher than nature!



Shiur #129 - Mitzvas Lo Saasei #135, #136

Today we learn two more mitzvos — that two more kinds of people are not allowed to eat from the holy Terumah:

1) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #135) A man who didn’t have a bris is not allowed to eat Terumah. (Even though it doesn’t say this mitzvah clearly in the Torah, we understand it because the Torah uses the same kinds of words when it talks about the Korban Pesach, where it DOES say clearly that a person without a bris can’t eat it.)

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #136) A kohen who is tamei (like if he has Tzoraas) is not allowed to eat Terumah.



Hilchos Terumos

Perek Yud: What happens if a person ate Terumah by mistake when he wasn’t allowed to? Usually the halacha is that he has to pay back for what he ate, PLUS an extra fifth. We also learn about the halachos of what happens if someone stole Terumah.

Perek Yud-Alef: Terumah is holy, so we can’t just do whatever we want with it. We need to eat it or use it in a kavodike way. For example, we shouldn’t make a food into a drink.

Perek Yud-Beis: We are careful not to make the Terumah tamei. If it did become tomei, it has to be burned. If we’re not sure if it’s tomei or not, we have a problem! We can’t eat it in case it is tomei, but we can’t burn it because it wouldn’t be kavodik, in case it really isn’t tomei. So what do we do? We leave it alone until it becomes FOR SURE tomei, and then we burn it.

We also learn how the kohanim get their presents. They should go to the place where the produce is stored to get the terumah, but they don’t help pick it or gather it. Terumah should be given with kavod.



Hilchos Isurei Mizbeiach - Perek Alef

In Hilchos Isurei Mizbeiach, we learn that animals that have a mum can’t be used as a korban. The Rambam teaches us what to do if someone promised an animal with a mum as a Korban. We learn that even an animal that a Goy donates can’t have a mum! (We know this from the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza!)




In today’s Hayom Yom, we learned about the Derech Hashem which Avraham taught to his children, to do tzedakah and Mishpat. We will learn a story from the Rebbe Maharash about the mitzvah of tzedakah:

A mean officer in Russia once decided to put a new, very high tax on the Jewish farmers. The tax was so high, that it looked like any farmer who wasn’t rich would have to find a new place to live, or even go to jail for not paying!

The Rebbe Maharash wanted to help all of these Yidden. He went to collect money from the rich Jews of Odessa and Kishinev, to help the Yidden pay the tax.

In Odessa, the Yidden gave generously to help. But in Kishinev, the Yidden didn’t want to give as much. The Rebbe Maharash was not able to collect as much from them.

The Rebbe Maharash said a sicha to these Yidden, to encourage them to give more:

Hashem made the world in a way that there is a Mashpia (a giver) and a Mekabel (a taker). For example, the sky is a Mashpia, because it gives rain. The earth is a Mekabel, because it takes this rain and soaks it up for the plants and trees. People also use this system. There are rich people who are Mashpia, and poor people who are Mekabel from them. The rich need to give, and the poor need to take. And this is good for them both! In fact, the Chachomim say that more than the poor person gets from the rich person, the rich person gets from the poor person. Hashem gives him so much bracha, worth much more than the money he gave for tzedakah!

It is Hashem Who decides who will be the rich ones, and who will be the poor ones. But the poor person has a complaint! He asks, “Why do I have to suffer so that the rich person can be a Mashpia? Why do his brachos need to come through giving me, when that means I have to be poor all the time? Hashem could give him brachos in a different way!”

This sicha made the rich people of Kishinev change their minds and give much more for tzedakah! With this money, the Rebbe Maharash was able to save the jobs of all of the farmers!

Yidden in other cities also heard about this sicha. It made a lot of rich Jews realize what a bracha they have to be the Mashpia. To thank Hashem for what they had, they started giving much more to all of their fellow Jews, with love and friendship.

See the complete story and letter of the Frierdiker Rebbe in Igros Kodesh chelek Vov, p. 254

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Az Yashir

After Vayevarech Dovid, we say the praise of Hashem from the Torah. This praise is the Shirah, the song that the Yidden sang at Kriyas Yam Suf.

We start with the pesukim of Vayosha, the pesukim that come before Az Yashir in the Torah. These pesukim tell us a little bit about the nissim that happened before the Yidden sang to Hashem.

One of the reasons we say Az Yashir here is to praise Hashem from all parts of Torah. First we praise Hashem from Nach (the parts of Pesukei Dezimra that come from Tehillim, and Vayevarech Dovid, from Divrei HaYamim and Sefer Nechemyah). Then, we praise Hashem in the words of the Torah itself! Even though Chumash should really come before Nach, the Zohar explains that we say Az Yashir later so it is closer to Shema, which is a higher level of davening.

There are also many other reasons for why we say Az Yashir here. One of them is that it has some of the words of praise we will say to Hashem in Yishtabach.

See Mesechta Shel Tefillah




In today’s Chumash, we learned that when Avraham Avinu davened for someone else, he was answered first! Here is a halacha that also shows this:

The halacha we will learn today is about what to say when someone sneezes, but it also teaches us how special it is to bentch another Yid!

When we hear someone else sneeze, we should say “Asusa” (which means “Tzu Gezunt,” or “Labriyut”). This is a bracha that the person should be healthy.

The person who sneezed answers, “Boruch Tihiyeh,” you should be bentched.

He then says, “Lishuas’cha Kivisi Hashem,” I hope for Your yeshuah, Hashem. Since he just davened to Hashem by bentching his friend with Boruch Tihiyeh, he asks Hashem that he should be answered first. Like the Chachomim teach us, when someone davens for another person, he is answered first.

See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 61:5

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



Who Dovid Hamelech Will Dance With

R’ Aizik Homiler once said:

“When Moshiach comes, the Avos will have Techiyas Hameisim, and the holy Shevatim, Moshe and Aharon, all of the Neviim, all of the Tannaim and Amoraim, and the Gaonim and the Tzadikim of all generations…

“All of them will give special attention to the poshute Yidden, the ones who serve Hashem in a temimus’dike way. Moshe Rabbeinu’s first dance will be with these Yidden, because the whole Torah stands on THEM…

“And Dovid Hamelech will dance with the poshute Tehillim-zogers, the poshute Yidden who say Tehillim with their whole heart.”

Migolah L’Geulah p. 197

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