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Parshas Vayigash - Rishon with Rashi

We are learning about how Yaakov and his family ended up coming down to Mitzrayim. We learned about the second time the Shevatim came to get food, and how Yosef wanted to keep Benyamin. In today’s Chumash, Yehuda is arguing with Yosef not to keep Benyamin.

Yehudah came to Yosef and said: “Please let me say something to you that might make you change your mind! Please don’t be angry, even though I’m going to say harsh words.

“Do you know that my great-grandmother, Sarah, was captured by a Paraoh before? He got makos just from that! Do you think Hashem won’t punish you for keeping Benyamin?”

Yehudah then reminded Yosef of how Benyamin came down to Mitzrayim: Yosef had told them that they NEED to bring Benyamin down to Mitzrayim.

Yehudah continued, “It looks like you were never telling us the truth! You said that you just wanted to see Benyamin, and now I see you want to keep him!”

Yehudah described how Yaakov had been afraid to let Benyamin go. Yaakov had warned the Shevatim of the terrible pain it would cause him if anything happens to Benyamin!



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Today’s kapitelach of Tehillim are Alef through Tes.

Today, we are starting Sefer Tehillim again from the very beginning! IY”H we will finish the whole thing before Rosh Chodesh Shevat!

Kapitel Alef talks about how a person should behave in order to have hatzlacha from Hashem. By making sure that we are involved in Torah and not narishkeit, we get lots of brachos!

In this kapitel, we say a very interesting posuk: “Ki Im BeSoras Hashem Cheftzo, UveSoraso Yehege Yomam VaLayla.” “HASHEM’S Torah is all he wants, and he is busy with HIS Torah all day and night.”

How come it first says HASHEM’S Torah, and then it says HIS Torah (that it belongs to the person learning it)?

We are learning now in Tanya that when a person is learning a part of Torah for the first time, it feels like it’s something that’s not part of him. But when he learns it again and again, he starts to understand it better. When he finally “gets it,” the Torah becomes part of him, like food that you eat, which becomes a part of you and gives you chayus.

So at first it feels like we’re learning Hashem’s Torah, but once we understand it, it feels like OUR Torah!



Likutei Amarim Perek Hey

We learned in yesterday’s Tanya that when a Yid learns Torah, he becomes one with Hashem in a way of Yichud Nifla, an incredible connection!

The Alter Rebbe tells us that to have the Yichud Nifla, we need to learn Torah in a certain way: We need to understand it so well that it becomes the way we think! Then, the Torah becomes completely one with us.

A mashal for this is the way food works: When we eat something, our body takes the koach from the food and sends it throughout our body. That koach from the food becomes a part of us!

The Torah also becomes part of us when we understand Torah this way, in a way that it can never be separated!

Not only is Torah with us in Olam Hazeh, it comes with us in Olam Haba also! The Torah that we learn here becomes the “food” for the neshama in Gan Eden.

Since learning Torah is also a mitzvah, it gets the maalah of Torah AND the maalah of mitzvos! That’s why we say, at the end of Eilu Devarim, “Vesalmud Torah Keneged Kulam.” “Learning Torah is equal to all of the mitzvos!” That’s because when someone learns Torah, he gets the special closeness to Hashem of learning Torah AND doing mitzvos!



Alef Teves

In today’s Hayom Yom, the Rebbe tells us a few hanhagos we do when it comes to Hallel.

1) When you daven in Shul, on a day when we don’t say the whole Hallel, only the chazan says the bracha when we say “half Hallel.” It is our minhag that if you daven without a minyan, you DO say the brachos at the beginning and the end of Hallel, even on days when we don’t say the whole Hallel (like Rosh Chodesh, which is today — except that today we say the WHOLE Hallel because it’s also Chanukah)!

(In a farbrengen, the Rebbe told us that the minhag of chassidim is that we make a bracha, quietly, even when we say half Hallel WITH a minyan! See Sichos Kodesh 5741, vol. 4, p. 322)

2) We also don’t say the word “Al” in the last paragraph that starts Yehalelucha. (If you look in your siddur, you’ll see it’s in parentheses.)

3) We don’t wear Tefillin during Musaf. So we put them all on and take them off before Davening Musaf. In a different HaYom Yom, the Rebbe tells us that there are certain things we are supposed to learn while wearing Tefillin. Even though we take off the Tefillin on Rosh Chodesh before Musaf, we still learn those things AFTER davening, even without wearing the Tefillin.

(The reason why we don’t wear Tefillin during Musaf is because we don’t want to make the malochim feel bad. In Musaf, we say “Keser Yitnu Lecha Malochim,” that the malochim give Hashem a crown. If we’re wearing OUR crown of Tefillin when we say this, the malochim might feel bad.)



Shiur #146 - Mitzvas Asei #138, Lo Saasei #227, Asei #139

Today we learn 3 mitzvos, all about Yovel!

1) (Mitzvas Asei #138) All land that we buy in Eretz Yisroel needs to go back to the person it belonged to first during Yovel. Who is the person it belonged to “first”? The person who got it when the Yidden came into Eretz Yisroel! This way all of the land stays in the same Shevet always.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Behar: וּבְכֹל אֶרֶץ אֲחֻזַּתְכֶם גְּאֻלָּה תִּתְּנוּ לָאָרֶץ

The details are explained in Mesechta Erchin.

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #227) When we sell land in Eretz Yisroel, we aren’t allowed to sell it forever. We are only allowed to sell it until Yovel, and then we get it back.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Behar: וְהָאָרֶץ לֹא תִמָּכֵר לִצְמִתֻת

The details are explained in the end of Mesechta Erchin.

3) (Mitzvas Asei #139) A house in a city in Eretz Yisroel that had a wall around it when the Yidden first came into Eretz Yisroel is different than other land. These houses CAN be sold forever. They can only be bought back for one year, and they don’t go back to the original owner in Yovel.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Behar: וְאִישׁ כִּי יִמְכֹּר בֵּית מוֹשַׁב עִיר חוֹמָה וְגוֹ׳

The details are explained in Mesechta Erchin.



Hilchos Shemitah VeYovel

In today's Rambam, we learn more about Shemitah, and start learning about Yovel!

Perek Tes: In the Shemitah year, anyone who lends money needs to forgive the loan. That’s called Shemitas Kesafim. We learn that there is a way for a Beis Din to take over the loan, called Pruzbul, so that the loan will be paid back even after Shemitah.

Perek Yud: We learn about Yovel — when it is, and what are the mitzvos that we do during that year! The Rambam gives an exact calculation of when the years of Yovel were, and when the Yidden stopped counting them.

Perek Yud-Alef: In this perek, we learn about fields in Eretz Yisroel: Even when we sell them, they go back to the person who sold them during Yovel. This is called Sedei Achuzah. These are the dinim of the first two mitzvos in today’s Sefer Hamitzvos.



Hilchos Zechiya U'Matana - Perek Ches

Perek Ches teaches us that with a Shechiv MeRa, someone very sick, there are some special rules, to make it easier for a person to give presents to his family before he passes away. The halacha is that these presents are only given if he does pass away — if he gets better, he can change his mind or give them in the regular way.



Zos Chanukah

Tonight and tomorrow is Zos Chanukah!

There is a sefer called the Shaloh written by Yeshaya Halevi Horowitz. He writes that if a person isn’t able to learn for whatever reason, there is a shortcut he can use! He can say the names of the Chumashim, Parshiyos, and Mesechtas, then it will be considered as if he is learning them!

There are many maamorim from the Rebbeim about Chanukah and even special maamorim for the last day of Chanukah, called Zos Chanukah. Even if we don’t have enough time to learn the maamorim themselves, we can at least know about them and say the names of the maamorim, and that is also something good!

There is a maamar from the Alter Rebbe that speaks about how special the last day of Chanukah is. It starts with the words “Havaya Li BeOzrai VaAni Ereh BeSonai,” “Hashem helps me and I will see that my enemies will go away.” The Tzemach Tzedek also talks about the last day of Chanukah in a maamar that starts with the words “Boruch She’Asa Nissim.”

There is also a maamar from the Rebbe on Zos Chanukah, 5738 (which was a Seudas Hoda’ah for the neis of Rosh Chodesh Kislev) which starts with the words, “Mitzvasa MiSheTishkeh HaChama.”


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Halelu Es Hashem

In Hallel, we say “Halelu Es Hashem Kol Goyim,” that the nations of the world will praise Hashem, “Ki Gavar Aleinu Chasdo,” because Hashem showed us His chesed in a strong way. This means that when Hashem shows us His chesed in its full power, the goyim will praise Hashem!

This will happen when Moshiach comes, when all of the nations of the world will join together to serve only Hashem.

But we can even get a taste of it now! By every Yid doing their avodah, especially the avodah of Chanukah, which spreads the lights to the whole world, the goyim will also start to praise Hashem. They will start to recognize that there is only one Aibershter, and want to live the way Hashem tells them to!

See Maamar Zos Chanukah 5738



Rosh Chodesh

Today is Rosh Chodesh!

There is an old minhag that on every Rosh Chodesh, we learn one posuk with Rashi (and other explanations) from your kapitel Tehillim. If your kapitel has less than 12 pesukim (or less than 13 in a leap year), you can learn the same pesukim over again. If your kapitel is long, learn a few pesukim every Rosh Chodesh.

Here is the order of davening on Rosh Chodesh during Chanukah:

1) In Shemoneh Esrei, don’t forget Yaaleh Veyavo and Ve’al Hanisim.

2) Right after Shemoneh Esrei, say WHOLE Hallel, with V’Avraham Zakein.

3) Go back and say Shir Shel Yom, Hoshieinu, and Borchi Nafshi.

4) When davening with a minyan, we take out TWO Sifrei Torah and lein for Rosh Chodesh, and then for Chanukah.

5) Say Ashrei and U’va LeTzion.

6) Daven Musaf for Rosh Chodesh, and don’t forget Ve’al Hanisim!

7) Go back and say Kavei, Ein Keilokeinu, Aleinu, etc.

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



An Exciting Avodah

In Golus, the world can look very messy. There are many times when it is hard to do mitzvos, there are lots of taavos all around us, and many sad or uncomfortable things.

It isn’t always easy to ignore those challenges and do what we are supposed to anyway.

Chassidus teaches us that all of these problems come from the Kelipah and Sitra Achara that Hashem put into the world. And hiding inside of that Kelipah and Sitra Achara are sparks of kedusha!

Our job is to find and fix up those sparks of kedusha, so that the world can become a comfortable place for Hashem, a Dira Betachtonim. We do this by making sure that our Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasadim are strong, and by helping Yidden who got stuck in kelipah and taavos, or grew up that way, to come closer to Yiddishkeit. By doing this, we are making the world ready for Moshiach!

When we realize that the hardships were PUT THERE just for us to overcome them, it won’t be HARD to do our avodah, it will be EXCITING! We will know that every time we see something hard in the world, it is because Hashem wants us to find the kedusha inside of that kelipah! We will be so excited to do our part in bringing the Geulah!

See Maamar Zos Chanukah 5738

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