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Parshas Vayishlach - Chamishi with Rashi

Dina, Leah’s daughter, liked to go help people learn about how to serve Hashem in the right way. She went to try to help the girls of Shechem learn the right things to do.

But Shechem, the son of Chamor, saw Dina when she was there. He decided to take her and make her live with him like they were married, even though they weren’t! He didn’t ask if she wanted to, and even hurt her.

What Shechem did was a big aveira, and even the goyim knew not to act that way!

But even though everyone in Shechem knew what happened, they didn’t do anything to stop it. The people of the city had never even made a law about how to punish people who did things like that! Having laws and rules is part of the Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach, which all of the goyim needed to keep, but the city of Shechem did not do it.

Yaakov heard what happened, but he didn’t do anything right away. He waited for the Shevatim to come back from watching the animals in the field. In the meantime, Chamor came to talk to Yaakov about Dina marrying his son Shechem. Chamor told Yaakov that it would be a good idea for people from Shechem and people from Yaakov’s family to marry each other.

When the Shevatim heard what Shechem did, they were very upset! They were not ready to let something like this happen without doing anything about it. They thought of a plan of what to do to the city of Shechem because of what happened.

They told Chamor that everyone in the city should have a bris milah if they want to marry people from Yaakov’s family.

Then, when everyone in the city was resting from the bris milah, Shimon and Levi took swords and went into the city.

They didn’t ask their father, but went with the koach of their father because they felt this was the right thing to do. Because of the zechus of being Yaakov’s sons, they were able to destroy the city of resha’im and bring Dina home safely.

Yaakov was not happy with what they did. “Now everyone will think we are going to kill them, and they will want to fight with us!”

But Shimon and Levi said, “We had no choice! We cannot let such a thing be done to our sister.”

Hashem told Yaakov, “What happened to Dina was because you didn’t bring the korbanos you promised yet. So go to Beis Keil, and make a Mizbeiach.”

Yaakov told his family and all of the people with them to get rid of all of the idols that they took when killing the people in Shechem, and to take off any clothes that have pictures of idols on them. “Then we will go to Beis Keil and make a mizbeiach for Hashem Who always takes care of me.”

They gave Yaakov all of the idols, and he buried them near the city.

Instead of wanting to fight Yaakov, the other people were afraid of him, and nobody tried to fight them when they went. When they got to Luz, which is Beis Keil, Yaakov made a mizbeiach, and called that place Keil Beis Keil, since that’s where Yaakov saw Hashem when he was running away from Esav.

Devorah, Rivkah’s nurse, passed away and was buried in Beis Keil. She had come to tell Yaakov to come home, and then came with them back to Eretz Yisroel. While he was burying Devorah, someone came and told him that his mother Rivkah passed away. Yaakov called that place Alon Bachus, meaning a plain of crying, since he cried there that his mother passed away. (It doesn’t say Rivkah’s name here in the Torah so nobody should say not nice things about her because she was Esav’s mother.)

Hashem appeared to Yaakov again here, and gave him a bracha to comfort him after Rivkah passed away. Hashem gave Yaakov another name, Yisrael, just like the malach had said. Hashem promised Yaakov that his family would grow to be many people, and that they would have Eretz Yisrael. Hashem also gave him a special bracha that through Yosef would come two Shevatim (Menasheh and Efrayim), and through Benyamin, who would be born soon, would come kings (Shaul and Ish-Boshes).



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Today’s kapitelach are Pey-Gimmel through Pey-Zayin.

Kapitel Pey-Hey is a kapitel said by the sons of Korach (and later put into the Tehillim by Dovid Hamelech) as a nevuah and tefillah for the long Golus that the Yidden would go through. In it, we ask Hashem that just like He took us out of Golus in the past, He should take us out of Golus again and bring us Moshiach!

In posuk Yud-Alef it says “Chesed Ve’emes Nifgashu, Tzedek Veshalom Nashaku.” “Chesed and Emes met, Tzedek and Shalom kissed.” Do you think that this is talking about a person called Chesed who met his friend Emes at the store, and a man named Tzedek who kissed his old friend Shalom?

The Medrash says that we ARE talking about people (but not with those names!). Chesed is Aharon, and Emes is Moshe.

Why is Aharon called Chesed and Moshe called Emes? Because Moshe Rabbeinu brought the Torah to the Yidden, which is Emes! And Aharon was Chesed, because he loved every Jew and brought them closer to Torah.

What happens when they meet?

It isn’t always so easy for a person to accept the truth of Torah. Like if you tell a Jewish kid that you met at the park that his chocolate bar isn’t kosher, and that it’s not good for his neshama to eat it, that’s emes! But that kid probably won’t want to listen to you so fast — he likes his chocolate bar!

But with chesed, you can show him that you have a kosher candy bar that is just as yummy. You can be his friend and show him that keeping kosher is really worth it.

That’s how chesed and emes meet — using chesed, we can help people understand the emes! That’s why Hashem asked Moshe AND Aharon to take the Yidden out of Golus. First they needed Aharon to help them be ready to learn Torah, and then Moshe Rabbeinu could give them the whole emes.



Kuntres Acharon Siman Ches

The Alter Rebbe heard that people who were rushing to get to work were being chazan, and weren’t letting people who wanted to daven slowly to be the chazan.

The Alter Rebbe was upset to hear this, and told the people that if they need to go to work, they can daven themselves and go to work on time, and the chazan will have them in mind. But since davening is so important, especially now right before Moshiach comes, the chazan needs to be someone who davens slowly so the people in the minyan can have time to have kavana during the whole davening.

Why is davening longer so much more important now? Because when we pick up little bits of Kedusha in the world, we need to bring them back to Hashem — that’s called “birurim.” We do that by davening. In the olden days, people had higher neshamos that were able to bring back the birurim very quickly, with just Shema! Nowadays, we need to work harder on our birurim, so we need longer to daven.



Yud-Zayin Kislev

Right now we’re a few days before Yud-Tes Kislev. During these days, the Rebbe tells us things about Chassidus Chabad that we need to know. Yesterday we learned how Chassidus teaches us about using Moach Shalit Al Halev. Today we learn how Chassidus helps every Yid to serve Hashem with his mind and heart.

1) Chassidus helps us to understand Elokus in our minds.

2) Chassidus helps our feelings match up to what we learned and understood in our minds.

Chassidus shows how every Yid can do this — everyone on their own level!

In today’s Tanya, we see how much it bothers the Alter Rebbe that the time of davening is not being treated properly, since this is the time that we can think about Chassidus and serve Hashem with our mind and heart.



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, because they are not given a section in Eretz Yisroel the way the other Shevatim have. These cities also become Arei Miklat.

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! There we will bring korbanos, have the fire constantly burning on the Mizbeiach, and gather together and celebrate every Yom Tov.

This mitzvah has many details, which include the furniture and keilim of the Beis Hamikdash, like the Menorah, Shulchan, and Mizbeiach.

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.



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!



Hilchos Shevisas Asor - Perek Alef

In today’s Rambam, start to learn the halachos of “Shevisas Asor” — resting on the tenth day of Tishrei, which is Yom Kippur!

We learn that we need to rest from doing melacha on Yom Kippur, and that we should add extra time, starting a little bit before the actual day, and ending the fast a little bit after the day is already over.



Learning Chitas Every Day

In today’s Chumash, after the story of Shechem, Yaakov and his family traveled to Beis Keil. The Torah says that Yaakov was worried that they would be in danger because of what Shimon and Levi did in Shechem. But, the Torah says, “Vayisa’u, Vayehi Chitas Elokim Al He’arim,” that they traveled, and the fear (Chitas) of Hashem was on the cities, and nobody attacked them.

We learned before in Hayom Yom that the Tzemach Tzedek had to be part of the meeting of Rabbonim in Petersburg, where they were trying to force the Rabbonim to agree to changes in Chinuch of Jewish children, and to stop teaching Chassidus.

Before he went to Petersburg, the Tzemach Tzedek went to the kever of his mother, Rebbetzin Devorah Leah. She told him that because of her Mesiras Nefesh for Chassidim and Chassidus, she was able to go up to the Heichal of the Baal Shem Tov, and she asked the Baal Shem Tov to daven for him. She also asked for a segulah to help him!

The Baal Shem Tov said, “Your son knows the five books of the Torah, Tehillim, and Tanya by heart, word for word. It says in the posuk, “Vayehi Chitas Elokim,” the fear of Hashem will be on them. The word ChiTaS is the first letters of Chumash, Tehillim, and Tanya! Someone that knows them word for word will be able to stop all of the not-good things.”

We see from here, and as the Rebbe writes many times in Igros Kodesh, that Chitas is a segulah for many things!

One time at a farbrengen, the Rebbe said that there are people who give excuses so they can be free from saying Chitas. They say that it’s too hard or they don’t have enough time.

They should know that they also are also making themselves free from getting the brachos from Hashem that come from learning and saying Chitas!

Make sure not to miss out on any of these special brachos — learn Chitas every day!


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Yud-Beis Pesukim - Veshinantam

The eighth posuk of the Yud-Beis Pesukim is Veshinantam.

This posuk tells us that parents and teachers have a responsibility to teach Torah all the time and everywhere!

Veshinantam Levanecha — You should teach the Torah to your children and your students

Vedibarta Bam — And discuss the words of Torah

Beshivtecha Beveisecha — When you are sitting in your house

Uvelechtecha Vaderech — And when you are traveling

Uveshachbecha Uvekumecha — And when you go to sleep, and when you wake up!

We might look at this posuk and think that we will do what the posuk says when we get older. We aren’t parents or teachers yet! We can ask our parents to do it, but we can’t do it ourselves.

But the Rebbe says that Veshinantam Levanecha IS for kids too!

When we share the words of Torah we know with another child who doesn’t know it, we are also teachers!

To be good teachers, we need to make sure to learn in a way of Veshinantam! The word Veshinantam comes from a word that means sharp and clear. We should make sure that the Torah we know is very clear in our minds, and that we are behaving according to what we know!

Der Rebbe Redt Tzu Kinder vol. 5, p.294




In shul, after Yishtabach, it is time to start preparing for the brachos before Shema. The Chazan says half Kaddish, and then he announces, “Borchu Es Hashem Hamevorach!” “Let us bless Hashem Who is blessed!”

Everyone in shul answers, “Baruch Hashem Hamevorach L’olam Va’ed!” “Blessed is Hashem Who is blessed forever!”

The Chazan repeats it, and then they say the bracha Yotzer Ohr.

Why does the Chazan repeat it?

When the Chazan says Borchu, he is telling the people in the shul what to do — that they should bless Hashem. They follow his instruction, and say “Baruch Hashem Hamevorach,” that Hashem should be blessed.

The Chazan shouldn’t leave himself out! He should also do what he told them to do. That is why he repeats, “Baruch Hashem Hamevorach.”

Even though the Chazan already did bless Hashem by saying Borchu Es Hashem Hamevorach, he still has to say Baruch Hashem Hamevorach like everyone else! The Chazan needs to do what he is telling everyone else to do, by blessing Hashem with the same words.

See Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman Nun-Zayin se’if Gimmel

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



Living in a Moshiach'dike Way

In the Torah Ohr this week, Parshas Vayishlach, the Alter Rebbe explains that when Yaakov sent malochim to tell Eisav that he was coming, he told him that “Im Lavan Garti” — “I lived with Lavan, and there, I kept all of the mitzvos and did everything I needed to do to get ready for the Geulah.”

All of the messages he sent to Eisav were telling him that Yaakov did his part, and now he wants to use Eisav’s kochos, so they will be ready for the Geulah too.

When the Malochim came back with the message that Eisav was coming with 400 men and wants to hurt him, he realized that Eisav wasn’t ready for Moshiach yet. That’s why Yaakov told him that he will have to wait for Moshiach until he is ready.

A lesson the Rebbe tells us we can learn from this is that even if we feel like the world around us is not ready for the Geulah, it shouldn’t stop us from living ourselves that way!

Parshas Vayishlach always comes close to Yud-Tes Kislev, because Chassidus is what helps us to live in a way of Geulah ourselves, which will also bring Geulah for the whole world!

See Likutei Sichos chelek Alef, Parshas Vayishlach

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