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Sheini with Rashi

In today’s Chumash, Yosef interprets Paraoh’s dreams.

Paraoh said to Yosef: “I had a dream, and nobody can tell me what it means! I hear that YOU understand dreams and can tell me what it means.”

Yosef answered, “No, don’t think that I am so smart! It isn’t from me! But Hashem will for sure give me an answer so I can help Paraoh.”

So Paraoh told Yosef his dreams: “I dreamed I was by the Nilus, and I saw seven healthy cows come out of the river and eat grass. Then seven very skinny cows came out of the river — I never saw such bad ones in my life! They stood next to the healthy cows, and swallowed them whole! But they didn’t get any fatter!

“After that, I dreamed that I saw seven full, healthy ears of grain growing on a stalk. Then seven ears of dried-up grain grew, and swallowed up the healthy grain!

“I told my dream-explainers, but none of them could tell me what it means.”

Yosef said to Paraoh, “Both parts of your dream really are saying the same thing. Hashem is telling you what will happen. The cows and the grain both mean food. The seven cows and the seven ears of grain both mean that there will be seven good years with a lot of food growing! People will have so much they won’t even be jealous of each other! The seven skinny cows and dried-up grain mean seven years when nothing will grow and there will be no food. There will be so little food people will forget how much they just had before. The dream happened twice to warn you that it will happen very soon!

“So, Paraoh, you should choose someone very smart and make him in charge. He should save food when there is a lot of it, and lock it up so no one can take without permission. You will save this food for when there’s no food in Mitzrayim.”

Paraoh and his servants liked how Yosef explained the dream. Paraoh asked, “Is there anyone else who has Hashem with him to help him, like Yosef does?”



119 (first half)

Today’s Tehillim is Kapitel Kuf-Yud-Tes, the LONGEST kapitel in the whole Tehillim! It is so long that we don’t even say the whole Kapitel today, just the first half.

Dovid Hamelech tells us, “Tov Li Toras Picha Me’Alfei Zahav VaChasef” — “Torah is more precious to me than even tons of gold and silver!”

The Rebbe explains to us that it was Dovid Hamelech who told us that Torah is the most precious thing. Dovid Hamelech was the king, and he had a lot of gold and silver. So he understood what it’s like to have a lot of money! So he can tell us that even when someone has a lot of gold and silver, he needs to know and feel that the Torah is the most precious thing.



Likutei Amarim Perek Alef

The Alter Rebbe started the Tanya with the promise the neshama is given, to be a tzadik and not to be a rasha. The Alter Rebbe is starting to explain to us what these words “tzadik” and “rasha” mean, and also the third type of person, the “beinoni”.

Today the Alter Rebbe tells us that even though the Gemara sometimes uses an expression “Tzadik” to describe someone who has more mitzvos than aveiros but a REAL tzadik is someone who has no Yetzer Hara at all! The Midrash says that Hashem saw that there are very few Yidden like that, so He spread them out so that there would be tzadikim in every generation.

So it is clear from what we learned today and yesterday that a real tzadik has no Yetzer Hara, and a real beinoni has a Yetzer Hara but still has no aveiros!

In the following perakim the Alter Rebbe will explain to us what exactly a real tzadik, beinoni, and rasha are. Once we know who we are, it is much easier to understand how we need to behave and how to reach the goal of living the way a good Jew should!

The Alter Rebbe starts to explain this by telling us the words of the Arizal, that every Yid starts off his or her life with two nefashos. Today we learn about the first one. This first nefesh, the nefesh of kelipah, is more active from birth. It’s where we get all of our midos which are selfish, like getting angry or being lazy.

This nefesh has four ingredients. (The truth is, the Rambam says, everything in the world has these four ingredients, even if we can’t see them!) They are:

1) Aish — Fire

2) Mayim — Water

3) Ruach — Air

4) Afar — Earth

In each thing in the world, some have more of one ingredient, and some have more of another ingredient. Like a fire has mostly fire, but there’s also the other ingredients inside. (After something gets burned, you can see that it makes ashes, which is like earth.)

A nefesh also has these four ingredients in a ruchniyusdike way — some people have more of one ingredient or another. These ingredients make us feel certain ways. Here are some examples:

Aish — Fire: This ingredient can make a person angry, or be a bigshot! Like fire is always jumping up!

Mayim — Water: Water makes all the yummy things grow — this ingredient makes us always want yummy or fun things (even if they’re not so good for our Avodas Hashem

Ruach — Air: Just like air can blow up a balloon but really it’s empty, this ingredient can make a person talk narishkeit.

Afar — Earth: Earth is heavy. This can make a person lazy, or sad.

A Yid also has a special gift from Hashem that this nefesh makes him able to do things just for someone else. The nature of this nefesh makes him able to help another person without thinking about what he will get for it, or how good it will make him feel. (Goyim who keep the Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach also have this gift.)



Chof-Hey Kislev

The Rebbe Rashab would light the menorah between Mincha and Maariv. In Shul we make sure that the menorah faces a certain way, but the Rebbe Rashab wasn’t careful with it at home.

Only after lighting all the flames, do we say Haneiros Halalu.

The Rebbe Rashab would sit near the lichtelach for a half hour, except on Erev Shabbos when he wouldn’t stay as long. He made sure the flames burned for at least 50 minutes every night.

Reminder: On Erev Shabbos Chanukah, we do things in this order: (1) Daven Mincha, (2) Light the Menorah, (3) Light Shabbos candles.



Mitzvas Lo Saasei #353, Asei #149

Today we learn one last mitzvah about keeping marriage holy, and then we learn a mitzvah from the next part of Rambam — keeping kosher!

1) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #353) A person should be careful not to do things that might make him want to marry someone he’s not allowed to get married to.

2) (Mitzvas Asei #149) It is a mitzvah to check animals before we eat them, to make sure they are kosher kinds of animals.



Hilchos Isurei Biah - Maachalos Asuros

Today’s Rambam are the last two perakim of Isurei Biah, Perek Chof-Alef and Chof-Beis, and the first perek of Maachalos Asuros.

In today’s first two perakim, we finish the halachos about keeping marriages holy.

In Yiddishkeit, getting married and having children is a very holy, very special thing. Chassidus teaches that a married man and woman are a reflection of two special kinds of chayus of Hashem in this Gashmius world!

Since it is so HOLY, the Yetzer Hara tries very hard to stop us from getting married in a way of Kedusha. All of the mitzvos and halachos we are learning aren’t always easy to keep, but they make sure that our marriage is only in the way Hashem wants.

If you’re young, you might not understand why it’s so hard to keep these mitzvos. That’s because Hashem doesn’t give a person this Yetzer Hara until the body is more mature — usually at least 8 or 9, and often only around Bar or Bas Mitzvah.

One of the things the Rambam teaches us is that when a person reaches marriageable age, parents have a responsibility to help their children get married right away. This way, the Yetzer Hara won’t bother them so much.

In Perek Chof-Beis, the Rambam speaks about the halachos of Yichud, which are important for everyone to know. Yichud means that a man and woman who are not married should not be alone together in a private place. The Chachomim made these halachos to keep aveiros from happening.

We also start to learn a new set of halachos — about keeping ourselves holy, through only eating kosher! The food that we eat is very important, because it becomes part of us.

In today’s Rambam we learn about kosher and non-kosher animals and birds. Do you know what signs a kosher animal has to have?

- it chews its cud (swallows its food, but then goes back and chews it again and again)

- it has split hooves (hard feet that are split in half)

The Torah tells us the names of 24 birds that are not kosher, all other kinds of birds are kosher. But if you don’t know all of these birds and what they look like, you can only eat a kind of bird that you KNOW is kosher.

The Rambam also gives us signs to know what’s a kosher or a non-kosher bird. One way to know that a bird is NOT kosher is if it attacks other birds or animals with its claws and eats them. Can you think why that kind of bird is not kosher?

We also learn the signs of kosher locusts, and kosher fish. (Do you know what signs a kosher fish has?)



Hilchos Shemitah VeYovel - Perek Vov

Food that grows during Shemitah is holy! We are not allowed to sell it like we sell regular fruits and vegetables. We can only sell a little bit of it at a time (like enough to eat for one day), and the money we get for selling it becomes holy too! We can only use the money to buy food to eat. Once we buy the food, the money loses its kedusha, and the food we bought gets Kedushas Shvi’is.



Cheder Tzivos Hashem

Chanukah is a very special time for children and for Chinuch.

The Rebbe said that children should light their menorahs by their bedrooms.

A kid’s bedroom isn’t just a place where they sleep — it is a Cheder Tzivos Hashem! It has a Chitas and a pushka, and we use the room to do mitzvos! We should light the menorah there, because it will fill the room with even more kedusha. And when we see the menorah burning there, it will make us feel even more excited to do mitzvos!

Parshas Vayeishev 5748, Hisvaaduyos p. 54


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Ve'al Hanisim

In davening, we praise Hashem for the things Hashem does for us, and ask for what we need.

On Chanukah, we add extra praises, for the miracle of Chanukah!

In Shemoneh Esrei, we add Ve’al Hanisim. We describe how the Greeks tried to force the Yidden to forget their Yiddishkeit. A small group of Yidden stood up to fight against the big and strong Greek army. Hashem made a neis and they won! The Yidden came back to the Beis Hamikdash and made it tahor again. They lit the menorah again in Hashem’s house, and made these 8 days into a special Yom Tov!

We also say Ve’al Hanisim in bentching, thanking Hashem for these tremendous nisim.



Women and Melacha on Chanukah

Women have a special minhag on Chanukah, because of one woman, Yehudis, who helped save the Yidden. During the time when the menorah needs to burn according to halacha (for a half hour after Tzeis Hakochavim), women don’t do melacha (like laundry or sewing)! Cooking and cleaning is not counted as melacha for this.

This way, they will focus on the neiros, which tell us the story of Chanukah, and not to get busy with other things.

It is our minhag (as we saw in Hayom Yom) that men also sit near the menorah during this time, to hear the message of the neiros.

See Shevach Hamoadim and Piskei Teshuvos

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




In Chumash, we learned about a lot of dreams. We learned about the dreams of Yosef Hatzadik, the dreams of the Sar Hamashkim and the Sar Ha’ofim in prison, and the dreams of Paraoh. All of these dreams were part of what brought the Yidden down to Mitzrayim. This was the start of the Golus in Mitzrayim, and later Yetziyas Mitzrayim.

We talk so much about dreams at the beginning of the Golus, there must be some connection between dreams and Golus!

Chassidus teaches us that Golus is compared to a dream!

When someone is dreaming, his sechel isn’t working right. A person can dream things that make no sense when he wakes up! He can even see things that are completely opposite, at the same time!

This is an important lesson for the “dream” of Golus. If what we are doing is good, it doesn’t matter if it is the opposite of other things we do.

Let’s say that Shimon woke up late. He was in a bad mood and didn’t even daven before going to school. At Mincha time, Shimon is in a better mood. He picks up his siddur to daven with kavana, but then stops. Is it okay to daven a beautiful Mincha when he didn’t even daven Shacharis?

Yes, it is okay! Golus is like a dream, where we can have opposites together! Even if it is the opposite of what we did before, we can do something good and beautiful later.

This avodah of dreams, of doing the right thing no matter what happened before, is what will help us get through the Golus. It will keep bringing light into the world, until we can “wake up” and see the world in a way that things REALLY make sense, in the times of the Geulah!

See Likutei Sichos chelek Alef, parshas Mikeitz

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