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Parshas Mikeitz - Rishon with Rashi

Yesterday we learned in Chumash that Yosef had to stay two more years in jail because he had too much bitachon in the butler.

At the end of the two years, Paraoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nilus (the big river in Mitzrayim) and saw seven healthy-looking cows come out of the river and start to eat grass nearby. Then seven very skinny cows came out of the river, and stood next to the healthy cows. The skinny cows ate up the healthy cows! Then Paraoh woke up.

He fell back asleep and had another dream: He saw a stalk of wheat with seven healthy ears of grain growing on it. (Ears of grain look a little bit like corn on the cob!) Then seven dried-up ears of grain grew. The dried-up grain ate the healthy ones!

Paraoh woke up and realized that this kind of dream means something, and he needed to ask someone what it means.

All of Paraoh’s magicians and advisors tried to tell Paraoh what it means. At first they thought the dream must be talking about years with lots of food and years with no food, but you can’t have both at the same time, and the cows and grain were next to each other in the dream! So they told Paraoh things like “you will have 7 healthy daughters, and 7 other ones will pass away.” But Paraoh knew that couldn’t be true, because he is the king, and his dreams have to be important for the whole Mitzrayim.

The butler (who is in charge of the king’s drinks) then said to Paraoh, “I did something wrong many years ago, along with the baker, and we were thrown into Potifar’s jail. When we were in jail, we both had dreams, and someone in jail explained what our dreams meant. And things happened exactly like he said they would!”

The butler didn’t want Paraoh to give Yosef an important job, so he said, “The person who explained our dreams isn’t a good person to be an officer for Paraoh — he is pretty young, he’s an Ivri who doesn’t speak Egyptian perfectly, and he is a slave of Potifar, the chief butcher.”

Paraoh sent someone to quickly go get Yosef! They cut his hair, gave him regular clothes, and brought him to Paraoh.



113 - 118

Today’s kapitelach of Tehillim are Kuf-Yud-Gimmel through Kuf-Yud-Ches.

In the smallest kapitel in the whole Tehillim, kapitel Kuf-Yud-Zayin, we say “Halelu Es Hashem Kol Goyim!” When Moshiach comes, all of the nations will praise Hashem — “Ki Govar Aleinu Chasdo, Ve’emes Hashem Le’olam,” because Hashem showed His kindness to Yidden in such a strong way, and Hashem’s promise to save the Yidden remained true forever.

Chassidus explains another meaning of “Ve’emes Hashem Le’olam:” Hashem’s emes comes “Le’olam” — into the world.

In a farbrengen, the Rebbe told this story: The Tzemach Tzedek had to go to Petersburg for meetings where they wanted Rabbonim to make changes in Chinuch and how someone can become a Rav. Someone asked the Tzemach Tzedek how he was able to put his life in danger if there are so many Yidden that are relying on him to show them the right derech in serving Hashem.

The Tzemach Tzedek said he would give two answers (like we see a lot of times in Gemara):

1) There are the children — if something chas veshalom happens, they (the Tzemach Tzedek’s children) can show Chassidim what to do.

2) Through the Achdus of Chassidim they will overcome all hardships, and will be able to bring the “Emes Hashem Leolam,” the true derech of Hashem, into the world so EVERYONE will know.

In that farbrengen, the Rebbe finished by saying that today, the second thing the Tzemach Tzedek said is important for all Chassidim to know, because together we have the responsibility to teach others the derech of Hashem the way the Rebbeim showed us. This will bring Moshiach!



Likutei Amarim Perek Beis

Yesterday we talked about the first nefesh in a Yid. Today we are going to talk about the second nefesh. The second nefesh, the Alter Rebbe tells us, is a Chelek Elokah Mimaal Mamosh — a part of Hashem!

The first person who got this neshama was Adam Harishon, and later on it was passed on just to Yidden.

The posuk says that Hashem “blew” this neshama into Adam. This example of blowing shows that the neshama comes from a place very deep inside. You know that you can talk for a long time and not get tired, but if you try to blow for just a minute you can get all tired! That’s because blowing comes from much deeper inside.

Yidden are also called Hashem’s children, which shows that they are so close to Him.

EVERYTHING really comes from Hashem, but that chayus of Hashem is much more hidden. The way Hashem creates the world is compared to how a person talks. But Yidden have a neshama that Hashem “blows” into us from deep inside.

There are many different levels in neshamos, like the neshamos of the Avos and Moshe Rabbeinu, and the neshamos of our time right before Moshiach comes, which are much smaller neshamos. Still, every single neshama comes from the deepest part of Hashem! To come into a body, the neshama goes through different stops, and it can be hard to recognize where the neshama is originally from.

That’s why Hashem gives us a mitzvah called “Ledavka Bo” — to stay connected to Hashem. The Gemara explains that this means that we should be connected to the Talmidei Chachomim, and through that will be connected to Hashem. Tzadikim and leaders of the generation have neshamos that don’t go through as many stops before they come into a body, so their neshamos are closer to Hashem! So for a regular neshama to stay connected when it’s in a Gashmius’dike body, it needs to have hiskashrus to the tzadik of his generation. By following the horaos of the tzadik, every neshama is able to be connected closely to the deepest part of Hashem.

In Tanya, the Alter Rebbe is going to teach us the “long short way” of serving Hashem. To follow this way, we need to make our neshama strong so that it controls the body and can feel love and fear of Hashem. We see that the first step to make sure our neshama is strong is to know that we need to have hiskashrus to the Rebbe of our generation! That is the foundation that will make sure we are successful in the derech of Avodas Hashem that the Tanya teaches us.

The Alter Rebbe adds at the end of this perek that even though this neshama comes straight from Hashem, the kedusha that the parents have makes a difference to the “clothes” the neshama has — how aidel the neshama will feel in this world.



Chof-Daled Kislev

We said yesterday that we say the first pesukim of Lechu Neranena in Wednesday’s Shir Shel Yom. Here’s what they mean:

On Wednesday, we start to ask ourselves, “What will we have for Shabbos?” We start wondering what Gashmius food and special things we will have for Shabbos, and we also start to worry how we will feel b’Ruchnius on Shabbos “Mit vos vet men Shabbos’n?” How will we have a beautiful Shabbos that FEELS Shabbosdik? Realizing that we aren’t ready yet might make us feel not so happy.

So we say, “Lechu Neranena!” Come let’s sing! Let’s have bitachon and trust in Hashem!

By the time Thursday comes, if we still don’t have any way to make sure Shabbos will feel Shabbosdik, it’s harder to sing! So on Thursday night we learn Chassidus, so that on Friday we feel that the Aibershter is very great — and with THIS we can celebrate Shabbos properly!

Reminder: We don’t say Tachanun in Mincha since it’s Chanukah tonight!



Shiur #139 - Mitzvas Asei #131, #125

Today we are going to finish learning the halachos about Maaser Sheini, and start a new section of halachos in the Rambam, about Bikurim!

1) (Mitzvas Asei #131) On Erev Pesach, on the 4th and 7th years since Shemitah, there is a mitzvah called “Vidui Maaser.” A person needs to say to Hashem that he brought the maaser that he was supposed to. The first perek of today’s Rambam tells us the details of how this is done.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Ki Savo: וְאָמַרְתָּ לִפְנֵי ה׳ אֱלֹקֶיךָ בִּעַרְתִּי הַקֹּדֶשׁ מִן הַבַּיִת וְגַם נְתַתִּיו לַלֵּוִי וְלַגֵּר לַיָּתוֹם וְלָאַלְמָנָה וְגוֹ׳

The details are explained in the last perek of Mesechta Maaser Sheini.

2) (Mitzvas Asei #125) We also learn the mitzvah of Bikurim — we bring the first fruit of the Shiva Minim that grow in our fields to the Beis Hamikdash, for the kohanim. (This mitzvah is only in Eretz Yisroel, when we have the Beis Hamikdash. We hope that Moshiach will come very soon so that we will be able to keep it this year!)

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Mishpatim: רֵאשִׁית בִּכּוּרֵי אַדְמָתְךָ תָּבִיא בֵּית ה׳ אֱלֹקֶיךָ

The details are explained in Mesechta Bikurim.



Hilchos Maaser Sheini VeNeta Reva'i - Bikurim

Perek Yud-Alef: The year after we give Maaser Ani for the poor (the 4th and 7th year), we need to do Vidui Maaser. Vidui Maaser is telling Hashem formally that we gave all of the presents and maaser we needed to give. We can’t do this until we actually gave them to the poor, the kohanim, or the Beis Hamikdash — it’s not enough to just set them aside.

Now we start learning Hilchos Bikurim:

Perek Alef: There are 24 presents that belong to the kohanim. Eight of these presents can only be eaten by the kohanim in the Beis Hamikdash, and five others can only be eaten inside Yerushalayim! In these perakim, we will learn halachos about these presents that we didn’t learn about already in other parts of the Rambam.

Perek Beis: Now we start learning about the present of Bikurim! We bring bikurim from the seven special fruits of Eretz Yisroel: Wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. We take bikurim from the nicest fruits that grew in our fields. We have to bring the actual fruit — we can’t bring pomegranate juice instead of whole pomegranates. If we live too far away from Yerushalayim we are allowed to bring dried figs and raisins, since the fresh ones will get bad on the way.



Hilchos Zechiya U'Matana - Perek Alef

In today’s Rambam, we start to learn a new set of halachos, about getting things that are “hefker,” and about giving or getting presents.

Perek Alef teaches us about when something is called hefker, that it has no owner. Fruit that grows in a forest is one example of hefker things. Whoever picks it up first — it belongs to him!




In Haneiros Halalu, we say about the lights of the Menorah that “Ein Lanu Reshus Lehishtamesh Bahen” — we aren’t allowed to use them. That means that we can’t sit near them in a dark room with a book to read from their light. (Because of that, it’s our minhag to use a tall Shamosh that will last a long time and keep us from using the light of the other flames.)

But “not using them” means something even more!

Hashem has nachas from every mitzvah that we do, and gives us a reward for acting the way we should. But the best way to do a mitzvah isn’t to do it just to get that reward. “Ein Lanu Reshus Lehishtamesh Bahen!” “We don’t have permission to use them” — we shouldn’t use the mitzvos just to get prizes!

With many mitzvos, Hashem tells us about the reward (like lighting Shabbos candles that bring us Shalom Bayis), but not with the mitzvah of lighting the Menorah! Lighting the Menorah teaches us that the best way to do a mitzvah is to do it just because that’s what Hashem wants us to do. This mitzvah gives us the koach to do it this way ALL year!

See farbrengen Motzei Shabbos Chanukah 5739


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Bittul of Shemoneh Esrei

Reuven, Shimon, Levi, and Yehuda are names of Shevatim. But just like every part of Torah has a deeper meaning, the names of the Shevatim are also the deeper meaning of parts of our davening.

The part of davening connected to Yehuda is Shemoneh Esrei, which is the bittul of a Yid to Hashem.

The truth is that EVERY Yid has bittul in his neshama, and always wants to do what Hashem wants. But sometimes this bittul can be hidden.

A Yid can be thinking about Hashem, and at the same time, doing something that Hashem doesn’t like. For example, a thief might ask Hashem for help with his stealing! That is because his bittul is hiding.

That is why, before we daven Shemoneh Esrei, we need to prepare. We first need to have Reuven, Shimon, and Levi.

First we think about Hashem and remind ourselves about the Hashgacha Protis that we see in our lives. This makes us want to live the way Hashem shows us to in the Torah! That is Pesukei Dezimra and the first part of Shema, the inyan of Reuven.

Then we think about how we need to do what Hashem tells us to do, and to have Yiras Shomayim. This is Vehaya, the inyan of Shimon.

We also think about our connection to Hashem through Torah. We do this in Emes V’Yatziv, the inyan of Levi. Only then do we go daven Shemoneh Esrei properly — with a bittul that is awake and alive!

Maamar Yehuda Ata, Likutei Sichos Chelek Chof, p. 349



Ve'al Hanisim in Bentching

If someone forgets to say Ve’al Hanisim in bentching, what should he do?

If he remembers in the middle of the next paragraph, before saying Hashem’s name in the bracha at the end (Al Ha’aretz Ve’al Hamazon), he should go back and say it.

But if he already said Hashem’s name, he adds a special Horachaman when he gets to Horachaman Hu Yezakeinu: “Horachaman Hu Yaaseh Lanu Nisim Kemo She’asa Laavoseinu Bayamim Haheim Bizman Hazeh.” Then he should say Bimei Matisyahu.

See Shevach Hamoadim, Hilchos Chanukah, siman tes

For a full review of the halachos of Chanukah, see the Halacha Day by Day by the Badatz of Crown Heights or the Halacha Newsletter by Rabbi Lesches

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



Moshiach Right Now!

In the end of today’s Chumash, Yosef Hatzadik was taken out of jail and brought to Paraoh. The posuk says “Vayeritzuhu,” that they RUSHED him out of the prison to bring him to Paraoh!

The Sforno points out that we see how the yeshuah of Hashem comes RIGHT AWAY! Yosef had been sitting in jail for years already, but the moment that the time came for him to go, he was quickly taken out!

We also see this with the Geulah from Mitzrayim. When the time came for the Yidden to leave, they were rushed away so quickly they didn’t have time to bake bread!

The Navi Malachi tells us that this will also happen when Moshiach comes! When it comes the time of the Geulah, Moshiach will come suddenly (Pisom), and take us out of Golus RIGHT AWAY!

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