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Parshas Mishpatim - Shlishi with Rashi

Parshas Mishpatim teaches us many mitzvos, especially those that make sure we treat each other fairly. Even though these mitzvos make sense, and because of that they are called Mishpatim, we keep them because they are mitzvos of Hashem. We remember that Hashem gave us ALL of the mitzvos — even the ones that someone might think we could come up with ourselves.

Here are the mitzvos we learn about today:

First we learn about the different types of damages that a person can cause to someone else’s property.

- If someone lets their animal go into another person’s field, he needs to pay for anything that gets ruined.

- If a person starts a fire, and it spreads into another person’s field, he needs to pay them for the damages.

Then, we learn about the four Shomrim, the responsibility a person has when they have something that belongs to someone else.

- Shomer Chinam: If someone is watching something for another person without getting paid for it, and the thing gets lost or stolen, he needs to make a shevuah (a promise made in Beis Din) that it wasn’t his fault, and then he doesn’t have to pay.

- Shomer Sachar: If someone is paid to watch another person’s animal, if it is attacked or stolen, he needs to pay if it was something he should have been more careful about. If there was nothing he could do, he doesn’t have to pay, but he needs to make a shevuah first that he didn’t use it for himself.

- Shoel: If someone borrows something, he needs to pay if it breaks or dies, even if it wasn’t his fault.

- Socher: The Torah tells us about a fourth type of person who has someone else’s thing, called a socher, a renter.

The Torah does not tell us what the din is in the case of a socher, and Rashi brings a machlokes in the Gemara whether it is like a Shomer Chinam or Shomer Sachar.

- If a person acts like he is married to a girl without a proper chasunah (mefateh), he has to marry her. If her father doesn’t want her to be married to that person, the person needs to pay her a lot of money — 50 silver coins.

- A person who uses tumah magic (mechashefah) is punished with Misas Beis Din.

- If someone acts like he is married to an animal, he is also chayav Misas Beis Din.

- If someone worships Avodah Zara, he also gets this punishment by Beis Din.

- It is asur to say not nice things to a ger.

- We are not allowed to make ANY Yid feel bad, especially not an almanah or a yasom (widow or orphan). Hashem especially listens to them when they cry, and there is a serious punishment for someone who is not careful with how they are treated.

- We should lend money if we can to another Yid, especially someone poor. If we know the person cannot pay back, we should not try to force him to pay us.

- Ribbis: We are not allowed to charge interest when we lend money to a Yid.

- Mashkon: If we lend someone money, and took something to make sure that they will pay back, we need to let the person use it at the time he needs it.



120 - 134

A Chossid once complained to the Rebbe Maharash about how hard it is for him at home, because he has no money. He said (from today’s Tehillim), “MeiAyin Yavo Ezri?” “Where will my help come from?”

The Rebbe Maharash answered, “Your answer is in the next posuk! ‘Ezri Me’Im Hashem, Osei Shomayim VaAretz!’ Your help comes from Hashem, Who takes care of everything in the Shomayim and the earth. He gives everything what it needs in the right time, and He will take care of you too!”



Likutei Amarim Perek Chof-Ches

We learned before what to do with distracting thoughts in davening and learning. The Alter Rebbe explains to us how the Yetzer Tov and Yetzer Hara work, so that these thoughts should not upset us and we’ll know how to deal with them.

How do you think the Yetzer Tov and the Yetzer Hara split up their jobs? Maybe the Yetzer Tov works during the day and the Yetzer Hara works at night? Or do they switch off every hour?

Today the Alter Rebbe tells us that they aren’t two separate things in a person, but they are there together!

When you’re playing soccer, do the teams take turns playing? No! They play together, and each one wants to win, and not let the other team get any goals!

The same is with the Yetzer Tov and Yetzer Hara. They are working at the same time.

For example, when you see your friend’s markers on her desk, it’s not JUST the Yetzer Tov or JUST the Yetzer Hara that will have something to say! You will think TWO things: The Yetzer Hara will say, “She won’t know if I just borrow them! Probably she won’t really mind… right?” The Yetzer Tov will answer, “No! If they aren’t yours, you can’t take them without permission, even if you’re planning on putting them back later.”

Our job is to make the right choice and listen to the Yetzer Tov!

In the example of a soccer game, if one team starts getting a bunch of goals, the other team works even harder to win! The same is true with the Yetzer Tov and Yetzer Hara. During davening, when the Neshama is doing what Hashem wants, the Yetzer Hara gets scared and starts to fight back harder. It tries to make us think about other things so we won’t think about the words we’re saying.

So, if we are trying to daven and can’t concentrate because we keep thinking about other things, it doesn’t mean that our davening is no good! It means that our davening is SO good that the Yetzer Hara is scared! It wants to fight back so IT will be in charge of us!

So we should pretend that those thoughts are like goyishe music blasting in our ears during davening: We would just ignore it and try to daven our best anyway. And when these thoughts (from the Yetzer Hara) keep bothering us, we should just ignore them and try to daven with even more kavana.

But what happens if you’re trying to ignore the thoughts and concentrate, but it’s just too hard?

Then the Alter Rebbe tells us that you daven to Hashem in your mind, that He should have Rachmonus on you and help you stop these thoughts of the Yetzer Hara that are bothering your davening. A Yid’s neshama is part of Hashem, and Hashem will surely help!



Chof-Zayin Shevat

Have you ever made a hachlata at a farbrengen? What was it? To learn something extra, or have more Ahavas Yisroel?

In today’s Hayom Yom, we learn about a hachlata that early Chassidim made: That any time that they feel that they have a taavah for something (that they want it very much), they won’t have it! This way, they would break the taavah!

There is a famous story with R’ Shmuel Munkes that helps us understand this.

The Alter Rebbe had many Chassidim. One of these Chassidim was named R’ Shmuel Munkes. R’ Shmuel was known as a big joker, who always had a funny thing to say or a funny way to teach something.

But one day, the other Chassidim learned that he was also a very great chossid!

R’ Shmuel Munkes was sitting at a farbrengen with other Chassidim in shul, late at night. They were singing, making lechaims, and encouraging each other to grow in their avodah. It was a great farbrengen!

But as it got later, the Chassidim started to run out of farbeisen. Farbeisen is something to eat after making a lechaim. Without farbeisen, you can’t have lechaims. And without lechaims, what kind of farbrengen will it be?

The Chassidim felt bad that their farbrengen would have to end. But suddenly, the door of the shul opened, and the butcher came in. He was carrying a big, steaming pot that smelled delicious!

“It’s a fresh cow lung,” the butcher said proudly. “I had two cows shechted today, and one of them was kosher, Boruch Hashem! I decided that the best part, the lung, belongs to the Chassidim. My wife cooked it up, and now I want you to enjoy it at your farbrengen.”

The Chassidim thanked the butcher, and R’ Shmuel Munkes jumped up and took the pot so the butcher could go home. The Chassidim were very excited to have such special farbeisen by their farbrengen, and waited impatiently for R’ Shmuel to serve the roasted lung, which smelled so good.

But R’ Shmuel didn’t give out the meat.

After a few minutes, one of the other Chassidim started to get annoyed. He got up and tried to grab the pot out of R’ Shmuel’s hands so he could give it out himself. But R’ Shmuel turned and jumped onto a bench!

A few of the younger Chassidim started to chase R’ Shmuel so they could grab the pot and continue their farbrengen already, but R’ Shmuel kept running away — jumping onto the tables or benches to get away from them.

Finally, they managed to trap R’ Shmuel in a corner. But before they could take the pot, R’ Shmuel turned and dumped the whole delicious lung into a smelly garbage pail!

The Chassidim were veery upset! How dare he have the chutzpah to waste good food and mess up their farbrengen? The Chassidim let him know that they were upset, but R’ Shmuel, with a smile still on his face, left the shul for a few minutes to get something.

R’ Shmuel Munkes came back to the farbrengen with a bowl of cabbage salad, but the Chassidim were very disappointed. Salad is good, but it’s not a steaming plate of fresh meat!

Still, they continued the farbrengen.

Suddenly, the door to the shul burst open, and the butcher came in, crying. “Oy vey, what have I done? How will Hashem ever forgive me for giving treife food to all of the holy Chassidim?” The butcher explained that the lung of the non-kosher cow had gotten mixed up with the kosher cow, and by mistake the treif lung got cooked and brought to the Chassidim!

The Chassidim calmed down the butcher, telling him that nobody had eaten even a bite of the meat, and the butcher finally went home, feeling much better.

But now the Chassidim were upset at R’ Shmuel! Was he showing off that he had Ruach Hakodesh? That’s not a very nice way to behave!

R’ Shmuel explained: “I don’t have Ruach Hakodesh at all. All I know is that for many years I have been working on being stronger than my taavos. Over the years, I stopped having taavos for food at all!

“But then, today, I had a very strong taavah to eat the meat. I started to wonder why that would be. But when I saw so many big Chassidim getting so upset because they wanted to eat a piece of meat, I realized that there must be something wrong with it. Why else would the Yetzer Hara want us to eat it so much? So I put it where it belongs — in the garbage.”



Shiur #215 - Mitzvas Asei #106

Today’s mitzvah (Mitzvas Asei #106) is about a Zavah — a woman who has a specific tumah that comes from her body. This mitzvah is that we need to follow the halachos of when she becomes Tomei, and what else she makes Tomei. These halachos are very important when we have a Beis Hamikdash, because someone tomei is not allowed to go into the Beis Hamikdash or eat from the korbanos!



Hilchos Metamei Mishkav U'Moshav

In today’s Rambam, we learn more about the kinds of Tumah where a PERSON makes other things Tomei!

Perek Zayin: This perek teaches us about “Midras” — that anywhere where someone with one of the kinds of “body” Tumah leans, sits, or rides, becomes an “Av Hatumah” (“very” tomei, so it can make many other things Tomei as well).

Perek Ches: The Rambam explains what happens if one of these people move something, in lots of different ways. For example, do the things become Tomei if he moved it with a stick he is holding under his chin?

Perek Tes: We learn what happens if one of these Tomei people bangs into something and makes it fall. We also learn about times when things get Tumas Midras because they MIGHT have become Tomei.



Hilchos Ishus - Perek Tes

In this perek, we learn halachos about when we’re not sure if someone is married. For example, if a man says that he is marrying a mother and her daughter, he isn’t married to either of them, because it is asur to marry them.



Achdus Brings Moshiach

The Rebbe told this story:

The Tzemach Tzedek once had to go to Petersburg (the capital) for many meetings. The government wanted to make rules about the kind of Chinuch the Yidden can have!

The Tzemach Tzedek wouldn’t say yes EVER to making any change in pure Yiddishe chinuch, and they were very mad at him! It was very dangerous for the Tzemach Tzedek to act this way.

One of the Rabbonim who was there asked the Tzemach Tzedek how he could do this! There are so many Yidden who NEED the Tzemach Tzedek, so how can he do something dangerous? Without him, many Yidden won’t know how to live the way a Yid should!

The Tzemach Tzedek said he needs to do what he is doing, and if something would happen to him chas veshalom, there are two other ways to help all of these Yidden know how to act:

1) The Tzemach Tzedek’s children can take over and teach and guide the chassidim.

2) The achdus of Chassidim will carry them until Moshiach.

The Rebbe said this story 100 years after the histalkus of the Tzemach Tzedek. The Rebbe said, “Now the first reason isn’t there anymore — only the second. We need to know that when Chassidim work together, we have the koach to bring Moshiach!”

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Concentration in Davening

People get worried a lot. But the time when people are worried most is... during davening!

During davening, the Yetzer Hara tries to get us to think about, plan, or worry about things that have nothing to do with the words we are saying. It’s not hard to understand why:

The Yetzer Tov and Yetzer Hara aren’t two separate things, they are very much connected. What one yetzer does makes a difference to the other. During davening, the neshama and the Yetzer Tov get stronger. The Yetzer Hara gets nervous and fights back, using all of its might!

That is like what happens when two people are fighting. When one of them is losing, the other gets desperate and fights back as hard as he can.

But that doesn’t mean we should just LET the Yetzer Hara get us to think about other things!

Before we go to sleep, sometimes our minds are full of many worrisome or complicated thoughts. We might be thinking about problems with school, with work, with the house, or with relatives. But in order to be able to fall asleep, we stop thinking about these things!

When it comes to davening, we can also stop thinking these thoughts. We can try to focus on the words of our davening, and not on whatever new idea the Yetzer Hara comes up with.

If that doesn’t work, we can pull out OUR last tool: Ask Hashem for help! Ask Hashem to have Rachmanus on us and not let the Yetzer Hara distract us from having kavana during davening.

One eitzah the Rebbe gives for concentration in davening, in many letters, is to daven while looking inside of the siddur, because looking at the words of the siddur keeps our mind from wandering.

See Tanya Perek Chof-Ches (the shiurim in Tanya we are learning now!)




On Motzei Shabbos, we make four brachos in Havdalah. The Roshei Teivos for these brachos, and the order they are in, is “Yavneh” — Yayin (the wine), Besamim, Ner (the candle), Havdalah (the bracha thanking Hashem for separating between Shabbos and the weekday).

Why do we use a ner at Havdalah?

On the first Motzei Shabbos, Adam Harishon took two stones and hit them together, making fire. This was the first time a person had ever discovered fire! On Shabbos, we aren’t allowed to use fire, so on Motzei Shabbos it is like it is created for us then, too! So on Motzei Shabbos, we thank Hashem for creating fire.

It is best to do this by lighting a torch — a flame with at least two wicks, because we say in the bracha Borei Me’orei Ha’Aish, that Hashem makes the LIGHTS of the fire, meaning more than one light.

It is a minhag to look at our fingernails in the light of this ner, so that we are able to use the light for something.

Another reason we look at our fingernails is because nails are a siman bracha, since they are always growing!

When we finish Havdalah, we put out the ner using the wine of Havdalah that is left in the kos. We dip our fingertips in this wine. It is a segulah for seeing well to put some of the wine on the outside of our eyes.

See Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch siman Reish-Tzadik-Ches se’if alef; Igros Kodesh chelek Yud-Beis p. 226. Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch siman Reish-Tzadik-Vov se’if Hey, and Reish-Tzadik-Ches se’if Vov

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



Achdus Before Geulah

When the Yidden camped around Har Sinai to get the Torah, they camped like one person, with one heart — “Ke’ish Echad, BeLeiv Echad.”

In Tanya it teaches that Matan Torah was a taste of the way it will be in the times of the Geulah!

The Rambam tells that we will also have this kind of Achdus before Moshiach comes. One of the jobs of Moshiach is “Veyisaken Es Ha’olam Kulo Laavod Es Hashem Beyachad” — to make the whole world ready to serve Hashem TOGETHER!

Just as we got the Torah with true Achdus, we will have the Geulah with true Achdus!

See Migolah L’Geulah p. 312

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