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Parshas Balak - Shishi with Rashi

In today’s Chumash, Bilaam gives brachos to the Yidden a third time!

Bilaam tries to curse the Yidden again: It didn’t work the last time Bilaam tried to curse the Yidden, so Balak had another idea. Maybe going to ANOTHER place would help? They went to the mountain of Pe’or, where Bilaam knew with his nevuah that something not good would happen to the Yidden. He thought that maybe it would be because of his curse! (Really, the Yidden were later punished there for Avodah Zarah.)

Again Balak built 7 Mizbeiachs and brought a bull and a ram as a korban on each.

Bilaam knew that Hashem only wanted to give the Yidden brachos. So he decided not to ask Hashem this time, but instead to talk about the aveiros the Yidden did, so Hashem would be upset at the Yidden and let them be cursed!

Bilaam looked out at the place where the Yidden did the Cheit Ha’egel. Then he looked at where the Yidden were camping, so he could feel jealous of how rich they are. He wanted to give them an Ayin Hara. But instead, he was impressed! He saw how the Yidden’s tents were all facing the same way, so people couldn’t look into each other’s tents. He saw how the Yidden lived in a very tznius’dike way.

Bilaam started to talk again. He said, “I am Bilaam, who is a Navi. Hashem only talks to me at night, but I can still see what He says.

“I wanted to curse the Yidden, but I can’t! Mah Tovu Ohalecha Yaakov! Yidden, your tents are so good! The way you camp is a tznius’dike way! This is a big zechus for you. And even if it’s not enough of a zechus, Mishkenosecha Yisroel — you bring korbanos in the Mishkan and that makes Hashem forgive any of your aveiros.

“I bentch you that you should last forever, and grow like the garden of Hashem, with Yiddishe kings who rule you.

“Hashem should help you come into Eretz Yisroel, where you will live like a lion, that people are scared of. Those who give you brachos should get brachos, and those who curse you should be cursed.”

Balak was SO ANGRY! “I told you to come CURSE the Yidden, and instead you gave them brachos THREE TIMES! Now go away! You won’t get any kavod from me!”

Bilaam said, “What can I do? I told you I can only say what Hashem tells me!”



79 - 82

Today’s kapitelach are Ayin-Tes to Pey-Beis.

In Kapitel Pey-Alef (81), the posuk says “Tiku BaChodesh Shofar, Bakeseh LeYom Chageinu. Ki Chok LeYisroel Hu, Mishpat Leilokei Yaakov.” These pesukim are talking about blowing the shofar, which is the mitzvah of Rosh Hashana.

The Gemara says that it is also talking about the parnasa that every Yid will have for the coming year. There is an argument in the Gemara whether a person is judged on Rosh Hashana, or every day, or even every hour!

Chassidus explains that it’s really not an argument — they’re just talking about different things! In Ruchnius, on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, it is decided what a person will have. But based on how they act every day and every moment, it is decided whether that Ruchnius koach he deserves will come into Gashmius and give him parnasa, or stay in Ruchnius for Gan Eden.

Some people think that since anyway Hashem decided on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, it doesn’t matter if they daven with a minyan or go to a shiur in Torah or do other mitzvos. Either they will get it or they won’t get it!

But that’s not true! Even if in Shomayim it was decided that a person will get a lot, if he doesn’t earn Hashem’s bracha, he won’t get the bracha in Gashmius. And the opposite is also true — even if someone isn’t supposed to get a lot, with Hashem’s bracha that little can help him even more than a lot would!



Igeres Hateshuvah Perek Gimmel

We learned yesterday that nowadays we don’t fast, because we are not strong enough to fast without it hurting our body and our Avodas Hashem.

Still, the Alter Rebbe says, if we really care about our neshamos, we should try to fast at least once in our lifetime for any big aveiros we did, after we do teshuvah.

How can we do it without hurting ourselves?

The Alter Rebbe gives some ideas: A person can spread out the fasts, not doing them all in a row. He can fast during the winter, when the days are shorter and it’s not as hard — a person can still eat supper on time! If someone fasts ten times during the winter, over about nine years he will finish the number of fasts.

Also, for some fasts a person can fast 2 half-day fasts instead of one full day.



Tes-Zayin Tammuz

We can learn about Ahavas Yisroel from the Baal Shem Tov. His Ahavas Yisroel was even more than we can imagine!

The Maggid said, “If only we could kiss a Sefer Torah with as much love as the Baal Shem Tov had when he kissed the children he brought to Cheder, when he was the bahelfer!” (Before the Baal Shem Tov became known as the Baal Shem Tov, he spent some time as a helper — a bahelfer — for a melamed. He brought the kinderlach to and from school, and helped them say brachos and Amen in shul.)



Shiur #322 - Mitzvas Asei #179

Today’s mitzvah (Mitzvas Asei #179) is for a Beis Din. When witnesses come and tell the judges about something they saw or heard, they are not allowed to believe them right away and make a decision. They need to ask many questions to make sure they understand what the witnesses are saying before they pasken the din. If they would just pasken right away, they might end up punishing someone who wasn’t guilty!

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Re’eh: וְדָרַשְׁתָּ וְחָקַרְתָּ וְשָׁאַלְתָּ הֵיטֵב וְהִנֵּה אֱמֶת נָכוֹן הַדָּבָר

The details are explained in Mesechta Sanhedrin.



Hilchos Eidus

In today’s Rambam, we learn about the questions we ask witnesses.

In Perek Beis, we learn what happens if the eidim contradict each other in any of the questions. If one person says “he was wearing black clothes!” and the other person says “he was wearing white clothes!”, we don’t listen to what those witnesses say.

In Perek Gimmel, the Rambam tells us that the Chachomim were not as strict with court cases about money. That’s because if we ask too many questions, there is a very good chance that the witnesses will get confused, and very few cases will be won by people who lend money! If people see how hard it is to get their money back in Beis Din, they will stop lending money. That’s why the Beis Din was not as strict, so more people will help each other by lending money.

Perek Daled teaches us more halachos about not being strict with the witnesses in a money case. For example, if the witnesses saw what happened from different places (like different sides of the street) and didn’t see each other, we still count them as good witnesses. Why? So the special mitzvah of Gemilus Chasadim (which includes lending money to others) will be easier to keep, and Yidden will have the money they need.



Hilchos Shaar Avos Hatumah - Perek Yud-Beis

In this perek the Rambam explains how food that is Kodesh (like meat from korbanos) is much stricter with its halachos of Tumah and Tahara than Terumah is.



Ahavas Yisrael

One of the ways we show Ahavas Yisroel is by noticing when a Yid is missing something, and then doing our best to help.

We see from the Rebbe how to have Ahavas Yisroel with Ruchnius. The Rebbe noticed that many Yidden were missing the chance to do a mitzvah, so the Rebbe taught the Chassidim to go on mivtzoyim and go on Shlichus.

We also can learn from the Rebbe how to have Ahavas Yisroel with Gashmius! Here is one story:

The Rebbe was sitting in his office in 770, and heard sounds of a chuppah from outside. The chosson broke the glass, everyone shouted Mazel Tov, and then the chosson’s friends started to sing Siman Tov U’mazal Tov!

The Rebbe noticed that even though the bochurim were singing very happily and clapping their hands, there was no music being played.

The Rebbe sent out Rabbi Groner, one of the Rebbe’s secretaries, to quietly find out why. Rabbi Groner came back and told the Rebbe that this couple did not have a lot of money for their chasunah, so they couldn’t afford to pay for a musician.

The Rebbe told Rabbi Groner to go back outside right away and let them know that the Rebbe himself would pay for musicians to make their chasunah a happy and special time!


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Mesiras Nefesh

The Alter Rebbe says in Tanya that when we daven and learn Torah, it’s really a kind of Mesiras Nefesh.

Why? It doesn’t put us in danger!

One of the meanings of “Mesiras Nefesh” is “to give up the neshama.” When a person does Mesiras Nefesh, he gives up the life of his guf and returns his neshama to Hashem. We do the same thing, in a different way, when we daven!

We give up the life of our guf by not paying the guf as much attention as usual. We eat before if we need to, so that it won’t bother us in the middle of davening. But then, we focus completely on the words of our tefillos and on our connection to Hashem. Our neshama is returned to the way it felt when it was in Gan Eden, when nothing Gashmius’dik distracted it!

That’s a kind of Mesiras Nefesh.

So when it comes time to stand before Hashem and daven, we need to do it in a way of Mesiras Nefesh. At least during Shema and Shemoneh Esrei (the most important parts of tefillah), we should forget about all of our Gashmius distractions. Only think about how the neshama stands before Hashem, pouring out its heart to Hashem, hoping to be connected to Him and do His Ratzon all day.

See Tanya end Perek Mem-Alef



Changing the Truth for Shalom

It is very important to tell the truth. We don’t make up things that didn’t happen, and we don’t promise things that we aren’t going to keep.

But sometimes we ARE allowed to change the truth if it will bring shalom.

For example:

Ari is at a birthday party, and the boys are playing different games in the room. He hears a boy say that Yitzy is not fun to play with, because he gets so upset when he loses!

Yitzy notices that someone was talking about him, and asks Ari what the boy said.

Does Ari have to tell the truth, even though it will make Yitzy feel bad?

No. For shalom, he can change what happened, and say that the boy just said that he won the game with Yitzy.

But this is only about something that already happened. We are NOT allowed to make a promise that we don’t plan on keeping, or say something not true about something in the future, even if we think it will bring shalom!

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman Kuf-Nun-Vov, se’if Beis

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



A Taste of Geulah

In Parshas Balak, Bilaam says a nevuah about the Yidden. The Rambam in the halachos about Moshiach (Hilchos Melachim) writes that this is a nevuah about Dovid Hamelech, who brought a Geulah for his generation. It is also a nevuah about Melech HaMoshiach, who will bring the final Geulah to the whole world!

This nevuah is very special, but one thing is strange. This nevuah is one of the most important nevuos about Moshiach — and it was said by a goy! All of the other nevuos about Moshiach were said by the greatest Yidden!

The Rebbe explains that this is what Moshiach is all about! When Moshiach comes, everyone will serve Hashem — even the goyim. The goyim will realize that Hashem is the ruler of the entire world, and will respect Hashem’s nation, the Yidden.

So not only does Bilaam’s nevuah help us understand Moshiach, it even lets us TASTE Moshiach! We can have a “taste” of how the world will be when Moshiach comes, that the whole world is starting to help Yidden in our shlichus to make the world a Dira Betachtonim.

See sefer Pninei Geulah, from Likutei Sichos chelek 23 Balak Alef

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