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Parshas Korach - Rishon with Rashi

Korach was jealous that Moshe Rabbeinu chose someone else to be the Nasi of his Shevet. He started convincing Yidden that there should be no leader — everyone should be special! Moshe tried to stop the machlokes.

Moshe’s cousin, Korach ben Yitzhar, was very upset. Moshe Rabbeinu chose a different cousin, Elitzafan ben Uziel, as the Nasi of his Shevet, as Hashem told him to. Korach thought that HE deserved to be the Nasi!

(Korach and Elitzafan were cousins of Moshe Rabbeinu, but Korach’s father was older. Korach thought that should have made HIM the next choice for a leader.)

Now Korach decided it wasn’t fair that Moshe and Aharon should be in charge of the Yidden at all. ALL of the Yidden are special, so nobody should be in charge!

Korach convinced his sons, his neighbors Dasan and Aviram, and his neighbors from Shevet Reuven — the sons of Eliav, and On ben Peles — to join him.

They gathered together 250 Yidden, including many important people (like the Nesiim and the judges) to go against Moshe.

Korach had his group wear robes made entirely of Techeiles. They came to Moshe and asked, “If we wear a robe made ALL out of Techeiles, do we need to put Tzitzis (with a techeiles string) on it?” They were trying to prove their point, that nobody should be more special.

When Moshe answered yes, they laughed at him and said that it doesn’t make sense! If the WHOLE robe is made of Techeiles, why does it need one more techeiles string?

They were trying to tell Moshe that ALL of the Yidden are special (like techeiles) and they don’t need one string to be separate (like Moshe and Aharon) to be in charge of them! They said, “ALL of the Yidden are holy! Why do you try to be more important than everyone else?”

Moshe was afraid that all of the Yidden would join them, and that Hashem would punish ALL of the Yidden! But Hashem told Moshe that only Korach and the people that join him would be punished.

Moshe told Korach to wait until the next day, so he would have a chance to do Teshuvah.

Then, the next day, Korach should bring Ketores. The ketores is more special than the other korbanos but could also be dangerous if it is brought by someone who shouldn’t bring it, like what happened with Nadav and Avihu. If Hashem accepts their Ketores and they are not hurt, even though they are not kohanim, it will be a sign that they are right.

Moshe tried to make Korach feel better, by telling him how special it is to be a Levi and sing in the Mishkan. He reminded Korach that it was HASHEM Who decided who should get the different jobs! So they aren’t going against Moshe — they are going against HASHEM!

Moshe wanted to make Dasan and Aviram feel better too, but they didn’t want to talk to Moshe.

Instead, they said, “You were supposed to bring us into Eretz Yisroel, and instead you want to kill us in the desert — you just want to be in charge of us!”



140 - 144

Today’s kapitelach are Kuf-Mem to Kuf-Mem-Daled.

In today’s Tehillim, there is a posuk, “Tikon Tefilasi Ketores Lefanecha” — “I bring my Davening before Hashem like Ketores!”

The Rambam chooses this posuk to put at the beginning of his Sefer about Korbanos.

The Rebbe explains that davening is like ketores! When the Kohen brings the Ketores, nobody else is allowed to be there — it’s just the Kohen bringing the Ketores to Hashem. The same thing is when we daven — it’s private, between us and Hashem!

Also, the word Ketores is like the word “Kesher” (in Aramaic, “Ketar”) — a connection. Davening is one of the ways we make a special connection with Hashem.



Shaar Hayichud Veha'emunah Perek Tes

The Alter Rebbe is explaining to us in Shaar Hayichud Veha’emunah how a Yid is able to fulfill the mitzvah of knowing Hashem, by being able to see that the world’s existence is only the chayus of Hashem in it. Even though the truth is that everything is one with Hashem, we are not able to understand things this way. By realizing the differences between the way we are able to know something and the way things really are as Hashem knows them, it helps us come closer to picturing it the way it really is.

That is what the Alter Rebbe is telling us now in Tanya, how the way things really are (the way Hashem knows them) is so much different than the way a person knows things.

Before we said that there are 5 steps from a person’s Sechel/Chochmah (understanding) until Maaseh (doing).

The Alter Rebbe explained how Sechel is the highest level by a person, and Maaseh is the lowest. But for Hashem, Chochmah (the highest) is called Maaseh (the lowest)!

But really, the Alter Rebbe says, you can’t say that Hashem is “higher than” Chochmah. Hashem isn’t just HIGHER than Chochmah, they are two things that have no connection!

It would be like saying, “You can’t touch what you’re thinking about because it’s too high.” Of course you can’t touch what you’re thinking about with your fingers! Thoughts aren’t things we can touch!

The only reason why we call Hashem “a Chochom” is because Chochmah COMES FROM Hashem.

Hashem’s Chochmah is what makes the world exist, and is the way the world really is, the way Hashem knows it!

Just like we know that Hashem’s Chochmah is different than our Chochmah, we can understand that the whole world is one with Hashem, even though we don’t see it that way.



Chof-Tes Sivan

The avodah of a Yid is to get used to looking at the world the way Chassidus teaches, to see that the whole existence of the world is only the chayus of Hashem!

When we do something lots of times, it becomes like a part of us. Like if we get used to saying Modeh Ani right when we wake up, we don’t even need to think about it anymore! It becomes part of who we are.

Did you know that when we THINK about something a lot, that can become a part of us too?

It is the avodah of a Yid not just to get used to washing Negel Vasser and saying brachos, but also to get used to THINKING the way a Yid should!

People might look around the world and see trees, cars, tables, or houses. But a Yid needs to see that all of these things are being created by Hashem right now, and that all these things are really Hashem’s chayus!

That’s Hashgacha Protis — that Hashem makes each and every thing in the world Yeish Me’ayin, and gives it new chayus every moment!

We need to get used to thinking this way when we look at the world around us.



Shiur #321 - Mitzvas Lo Saasei #317, Asei #178

In today’s Rambam, we are finishing the set of halachos called Sanhedrin, and starting to learn Hilchos Eidus, which is all about witnesses. So today, we will have one mitzvah from Hilchos Sanhedrin, and one mitzvah about Eidus.

1) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #317) We aren’t allowed to curse another Yid.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Kedoshim: לֹא תְקַלֵּל חֵרֵשׁ

This posuk means, “You should not curse a person who is deaf.” The Rambam explains how we learn today’s mitzvah from this posuk:

When someone gets angry, he wants to take revenge — to hurt the other person the way he feels that he was hurt, to make things “fair.” Depending on how angry he is, he might think it is fair to destroy the other person’s things, or even to hurt him very badly! Then he will calm down and not be angry anymore.

If the other person did something small, he might only be a little angry. He will feel better after he screams at the other person, or even only curses him quietly, so the other person can’t hear.

We might think that there is nothing wrong with this! Why should it matter if we curse someone when he can’t hear, and it won’t hurt his feelings?

That’s why the Torah says “don’t curse a person who is deaf.” We might think, why should it matter if we curse someone who is deaf and can’t hear?

The Torah teaches us that the reason why not to curse another person is not only that the other person will hear and feel bad, but because WE shouldn’t be cursing other people! We are not allowed to let ourselves get angry and take revenge on another person.

The details of this mitzvah are explained in Mesechta Shevuos perek Daled.

2) (Mitzvas Asei #178) If a person knows about something that Beis Din is judging, he needs to come be a witness, an Eid.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Vayikra: וְהוּא עֵד אוֹ רָאָה אוֹ יָדָע

The details of this mitzvah are explained in Mesechta Sanhedrin and Mesechta Shevuos.



Hilchos Sandhedrin - Eidus

Perek Chof-Hey: In this perek, we learn halachos about how a judge needs to treat his community. (This is probably important for ANY person who works with the community!) The Rambam reminds a judge not to act in a mean way to the people, because even if they are simple and not so ruchnius’dik, they are the children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov!

Mr. George Rohr, a big Baal Tzedakah who supports many of the Rebbe’s mosdos, once came to the Rebbe. He wanted to share good news with the Rebbe, so he told the Rebbe about a minyan he organized for Yidden who didn’t have any Jewish background.

“What?!” the Rebbe asked. Mr. Rohr told the Rebbe again. “Go back to them and tell them that they DO have a Jewish background!” the Rebbe said. “They are all children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov!”

Judges also need to be careful not to do things that would make people lose kavod for them, like getting drunk at parties.

We also learn that people need to have kavod for the Beis Din, and come if a Beis Din tells them to. The Beis Din is careful when they call someone, to make sure it is possible for him to come. For example, they don’t call people to come to a case on a Friday, because everyone is busy getting ready for Shabbos.

Perek Chof-Vov: Now the Rambam teaches halachos about the punishment for cursing. Even though there is already a mitzvah not to curse ANYONE, there is a special mitzvah not to curse a judge. Someone who does, gets malkos twice.

The last halacha reminds us how it is asur to go to a non-Jewish court (Arka’us). Yidden take care of their own disagreements in a Beis Din. Only if someone refuses to come to Beis Din are we allowed to take him to court.

Now we start a new set of halachos about witnesses.

Perek Alef: If someone is able to be a witness, he has a mitzvah to say what he knows in Beis Din.

We learn the way the judges ask the witnesses questions, in order that we can make sure they are really telling the truth, and that all of the witnesses agree. They first ask seven basic questions, about when and where the thing happened. Then they ask more details, like “Which melacha did he do?”

But the judges should also ask questions that don’t have to do with the specific thing, just to make sure that the person is telling the truth. For example, they will ask what color clothes the person was wearing.



Hilchos Avel - Perek Ches

Today’s Rambam talks about the halachos of a person who is mourning for someone who passed away.

Very soon when Moshiach will come, there will be no more reason for Hashem to take a person’s neshama away from their Guf. In fact, Hashem will return every neshama to their proper guf with Techiyas Hameisim!



Hachana L'Gimmel Tammuz

The Rebbe stayed with us here to prepare us for the Geulah! We go to the Ohel to get the kochos we need to do our shlichus properly.

Moshe Rabbeinu wanted so much that his holy Guf should be in Eretz Yisroel until Moshiach comes. But Hashem told him that He doesn’t want that — Moshe needs to stay with the Yidden in the place where he was their Rebbe.

Even though it was better for Moshe to be in Eretz Yisroel, it was more important for him to be in the same place as his nation.

The Rebbe says that the same thing is true with the Rebbeim. Really it’s better for a person to have their Guf in Eretz Yisroel until Moshiach comes. But since a Rebbe’s whole life is to help his Chassidim, his holy Guf stays together in the place where he was their Rebbe. This way, his Chassidim can come and get kochos until they all go together to Yerushalayim when Moshiach comes.

That’s why the Rebbe’s Ohel is in New York, and not in Eretz Yisroel. That’s also why it’s so important to GO to the Ohel, because that’s why the Rebbe stayed there — so that we can go to the Ohel and get kochos. With these kochos, we will be ready to go WITH the Rebbe to the Geulah Sheleimah — may this happen immediately!

See sicha Yud Shevat Tof-Shin-Yud-Daled


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Ribono Shel Olam Hareini Mochel

In the Zohar for Parshas Mikeitz, there is a very interesting story:

The Tanna Rabbi Abba would sit by the entrance to the city of Lod.

One day, he saw a traveler approaching the city. The man seemed very tired from a long journey. He stopped to rest on the mountainside, sitting down on a large stone that was part of a pile of boulders. The man rested his head on a rock and fell asleep.

Rabbi Abba was watching the traveler from his seat, far away. Suddenly, he saw a long poisonous snake approaching the man! He was too far away to kill the snake, or even to warn the man in time.

Just before the snake struck the sleeping traveler, a heavy branch snapped sharply off a nearby tree. It landed right on the snake, killing it, before it reached the sleeping man.

At the loud crash, the traveler woke up. He saw the snake crushed on the ground at his feet, and realized that he had just been saved. He gathered his belongings, and started on his way again.

As he walked away, there was a low rumble. The pile of boulders he had just been resting on collapsed! The rocks fell on top of each other, and tumbled down the mountain, destroying everything in their path.

Rabbi Abba was amazed! Two open miracles had just happened to save this man’s life. He ran towards the traveler and spoke to him excitedly, “I just personally saw Hashem save you twice! Please tell me what you did to deserve this, so that I can learn from your behavior.”

The traveler answered, “My whole life I have been careful never to remain upset at another person. If someone did something to hurt me, I tried to approach him and make peace. If I couldn’t speak to him, I would not go to sleep before fully forgiving him in my mind. I was careful to never again even feel upset about that incident. I would always try to do favors for this person, so he would realize that I am not at all upset at him.”

Rabbi Abba cried, and proclaimed, “This man’s deeds are greater than those of Yosef Hatzadik! With Yosef, his brothers did not treat him right, but they were his brothers! It was natural for him to have pity on them. But this man followed the path of Yosef, even with those who were not his brothers! He therefore deserved that Hashem made this double miracle for him.”

This is another story that teaches us how important it is to do what we say in the paragraph of Ribono Shel Olam before we go to sleep, to forgive anyone who may have done something to hurt us.



Lo Sisna Es Achicha Bilvavecha

If someone did something to hurt us, we might feel very upset. But we are not allowed to keep this feeling inside! If we stay upset and keep thinking about how hurt we are, that is the Mitzvas Lo Saasei of “Lo Sisna Es Achicha Bilvavecha,” “You shouldn’t hate another person in your heart.”

Instead, if someone hurts us, we should go to the other person and ask them to explain why they did it, or give them a chance to apologize to us.

But we need to be careful when we do this mitzvah! When we go to the other person, we need to find a time to talk to them privately, calmly, and gently. We need to be very careful not to hurt them by embarrassing them!

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

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



Ve'ameich Kulam Tzadikim

Today we will learn a posuk about the Geulah that we all know — but we might not have known that it is about the Geulah!

וְעַמֵּךְ כֻּלָּם צַדִּיקִים לְעוֹלָם יִירְשׁוּ אָרֶץ נֵצֶר מַטָּעַי מַעֲשֵׂה יָדַי לְהִתְפָּאֵר

Hashem says through the Navi Yeshaya, about the time of the Geulah:

Ve’ameich Kulam Tzadikim — All of the Yidden will be tzadikim!

Le’olam Yirshu Aretz — They will inherit Eretz Yisroel forever, and never go into Golus again!

Neitzer Mata’ai — The Yidden are like a branch that grew from what I planted

Maasei Yadai — They are the work of My hands

Lehispa’er — Which I am very proud of!

There are many more explanations of this posuk. The most famous one comes from the Mishna in Sanhedrin, which we say at the beginning of each perek of Pirkei Avos. The Rebbe chose it to be one of the Twelve Pesukim and Maamarei Chazal that all of us should learn by heart!

Kol Yisrael Yeish Lahem Chelek Le’olam Haba!” This posuk from Yeshaya teaches us that every Yid has a place in Olam Haba!

See Yeshaya perek Samach posuk Chof-Alef

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