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Rishon with Rashi

In today’s Chumash, we learn that the Yidden grew and became a big nation in Mitzrayim! Paraoh was afraid they would rebel, so he tried making them work hard so they would stop having children. But that didn’t work! Paraoh’s astrologers told him that a boy would be born who would save the Yidden. So he commanded the Jewish midwives to stop baby boys from being born. Of course, they didn’t listen!

We are now starting a new Chumash, Chumash Shemos!

At the beginning of this week’s parsha, the Torah reviews that when the Yidden came down to Mitzrayim, there were only 70 people. But they had a bracha to have many children, and many times the mommies would have six babies at a time! Soon Mitzrayim was full of Yidden.

Yaakov’s sons were getting older now, and they all passed away (Levi passed away last). Many of the Yidden stopped keeping all of the mitzvos — except for the families in Shevet Levi.

Now a new Paraoh, who didn’t know Yosef, became king. He said he was afraid that the Yidden would fight against the Mitrziyim, since there were so many Yidden. He wanted to do something to stop them!

Paraoh asked his advisors what to do. Bilam, one of his advisors, gave Paraoh a sneaky idea that would stop the Yidden from having a lot of babies, and would get them to start to act like the Mitzriyim. (Yisro, another advisor, told Paraoh not to do it, but Paraoh didn’t listen to him. Yisro then had to run away to Midyan.)

Paraoh called all of the Yidden to come, and when everyone was there, he started making bricks. Everyone of course started to help — everyone except for Shevet Levi, who stayed home to learn Torah. At the end of the day, the Mitzriyim told the Yidden to count how many bricks they made. “You will have to make this many bricks EVERY day!” they told the Yidden. That’s how they tricked them into becoming slaves.

The Mitzriyim made the Yidden work very hard to build the cities of Pisom and Ramses. But Bilam’s plan wasn’t working. Even though the Yidden were working so hard, they still kept on having lots of children! 

The Mitzriyim were very frustrated! They thought of another idea: Now the Yidden would have to work even HARDER, and do work they weren’t used to doing. This way the parents would be too tired to have more children. But the Yiddishe Mommies knew that kinderlach are the most important thing!

Paraoh saw that the Yidden were still hoping to be freed, and were STILL having children! Then his advisors told him that the person who would take the Yidden out of Mitzrayim would be born soon! He realized that his plan wasn’t working.

So he came up with a new plan. He would kill all of the baby boys, and take the girls away so they wouldn’t know they were Yidden. Paraoh called the Yiddishe midwives (women who help Mommies have babies), Shifra (Yocheved, Amram’s wife) and Puah (Miriam, their daughter). (Really, the Yidden didn’t need midwives, but they were sometimes nervous, so Shifra and Puah told everyone that if there was any problem, they could call them.) 

Paraoh told Shifra and Puah to kill all of the Yiddishe baby boys, and only to let the baby girls live. Of course Shifra and Puah didn’t listen! They helped the baby boys to stay healthy instead.



77 - 78

Today’s shiur Tehillim is kapitelach Ayin-Zayin and Ayin-Ches.

In Kapitel Ayin-Ches, which is in today’s Tehillim, there is a posuk that says “Vayakem Eidus BeYaakov, VeSora Sam BeYisroel” — “Hashem set up the Torah and mitzvos for Yaakov and Yisroel.” The kapitel continues that this was in order to pass it on to the next generations.

Chassidus teaches that each one of the Avos has something different and special about them, which they passed on to every single Yid. (For example, Avraham Avinu passed on his koach of chesed and Hachnosas Orchim, being kind to others and teaching them about Hashem.) In this posuk, which speaks about Torah, we mention the name of Yaakov and Yisroel, the third of the Avos.

Yaakov Avinu’s special koach was in learning Torah day and night. Yaakov is called a “Yoshev Ohalim,” someone who sits in the tent of Torah! The Torah tells us how Yaakov Avinu spent many years working very hard for his parnasa and to raise a family. Still, he made sure to use his time whenever he could to say Shir Hamaalos and to learn Torah! When things were easier too, like his last seventeen years in Mitzrayim, Yaakov Avinu also used that time in the best way, learning Torah with his children and grandchildren. He passed on this koach of being dedicated to learning Torah to each and every one of us.



Likutei Amarim Perek Yud

In the first twelve Perakim of Tanya, the Alter Rebbe will explain what a beinoni is, so we’ll understand how a beinoni needs to act! First we need to understand what is a tzaddik and a rasha, and then we’ll understand what is a beinoni.

In this perek we are going to learn about a tzadik.

A tzadik is someone who is born with two nefashos, like everyone, but Hashem gives him a special koach to work very hard making his Nefesh Elokis strong. It becomes SO strong that the Nefesh Habehamis has no koach to be active in the guf!

Because he loves Hashem so much, the tzadik is only interested in things that help with Hashem’s shlichus. Just enjoying gashmius with no purpose makes him disgusted.

Because the tzadik loves Hashem so much, he hates anything that goes against what Hashem wants, like the Yetzer Hara! The more he loves Hashem, the more he hates the Yetzer Hara.



Tes-Vov Teves

The Rebbe points out a correction in a maamar from Torah Ohr for Parshas Vayechi.

The Friediker Rebbe said: “Yidden, listen carefully! Now is the time for Moshiach to come! All of the sad things happening in the world are because Moshiach is so close. Remember that only Hashem will save us — and it is only because we will do teshuva! Let us do teshuva and prepare ourselves and our families to be Mekabel Pnei Moshiach Tzidkeinu, who will come bekarov mamosh!”



Mitzvas Lo Saasei #202, #203, and #204

Today, we learn 3 mitzvos about a Nazir:

1) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #202) A Nazir can’t drink wine or any other drink that was made with grapes. He can’t even have wine vinegar!

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Naso: וְכָל מִשְׁרַת עֲנָבִים לֹא יִשְׁתֶּה

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #203) A Nazir can’t eat grapes

We learn this mitzvah from other words in the same posuk: וַעֲנָבִים לַחִים ... לֹא יֹאכֵל

3) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #204) A Nazir can’t eat raisins (because they are dried grapes!)

We also learn this mitzvah from the same posuk: וִיבֵשִׁים לֹא יֹאכֵל



Hilchos Nezirus

In today’s Rambam, we learn more halachos about the Nazir.

Perek Gimmel: How long is a person a Nazir for? It depends — he is allowed to decide how long he wants to be a Nazir for. But if he doesn’t say how long, he is a Nazir for 30 days.

Perek Daled: At the end of being a Nazir, the Nazir needs to shave all of his hair and bring certain korbanos. When does he do these things if he made a promise to be a Nazir more than one time in a row? In this perek, the Rambam answers this question too!

Perek Hey: In this perek we learn about the three things that are Asur for a Nazir:

1) He is not allowed to eat anything that comes from grapes
2) He is not allowed to cut his hair
3) He is not allowed to make himself Tamei from a dead person



Hilchos Klei Hamikdash - Perek Hey

We give special kavod to the Kohen Gadol. He needs to act in a kavodike way so that people treat him properly. We learn that when the Kohen Gadol starts his avodah, he brings a special korban.



Hachana L'Yud Shevat

After a week of celebration following Hey Teves in 5747, the Rebbe told us that we need to start getting ready for Yud Shevat, with the help of a mashpiaAsei Lecha Rav! But what’s a mashpia?

A mashpia is someone who has more Yiras Shomayim and more experience in life than you. You can report to your mashpia how you are doing in Avodas Hashem so that you will know that someone knows what you are doing, which will help you feel a push to do more.

A mashpia can also help us if we’re not sure about something. Should I take on a hachlata to learn extra Tanya, or to give extra tzedakah? Is it okay to read a book about non-kosher animals? Should I be Maavir Sedra after I clean my room, or offer to help Mommy set the table? (Do you have any of your own questions?)

But how can we trust that the mashpia will tell us the right answer?

It is because a mashpia gets a special koach from Hashem to know the right thing to tell us.

Here is a story the Rebbe told about the koach of a Rav, that can help us understand this:

Long ago in Prague, there lived a very great Rav, called the Noda Biyehuda (R’ Yechezkel Landau). In his city, there were some people who didn’t like him. They decided to trick him so people would think he isn’t such a great Rav. So they looked for a very complicated halacha question, so that he would probably make a mistake.

Sure enough, when they asked The Noda Biyehuda this very complicated question, he told them the wrong answer! They were very excited that their plan worked. They showed the Noda Biyehuda the sefarim that proved that his answer was wrong!

But instead of the Noda Biyehuda looking embarrassed, he said, “This must not have been a real question about something that happened to you, right?”

Now THEY were embarrassed!

The Noda Biyehuda explained that a Rav is just a person, like all other people. He isn’t perfect — he can make mistakes. So how does the Torah tell us to ask a Rav what the Torah says? The Torah doesn’t have any mistakes, chas veshalom! How can we trust the Rav not to make a mistake about Torah?

The Noda Biyehuda explained to them that Hashem gives a special koach to a Rav, so that he will always answer the real halacha, exactly the way Hashem wants us to act.

The Noda Biyehuda knew that if he made a mistake, it means Hashem didn’t give him that special koach. Why not? Because he really didn’t need that koach — these people weren’t asking a real question!

The same way, we can trust that even though our mashpia may not perfect, he or she is telling us exactly the way Hashem wants us to act. If we choose our mashpia the way the Rebbe asked, the mashpia will get the special koach to give us the right answer and help us be the way we should.


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Modeh Ani

We just finished going through the explanation of the short davening for small children. The next thing we are going to learn is Birchos Hashachar. Even though we already learned about Modeh Ani, we will learn a little more about Modeh Ani before going on to the rest of the Birchos Hashachar.

The Rebbe Rashab’s older brother, the Raza, was very careful with dikduk, especially in davening. He was careful to pronounce the nekudos perfectly, and to say each posuk properly.

Once, when the Rebbe Rashab was about 9 years old, the Raza was teasing him by asking dikduk questions about davening. He asked him, “Why is there a dot after the word ‘bechemlah’ in Modeh Ani?”

The Rashab answered, “That’s the whole reason for davening! When we daven, we take that dot, that nekudah that is inside of us, and spread it.”

The Raza asked next, “Why do we daven every day?”

The Rashab answered, “Because we want the nekudah to be spread out inside of us every single day.”

Then he added that the word “bechemlah” is in two places in davening, in Modeh Ani and in Ahavas Olam (before Shema). There is no nekudah after the “bechemlah” in Ahavas Olam, because the davening spread it out already!

Years later, the Rebbe Rashab explained that the nekudah is the “Nekudas Halev,” the Pintele Yid. When we daven, this little spark of the neshama spreads out into our whole body.

See Sicha Yud Shevat 5723



Netilas Yodayim

We are learning some of the halachos of washing our hands for bread. Today we will learn about shifshuf.

After carefully washing our hands with plenty of water, making sure it reached every part of our hands, we hold a little bit of water in the palm of the hand we just washed (our left hand) and go on to the next part of Netilas Yodayim. We hold our hands up to our heart, and make the bracha. Then we rub our hands together with the little bit of water that is left. This is called “shifshuf.”

Shifshuf is part of the mitzvah of Netilas Yodayim, to make our hands extra tahor.

Usually, we say a bracha BEFORE doing a mitzvah, but the Chachomim didn’t want us to make a bracha right before our hands are tahor. Instead, we say the bracha afterwards. But the best way to say the bracha is before doing shifshuf, so that the bracha is still at least before doing PART of the mitzvah. (If we forget, we can say the bracha even after drying our hands.)

Seder Netilas Yodayim L’seudah, se’if daled

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



Learning About the Geulah

The Baal Shem Tov says, “Bemakom Shemachshavto Shel Adam, Sham Hu Nimtza.” “Where a person’s thoughts are, that’s where he is.

This helps us understand why it’s so important to learn about the Geulah! When we are thinking about the Geulah, then in a certain way, we are already there!

By having our thoughts and our Ratzon in the time of the Geulah, we will also be excited to do whatever we can to make it happen sooner! So learning about the Geulah also gives us the koach to speed up bringing the Geulah for all the Yidden.

See Parshas Balak 5743

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