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Parshas Vayeishev - Revi'i with Rashi

Yehuda left his brothers and moved to another town. He had a family there, but two of his sons and his wife died. Later, he married Tamar, and had twin boys. One of them is Peretz, the ancestor of Moshiach!

The Shevatim had listened to Yehuda and sold Yosef, since they looked up to Yehuda as their leader. Now, after seeing how upset it made their father, they decided to stop listening to Yehuda. So Yehuda decided to move to a different city, where he worked together with a man named Chirah.

Yehuda married the daughter of Shua, a famous merchant there. They had three boys, Eir, Onan, and Shailah. After Yehuda’s wife stopped having children, they called the place where they lived then Keziv, because it means “stopping.”

When his son Eir got older, Yehuda found him a wife — Tamar, the daughter of Shem. Eir was afraid that Tamar wouldn’t stay beautiful if she had children, so he didn’t want to have any babies. This was a big aveira, and Hashem made Eir pass away.

There is a mitzvah called yibum, that if a husband passes away without having children, his wife needs to marry his brother. That way it is counted as if the first brother also had a child, since the mitzvah is done because of him. Yehuda kept the mitzvos even before Matan Torah, so he had his second son Onan marry Tamar.

But Onan didn’t want Tamar to have children either, because he knew that they would be considered like Eir’s children according to Torah. So he did the same aveirah as his brother. Hashem was upset at him too, and Onan also passed away.

Yehuda was afraid to let Shailah marry Tamar, because he was afraid that it was Tamar’s fault that Eir and Onan died. He told Tamar to wait until Shailah gets older, but he wasn’t really planning on letting her marry Shailah at all.

Tamar went to live in her parents’ house while she waited.

About a year later, Yehuda’s wife passed away. Yehuda was very sad. Later, after he felt better, he went with Chirah, his partner, to Timna to watch them cutting the hair of the sheep (shearing).

Tamar heard that Yehuda was going to Timna, and she knew which way he was going. She wanted to have children from Yehuda’s family, and she saw that Shailah was older but still Yehuda wasn’t letting her marry him. So she decided to do something to get Yehuda to marry her.

Before Matan Torah, a person didn’t need to have a chuppah or Kiddushin in order to get married. If a man met a woman, they could decide to get married right then and would be husband and wife.

Tamar took off her veil and sat by the side of the road, like a woman who is looking to get married. When Yehuda saw her there, he didn’t recognize her, since Tamar was so tznius’dik and Yehuda hardly ever saw her when she was married to his sons. Yehuda wanted to just keep on going, but a malach made him go and ask if she wanted to get married to him. Tamar agreed, and Yehuda said he would give her a fine goat as a gift.

Tamar made Yehuda give her his ring, his special coat, and his stick until she gets the goat, and they decided to get married. Then Tamar went back home and put on her regular clothes. Yehuda still had no idea that it was Tamar!

Yehuda sent Chirah with the goat to keep the promise he had made, but he couldn’t find Tamar! He asked everyone where the woman was, but nobody knew. So Yehuda said, “I tried to give her the goat I promised! At least now she will keep the things I gave her before.”

Three months later, people could see that Tamar was going to have a baby. Since she wasn’t married, that could mean she had become a zonah, getting married to many men! In those days, someone from a special family (like Tamar, who was the daughter of Shem) who did that kind of aveirah could get a big punishment. So Yehuda said, “Bring her and we will have to punish her, because that is the law.”

Tamar didn’t want to embarrass Yehuda in public, even if she might get put to death. So while they were bringing her to punish her, she had someone show Yehuda his ring and coat and stick, saying “I am having a baby because of the person who owns these things! Please tell the truth so nobody has to die.”

Yehuda knew the things were his, and understood that it was because of him — Tamar had wanted to make sure she has children from Yehuda’s family, and he hadn’t wanted her to marry Shailah. She wasn’t a zonah, marrying many men, she had only gotten married to Yehuda.

Hashem said, “I was the One Who wanted this to happen! Because Tamar was always so tznius’dik, I decided that the kings of Bnei Yisrael should come from her. Really they were supposed to come from Eir and Onan, but because of the aveiros they did, I arranged that Tamar have children with Yehuda instead!”

Yehuda now understood that it wasn’t Tamar’s fault that Eir and Onan passed away, Yehuda knew it wasn’t dangerous to have her as a wife, so he stayed married to her.

When Tamar was having her babies, the midwife saw that it was going to be twins! One of the babies started to be born, and a hand came out. The midwife tied a red string so she would remember which baby was born first and would be the bechor, but the hand went back in and the other baby was born first! Since he pushed ahead, Yehuda called him “Peretz” which means breaking through. (Moshiach comes from Peretz!)

Then his brother was born, and they called him Zarach, because of the shining red string.

Because Tamar only had these children for the right reason, the twins were strong and tzadikim like their father Yehuda.



97 - 103

Today’s kapitelach are Tzadik-Zayin to Kuf-Gimmel.

Once when the Frierdiker Rebbe was a young boy, his father the Rebbe Rashab took him to a Chassidishe farbrengen. It was Sukkos, and the farbrengen was in the freezing cold Sukkah. The farbrengen went until very late, and the Frierdiker Rebbe fell asleep.

Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah (the Frierdiker Rebbe’s mother) came to take him into his warm bed, but the Rebbe Rashab said to let him stay! The Rebbetzin said, “It is cold for him! Doesn’t it say in Tehillim, ‘Kerachem Av Al Banim’ — ‘Hashem has rachmanus on us like a FATHER has rachmanus on his child’? Where is your rachmanus for your son? He might get sick from the cold chas veshalom!” (This posuk is in today’s Tehillim!)

The Rebbe Rashab answered, “Let him sleep close to Chassidim that are farbrenging, and that will keep him warm! This varemkeit (warmth) will stay with him for many generations.”

Many years later, the Friediker Rebbe told this story at a farbrengen with Chassidim. After the story, he said, “This is Mesiras Nefesh for Chinuch!”



Likutei Amarim Haskamos

Today’s Tanya is another haskama, but a different kind! The haskamos in yesterday’s Tanya were saying that they thought the sefer was special and needs to be printed, and today’s haskamos are from the three sons of the Alter Rebbe. They are saying that they agree to print two more parts of Tanya that weren’t in the original.

The first editions of Tanya had Likutei Amarim Chelek Alef, Shaar Hayichud Veha’emunah, and Igeres Hateshuvah as we see in today’s Hayom Yom. (In some places, Igeres Hateshuvah is called Tanya Katan, and the first part is called Tanya Gadol.)

After the Alter Rebbe’s histalkus, his sons agreed to add the sections called Igeres Hakodesh and Kuntres Acharon. Igeres Hakodesh are letters that the Alter Rebbe sent to Chassidim, many of which are about tzedakah and davening properly. Kuntres Acharon is pilpulim in Kabbalah, explaining certain sections of the first part of Tanya in a much deeper way.

The sons of the Alter Rebbe who signed this haskama were the Mitteler Rebbe, R’ Chaim Avraham, and R’ Moshe.

If you look at their signatures, you can see that they each describe their father, the Alter Rebbe, in a different way. The Rebbe explains that they each wrote titles for their father similar to what they were themselves: The Mitteler Rebbe was a Rebbe, R’ Chaim Avraham was a Rav and posek who was known for his tzidkus, and R’ Moshe was a Gaon and a chossid.



Chof Kislev

Today we learn about the stages in the printing of Tanya, starting from the first time it was printed, to the way we have it today!

The first place the Tanya was printed was in Slavita, today — Chof Kislev, 5557. It had the first two parts of Tanya, Sefer Shel Beinonim and Shaar Hayichud Veha’emunah.

Igeres HaTeshuva, the third part of Tanya, was first printed two years later (5559), in Zolkvi, and then the final version was printed in Shklov seven years later (5566).

The fourth part of Tanya, Igeres Hakodesh (which includes Kuntres Acharon), was printed for the first time in Shklov, in 5574. (This was the year after the histalkus of the Alter Rebbe.)

These four parts of Tanya were corrected to the way we have them now, and printed in Vilna in 5660... and that version has been printed many, many times since then!

The Rebbe instructed that Tanyas should be printed in every place. Is there a Tanya that was printed where you live?



Shiur #164 - Mitzvas Asei #84, #85, Lo Saasei #90

Today we learn 3 mitzvos about bringing korbanos:

1) (Mitzvas Asei #84) We are only allowed to bring Korbanos in the Beis Hamikdash.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Reeh: וְשָׁם תַּעֲשֶׂה כֹּל אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּךָּ

2) (Mitzvas Asei #85) If someone who lives outside of Eretz Yisroel promises to bring a korban, it is a mitzvah for him to bring it. He needs to bring his korban to the Beis Hamikdash even though Eretz Yisroel is very far away and it is very hard for him to get to Yerushalayim!

We learn this mitzvah from another posuk in Parshas Reeh: רַק קָדָשֶׁיךָ אֲשֶׁר יִהְיוּ לְךָ וּנְדָרֶיךָ תִּשָּׂא וּבָאתָ אֶל הַמָּקוֹם

3) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #90) It is asur to shecht any animal that is supposed to be for a korban, outside of the Beis Hamikdash.

This mitzvah comes from a posuk in Parshas Acharei: אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁחַט שׁוֹר אוֹ כֶשֶׂב אוֹ עֵז בַּמַּחֲנֶה אוֹ אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁחָט מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה וְאֶל פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֹא הֱבִיאוֹ לְהַקְרִיב קָרְבָּן לַה׳ לִפְנֵי מִשְׁכַּן ה׳ דָּם יֵחָשֵׁב לָאִישׁ הַהוּא דָּם שָׁפָךְ וְנִכְרַת

The details of this mitzvah are explained in Perek Yud-Gimmel of Mesechta Zevachim.



Hilchos Maaseh HaKorbanos

In today’s Rambam, we learn more about promises to bring korbanos, and about not bringing korbanos outside of the Beis Hamikdash.

Perek Tes-Zayin: Sometimes a person makes a promise to bring a certain kind of animal for a korban. What if he wants to (or needs) to change? There are times when we are allowed to do it differently than we said, but other times when we can’t! For example, if someone promises to bring a BIG animal, he can’t bring a little one. But if he says he will bring a little one, he CAN bring a big one.

Perek Yud-Zayin: We need to be careful to bring the korban just like we said — so if someone promises to bring flour in ONE container, he can’t bring it in two smaller containers. We also learn about how much wine or oil a person should bring if they promised to bring it as a present for Hashem: It needs to be at least the amount that would be brought as the Mincha or Nesech of a korban!

Perek Yud-Ches: It is a mitzvah not to bring a korban outside of the Beis Hamikdash.



Hilchos Temidin U'Musafin - Perek Yud

In this perek we learn about the special korbanos of Yom Kippur and Sukkos. We also learn about the Nisuch Hamayim — the water that was poured on the Mizbeiach when the Korban Tomid was brought on Sukkos, along with the wine that was usually poured!

Mazel Tov! We have now finished learning this set of halachos!

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Yud-Tes Kislev

On Yud-Tes Kislev, the Alter Rebbe was released from prison. But he didn’t come back home until Chof Kislev, so both days are a Yom Tov!

There is an important lesson we can learn from what happened on Chof Kislev. But first, let’s review what happened on Yud-Tes Kislev in Ruchnius:

Why did the Alter Rebbe sit in jail?

The Alter Rebbe had Mesiras Nefesh to spread Yiddishkeit and to teach Chassidus. Since teaching Chassidus was something new, in Shomayim it wasn’t clear that it was the right thing for it to be revealed now in the world. Therefore also in Gashmius, which is a reflection of what happens in Ruchnius, there were Yidden who disagreed with spreading Chassidus.

Only after the Geulah of Yud-Tes Kislev was it decided in Shomayim, and later accepted in Gashmius too, that Chassidus MUST be learned to prepare the world for the coming of Moshiach!

After the Alter Rebbe left jail, he wrote a letter to the Chassidim, printed in Igeres Hakodesh, telling them how to act with those who were against Chassidus. He told the Chassidim to be humble and not say “Ha, we were right!” or to treat them not nicely in any way.

The Alter Rebbe himself showed an example of this to his Chassidim, which is what happened on Chof Kislev:

Right after the Alter Rebbe left jail, he asked to be brought to the house of one of his Chassidim nearby. In the same house also lived one of the Misnagdim. Mistakenly, the Alter Rebbe was brought to the apartment of the Misnaged instead of to the Chossid!

The Alter Rebbe sat there for three hours, while the Misnaged said many things about Chassidus to hurt the Alter Rebbe. When finally the Chassidim realized what had happened, they came to the Misnaged’s apartment to get the Alter Rebbe. The Chassidim were very upset at the Misnaged and wanted to punish him for bothering the Alter Rebbe! But the Alter Rebbe said that out of respect for his host, since he prepared tea for him, he first wanted to drink the glass of tea.

Obviously, if the kitrug was removed already, the Alter Rebbe didn’t need to go through any more imprisonment and pain. The only reason why it happened was to show an example to Chassidim of how to act after the Geulah. Even though they were very hurt and upset by those who caused the Alter Rebbe to be brought to jail, they should still treat them in a mentchliche, respectful way.

See Farbrengen Yud-Tes Kislev 5738, first sicha

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Seeing Hashem Clearly - Reuven

When we daven Shemoneh Esrei, we need to have proper bittul to Hashem. In the parts of davening before Shemoneh Esrei, we prepare to have this bittul. These parts of davening are hinted to in the names of the Shevatim — Reuven, Shimon, and Levi.

Reuven was called by that name because Hashem SAW (Re’u) what Leah wanted. So Reuven is the idea of seeing something.

In davening, there is a way for us to “see” Elokus. When we think about our lives, we can clearly “see” how Hashem runs the world! Every one of our lives is full of Hashgacha Protis, times when we can clearly see that Hashem was making things happen just the way they did.

When we see how Hashem is in charge, we will want to live the way He tells us to in the Torah.

This is what the first paragraph of Shema is about. First we say that there is no existence other than Hashem

(Shema), and then we say Ve’ahavta, that we are ready to act the way Hashem wants us to. This is the first part of preparing for the bittul in Shemoneh Esrei.

(Pesukei Dezimra and the brachos of Shema are a preparation to feel this way, so they also go together with Reuven.)

Maamar Yehuda Ata 5738, Likutei Sichos chelek Chof p. 347



Menorah Wicks

The leftover oil and wicks in our Menorahs are special because it was set aside for a mitzvah, so we can’t use them for anything else. After we use the menorah for the last time on Zos Chanukah, these leftovers should be burned. Some people put them away until Erev Pesach, and burn them with the Chometz!

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

See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 139, Shevach Hamoadim page 102

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



It's All for the Good!

Parshas Vayeishev is a very busy parsha. Many things are happening — and not all of them look like good things.

The Medrash tells us that the Shevatim were busy selling Yosef, Yosef was busy crying about being taken away from his father’s house, Reuven was crying and doing teshuvah for things he did, and Yehuda was busy trying to get married.

But what was Hashem doing? Hashem was busy preparing the light of Moshiach — making sure that Peretz was born, since Moshiach comes from Peretz!

There is a posuk in Yirmiyahu (29:11) that tells us this:

כִּי אָנֹכִי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת הַמַּחֲשָׁבֹת אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי חֹשֵׁב עֲלֵיכֶם נְאֻם ה׳ מַחְשְׁבוֹת שָׁלוֹם וְלֹא לְרָעָה לָתֵת לָכֶם אַחֲרִית וְתִקְוָה

Hashem knows that the thoughts He has for the Yidden are for good. Even if it looks like not good things are happening, Hashem is planning to bring a wonderful ending!

See Medrash Bereishis Rabah 85:1

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