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Parshas Ki Savo - Rishon with Rashi

Today we learn about the mitzvah of Bikurim.

Let’s review: On Rosh Chodesh Shevat, only a few months before Zayin Adar (the end of Moshe Rabbeinu’s shlichus as a neshama in a guf), Moshe Rabbeinu gathered the Yidden together and made a long farbrengen with them. In it, he rebuked them for the not such good things they did in the Midbar, so they won’t do them again, reviewed the mitzvos they had already learned, and taught them new mitzvos they would get to keep in Eretz Yisroel. Moshe Rabbeinu was making sure the Yidden were ready for their shlichus in the next generation and in the future generations to come.

This week, we will learn many more mitzvos, and also be inspired to do all of the mitzvos, by hearing about all of the brachos we will have for doing them.

Bikurim: When you will come into Eretz Yisroel, you will send out all of the nations who live there now, and give out the different parts of land to each of the Shevatim. Then, once all of you have a part of Eretz Yisroel, you will be able to do a very special mitzvahBikurim!

You will do this mitzvah by bringing the first fruit from the Shiva Minim — the seven kinds of fruit that Eretz Yisroel was given a special bracha for: Wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.

When you will see that one of these kinds of fruits is starting to get ripe, you should tie a string around it to remember which one it is. When it is ready to pick, you should put it into a special basket, and bring it to the Beis Hamikdash!

In the Beis Hamikdash, you will go to one of the Kohanim, and thank Hashem for giving you Eretz Yisroel. Then together with the Kohen, you should wave the basket of fruit (like a Lulav!) in front of the Mizbeiach.

If you are bringing the Bikurim during the time of the harvest, after Shavuos but before Sukkos is over, you should say a special paragraph (that we also say in the Haggadah!) to thank Hashem that you are in Eretz Yisroel, where you are safe — not like Yaakov in Lavan’s house, or like the Yidden in Mitzrayim! Then wave the basket of Bikurim again, this time by yourself, and bow to Hashem. Then the Kohanim will be able to take the fruits home to eat.

The inyan of this mitzvah is Hakoras Hatov, appreciating good things that are done for us. Hashem tells us not only to feel it, but to say thank you!



55- 59

Today’s Shiur Tehillim is kapitelach Nun-Hey to Nun-Tes. For Chodesh Elul, we also say kapitelach Chof-Ches, Chof-Tes, and Lamed.

In today’s Tehillim, we say Kapitel Nun-Hey, which Dovid Hamelech said to thank Hashem for saving him from people who wanted to hurt him. Dovid Hamelech talks about how we need to have bitachon in Hashem!

He says, “Hashlech Al Hashem Yehovcha, Vehu Yechalkelecha” — “Give Hashem your problems, and He will take care of you.”

Chassidus explains that sometimes, we know where to go for help. We know which doctor is the best expert, which teacher has good advice, or how to earn the money we need. We have bitachon that Hashem will help that what we do will be successful, and things will be good.

But sometimes, we have NO IDEA what to do. We don’t know who to ask or where to turn to for help. Even then, we also need to have bitachon that Hashem will help us to come up with the right idea of what keli to make!

All of the things we do — like asking a doctor — are like taking out a cup (a keli) to catch the bracha of Hashem. But even if we don’t know what keili to use, because we have no idea what to do, “Hu Yechalkelecha” — HASHEM will make a keili for us! We should of course try our best, but we need to have bitachon that Hashem will help us even when it looks like there is nothing we can do.



Igeres Hakodesh Siman Yud-Beis

We are continuing to learn a letter, where the Alter Rebbe encourages Chassidim to give tzedakah, especially when it’s hard!

When someone comes to us and asks us for a favor, we get excited! We know that we are helping another person, and it’s good for us too, and it brings Moshiach closer! Usually we LIKE to do nice things for other people.

But what if it’s someone who is annoying, or you’re busy or tired now, and you don’t want to do the favor? Of course we should still try to do the favor — we’ll still be helping another person and bringing Moshiach closer!

The Alter Rebbe tells us that when you DON’T want to help, that is one of the most special opportunities that there could be!

In the posuk the Alter Rebbe used at the beginning of this letter, there are two ways the posuk describes the mitzvah of Tzedakah:

1) Maaseh HaTzedakah (DOING the tzedakah)

2) Avodas HaTzedakah (tzedakah with AVODAH)

Maaseh Hatzedakah means you give because Yidden like to give! Avodas Hatzedakah is that even when you DON’T want to give, you will — because that’s what Hashem wants. That takes Avodah, doing things that aren’t comfortable or easy for us.

We will see in tomorrow’s Tanya, IY”H about the special opportunity we have with Avodas Hatzedakah!



Yud Elul

Today we’ll learn what happens when a Chossid goes into Yechidus!

The older Chassidim of the Alter Rebbe showed us that the word Yechidus has three meanings in Torah — and all of those meanings are things that happen to a chossid when he goes into Yechidus by the Rebbe!

1) The word Yechidus can mean CLEAR: We see the word Yechidus used this way in the Mishnah. It says that people knew something “Beyichud” — it was so clear, they knew it for SURE!

When a Chossid goes into Yechidus, something becomes CLEAR to him! He is able to see clearly where he is holding in Avodas Hashem, and where he needs to do better.

2) The word Yechidus can mean DESIGNATED (chosen for a certain job): The word Yechidus is used this way in Gemara! The Gemara says that Moshe was “Meyuchad” — designated for a special shlichus that only HE could do!

When a Chossid goes into Yechidus, he realizes that he is designated to do a special shlichus. The Rebbe shows him what special avodah he needs to do!

3) The word Yechidus can mean UNITED: We see Yechidus used this way in the Medrash! The Medrash says that the Yidden are “Meyachadim” — that we show that Hashem is UNITED and one with the world.

When a Chossid goes into Yechidus, he becomes UNITED with Hashem! He will be ready to even have Mesiras Nefesh, giving up the things HE wants to do, so he can do his special shlichus in the world.

Even now, there is a way for these things to happen to us! When we learn the Rebbe’s Torah, go into the Rebbe’s Yechidus room, and go to the Ohel, we can also CLEARLY see where we are holding in our Avodas Hashem, realize that we are DESIGNATED for a special shlichus, and be UNITED with Hashem so we are ready to do that shlichus no matter what!



Shiur #52 - Mitzvas Asei #162, Lo Saasei #325, Asei #163, Lo Saasei #326

In today’s Sefer Hamitzvos, we learn 4 mitzvos, about not working on Shavuos or Rosh Hashana:

1) (Mitzvas Asei #162) We need to rest on Shavuos.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Emor: וּקְרָאתֶם בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה מִקְרָא קֹדֶשׁ

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #325) We can’t work on Shavuos.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Emor: כָּל מְלֶאכֶת עֲבֹדָה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ

3) (Mitzvas Asei #163) We need to rest on Rosh Hashana.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Emor: בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ יִהְיֶה לָכֶם שַׁבָּתוֹן וְגוֹ׳

4) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #326) We can’t work on Rosh Hashana.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Emor: כָּל מְלֶאכֶת עֲבֹדָה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ



Hilchos Shevisas Yom Tov

Today’s Rambam is perakim Daled, Hey and Vov.

Yesterday in Rambam, we learned that we can light a fire on Yom Tov. But today, the Rambam explains that we can’t light a NEW fire, but we can light a fire from another fire when it’s already burning.

We also learn about being happy on Yom Tov! What makes someone happy? The Rambam says that the way to make sure kids are happy on Yom Tov is to have nuts and candies! For women, they are happy with new clothes and jewelry. Men should eat meat and drink wine to be happy on Yom Tov.

But we need to be careful that our Simcha on Yom Tov is a Simchas Mitzvah, a simcha from doing a mitzvah, and not just Simcha of the stomach! By sharing our delicious Yom Tov food and drink with poor or lonely people, our Simchas Yom Tov will be a Simchas Mitzvah!



Hilchos Teshuvah - Perek Daled

We learn about 24 things that make it harder for a per- son to do teshuvah.

There are some aveiros that are very serious. If a person does them, Hashem won’t help him do teshuvah! For example, if someone makes other people do the wrong thing, Hashem won’t help him do teshuvah.

There are also some aveiros that a person thinks aren’t such a big deal, and they won’t even TRY to do teshuvah for them. For example, a person might look at non-tznius pictures, and thinks that since he isn’t DOING anything, it isn’t a problem. But really, a person needs to do teshuvah for it, because it is the cause for very serious aveiros!



Chodesh Elul

The month of Elul is a time for teshuvah and fixing up the past year, and also getting ready for the coming year.

The Rebbe teaches us that each day of the month of Elul can fix up that day of EVERY month of the past year, and prepares us for that day of each month in the coming year! (Since there are only 29 days in Elul, Chof-Tes Elul also includes Lamed of every month, the same way that in a month of 29 days, we say the shiur of Tehillim for Yom Lamed also on yom Chof-Tes.)

So on Yud Elul, we should think about all of the “Yuds” of the year.

Some of the “Yuds” that might be easier to remember are:

- Yud TishreiYom Kippur

- Yud Kislev — the Chag Hageulah of the Mitteler Rebbe

- Yud Shevat — the day the Rebbe became Rebbe, and yartzeit of the Frierdiker Rebbe

- Yud Nissan — the day before Yud-Alef Nissan

- Yud Av — the day after Tisha B’Av

Those are some of the “Yuds” in the year that should be easier to remember!

We can try to think of anything we did very well that we should do next year too, or a hachlata we made that now we’re ready to start keeping. Or, we might be able to remember a mistake we made then so that we won’t do it again!

See Hisvaaduyos, Tof-Shin-Mem-Tes, chelek Daled, p. 236; Shaarei Hamoadim Chodesh Elul p. 66


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Pesukei Dezimra

We learn from Moshe Rabbeinu that we need to say Pesukei Dezimra before asking for our needs. Before Moshe Rabbeinu davened to be able to go into Eretz Yisroel, he first praised Hashem for the miracles of Yetziyas Mitzrayim. We learn from this to also praise Hashem’s greatness before davening for the things we need in Shemoneh Esrei.

But there is another reason also:

Not only does Pesukei Dezimra help our davening be proper, by praising Hashem first, but Pesukei Dezimra helps US to daven in the right mood! In the Mishna, the Chachomim teach us that a person shouldn’t stand before Hashem in tefillah when he is depressed, lazy, silly, or busy. Instead, a person should daven with Simcha Shel Mitzvah, with the joy of davening to Hashem!

Saying the words of Torah in Pesukei Dezimra helps put us in a mood of simcha, when we think about Hashem’s greatness and how Hashem takes care of us. This way, we will be able to daven in the right way — with Simcha Shel Mitzvah!

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman Nun-Alef se’if Alef, Likutei Sichos volume 34, p. 70



Apple and Honey

After Hamotzi on the first night of Rosh Hashana, we have a very special minhag of eating an apple dipped in honey.

Here’s how to do it:

1) Dip your apple into the honey (the Rebbe would dip three times!)

2) Make the brachaBorei Peri Ha’eitz” (have kavana also for other fruits you will eat during the meal or for dessert)

3) Say “Yehi Ratzon Milfanecha Shetechadesh Aleinu Shana Tova Umesuka!” “May it be Your will that this new year should be a good and sweet year!” We say it right after the bracha, even before taking a bite. This way, the Yehi Ratzon has the koach of a bracha, so that Hashem will surely send us a sweet new year!

4) Eat and enjoy!

See Halachos Uminhagei Chabad p. 13


It is also a minhag to have pomegranates on Rosh Hashana, asking that we should be packed full of mitzvos like a pomegranate is full of seeds. A pomegranate is an important fruit, because it is one of the Shiva Minim. We learned in the halachos of the order of brachos that we should make the bracha Ha’eitz on the most important fruit! So how can we make a bracha on the apple, instead of the pomegranate?

We also learned that if we WANT to eat a certain fruit first, if we like it more or are more excited about it, that fruit is called “choviv.” Since the “choviv” fruit is more important TO US, we can say the bracha on it, even if the Shiva Minim fruit is right there.

Since this minhag of apple and honey is so special, and we say the Yehi Ratzon specifically for it, the apple is VERY choviv to us! So we say the bracha on the apple, and not the pomegranate.

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



Hashem Will Bring Us Back

At the end of his sefer, the Navi Tzefaniah says a very famous promise from Hashem that will happen in the time of the Geulah! You might know these words from davening.

בָּעֵת הַהִיא אָבִיא אֶתְכֶם וּבָעֵת קַבְּצִי אֶתְכֶם כִּי אֶתֵּן אֶתְכֶם לְשֵׁם וְלִתְהִלָּה בְּכֹל עַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ בְּשׁוּבִי אֶת שְׁבוּתֵיכֶם לְעֵינֵיכֶם אָמַר ה׳

Ba’eis Hahi Avi Es’chem — At the time of the Geulah I will bring you back

Uva’eis Kabtzi Es’chem — And at that time I will gather all of you.

Ki Etein Es’chem Lesheim VeliSehilah — Because I will make the Yidden known and praised

Bechol Amei Ha’aretz — By all of the nations of the world.

Beshuvi Es Shevuseichem — When I bring back the Yidden that were captured

Le’eineichem — In front of your eyes (this is a hint to Techiyas Hameisim, because the Navi is telling the Yidden of his time that Kibbutz Galuyos will happen in front of their eyes!)

Amar Hashem — So says Hashem.

See Tzefaniah perek Gimmel posuk Chof

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