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Parshas Lech Lecha - Revi'i with Rashi

In today’s Chumash, we learn how Avram wins over four very strong kings to save his nephew Lot!

Kedarlaomer, the king of Elam, ruled over the lands of five other kings (Bera from Sedom, Birsha from Amora, Shinav, Shemever, and the king of Bela). For twelve years these five kings allowed Kedarlaomer to rule over them, and then they didn’t want to be ruled! So for thirteen years, they rebelled, not listening to Kedarlaomer anymore.

The fourteenth year of their not listening was the same year Avram came to Canaan. That year, Kedarlaomer had enough! He asked three of his friends, Amrafel, Aryoch, and Sidal, to join with him in Emek Hasidim and fight the five rebelling kings. (Emek Hasidim, the valley of the Sidim, later filled with water and became the Yam Hamelach.)

First, they went to capture more lands. They won over the Refaim, the Zuzim, and the Eimim! They won even over all of the giants there, and the only giant left was Og. They also won over the Chori people, they captured the land that would later belong to Amalek, and they won over the Emori.

Then the five kings that had stopped listening to Kedarlaomer came to Emek Hasidim to fight. The four kings won this war also.

The five kings had to run away! When the king of Sedom was running, he fell into a big hole full of clay. Even though a person usually would sink inside and not be able to live, he was okay! Hashem did this to show the nations that nisim can happen, and now they would believe that Avram was saved from the fiery furnace by a neis also.

Everyone else ran away to the mountains to hide.

Now the group of four kings took everything they wanted from Sedom and Amorah. They also took Lot, who lived there.

Og, who survived the war, ran and told Avram that his nephew was captured. Avram decided that he needs to fight these four kings to save Lot! So Avram made Eliezer, his main servant and student, his general! Avram wasn’t afraid to make a war with the four kings, even though they were so strong and won so many wars before.

Avram won the war with them, and set Lot free and got all of his things back.

When Avram came back, the king of Sedom came out to greet him. All of the people who survived the war called him the prince of Hashem!

Shem (who is also called Malki-Tzedek), the king in Yerushalayim, also came and blessed Avram. Avram knew that there were many leaders of Avodah Zarah, but Shem was the only leader (kohen) of serving Hashem! To show kavod for Hashem, Avram gave Shem maaser from everything he had.



44 - 48

In today’s Tehillim, Kapitel Mem-Vov talks about how when Moshiach comes, Hashem will make no more wars. The world will be quiet and peaceful. “Lechu Chazu Mifalos Hashem Asher Sam Shamos BaAretz” — “Go look at what Hashem did — He made the world empty (of war).”

The Alter Rebbe explains in Torah Ohr that this isn’t just talking about wars with soldiers and guns, it’s talking about fighting with our Yetzer Hara too! Nowadays we always need to fight with our Yetzer Hara to do the right thing, because Hashem wants us to work hard and become better Yidden.

But when Moshiach comes, we will rest from our fighting with the Yetzer Hara, just like we rest on Shabbos from our hard work all week!



Igeres Hakodesh Siman Chof-Vov

Even though the Torah itself is from the world of Atzilus, which is completely kedusha, it comes down into a world that has not-good mixed inside of it. By working hard to understand the reasons for the halachos of the Torah properly, a Yid takes the Torah out of its Golus in the kelipah of the world!

Yesterday, we learned how in the Zohar, the Torah is called the “Eitz HaDaas Tov VaRa” — “the tree of knowledge, with good and bad.” How can we say that any part of the Torah is bad? We explained that the Torah IS only good, but it puts on the “clothes” of the world, so it will be easier for people in the world to learn it. Since the Gashmius of the world is mixed with good and bad, it makes it look like Torah is too.

Really, the source of Torah doesn’t have these things! But for us to understand it, the Torah needs to wear this kind of “clothing.” The Torah comes down to this world in a way that we can understand it, so we can connect to Hashem by learning Torah.

Gashmius in the world is mixed with good and bad. This is called Kelipas Noga. That is why the Torah, the way it is in the world, is in Golus inside the Gashmius of the world.

But when we understand the Torah properly, we are able to take the Torah out of this Golus!

How does this work?

The Raya Mehemna says that the questions on the Torah, which make it hard to understand the Torah, are also part of the kelipah surrounding the Torah. When we try to understand the Torah and take away the questions, we are taking away the kelipah, and letting the kedusha of Torah shine. That’s why when we learn Torah and understand it properly, we are taking the Torah out of its Golus!



Ches Mar-Cheshvan

Imagine that you got a message that the Rebbe wants you to come into Yechidus to speak to you. When you went into Yechidus to speak to the Rebbe, the Rebbe told you to do a special shlichus. Wouldn’t you be so excited to do exactly what the Rebbe asked?

That’s what happens every time we do a mitzvah! Hashem is asking US to do something — to wash negel vasser, to daven, or to learn Torah. Even though we’re just regular people, now we are very important, since we’re doing a favor just for Hashem!

That’s what the word “mitzvah” means — in Aramaic, “tzavsa” means “connected.” When we do a mitzvah, we are connected to Hashem, like a big Chochom who asks  a very simple person for a favor!

The Chachomim say that the reward for a mitzvah IS a mitzvah — “Schar Mitzvah Mitzvah!” Because the best reward for doing a mitzvah is that we become connected to Hashem!



Shiur #93 - Mitzvas Lo Saasei #161, #162, Asei #38, Lo Saasei #160, #158, #159

Today in Sefer Hamitzvos, we learn mitzvos about who a kohen and a Kohen Gadol are not allowed to marry:

1) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #161) A Kohen Gadol is not allowed to get married to a widow.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Emor: אַלְמָנָה וּגְרוּשָׁה וַחֲלָלָה זֹנָה אֶת אֵלֶּה לֹא יִקָּח

The details are explained in Mesechta Yevamos and Mesechta Kiddushin.

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #162) A Kohen Gadol is not allowed to live with a widow, even if he is not married to her.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Emor: וְלֹא יְחַלֵּל זַרְעוֹ בְּעַמָּיו

3) (Mitzvas Asei #38) A Kohen Gadol needs to marry someone who never got married before.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Emor: וְהוּא אִשָּׁה בִבְתוּלֶיהָ יִקָּח

The details are explained in Mesechta Yevamos perek Vov and places in Mesechta Kesubos and Kiddushin.

4) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #160) A kohen can’t marry someone who was married and got a get (divorced).

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Emor: וְאִשָּׁה גְּרוּשָׁה מֵאִישָׁהּ לֹא יִקָּחוּ

The details are explained in Mesechta Yevamos and Mesechta Kiddushin.

5) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #158) A kohen can’t marry a Zonah (a woman who did certain kinds of aveiros).

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Emor: אִשָּׁה זֹנָה וַחֲלָלָה לֹא יִקָּחוּ

The details are explained in Mesechta Yevamos and Mesechta Kiddushin.

6) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #159) A kohen can’t marry a Chalalah (someone who married a kohen when she wasn’t allowed to) or the daughter of a chalalah.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Emor: אִשָּׁה זֹנָה וַחֲלָלָה

The details are explained in Mesechta Yevamos and Mesechta Kiddushin.



Hilchos Isurei Biah

In today’s Rambam (Perakim Yud-Ches, Yud-Tes, and Chof) we finish learning the halachos of who a kohen should not get married to, and how to know if someone is a kohen.

We also learn today that there are three special midos that Yidden have: They have rachmanus, they are bayshanim (not chutzpadik) and are kind — gomlei chassadim.



Hilchos Choveil U'Mazik - Perek Vov

This perek starts the halachos about damaging someone else’s THINGS (not about hurting the person, like we were learning before).



Lebn Mit Der Tzeit

After the war with the kings, Avraham Avinu was worried. So many nisim had happened to him, he was afraid he had used up all of his reward from Hashem! But Hashem told Avraham not to be worried, his reward would be very great.

Why was Avraham Avinu so worried about his reward? The Rambam tells us that Avraham Avinu is an example of serving Hashem because he LOVED Hashem, not serving Hashem to get a reward!

The Rebbe explains that for Avraham Avinu, the reward wasn’t for HIM. He wanted everyone to see that by serving Hashem properly, you get good things. He wanted the reward so that people would want to serve Hashem.

That’s why Avraham Avinu was worried that he used up his reward. Then people might not realize how good it is to serve Hashem! Hashem promised him that he would be rewarded fully, and his shlichus would be successful.

Likutei Sichos Chelek Chof, p. 44; Dvar Malchus Lech Lecha


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Before Chodesh Elul, we started to go through the davening again from the beginning. We took a break for the Yomim Noraim, and to learn about how davening is a good time to strengthen our bitachon in Hashem. Now we are going back to learning about Pesukei Dezimra:

In Pesukei Dezimra, we say the last kapitelach of Tehillim, which all start and end with the word “Hallelukah.”

When we say the last kapitel of the Tehillim, we read the last line twice! “Kol Haneshama Tehalel Kah Hallelukah, Kol Haneshama Tehalel Kah Hallelukah.”

Why do we say it twice?

The Avudraham says that it shows that we don’t want the holy words of Tehillim to end! We say the last line twice to show that we enjoy saying these words. This way, the Satan can’t argue that we just want to rush through davening. We LOVE davening!

(That is also why we repeat a line at the end of Az Yashir — “Hashem Yimloch Le’olam Va’ed, Hashem Yimloch Le’olam Va’ed.”)



Intertwining Hands

The Torah gives us instructions for some things that don’t seem like a big deal at all — like the way we hold our hands!

We don’t intertwine the fingers of both hands together, meaning that each finger is between fingers from the other hand. The Alter Rebbe brings in Shulchan Aruch that the reason is because it brings down din on the person from Shomayim.

In the seforim of the Arizal, it says that he warned his talmidim to be very careful not to do this, and to teach their families as well.

Nowadays, many goyim have a minhag to hold their hands this way when speaking or praying. Because of this, some say it is ALSO asur because of “Uvechukoseihem Lo Seileichu,” that we don’t follow the minhagim of goyim.

An artist once made a painting of the Rebbe. He didn’t know that it was asur to intertwine fingers, and he painted the Rebbe’s fingers intertwined. When the Rebbe saw the picture, he complimented it, but asked the artist to change the way the hands were, because it is against halacha to have them that way.

However, if we don’t intertwine the fingers completely together, like if we put two fingers together, it is not considered intertwined, and we are allowed to do that.

Here is a link see what intertwined fingers look like, and a link to read this full story of the Rebbe.

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch siman Tzadik-Alef se’if vov, Piskei Teshuvos vol. 1 p. 749

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



Saving Lot

In today’s Chumash, we learned about how Avram fought four mighty kings to save his nephew Lot. There is a deeper meaning to this story also — shwoing that Avram was getting ready for Moshiach!

There is a posuk in Tehillim that says, “Motzosi Dovid Avdi,” Hashem says, “I have found Dovid, My servant.”

The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah) tells us where Hashem found Dovid Hamelech: In Sedom!

When was Dovid Hamelech in Sedom?

Dovid Hamelech comes from Rus, who was a giyores from the nation of Moav. Moav comes from Lot… who lived in Sedom!

Based on this, seforim explain that the story of Avram’s Mesiras Nefesh in today’s Chumash was not just to save Lot, but to bring the Geulah for the Yidden later!

They explain that the real reason why Nimrod captured Lot was to stop the coming of Moshiach! He knew that Moshiach (who comes from Dovid Hamelech) would come from the family of Lot. He didn’t want the Yidden in the future to be saved by Moshiach!

When Avram heard that Lot was captured, he knew that it was very important to save him. Not only would he be saving his nephew, but he would be saving Malchus Beis Dovid, which would come from his nephew Lot! Moshiach, who comes from Malchus Beis Dovid, would later save ALL of the Yidden!

This is a deeper reason why Avram felt that it was so important to have Mesiras Nefesh to save Lot — and he did!

This is one of the deeper meanings of the story in today’s Chumash — that Avram had Mesiras Nefesh and was shown nisim from Hashem in order to pave the way for Moshiach to come!

When we also have Mesiras Nefesh to bring Moshiach, like when we do a mitzvah even when it is hard for us in order to bring the Geulah faster, we are following in the footsteps of Avraham Avinu!

Yalkut Moshiach U’Geulah Al HaTorah p. 138, from Sefer Beis Yisroel

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