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Parshas Balak - Shvi'i with Rashi

In today’s Chumash, Bilaam tells Balak that instead of trying to curse the Yidden, he should get them to do aveiros. Then Hashem will want to punish them. Balak does this, and many Jews are punished until Pinchas stops the plague.

Bilaam’s Nevuah: Bilaam told Balak that even a bigger Navi wouldn’t be able to help him hurt the Yidden. Instead, he told him to try to get the Yidden to do aveiros, and Hashem would punish them. Then he told Balak a nevuah about what would happen to Moav: (This is a very famous nevuah about Moshiach!)

“I see that the Yidden will capture Moav, but not now, not soon. Dovid Hamelech will capture it in many years.

“And for the rest of the nations — the Yidden will also capture Edom, when Moshiach comes. He will destroy the rest of Esav’s family.”

Then Bilaam started to say a Nevuah about Amalek: “Amalek was the first nation to attack the Yidden, and the Yidden will destroy them because Hashem gave them a mitzvah to do it.”

Bilaam also said nevuah about the family of Yisro, the Keini: “Even if your land will be destroyed, and you will be sent into Galus with the 10 Shevatim, you will survive and come back when Moshiach comes.

“Sancheriv, the king of Ashur, will send everyone into Golus, but they will not last forever.”

Then Bilaam went home.

Bilaam makes the Yidden do aveiros: Balak decided to try to do Bilaam’s plan and make the Yidden do aveiros. He got a bunch of girls from Moav and Midyan to set up stores for the Yidden to come buy things, and try to convince the Yidden to marry them, even though it is asur.

The Yidden were feeling very good after winning the wars with the Emori kings, and they weren’t as careful as they should have been. Some of the Yidden did get married to these girls from Moav.

The girls invited the Yidden to come do Avodah Zarah, telling them they won’t get married if the Yidden don’t bow down to the idols of Baal Pe’or.

Hashem made many Yidden get very sick as a punishment!

Hashem told Moshe how to stop the plague: Punish the people who did the aveira, and everyone else will be okay. Moshe brought the Yidden who did the aveiros to Beis Din, and after making sure they really deserve to be killed, he told the judges to kill them.

Zimri’s aveira: Some of these people, from Shevet Shimon, were very upset that people were being taken to the Beis Din! They went to Zimri, one of their Nesiim, and asked him to help them.

Zimri took a big group of Yidden, and went to get married to Kozbi, the daughter of one of the kings of Midyan. He wanted to show everyone that he could get married to whoever he wants!

Kozbi at first said no, she wanted to get married only to Moshe! (She thought she would try to convince Moshe Rabbeinu to do an aveira, and that would be the worst thing for the Yidden!) But Zimri convinced her that he was more important, because he came from the second Shevet (Shimon) and Moshe was from the third (Levi).

Zimri brought Kozbi to show the Yidden, and said “Why is it asur to marry her? Tziporah, Moshe’s wife, is also from Midyan!” (This was a very silly thing to say — Before Matan Torah, it wasn’t asur, and anyone who wanted to be Jewish could become Jewish.)

Moshe couldn’t remember what he should do! But Pinchas, the son of Elazar HaKohen, remembered! “If we see someone acting like they are married to a goy in public, aren’t we allowed to kill him without bringing him to Beis Din first?”

Moshe said, “You are right!”

Pinchas went, warned Zimri, and since Zimri wouldn’t stop, he killed Zimri and Kozbi together.

Now the judges were able to punish the Yidden who did the aveira, and the plague stopped.



83 - 87

From the Rebbe’s 70th birthday, Chassidim composed niggunim for each of the Rebbe’s birthday kapitelach. In today’s section of Tehillim, there is a niggun (or more than one!) for every kapitel! Do you know them all?

In Kapitel Pey-Daled, there is a posuk (and a niggun) with the words “Yeilchu Mechayil El Choyil, Yeiro’eh El Elokim Betzion.” This means that people who trust in Hashem go from strength to strength, and they go before Hashem in Yerushalayim.

The Rebbe explains that “Yeilchu Meichayil El Choyil,” when we are always doing better than before, brings “Yeiro’eh El Elokim Betzion,” that we will be able to go to the Beis Hamikdosh! Every single hour, there is a new chayus from Hashem in the world, that gives us new chances and new kochos to be able to do even more than before. We need to take every new opportunity that Hashem gives us and make it into a mitzvah!



Igeres Hateshuvah Perek Gimmel

The Alter Rebbe gave us some good ideas for how to fast sometimes if it’s too hard, but that’s not something to do for every aveira.

Fasting, using the Alter Rebbe’s suggestions to do it without hurting ourselves, is only for the BIG aveiros. For all other aveiros, we should only give Tzedakah!

It used to be that people would fast for doing even “small” things wrong, like getting angry. Since now, we are podeh these small aveiros with tzedakah, and these are things which can happen often, we should be giving A LOT of tzedakah!

But don’t worry about giving “too much” tzedakah! If a person is R”L sick, they are ready to pay ANYTHING to be healthy! We also should be ready to pay ANYTHING to have a healthy neshama.



Yud-Zayin Tammuz

Today is the 17th of Tamuz. (Usually today is the fast of Shiva-Asar B’Tamuz, but we push it off until Sunday.) One thing that happened today is that this was the day when Moshe Rabbeinu broke the luchos after seeing the Yidden doing the aveira of the Cheit HaEgel. Because of this, Moshe Rabbeinu went back up onto Har Sinai and received a second set of luchos from Hashem. In today’s Hayom Yom, we will see that there is really something good and special that came because we needed a second set of luchos!

There were four differences between the first and second Luchos:

1) The Luchos themselves: The first luchos were made by Hashem, but the second ones Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu to make.

2) The writing of the luchos: The words of the Aseres Hadibros were not engraved in the second set of luchos as they were in the first.

3) The Yidden: When the Yidden got the first luchos, they were like tzadikim (at Matan Torah). But when they got the second Luchos, they were like Baalei Teshuvah.

4) Moshe Rabbeinu: Moshe Rabbeinu got a special Ruchnius light as a present with the first luchos, but it was taken away by Cheit Ha’egel and with the second Luchos, he only got it back on Shabbos.

It looks like the first Luchos were much better!

But there was something very special about the second Luchos: They were given along with Halacha, Midrash, and Aggadah — we got much more Torah! And also, Moshe’s face was shining with the second Luchos.



Shiur #323 - Mitzvas Lo Saasei #291

In today’s Sefer Hamitzvos, we learn the mitzvah (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #291) that a witness can’t say if he thinks someone is wrong or right in Beis Din if the person might be chayav misa. They are only allowed to say what they heard or saw, not their opinion.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Masei: וְעֵד אֶחָד לֹא יַעֲנֶה בְנֶפֶשׁ לָמוּת

This mitzvah is repeated in Parshas Shoftim: לֹא יוּמַת עַל פִּי עֵד אֶחָד



Hilchos Eidus

In today’s Rambam, we learn many more halachos about witnesses.

In Perek Hey the Rambam tells us a few more details about today’s mitzvah: If the witness starts to explain why he thinks the person is wrong or right, the Beis Din makes him be quiet! We also learn halachos about tomorrow’s mitzvah in Sefer Hamitzvos, not to listen to one witness in court.

In Perek Vov and Zayin, we learn how the Beis Din can accept information from a shtar (a document) without the eidim being there. Why are they allowed to do that? We learned the reason yesterday — the Beis Din wants to make sure that people are comfortable giving loans, so they don’t make it too hard to get money back in Beis Din.

So in a case where someone is trying to get back money that another person owes him, he can bring a proof from something the eidim wrote, even if they aren’t there! Of course there are many halachos explaining just how this is done, and we learn them in these two perakim (and also in the first perek of tomorrow’s Rambam).



Hilchos Shaar Avos Hatumah - Perek Yud-Gimmel

This perek teaches us about different levels of Tahara. The Chachomim decided that if a person went to the mikvah to become Tahor for one level, they don’t automatically become Tahor enough for all of them.

The Chachomim also tell us things that when there is a safek, we say that they are Tomei.



Shiva Asar B'Tamuz

Today is the seventeenth day of Tamuz. Usually, today is a fast day. Since it is Shabbos, though, we are not allowed to fast. Instead, we push off the fast until tomorrow, Sunday.

There are two lessons we take from Shiva Asar B’Tammuz: One lesson is to be sad and cry over the Churban. Another lesson is to start getting excited about the Beis Hamikdash again!

On a year when we don’t fast on Shiva Asar B’Tammuz, we ONLY think about the happy lesson, that we are getting closer to the Geulah!

Really, since we are now so close to the Geulah, this is the main thing that we should think about even during the Three Weeks. This will help us to live even now in a Geulah’dike way!

See sicha 17 Tammuz 5751


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Kriyas HaTorah on Shabbos Mincha

The Gemara says that Moshe Rabbeinu set up for the Yidden that they shouldn’t go three days without reading the Torah. So we lein on Monday and Thursday every week, in addition to Shabbos.

Later Ezra and his Beis Din added more details to this takana. They taught that three people get an aliyah on Monday and Thursday, and we lein at least 10 pesukim from the Torah.

Ezra also added an extra Kriyas HaTorah because of those who are very busy during the week, and don’t get to shul to hear Kriyas HaTorah on Monday and Thursday. That is why we lein as well on Shabbos during Mincha.

See Rambam Hilchos Tefillah, perek Yud-Beis halacha Alef



Good Shabbos After Mincha

It is the minhag not to say “Good Shabbos” after Mincha time on Shabbos.

This is because at Mincha time on Shabbos is when Moshe Rabbeinu, Yosef Hatzadik, and Dovid Hamelech passed away. (This is also why we say the 3 pesukim of Tzidkoscha after Shemoneh Esrei during Shabbos Mincha, for these three tzadikim.)

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch with Biurei Halacha, siman 292 se’if 5

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



Bilaam's Nevuos

In this week’s parsha, Parshas Balak, we have the famous nevuos of Bilaam about Moshiach!

The Rambam uses pesukim from these nevuos to show that the Torah speaks about Melech Hamoshiach. The Rambam explains that Bilaam would first say something about the first king of the Yidden, Dovid Hamelech, and then speak about our final king, Moshiach!

Here is the part of Bilaam’s nevuah that the Rambam explains:

אֶרְאֶנּוּ וְלֹא עַתָּה אֲשׁוּרֶנּוּ וְלֹא קָרוֹב דָּרַךְ כּוֹכָב מִיַּעֲקֹב וְקָם שֵׁבֶט מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וּמָחַץ פַּאֲתֵי מוֹאָב וְקַרְקַר כָּל בְּנֵי שֵׁת: וְהָיָה אֱדוֹם יְרֵשָׁה וְהָיָה יְרֵשָׁה שֵׂעִיר אֹיְבָיו

Arenu Velo Ata — (I see it, but not now) — this is talking about Dovid Hamelech

Ashurenu Velo Karov — (I see it, but not very soon) — this is talking about Melech Hamoshiach.

Darach Kochav MiYaakov — (A star will go out from Yaakov) — this is talking about Dovid Hamelech

Vekam Shevet MiYisrael — (And a stick will get up in Yisrael) — this is talking about Melech Hamoshiach.

Umachatz Paasei Moav — (He will crush all of the princes of Moav) — this is talking about Dovid Hamelech, who fought against Moav and won

Vekarkar Kol Benei Sheis — (He will get rid of the family of Sheis) — this is talking about Melech Hamoshiach, who will rule the entire world.

Vehaya Edom Yereisha — (Edom will be destroyed) — this is talking about Dovid Hamelech, who made Edom into his servants

Vehaya Yereisha Se’ir Oivav — (and Seir will be destroyed) — this is talking about Melech Hamoshiach, who will judge Eisav (who is also called Seir).

See Parshas Balak, perek Chof-Daled, pesukim Yud-Zayin and Yud-Ches, and Rambam Hilchos Melachim perek Yud-Alef

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