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Parshas Haazinu - Rishon with Rashi

Today we start to learn the song Haazinu, that Moshe Rabbeinu taught the Yidden before he passed away.

The sky and the earth should hear what I say
Because they’ll be there forever, like they’re here today!
So no Yid will ever be able to say
“I didn’t hear about the mitzvos, no way!”

The sky and the earth are able to give
Rain to fall and plants to grow, so the Yidden can live.
So they can reward the Yidden if they do
The things Hashem is asking them to!

The Torah is like rain, that everything needs
(People and animals, and even seeds!)
Torah makes everyone happy, and also
Learning Torah makes us grow!

When in the Beis Hamikdash you hear Hashem’s name
Say good things about Hashem — say Baruch Sheim!
Everything Hashem does is fair, you bet!
He will give everyone what they deserve to get.

If not good things keep happening, life feels like no fun
You should know that it’s because of things YOU have done!
Hashem loves you and chose you, but what did you do?
You weren’t smart, and didn’t do what Hashem told you to!



113 - 118

Today’s shiur Tehillim is Kuf-Yud-Gimmel to Kuf-Yud-Ches, the kapitelach of Hallel! We also say three kapitelach for Chodesh ElulAyin, Ayin-Alef, and Ayin-Beis.

There is a posuk in today’s Tehillim, in Kapitel Kuf-Yud-Ches, that says “Hashem Li Be’ozroi, Va’ani Ereh Be’Son’ai.” “Hashem is with me, with my helpers, and I will see my enemies fall.”

How can Dovid Hamelech say that he has helpers, and that Hashem is WITH his helpers? Who is a helper except for Hashem?

Chassidus explains that the “helpers” are the Gashmius things in the world. Hashem put a piece of kedusha into the Gashmius things, and when we use them for the right reasons, we get this kedusha and it helps us!

So a person needs to use Gashmius things in the world (like food and drink), and then, his davening and learning will help him!



Igeres Hakodesh Siman Yud-Zayin

This is another letter where the Alter Rebbe gets Chassidim excited to give Tzedakah:

As Yidden, we need to know that we need to do something to get something! Hashem gives us things — but we need to do SOMETHING to get them.

There are two kinds of Chayus that Hashem gives to the world:

1) Memalei Kol Almin — this is the kind of Chayus that makes everything in the world have different kochos.

2) Sovev Kol Almin — this Chayus is the same for everything, but it is a much greater chayus!

(The first chayus, we can almost “see,” because we see how everything in the world is different, and has different jobs!)

To bring the second kind of Chayus, Sovev Kol Almin, into the world, we need to deserve it! How? We give Tzedakah!



Chof-Daled Elul

Everything we see or hear needs to help us serve Hashem better!

When we look at the world around us, we see how amazing it is! Look at the huge mountains, the millions of stars in the sky, beautiful flowers, and people who can do so many things. All of this comes from Hashem’s Chesed — the midah of giving and showing.

There is another midah of Hashem, called Gevurah — holding back. Hashem’s Gevurah is as strong as His Chesed — it is just as amazing that Hashem can HIDE in the world as it is that Hashem can make all of these exciting things!

The Avodah of a Jew is to use the kochos of his neshama to FIND Hashem — to realize that Hashem is always making everything happen. When we recognize this, we know that EVERYTHING we see or hear is really only happening because HASHEM is making it happen! If it happens to us, it must be that Hashem wants us to know about it. Why does Hashem want us to know about it? It will help us do a better job in serving Hashem — the whole reason we were created!

The Frierdiker Rebbe writes that earlier generations of Chassidim would always think this way. We need to try to act like them too — to learn from EVERYTHING we see and hear, which will help us do a better job in our shlichus of serving Hashem!



Shiur #66 - Mitzvas Asei #153, #59

Today in Sefer Hamitzvos, we learn the same mitzvah (Mitzvas Asei #153) for the last time: How the Beis Din needs to make a calendar and calculate the months and the years. This is the mitzvah of Kiddush Hachodesh.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Bo: הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים

The details are explained in Mesechta Sanhedrin perek Alef, Mesechta Rosh Hashana and Brachos.

Today we also learn a new mitzvah, (Mitzvas Asei #59) to blow trumpets at certain times. We blow them when we bring the special korbanos of Yom Tov, a happy time. We also blow them in a sad time — when we are davening to Hashem because hard things are happening. They can remind us that it’s from Hashem, and we have to do teshuvah.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Behaalosecha: וּבְיוֹם שִׂמְחַתְכֶם וּבְמוֹעֲדֵיכֶם וּבְרָאשֵׁי חָדְשֵׁיכֶם וּתְקַעְתֶּם בַּחֲצֹצְרֹת

The details are explained in Sifri, Mesechta Rosh Hashana, and Mesechta Taanis.



Hilchos Kiddush HaChodesh - Taaniyos

In today’s Rambam, we are finishing the halachos of Kiddush Hachodesh! In perek Yud-Ches and Yud-Tes, we learn more about how the Beis Din knows if the witnesses are telling the truth that they saw the moon. They make calculations to figure out if it is possible to see the moon on a certain night.

But just because there IS a new moon doesn’t mean that anyone can see it! Sometimes the moon is very low in the sky and someone needs to be on top of a mountain to see it, or it might be hidden behind clouds.

The Rambam explains what the Beis Din does if nobody sees the moon for many months — they can’t just make every month be 30 days long, because that will mess up the calendar! The Beis Din follows a pattern, like we do nowadays: one long month, and then one short month. That way, even if there are no witnesses, the Yidden will all be keeping a proper calendar.

One of the questions the Beis Din asks people is, “Which way was the moon pointing when you saw it?” The Rambam explains how the Beis Din knows if their answer makes sense: It depends on where the sun is! The part that we can see of the moon is because the sun is shining on it and making it lit up. (You can try this yourself using a ball and a flashlight in a dark room!)

The sun’s “path” (orbit) around the earth and the moon’s orbit aren’t like two circles on a flat piece of paper. They are both tilted in different directions, so sometimes the sun is a little bit higher or lower in the sky than the moon is. Since it is shining down at the moon, or up at the moon, it makes the moon look like it’s pointing in a different direction! (You can try this with your flashlight too!)

The Rambam tells us how to calculate this ourselves, so we can know which way the moon should be pointing on Rosh Chodesh.

We also learn the first perek of a new set of halachos about fasts that the Chachomim make for the whole town. If something scary happens, we need to daven to Hashem of course, and also fast to ask for Hashem to help us. The Rambam talks about WHO needs to fast, and WHEN we’re not supposed to make this kind of fast.

The Rambam says that if a person says that something just happened by chance, it is cruel! Hashem wants us to do teshuvah, and by saying that it was just by nature, it will stop us from doing teshuvah properly, and we won’t be able to get all of Hashem’s special brachos.



Hilchos Tefillah - Perek Daled

There are five things that we need to take care of before davening, or else we are not allowed to daven:

1) Washing our hands

2) Making sure we are tznius’dik

3) The place has to be appropriate for davening (not in a bathroom or garbage dump)

4) Making sure there is nothing distracting us (like making sure we don’t need to go to the bathroom)

5) Making sure we can have kavana (like not to daven when we are angry)




In the month of Elul, we look at each of our mitzvos and figure out how we’re doing — to make sure we will do even better in the coming year! Now we’re going to look at a very big and important mitzvah — the mitzvah of Kibud Av Va’eim.

Our parents are very special. They are Hashem’s partners in bringing our neshamos into the world! Someone who is a partner with Hashem in this important job for sure deserves a lot of respect! We also owe so much to our parents for everything they have done for us, and we have a lot of Hakoras Hatov we need to show!

Of course, the mitzvos of Hashem are greater and higher than any reason that can be given for them! The Chachomim gave us reasons so we should also appreciate the mitzvah in our mind.

The Torah gives us some rules in how to show this Derech Eretz and Hakoras Hatov to our parents, and here are some of the halachos:

1) If a Mommy or Tatty have a place that they always sit in, we shouldn’t sit there.

2) We should treat what our parents say with respect, and not say things like “I don’t think so,” or even “that’s right.” We can’t just talk to them like we would talk to our friend.

3) When a Mommy or Tatty are in a room with us, that is special! When they come in, we should stand up to show them kavod — at least one time in the morning and at night.

4) We need to give them food or drink if they want it.

Are you wondering why a lot of people don’t do these things? That’s because a Tatty and Mommy are allowed to decide they don’t need this kavod, and if they do, the kids can show kavod in different ways. Even if our parents don’t mind, though, we should still try to keep some of these halachos!

But here are some things that we always NEED to do:

1) We need to listen to what our Mommy and Tatty tell us.

2) It is a very big aveira to hit a Mommy or Tatty or curse them — even worse than the aveira of hitting or cursing any other Yid!

And the BIGGEST kavod that we should show for our parents is to make them proud of us by going in the ways of Hashem and living like a mentch — to give them Yiddishe, Chassidishe nachas!


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The Shemoneh Esrei of Shacharis on Rosh Hashana is a lot like the Shemoneh Esrei on Yom Tov. We just add 5 paragraphs asking for Moshiach during the first three brachos, and the changes for the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah. Like on every Yom Tov, we say Ata Vechartanu, how Hashem chose Yidden as His special nation, and Yaaleh Veyavo.

On Yom Tov, after Yaaleh Veyavo, we ask Hashem to give us the special brachos of that Yom Tov.

On Rosh Hashana, we say a bracha that shows us what Rosh Hashana is all about! Here are some of the words from this bracha:

Meloch Al Ha’olam Kulo Bichvodecha — Hashem, You should rule over the world with Your glory! ...Veyeida Kol Pa’ul Ki Ata Pe’alto — Everything You made should know that You made it

...Veyomar Kol Asher Neshama Be’apo: Hashem Elokei Yisrael Melech... — Everything with a neshama should say: Hashem, the Aibershter of the Yidden, is King, and rules over everything!

This is the main inyan of Rosh Hashana: Accepting the Malchus of Hashem again!

In the Michtav Kloli (a letter of the Rebbe written for every Yid around the world) for Rosh Hashana, the Rebbe would often quote this paragraph, which shows us the main avodah of this Yom Tov!



Foods for Rosh Hashana

In Shulchan Aruch, it mentions that we eat sweet things, as a sign that we should have a sweet year. It also tells us about eating things which have names that remind us of something good. For example, the word “carrots” in Yiddish is “merren,” which also means to multiply. It hints to the bracha that our families and our mitzvos grow and multiply!

We don’t eat foods that are sour or bitter on Rosh Hashana. (Even at a farbrengen on Rosh Hashana, chassidim don’t say Lechaim on mashke, which is very bitter.)

The Alter Rebbe tells us not to eat nuts, because they make us have more saliva. Since a main part of Rosh Hashana is davening, we don’t eat foods that will make us have more saliva, which will make it harder to say the words of davening clearly.

We have a minhag to first dip the challah in honey, which we also do during all of the special meals connected to Yom Tov, until Hoshaana Rabbah.

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



Eliyahu Hanavi

The Navi Malachi told the Yidden many beautiful nevuos about the coming of Moshiach! One of the things he tells the Yidden is that the Yidden should always remember the Torah and its mitzvos, the way they were given to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai.

In the zechus of the Torah and mitzvos we do during Golus, Hashem will send us Eliyahu Hanavi to prepare us for the Geulah!

Hashem says:

הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי שֹׁלֵחַ לָכֶם אֵת אֵלִיָּה הַנָּבִיא לִפְנֵי בּוֹא יוֹם ה׳ הַגָּדוֹל וְהַנּוֹרָא

Hinei Anochi Sholeiach Lachem — Look, I will send the Yidden

Eis Eliyah Hanavi — Eliyahu Hanavi

Lifnei Bo Yom Hashem Hagadol Vehanora — Before the great day of Hashem — the day when Moshiach comes!

And what will Eliyahu Hanavi’s shlichus be? How will he get us ready for the Geulah? We will IY”H see in the next posuk!

See Malachi perek Gimmel posuk Chof-Gimmel

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