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Parshas Mikeitz - Chamishi with Rashi

Today we learn how the Shevatim go back to get Benyamin, and what happened on the way.

In yesterday’s Chumash, we learned how Yosef accused the brothers of being spies. He said he would only believe them if they could prove that the other things they said were also true! They said they had another brother Benyamin , and he would only believe them if they brought him to Mitzrayim too.

In the end of yesterday’s Chumash, he said that they would all sit in jail, and one of them would go get their brother. But they all sat in jail for three days, and then Yosef gave them a different idea:

Yosef said: “Here’s how you can show me you aren’t spies, and that you are telling the truth: I’ll keep one of you here in jail, and the rest of you will go bring your food home, and then come back with your youngest brother. Then I’ll know that you were telling me the truth.”

The Shevatim said to each other, “Do you know why this is happening to us? Do you know why this Mitzri leader isn’t having rachmanus on us? Hashem is doing it because we didn’t have rachmanus on Yosef when we threw him in the pit and sold him, even though he begged us to let him go.”

Reuven saw that this was an important time to help his brothers do teshuvah, so he said, “Didn’t I tell you not to do it? You didn’t listen to me!”

Really, Yosef heard all that they said. (They didn’t know that he understood what they were saying, because there was usually an interpreter there, so they thought he didn’t understand.) Yosef moved away from them and cried because he heard that they felt bad for what they did. But then he came back and continued to act strict. Yosef had the guards tie up Shimon. (He chose Shimon because Shimon was the one who threw him into the pit in the first place, and also so that Shimon and Levi who were so strong that they killed an entire city wouldn’t be together to come up with ideas to hurt him.)

Yosef had the servants fill up the Shevatim’s bags with grain, and to secretly put back the money they paid. (Yosef also had them fill up Shimon’s bags, and put them on his donkey so his family would have food too.)

The brothers loaded their donkeys and left. After they left, Yosef had the servants untie Shimon and give him food to eat.

When the Shevatim got to an inn, Levi opened his bag to feed his donkey. He saw his money right there! He told his brothers, and they were all very upset. They were sure the Mitzriyim put the money back so that they could say the brothers were stealing!

When they came home, they told their father Yaakov all that happened. They told him how the leader was mean to them and called them spies, and how he said they need to bring Benyamin to prove they are telling the truth. Then when they opened their bags to take out the food, ALL of the Shevatim saw their money inside, and Yaakov and the brothers were afraid of what would happen.

Yaakov wasn’t sure that the Shevatim were really telling the truth. Because now TWO of his sons were missing — Yosef and Shimon. Yaakov said, “Yosef is gone because of you, Shimon is gone because of you, and now you want to take Benyamin too?!”

Reuven replied, “I promise you I will bring Benyamin back! I know you are worried about your son, I also have sons! I will even give you their lives as a guarantee that I will bring Benyamin back!”

Yaakov ignored what Reuven said — Reuven’s sons were his own grandchildren, how did it help for their lives to be a guarantee? He said to him, “You are not responsible! Benyamin can’t go down with you, I don’t want him to travel! His mother and brother died on the way, and I am afraid he will die on the way too! And if you make Benyamin die, then I will not be able to live either!”

Yehuda had some more things to say, but since he saw that Yaakov was so against it, he decided to wait until most of the food ran out, and then he would talk to Yaakov again.

The food still didn’t grow in the whole Canaan. Once they ate up all the food they brought from Mitzrayim, Yaakov told the Shevatim to go back and buy more. Now Yehuda said, “The one in charge of the food won’t let us come unless Benyamin comes too! Unless you send him, none of us can go.”

Yaakov asked, “Why did you tell the Mitzri man that you have another brother?!”

The brothers felt that really this was to punish them for selling Yosef, but they didn’t want to tell Yaakov that. So they just told Yaakov exactly what happened. “First he asked us about our families, and if our father is alive. He told us what kind of wood our cribs were made of — and he was right! He asked if we had more brothers. So we had to tell him the truth. How could we have known he would ask us to bring our brother?”

Yehuda tried to convince Yaakov: “If you send Benyamin, maybe something will happen to him, or maybe not. But if we don’t go to buy food, we will ALL die for sure! So let me take Benyamin, and we will go so we can ALL live.

“I know you are afraid we won’t take care of him. Don’t worry, I will be the one in charge. If chas veshalom I don’t bring him back, I will lose my Olam Haba! Now let’s go already — we’ve spent so much time talking about this, we could have been already back twice, and brought Shimon home so you won’t have to worry about him!”

Yaakov said, “You need to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. Bring some presents (spices, honey, and nuts) to the leader of Mitzrayim, bring twice as much money for food in case the price went up, and also bring back the money you found — maybe it was a mistake. Take your brother and go.

“Those are all of the things we can do in nature, but we also need to ask Hashem for help. I will daven for all of you. I will ask Hashem to stop making things so hard for me (I had trouble with Lavan, Esav, Rochel, Dina, Yosef, Shimon, and now Benyamin!). I will daven that he let your other brother go free! (Yaakov meant Shimon, but it was a nevuah and he didn’t know it — the “other brother” was Yosef who would “go out” of hiding later too!) For me, it will be like I lost Shimon and lost Benyamin until you come back with them.”

So the brothers took the present and double the amount of money, along with Benyamin. They came to Mitzrayim and bowed down in front of Yosef.



10 - 17

Today’s shiur Tehillim is kapitelach Yud through Yud-Zayin.

In Kapitel Tes-Zayin, there is a posuk that says “Shivisi Hashem Lenegdi Somid,” “I place Hashem before me all the time.”

In the first paragraph of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, it says that remembering this is very important in serving Hashem. When we know that Hashem is always watching us, we will behave very differently.

When someone important is watching, we are much more careful with how we act! When we remember that Hashem is watching us and is with us all the time, it will help us act the way we should.

This is also the meaning of the sixth posuk of the twelve Pesukim, “Vehinei.” This posuk reminds us that Hashem is always watching us to make sure we are acting properly, and cares about what we decide to do. When we think about how Hashem is looking at everything we do, we will make sure we are acting the way we should.

This is also called Yirah Tata’ah, the lower level of Yiras Shomayim. This is the first step of Avodas Hashem, and what makes our Avodas Hashem strong! No matter what happens, if we know Hashem is watching, it will keep us behaving the way Hashem wants us to.



Likutei Amarim Perek Vov

So far we learned about our “friends,” the things we are given to help us fulfill our neshama’s mission, to be a tzadik and not to be a rasha. We learned about the neshama we have, the neshamos of tzadikim, Torah and mitzvos — and especially Torah. All of these help us stay connected to Hashem! Now we will learn about our “enemies,” the things that try to stop us from serving Hashem, and the Gashmius things we need to be careful about, because they CAN be used to serve Hashem — but only if we use them the right way.

There is a posuk that says “Zeh Le’umas Zeh Asa Elokim” — everything in kedusha has a matching thing in kelipah. Hashem made it this way so we will have to choose to do what Hashem wants, and Hashem will reward us for our effort. If we look around the world, we will see a lot of things that give us a lot of help in kedusha — but can also be used for very strong kelipah. Also inside each of us, for every koach in kedusha, there is a matching one in kelipah.

Just like the Nefesh Elokis has midos, the Nefesh Habehamis has midos too. It’s just that the midos of the Nefesh Elokis are midos of kedusha, and the midos of the Nefesh Habehamis are midos of tumah! We talked about these midos in Perek Alef of Tanya. They are things like getting angry, showing off, and getting very excited about Gashmius. A person’s midos are based on their sechel, what they understand. That’s why a little kid can easily get very angry about something small and silly, and gets very excited even about things that aren’t important, because they think that is a big deal. As we get older, we start to realize what things are really important, and only get upset about those things.

What the sechel and midos of the Nefesh Habehamis want is OPPOSITE of what the sechel and midos of the Nefesh Elokis want! The sechel of the Nefesh Elokis makes a Yid think Ruchnius’dike things and feel close to Hashem, and the Nefesh Habehamis understands and wants Gashmius, which feels separate from Hashem.

Then there are the levushim, the “clothes” of the Nefesh Habehamis. These are the Machshava, Dibur, and Maaseh — the way the Nefesh Habehamis changes how we think, speak, or act. The levushim of the Nefesh Elokis are holy. They are “clothes” of Torah and mitzvos, and they connect the neshama with Hashem. But the levushim of the Nefesh Habehamis are very different! The Zohar calls them Levushei Mesa’avu, clothes of tumah.

Whenever a person lets the Nefesh Habehamis decide how he should think, speak, or act, he is wearing these tomei clothes, and they separate a Yid from Hashem.

We shouldn’t think that this only means terrible aveiros — ANYTHING that a person does that isn’t to serve Hashem is included in these clothes of tumah! That’s what Sitra Achara means — the other side. Anything that isn’t from the side of kedusha is automatically from the side of kelipah.

And what is the side of kedusha? Kedusha is something that is botul to Hashem. It is just there to fulfill the Ratzon of Hashem.



Beis Teves

In “Ve’al Hanisim” we say what the Yevanim (Greeks) wanted to do: “Lehashkicham Torasecha Ulehaaviram Meichukei Retzonecha.” To make the Yidden forget Hashem’s Torah and Hashem’s mitzvos.

The Medrash tells us that the Yevanim told the Yidden to “Write on the horns of the ox that you have no part of Hashem.” They were fighting against our connection to Hashem!

The Yevanim didn’t have as much of a problem with the Yidden learning Torah or doing mitzvos that make sense. The MAIN thing they didn’t want is that it should be HASHEM’s Torah or HASHEM’s mitzvos — they didn’t want the Yidden’s Torah and mitzvos to bring them a special closeness to Hashem.



Shiur #161 - Mitzvas Asei #89, Lo Saasei #145, #148

Today we learn 3 mitzvos about EATING korbanos:

1) (Mitzvas Asei #89) It is a mitzvah for the kohanim to eat certain parts of the korbanos. Their eating it is part of the kapara for the person who brought the korban!

Part of this mitzvah is also that kohanim should eat Terumah and parts of korbanos which are called Kodshim Kalim, although eating those does not bring kapara.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Tetzaveh: וְאָכְלוּ אֹתָם אֲשֶׁר כֻּפַּר בָּהֶם

The details of the mitzvah are explained in a few places in Mesechta Zevachim.

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #145) It is asur to eat a Korban Chatas or a Korban Asham (called Kodshei Kodshim) outside of the Beis Hamikdash, and all other Korbanos (Kadashim Kalim) have to be eaten ONLY in Yerushalayim!

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Reeh: לֹא תוּכַל לֶאֱכֹל בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ

3) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #148) Someone who is not a kohen is not allowed to eat from the korbanos that are Kodshei Kodshim.

We learn this mitzvah from the same posuk in Parshas Tetzaveh: וְזָר לֹא יֹאכַל כִּי קֹדֶשׁ הֵם



Hilchos Maaseh HaKorbanos

In today’s Rambam, we are learning about specific kinds of korbanos and how we bring them:

Perek Zayin: In this perek, we learn how to bring a Korban Chatas! There are two kinds — some are eaten, and some are just burned. The Korban Chatas that we burn is burned outside of Yerushalayim.

Perek Ches: If anything touches the blood of a Korban Chatas before the blood was sprinkled on the Mizbeiach, it needs to be washed. (This is the only kind of korban that we need to do this for!) Whatever pot we use to cook the meat of a Korban Chatas (the kind we eat) needs to be washed, or broken if it is made of clay.

Perek Tes: The Rambam teaches us the halachos about a Korban Asham and a Korban Shelamim. At the end of the perek, the Rambam also mentions the Korban Pesach!



Hilchos Chomeitz U'Matzah - Perek Daled

Today we learn about the mitzvah of not owning any chometz on Pesach, and how we can sell Chometz to a goy so it doesn’t belong to us on Pesach.



Zos Chanukah

Tonight and tomorrow is Zos Chanukah!

There is a sefer called the Shaloh written by Yeshaya Halevi Horowitz. He writes that if a person isn’t able to learn for whatever reason, there is a shortcut he can use! He can say the names of the Chumashim, Parshiyos, and Mesechtas, then it will be considered as if he is learning them!

There are many maamorim from the Rebbeim about Chanukah and even special maamorim for the last day of Chanukah, called Zos Chanukah. Even if we don’t have enough time to learn the maamorim themselves, we can at least know about them and say the names of the maamorim, and that is also something good!

There is a maamar from the Alter Rebbe that speaks about how special the last day of Chanukah is. It starts with the words “Havaya Li BeOzrai VaAni Ereh BeSonai,” “Hashem helps me and I will see that my enemies will go away.” The Tzemach Tzedek also talks about the last day of Chanukah in a maamar that starts with the words “Boruch She’Asa Nissim.”

There is also a maamar from the Rebbe on Zos Chanukah, 5738 (which was a Seudas Hoda’ah for the neis of Rosh Chodesh Kislev) which starts with the words, “Mitzvasa MiSheTishkeh HaChama.”


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Yud-Beis Pesukim - Ve'ahavta

The tenth posuk of the Yud-Beis Pesukim is the posuk Ve’ahavta.

The words come from a Medrash (Sifra, also called Toras Kohanim) that explains a posuk in Parshas Kedoshim, “Ve’ahavta Le’reiacha Kamocha,” “you should love your friend like you love yourself.”

The Medrash says on this posuk, that Rabbi Akiva calls this posuk a “klal gadol” of the Torah!

What is a “Klal Gadol”?

It means a rule that is so important, that if you miss it, you missed the whole thing!

Imagine if someone tells you that he made a big Chanukah party for all of his friends. There were donuts, and latkes, and chocolate gelt. “And what kind of Menorah did you light?” you ask. “Oh, we didn’t light the menorah at all. We had lots of other Chanukah things.” Oy vey, you’ll be thinking. He missed the whole point! How can you have Chanukah without a menorah?

The Torah is so beautiful and so precious! It helps us all the time, in everything we do. But if we don’t have Ahavas Yisroel, if we don’t care about another Yid, and just keep the Torah for ourselves, we don’t have Torah at all! Rabbi Akiva tells us that you can’t have Torah without having Ahavas Yisroel!



Tznius for Little Girls

At what age does a little girl have to start wearing Tznius’dike clothes and acting in a Tznius’dike way?

The Rebbe tells us that based on the Shulchan Aruch, a girl needs to dress and act in a tznius’dike way starting at age 3.

But it should be in a nice way, we don’t have to be mean about it!

See Likutei Sichos vol. 18 p. 448, translated in Beautiful Within

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



Zos Chanukah

Tomorrow is the last day of Chanukah, the eighth day, called Zos Chanukah.

Chassidus explains that the number eight is a very special number. Hashem created the world in seven days, so the number seven means the regular way the world works. But eight means HIGHER than that!

When Moshiach comes, there will be a lot of things with the number eight. One of them is that Dovid Hamelech’s harp which used to have seven strings will now have eight strings, to play a special Moshiach song! This will show that the time of Moshiach is completely different than the way the world is today.

On the eighth day of Chanukah we are reminded of the special time we are in now — right before Moshiach comes!

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