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Parshas Vayeitzei - Revi'i with Rashi

In today’s Chumash, more of the Shevatim are born. Yaakov finishes his 14 years of working for Lavan, and wants to go home.

Reuven was taking a walk in the fields, at the time of year when all of the wheat was ready to cut. He found some flowers there that didn’t belong to anyone, and knew they were a special flower that can help someone have a baby. He knew his mother wanted another baby, so he brought them home to her.

Rochel saw that Reuven was giving Leah the flowers, and asked Leah if she could have them, since she wanted a baby very much. Leah said, “Yaakov likes you so much, it’s like you took him away from me! Now you want my flowers too?”

Rochel said, “Let’s make a deal. Even though it’s my turn for Yaakov to spend the night with me, you can take my turn if you give me the flowers.” Leah agreed.

When Hashem saw how hard Leah was trying to have more children for Yaakov, He made her able to have another baby. She had another set of boy and girl twins. Since she felt like it was a reward (sechar) for having Yaakov marry Zilpah, she called him Yissachar.

Then she had another set of twins, and called the boy Zevulun, since she said that Yaakov would for sure now decide that she is the most important wife, and live (zevul) most of the time with her. Because if there are only 12 shevatim, and she already had 6 of them, that means that she had half of the shevatim by herself!

Then Leah realized she was going to have another baby. She davened that the baby be a girl, because she knew that most of the shevatim were already born, and now there were only 2 left to be born. If Leah would have another boy, it would mean that Rochel would only have one baby boy — even less than Bilhah and Zilpah. Hashem made a neis, and the baby changed to be a girl. Leah named the baby Dina (judgment), since she judged herself and decided she didn’t want Rochel to be embarrassed.

Then Hashem remembered that Rochel had given Leah the signs so SHE wouldn’t be embarrassed. Hashem also saw that Rochel was afraid Yaakov wouldn’t want to stay married to her if she doesn’t have any children, and then maybe Esav will want to marry her! Hashem listened to her tefilos and made her able to have children.

Rochel had twins. She felt that now Hashem didn’t want her to feel embarrassed or be afraid she would have to marry Eisav. She named the boy Yosef, which means to add more, asking Hashem to also give her another boy, the last of the shevatim. Yosef was born with a bris milah already.

Now Yaakov was finished working his 14 years for Lavan!

When the fourteen years were over, Rivkah sent her nurse Devorah to Padan Aram, to tell Yaakov that Esav wasn’t so angry anymore, and he could come home. At first Yaakov was afraid! But he felt that since Yosef, such a special baby, had just been born, in his zechus he didn’t need to worry. So he told Lavan that he wanted to go back to Canaan with his family, since he did his job well.

Lavan said, “I wish you would stay! I learned through tamei magic that I finally had baby boys because you lived here.” (Before he only had girls, which was why Rochel had been taking care of the sheep at the beginning of the parsha. During the years that Yaakov was working for him, he had boys too.)



49 - 54

Today’s shiur Tehillim is kapitelach Mem-Tes through Nun-Daled.

In today’s Tehillim, Dovid Hamelech asks Hashem, “Hashem Sefosai Tiftach, Ufi Yagid Tehilasecha.” “Hashem, open my lips, and my mouth will say your Tefilos.”

Chassidus explains that this posuk is teaching us how we need to stand before Hashem when we daven. We need to feel so small and so awed in front of Hashem, that we need to even ask Him to help us daven!

It isn’t always easy to feel that way. That’s why we need to think about Hashem in Pesukei DeZimra and Shema, before Shmoneh Esrei, so that we will feel small when its time to stand before Him.

But what if we didn’t think about that — is there any shortcut?

The Rebbe teaches us that there is. There is something we can think about that can make many of us feel small:

We all know people that are older and smarter than us. They lived longer and learned more, so they know more things. Even if we feel like we are very smart and did lots of good things, we still feel small next to them because there are so many things we didn’t have a chance to learn.

That’s something that can remind us to feel small before people that are older than us, and OF COURSE it will make us feel small in front of Hashem when we daven! Then we can stand humbly, “K’avda Kamei Marei” — like a servant in front of his master, ready to daven to Hashem the way we should!



Kuntres Acharon Siman Daled

The Alter Rebbe explains to us today how a gashmiyus mitzvah can accomplish the great things that it does. He gives us a mashal from how a tree grows.

How does a tree grow? There is a tiny seed that is planted in the ground. Hashem put a koach in the ground to make things grow. A seed cant do that by itself — if you put the seed on the floor, a tree won’t grow. This strong koach is only in the earth. But a seed is able to get this koach in the ground to start working and make things grow.

The same is true of mitzvos. A mitzvah is like a seed. It is tiny — the koach of Hashem cant even be seen! But like the seed, it has the koach to cause that Hashem will become revealed in all the ruchniyus worlds!



Tes Kislev

Today is the birthday (5534) and yartzeit (5588) of the Mitteler Rebbe!

The Mitteler Rebbe was born and passed away on the same day, Tes Kislev. He was born in the year Tof-Kuf-Lamed-Daled, and passed away in the year Tof-Kuf-Pey-Ches. His Ohel is in the city of Nyezhin.

The 53 chapters of Tanya are based on Maamorim that the Alter Rebbe said, starting from Erev Rosh Hashana 5550 (when the Tzemach Tzedek was born), and the last maamar (about the Beis Hamikdash) was started today, on Tes Kislev 5554 (when the Mitteler Rebbe turned 20). The maamar was finished the next day, Yud Kislev (which later became the Mitteler Rebbe’s chag hageulah)!

In these maamorim, the Alter Rebbe included many eitzos he gave to chassidim in their Avodas Hashem, about overcoming their Yetzer Hara with simcha and serving Hashem with ahava and yirah.



Shiur #139 - Mitzvas Asei #131, #125

Today we are going to finish learning the halachos about Maaser Sheini, and start a new section of halachos in the Rambam, about Bikurim!

1) (Mitzvas Asei #131) On Erev Pesach, on the 4th and 7th years since Shemitah, there is a mitzvah called “Vidui Maaser.” A person needs to say to Hashem that he separated and gave all of the Terumah and Maaser that he was supposed to over the past three years.

Just like there is a mitzvah to actually separate the terumah and maaser and do what we are supposed to with them, there is a mitzvah to SAY on Erev Pesach of these years that we did our responsibility the way we were supposed to.

The first perek of today’s Rambam tells us how this is done.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Ki Savo: וְאָמַרְתָּ לִפְנֵי ה׳ אֱלֹקֶיךָ בִּעַרְתִּי הַקֹּדֶשׁ מִן הַבַּיִת וְגַם נְתַתִּיו לַלֵּוִי וְלַגֵּר לַיָּתוֹם וְלָאַלְמָנָה וְגוֹ׳

The details are explained in the last perek of Mesechta Maaser Sheini.

2) (Mitzvas Asei #125) We also learn the mitzvah of Bikurim — we bring the first fruit of the Shiva Minim that grow in our fields to the Beis Hamikdash, for the kohanim. (This mitzvah is only in Eretz Yisroel, when we have the Beis Hamikdash.)

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Mishpatim: רֵאשִׁית בִּכּוּרֵי אַדְמָתְךָ תָּבִיא בֵּית ה׳ אֱלֹקֶיךָ

The details are explained in Mesechta Bikurim.



Hilchos Maaser Sheini VeNeta Reva'i - Bikurim

Perek Yud-Alef: The year after we give Maaser Ani for the poor (the 4th and 7th year), we need to do Vidui Maaser. Vidui Maaser is telling Hashem formally that we gave all of the presents and maaser we needed to give. We can’t do this until we actually gave them to the poor, the kohanim, or the Beis Hamikdash — it’s not enough to just set them aside.

Now we start learning Hilchos Bikurim:

Perek Alef: There are 24 presents that belong to the kohanim. Eight of these presents can only be eaten by the kohanim in the Beis Hamikdash, and five others can only be eaten inside Yerushalayim! In these perakim, we will learn halachos about these presents that we didn’t learn about already in other parts of the Rambam.

Perek Beis: Now we start learning about the present of Bikurim! We bring bikurim from the seven special fruits of Eretz Yisroel: Wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. We take bikurim from the nicest fruits that grew in our fields. We have to bring the actual fruit — we can’t bring pomegranate juice instead of whole pomegranates. If we live too far away from Yerushalayim we are allowed to bring dried figs and raisins, since the fresh ones will get bad on the way.



Hilchos Eruvin - Perek Alef

This perek talks about a kind of eruv called Eiruvei Chatzeiros. If many families use the same piece of property, like the hallway of a building or a courtyard, the Chachomim made a takana that it should not be called a Reshus Hayochid, and it is asur to carry there on Shabbos. But with an Eruv Chatzeiros, they can make the property into a shared Reshus Hayochid, so that everyone can carry there.



Chassidishe Yom Tov

Today is a Chassidishe Yom Tov, as we learned in Hayom Yom! It is the birthday and yartzeit of the Mitteler Rebbe.

There is a famous maamar that the Mitteler Rebbe wrote that starts with the words Padah Beshalom Nafshi. The Rebbe asked that chassidim learn this maamar on these special days of the Mitteler Rebbe. Here is something from that maamar:

When two people are fighting, each one wants the other person to do what he wants. That’s what happens when the Yetzer Tov and Yetzer Hara fight too. When the Yetzer Tov wins, it is like setting a person free from jail! But what is “Pada Beshalom,” to be redeemed with shalom?

Shalom means that there is peace, that they are finished fighting and won’t fight again later. This is a special kind of way that the Yetzer Tov can win! The Yetzer Hara will act the way the Yetzer Tov wants and stop fighting!

When does that happen? When a Yid uses the koach of the Yechidah of his neshama. The Yechidah is a part of the neshama that Hashem puts especially into the Moshe Rabbeinu of every generation! (Every Yid has this koach when we have hiskashrus to the Rebbe — the Moshe Rabbeinu of our generation!)

When we do our Avodas Hashem with this koach, we will win the war over the Yetzer Hara. That will bring Moshiach, when there will be no need for a war with the Yetzer Hara anymore!


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Kriyas Shema

Do you know how many parts there are in a man’s guf? The Torah teaches us that there are 248!

One of the things we do to keep the whole guf healthy is to say the words of Kriyas Shema. There are 245 words, one word for each part of the body!

But wait — we just said that there are 248 parts of the body, and there are only 245 words in Shema!

Because of this, we have a minhag that the Chazan says the words “Hashem Elokeichem Emes” again out loud. By doing this, it is counted that EVERYONE had three more words, so we have one holy word of Shema for every part of the guf!

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, Hilchos Kriyas Shema 61:3



Kriyas Shema

To get 248 words of Shema, matching up to the 248 parts of a man’s guf, the Chazan says the last three words of Shema out loud.

But when someone is davening without a minyan, how does he get the extra words?

There are many opinions brought in Shulchan Aruch, but in the Siddur the Alter Rebbe paskens what we should do: We repeat the words “Ani Hashem Elokeichem” at the end of Shema, before saying the word “Emes.” (So we would say, “Ani Hashem Elokeichem, Ani Hashem Elokeichem Emes.”)

We don’t only do this in Shacharis, we also do this in Kriyas Shema She’al Hamitah, and every other time Kriyas Shema is said — except for putting on the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam.

See Igros Kodesh chelek Tes-Zayin, p. 294, Letter #6069

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




In a sicha, the Rebbe explains why our dor is the last dor of Golus and will be the first dor of Geulah!

Since the very beginning of the world, we have been waiting for Moshiach. Many great tzadikim from generations before us waited for and davened for Moshiach to come in their times.

So what is so special about OUR dor, that the Geulah is only going to come in OUR times?

The Chachomim say that Hashem sends the Yidden in Golus to find the sparks of kedusha hiding in the world and take them out of their hiding places so they can go up to Hashem. This makes all of these places holy and ready for the Geulah!

In the times of the Beis Hamikdash, Yidden lived only in Eretz Yisroel and in the countries right near it. Afterwards, they spread to other parts of the world, but mainly in Europe, on the same side of the world as Eretz Yisroel.

But nowadays, Yidden are living EVERYWHERE, all over the world!

And not only are they living there, but shluchim are going to live there too. They help the Yidden in all of these places to do mitzvos, finding the sparks of kedusha hiding in those places. They build mosdos in all of these places, making them holy places of Torah and mitzvos. This finishes the job of Golus, taking care of the kedusha hiding everywhere in the world. Since in our generation we are getting the sparks of kedusha from WHEREVER they are in the world, in a way there never was before, it is OUR dor that will be the dor of the Geulah!

See Sicha Parshas Vayeishev Nun-Beis, 174 ff.

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