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Parshas Ki Savo - Rishon with Rashi

Today we learn about the mitzvah of Bikurim.

Let’s review: On Rosh Chodesh Shevat, only a few months before Zayin Adar (the end of Moshe Rabbeinu’s shlichus as a neshama in a guf), Moshe Rabbeinu gathered the Yidden together and made a long farbrengen with them. In it, he rebuked them for the not such good things they did in the Midbar, so they won’t do them again, reviewed the mitzvos they had already learned, and taught them new mitzvos they would get to keep in Eretz Yisroel. Moshe Rabbeinu was making sure the Yidden were ready for their shlichus in the next generation and in the future generations to come.

This week, we will learn many more mitzvos, and also be inspired to do all of the mitzvos, by hearing about all of the brachos we will have for doing them.

Bikurim: When you will come into Eretz Yisroel, you will send out all of the nations who live there now, and give out the different parts of land to each of the Shevatim. Then, once all of you have a part of Eretz Yisroel, you will be able to do a very special mitzvahBikurim!

You will do this mitzvah by bringing the first fruit from the Shiva Minim — the seven kinds of fruit that Eretz Yisroel was given a special bracha for: Wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.

When you will see that one of these kinds of fruits is starting to get ripe, you should tie a string around it to remember which one it is. When it is ready to pick, you should put it into a special basket, and bring it to the Beis Hamikdash!

In the Beis Hamikdash, you will go to one of the Kohanim, and thank Hashem for giving you Eretz Yisroel. Then together with the Kohen, you should wave the basket of fruit (like a Lulav!) in front of the Mizbeiach.

If you are bringing the Bikurim during the time of the harvest, after Shavuos but before Sukkos is over, you should say a special paragraph (that we also say in the Haggadah!) to thank Hashem that you are in Eretz Yisroel, where you are safe — not like Yaakov in Lavan’s house, or like the Yidden in Mitzrayim! Then wave the basket of Bikurim again, this time by yourself, and bow to Hashem. Then the Kohanim will be able to take the fruits home to eat.

The inyan of this mitzvah is Hakoras Hatov, appreciating good things that are done for us. Hashem tells us not only to feel it, but to say thank you!



72 - 76

Today’s kapitelach are Ayin-Beis to Ayin-Vov. We also say kapitelach Mem, Mem-Alef, and Mem-Beis for Elul.

In Kapitel Ayin-Gimmel, there is a posukMi Li Bashamayim Ve’imcha Lo Chofatzti Ba’aretz.”

The Tzemach Tzedek tells us that the Alter Rebbe used to say that this posuk means, “Do I need Shomayim? And I don’t want what’s with You in the world.” The Alter Rebbe was saying that he doesn’t want what’s WITH Hashem, like Gan Eden or Olam Haba. He just wanted Hashem Himself.

What does that mean for us? When we do a mitzvah, we shouldn’t think about how we will get a reward from Hashem — even a special Ruchnius’dike reward! The only thing that should be important to us is that we become connected to Hashem and fulfilling the shlichus He gave us to make Hashem’s kedusha felt in the world.



Igeres Hakodesh Siman Yud-Gimmel

In this letter, so far, we learned about two kinds of Yidden. One is very strict and makes sure to do everything EXACTLY right, so he always gives just the amount of Tzedakah just like the Halacha tells him to.

There is also another kind of Yid that is not always thinking about being strict — he’s thinking about how to give and do MORE, and that’s how he acts.

Because both of these midos come from Kedusha, everyone needs to have both! It just depends which one is the MAIN one, and which one is usually hiding.

Hashem shows a special Chesed to Yidden when WE act with a special Chesed! When we give tzedakah without making a cheshbon how much we should give, then Hashem will give us Chesed without making a cheshbon if we deserve it or not!

Since ALL Yidden have this koach at least hiding inside, we all need to use it when it comes to Tzedakah. Then we can ask Hashem to protect us, and give us what we need with this Chesed that has no limits!



Yud-Daled Elul

In today’s Hayom Yom, we learn to be careful with what we use our energy for: Helping make Yiddishkeit stronger, not wasting time proving we are right!

The Rebbe Rashab told Chassidim something very important:

There are people that laugh at Yiddishkeit sometimes. We might want to fight or argue with them, to prove that they are wrong and we are right!

This is not the right thing to do. Not because we can’t win or because we are scared to fight!

We can’t waste our time with arguing, because we have too much to do! We need to use ALL of our koach for what is important, to make sure that Yiddishkeit is strong, holy, and pure.

For this, we need to REALLY have Mesiras Nefesh! It’s not enough to just be READY to have Mesiras Nefesh. We shouldn’t think about what WE want — we just do whatever we can to help Yiddishkeit! There’s no time for anything else.



Shiur #70 - Mitzvas Asei #213

In Sefer Hamitzvos, we again learn the mitzvah (Mitzvas Asei #213) of getting married according to Torah! This is called Kiddushin. One of the ways we do Kiddushin is for the Chosson to give the Kallah something worth at least a perutah, and says that she is his wife. That’s called “Kiddushei Kesef.” Another way is that he writes down on a paper that she is his wife, and she accepts it from him in order to get married. That’s called “Kiddushei Shtar.”

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Ki Seitzei: כִּי יִקַּח אִישׁ אִשָּׁה וּבְעָלָהּ

The details are explained in Mesechta Kiddushin.



Hilchos Ishus

In today’s Rambam, Perakim Beis, Gimmel, and Daled, we learn the halachos of the mitzvah in today’s Sefer Hamitzvos.

There are many different ways to tell a woman that she is married to him. For example, a man can say to a woman, “You are my wife,” when he gives her something worth at least a perutah. But if he says, “With this I am your husband,” they are not married.

The Rambam also tells us that someone else can be sent as a shliach to do the Kiddushin, for example sending someone to bring money to the kallah and say that she will become the wife of the man who sent him. Still, it is better for the chosson to do it by himself.

Before we do many mitzvos, we say a bracha. Before the mitzvah of Kiddushin, we also say a special bracha. (This bracha is the first bracha that is said under the chuppah, in the Rambam’s nusach, “Asher Kidishanu Bemitzvosav Vehivdilanu Min Ha’arayos...” )



Hilchos Maaser Sheini VeNeta Reva'i - Perek Hey

We learn about being podeh Maaser Sheini, changing it for money. Usually when we are podeh the Maaser Sheini we need to pay an extra fifth. One of the things we learn in this perek is when we need to add that extra fifth AND when we don’t.



Chodesh Elul

The month of Elul has three names: Chodesh Hacheshbon, Chodesh Hachana, and Chodesh Horachamim.

Chodesh Hacheshbon: Elul is a month of cheshbon, a month of calculation. Elul is the last month of the year, and Hashem gives us time to make a cheshbon of the year, to see what went right and what needs to be fixed, as we learned in Hayom Yom.

Chodesh Hachana: Elul is also a month of hachana, preparation. As we will learn soon in Tanya, a new chayus will come into the world at the start of the new year. During Elul, we prepare for this chayus so we will be a keili for it!

Chodesh Horachamim: Elul is also a month of Rachamim, where the Aibershter is extra close to us and ready to help us when we ask. We see this in the famous mashal of Melech Basodeh, the king in the field — that Hashem is right here in the field with us, and it is easy to go to Hashem and ask for help with everything we need. This special time comes from the Yud-Gimmel Midos Horachamim which shines during Elul. The Yud-Gimmel Midos are higher than the regular way the world works, and make this month a much easier time to do teshuvah and come close to Hashem!

All of these names of Elul are connected! In order to finish off the year, and be prepared for the new year, Hashem makes the Yud-Gimmel Midos Horachamim shine. They help us do teshuvah and fix whatever is missing, so that we will be a keili for the brachos Hashem is waiting to give us! This way we will be able to get the Kesiva Vachasima Tova, and the Shana Tova Umesukah that Hashem brings down to us on Rosh Hashana, the head of the year.

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Avinu Malkeinu

A long time ago, one of the scariest things that could happen was a hunger. If, for a long time, there was no rain, nothing would grow. The fields would all dry up, animals would become sick and weak, and there wouldn’t be enough food for everyone. There were no refrigerators to store food, no big trucks to bring food from other places, and no big pipes to bring water from faraway places to water the fields.

If there was a hunger, the Yidden would all fast and do teshuvah. They would gather in the shuls and daven to Hashem, saying special tefillos and asking Him to have rachmonus and give rain.

In the times of Rabbi Akiva, the Yidden once noticed something incredible: Rabbi Akiva came to the shul during a hunger. He came to the Amud and said a new tefillah. Rabbi Akiva said, “Avinu Malkeinu, Chatanu Lefanecha!” “Our Father, Our King — we admit that we did aveiros!” When he said these words, it started to rain.

The Yidden realized that these words had a special koach to ask Hashem for rachmonus. They added more lines starting with the words Avinu Malkeinu, and made them part of the tefillos on fast days and during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah.

On Yom Tov, we actually don’t say the first line of Avinu Malkeinu, “Chatanu Lefanecha,” because we don’t say Vidui on Yom Tov. Instead, we start with the next line, saying “Avinu Malkeinu, Ain Lanu Melech Ela Ata!” “Our Father, our King, we don’t have a King aside for You!”

On Rosh Hashana, we ask for Hashem’s rachmonus by saying Avinu Malkeinu. But there is another way that we get Hashem’s rachmonus! In the Zohar, it writes that the neshamos in Shomayim look for ways to ask Hashem to have rachmonus on the Yidden in this world, that Hashem should bentch us all with a good year.

See Shaar Hakolel end of perek Mem-Beis



Avinu Malkeinu

There are certain words in davening that we are very careful to pronounce the right way, so that the meaning isn’t chas veshalom changed to a not-good meaning. In Shema there are some places like this, for example making sure that even if we say the word “Echod” (“one”) slowly in Shema, that it doesn’t sound like Acher (“another one”).

Especially during the Yomim Noraim, when we are being carefully judged, there are some parts of davening where we are very careful to pronounce the words just right.

For example, we add the line “Zochreinu Lechaim,” asking Hashem to remember us for life. We are careful to say the word LE’Chayim, with a sheva, and not to say it as “La’Chaim,” with a komatz or patach. That is because “LaChaim” could sound like two words — La Chayim — which could chas veshalom mean NOT life!

Another place we are very careful is when we say the line in Avinu Malkeinu, “Kra Ro’a Gzar Dineinu,” asking Hashem to rip up the bad parts of our decree. We are careful not to pause between the words “Ro’a” (bad) and “Gzar” (gezeira). If we pause, it might sound like we are asking Hashem, “rip up the bad thing — our gezeira!” We don’t want Hashem to rip up our whole gezeira, chas veshalom, with all of its good parts — we only want Hashem to take out the not good parts of our gezeira for this year and we should be left with only what’s good!

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman Tof-Kuf-Pey-Beis and Shaar Hakolel end of perek Mem-Beis

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



Prazos Teisheiv Yerushalayim

In the nevuos of the Navi Zechariah, we see how Hashem showed things to him, like a mashal.

In one of these nevuos, Zechariah saw a malach with a measuring stick. He asked the malach what he was doing, and the malach said he was measuring Yerushalayim.

Another malach came over to the first malach, and told him to stop measuring! Now, Yerushalayim is a city with a wall around it, so it can be measured. But when Moshiach comes, Yerushalayim will be like the cities without walls. This way it will be able to grow as more and more Yidden come to live there!

וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו רֻץ דַּבֵּר אֶל הַנַּעַר הַלָּז לֵאמֹר פְּרָזוֹת תֵּשֵׁב יְרוּשָׁלִַם מֵרֹב אָדָם וּבְהֵמָה בְּתוֹכָהּ

Vayomer Eilav — The second malach said to the first malach:

Rutz Dabeir El Hanaar Halaz — “Run and speak to this young man (Zechariah)

Leimor — Saying:

Prazos Teisheiv Yerushalayim — ‘Yerushalayim will be lived in like a city without walls

Meirov Adam Uveheima Besocha — From the many people and animals that live there!’”


In Tof-Shin-Chof-Zayin, during the Six Day War, the Yidden captured Yerushalayim from the Arabs that were living there with great nissim. Finally we could come back and live in our holy city!

At the farbrengen of Yud-Tes Kislev in Tof-Shin-Chof-Tes (about a year and a half later) the Rebbe said a maamar which included an explanation of the words of this posuk, “Prozos Teisheiv Yerushalayim,” that we will be able to live in Yerushalayim as if it was a city without any walls!

After the maamar, the Chassidim sang a happy niggun!

After they had been singing for a while, the Rebbe told one of the Chassidim from Yerushalayim to sing the words “Prozos Teisheiv Yerushalayim” to this tune.

Then the Rebbe said a sicha explaining this posuk and what we can learn from it! The Rebbe also said that Hashem made many nissim to let us have Yerushalayim back, and that now that we have it back, we need to make sure to hold on to it! Then the Rebbe asked that the ones who are good at niggunim should sing the happy niggun again with the words Prozos Teisheiv Yerushalayim.

After the sicha, the Chassidim learned the new words to the niggun, and practiced singing it joyously for about 15 minutes.

The Rebbe liked this niggun a lot and would ask the Chassidim to sing it at many farbrengens.

Now this happy niggun reminds us that we will soon ALL be able to live in Yerushalayim in a way of Prozos Teisheiv Yerushalayim, with the coming of Moshiach!

See Zechariah perek Beis posuk Ches; farbrengen Yud-Tes Kislev 5729

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