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Parshas Ki Savo - Shishi with Rashi

Today’s Chumash is the Tochacha.

This Aliyah is the Tochacha, the things that Moshe Rabbeinu tells the Yidden will happen if they don’t keep the Torah. Our Minhag is not to call anyone up to the Torah for this Aliyah — the person who is reading the Torah takes it himself. You will see that it is a very long Aliyah!

One of the reasons Moshe gives for the things that are written in the Tochacha is “Tachas Asher Lo Avadeta Es Hashem Elokecha Besimcha Uvetuv Levav Merov Kol” — because the Yidden didn’t serve Hashem happily when they have all they need.

The Arizal explains that the posuk means that the reason for the Tochacha is because the Yidden don’t serve Hashem with simcha!

The Alter Rebbe explains in Likutei Torah why a person should get a punishment just because they don’t have simcha. He explains that really, nobody is perfect. For the things they do wrong, they could deserve to get punished. But if a person is happy, it brings simcha in Shomayim too — and simcha takes away the not-good things and punishments!

But if a person is not besimcha, then he is treated the way he deserves, which might include punishments for the things he does wrong. From this we see how important it is to serve Hashem with simcha!

See Likutei Torah parshas Tazria, dibur hamaschil Sos Tasis



97 - 103

Today’s Tehillim is kapitelach Tzadik-Zayin to Kuf-Gimmel. For Chodesh Elul, we say three more kapitelach: Nun-Ches, Nun-Tes, and Samach.

At the end of today’s first Kapitel (which we also say in Kabolas Shabbos, and in the Machzor before Kol Nidrei), the posuk says “Ohr Zarua LaTzadik” — “Light is planted for the Tzadik.”

The Medrash teaches that when Hashem made the world, there was a very strong light, but it was too hard for the world to live in it! So Hashem hid it for the Tzadikim when Moshiach comes.

But even now there is a place where we can find that special light — in the Torah!



Igeres Hakodesh Siman Tes-Zayin

The Alter Rebbe is writing a letter to Chassidim in a certain city that used to give a certain amount of money to Colel Chabad every year. Then parnasa got very hard for them, and they started to give less. The Alter Rebbe is explaining reasons why they shouldn’t do that:

Yesterday, we learned the first reason: The poor Yidden in Eretz Yisroel had no way of getting money on their own. Helping them with the things they NEED comes before getting the things the Yidden in this town liked to have for themselves.

Today, the Alter Rebbe gives us more reasons:

2) The Gemara says that someone who ONLY gives exactly the amount of money that halacha says to give, and no more, will Chas Veshalom need to take tzedakah himself in the end. So we should give MORE than what the halacha says to protect ourselves from this.

3) We always need Hashem’s rachmonus, and if we have rachmonus on other people even when it’s hard for us, Hashem will have rachmonus on us too in everything that we need.

4) All of us have done aveiros, and one way for Hashem to forgive us for them is by giving Tzedakah (like we learned in Igeres HaTeshuvah).

5) We believe that giving Tzedakah isn’t giving what WE have, it’s like lending money to Hashem, and Hashem will pay us back double!

6) The Gemara says that if your friends are doing a mitzvah and you don’t do it with them, it could bring not good things chas veshalom. Since all of the Anash communities were giving to this fund they shouldn’t be different.

The Alter Rebbe tells the Chassidim that if they will give the same amount of Tzedakah that they gave before, they will get lots of brachos from Hashem!



Chof Elul

Someone who is selfish doesn’t realize it.

Did you ever get into a fight with someone? When your mother or father ask you about it, you say “Well, I didn’t do anything wrong!” Your parents might try explain to you that you aren’t perfect, and that you also weren’t acting the way you should.

Why don’t we think of that ourselves? Because we are so busy thinking about how WE were right that there is no time to think about what was bothering the other person. So we aren’t able to find out what WE did wrong and how we could become better.

Our neshamos are all stuck in a Guf that thinks only about itself. When we daven and learn and make a real Cheshbon Hanefesh in Chodesh Elul, we will see that we need to become much better!



Shiur #46 - Mitzvas Asei #155

Today’s mitzvah (Mitzvas Asei #155) is the same as yesterday’s — to make Shabbos holy, by saying special things when Shabbos comes in and when Shabbos goes out. We speak about how great and special Shabbos is, and how it is different than the days before and after it.

We learn this mitzvah from a posuk in Parshas Yisro (one of the Aseres Hadibros): זָכוֹר אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְּשׁוֹ

The posuk means, “Remember Shabbos to keep it holy.”

Torah Shebaal Peh explains what this mitzvah is. The Mechilta, the Midrash of halacha, explains that this means to make a bracha. In Gemara, the Chachomim tell us that to make this bracha over a cup of wine. The Gemara says we should make a bracha when Shabbos ends as well, to separate it from the rest of the days.

That’s why we keep this mitzvah by making Kiddush and Havdalah!

The halachos of how to keep this mitzvah are discussed in the end of Gemara Pesachim, and in many places in Mesechta Brachos and Mesechta Shabbos.



Hilchos Shabbos

In today’s Rambam, we learn the halachos of the Techum Shabbos, how far we are allowed to walk on Shabbos. We also learn the halachos of making Kiddush and Havdalah.

Perek Chof-Zayin: In this perek, we learn how far the Techum Shabbos is. According to the Torah, you are allowed to go 12 mil, because this is how big the camp of the Yidden was when they got this mitzvah. Moshe Rabbeinu told them not to go out past this camp, so we understand that the Techum Shabbos must be 12 mil. The Chachomim said, though, that we shouldn’t go out even 1 mil past the city, which is 2,000 amos.

We also learn what happens if a person does go out past the Techum — it is asur for him to go in any direction until after Shabbos!

Perek Chof-Ches: We learn how to measure the Techum of a city.

Perek Chof-Tes: In this perek, we learn the halachos of Kiddush and Havdalah, which is today’s mitzvah in Sefer Hamitzvos! We learn what kind of wine to use for Kiddush, and that we need to make Kiddush in connection with a meal (“Kiddush Bemakom Seudah”). The Rambam also tells us why we need to have besamim in Havdalah: Because the neshama is sad that Shabbos is over, so we make it happier by giving it something good to smell.



Hilchos Mikvaos - Perek Yud-Alef

In today’s Rambam, we finish learning the tenth Sefer of the Rambam!

Perek Yud-Alef is the halachos about making hands Tahor, by dipping them in a Mikvah or washing them, which is the mitzvah of Netilas Yodayim!

The Rambam finishes off this Sefer with a lesson in Avodas Hashem: He reminds us that a person can also make his neshama Tahor, by going in a “mikvah” of the neshama! What’s a “mikvah” for a neshama? Learning Torah and deciding to do Teshuvah.



Chayus in Our Teshuvah

This week we celebrated a very special day — Chai Elul.

The Frierdiker Rebbe said that the name we call this day, “Chai Elul,” means that this day brings a chayus into Elul. Elul is the month of teshuvah, and Chai Elul brings a chayus into this avodah of teshuvah!

What is teshuvah?

Teshuvah means to think about the things we did wrong, and realize how bad we feel about it. We then make a strong hachlata to do the mitzvos properly from now on — no matter what! Even if we are not in the mood, or it is hard, we are ready to follow everything the Torah teaches.

Chai Elul brings a chayus into this avodah!

Chai Elul is the beginning of Chassidus, the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe. The chayus that Chai Elul brings is how Chassidus teaches us to do teshuvah with simcha!

Of course, EVERY mitzvah needs to be done with simcha, and teshuvah is a mitzvah too.

But part of teshuvah is feeling bad for the things we didn’t do right, and being upset that we let the Yetzer Hara trick us. We might even feel a little angry that the Yetzer Hara got us to do the wrong thing, and decide that we won’t ever fall for his tricks again!

Chassidus teaches that even THAT part of teshuvah needs to be done with simcha! Even though we are upset at the Yetzer Hara, we know that we also have a Yetzer Tov and a neshama! We know that the neshama is the MAIN thing, and that is something to be happy about! We also have bitachon that Hashem will help us, and that every Yid will be able to do a proper teshuvah in the end!

This helps us do every part of teshuvah with chayus and simcha!


For the last 12 days of Elul, we count “Yom Lachodesh,” spending one day doing teshuvah for each month of the year. Today we look back at Chodesh Kislev, seeing what worked or didn’t, so that this coming Kislev will be even better!

Chodesh Kislev is a month full of Chassidishe Yomim Tovim, and the month of Chanukah. We can think about how we used the time to add in learning Chassidus and acting like a chossid, and how we did with our Chanukah mivtzoyim.

See Likutei Sichos chelek Beis, p. 388 ff


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Ledovid Hashem Ori

During the month of Elul, and until Hoshaana Rabbah, we say the paragraph Ledovid Hashem Ori twice in davening — once in Shacharis, and once in Mincha.

There are many ways explain the connection of this kapitel to Chodesh Elul and Tishrei, and there are also many beautiful things we can learn from it. But even the simple meaning of the first posuk has a very important message for us, especially during Elul!

This mizmor begins, “Ledovid Hashem Ori Veyish’i, Mimi Ira” — Dovid Hamelech says, “Hashem is my Light and the One Who saves me, so I have nothing to be afraid of.”

The world can sometimes feel like a dark place, full of tumah and not-good things. It can be hard to realize that Hashem is here.

When we say Ledovid Hashem Ori, we remind ourselves that Hashem is Ori, my light — when we are connected to Hashem, the world doesn’t feel like a dark place anymore! We also remind ourselves that Hashem is the One Who saves us, and we trust only in Hashem, not in anyone or anything else. When we remember these things, then we have nothing to be afraid of!

And when we are connected to Hashem’s light, it will push away the darkness until the whole world is changed into light, in the time of the Geulah!

See Igros Kodesh chelek Yud-Zayin, p. 323




It is brought in halacha that a Yerei Shomayim should check his tefillin and mezuzos during Elul, and that all of the other mitzvos should also be “checked” and fixed if they need it.

About a month before Pesach, our Mommies start getting busy! They make lists and charts and calendars, to make sure that every part of the house is taken care of, so we will have a kosher and happy Pesach.

They make sure all the drawers will get cleaned, the kitchen will get scrubbed, each room of the house will be checked, the car will get vacuumed, the Pesach food will get bought in time, and they will have recipes for everything we need to eat. They make sure we will have all of the pieces of our Seder plate, and not one bit of chometz will be found anywhere! This way we can keep all of the mitzvos of Pesach and feel like we are going out of Mitzrayim.

Preparing for Rosh Hashana is the same thing! A month before Rosh Hashana, we all need to start getting busy. We need to think about each part of our life as a Yid: How we dress, how we act, how we think, and how we feel.

We need to look at all of our mitzvos and make sure they are done right: We make sure our mezuzos are kosher, put up the right way, and are on every door they need to be on. We make sure we are bentching licht on time every week and giving tzedakah before. We make sure we have good Kibud Av Va’em, and that we are treating other people nicely. We make sure that all of our mitzvos are “clean” and just right!

This way, we’ll be ready for Rosh Hashana, when we are making Hashem our King. We tell Hashem that we are ready to use the new chayus from the new year to make our Yiddishkeit much better than ever before!

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



The First Place in Torah

When the Rambam teaches (in the last two perakim of the whole Mishnah Torah) about Moshiach, he brings sources from the Torah that teach us about the Geulah.

The first place in Torah where the Geulah is talked about clearly is in next week’s Chumash, Parshas Netzavim!

וְשָׁב ה׳ אֱלֹקֶיךָ אֶת שְׁבוּתְךָ וְרִחֲמֶךָ וְשָׁב וְקִבֶּצְךָ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים ... אִם יִהְיֶה נִדַּחֲךָ בִּקְצֵה הַשָּׁמָיִם מִשָּׁם יְקַבֶּצְךָ ה׳ אֱלֹקֶיךָ ... וֶהֱבִיאֲךָ ה׳ אֱלֹקֶיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ

Hashem promises that He will take all of the Yidden out of Golus, and bring them back to Eretz Yisroel!

The Rambam tells us that these words, which are written clearly in the Torah, include in them all of the things about the Geulah which were said by the Neviim later on.

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