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Rishon with Rashi

We are now starting to learn the last parsha of the Torah again. We will learn this parsha a second time until we start the Torah again from the beginning on Simchas Torah!

This parsha is the last day of Moshe Rabbeinu’s life — Zayin Adar. Now that he finished farbrenging with the Yidden about how they should act in Eretz Yisroel, he is going to ask Hashem for brachos for each of the Shevatim.

Moshe Rabbeinu first says how much the Yidden deserve brachos! Even though Hashem asked ALL of the people in the world if they wanted the Torah, only the Yidden wanted it. Hashem gave them the Torah on Har Sinai, like a Chasunah!

Hashem loves the Yidden so much, and they love Hashem too! By Matan Torah, Hashem held Har Sinai over the Yidden and said that if they don’t agree to keep the Torah, He will crush them with the mountain! The Yidden didn’t try to run away, they all came closer under the mountain, because they WANTED to have to keep the Torah.

The Yidden were ready to go wherever Hashem wanted in the Midbar.

They will also keep the Torah even when things are hard in Golus and it looks like Hashem is nicer to the Goyim! They will say, “Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe...” — “the Torah is like a present that belongs forever to the ‘family’ of Yidden, and we will keep it forever!”

This all shows how special the Yidden are, and how much they really deserve to have many brachos!

Now Moshe Rabbeinu asks for specific brachos for the Shevatim:

Reuven: Moshe asked Hashem to forgive Reuven for moving Yaakov’s bed. He should be able to go into Olam Haba, and his Shevet should stay a Shevet.

Yehudah: Moshe asked the same bracha for Yehudah: Yehudah promised Yaakov that if he didn’t bring Benyamin back with him, he will lose his part of Olam Haba. Even though he DID bring Benyamin back, a promise of a Tzadik is still a promise!

But when Yehudah told the truth about doing something wrong with Tamar, it made Reuven realize that he should do teshuvah too. Since Hashem will forgive Reuven, He should of course forgive Yehudah, who made Reuven do teshuvah! (And right when Moshe Rabbeinu said this, Yehudah WAS let into Olam Haba!)

Shimon: Moshe didn’t give Shevet Shimon its own bracha, because Zimri was from Shimon, and many Yidden passed away in Shittim because of Shevet Shimon. Still, he hinted to Shimon in his bracha to Yehudah, by using the word “Shema” — like “Shimon.”



104 - 105

Today’s shiur Tehillim is kapitelach Kuf-Daled and Kuf-Hey.

Kapitel Kuf-Hey talks about the things that happened until the Yidden went into Eretz Yisroel. It tells how Hashem promised the land to Avraham, how the Yidden had to go down to Mitzrayim because there was no food, how Hashem took out the Yidden from Mitzrayim, and the nissim that happened until they came to Eretz Yisroel. It is very interesting to see how the whole history is recorded in this one kapitel!

The end of the kapitel is “Vayitein Lohem Artzos Goyim,” “Hashem gave the Yidden the land of the nations,” that Hashem took Eretz Yisroel away from the Goyim and gave it to the Yidden — because that’s who Hashem planned for it to belong to, from the beginning!



Igeres Hakodesh Siman Chof-Gimmel

In this letter, the Alter Rebbe is telling chassidim how important it is not to waste time in Shul, like between davening Mincha and Maariv, by talking about shtus — they should use that time to learn Torah! The Alter Rebbe tells us what happens when ten Yidden come together like for a minyan, and when we understand that, we will never even WANT to waste our time there!

The Gemara says that when one Yid sits and learns Torah, Hashem gives him a REWARD. When TEN Yidden come together, Hashem RESTS there.

What is the difference?

The reward is that Hashem gives the Yid a chance to UNDERSTAND Hashem’s Torah and to FEEL how Hashem is there with him when he is learning. This also is the way a Yid feels sometimes when he davens.

But Hashem RESTING somewhere means something completely different! Hashem is there in a way that is so strong that a Yid can’t feel it in this world. Only in Gan Eden Hashem gives a neshama the koach to feel it as a special PRESENT, but in this world it is impossible to feel it — it is just there, and it helps us in our Avodas Hashem in a hidden way.

Even malachim can’t handle the strong chayus of Hashem that is there when Yidden gather together. The Alter Rebbe says in the names of his teachers, the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid, that if a Malach would come to a place where there is a minyan of Yidden, even if they aren’t davening or learning, he would become completely burned up and wouldn’t be able to exist, because of the amazing chayus of Hashem.

This shows us how special it is when ten Yidden are together!



Chof-Alef Tishrei

Our Minhagim for Hoshaana Rabbah:

On Hoshaana Rabbah, we say the whole Parshas Devarim. We aren’t Maavir Sedra (saying the parsha two times, once with Targum Onkelos) for Parshas Vezos Habracha until Erev Simchas Torah. (The Rebbe Rashab told some people to say Parshas Vezos Habracha with Rashi on Hoshaana Rabbah, but this wasn’t for everyone to do.)

Before Hallel on Hoshaana Rabbah, we take off the top two rings from the Lulav, but we leave the 3 rings on the bottom that attach it to the Hadassim and Aravos. We dip our Challah into honey, but we don’t anymore on Shmini Atzeres and Simchas Torah.



Mitzvas Asei #14

Today’s mitzvah (Mitzvas Asei #14) is to wear tzitzis! We need to attach special tzitzis strings to the corners of clothes that have four corners. One of those strings is supposed to be blue, called techeiles! But even if we don’t have the blue string, we still do the mitzvah with just white strings.



Hilchos Tzitzis

We learn the WHOLE Hilchos Tzitzis today. The Rambam explains all of the halachos in just three perakim!

In Perek Alef, we start to learn about tzitzis! Really, the tzitzis are supposed to have seven white strings, and one techeiles string. But since we don’t have techeiles, we can still do the mitzvah with just white strings.

Perek Beis: Even though there are other ways to make a color that LOOKS like techeiles, only real techeiles will stay the same color no matter what. So to check if a string was dyed with real techeiles, we soak it a strong liquid to see if the color fades! Only real techeiles is kosher for tzitzis.

Perek Gimmel: According to the Torah, only clothes made of wool or linen need tzitzis, but the Chachomim told us to put tzitzis on clothes made of ANY material with four corners.

Did you know that a kapote can have four corners? If you look at your Tatty’s kapote, you will see that one of the corners is rounded, so it doesn’t count as a corner. If it wasn’t round, you would need to put tzitzis on your kapote too!



Hilchos Matnos Aniyim - Perek Daled

When one or two stalks fall down when we are harvesting, they belong to the poor people — that’s Leket. But if they fell down because a person who was harvesting hurt himself, they don’t belong to the poor. We learn what happens if leket gets mixed up with the rest of that person’s grain.

Peret means one or two grapes that fall off the clusters when we are harvesting the grapes. They belong to the poor people. We are not allowed to put a basket under the vine to catch any grapes that fall, because that is stealing from the poor!

Finally we learn about Olelos. The Rambam says that they are called Olelos because an olel means a baby — and these grape clusters are still like babies, since they never grew up properly into big clusters of grapes. They need to be left for the poor — even if the WHOLE vineyard is full of them!




On Hoshaana Rabbah we wash and eat a meal. It is a minhag to eat kreplach during this meal.

For Hakafos on Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, it is our minhag that everyone comes to Shul — even the little babies, like we do for Aseres Hadibros!

Once at a Farbrengen before Hakafos, the Rebbe spoke about how everyone needs to come to Hakafos, even very little boys and girls. Then the Rebbe looked at a little girl who was there, and said, “Including a little girl, who can show the older men an example of how to sing and dance with a chayus — as long as she isn’t 3 years old yet, when she has to be careful with Tznius, and not to sing in front of men.” 


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Hoshaana Rabbah

One of the things we ask from Hashem in the second half of Hoshaanos for today, is V’Otzarcha Hatov Lanu Tiftach — “Open Your good treasure for us.”

The Rebbeim explained that we should read this a little bit differently: Otzarcha, Hatov LANU, Tiftach. We ask Hashem that His treasure, that WE can see is good, is what He should open. Of course, EVERYTHING that Hashem does is good, but we ask that it should be the kind of good that we all can easily see is good!



Hoshaana Rabbah

There are many things we need to know about Hoshaana Rabbah, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah. Here are links to some Halacha newsletters with all of the details: Halacha Day by Day newsletter by the Badatz of Crown Heights and Halacha Newsletter by Rabbi Lesches of Melbourne, Australia.

What is Hoshaanah Rabbah?

The Zohar explains that this is the day when the Mishpat, the judgment of Rosh Hashana, is finished. The decision is made in Shomayim on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, but Hashem gives us an extra chance to do teshuvah and fix things up before the Gmar Hachasimah (final seal) on Hoshaana Rabbah.

Some people have the minhag to wish each other “A Gutte Kvittel,” a good receipt — since it’s the day when we get the “receipt” for the Shana Tova Umesukah for the coming year.

This helps us understand many of the minhagim of Hoshaanah Rabbah!

Since it is the last chance to change the decree for the coming year, we stay up the night of Hoshaanah Rabbah and say Tehillim. After the Tehillim, there is a minhag that the Gabbai gives out apples to dip in honey, like on Rosh Hashana!

We also add extra tefillos in Shacharis, asking Hashem to seal the decree for a good year.

There is a minhag from the Neviim called “Chibut Aravos.” Nowadays many people call it “Klapping Hoshaanos.” It is a minhag that everyone, including women and children, klap Hoshaanos, and it is best for everyone to have their own Aravos, and not to use the same ones again.

We eat a special Seudas Yom Tov on Hoshaana Rabbah. We dip our challah in honey for the last time this year — after Hoshaanah Rabbah, we stop dipping our challah in honey and go back to dipping our challah in regular salt. At the seudah we eat kreplach, like on Erev Yom Kippur.

In the later years, the Rebbe would give out lekach on Hoshaana Rabbah, to the orchim that came for Simchas Torah and didn’t get lekach when the Rebbe gave out earlier in Tishrei.

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



Ata Horeisa

Before Hakafos on Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, we say 17 pesukim, starting with the posukAta Horeisa.” These pesukim tell us why we should be so happy on Simchas Torah! In farbrengens before hakafos the Rebbe would explain these pesukim.

In Tof-Shin-Nun-Beis, the Rebbe explained the pesukim, and said that the last posuk shows us how ALL of the pesukim are really talking about Moshiach!

The last posuk is “Ki Mitzion Teitzei Sorah.” This is a posuk from the Navi Yeshaya, which says that when Moshiach comes, the goyim will all follow the Yidden to Yerushalayim, since the Torah comes out from there!

The Rebbe tells us that here, the posuk is telling us something else too. The word “Ki” (because) can also mean “when.” This posuk tells us that all of the things we learn in the first 16 pesukim will happen completely WHEN “Mitzion Teitzei Sorah” — when Moshiach comes!

See sicha Leil Simchas Torah 5752, Sefer Hasichos Tof-Shin-Nun-Beis p. 37 ff.

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