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Shlishi with Rashi

Yaakov gets married to Leah, Rochel, Bilhah and Zilpah. Eight of the twelve shevatim are born!

Yaakov wants to marry Rochel: Yaakov Avinu saw that Rochel was very special, and he wanted to marry her. So he asked Lavan if he could marry Rochel instead of getting paid for the work he did. He offered to work even for SEVEN YEARS — the amount of time his mother had told him to work for Lavan.

Since Yaakov knew that Lavan was a sneaky person, he tried to be extra-careful so he wouldn’t get tricked. He told Lavan EXACTLY who he wanted to marry, so that Lavan couldn’t pretend he didn’t understand: Rochel (not someone else), Lavan’s daughter (not a different Rochel), and the younger one (so he shouldn’t switch their names)! Yaakov also gave Rochel secret signs so he would know it’s her, in case Lavan would still try to trick him.

Yaakov worked very hard for seven years, but it felt like the time went by very quickly since he was so excited to have such a special kallah! Then Yaakov asked Lavan if he can marry Rochel already, since he had to go home, and he was already 84 years old.

Lavan tricks Yaakov into marrying Leah: Lavan made a big chasunah. But instead of bringing Rochel to get married, Lavan brought Leah. He kept her covered during the chasunah, so Yaakov wouldn’t realize. Even though Leah was older, Lavan gave her the younger maid, Zilpah, to make it harder to figure out his trick.

Rochel knew that Leah would be very embarrassed if Yaakov found out right away. So she had Mesiras Nefesh and told Leah the secret signs. Since she knew the signs, Yaakov thought she was Rochel and married her. But in the morning, Yaakov realized that it was Leah, and asked Lavan why he tricked him!

Lavan didn’t feel sorry! He said, “Well, it’s not nice for the younger sister to get married before the older one. So you had to marry Leah first, and only then you can marry Rochel also. After Sheva Brachos, you can marry Rochel, but then you’ll have to stay here and work for seven more years.”

Yaakov agreed, and married Rochel also. Lavan gave Rochel his other daughter Bilhah as a maid.

Yaakov kept the whole Torah, even before Matan Torah. Even though the Torah teaches that it’s asur to marry two sisters, Yaakov married Rochel anyway. After all, he was only keeping the Torah as an extra way of being close to Hashem, and Rochel would be very hurt if he didn’t marry her. Yaakov knew that not hurting someone’s feelings was more important than his extra chumra in keeping the Torah.

Yaakov worked for seven more years, just as hard as he had worked before, even though Lavan had tricked him.

Leah has children: Hashem saw that Yaakov thought Rochel was more special, and that Leah felt bad. Hashem made a neis and let Leah have children, while Rochel still couldn’t.

Leah had a baby boy, along with a twin sister. At first she was afraid since Avraham’s oldest child and Yitzchak’s oldest child had become resha’im, that Chas Veshalom this baby might be a rasha too! But she saw with Ruach Hakodesh that this baby would be very special, so she called him Reuven (Re’u means “see”, bein means “between” — see the difference between my oldest and Yitzchak’s oldest!). “Also,” she said, “Hashem has seen (re’u) that I feel bad that Yaakov loves Rochel more than me, so Hashem gave me a special son so Yaakov will love me too.”

Then Leah had triplets, two girls and a boy, whom she named Shimon. She called him this because “Hashem heard (shama) that I felt that I was not loved as much, and gave me this baby.”

Then Leah had another set of twins, a boy and a girl! The boy she named Levi, because it means “attached.” Since now she had her three Shevatim, Yaakov would be attached to her! (She knew with Ruach Hakodesh that there were supposed to be 12 Shevatim from four wives, and thought that each of them would have three.)

AGAIN Leah had twins, a boy and a girl. She called the boy Yehudah, since she wanted to thank (odeh) Hashem for giving her more than three Shevatim! Then she stopped having children.

Rochel asks Yaakov to daven for children: Rochel was jealous of the good things Leah must have done to deserve to have children. She told Yaakov that without children, her life would not be worth living. She asked him to daven for her, just like Yitzchak davened for Rivkah. Yaakov was upset, because it wasn’t the same kind of thing! When Yitzchak Avinu davened, he didn’t have any children yet, and so he knew it was at least partly his fault. But Yaakov HAD children, only Rochel didn’t — so it seems that Hashem only was stopping HER from having children!

Rochel said, “So daven like Avraham davened for Sarah, even though he already had children with Hagar.”

Yaakov answered, “But Sarah TOLD Avraham to marry Hagar, hoping that in that zechus she would have children.”

Rochel said, “If that’s the problem, you can marry my maid Bilhah, and I hope that in this zechus I will deserve to have a baby too.”

Bilhah has children: Yaakov married Bilhah, and she had twins, a boy and a girl. Rochel said that Hashem had judged her for good, and named Bilhah’s son Dan (judged).

Bilhah had another set of twins, and Rochel called this boy Naftali, since she begged Hashem (niftalti) to have as many children as Leah.

Zilpah has children: Leah realized that she was not having any children, and since Rochel had told Yaakov to marry Bilhah, she did the same thing, and told Yaakov to marry Zilpah.

Zilpah also had a twin boy and girl. Leah said, this is good mazal (gad)! and called him Gad. Gad was born with a bris milah already.

Zilpah had another twin boy and girl, and Leah said that since people would say good things about her (ishru)because of this, she would call him Asher.



29 - 34

Today’s kapitelach are Chof-Tes through Lamed-Daled.

In Kapitel Lamed-Daled, Dovid Hamelech says “Taamu Ureu Ki Tov Hashem.” Taste and see that Hashem is good!

What is Dovid Hamelech telling us here?

The Tzemach Tzedek explains that all Yidden together are like one big heart. Just like the heart gives chayus to the body, the chayus of the whole world comes through Yidden!

Our heart is where we feel things. Sometimes when a person is having a very hard time, they can’t feel much in their heart. That’s how it was when the Yidden were in Mitzrayim. The Golus was so hard, the Yidden didn’t have any feelings about Hashem. All they had was Emunah.

When we got to Eretz Yisroel, after all the nissim we had in the Midbar and when we fought to get Eretz Yisroel, the “heart” of the world (all of the Yidden!) was able to finally appreciate all of those things, and feel Hashem’s kindness to us! That is what Dovid Hamelech is talking about — when the Yidden are able to “taste and appreciate that Hashem is good.”

Now that Yidden have the light of Chassidus, we ALL can come and taste how Hashem is good, by learning Chassidus and acting in the ways it teaches.

Once the Alter Rebbe (who taught Chassidus Chabad; Chassidus that people can understand and appreciate) came into a Shul. He klapped on the Bimah and said with a special niggun, “Taamu Ureu Ki Tov Hashem, Farzucht Vet Ir Zen Az Der Aibishter Iz Gut.” (“Taste and you will see that Hashem is good.”)

Many people who heard this were very moved. They followed the Alter Rebbe to learn Chassidus and became Chabad Chassidim. (One year in a Purim farbrengen the Rebbe told this story, and sang the words with the special niggun of the Alter Rebbe!)



Kuntres Acharon

Now we are going to learn about how special mitzvos are!

When we do a mitzvah there are two parts: There is DOING the mitzvah, and the KAVANA in the mitzvah.

The kavanah is something that we have in our mind, what we think about when we do the mitzvah. But when we take an esrog and hold it (for example), we become attached to Hashem in a stronger way than we can become with what we think.

When we have kavana, we are thinking about Elokus, but we can’t really understand it because a Gashmius’dike mind doesn’t really understand the mehus, what Ruchnius really is. But when we HOLD the mitzvah, like holding an esrog, we ARE holding on to the mehus of Elokus in that mitzvah!

Because even though the esrog is Gashmius too, Hashem doesn’t hide in Gashmius things that are used for mitzvos!

The Alter Rebbe says that this is also true when we LEARN the halachos about a Gashmius mitzvah, like the halachos of Esrog. We are also holding onto the mehus of Elokus!



Hey Kislev

Today’s Hayom Yom talks about the inyan of davening the way it is explained in Chassidus!

Davening is like a ladder. Do you remember the ladder in Yaakov’s dream, where it sat on the ground but reached up to Shomayim? That’s just what davening is!

When we start to daven, we are like people on the ground. Our neshama is still a little bit sleeping and we don’t feel so ruchnius’dik. With each part of davening, our Neshama begins to spread into our body, and our body starts to feel more ruchnius and close to Hashem. The highest part of the ladder of Davening is when we connect to Hashem in the closest way possible, when we say Shmoneh Esrei.

The Rebbe took this Hayom Yom from a maamar of the Frierdiker Rebbe, said in the Bnei Ruven shul in Chicago when the Frierdiker Rebbe visited America for the first time in Tof-Reish-Tzadik (1930). In this maamar, the Frierdiker Rebbe explains what we think about on each step of the ladder of davening so we can reach the top! On the bottom, we can only admit that Hashem is there, even though we don’t feel it. But at the top of the ladder, we feel that we are standing before Hashem with complete bittul, asking for our needs!



Mitzvas Lo Saasei #262

In today’s Sefer Hamitzvos (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #262), we learn the mitzvah that a man is not allowed to hold back certain things from his wife — two of them are that he has to take care of her food and clothes.



Hilchos Ishus

In today’s Rambam, we learn many halachos about what a husband has to do for his wife. He has to pay for a doctor if chas veshalom she gets sick, and if she gets put into jail he has to pay money to take her out of jail. He should talk to her nicely, and not get angry.

We also learn what a wife has to do for her husband: The Rambam says that she should have a lot of kavod for him, and do her best to do things the way he likes.



Hilchos Maaser Sheini VeNeta Reva'i Perek Tes

Today we start learning about Neta Reva’i, which has many of the same halachos as Maaser Sheini.

The Rambam tells us how to figure out how old a tree is, so we will know when to keep this mitzvah. We also learn which parts of a tree are NOT Neta Reva’i, like the leaves.



Chodesh Kislev

The month of Kislev is called a Chassidishe Chodesh. There are so many Chassidishe Yomim Tovim! Here are some of them:

It’s the month when the Alter Rebbe came out of prison, and it was decided in Shomayim that whenever there is something that gets in the way of Chassidus, Chassidus will always win.

It is the month when there was the Geulah of the Mitteler Rebbe, and the day the seforim came back to 770.

It has in it the birthday and yartzeit of the Mitteler Rebbe, and the chasuna of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin. On Rosh Chodesh the Rebbe was again able to be with chassidim after having a dangerous illness that made chassidim very worried.

It finishes with Chanukah, a Yom Tov all about light, which is what Chassidus brings into the world.

The whole month is full of days that remind us and help us live like a Chossid! We need to use this month to its fullest so that we can become the best chassidim that we can be and bring Moshiach now.

One thing the Rebbe tells us that we need to do is to learn more Chassidus every day, from each of the Rebbeim! We learn the Chassidus of the Baal Shem Tov all the way to the chassidus that the Rebbe teaches us. There is so much we can learn! (In the daily Tehillim for Kislev, we are explaining a posuk according to the Chassidus of one of the Rebbeim.) What will YOU learn extra today?


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Birchos Kriyas Shema

In Shema, we say that we are ready to have Mesiras Nefesh to do whatever Hashem wants. The brachos before Kriyas Shema help so that when we say Shema, we really mean it!

The first bracha, Yotzer Ohr, speaks about the Malochim who praise Hashem. They call Hashem “Kadosh,” which means holy and separate. Even the Malochim can’t understand the greatness of Hashem, so they feel that Hashem is separate from them.

But where is Hashem? “Melo Chol Ha’aretz Kevodo!” Hashem’s glory is right down in Olam Hazeh, with the Yidden.

The second bracha tells us that even though Hashem has so many powerful Malochim, Hashem puts aside all of them to bring the Yidden close to Him. Hashem loves every Yid, and chose us to be His special people at Matan Torah!

When we think about this in the brachos of Shema, we will want to love Hashem right back! We will also be ready to put aside everything else to do mitzvos and come closer to Hashem. When we say Shema, we will be ready to have Mesiras Nefesh to do all of Hashem’s mitzvos!

See Tanya Perek Mem-Tes



Ahavas Yisroel

When we praise another person, it is good for him and good for us! It is good for him because now he will want to do more special things. It is also good for us, because Hashem has nachas to hear us talking this way, and will want to give us more brachos!

There are halachos that help us make sure that the words we say only help the person we are talking about!

One halacha is that we should be careful about praising someone about how he was such a great host. We don’t want other people to hear and all start going to be his guest, until he has nothing left!

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman 156 se’if Yud-Gimmel

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



Chassidus Before the Geulah

The Ruchnius’dike reason that the Alter Rebbe was put into jail was because of spreading Chassidus. When the Alter Rebbe was freed from jail, it was a message from Shomayim that he should continue!

We are so lucky to have the Alter Rebbe’s Chassidus taught to us in a very clear way in the Rebbe’s Torah. We are so lucky to even be part of spreading it further, through Mivtzoyim and Shlichus!

But if Chassidus is so special, why did Hashem not let Moshe Rabbeinu teach it to all of the Yidden? Why only nowadays?

There are two main reasons:

1) Close to the time of the Geulah, the Golus gets very dark. We need extra kochos to win over it! So Hashem gives us a deep part of Torah, which helps us use the deepest parts of our neshama to win over the darkness of Golus.

2) Since we are so close to the Geulah, Hashem wants us to have a taste of it! When Moshiach comes, the whole world will be busy understanding Hashem. That’s what Chassidus is all about. We get to learn Chassidus now, as a taste of what we will learn in the time of Moshiach!

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