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Shvi'i with Rashi

Lavan and Yaakov make a promise not to hurt each other, and Lavan says goodbye to his children and grandchildren.

Lavan said to Yaakov, “You didn’t have to sneak away! I would never do anything to hurt any of you. They are MY daughters, and MY grandchildren! Let’s make a bris — a promise between us. We will promise not to hurt each other, and Hashem will be the witness.”

Yaakov took a stone to be a matzeivah — a monument, and the family all helped bring stones to make a pile. Yaakov and Lavan both called it “the pile of witnessing” — but Lavan named it in Aramaic (Yegar Sahadusa), and Yaakov said it in Hebrew (Gal-Eid). They also called it “Mitzpah” (the watchtower) to remember that Hashem should watch them both to make sure they are keeping their promise!

What’s the promise?

Yaakov promised not to be mean to Lavan’s daughters, and not marry anyone else (since it might make them upset). They both promised that they wouldn’t pass the place of the pile to hurt each other.

Even though Lavan didn’t help make the pile, he said that it was the pile that HE made, and the matzeivah that HE made!

Lavan promised in the name of Hashem and in the names of his Avodah Zarah, and Yaakov promised in the name of Hashem.

Then Yaakov shechted animals, and they ate a seudah together. Everyone slept on the mountain that night!

In the morning, Lavan kissed his children and grandchildren, and gave them a bracha before he went home.

Yaakov went further to Eretz Yisroel, and the malachim of Eretz Yisroel came to meet him and bring him back! When Yaakov saw them, he said, “This is Hashem’s camp!” He called the place Machanayim (twin camps).



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, so they know more things about life. 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

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 still, a seed is able to get this koach in the ground to start working and make things grow.

The same is true of mitzvos. An 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! In the zechus of our mitzvos, we will also see it in THIS world very soon, when Moshiach comes!



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 and serving Hashem with simcha.



Mitzvas Asei #222

Today’s Sefer Hamitzvos is (Mitzvas Asei #222) that if chas veshalom a man and woman can’t be married anymore, the husband has to give his wife a get. (A get is a paper that shows that they are not married anymore.)



Hilchos Girushin

In today’s Rambam, we learn many halachos about a get. There are many details in writing and giving a get in a kosher way.

One interesting halacha is that there needs to be witnesses, people that see that the husband is writing a get. They have to sign their names on the get. But what if they don’t know how to write? We can write their names with water on the paper, and they can trace over it. Usually this isn’t a kosher way for eidim (witnesses) to sign, but it is OK for a get because we want to make sure that the woman can get married again.

Another very important halacha is that a man needs to WANT to give the get. If he doesn’t want to, but he needs to, the Beis Din is allowed to hit him until he says “I want to!”

But if you hit someone until they say yes, they don’t really want it!

The Rambam tells us that really EVERY Yid wants to do all the mitzvos. Sometimes our Yetzer Haras trick us and tries to get us not to do the right thing, but really we DO want to do the right things. When the Beis Din hits the man, his Yetzer Hara becomes weak, and the Yid realizes that he DOES want to do it.



Hilchos Bikurim - 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.



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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Smichus Geulah L'Tefillah

In the bracha after Kriyas Shema, we speak about the Geulah of the Yidden from Mitzrayim. The bracha ends with the words “Go’al Yisroel.”

The Chachomim teach us that we shouldn’t do anything between saying this bracha and starting Shemoneh Esrei! We should be “Somech Geulah L’Tefillah,” connect talking about Geulah with the main part of Tefillah, Shemoneh Esrei.

Why is it important to daven Shemoneh Esrei RIGHT after talking about Geulah, without any interruptions?

The Gemara brings a mashal to help us understand:

A great king was sitting in his palace, when he heard a knock at the door of his private room. The guard announced that it was his good friend coming to visit! The king was happy to hear this. He was looking forward to spending time with his friend. The king went to the door, to greet his guest and invite him inside.

But when he opened the door, he saw his friend busy with something else! The king was disappointed. He went back inside and started taking care of other things for his kingdom.

When we praise Hashem for taking us out of Mitzrayim, that is like knocking on Hashem’s door! It makes Hashem want to invite us inside and hear what we need.

When Hashem is feeling close to us, that is the time to daven Shemoneh Esrei! We shouldn’t get busy with anything else. Right when we knock on the door with Go’al Yisroel, we should come right in and ask Hashem for our needs in Shemoneh Esrei.

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman 111 se’if 2



Amen After Go'al Yisroel

We are not allowed to make any interruptions between the bracha of Go’al Yisroel and Shemoneh Esrei.

But what should you do when you are in shul, and the Chazan says the bracha of Go’al Yisroel? Don’t you have to answer Amen?

According to many poskim, it is not a problem to answer Amen. It is counted as part of the bracha!

Still, it is best to follow the halacha in a way that EVERYONE agrees it is not a problem. So the best thing to do is to finish off the bracha of Go’al Yisroel together with the Chazan! Since we don’t answer Amen to our own brachos, we don’t have to worry about saying Amen. This way, EVERYONE agrees that we are not making a hefsek.

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, siman 66 se’if 9

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



A Sign of Moshiach

It says in the Zohar that when we will come close to the days of Moshiach, we will see that even children will know about the hidden secrets of Torah.

This is one of the signs of Moshiach that we can see today! Even small kinderlach learn and understand Chassidus, the hidden secrets of the Torah!

See Zohar 118a

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