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Rishon with Rashi

Yesterday we learned in Chumash that Yosef had to stay two more years in jail because he had too much bitachon in the butler.

At the end of the two years, Paraoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nilus (the big river in Mitzrayim) and saw seven healthy-looking cows come out of the river and start to eat grass nearby. Then seven very skinny cows came out of the river, and stood next to the healthy cows. The skinny cows ate up the healthy cows! Then Paraoh woke up.

He fell back asleep and had another dream: He saw a stalk of wheat with seven healthy ears of grain growing on it. (Ears of grain look a little bit like corn on the cob!) Then seven dried-up ears of grain grew. The dried-up grain ate the healthy ones!

Paraoh woke up and realized that this kind of dream means something, and he needed to ask someone what it means.

All of Paraoh’s magicians and advisors tried to tell Paraoh what it means. At first they thought the dream must be talking about years with lots of food and years with no food, but you can’t have both at the same time, and the cows and grain were next to each other in the dream! So they told Paraoh things like “you will have 7 healthy daughters, and 7 other ones will pass away.” But Paraoh knew that couldn’t be true, because he is the king, and his dreams have to be important for the whole Mitzrayim.

The butler (who is in charge of the king’s drinks) then said to Paraoh, “I did something wrong many years ago, along with the baker, and we were thrown into Potifar’s jail. When we were in jail, we both had dreams, and someone in jail explained what our dreams meant. And things happened exactly like he said they would!”

The butler didn’t want Paraoh to give Yosef an important job, so he said, “The person who explained our dreams isn’t a good person to be an officer for Paraoh — he is pretty young, he’s an Ivri who doesn’t speak Egyptian perfectly, and he is a slave of Potifar, the chief butcher.”

Paraoh sent someone to quickly go get Yosef! They cut his hair, gave him regular clothes, and brought him to Paraoh.



113 - 118

Today’s kapitelach of Tehillim are Kuf-Yud-Gimmel through Kuf-Yud-Ches.

In the smallest kapitel in the whole Tehillim, kapitel Kuf-Yud-Zayin, we say “Halelu Es Hashem Kol Goyim!” When Moshiach comes, all of the nations will praise Hashem — “Ki Govar Aleinu Chasdo, Ve’emes Hashem Le’olam,” because Hashem showed His kindness to Yidden in such a strong way, and Hashem’s promise to save the Yidden remained true forever.

Chassidus explains another meaning of “Ve’emes Hashem Le’olam:” Hashem’s emes comes “Le’olam” — into the world.

In a farbrengen, the Rebbe told this story: The Tzemach Tzedek had to go to Petersburg for meetings where they wanted Rabbonim to make changes in Chinuch and how someone can become a Rav. Someone asked the Tzemach Tzedek how he was able to put his life in danger if there are so many Yidden that are relying on him to show them the right derech in serving Hashem.

The Tzemach Tzedek said he would give two answers (like we see a lot of times in Gemara):

1) There are the children — if something chas veshalom happens, they (the Tzemach Tzedek’s children) can show Chassidim what to do.

2) Through the Achdus of Chassidim they will overcome all hardships, and will be able to bring the “Emes Hashem Leolam,” the true derech of Hashem, into the world so EVERYONE will know.

In that farbrengen, the Rebbe finished by saying that today, the second thing the Tzemach Tzedek said is important for all Chassidim to know, because together we have the responsibility to teach others the derech of Hashem the way the Rebbeim showed us. This will bring Moshiach!



Likutei Amarim Perek Alef

Today and tomorrow IY”H we will be learning the first perek of Tanya.

When a baby is inside of its mother, the Gemara says that there is a malach that teaches it the whole Torah, and makes it promise that it will be a Tzadik and not a rasha when it will be born. This promise gives koach to the Yid later to overcome the Yetzer Hara. The end of the promise is that even if the whole world tells you that you are a tzadik, you should see yourself as a rasha. The Alter Rebbe asks, if someone thinks he’s a rasha, won’t that make him sad? How will he be able to serve Hashem with simcha?

In order to understand this, the Alter Rebbe starts to explain to us what a beinoni is.

The Alter Rebbe brings together many different sources in the Gemara and Zohar that discuss the meaning of Tzadik, Beinoni, and Rasha. The Alter Rebbe makes a pilpul to explain what these words really mean. The first thing that we clearly see is that a beinoni is someone who can not have ANY aveiros — even something as little as missing out on a chance to learn Torah!

In the first twelve perakim,the Alter Rebbe will explain to us the different levels of tzadik, rasha, and beinoni, and then in Perek Yud-Gimmel and Yud-Daled we will go back and finish explaining the pieces of Gemara that were said here, including the meaning of the promise the neshama makes to be a tzadik and not a rasha. After that we will see what the avodah of a beinoni is and how to do that avodah properly.



Chof-Daled Kislev

We said yesterday that we say the first pesukim of Lechu Neranena in Wednesday’s Shir Shel Yom. Here’s what they mean:

On Wednesday, we start to ask ourselves, “What will we have for Shabbos?” We start wondering what Gashmius food and special things we will have for Shabbos, and we also start to worry how we will feel b’Ruchnius on Shabbos “Mit vos vet men Shabbos’n?” How will we have a beautiful Shabbos that FEELS Shabbosdik? Realizing that we aren’t ready yet might make us feel not so happy.

So we say, “Lechu Neranena!” Come let’s sing! Let’s have bitachon and trust in Hashem!

By the time Thursday comes, if we still don’t have any way to make sure Shabbos will feel Shabbosdik, it’s harder to sing! So on Thursday night we learn Chassidus, so that on Friday we feel that the Aibershter is very great — and with THIS we can celebrate Shabbos properly!

Reminder: We don’t say Tachanun in Mincha since it’s Chanukah tonight!



Mitzvas Lo Saasei #161, #162, Asei #38, Lo Saasei #160, #158, #159

Today in Sefer Hamitzvos, we learn mitzvos about who a kohen and a Kohen Gadol are not allowed to marry:

1) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #161) A Kohen Gadol is not allowed to get married to a widow.

2) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #162) A Kohen Gadol is not allowed to live with a widow, even if he is not married to her.

3) (Mitzvas Asei #38) A Kohen Gadol needs to marry someone who never got married before.

4) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #160) A kohen can’t marry someone who was married and got a get (divorced).

5) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #158) A kohen can’t marry a Zonah (a woman who did certain kinds of aveiros).

6) (Mitzvas Lo Saasei #159) A kohen can’t marry a Chalalah (someone who married a kohen when she wasn’t allowed to) or the daughter of a chalalah.



Hilchos Isurei Biah

In today’s Rambam (Perakim Yud-Ches, Yud-Tes, and Chof) we finish learning the halachos of who a kohen should not get married to, and how to know if someone is a kohen.

We also learn today that there are three special midos that Yidden have: They have rachmanus, they are bayshanim (not chutzpadik) and are kind — gomlei chassadim.



Hilchos Shemitah VeYovel - Perek Hey

We treat fruit that grows during Shemitah with respect, since it is holy (Kedushas Sheviis). One halacha is that we shouldn’t feed Shemitah fruit to animals.




In Haneiros Halalu, we say about the lights of the Menorah that “Ein Lanu Reshus Lehishtamesh Bahen” — we aren’t allowed to use them. That means that we can’t sit near them in a dark room with a book to read from their light. (Because of that, it’s our minhag to use a tall Shamosh that will last a long time and keep us from using the light of the other flames.)

But “not using them” means something even more!

Hashem has nachas from every mitzvah that we do, and gives us a reward for acting the way we should. But the best way to do a mitzvah isn’t to do it just to get that reward. “Ein Lanu Reshus Lehishtamesh Bahen!” “We don’t have permission to use them” — we shouldn’t use the mitzvos just to get prizes!

With many mitzvos, Hashem tells us about the reward (like lighting Shabbos candles that bring us Shalom Bayis), but not with the mitzvah of lighting the Menorah! Lighting the Menorah teaches us that the best way to do a mitzvah is to do it just because that’s what Hashem wants us to do. This mitzvah gives us the koach to do it this way ALL year!

See farbrengen Motzei Shabbos Chanukah 5739


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Bittul of Shemoneh Esrei

Reuven, Shimon, Levi, and Yehuda are names of Shevatim. But just like every part of Torah has a deeper meaning, the names of the Shevatim are also the deeper meaning of parts of our davening.

The part of davening connected to Yehuda is Shemoneh Esrei, which is the bittul of a Yid to Hashem.

The truth is that EVERY Yid has bittul in his neshama, and always wants to do what Hashem wants. But sometimes this bittul can be hidden.

A Yid can be thinking about Hashem, and at the same time, doing something that Hashem doesn’t like. For example, a thief might ask Hashem for help with his stealing! That is because his bittul is hiding.

That is why, before we daven Shemoneh Esrei, we need to prepare. We first need to have Reuven, Shimon, and Levi.

First we think about Hashem and remind ourselves about the Hashgacha Protis that we see in our lives. This makes us want to live the way Hashem shows us to in the Torah! That is Pesukei Dezimra and the first part of Shema, the inyan of Reuven.

Then we think about how we need to do what Hashem tells us to do, and to have Yiras Shomayim. This is Vehaya, the inyan of Shimon.

We also think about our connection to Hashem through Torah. We do this in Emes V’Yatziv, the inyan of Levi. Only then do we go daven Shemoneh Esrei properly — with a bittul that is awake and alive!

Maamar Yehuda Ata, Likutei Sichos Chelek Chof, p. 349



Ve'al Hanisim in Bentching

If someone forgets to say Ve’al Hanisim in bentching, what should he do?

If he remembers in the middle of the next paragraph, before saying Hashem’s name in the bracha at the end (Al Ha’aretz Ve’al Hamazon), he should go back and say it.

But if he already said Hashem’s name, he adds a special Horachaman when he gets to Horachaman Hu Yezakeinu: “Horachaman Hu Yaaseh Lanu Nisim Kemo She’asa Laavoseinu Bayamim Haheim Bizman Hazeh.” Then he should say Bimei Matisyahu.

See Shevach Hamoadim, Hilchos Chanukah, siman tes

For a full review of the halachos of Chanukah, see the Halacha Day by Day by the Badatz of Crown Heights or the Halacha Newsletter by Rabbi Lesches

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



Moshiach Right Now!

In the end of today’s Chumash, Yosef Hatzadik was taken out of jail and brought to Paraoh. The posuk says “Vayeritzuhu,” that they RUSHED him out of the prison to bring him to Paraoh!

The Sforno points out that we see how the yeshuah of Hashem comes RIGHT AWAY! Yosef had been sitting in jail for years already, but the moment that the time came for him to go, he was quickly taken out!

We also see this with the Geulah from Mitzrayim. When the time came for the Yidden to leave, they were rushed away so quickly they didn’t have time to bake bread!

The Navi Malachi tells us that this will also happen when Moshiach comes! When it comes the time of the Geulah, Moshiach will come suddenly (Pisom), and take us out of Golus RIGHT AWAY!

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