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Parshas Chayei Sarah - Shishi with Rashi

Today we learn about the end of the life of Avraham Avinu. He passes away and is buried in Me’aras Hamachpeilah.

As we learned in yesterday’s Chumash, Yitzchok brought back Hagar to his father Avraham.

Avraham married Hagar again after Sarah passed away. She was now called Keturah, because she did teshuvah and now the way she acted made Hashem happy, like ketores does. She had many children, including Midian.

Even though Avraham and Keturah had more children, Avraham gave all he owned to Yitzchak, and also the gift of being able to give brachos to others.

Avraham gave Hagar’s sons other kinds of presents: The koach to handle tumah, and all of the other things that Avraham didn’t want to keep, like the presents he got from Paraoh and Avimelech. Then he sent them away, far from Yitzchak. They helped people too, and taught at least a little bit about Hashem. Avraham also sent away Yishmael, but he came back later, before Avraham passed away.

Avraham lived for 175 years, and passed away as a complete tzadik. He saw during his lifetime all of his children believing in Hashem.

Yitzchak and Yishmael buried him in Me’aras Hamachpeila. Yishmael understood that Yitzchak was the head of the family, and let him lead the levayah.

After Avraham passed away, Hashem comforted Yitzchak. Avraham was afraid to give a bracha himself to Yitzchak before he passed away, because he saw that Eisav would come from him. Instead, he waited for Hashem to bentch him in a way that everything would be good.

Yitzchak lived near Be’er Lachai Ro’i.



119 (second half)

Today’s shiur Tehillim is the second half of kapitel Kuf-Yud-Tes.

Every neshama is sent down to the world with a special shlichus that it needs to do. We aren’t born just to do things that are easy for us — we need to find the things in ourselves that are NOT the way they should be, and fix them.

How do we know which things need to be fixed? There’s a posuk in today’s Tehillim, “MeiOivai Techakmeini Mitzvosecha, Ki Le’Olam Hi Li.” One of the ways to explain this posuk is, “my enemies help me get smarter about how to do Your mitzvos.”

How do we become smart to figure out which mitzvos are our job to work on? By thinking about the not-good midos that we have, our “enemies.” When we see what is hard for us, we will know that those things are what our neshama was put into the world to fix!

This used to be the way that Chassidim would get ready for Yechidus: They would think very hard about their midos to see what they need to work on, and then they would ask the Rebbe how to act so they will be able to serve Hashem properly and fix those things.

Here is a story that shows us more about this:

Many years ago, there was a bochur who went to the Rebbe for his first Yechidus.

Before going into Yechidus, he went to his mashpia and asked him what he should ask the Rebbe for in Yechidus. The mashpia told him to ask what is on his heart — what is important to him.

So on the note he gave to the Rebbe before his Yechidus, he wrote that he wants an eitzah what to do about bad midos and feelings of gaavah.

When the bochur came in for Yechidus, the Rebbe read his note and said: “What you write about not-good midos — you need to get rid of them. But about gaava — you should use it for kedusha, so that there should be Kinas Sofrim Tarbeh Chochma.” (That means when people see good things that other people do, it makes them want to do more good too, which brings more kedusha into the world!)

The Rebbe was telling him to use the feeling of gaavah to add in inyonim of Yiddishkeit, which will inspire others to do more, and it will bring more good into the world!

From the Yechidus of Rabbi Yitzchak Meir A”H Kagan, Chof-Gimmel Cheshvan Tof-Shin-Chof-Gimmel, as heard from him at a farbrengen



Igeres Hakodesh Siman Lamed-Beis

Today we are finishing the fourth section of Tanya, Igeres Hakodesh!

In many letters in Igeres Hakodesh, the Alter Rebbe encouraged Chassidim to give even more tzedakah to Eretz Yisroel than they thought they could! In this letter, the Alter Rebbe thanks Chassidim for giving tzedakah on their own, without the Alter Rebbe needing to encourage them. The Alter Rebbe talks about how special tzedakah is in general, and especially when we give without someone else asking us to.

First, the Alter Rebbe tells us what tzedakah accomplishes in Ruchnius, and that we will see its reward when Moshiach comes:

When we give tzedakah in Golus, it’s like planting a seed in the ground. We can’t see the seed when it is underground, and we can’t see how it grows for a long time. But later, it starts to grow out of the ground and we can see a beautiful plant or flower!

Tzedakah is the same! At first we can’t see how great our tzedakah is, and we can’t see how much nachas it’s giving to Hashem. But later, in the time of Techiyas Hameisim, every Yid will be able to see what “grew” from the tzedakah we’ve done. We’ll see how it made Hashem comfortable in the world, and we’ll get to “harvest” our reward.

But in giving tzedakah there are two ways:

The first way is when someone else convinces us or inspires us to give.

The second way is when we get OURSELVES excited to give tzedakah, through our own Avodah.

For example, we can have kavana when we say Shema and think about how we are ready to have Mesiras Nefesh for Hashem! We then decide to give even the money we worked so hard for to tzedakah.

This is a very special way of giving tzedakah, and brings down Hashem’s kedusha and bracha in a much greater way!



Chof-Vov Mar-Cheshvan

A person might think that it’s a good midah to find all the things they are doing wrong and be upset about them. But that’s not true!

The true way in Avodas Hashem is that a person needs to know themselves very well. They should know what things they are doing well, and what they are missing.

And once we know what needs to be corrected, we can’t just sigh (krechtz) about the fact that we have things that need to be fixed, we actually have to DO whatever is needed to fix those things with avodah!



Shiur #127 - Mitzvas Lo Saasei #154

Today’s mitzvah is that we are not allowed to bring the Terumos and Maasros in the wrong ORDER! Here’s the right order:

1) Bikurim
2) Separate Terumah for the Kohen
3) Separate Maaser Rishon for the Levi
4) Separate Maaser Sheini to eat in Yerushalayim, or Maaser Ani on the third and sixth year of Shemitah

For example, let’s say that my wheat field ripened, and I set aside my bikurim. I harvest the field and separate the wheat kernels, piling them up carefully. Now my wheat is Tevel, and I need to bring the presents the Torah tells me to!

First I set aside 1/50th of the wheat for Terumah Gedolah. Then I take 1/10th of what is left, and put that aside for Maaser Rishon. I take 1/10th of what is left from that and set it aside for Maaser Sheini or Maaser Ani. I give the Terumah to a kohen, the Maaser Rishon to a Levi, and eat the Maaser Sheini in Yerushalayim, or give the Maaser Ani to the poor.



Hilchos Terumos

Perek Daled: We are learning more about the person that separates Terumah. If someone can’t do it himself, he can have someone else do it for him — this is called making a shliach. If someone doesn’t officially make a shliach, another person can’t separate the terumah for him. So his workers can’t just do it for him without him asking them to!

Perek Hey: Now we learn about what part of the food to use for Terumah. We are supposed to take from the BEST of our fields for Terumah! But if there are no kohanim around, it is better to take food that won’t get rotten before we can bring it to the kohen — like raisins, even if the grapes are better.

Perek Vov: In this perek, we start learning about who is not allowed to eat Terumah. It has many mitzvos, that we will IY”H learn over the next few days in Sefer Hamitzvos!



Hilchos Shabbos - Perek Yud-Tes

We are allowed to wear things outside on Shabbos, and it isn’t a problem of hotza’ah. In this perek, we learn what is considered wearing and what is considered carrying. One halacha is that if you wear a box over your head to keep your clothes dry, it’s called carrying, because a box is not a regular kind of clothes! Only normal clothing is not called hotza’ah.

The Rambam tells us to make sure to check our pockets before Shabbos so we don’t carry by mistake!



Changing Our Midos

In the year Tof-Reish-Tzadik-Ches, the Frierdiker Rebbe set up a group for girls from Chassidishe families, called Achos Hatmimim. There was no Chassidishe school for them, and this group would give them a chance to be involved in Chassidishe things.

The Frierdiker Rebbe chose three Chassidim to guide Achos Hatmimim, and learn with them each week. He asked them to teach the girls Avodah’dike maamarim and certain perakim of Tanya. They should also show them which sichos they could learn on their own, and the girls should share what they learned at a farbrengen once a month.

Achos Hatmimim began in Riga, Latvia, and there was a group in America as well.

One of the girls in Achos Hatmimim that first year wrote a letter to the Frierdiker Rebbe, saying that she was feeling empty. The Frierdiker Rebbe wrote to her, like what we learn in today’s Hayom Yom, that a person needs to know the good things about themselves, their maalos, along with the not-good things, the chesronos. Every person is able to use their kochos to fix their chesronos and make them better!


The Frierdiker Rebbe explained that the way to fix things in our avodah or our midos is by learning in a certain way. We need to learn the Chassidus that discusses the inyan we want to fix up, but not just once. It needs to be learned again and again and again, so it becomes more and more clear in our mind. First we should understand it well enough to speak about it, but then we also need to think deeply about it again and make it a part of the way we think. When something is this clear to us, it is called Machshava Shebemachshava. By learning this way, the inyonim we learn will become part of how we think, and will change our midos for the better!

See Igros Kodesh of the Frierdiker Rebbe, chelek daled, p. 468


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Everyone Needs to Daven!

A person who is very busy with taking care of his community is called an Osek Betzorchei Tzibur. In halacha, the job of an Osek Betzorchei Tzibur is even more important than certain mitzvos! If someone is very busy with what his community needs, sometimes the halacha is that they don’t even need to daven.

(This is like the reason why women don’t have to keep certain mitzvos — because their shlichus of Akeres Habayis is even more important.)

But the Rebbe explains in a farbrengen why it IS very important for an Osek Betzorchei Tzibur to daven properly — because it helps them do their shlichus properly!

The avodah of an Osek Betzorchei Tzibur is to take care of many things. They have to speak to people, arrange things, and make sure everything gets done right. But even an Osek Betzorchei Tzibur has a Yetzer Hara, and it is also working hard! For example, they can sometimes get distracted and start worrying more about what people will say about them, than about what is best for their community.

That is why everyone needs to daven! When we daven, we can ask Hashem to help us make sure that our personal feelings or pride don’t get in the way of taking care of the needs of the community in the best way.

See farbrengen Yud-Alef Nisan Tof-Shin-Lamed-Beis, Yom Huledes Hashivim (Lahak or Sichos Kodesh)




We see from Shulchan Aruch that it is very important to answer Amen Yehei Shmei Rabah in Kaddish.

We need to be careful to have kavana when we say these words! By answering with our full kavana, it can stop a din in Shomayim against a person’s life.

When we say the words Amen Yehei Shmei Rabah, we should say them loud and clear! The words go up to Shomayim and break decrees against Yidden.

But we should be careful not to say them TOO loud, because that might make another person laugh at us in a not nice way — which would be an aveira for them. We should be careful not to do something that will cause another person to do an aveira.

See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch siman nun-vov, se’if Beis

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



The Reward for Tzedakah

We just finished the section of Tanya called Igeres Hakodesh! We will soon start the last section of Tanya, called Kuntres Acharon.

In the year Tof-Shin-Chof-Vov, the siyum happened on Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sarah. The Rebbe spoke about it during the farbrengen on Shabbos:

The Rebbe explained something very special about Tzedakah. Hashem gives us a great sechar for the mitzvah of tzedakah, but we only get the full reward at the time of Techiyas Hameisim.

Still, we have the reward even now! This is hinted to in the words of the Alter Rebbe, “Ko’eis Eis Lekatzer,” “Now it is time to be in short.” The simple meaning is that the Alter Rebbe didn’t have time to write a lot in the letter, so he wrote in a short way.

The Rebbe tells us that these words are also speaking about the reward for tzedakah! Now, in Golus, we have the sechar — but it is “in short.” It is like a person who is given a wonderful treasure in a big chest. He is given the key, but is told not to open the chest yet.

This is like the reward for tzedakah. We have it nowadays, but we will only really see the tremendous reward we get for our tzedakah when Moshiach comes!

See farbrengen Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sarah, Tof-Shin-Chof-Vov

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