Five Fasts

There are five fasts each year because of sad things that happened to the Yidden:

1) Tzom Gedaliah (Gimmel Tishrei) — when Gedaliah was killed. He was the governor of the Yidden, and they hoped he would help them live in Eretz Yisroel. When he was killed, the Yidden realized they were REALLY in Golus.

2) Asara B’Teves — When Nevuchadnetzar blocked anyone from going out or coming into Yerushalayim.

3) Shiva-Asar B’Tammuz — 5 sad things happened: The luchos were broken, the Yidden couldn’t bring korbanos anymore (in the first Beis Hamikdash), the walls of Yerushalayim were broken (in the time of the Second Beis Hamikdash), Apostomos the rasha burned a Torah, and he also put an idol in the (second) Beis Hamikdash.

4) Tisha B’Av — 5 sad things happened: The Yidden in the Midbar were told they wouldn’t get to go into Eretz Yisroel, the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed (both), a city called Beitar was captured and everyone was killed (including Bar Kochva, who many Chachomim said could be Moshiach), and the rasha Tineius Rufus plowed the ground of the Beis Hamikdash (this is something the Navi said would happen).

The Yidden also took the minhag of fasting one more fast:

5) Taanis Esther (Yud-Gimmel Adar) — we fast Erev Purim to remember how all of the Yidden fasted in the time of Haman.

Mizmor Lesodah – a Kavana

Our minds get used to thinking in certain patterns. When learning Chassidus and during davening, we teach our minds to think in a pattern of kedusha. This way, we will start thinking in the way of the neshama instead of the patterns of the Nefesh Habehamis!

Here is an example of one way we can have kavana during a part of davening:

Mizmor Lesoda — Yidden use these words to praise Hashem when bringing a Korban Todah to thank Him for making a neis. The four situations Hashem saves a person from also happen B’Ruchnius. And Hashem saves me from them every day!

Hashem saves me from difficulties of health, from the struggle with my Yetzer Hara, from struggles of parnasa, and from issues with other people. I want to thank Hashem for these nisim!

Hariu LaHashem Kol Ha’aretz — The whole world should celebrate with my joy, because I was saved!

Ivdu Es Hashem Besimcha, Bo’u Lefanav Birnana — Moshe Rabbeinu, who wrote this kapitel, tells me and every Yid: Serve Hashem with happiness, come before Hashem with song!

I am happy to serve Hashem, I am full of joy that I can do what He asks!

De’u Ki Hashem Hu Ha’Elokim — Know that Hashem is our Aibishter!

The way Hashem runs the world is with the name Elokim, the level of Hashem where His chayus is hidden. The world doesn’t always LOOK like Hashem is making it run. But when Hashem saves me, when Hashem makes a neis, I can see that really, “Hashem Hu Ha’Elokim!” It is Hashem that hides in the name Elokim! Really He is the one ALWAYS running the world. The nisim Hashem makes for me are just a peek into Who really is making everything in the world do what they do!

So all of the things that happen, even though they seem to be just natural, are really Hashem! When I feel satisfied from eating, it is not just the way my body works. It is Hashem Who makes me feel this way! All of the “ordinary” things in the world are really kedusha!

Hu Asanu, Velo Anachnu — Hashem made us, and we belong to Him!

It is the Aibishter that created me! I owe my whole existence to Hashem. I am so grateful to Hashem. I am ready to do everything He asks me to! I am ready to give up everything I want, in order to keep His mitzvos. My whole life is nothing without Hashem, and I would give up my life to stay connected to Him. I am His, and I want to show that by how I act!

Amo Vetzon Mariso — We are Hashem’s nation, and the sheep of Hashem’s flock.

See also Maamar “De’u Ki Hashem” 5701 and 5731

Ad D’Lo Yada in Halacha

The Gemara says (and the Shulchan Aruch paskens) “Chayav Inish Livsumei BePuria Ad D’Lo Yada Bein Arur Haman LeBaruch Mordechai” — “a person needs to drink on Purim until he doesn’t know the difference between Arur Haman and Baruch Mordechai.”

Why does the Gemara use such a funny expression? Why doesn’t it just say to drink extra wine to have extra simcha? And isn’t it against the Torah to not know the difference between good and bad?

In halacha there are different explanations for this:

• There was a long song that Yidden used to sing on Purim, that ended with the words “Arur Haman, U’boruch Mordechai,” and you should say enough lechaims that you shouldn’t be able to sing the song until the end.

• You shouldn’t know which is more important — that Haman was destroyed, or that Mordechai was raised up? Which helped the Yidden more — that we got rid of Haman, or that we made Mordechai into the important leader?

• The words “Boruch Mordechai” and “Arur Haman” have the same Gematria, and you should drink enough wine that you can’t calculate the Gematria anymore!

• Some say that it means that you should drink enough that you should get tired and fall asleep, and when you’re asleep you don’t know the difference between Arur Haman and Baruch Mordechai.

A Yid vs. a Goy

The two oldest sons of the Rebbe Maharash were the Raza and the Rashab. One day, when they were playing outside, they had an argument about the difference between Yidden and Goyim.

The Raza said that Yidden are more special because of all of the Torah that they learn, and the kavana they have when they daven.

But the Rebbe Rashab said that couldn’t be. Because many Yidden COULDN’T learn Torah or have kavana, but they still had to be different than goyim!

When the Rebbe Maharash heard about their argument, he called them over. He told them to bring Ben-Tzion, a simple Yid who helped in their house. The Rebbe Maharash asked Ben-Tzion a few questions:

“Ben-Tzion, did you eat?”

“Yes,” Ben-Tzion answered.

“Did you eat well?”

Ben-Tzion shrugged. “Well? I ate enough, Boruch Hashem.”

The Rebbe Maharash asked further: “Why do you eat?”

“So I can live,” Ben-Tzion said.

“And why do you need to live?”

“To be a Jew and do what Hashem wants,” Ben-Tzion answered with a sigh.

Then the Rebbe Maharash asked that the coachman, Ivan, come. The Maharash asked Ivan the same questions:

“Ivan, did you eat?”

“Yes!” Ivan answered.

“Did you eat well?”

Ivan smiled. “Yes, I did!”

“And why do you eat?”

“I need to eat so I can live,” Ivan said.

“And why do you need to live?”

“To enjoy a good drink of mashke and something good to eat!” Ivan answered.

The Rebbe Maharash thanked Ivan.

Now his sons were able to see for themselves what is special about even a simple Yid.

Ho’adamah Fruits and Ha’eitz Berries

There are different opinions in halacha about what makes a plant called a “tree” to make a bracha Ha’eitz.

The Gemara says that after the fruit is gone, the “Gavza” has to stay for it to be called a tree.

So what’s a “Gavza“?

The Rosh says that the Gavza is the root. As long as the root stays all year round, even in the winter when there are no fruits, it is still called a tree.

The Geonim say that the Gavza is the geza, the trunk. The trunk has to be there even in the winter, for it to be called a tree.

Rashi says that the Gavza is the branches. Only if the branches stay all year round, is it called a tree.

The Alter Rebbe paskens according to Rashi.

Now let’s look at how bananas, strawberries, and blueberries grow, to see why they have the brachos they have:

Here is a banana tree:


You can see the tall brown trunk and green branches and big banana leaves growing. But in the winter, those leaves and branches all die, and all that is left is part of the trunk.

That’s why bananas are Ha’adamah, because a tree that doesn’t keep its branches doesn’t have the halacha of a tree.

Now let’s look at a blueberry bush:


You can see lots of blueberries growing from long branches. Even in the middle of the winter, those brown branches stay. According to halacha, that makes a blueberry bush like a tree — so the bracha on blueberries is Ha’eitz.

Now let’s look at a strawberry plant:


This is a strawberry plant just starting to grow in the spring. You can see just a few leaves close to the ground.


Now here’s a strawberry plant that has grown a lot! You can see green branches and leaves, and even some strawberries ready for picking! In the winter, those green branches all die, and there isn’t really a trunk or branches left at all.

That’s why strawberries are Ha’adamah, because the strawberry bush is not like a tree, with branches and a trunk that stand all year long.

Here are pictures of some other Ho’adamah fruits growing:



Halachos of Muktza – Summary


Because of the melacha of Hotza’ah, we are not allowed to carry outside or from one Reshus to another.

But INSIDE, we are allowed to carry as much as we want… or are we?

The Chachomim made a takana called Muktza, which tells us about things we aren’t allowed to carry, even inside of our own houses!

There are three reasons for this takana.

Reasons for Muktza: #1

Shabbos is a day of rest. But if we can carry around whatever we want to in our homes, it won’t be very restful! We will be busy all day moving things around from one place to the next. So the Chachomim made the takana of muktza, so we won’t be able to be busy with all of these things, and will rest on Shabbos.

Reasons for Muktza: #2

Muktza helps keep us from making a mistake and doing Hotza’ah on Shabbos, carrying outside of a Reshus Hayochid.

If we could just carry whatever we wanted all the time on Shabbos, even things we’re carrying for no reason, we would forget and carry things outside! That is the melacha of Hotza’ah, and the takana of muktza helps keep us from accidentally doing it.

Reasons for Muktza: #3

The third reason why the Chachomim made the takana of muktza is to make sure that Shabbos feels different and Shabbos’dik for EVERY type of Yid.

Some Yidden don’t do much melacha during the week. If the only thing different on Shabbos was melacha, there wouldn’t be much different on Shabbos for them! It would feel just like a weekday.

Extra Strictness in Muktza

The takana of muktza makes sure that Shabbos feels very different for EVERYBODY.

The Chachomim, beginning in the times of Dovid and Shlomo Hamelech (or even before that), made a takana called Muktza, making sure we don’t move keilim that will make Shabbos less Shabbos’dik.

On Shabbos, a person is not allowed to move a keili, even one that ISN’T muktza, for no reason.

This is because of a gezeira that was made in the times of the second Beis Hamikdash, in the days of the Navi Nechemya ben Chachalya. The Yidden of his time were not being careful with Shabbos. They were even squeezing fresh wine, loading up their donkeys, and carrying outside on Shabbos.

So the Chachomim of that time made a VERY strict gezeira. They didn’t let Yidden move ANYTHING on Shabbos except for very specific reasons, to keep the Yidden from doing melachos on Shabbos.

This gezeira worked! When Yidden had to think carefully about everything they touched on Shabbos, they stopped doing melacha without thinking. Over time, the Chachomim were able to make the gezeira less and less strict, since the Yidden were being so careful.

But one part of the gezeira still remains today: We are not allowed to move a keili on Shabbos for no reason at all.

There are two types of things that we can move even for no reason — seforim and food or drink, because they weren’t included in the gezeira in the times of Nechemya ben Chachalya.

Two Kinds of Muktza

There are many types of things that are muktza on Shabbos.

Some kinds of muktza things are very strict. We are almost NEVER allowed to move them on Shabbos. This is called Muktza Chamur, the strict kind of muktza.

Then there are things that the Chachomim are not as strict about. We are not allowed to move these things on Shabbos to keep them from getting ruined, but we CAN move them if we need to use them for something we are allowed to do on Shabbos, or if we need it out of the way so we can use that space. This is called Muktza Kal, the less strict kind of muktza.

Muktza Kal

Muktza Kal is the less strict kind of muktza.

Even though these things are still muktza, not something we regularly use on Shabbos, there are some times we are able to move them: Letzorech Gufo (if we need to use it for something we are allowed to do on Shabbos), or Letzorech Mekomo (if we need the space where it is).

One type of muktza we can move for these reasons on Shabbos is called a “Keili Shemelachto Le’isur” — something that is usually used to do a melacha that we are not allowed to do on Shabbos. For example, a pen or a pair of scissors are both a Keili Shemelachto Le’isur. They are usually used for writing and cutting things to a certain size — the melachos of koseiv (writing) and mechateich (cutting to size).

On Shabbos we are not allowed to pick up a pen or scissors to put them back in the drawer where they belong, since they are muktza.

But if there is a pen on the couch, we are allowed to move it out of the way (Letzoreich Mekomo). And if there is a bag of food that needs to be opened on Shabbos, and we don’t have a better way to open it, we are allowed to use scissors to cut open the bag (Letzorech Gufo).

Muktza Chamur

There are different reasons why something isn’t meant to be used. If we don’t expect to use something on Shabbos because it is something important or expensive that we are very careful with, it is called Muktza Machmas Chesron Kis.

For example, a wrapped wedding present is this kind of muktza. You are planning on giving it to someone as a gift, so you are careful not to ruin it!

Another example is a Shochet’s knife. A shochet spends a lot of time making sure his knife is very very sharp, and he wouldn’t use it for anything else! (Shechting is asur on Shabbos.)

Another example of Muktza Machmas Chesron Kis is a birth certificate. It is a very important piece of paper that people are very careful with.

This type of muktza is Muktza Chamur, a strict kind of muktza. We are not allowed to move these things on Shabbos, even if we want to use them for something we ARE allowed to do, or if they are in a space we wanted to use.

Picking Up Muktza by Mistake

What happens if you pick something up on Shabbos, and then realize that it is muktza? What should you do? Should you drop it right away, or can you put it back down where it belongs?

The halacha depends on what kind of muktza it is!

If it is the kind of muktza called Muktza Kal, the less strict kind of muktza, you can put it down where it belongs. So for example, if you picked up a pen by mistake, you can put it away in it’s proper place.

But if it is the strict kind of muktza, Muktza Chamur, you need to drop it right away! So for example, if you reach into your pocket and pull out a piece of paper, and realize it is a dollar bill, you have to drop it right away! If you need it to go into a safe place, you need to kick it or blow it away. (Of course, we should check our pockets before Shabbos so this doesn’t happen!)

Muktza = Moving

Even though we can’t move muktza, it is not asur to touch it if it is something that usually doesn’t move.

For example, a car is definitely muktza. But it won’t move just by touching it, because it is so heavy. So it isn’t a problem to touch it on Shabbos.

Tiltul Kil’achar Yad

On Shabbos, we are not allowed to move things that are muktza.

The Chachomim explain that this is talking about moving things in a normal way, with our hands. But moving something in an unusual way is called Tiltul Kil’achar Yad, which IS mutar. For example, we are allowed to push away muktza with the back of our hand, move it by kicking it out of the way, pushing with our elbow, head, or stomach, or pulling with our mouth.

Exceptions to Muktza: #1

Muktza means something that is not meant to be used on Shabbos.

We wouldn’t want to use something smelly and yucky on Shabbos, so smelly and yucky things are muktza.

But since having those kinds of things around can bother us on Shabbos, the Chachomim made “Heter Graf Shel Re’i,” that we can move something yucky on Shabbos so that it won’t bother people.

For example, if you have a smelly garbage can, or find a dirty diaper or a dead bug on Shabbos, you can take them out, even in the regular way.

Exceptions to Muktza: #2

There are some times when the Chachomim took away their gezeira of muktza. One time is when leaving the muktza where it is will be a sakana for people.

For example, broken glass is muktza, since it usually can’t be used for anything.

But if glass breaks on the table or where people walk, someone could get hurt! Because of this, the Chachomim didn’t make it counted as muktza, and we are allowed to clean it up in the regular way.


Hilchos Shabbos, by Pansaim


When the Yidden follow what Hashem tells them to do, Hashem gives them brachos.

But when the Yidden are not following Hashem, Hashem lets the goyim around them get strong and rule over them.

That’s what happened to the Yidden many times during the years of the Shoftim.

After one of the Shoftim, Osniel ben Knaz, passed away, the Yidden again started not following the mitzvos properly. Because of this, Hashem let the king of Moav, Eglon, rule over them.

After the Yidden suffered under Eglon for 18 years, they cried out to Hashem in teshuvah, and asked Him to save them.

Hashem sent a new shofeit, Ehud ben Gera, to save the Yidden.

Ehud ben Gera was left-handed. He decided to use this to trick Eglon! He sharpened his sword on both sides, so it was sharp however you use it. He went to bring a present to the Eglon from the Yidden.

When he came to the palace, the guards searched him to see if he had a weapon. But they only searched him on one side, the left side, where most people carry their swords. They didn’t realize that Ehud was left-handed, so he kept his sword on his right side!

Ehud ben Gera came in to the throne room of Eglon, who was a very fat king.

After giving the present to Eglon, he sent away everyone else. He said that he had a private message for the king!

“I have a message for you from Hashem,” Ehud ben Gera announced.

Eglon stood up in kavod. Ehud pulled out his sword and stuck it deep into Eglon’s stomach, killing him.

That was his message from Hashem – that the time of making the Yidden suffer was over.

Ehud left the palace, without telling anyone what he had done.

Eglon’s soldiers didn’t want to come in, because they thought that Eglon was using the bathroom and needed privacy. But after many hours, they opened the door. They found the king lying on the floor dead!

In the meantime, Ehud had run away. He told the Yidden to gather together. They were able to fight against Moav, and the Yidden were able to live in peace for 80 years after that.

Shiva Minim Poem

Shivas Haminim

Did you know that inside of you, though it isn’t showing
A whole special garden of Hashem is growing!
Just dig deeper, and you’ll see it’s true
Precious treasures of Hashem buried deep inside of you!

Seven special kochos, gifts from Hashem.
It would be such a shame if you don’t use them!
So learn about your seven gifts, just like we did
And use them to become a better Yid!

The land we are learning about has these gifts as well
They’re the seven special fruits of Eretz Yisroel!
Let’s go through each of them, so that we will know
How to find those buried treasures and make them grow!

WHEAT we use for making bread, so we can conclude
That it’s like learning Torah, our neshama food!
A special kind of study, so much sechar we earn
We use our koach of Chitah with the Torah that we learn!

BARLEY is food for animals, it’s perfect for a zoo
Our Nefesh Habehamis is an animal too!
Tefillah is a special tool to overcome his tricky way
We use our koach of Se’orah when we daven every day!

GRAPES are used for wine, which, don’t you think
Is a very lechaim’dike, happy kind of drink!
Doing mitzvos is even more fun than a brand new toy
We’re using our Gefen when we serve Hashem with joy!

FIGS are the special koach of what we DO
When we think, talk, and act in the way of a Jew!
We think thoughts of Torah, and nice words we say
We use our Te’eina koach when we act this way!

POMEGRANATES are stuffed full of bright red seeds
Just like each Yid is stuffed with good deeds!
When we do mitzvos, with our Jewish pride
We’re using the Rimon koach we all have inside!

OLIVES we use for oil, they are a bitter fruit we grow
Just like Iskafya, when we just say NO!
We say no to things that we know aren’t good
Our koach of Zayis Shemen keeps us acting as we should!

DATES are very sweet, their honey flows out
Like the secrets of the Torah that we learn about
Our lives are so sweet, better than any nosh
When we learn Chassidus, our koach of Devash!