Category Archives: enrichment

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:



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!

Chitas Song

To the tune of “Besismas Uforatzta”:
נעם ארויס דיין חת”ת
געב א קוק אריין
זוך אויס די ווערטער
שייך צו היינט
 נעם ארויס דיין חת”ת
געב א קוק אריין
זוך אויס די ווערטער
שייך צו היינט
די חומש פון די טאג
מיר לעבן מיט די צייט
די תהילים פון די טאג
א הוראה פאר אלערלייט
די תניא פון די טאג
גיט חיות, ווייסט די וועג
די היום יום פון היינט
התקשרות אלע טעג
די רמב”ם פון די טאג
אחדות מיט אלעמען
מיט יעדער חלק פון תורה
‘א קשר מיט ה
נעם ארויס דיין חת”ת
געב א קוק אריין
ס’איז א כלי פאר ברכה
איז זיכער כאפט אריין
נעם ארויס דיין חת”ת
געב א קוק אריין
זיכער אין דעם זכות
משיח זאל שוין זיין
חומש, תהילים, תניא
געב א קוק אריין
היום יום, און רמב”ם
משיח זאל שוין זיין