Category Archives: iyun

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:



Hayom Yom 26 Elul

In Chassidus, we very often compare our body (the Guf, Nefesh Habehamis) to an animal. We learn many things in Avodah about how to deal with our body from how we deal with an actual animal.

For example, Shechita – the Gemara says, “Ain VeShochat, Ela U’Moshach” – it’s not cutting, it’s drawing over – we draw the animal into the possibility of becoming Kedusha.

In today’s Hayom Yom, we learn something else from a Beheima:

Even a Kosher animal has non-kosher blood inside that needs to be taken out so it can be eaten and elevate to Kedusha. We remove the blood through Melicha, salting.

The same is with our Guf – even though it is Kosher (it’s a Jewish body), it has non-kosher “blood” – chayus in inappropriate things. That blood needs to be removed.

Just like taking out the blood has three steps in Halacha, taking out the “blood” from our Guf has three steps in Avodah:

1) Soaking – “soaking” our Guf, immersing ourselves in the study of Chassidus, so much so that it makes a person feel a strong desire for…

2) Salting – Yechidus. As we learned before, that’s how a Chossid gets HIS personal Seder Avodah of how to connect to Hashem. Then he does…

3) Rinsing – Niggun – he sings a niggun. This is the final step to make the Guf a keli for the neshama to shine in it.

Here is the text of the Sicha from which this Hayom Yom was taken as it is printed in Sefer Hasichos of the Frierdiker Rebbe 5700 page 174.


Hayom Yom – Beis Sivan

After Gimmel Tammuz, a Hayom Yom was discovered with footnotes – showing which letters and sichos of the Friediker Rebbe were used for each Hayom Yom. The Rebbe wrote which letters, but since it was from before these Seforim were printed, those who printed later Hayom Yoms added the page numbers and Seforim to the footnotes.

But it looks like there is one mistake… in today’s Hayom Yom, they say that the source is this letter, which has the NEXT two days’ Hayom Yoms, as is correctly noted under those days.

So if anyone knows the exact source of today’s Hayom Yom, please post!

Update: Don’t miss the sicha where the Rebbe talks about this Hayom Yom and says that in a year like this, it’s kedai to learn these maamarim! The Rebbe explained how the first maamar is connected to Erev Shabbos, when Adam Harishon was born.

On Shabbos, the Rebbe repeats this, and again said it’s kedai to learn these maamorim. The Rebbe said “Va’ani Hamas’chil,” and said part of the maamar “Ve’eirastich,” which the Tzemach Tzedek said on Shabbos afternoon!

Zrok Chutra La’avira

Today took extra-long to make the Chitas. We got stuck on the Hayom Yom.

Today’s Hayom Yom starts off with a quote, “Zrok Chutra La’avira, A’ikra Ka’i.” When you throw a stick up, it usually lands facing the root.

But that isn’t the main point of the Hayom Yom – so what is it? We checked two translations (the regular English, and the new one by Sichos in English) but it wasn’t satisfying. We looked up the original letter from the Friediker Rebbe, and NOW we understood the Hayom Yom properly.

The letter is written to a boy from a Lubavitcher family, who was living in a very non-Chassidish place. He wrote that he feels a yearning to learn Chassidus. The Friediker Rebbe encouraged him to make time to learn and to act in the way of Chassidus, and explained that he was feeling this way because it’s a part of him. The Rebbeim gave it to Chassidim, like a present, that their children will always feel deep in their neshama a yearning for Chassidus.

We see this practically – don’t so many children, even if they aren’t so frum anymore, want to go to farbrengens and be around Chassidim? Now we know why. It’s what we’re made of.

Kiddush Hachodesh – part 2

Today we are going to learn about the seasons, to understand when spring starts. The Beis Din would decide to make a leap year sometimes (13 months) to make sure Pesach is at the beginning of the spring.

There are two ways the Rambam shows us how to figure out the seasons, because there are two different opinions on how long a SOLAR (sun) year is!
1) 365 days and 1/4 day (6 hours)
2) 365 days, 5 hours, 997 parts, and 48 moments (a part has 76 moments)

According to the first opinion (365.25 days):
Like we learned yesterday, the LUNAR (moon) year is 1 hour and 485 parts longer than the solar year.

Every season starts 91 days, 7.5 hours after the other season. So if you know when one season starts, you can just add 91 days, 7.5 hours to figure out when the NEXT season will start.

We can divide the sky up into 12 parts, each of them with a group of stars. These groups of stars have names. When the sun goes into a certain part of the sky, that’s when that season starts (because it means the sun is closer or further away from us, making it colder or warmer).

SPRING – (Nisan) – when the sun goes into Aries
SUMMER – (Tamuz) – when the sun goes into Cancer
FALL – (Tishrei) – when the sun goes into Libra
WINTER – (Teves) – when the sun goes into Capricorn

In the year Hashem made the world, spring started 7 days, 9 hours, and 642 parts before the Nisan molad.

So here’s how to figure out when a season starts:
1) Figure out how many Machzors (groups of 19 years) passed since Hashem made the world
2) Add 1 hour and 485 parts for each Machzor
3) Take away 7 days, 9 hours, and 642 parts
4) Add this number to the time of the Nissan molad for the first year in THIS Machzor
5) Now you can add 91 days, 7.5 hours to find out when each season starts.

To be continued IY”H!

Kiddush Hachodesh – part 1

Are you ready to learn the halachos of Kiddush Hachodesh? The Rambam says that even a kid can learn how the calendar works! Get ready!

Today in Rambam, we are going to start learning about how the Beis Din knows when we COULD see the moon! This might be a little bit hard to understand (it’s a lot of math), but the Rambam says that even a kid can learn these halachos in a few days. Let’s try!

– We are going to divide an hour into 1080 parts (not like seconds!) so it will be easier to figure out the numbers.
– Every day is 24 hours long – about 12 hours of daytime, and 12 hours of night.

(The sun and the moon go in a circle around us, but the moon goes much faster! Since the moon is a ball, we can only see half of it at a time. When the sun shines on that part, we can see the moon. As the moon goes around fast, the part where the sun can shine on it keeps changing, so it looks like the moon gets bigger and smaller. When the sun and moon meet it is called the molad, the sun is only shining on the part of the moon we CAN’T see, and that’s when the month ends.)

Moon (Lunar) Years:
– It takes the moon 29 days, 12 hours, and 793 parts to meet back up with the sun, so this is how long a month is for the moon.
– A LUNAR year is 12 months long. If you do the math, you will see that a moon year is 354 days, 8 hours, and 876 parts.
– A LEAP year for the moon is 13 months long, so it is 385 days, 21 hours, and 5 parts.

Sun (Solar) Years:
– A SUN year is 365 days and 6 hours. That means it’s 10 days, 21 hours, and 204 parts LONGER than a regular lunar year.

It can get very confusing to have all of these numbers! The Rambam tells us which numbers are important: Only the ones that show us which day of the week we should be looking for the moon, and what time the sun will meet up with the moon. To figure this out, we can take away all of the weeks (7 days) from our numbers. So if we would have 8 days, 2 hours, and 21 parts, we only need to think about ONE day, 2 hours, and 21 parts.

So here’s how to figure out the molad for the next month: Add 1 day, 12 hours, and 793 parts to the molad from last month. (This is why if the molad is on Tuesday one month, usually the next month it will be on Wednesday.)

The very first time when the sun and moon met was on Yom Sheini, when Hashem made them! This was on Monday night, 5 hours and 204 parts after Shkiah. That’s the day we start figuring everything out from.

Since we need to make sure that the Yomim Tovim happen in the right times of the year (like Pesach needs to be in the spring), we need to also think about the SOLAR year. This is why the Chachomim figured out the machzor – a pattern of 19 LUNAR years (12 regular years and 7 leap years) that is almost exactly as long as 19 SOLAR years! (The difference every 19 years is only 1 hour and 485 parts!)

Here’s the pattern of a Machzor: The THIRD year, the SIXTH year, the EIGHTH year, the ELEVENTH year, the FOURTEENTH year, the SEVENTEENTH year, and the NINETEENTH year are leap years (13 lunar months) and the rest are regular years (12 months).

The Rambam tells us some shortcuts to figure out the molad for the beginning of the next Machzor: Add 2 days, 16 hours, and 595 parts to the molad from the last Machzor. You can also figure out the molad for ANY year using this shortcut, only with remembering the time of the first molad! Figure out how many years it was since the first molad, and split it up into 19 (divide by 19). However many years are left is which year of THIS machzor you’re in. Add 2 days, 16 hours, and 595 parts for each of these groups of 19. Then add 4 days, 8 hours, and 876 parts for every regular year since this machzor started, and 5 days, 21 hours, and 589 minutes for each leap year since this machzor started. This will tell you the molad for Tishrei. Phew!

Sometimes Rosh Chodesh Tishrei gets pushed off:
– If the molad is even one drop after Chatzos (the middle of the day), Rosh Chodesh has to be the next day.
– Rosh Hashana (Rosh Chodesh Tishrei) is not allowed to be on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday. So if the molad is on one of these days, Rosh Chodesh will be the NEXT day. (So if the Molad is on Friday, Rosh Hashana/Rosh Chodesh will be on Shabbos.) And if the molad is after Chatzos on Tuesday, Rosh Hashana isn’t until Thursday!
– In a regular year, if the molad is at night on Tuesday, at least 9 hours and 204 parts since the night started, Rosh Chodesh has to be pushed off.
– In a year after a leap year, if the molad is on Monday morning, at least 3 hours and 589 parts since the morning started, Rosh Chodesh has to be pushed off.

Are you wondering why Rosh Hashana can’t be on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday? It’s because all of these numbers are AVERAGES, meaning how fast the sun and moon USUALLY go. For Rosh Hashana, we need to MAKE SURE it’s already the molad, so the Chachomim decided that every other day, they would push off Rosh Chodesh (Tuesday – yes, Wednesday – push it off, Thursday- yes, Friday – push it off, Shabbos – yes, Sunday – push it off, Monday – yes.)

Rosh Chodesh has to be a whole day – it says in the Torah to figure out DAYS of the month, not hours! Since a lunar month is 29 and a half days (plus 793 parts) like we said before, we need to make some months 29 days (chaser – missing), and some month thirty days (malei – full). (Because those 793 “extra” parts add up, some years have more months that are malei or chaser.)

So every 30th day is Rosh Chodesh. Either it’s the first day of the next month, or it’s the last day of the month before – the first day of Rosh Chodesh. That’s why some months have 1 day of Rosh Chodesh, and some months have two.

The months of the year follow a pattern of malei and chaser:

TISHREI is always malei (30 days), and TEVES is always chaser. From Shevat, they take turns – Shevat is malei, Adar is chaser, Nissan is malei, Iyar is chaser, etc. (In a leap year, Adar Alef is malei, and Adar Beis is chaser.)

But what about Cheshvan and Kislev? Sometimes they are BOTH malei, sometimes they are BOTH chaser, and sometimes Cheshvan is chaser and Kislev is malei.

If BOTH are malei – the year is called Shalem (whole)
If BOTH are chaser – the year is called Chaser
If Cheshvan is chaser and Kislev is malei, the year is called Kesidran – because the months go in a pattern – malei chaser, malei chaser, etc.

Here is a trick to figure out which kind of year it will be: Check what day Rosh Hashana is in that year, and then what day Rosh Hashana is the NEXT year. See how many days are in middle of those two days (there are 2 days between Monday and Thursday).
For a regular year: If you get 2 days, it means it will be a Chaser year. If there are 3 days, it will be a Kesidran year. If there are 4 days, it will be a Shalem year.
For a leap year: If you get 4 days, it means it will be a Chaser year. If there are 5 days, it will be a Kesidran year. If there are 6 days, it will be a Shalem year.

Here are some hints to make sure you did your math right:
– If Rosh Hashana is on Tuesday, the year will be Kesidran.
– If Rosh Hashana is on Shabbos or Monday, it CAN’T be kesidran.
– If Rosh Hashana is on Thursday in a regular year, it CAN’T be chaser.
– If Rosh Hashana is on Thursday in a leap year, it CAN’T be kesidran.