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Commentaries on the Torah

Traditional Interpretations of the Bible

This class analyzes an aspect of the weekly Torah portion or upcoming holiday. While providing a basic understanding of the subject matter, the lesson delves into its deeper and more complex dimensions with emphasis on the spiritual relevance to our daily lives. Inspiration for both the novice and advanced student.

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35:54
A commentary by Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson on a passage in the Zohar extolling the virtue of the penitent (baal teshuvah) over the righteous (tzaddik) yields a profound and inspiring understanding of the nature of time and change. (Based on Likutei Sichos vol. 20 page 86.)
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42:05
On Yom Kippur and the 15th of Av the maidens of Jerusalem would go out to its vineyards where young men had gathered, like them, to find their partner in marriage. There the maidens would dance wearing borrowed white gowns. This class addresses the spiritual dimensions of this sublime encounter.
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35:55
The Torah demands that the stones used to build the Holy Temple be unblemished. But what defines a blemish? In answering this question, this class presents a novel definition of perfection and a deeper appreciation of the Holy Temple. (Based on Likutei Sichos volume 29, p. 123)
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28:05
The spiritual significance of the design and measurements of the entrance to the Heichal – the most sacred structure of the Holy Temple. (Based on Reshimah dated Nissan 2, 5700 / 1940, Paris)
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42:34
Rabbi Yosef, the Talmud relates, would celebrate Shavuot, the Festival of the Giving of the Torah, with a unique banquet. The puzzling statement he said in connection with the feast is the subject of this class. Probing the layers of the Sage’s words reveals startling new depth to our appreciation of G-d’s most precious gift. (Based on Likutei Sichos volume 16)
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58:37
Grain from a newly planted crop (Chadash) may not be consumed prior to the offering of the ‘Omer’ in the Temple on the second day of Passover. No grain of the new crop may be brought to the Temple as an offering prior to the ‘Two Loaves’ offered on Shavout. This class will explore some of the fascinating details of these laws and their spiritual dimensions and applications to our lives. (Likutei Sichos volume 32)
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24:27
Haman rejoiced greatly when his lottery to determine the date of the ‘Final Solution’ fell on Adar, considering it the most propitious omen possible, for it is the month that Moses died. However, there are far more sadder and calumnious months in the calendar than Adar, so why wouldn’t he be even more pleased if the lottery fell on one of them?! The answer reveals an astounding layer of meaning to the ever-relevant story of Purim. (Based in part on Likutei Sichos volume 26, Sicha 1)
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34:59
In exploring the timeless spiritual dimensions of the Sanctuary, the Mishkan, this class reveals how craziness and lies are essential components of a meaningful life. (Based on the maamar Basi L’Gani 5719)
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22:05
Jewish criminal and civil law are discussed in a triad of tractates named Bava Kama (First Gate), Bava Metziah (Middle Gate), and Bava Batra (Final Gate). This class reveals the spiritual dimension of these laws as an illuminating roadmap to self-refinement.
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40:39
What a fast day is really about.
The fast of the Tenth of Tevet commemorates the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem (588 BCE), which culminated in the destruction of the first Temple. It is always observed in the week before or after the Torah reading of Vayigash, which relates the story of the dramatic encounter between Yehuda and Joseph. This class explores the inner connection between the two, and offers essential, spiritual guidance for achieving personal and collective redemption. (Likutei Sichos, volume 15)
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45:26
The Biblical story of Joseph’s descent into Egypt and subsequent incarceration is often read in the same week in which we celebrate the liberation from Czarist imprisonment of the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman, founder of Chabad. This class will explore the link between these events and offers insight into the nature of redemption. (Likutei Sichos volume 25, Parshas Vayeishev)
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45:27
This class explores the mystical meaning of nature’s most natural shape, the circle. The definition of time in light of Kabbalah is addressed and a new appreciation of Shabbat and its unique connection to our patriarch Jacob emerges.
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41:27
Esau and his wives revisited
Our Sages taught, “There are three whose sins are forgiven: (a) A convert upon converting, (b) one who is elevated to a high position and (c) when one marries.” This class explores the Scriptual source for the latter and in so doing addresses the question why this final Exile has been far longer than the previous exiles the Jewish people have endured. (Likutei Sichos volume 35, Sicha 3)
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52:04
Contemporary, spiritually seeking Jews are often drawn to Hinduism and Buddhism, attracted by teachings that espouse oneness and transcendence. This class explores the origins and differences between Judaism and Eastern faiths. The results are revelations that many will undoubtedly find astounding.
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45:59
A person can be spiritual and even religious without Torah. Why then does Torah insist on a defined set of rules? In addressing this question, an age-old debate between Issac and Ishmael is analyzed, yielding a surprising outcome. (Based on Likutei Sichos vol. 25, p.86.)
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52:39
The Sages of the Talmud differ as to the positioning of the Menorah in the Holy Temple, whether east to west (along the width of the temple) or north to south (along the temple’s length). This class reveals the spiritual underpinnings of this discussion and the relevance to our daily lives. (Based on Reshimas HaMenorah)
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36:21
The three sections in the Holy Temple represent three levels of reality. Explore components of the Beit Hamikdash and their mirroring mystical attributes.
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46:46
Shabbat’s feminine character
Although Jewish law exempts women from the observance of ‘time-constrained positive commandments’, they are nonetheless enjoined to observe all the Sabbath rituals, notwithstanding the fact that Shabbat rituals (such as reciting the ‘kiddush’) are ‘time-constrained’ mitzvahs. This class sheds new light on the reason for this exception and highlights the unique spiritual value of the Jewish women.
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55:34
Many reasons are suggested to explain why we eat dairy foods on Shavuot. Of all the classic reasons offered, the one that appears to be the simplest is strangely absent. This class will explain why, and in so do doing will address the great mission of the Jewish people that began at Sinai. (Based in part on Likutei Sichos vol. 8, Naso 3)
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44:34
Ezra the Scribe ordained that on the Shabbat before Shavuot, and again before Rosh Hashanah, the Torah readings containing the calamities that will befall the Jewish people for failure to observe the commandments shall be read. This class explores the inner meaning behind these dire warnings and reveals their uplifting message.
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45:27
In explaining why Aaron was forbidden to enter ‘at any time’ into the inner sanctum of the Sanctuary, Rashi employs a parable concerning an ill patient and the advice he receives from two doctors. This class will reveal the deeper meaning of this unusual parable and its poignant message especially as it relates to the current ‘Omer’ period. (Likkutei Sichos, volume 7)
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55:00
When the Counting of the Omer begins on Sunday
We are commanded in the Torah to count, from the 2nd day of Passover, 49 days and ‘7 complete weeks’. This mitzvah is referred to as the Counting of the Omer. Our Sages comment that the count is only perfect when Passover begins on the Sabbath, and thus the count begins with the first day of the week – Sunday. In such a year (as is the case this year) the 7 weeks are indeed perfect. But this is highly puzzling for a number of reasons, one being that the mitzvah to Count the Omer is perfectly fulfilled every year regardless of what day of the week the count begins! In answering this difficulty, this class reveals the extraordinary blessing inherent in this year’s counting of the Omer.
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51:56
Moshiach has to be a scion of the House of David of the ‘Kingdom of Judah’. But why can he not be a descendent of the ‘Kingdom of Joseph’? Indeed even Judah bowed to Joseph acknowledging his authority? In this class a profound debate in the Talmud is evoked that provides the key to the answer and, more significantly, reveals the unique contribution that our generation must give in bringing about the final redemption. (Based on the Maamar V’Avdi Dovid, Achron shel Pesach 5746)
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1:01:56
Where Haman hangs and Mordechai muses.
This class is a synopsis of the Chassidic discourse (maamar) the Rebbe delivered in the famous Purim farbrengen (gathering) of 1958. The maamar is based on the teaching of our Sages that when the wicked Haman erected the wooden gallows to hang Mordechai, G-d in Heaven declared that it would not come to pass, “For Abraham has already preceded you when he invited the angels to find shade under the tree”. The maamar traces the mystical history of Abraham’s tree and, as always, leaves us with novel and inspiring insight.
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Based on the last discourse of the Previous Rebbe and our Rebbe’s complimentary discourses from the year 5718 (1958), this class explores the mystical significance of the Hebrew letter Hey and its powerful message for creating the ultimate home.
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37:34
“And you shall love G-d your L-rd with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might”. This class explains these three loves and how to attain them, in both our relationship with G-d and with our life’s partner.
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45:08
"And it will come to pass on that day that the great shofar will sound...” The prophecy goes on to describe the in-gathering of Jews 'lost' and 'dispersed' in exile, as they return to Jerusalem in the final redemption. This class will explore the profound meaning of the “sound of the great shofar” and will reveal the startling and exhilarating secret that the sound has already begun. (Based on the Maamar V'hayah Bayom Hahu 5728)
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40:07
The saddest period in the Jewish calendar, when we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple – amongst a litany of other national tragedies – is commonly referred to as 'The Three Weeks'. Yet, our Sages referred to this period as '21 Days'? The answer to this innocuous question reveals an astounding new depth to both the mourning period and its inevitable resolution. (Based on Sefer Hasichos 5750)
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38:05
The first teaching of the fifth chapter of 'Ethics of Our Fathers' states that the primary reason why G-d created the world in the manner in-which He did is to 'exact retribution from the wicked'. This statement appears puzzling and indeed disturbing. This class will peel back the layers in light of the teachings of Chassidus and reveal its powerfully loving message.
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50:10
When division becomes a virtue
Our Sages declare that Korach and his followers are the symbol of divisiveness that "will not ultimately endure"; whereas the dissenting views of Hillel and Shamai represent a virtuous difference of opinion "that will ultimately endure". But why would argument of any kind, especially one that endures forever, be considered a virtue?! In answering this question, this class traces the origins of all conflicts and reveals the ultimate resolution to them all. (Based on the Maamar Vayikach Korach 5767)
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40:50
What is the inner connection between the incident of the spies and the commandment concerning the libation of wine on the altar, issued by G-d directly thereafter? In answering this question, this class explores the mystical power of Tefillin and its effect on the world. (Based on the maamar L’havin Inyan Parshas Hanesachim 5747)
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52:03
A deeper look into the ultimate objective of everything
In this class, the story of an encounter between an Israeli army officer and a Russian immigrant in the heady aftermath of the Six Day War becomes a symbol for Judaism's ultimate mission-statement. Explore the purpose of life on three progressively deeper levels: from the perspective of (a) Torah's outer dimension, (b) its inner dimension, and (c) its essence.
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49:18
A deeper understanding of why we have three matzos on the Seder plate and drink four cups of wine. Discover how the spiritual dimensions of the Exodus reflect the difference between men and women in light of Chassidus. (Based on Lukutei Sichos vol. 26, Parshas Va’eira)
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58:14
Why three matzahs and four cups of wine?
The Kabbalah of the matzah and wine at the Passover Seder. Men, women and the dynamics of redemption. Explore the deeper understanding of why we have three matzahs on the Seder plate and drink four cups of wine. (Based on Lukutei Sichos vol. 26, Parshas Voeira)
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46:07
The significance of Nissan as the first month of year
In reconciling the different opinions of our Sages regarding the creation of Adam and Eve – Nissan or Tishrei – this class brings to light the essential and critical role of women in bringing about Redemption. (Based on the Maamar 'Hachodesh Hazeh Lochem' and other sources)
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46:56
The soul of Shabbat
A new and deeply personal appreciation of Shabbat emerges as we examine: (a) the nature of work forbidden on Shabbat; (b) the connection between Shabbat and the construction of the Sanctuary; (c) why the Torah singles out the prohibition of kindling a fire to teach something novel about the Shabbat labors. (Based on Likutei Sichos vol. 36, parshas Vayakhel)
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1:02:33
In the aftermath of the golden calf
In response to Moses's request, "Reveal to me Your Glory", G-d shows him His 'back', which Rashi explains to mean the "knot of G-d's tefillin". This class will address the inner meaning of this and the message of hope it conveys for all of us. (Likutei Sichos, vol. 21)
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58:08
Different megillah reading days for villagers and city dwellers
When the Jewish people as a whole dwelt in the Land of Israel, the reading of the Megillah (the Scroll of Esther) on Purim was not necessarily read on the same day for all Jews. In fact, depending on where one lived, there could be a disparity of up to four days between the respective readings. This class will explore the spiritual and mystical relevance of this phenomenon as it probes the layers of the heavens above and the soul below. (Based on the Maamar ‘Megillah Nikraas’ 5737)
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40:08
The uniqueness of feminine spirituality
Before G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people, He instructed Moses to first speak to the women and then to the men. Moreover, Scripture indicates that the messages were not the same. This class explores its significance, addressing the uniqueness of feminine spirituality.
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53:53
Chassidic insights on the 10th and 11th of Shevat
A powerful excerpt of the Rebbe’s ‘Yud Shevat’ maamar (a mystical discourse) from the year 1957 (titled Basi LeGani 5717) expounding on the idea of restoring the letter ‘hei’ in G-d’s name and illuminating the depth behind speech and communication. The class begins with truly profound insights into the wondrous significance of the 11th day of Shevat, which is specifically associated with our generation.
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This class analyzes an aspect of the weekly Torah portion or upcoming holiday. While providing a basic understanding of the subject matter, the lesson delves into its deeper and more complex dimensions with emphasis on the spiritual relevance to our daily lives. Inspiration for both the novice and advanced student.