Shalom and Bracha!
This Shabbat we read the portion of
Tzav which means command. Rashi comments that the word Tzav in
this portion is an encouragement immediately and for all
generations. Although this week is the second week that deals
with the offerings in the Temple, the word Tzav is mentioned
here. Rashi explains that this section is speaking about the
Olah, the offering that was fully offered to Hashem and the
Kohen ate nothing. Where there is a financial loss, there is a
need for special encouragement. The word Tzav also means
When we are ready to endure a loss for Hashem, it
creates and reveals as stronger and deeper bond than previously.
Rashi comments that this is an encouragement for all
generations. With the current financial pressures, many of us
are faced with difficult choices. Maintaining our standards of
Kashrut, education and charity can become a question. The word
Tzav in this week’s portion teaches us that Hashem has already
blessed us with the strength to forge forward and that by doing
so and enduring the hardships we receive a much deeper
connection to Hashem and as a result a tremendous blessing.
Much of the portion describes the
consecration of Aharon and his children as Kohanim, priests of
Hashem. The very conclusion of the portion is that Aharon and
his sons did as Hashem commanded Moshe. Rashi comments that this
teaches their praiseworthiness because they didn’t veer to the
right or the left. Seemingly, what is so great? Would we imagine
they had done otherwise? Hashem Himself had just commanded them!
Rashi is actually alerting us to a great lesson. When a person
is raised to a position of importance, he tends to become
haughty and egotistical. His reliance upon his own opinion
becomes greater. In our relation with Hashem, the opposite must
be true. As we become closer to Hashem, we must become more
aware that His greatness and His wisdom are unfathomable. Our
subjugation to His will must become even greater. This quality
of Aharon and his sons was that although they were raised to the
highest office of the Jewish people, their humility towards
Hashem grew. This is also the lesson of Matzah, which represents
The Shabbat before Pesach is called
Shabbat Hagadol, the great Shabbat. This is because of the great
miracle that occurred on this Shabbat. The Jewish people were
commanded to take the Pesach lamb on the tenth of Nissan, four
days before slaughtering it. That day was Shabbat. The lamb was
the idol of the Egyptians. Readiness to slaughter the lamb was a
tremendous act of self-sacrifice. When Moshe initially spoke to
Pharaoh, he told him that the Jews must perform their offering
outside of Egypt because the Egyptians would surely stone the
Jews for slaughtering sheep. Holding a lamb for four days, in
preparation for slaughter, was an even greater act of courage.
Nevertheless, imbued with faith in Hashem and the coming
redemption, The Jews followed Moshe’s command.
Upon seeing the Jew’s taking sheep
into their homes, the Egyptians asked them what they are doing.
They responded that in four days they would slaughter the lambs,
and then Hashem would kill all of the firstborn Egyptians. Upon
hearing this, the firstborn Egyptians rebelled, demanding the
release of the Jews. Many Egyptians were killed quelling the
The reason that this is called a
“great” miracle is that although many times our enemies have
been given over into our hands, or defeated by Hashem, here the
Egyptians were smitten by there own, by their firstborn. The
firstborn represent the epitome, the cream of the crop. By the
Jews selflessly fulfilling the will of Hashem, the epitome of
evil became a tool to smite evil and pave the path to
redemption. Further, the merit of their self sacrifice made them
worthy of the redemption. May Hashem grant us the miracle of
Friday, March 22nd, marks
the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Hundred and eleventh birthday. Those who
say the Rebbe’s chapter of Tehillim daily begin to say chapter
112. As we mark this day it is an appropriate time to reflect
upon the Rebbe’s effect on worldwide Jewry and to think how we
can follow in his path, both by ourselves fulfilling additional
Mitzvot and by encouraging fellow Jews wherever they may be to
embrace their heritage. Just as we begin the Seder by inviting
the hungry to partake, every Mitzvah we do should be accompanied
by a desire to share with the spiritually hungry. Once, after
the Rebbe’s secretary had left for the night, someone slipped a
note under the Rebbe’s door. Upon receiving an answer, he
realized that the Rebbe had had to kneel to pick up the letter.
Feeling that this was disrespectful, he wrote an apology. The
Rebbe responded that his whole being was only to bow down to
help a fellow Jew. This is a lesson to all of us.
On a person’s birthday, his Mazal is
strong. On a leader’s birthday, the Mazal of the entire Jewish
people is strengthened. If anyone would like a prayer said by
the Rebbe’s resting place, please contact me at
and include your Hebrew name and your mother’s Hebrew name. May
Hashem immediately grant the goal that the Rebbe strived for
endlessly, the coming of Moshiach.
Thousands of families are depending
on Chabad to provide them for the basic needs for the holiday.
Please donate generously to the Passover emergency fund and as
you enjoy your Seder you will know needy families are enjoy
their Seder thanks to you.
All times listed are NY times.
For worldwide times on the web
please visit my website and adjust the location
If anyone still needs to sell their
Chametz, follow the instructions on the above website.
The search for Chametz is Sunday
night, March 24th after 8 p.m.
The fast if the firstborn is Monday
Chametz may be eaten until 10:55
a.m. Monday March 25th.
Chametz must be
burnt or sold before 11:57 a.m. Before 11:57 one must declare
“All Chametz (leavening or leavened products) in my possession
are hereby null, void, and without owner like the dust of the
Pesach extends from the night of
March 25th through April 2nd at 8:02 p.m.
March 26th, 27th, April 1st,
and April 2nd are holidays. Tefillin are not worn the
entire week according to the Chabad custom.
lighting is 6:54 on Monday March 25th Please endeavor
to include as many Jews as possible in the Pesach Seder both
The Kabbalah teaches that the Matzah
of the first Seder is the bread of faith and the second Seder is
the bread of healing.
Tuesday during Musaf we stop
praying for rain and begin to pray for dew throughout the
Candle lighting Tuesday night is
after 7:54 from an existing flame.
Counting the Omer
begins Tuesday night. Every night until Shavuot we count the
days after nightfall. The blessing is Baruch Atta Adonai
Eloheinu Melech Haolam Asher Kid’shanu B’mizvotav V’tzivanu Al
Sefirat Ha’omer. On Tuesday night we say today is one day of the
Omer. May the All Merciful return to us the Temple service in
its place speedily in our days. Amen. Selah. On Wednesday night
we say the blessing and count today is two days of the Omer etc.
Next Tuesday we count today is seven days, which are one week of
the Omer etc. Next Thursday we count today is eight days, which
are one week and one day of the Omer etc. If the Omer wasn’t
counted at night, we count during the day without a blessing.
Thereafter, we continue to count with a blessing. If we miss an
entire day, we continue to count without a blessing. For a
lengthy discussion of counting the Omer, please visit my website
There is a link to subscribe for
daily reminders via email.
Havdallah can be made Wednesday at
The Seder has a lesson for each of
us in our lives. Mitzrayim (Egypt) represents limitations and
boundaries. In our lives, it represents our inhibitions and
obstacles that prevent us from reaching our goals. Pesach is the
time Hashem gave us to rise above our obstacles. The way to do
so is Matzah. Matzah is the bread of humility. It has the same
grain and nutritional components of bread, but it doesn’t rise.
What is the true meaning of humility? Faith. Humility is not
ignoring our accomplishments or abilities. It is recognizing
that these are gifts of G-d and we must question if we have used
His gifts to the utmost. Moshe was called the humblest of all
men. Didn’t he know that he was the ultimate prophet and
redeemer? Of course he did. He saw these as G-d’s gifts. Had
they been bestowed on someone else, they would have done a
better job. Matzah is the bread of faith. Humility is
recognition that everything comes from Hashem. That is the key
to overcoming impediments. We aren’t working with our powers we
are working with his. Matzah is the bread of faith. When we are
imbued with ego, we are plagued with grief for everything we
think we deserve. Humility teaches us gratitude which is the
foundation of joy.
In merit of faith may this Pesach be
the celebration of the final redemption with the coming of
Moshiach who will heal all of the wounds of Galut (exile).
Chag Kasher V’sameach
Candle lighting Friday March 29
is 6:59 Shabbat ends 7:59
This Shabbat we read about the
giving of the second tablets. After begging Hashem’s forgiveness
for the Jewish people for having made the golden calf, Moshe
asked that Hashem show him His glory. (Moshe’s goal was not a
selfish one. He knew that by rising to a higher spiritual plane,
he would be able to share his spiritual wealth with the Jewish
people.) The Rambam explains that although Hashem has no
physical form, Moshe wanted to reach the pinnacle of human
awareness of Hashem. Hashem acceded to his request. From this we
see a powerful lesson. By begging for forgiveness for other
Jews, although they were involved in lust, idolatry and
violence, Moshe was elevated to a new spiritual plane.
This is reminiscent of a story of
the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, The Tzemach Tzedek. The Tzemach
Tzedek studied a great deal under his grandfather, the first
Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. Even after his
grandfather’s passing, he would appear to him and answer his
questions in Torah. One time, his grandfather had not appeared
for a long time, causing the Tzemach Tzedek great anguish. The
Tzemach Tzedek was on the way to synagogue and a poor man asked
for a loan, because it was a market day. The Tzemach Tzedek told
him to meet him after prayers. After entering synagogue and
going through spiritual preparation for prayer, the Tzemach
Tzedek donned his Tallit. He then thought that he was wrong for
delaying the loan. In the interim, as the Tzemach Tzedek was
praying, the man could be making a living. He took off his
Tallit, went and got the money, and sought out the man in the
marketplace. (One can only imagine the distraction of such a
Tzaddik searching the marketplace before prayers.) When he
returned to synagogue, and again donned his Tallit, his
grandfather appeared to him and explained all of the questions
the Tzemach Tzedek had saved since their last meeting. He then
explained to him the tremendous spiritual heights one can reach
by doing a fellow Jew a physical favor and certainly a spiritual
The Haftara describes the prophecy
of Yechezkiel when Hashem brought him to a valley of dry bones
and told him to bring them back to life. Upon doing so, Hashem
told him that the dry bones represent the Jewish people.
Many parts of our life can be
represented by dry bones. Often, when we pray, or do another
Mitzvah, it is without life. We say the words and go through the
motions, but they are without life. We help poor people or study
the Torah, but it is without life. Hashem is telling us to arise
and feel the beauty of every Mitzvah we do.
This also applies to our
relationships with our friends and family. The Previous Rebbe,
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Shneerson, once said that a Shalom Aleichem
used to be a heartfelt greeting. Now, in the greeting there is a
hint of when are you leaving already? We need to put life into
our dry bones. A kiss good morning to our children, a hello,
must be full of life.
Through our breathing new life into
our dry bones, may Hashem speedily grant the coming of Moshiach
and the resurrection of the dead.
Shevi’i Shel Pesach
Sunday night Sefirah is 6 days of
NY City Candle lighting Sunday
March 31st at 7:01 p.m.
Candle lighting Monday April 1st
after 8:01 p.m. from an existing flame
Yizkor is Tuesday April 2nd
In NY City, Pesach ends 8:02 p.m.
Shalom and Bracha!
Monday and Tuesday we celebrate the
last two days of Pesach. On the Seventh day of Pesach we
celebrate the splitting of the Red Sea. As the Jewish people
fled Egypt, Hashem hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he pursued them.
As the Jews reached the Red Sea, they found themselves
completely surrounded. The sea was on one side, and the
approaching army was on the other. The people were thrown into a
panic, and were divided as to what to do. Some felt it was
better to commit suicide by jumping into the sea rather than
capitulate. Some felt it was better to return to servitude.
Others felt it was better to try their hands at war, and still
others felt they should dedicate themselves to prayer.
Moshe answered the Jewish people
“Fear not. Stand strong and you shall see the salvation of
Hashem that He will perform today. You will never again see
Egypt as you have seen them today. Hashem will battle for you.
Be still.” Thereafter, Hashem told Moshe “Speak to the Jewish
people and they should go forward.” Nachshon Ben Aminadav, the
leader of the tribe of Yehudah, bravely entered the waters and
proceeded forward until they split.
The four approaches mentioned above
represent different reactions to problems in following Hashem’s
direction in life. Suicide represents the inability to fulfill
one’s mission. Although more idealistic than returning to Egypt,
it rejects the principle purpose of our existence, to make the
world a divine place. Returning to Egypt represents a lack of
faith in the ability to fulfill Hashem’s direction. Battle
represents attempting to deal with the world with only our own
finite powers. By only praying, we ignore Hashem’s directive to
accomplish things ourselves.
We left Egypt with the goal to
receive the Torah at Mount Sinai. However great the obstacles
were, Hashem told us not to lose focus on our mission. All of
the above approaches did nothing to advance us towards receiving
the Torah, and as such were wrong. Only by pressing forward with
Hashem’s mission with full faith in success can we progress.
Often, we find it difficult to
follow the Torah while living within society. Challenges lead us
to feel we must either escape the world or forgo certain Mitzvot.
The splitting of the sea teaches us that we must face and
overcome challenges by focusing only on the mission of Hashem
and we will then surely succeed.
Nachshon was the head of the tribe
of Yehudah, from whom Moshiach stems. On the eighth day of
Pesach, we celebrate the coming redemption. May our resolve to
follow the Torah in an unwavering manner hasten his coming and
may we conclude this Pesach in Yerushalayim.
The Baal Shem Tov instituted a
custom to conclude the holiday with a meal celebrating the
coming of Moshiach. Matzah is eaten and four cups of wine are
consumed. The Rebbe added that each cup should be consumed with
the intent to hasten Moshiach’s coming. May the continuation of
this meal be the great feast Hashem has prepared for the coming
Dedicated to the Lubavitcher
Rebbe on the occasion of his 111th birthday
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There is a great Passover website
With how to guides for preparing
for Pesach and for the Seder and beautiful insights on the
holiday and a guide to Seders throughout the world.