Shalom and Bracha!
This Shabbat is very unique in that we read
from three Torah scrolls. In the first scroll we read the
portion of the week, Vayikra. Because this Shabbat coincides
with Rosh Chodesh, We combine the sixth and seventh Aliyah and
for the seventh Aliyah we read the Rosh Chodesh portion in the
second Torah scroll. This week is the last of the four special
portions we read in preparation for Pesach and in the third
Torah scroll we read the portion of Hachodesh which discusses
the Mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh and the Mitzvah of the Pesach
offering and the Seder. Whenever powers of sanctity coincide,
their united power provides much greater empowerment and
inspiration. This is enhanced by considering their common bonds.
Vayikra-Reaching Our Higher Self
Vayikra discusses the commandments concerning
the offerings in the Temple. Although the Temple is currently
not standing, and the literal fulfillment of these Mitzvot is
beyond our grasp until Moshiach comes, there are deep lessons to
be learned from them in our daily lives. Further, since we
cannot fulfill these Mitzvot through action, our studying of
them is their fulfillment.
The portion begins with the word Vayikra, “He
(G-d) called to Moshe.” The Alef in the word Vayikra is smaller
than the other letters in the Torah scroll. This teaches us that
in order to hear the call of Hashem, we must be humble. We
mustn’t approach the Torah with preconceived notions, but rather
be ready and anxious to learn the will of Hashem. The Mitzvah of
Matzah echoes this idea. The Matzah does not rise, symbolizing
humility. This is paralleled by the new Moon, Rosh Chodesh,
which only shines its new light after disappearing.
The small Aleph teaches another deep lesson.
Without the Aleph, the word becomes Vayakar, which means
coincidence. Everything in the world is by Divine providence.
Often that which appears as a coincidence is Hashem calling out
to us. We must always seek the small Aleph, the lesson from
whatever we see.
The Ramban teaches that when a person brings a
sacrifice, he should imagine that all of the procedures that are
done to the animal are being done to him. Hashem, by His
kindness, allowed us to bring an animal in our stead. Chassidut
goes a step deeper. The laws of the sacrifices teach us how to
live our daily lives. The primary portions of the animal that
were offered on the altar were the blood and the fats. Blood is
the life and warmth of our bodies. Although much of our time is
spent in mundane pursuit, the excitement and warmth should be
dedicated purely to Hashem. The word Cheilev in Hebrew means not
only fat, but also the finest. Whatever we possess or come
across, the very finest should be reserved for the service of
In a deeper sense we must sacrifice the animal
within ourselves. When the Torah introduces the subject of
offerings, it says “A person who will offer from among you a
sacrifice to Hashem from the animals, the cattle or the sheep,
you shall bring your sacrifice. The grammar of the sentence
demands a deeper understanding. The words “from among you”
seemingly should follow the words “A person.” The Previous Rebbe
explains that the Torah is hinting that the sacrifice comes from
amongst you, from the animal within each of us.
We are a composite of two souls. Our animal
soul parallels the soul of every living creature. It draws us to
fulfill our mundane needs and wallow in mundane pleasure. By its
nature, it is the epitome of selfishness. Our Divine soul is the
spark of G-d within us that makes us strive to become closer to
Hashem. Whenever we break our desires for the service of Hashem,
we are sacrificing our animal soul. The Torah tells us that the
sacrifice can come from the cattle or the sheep. Some of us have
a very course animal soul like a huge ox. Some have a meek
nature like a sheep. Regardless, we must overcome our nature and
become G-dly beings.
Rosh Chodesh-The Power Over Time
As an introduction to the Mitzvot of Pesach,
Hashem first commanded Moshe the Mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh, the
sanctification of the new moon as the beginning of the Hebrew
month. As this was the first commandment to the Jewish people as
a nation, it carries great significance. This year, when we read
the giving of this Mitzvah on Rosh Chodesh, the impact and
meaning are even greater. The purpose of the Exodus was to
receive the Torah. The purpose of giving the Torah was that the
Jewish people should reveal Hashem’s presence in the world
through their efforts. The holidays are dependent on the
sanctification of the new moon. If the Sanhedrin (the Jewish
court) declares Shabbat to be Rosh Chodesh Nissan, two weeks
later will be Pesach. If they declare Sunday, two weeks from
then will be Pesach. Chassidut teaches that on each holiday
Hashem reveals Himself in the manner He did when that Holiday
first occurred, be it Pesach, Purim, Rosh Hashanah or any other
holiday. The power to sanctify the new moon is the power to
affect when and how Hashem reveals Himself.
Hachodesh-Self Sacrifice and Unity
The sheep was the idol of the Egyptians. Hashem
commanded that the Passover offering in Egypt be brought into
the homes four days before it was offered. This gave the
Egyptians ample time to know that the Jews would be slaughtering
the sheep and that Hashem had promised to eradicate the
firstborn Egyptians the night preceding the Exodus. The risks
involved in fulfillment of this commandment demonstrated a total
dedication to Hashem, even to the point of boldly risking their
lives. This parallels the above mentioned self sacrifice
symbolized by the offerings. This is also the symbolic meaning
of the total waning of the moon to receive the light of the Sun.
of unity is also expressed in Parshat Hachodesh. The Pesach
offering, although brought by each family individually, was a
communal offering. The Torah stresses that if one family is
lacking, they should combine with another family. When we sit
down to our Pesach Seder, we invite the hungry and the excluded
to join us. This is because Pesach, the birth and redemption of
the Jewish people, is dependent upon our caring for others. In
our times, this is also expressed by inviting as many people as
possible who might otherwise not attend a Seder.
The Talmud says that we were redeemed in Nissan
and will be redeemed in Nissan. May we merit that this Nissan
will herald the coming of Moshiach and the ultimate revelation
of Hashem’s presence in this world.
Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov!
Dedicated in reverent memory of the Kedoshim of
In commemoration of their sacrifice I implore my
readers to rededicate themselves to fortifying the Jewish people
by strengthening our commitment to Jewish education, Jewish
observance, Torah study and Jewish unity. May this tragedy be
the last of the exile and may we spend this Pesach together with
them in Yerushalayim.
This Shabbat is Rosh Chodesh Nissan. The word
Nissan is related to the Hebrew word Ness, which means miracle.
This is the month of Pesach, the greatest miracles of our
history, and is a propitious time for miracles both as
individuals and as a people. As the spring breathes new life
into the world, it is a time to rededicate ourselves to Hashem
and receive a new level of blessings. The month of Nissan is
unique in that Tachanun (penitential prayers) are not said the
entire month. This is because the first twelve days are the
celebration of the consecration of the Temple in the desert. The
fourteenth until the twenty-second are Pesach. Since most of the
month is celebration, the entire month is treated as a holiday.
It is customary during the first twelve days in Nissan to recite
the occurrences of that day as related in Bamidbar (Numbers)
chapter 7. Many communities have the customs to add related
prayers as found in the Prayer book.
During the month of Nissan, when we see fruit
trees blossoming for the first time, we make the blessing
Blessed are You,
Lord, Our God, King of the Universe, for nothing is lacking in
His universe, and He created in it good creatures and good
trees, to cause mankind pleasure with them.
This blessing is a statement of faith and gratitude recognizing
that all blessings come from Hashem.
Passover begins the eve of Friday April 6th
and continues through Saturday April 14th. From the latter
morning of the 6th throughout Passover, it is
forbidden to own any Chametz, i.e. any grain products or
byproducts that are not prepared specially for Pesach. As
disposal of all Chametz is often difficult, it is customary to
sell all Chametz to a non-Jewish person before Pesach and buy it
back after Pesach. Due to the complications in Jewish law
concerning the sale, most people appoint a Rabbi as their agent.
If anyone would like me to arrange the sale of their Chametz
fill out and send/fax/email me the form below Please include all
addresses (home, business, vacation home) where Chametz may be.
According to the Kabbalah, removal of Chametz from our
possession symbolizes and affects removal of evil and negativity
from our souls and lives.
Chametz can also be sold online at
If you know of
anyone who needs a place to go for the Seder go to
The Rebbe has
encouraged on numerous occasions that if at all possible
everyone should have hand baked Shmurah Matzah for the Seder.
Similarly, we should try to see that others get Shmurah Matzah.
During the Nazi occupation of France, the Rebbe risked his life
and personally distributed Shmurah Matzah to many Jews
throughout Paris. Jewish unity is the key to redemption and
Pesach is the time when we feel that bond most intensely.
Unfortunately, this year many people are
unemployed and lack the funds to provide their families a basic
Seder. Chabad is helping poor families here and in Israel.
donate generously to
Chabad Emergency Pesach Fund
400 East Shore Road, Great Neck NY, 11024
Those who would prefer to donate via credit card can call
my office at 516 4874554 or contact me via e-mail at
There is a beautiful video of
the Rebbe encouraging helping the needy for Pesach at
May Hashem grant that this year we will celebrate
Pesach as one great family in Yerushalayim together with