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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 binding.

 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 humility.

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 rebellion.

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 redemption immediately.

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 rabbibiggs@gmail.com 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.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Biggs






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 March 25th.

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 earth.”

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. Candle lighting is 6:54 on Monday March 25th Please endeavor to include as many Jews as possible in the Pesach Seder both nights.

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 summer.

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 7:55

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

Rabbi Biggs




Shabbat Chol Hamoed

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 favor.

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.

Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Biggs




Shevi’i Shel Pesach

Sunday night Sefirah is 6 days of the Omer

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. Tuesday


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 of Moshiach!

Chag Sameach,


Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated to the Lubavitcher Rebbe on the occasion of his 111th birthday

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There is a great Passover website at http://www.chabadgn.com/holidays/passover

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.

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