1. Among the many aspects connected with the celebration of Acharon Shel Pesach, this year are the following:
A. As implied by its name, it is the final day of Pesach;
B. This year it falls on a Tuesday;
C. It is celebrated on the 22nd of Nissan;
D. It is connected with Parshas Kedoshim and in particular, with the third aliyah of that parshah:
E. It is being celebrated in a leap year.
The name Acharon Shel Pesach implies that as the last day of Pesach, it serves as an intermediary between the Passover holiday and the days that follow. It connects the two together, allowing for the unique qualities of Pesach, including “the revelation of G-d, King of Kings, who in His glory redeemed them” to be felt throughout the entire year.
The following concept can assist in the comprehension of the above statement: Each creation was endowed by G-d with a unique, specific quality. Thus, in regard to this quality, it must serve as a mashpia, contributing and communicating this quality to the world at large. Thus, the concept of mashpia and mekabel — giving and receiving was established by G-d as a fundamental ground rule of creation. Indeed, the Tanya refers to a mosquito as “the lowest kelipah, the furthest from holiness” because “he imbibes, but does not excrete”; i.e. he lacks the quality of giving. [We may explain that even a mosquito possesses an aspect of giving. for the very fact that we can learn the lowliness of a creation which does not give from the mosquito’s existence, is, itself, a contribution to the creation.] Thus, every individual, even if he has sunk to a low level, has the potential to contribute positive qualities to the creation. Also, as a consequence of the above, it follows that even if one quality is, by nature, more elevated than the other, just as the higher quality has what to contribute to the lower quality, the lower quality may also contribute to the higher.
On the basis of the above, we can appreciate the unique nature of an intermediary. An intermediary is, by nature, above both the higher and the lower attribute. Nevertheless, it can relate to both attributes and, thus, can establish a connection between them, allowing for each to contribute it’s quality to the other.
In general, there are two types of intermediaries:
1. an intermediary that connects;
2. an intermediary which separates; i.e. it also establishes a connection between the higher and the lower attributes, but the nature of that connection implies a certain degree of separation between the giver and receiver.
To illustrate the above: Moshe served as an intermediary between G-d and the Jewish people. As it is written: “I am standing between G-d and you.” However, he was an intermediary which connected, allowing for a complete bond to be established. In contrast, when the sages would address the Jewish people, they would employ a “meturgamon” — a spokesman — i.e. an intermediary. Since the sage’s understanding totally transcended that of their students, they could not relate to them except through the medium of the meturgamon. Nevertheless, since the meturgamon was, himself, below the level of the sage, the people were, in essence, separated from the higher aspects of the sage’s comprehension. Nevertheless, a connection between them and the sage was established to the point where even those whose comprehension was far below that of the sage were able to relate to his ideas. Furthermore, were they to labor and work to understand the deeper aspects of the sage’s wisdom, they would be able to grasp that as well, as our sages stated, “After forty years one can comprehend the wisdom of one’s teacher.”
Thus, in accord with the principle that “the entire Torah was given to establish peace in the world,” it follows that even an intermediary who “separates” actually connects and establishes unity. Indeed, this is the true meaning of peace. When there is no difference, when only one entity exists, as on the first day of creation when G-d “was alone in His world,” there is no possibility for peace. Rather, peace implies that there are a number of different entities, each a separate and distinct being and, yet, they join together in oneness.
In this context, we can understand the unique quality of Acharon Shel Pesach which serves as an intermediary connecting Pesach to the days of the year to come. Acharon Shel Pesach stands above both and yet relates to them and, hence, has the potential to establish a connection between them. This concept is reflected in halachah and in Jewish custom. Acharon Shel Pesach was instituted only by Rabbinic degree. The full severity and power associated with “the sanctity of the festivals” applies to Acharon Shel Pesach to the extent that nortsin strictness are instituted lest one treat it lightly. Nevertheless, the halachah allows specific leniencies because the holiness is only the result of a Rabbinic decree. Thus, we see that Acharon Shel Pesach has a connection both to the festivals and to the weekdays that follow.
Furthermore, the above applies to every second day of the festival, for all result from the same Rabbinic decree. In addition, there is a particular custom which clearly illustrates this concept in regard to Acharon Shel Pesach. It is a Chassidic custom not to allow matzah to come in contact with any liquids lest there remain some unbaked flour which might become leaven (chametz) as a result of this contact. Though this custom (referred to as “Sheruyah”) is followed strictly throughout the seven days of Pesach, on Acharon Shel Pesach, the Rebbeim would not only allow Sheruyah, they would publicly eat Sheruyah themselves, eating matzah together with every dish.
The above is related to our personal service of G-d. When a Jew reaches the conclusion of the Pesach festival, his spirits may sink in the realization of the tremendous descent which he must undergo. He must pass from Pesach, “the head of the festivals,” the season in which “the King of Kings ... in His glory ... revealed himself to them and redeemed them ...” which includes also the miracles of the splitting of the Red Sea, a miracle so great that whenever the Talmud desires to describe unusual difficulty, it uses the expression, “as difficult as the splitting of the Red Sea ...”; from this elevated state, a Jew must pass to ordinary weekdays. In this context, the lesson from Acharon Shel Pesach, the intermediary between Pesach and the days to come is important. A Jew must know that his spirits should not fall. Quite the contrary, he must realize how effort must be made to establish a connection between Pesach and the coming days, so that the wondrous level of Pesach will be extended to include these days as well. (For this reason, it is not the Lubavitch custom to recite the passage “the Pesach Seder is concluded.”) Furthermore, one must realize how by fulfilling the above and extending the revelations of Pesach to the weekdays that follow, one reaches an even higher level. For doing so is a new achievement and, thus, a greater height than receiving those revelations of Pesach itself.
A Jew may feel a tremendous yearning and desire for the revelations of Pesach. Those yearnings are a positive factor and will spur him to the point where he will apply himself to the service of G-d and hasten the coming of the time in which he will feel those revelations again. Though there is no way that Pesach will come any earlier, through our efforts we can hasten the coming of Mashiach (as the Alter Rebbe quotes the Zohar: “Should one tzaddik do complete teshuvah, Mashiach would come in his generation”). Thus, he will experience an even more complete redemption to the point where the redemption from Egypt will be considered a secondary factor. Nevertheless, in addition to that yearning, we must realize that through the intermediary of Acharon Shel Pesach, all the aspects of Pesach can be extended into the days that follow. Thus, the “season of our redemption” will be felt the entire year and lead to the ultimate experience of freedom, which will accompany the Messianic redemption at which time the prophecies mentioned in the Haftorah of Acharon Shel Pesach will be fulfilled.
2. The role of Acharon Shel Pesach as an intermediary between Pesach and the days that follow is emphasized in the Haftorah.
The Haftorah relates the prophecy of Yeshayahu the Prophet, regarding the fall of Sancheriv, an event which transpired on the first night of Pesach. Thus, a question may be raised: Though the event obviously has a connection to the Passover holiday, what is its relation to Acharon Shel Pesach? The celebration of Acharon Shel Pesach was instituted much later. At the time when that miracle took place, it was not celebrated at all. The Machzor Vitri explains the connection as follows: Though the Haftorah mentions the fall of Sancheriv which took place on Pesach, the majority of the Haftorah is dedicated to prophecies of the Messianic redemption. The latter is also related to Pesach, as our sages declared, “In Nissan, they were redeemed; and in Nissan, they will be redeemed.” Thus, we can see the connection of the Haftorah to Acharon Shel Pesach. The Rebbeim have explained that the first days of Pesach are related to the redemption from Egypt, while the final days are related to the Messianic redemption. For this reason, the blessing Shehecheyanu is not recited on the latter days. Shehecheyanu is only recited on happiness which is revealed. Since, at present, the future redemption is not a revealed factor, the blessing cannot be recited.
[In a greater sense, the first days of Pesach are related to the future redemption, as our sages declared, “The redemption from Egypt will be recalled in the Messianic age.” Similarly, the blessing recited in the Haggadah praising G-d, “Who redeemed us and redeemed our fathers from Egypt,” also alludes to the future redemption in its conclusion, “so ... shall He cause us to reach other festivals ... and we will glorify You with a new song....” Also, the recitation of the conclusion of the Hallel is related to the Messianic redemption. Nevertheless, in particular, the first days of Pesach are related to the redemption from Egypt and the final days, to the Messianic redemption.]
There is an additional point of connection between the Haftorah of Acharon Shel Pesach and the Messianic redemption. Even the section of the Haftorah which deals with Chizkiyahu’s triumph is related to the Messianic redemption, as our sages declared, “G-d desired to make Chizkiyahu Mashiach, and Sancheriv, Gog and Magog.”
However, the question remains: Acharon Shel Pesach is only a Rabbinic institution. According to the Torah, it would not be celebrated as a festival at all. Hence, one might ask: Since the future redemption is related to Pesach, for the redemption of Pesach is the force which generates the potential for the future redemption as well, if so, how can a day which, according to the Torah, is not part of Pesach be related to the future redemption?
This question can be answered within the context of the above statement: “G-d desired to make Chizkiyahu Mashiach.” It is also stated that Moshe should have led the Jewish people directly into Eretz Yisrael. Had he done so, the redemption from Egypt would have been the final redemption. Yet, because the Jewish people “did not merit,” this revelation was withheld. Thus, we can understand that at certain stages in our history, it was appropriate for Mashiach to have come. The fact that he did not come at that time and that the level of the Jewish people descended must ultimately be considered a positive factor. It serves as a descent for the purpose of ascent, which will bring about the Messianic redemption on a level which will totally transcend the level which would have been revealed had Mashiach come in a previous era.
To explain the concept in greater depth: The distinguishing aspect of the Messianic redemption is that it will be a complete redemption, a redemption that does not allow for the possibility of exile in the future. The other redemptions, though within their own context can clearly be seen as redemptions, cannot be considered as complete in this aspect, for the possibility for exile remains. In contrast, the future redemption will obliterate any and all possibilities for exile.
What is the source for this difference? Regarding the exodus from Egypt, it is written, “the nation fled.” The Alter Rebbe elaborates on the reasons for their flight, explaining that since they realized that their evil had not been destroyed, they had to flee from it. Thus, despite the redemption, evil still existed and, hence, there was still a possibility for exile in the future. In contrast, in regard to the future redemption it is written: “I will cause the spirit of impurity to depart from the land”; i.e. not only will one no longer feel exile or impurity, the potential for such will be utterly destroyed and, hence, the redemption will be complete.
The above does not contradict the statement of the Maharal of Prague who explained that from the time of the exodus from Egypt onward, there was no possibility for the Jews to be truly enslaved again. That statement applies to the Jewish people; they were no longer able to be slaves. However, the level of the world as a whole had not been uplifted and, thus, the potential for exile existed. The exodus from Egypt came as a gift from G-d from above and, thus, had an effect on the Jewish people, but not on the world at large. In contrast, the Messianic redemption will come as a result of the efforts of the Jewish people within the world, including the efforts of the present age, after the world has descended to its present low level. Thus, the redemption will come “from the world” as it were and, hence, will transform the nature of the world to the point where exile will no longer be possible.
This quality, the transformation of the world itself, did not exist in all the previous generations. On the contrary, even at the time of the greatest revelations, since there were revelations from above, the potential for evil was not obliterated. For example, when Shlomo built the Temple and G-dly light shined to all ends of the earth, the world itself desired to be elevated to the extent, where the Queen of Sheba came to Yerushalayim, bringing with her the G-dly sparks of her land. Nevertheless, her coming also had a negative consequence; for as a result, Nevuchadnetzar, the eventual destroyer of the Temple, was born.
Furthermore, as mentioned before in the name of the Maharal, from the time of the exodus from Egypt onward, the status of the Jews as free men was established. Nevertheless, even in regard to the Jewish people, the redemption from Egypt was not complete. Since a Jew exists for one purpose to quote the Mishnah: “I was created only to serve my Creator,” and that service is defined as elevating and refining the world, it follows that until the world is refined and reaches its ultimate state, the Jew’s service and, hence, his personal state, is also lacking. In addition, that lack is not an incidental matter, but related to the essence of his being, the purpose of his creation
Based on the above, we can understand the relation between the Messianic redemption and Acharon Shel Pesach. Acharon Shel Pesach is a Rabbinic decree instituted to overcome the difficulties of exile. By instituting the celebration of an additional day of Yom-Tov, the Jewish people in the Diaspora and in the time of exile transformed 24 hours, which by nature should have been mundane weekday hours, into hours of holiness, the celebration of a festival, and in the context of Acharon Shel Pesach, a festival of freedom and redemption. This is precisely the distinguishing quality of the future redemption: the transformation of the exile and the world to holiness and redemption. Thus, through the great descent of the exile, we will come to a greater redemption at the time of Messianic redemption. That revelation is at present reflected in the celebration of Acharon Shel Pesach and, therefore, on that day one was able to see unique revelations from the Rebbeim, as explained in regard to the celebration of Acharon Shel Pesach, 5666, in particular.
[Though the above revelations were seen in regard to the Rebbeim, one might argue that these matters are relevant only to the Rebbeim, the heads of the Jewish people, and not to common individuals. Regarding Shaul, and thus, all kings — and all leaders of the Jewish people, — it is stated that the king’s shoulders were taller than the entire nation. It is explained that his physical height reflected his spiritual level; i.e. his level totally superseded that of the people. Nevertheless, since “a king cannot exist without a nation,” it follows that the nation, i.e. even common individuals, are related to the matters of the king, i.e. the revelations of the Rebbeim.]
On the basis of the above, we can understand how not only the Messianic allusions in the Haftorah, but also the description of Sancheriv’s fall, is related to Acharon Shel Pesach, a day which, as explained above, represents the transformation of the lowest aspects of the world and exile to holiness and redemption, revealing how the descent is for the purpose of ascent. [In general, the very recitation of the Haftorah communicates this concept, for the recitation of the Haftorah was instituted in exile as a response to the decrees of the gentile authorities. Since the victory over Sancheriv was not complete and the possibility for exile still remained (and was actually expressed in the later generations), it also represents a descent which, as explained above, is for the purpose of ascent and must be transformed into a positive factor. Therefore, this Haftorah is read on Acharon Shel Pesach, a day which exemplifies such qualities.
The above is further clarified by the concept expressed in the first sicha, i.e. that Acharon Shel Pesach is an intermediary connecting Pesach to the weekdays that follow. Bringing the aspects of Pesach to those weekdays is itself an aspect of transformation of the worldly to holy, exile to redemption. Since this quality is exemplified by the celebration of Acharon Shel Pesach, that day has the power to create the abovementioned effect in the days that follow.
The above is related to the fact that this year Acharon Shel Pesach is celebrated on a Tuesday, the third day of the week. Our sages explained that the third day of creation was distinguished by the fact that on it, the Torah declares: “and G-d saw that it was good” twice. The sages explain that this repetition refers to a twofold good — “good to heaven and good to the creatures” — thus, teaching that a Jew must serve G-d in both realms: the heavens, i.e. Torah and mitzvos; the creatures, i.e. service in worldly matters, in a manner where “all one’s deeds are for the sake of heaven” and know Him (G-d) in all your ways.” Furthermore, these two services must be fused together and become one. This service the fusion of “good to heaven” and “good to the creatures” — is related to the concept of extending Pesach (freedom and redemption) into the days of the week, by transforming worldliness to holiness.
Similarly, the above is related to the weekly Torah portion, Parshas Kedoshim. That portion begins with the command, “You shall be holy,” which is explained to include the instruction, “Make yourself holy (even) in regard to what is permitted to you”; i.e. a Jew is charged to act in a holy manner not only in regard to things which are by nature sanctified, but also to extend holiness into the realm of worldly things, e.g. by using money to give tzedakah.
Our sages explained that “deed is most essential.” As we stand at the conclusion of the Pesach festival, preparing to enter our weekday service, we must realize that this change does not mean that we are leaving Pesach. On the contrary, we must take Pesach with us and extend it throughout the entire year. Even though we will recite “havdalah,” on the surface, separating between Yom Tov and the weekdays that follow, the point of that separation is to establish a connection. Only after havdalah is made, and the weekday nature of the following days established, is it possible to extend holiness to them. Were they to be holy by nature, there would be no possibility for such service.
To elaborate on the latter point: A man’s service is broken up into two basic categories: a) Torah and mitzvos; b) service in the realm of worldly things and using them for the purpose of holiness. There is an obvious difference between these two services. The first is characterized by the words of the blessing recited before performing any mitzvah, “Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to ...” — such a blessing cannot be recited in regard to the second service, for in that realm worldly objects are not “sanctified.” Rather, they are merely used for the “sake of heaven.” However, though there is a division between these two services, nevertheless, both can be seen as unified and directed to the same goal — the service of G-d. The commitment to that service is a basic and undivided one, to the extent that, as the Rebbe Rashab exclaimed, “were we commanded to chop down trees,” we would do so eagerly.
To put the above in simple terms: There are those who are looking at the clock and waiting until they can make Havdalah and begin their worldly activities. They must realize that they cannot flee from G-d. Even within the realm of worldly activities, they must serve G-d. So why are they hurrying to make Havdalah? By doing so, they are not entering a sphere of behavior easier and more lenient than that of the festivals. Quite the contrary, by entering the realm of worldliness, they are involving themselves in a more difficult service.
There is no difficulty in living in a holy manner when performing a mitzvah, e.g. putting on tefillin. The very nature of that act clearly emphasizes how G-d has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us....” In contrast, the establishment of holiness within the realm of worldliness by carrying out all of our actions “for the sake of heaven” is a more difficult service
Furthermore, there is an aspect of this service which is by nature difficult for a Jew. Difficulty is involved when one must go against one’s nature. Indeed, our sages explained that one of the aspects of the “hard labor” with which Pharaoh oppressed the Jewish people was giving “woman’s work to men.” Though that work might have been physically easier to perform, since it was against their nature, it was regarded as difficult. Similarly, the halachah instructs us that if a worker is used to performing heavy tasks, it is difficult for him to remain idle and, hence, if he is forced to do so, he must be paid as if he worked.
To apply that concept within the context of the above: A Jew is by nature part of “a holy nation.” This is his identity. It will remain so his entire life, and he has no choice regarding it. Thus, on Shabbos or on a festival, a Jew feels at— home in his natural habitat. In contrast, worldly matters, even when he is involved in them solely for the sake of heaven, are against his nature and. hence. “difficult” for him.
Every Jew can understand the above. He knows that the giving of the Torah was a wondrous event. Then, G-d chose him and gave him the Torah and mitzvos. Furthermore, he is G-d’s son, as it is written: “You are sons to the L-rd, your G-d.” Is it natural for G-d’s son to involve himself with a horse and wagon, or with other worldly matters? On the contrary, if a Jew does not perceive this, that lack of perception is itself a sign of the low level to which he has descended.
Thus, though we will soon make Havdalah, we will do so only because it is G-d’s command and do so with the intent to extend holiness into the weekdays that follow. Thus, two seemingly contradictory realizations are demanded of a Jew. On one hand, he must be aware that he is part of a holy nation and that the world in its own right is a world of separation. Nevertheless, he must also be conscious of his responsibility to involve himself with the world rather than flee from it. A Jew’s service must involve the material aspects of the body, and both the body and the soul must be directed to one all-inclusive purpose — the service of G-d. When a Jew carries out his service, fusing holiness together with worldly matters, G-d blesses him and gives him all that he requires in a manner in which not only do his worldly matters not interfere with his service of G-d, but on the contrary, they become unified with his service of Torah and mitzvos.
May the above service lead to the revelation of G-dliness in a manner where “the L-rd will be One and His Name One.” The potential for this service is derived from Acharon Shel Pesach. Therefore, every remaining moment of Acharon Shel Pesach should be dedicated to this goal. This can be accomplished by adding to the happiness of the celebration of Acharon Shel Pesach by following the custom of drinking four cups of wine on Acharon Shel Pesach. (As mentioned above, Acharon Shel Pesach serves as an intermediary connecting the service of Pesach to the days that follow. Similarly, drinking the four cups of wine on Acharon Shel Pesach serves as an intermediary establishing a connection between the four cups of wine which are drunk on the first nights of Pesach with the weekdays that follow.) Thus, when “wine goes in, the secrets — i.e. the inner aspects of Torah come out, i.e. are revealed,” and with this service we hasten the coming of the Messianic redemption. May it be speedily in our days.
* * *
3. In addition to the lesson from Parshas Kedoshim in general, in keeping with the Alter Rebbe’s instruction, “Live with the times,” we must also learn a lesson from the particular portion of Torah connected with the present day. The Torah passage connected with the present day begins:
“When you will come into the land and you will plant any fruitbearing tree ... For three years it will be “orlah” unto you and in the fourth year all the produce will be holy, sanctified unto G-d and in the fifth year, you may eat the produce.”
Thus, this command has two facets:
1) withholding from eating a tree’s produce for three years;
2) that act of self-control elevates the fruit to the degree that in the fourth year, the fruit becomes “holy, sanctified unto G-d.”
Afterwards, in the fifth year, the Jew is blessed with an abundance of produce. This produce, though not sanctified by nature must be used, as explained above, for holy purposes according to G-d’s command. Thus, as befits a Tuesday, the third day, the Torah portion has an aspect which is “good for the heavens” — the command to withhold from eating the fruit in the first three years, and an aspect which is “good for the creatures” — eating the fruit in the fourth and fifth years.
The opening phrase of the passage “when you will come into the land and you will plant ...” teaches us a fundamental lesson: The Midrash explains that the land of Canaan found favor in Avraham’s eyes because he saw its inhabitants actively involved in tilling it; when he saw such work he prayed, “May it be that I receive a portion in this land.” Similarly, the above verse declares: “When you come into the land,” i.e., immediately upon your entry ... “you shall plant” — you shall begin active work, as it is written: “A man was born to toil.”
Afterwards, the passage continues with the command to withhold from eating orlah. The commentaries explain that the three years of the prohibition of orlah were instituted to compensate for the sin of Adam who was given three hours to withhold himself from eating from the Tree of Knowledge — for were he to have waited those three hours, he would have been able to have made Kiddush on wine taken from the Tree of Knowledge, as explained in the Midrash. Thus, the command of orlah has a connection with the future redemption and hence, with Acharon Shel Pesach: The sin of AvdaSm and the Tree of Knowledge is the source for all exiles, for all of the exiles stem from the exile of Adam from the Garden of Eden. Thus, by compensating and correcting the sin of Adam through keeping the prohibition against orlah, we remove the cause of the exile. Thus, the exile will cease, for when the cause is removed, the effect automatically ceases.
The Jews were not obligated in the mitzvah of orlah until they entered Eretz Yisrael. Indeed, even after they entered Trans-Jordan — a land which is included in Eretz Yisrael — they were not obligated in this mitzvah until they crossed the .lnrdsn and entered the land of Canaan.
The entry into Eretz Yisrael has a spiritual counterpart which is relevant to our service of G-d. Though the Tzemach Tzedek told one of his Chassidim, “Make Eretz Yisrael here,” the intention is not, heaven forbid, to advise us to remain in exile. We must desire to enter Eretz Yisrael, not only Eretz Yisrael in a spiritual sense, but also to enter Eretz Yisrael in the simple, physical definition of the term. The Alter Rebbe predicted that Mashiach would come in the year 5608. When that year passed without his arrival, the Rebbe Maharash asked his father why Mashiach did not come. The Tzemach Tzedek answered, “The Likkutei Torah was printed that year,” i.e., in a spiritual sense, Mashiach came, for Likkutei Torah is a reflection of Mashiach’s teachings. The Rebbe Maharash replied: We desire Mashiach in the simple meaning of the term. Similarly, we have to prepare ourselves to enter Eretz Yisrael in the most simple sense. In one moment, Mashiach may come and we will be together with him in Yerushalayim.
If so, the question may be asked: If we must be prepared to be in Eretz Yisrael with Mashiach, why is it necessary to apply so much effort in printing Tanyas in every place? The answer can be taken from one of the previous Rebbe’s talks. He explained that in regard to the encampment of the Jewish people in the desert, we find that at times they remained in a camp for an extended period, a year or more — and at other times, they remained in a camp only from the evening until the morning. Nevertheless, even in the latter instance, the Sanctuary was erected with all its particular laws. Since these encampments were ordained “by G-d’s mouth,” regardless of their temporary nature, they were considered as fixed and permanent. Similarly, in regard to our situation, though in one moment we may be together with Mashiach in Eretz Yisrael, that fact should not hold us back from fulfilling our service within the context of our present situation in a complete manner. On the contrary, such service will hasten the coming of Mashiach. Indeed, we see this concept expressed in our daily behavior. On one hand, we must pray, study, work, etc., and on the other hand, every moment of the day, we must anxiously await Mashiach’s coming, as it is written: “We hope for Your salvation the entire day.” Even though it seems difficult to combine these two extremes, since the command to do so is given by the Torah, we must realize that it is within our potential.
The above obligates effort in printing Tanyas in every place throughout the world and effort in the Ten Mivtzoyim. These efforts will hasten the ultimate and complete redemption by Mashiach.
[The Rebbe explained the significance of the fact that Acharon Shel Pesach this year is celebrated in a leap year. Even though the month added in a leap year, the second Adar, has passed, the lessons of a leap year, the significance of the juxtaposition of the solar and lunar calendars are still relevant.
4. The holiday of Pesach is described in metaphoric terms as the birth of the Jewish people. The holiday of Shavuos, the giving of the Torah, can be compared to the Bar Mitzvah. Hence, the days in between can be compared to the years of education. In this context, the revelation of G-dliness at the splitting of the Red Sea can be seen as one aspect of this process of education. Similarly, the Ran explains that the mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer was instituted in commemoration of the Jews’ anxious yearning to receive the Torah. Just as they counted the days in anticipation of the revelation at Mt. Sinai, similarly, we must count the days until Shavuos.
Our sages explained: “The deeds of the fathers are a sign to the children.” Just as then, this season of the year was dedicated to education, so, too, at present, a Jew must use this season to educate himself, and prepare himself to receive the Torah anew. Even though one has reached maturity, he may still, and must still, educate and train himself, as the verse declares, “many years will make wisdom known.” Furthermore, this wisdom should not remain theoretical, but must affect our behavior on a day-to-day basis.
In addition to the above, there is the obligation to educate Jewish children, training them to appreciate the dearness and importance of the Torah and giving them a desire to study Torah and fulfill mitzvos. Indeed, one of the factors that distinguish children is their eagerness and excitement to approach new situations.
To instill these qualities in a child, a parent must possess them himself. He cannot teach a child one thing and show him an example of the opposite. Quite the contrary, the parents must be a living example of the concepts they wish to imbue.
A child’s education begins far before he can talk or rationally comprehend phenomena. From the moment he is born, he is affected and learns from what he sees and hence, his parents’ behavior influences his future. (This factor, just recently appreciated by science, has been a part of Torah for centuries.) Furthermore, even the parent’s behavior before the child’s birth, including keeping Taharas Hamishpachah, eating kosher, affects the child’s future.
As mentioned above, the holiday of Pesach is particularly related to the education of children. Firstly, the command to relate the Pesach story is expressed in the verse, “And you shall tell your children.” The Seder is highlighted by the four questions and various changes are instituted into the Seder to arouse the children’s interest and motivate them to ask questions. We relate the story of the four sons including the last son the one who does not know how to ask. He sits at the Seder table, watches all the proceedings, including those changes instituted to evoke questions, and still remains silent, not knowing how to ask. Despite this behavior, he is not driven away from the Seder table. On the contrary, we are commanded to “open him up” and teach him till he also becomes a wise son.
This concept is particularly applicable at present. Though tremendous strides forward have been made in America in regard to Jewish education, nevertheless, the fact remains that over half of American Jewish children “do not know how to ask.” They don’t even ask, “What is this,” because they have never heard enough about Judaism to know about what to ask. They are Jews. They have a G-dly soul and inherit all the spiritual qualities inherent to a Jew. On the surface, there is no reason why they should not be educated in a Jewish manner, but they are not. Their parents were “children captured by gentiles,” they (the parents) grew up without a Jewish education and hence, they educate their children in the same manner. Hence, any Jew who was privileged to receive a Jewish education must realize that he has an obligation to make an effort that those children also receive a Jewish education.
A person cannot choose his parents. Hence, a Jew whom G-d caused to be born into a family that gave him a Jewish education, must appreciate the dearness of that gift. Furthermore, he must realize that he is commanded, “Love your neighbor as yourself” and hence, is obligated to strive to give that same gift to children who were not granted that privilege. Just as one will exert all of his efforts to seek his own welfare, particularly if he knows that something is vital to his existence, so, too, he must apply similar energies to
The above has a direct and immediate application. In this season, parents begin thinking about enrolling their children in summer camps. Efforts must be made to ensure that all Jewish children are enrolled in Torah camps.
The efforts to educate Jewish children who are unaware of their Jewish identity is of unique significance in a “liberal” country which encourages and reinforces the study of new concepts and helps and offers assistance to encourage such study. If that encouragement is given in regard to the study of new concepts that are not personally connected to an individual, surely, the same approach applies in regard to the study of Judaism, a subject matter related to each Jew’s essential being. Thus, we see that not only is there no persecution in this country, on the contrary, there is encouragement and assistance in all that is necessary in all matters.
In this context, it is worthy to mention how in the days preceding the Pesach holiday, the President of the U.S. announced “A Day of Education” in which the entire country would consider the state of education, emphasizing how the purpose of education is not only the acquisition of information, but more importantly, the building of character. Furthermore, that call mentioned the importance of moral behavior and the fulfillment of the Seven Noachide Laws. The Rambam writes that it is an obligation upon every Jew, as an individual, to work to influence all gentiles to fulfill these laws.
Just as in the redemption from Egypt, our ancestors raised Jewish children permeated with the spirit of Judaism, so, too may our efforts in this direction lead to our exodus from exile and the coming of Mashiach, speedily in our days.
5. Among the important aspects of Acharon Shel Pesach is that it is the eighth day of the Pesach holiday. It is explained that seven represents the completion of the natural cycle, and eight, a level above that cycle which “protects” it.
To express the concept in simple terms: Even though at the conclusion of the six days of creation it is written “and G-d saw all that He made and it was very good,” nevertheless, the Shabbos added a deeper level of completion and fulfillment to creation. Our sages explained that before Shabbos there was a fundamental element lacking in the creation — rest. “When Shabbos came, rest came.” The same concept is reflected in a Jew’s behavior. For six days, he works within the world and on the Shabbos. he rests.
— In rest itself, there are two levels:
1) the rest that comes directly after work, allowing one to regain his strength and return to work;
2) rest without any connection to work, rest and pleasure in a pure sense without any connection to other matters.
The differences between these two aspects of rest are obvious. In regard to the first, there is still a certain measure of worry and concern about one’s work. In contrast, the second level represents pure rest without any disturbing factors, without pressure or tension. Only when a person can rest in such a manner can he live a normal life, with his mind and heart free to appreciate the essential good of each thing, and not only what benefit he can receive from it. Such is the rest of Shabbos.
In a more particular sense, both these levels are reflected on Shabbos. On Friday night, our rest is incomplete, for we still are, to a certain extent, connected with our work. On Shabbos day, we rise above those concerns entirely, and reach the ultimate peak of creation, true rest.
Though, as explained above, the number seven represents true rest, the ultimate peak of creation, we can all appreciate that there is a level above creation. The very existence of an ordered creation necessitates the existence of a Creator, who by definition totally transcends the nature of that creation. This latter level is alluded to by the number eight.
This concept was expressed in the dedication of the Sanctuary. For seven days, the Jews erected the Sanctuary, i.e., fulfilled their service as created beings. On the eighth day, “Fire went out from before G-d;” a level above creation, the Divine Presence was revealed. Nevertheless, this eighth level does not stand above the creation without relating to it entirely. Rather, it is revealed within the creation and thus, elevates it.
On the basis of the above, we can appreciate the unique aspects of Acharon Shel Pesach, the eighth day of the holiday. The preceding seven days represent the relation of “the season of our freedom” to the natural cycle. The eighth day reveals an aspect of “the season of our freedom” which is above the natural cycle. Nevertheless, it is revealed within creations and thus, elevates the service of the previous seven days.
The explanation that the eighth day of Pesach is above relation to the previous days can explain an interesting phenomenon that can be seen in the behavior of the previous Rebbeim. Generally, the Chassidic discourses recited on the first day of Pesach, the seventh day, and that of the Shabbos following Pesach are (a hemshech) a continuation of the same idea. In contrast, the discourse recited on Acharon Shel Pesach was usually a self-contained entity with no connection to those discourses. Furthermore, the Rebbeim would usually provide the Chassidim with a text of other discourses, but not the Acharon Shel Pesach discourse. Rather, the Chassidim, would have to rely on the notes written from memory by the hearers. Thus, we see that just as Acharon Shel Pesach is a unique day, so, too, the discourses associated with that day are of a unique nature.
There is a practically applicable lesson from the above. On Acharon Shel Pesach, the potential is given to rise above the limitations of the world. Each individual must accept the resolution to meditate from time to time — at least once a week — without any disturbances, in a manner in which he forgets about himself, forgets about worldly matters and thinks only about the essence of Torah — a Chassidic concept. Furthermore, this meditation must be for no other purpose than the contemplation of G-d, to establish a perfect unity through his thought and not to repeat the idea later or to publish it. If a Jew accepts such a resolution, particularly on the auspicious day of Acharon Shel Pesach, G-d will control the circumstances and give him the opportunity to carry out his resolve.
[Afterwards, the Rebbe continued the Siyum of the Rambam begun Yud-Aleph Nissan. Also, he initiated the campaign of regular study of the Rambam’s text Mishneh Torah. The latter sicha has been published separately, together with other addresses on the subject.]