At every gathering of Tzivos Hashem, we start by looking for the special connection between the particular day and Jewish children.
But today we do not have to search for the connection, because we come from the Seder of Pesach which began with the teaching of Torah: "When your son will ask you..." (Devorim 6:20).
Even in the golus (exile) of Egypt, Jewish children were involved with Jewish activities, so much so, that at the Exodus and the splitting of the sea the children recognized G-d first. They were connected to G-d even more than their parents.
When the Holiday of Redemption comes along the children are the first to ask: "What makes this night different from all other nights?" The father, or leader of the Seder, answers the child, "We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt ...," and in this manner the Seder goes on to include all the mitzvos and customs -- all following the questions, of the child.
If so, when we gather together during Pesach at a special assembly of children, it is clear how this day is connected to the Jewish child.
And just as at the Seder everything began with the question of the child, so too, from the Seder, we can learn a lesson for the "Order of the Day." A Jewish child who is faithful to Tzivos Hashem certainly does all the mitzvos incumbent upon him, which come from the Torah and the wisdom of G-d. After fulfilling the mitzvos of the Commander-In-Chief, being a Ben Chocham, (a wise son) and most Jewish children are wise, he asks his teacher or leader, "What is the lesson or purpose and goal of these mitzvos which I did?" The answer that we must give him is in the Haggadah:
We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and the L-rd our G-d took us out from there with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm. If the Holy One, Blessed be He, had not taken our fathers out of Egypt, then we, our children, and our children's children would have remained enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt.... Thus it is our duty to thank, to laud, to praise, to glorify, to exalt, to adore, to bless, to elevate, and to honor the One who did all these miracles for our fathers and for us. He took us from slavery to freedom, from sorrow to joy, and from mourning to festivity and from deep darkness to great light and from bondage to redemption.
The Commander-In-Chief took us from darkness to a great light, from being slaves to Pharaoh to become free. Naturally this explains why we are different from the children of all the other nations and why we do His mitzvos.
This is especially so, because as you have just recited: "G-d stands over him, and the whole earth is full of His glory and He searches his mind and heart to see if he is serving Him as is fitting" (Tanya ch. 41). Are you serving G-d properly? G-d took us, you, out of Egypt; are you serving Him properly?
Now this difference expresses itself during the holiday of Pesach in the mitzvos of matzah, wine and the other mitzvos of the nights and days of Pesach.
This difference must also be evident all the days of the year, when you eat and drink, and when you dress. A Jewish boy wears tzitzis (a four cornered garment with fringes) and a Jewish girl dresses modestly -- not like other girls who are not careful about the modesty of their clothes. Jewish children are different in the way they dress.
So, actually the Jewish child has no question why he is different, for he sat at the Seder and heard the answer, "We were slaves ..." and then the Commander-In-Chief took us to the "great light."
Now this Jewish child should find another child who is not a "wise son," and maybe, "does not even know how to ask" -- he is not in Tzivos Hashem -- and he should tell the other child, "You were a slave to Pharaoh." If he does not know how to ask then, "You must initiate him," until he understands what to do and how to act as a Jewish child.
"To love your fellow as yourself ... is a basic principle of the Torah" (Vayikra 19:18 -- Midrash). Find that child who does not know, or the child who says: "What is this?" or even the child who does know, but does not want to follow the mitzvos because he does not understand the importance of doing what is right. Even though something is not permitted he wants it and he thinks, "Who cares?" if he steals. So you have to tell those children, a girl to the girls and a boy to the boys: "If G-d had not redeemed us we would still be slaves. Why are we in Tzivos Hashem? because He redeemed us and made us free [and made us His army]. Therefore at all times we must act according to His will and His commandments."
This activity must be done with joy in the full measure, as you recited: "The Jews should rejoice in their Maker...." Especially the members of Tzivos Hashem, on Pesach, must remember to do all the commandments of the Commander-In-Chief with joy and gladness -- especially the mitzvos of Pesach.
Another aspect of freedom at this time is to be free of the yetzer hora (evil inclination) who is the representative of Pharaoh. He wants the Jewish children to be his slaves and to follow him.
What does the Haggadah tell us, that G-d took us out of Egypt, "... with war and with a strong hand and an outstretched arm." Similarly every child must start a "... war with a strong hand ..." against the yetzer hora. What is your ammunition? Proper conduct, to study Torah and to love your fellow Jews, to help influence them to come closer to Torah. You must not be intimidated by the yetzer hora, but just as the armies of Pharaoh were drowned -- in the sea -- so too the yetzer hora will be drowned and you will have true freedom from all confusion and you will be able to serve G-d, the Commander-In-Chief, with joy.
When the Commander-In-Chief will see you keeping His Torah and mitzvos, free from confusion -- then He will speed up his promise and will show us miracles and redeem us. We will not have to remain in golus one second more. We will march "With our youth and our elders, our sons and daughters," to greet Moshiach.
You will then show that all the sons will become smart sons and all the daughters will be smart daughters and you will go quickly from golus to Eretz Yisroel taking all your good deeds with you to Yerushalayim, to the Temple Mount, to the Sanctuary built by the hand of G-d. By fulfilling G-d's will with liveliness and vigor we will bring Moshiach Now -- with joy and gladness of heart.
This year, the Tzivos Hashem Pesach Rally is taking place on the fourth day of Pesach, the 18th of Nissan. What is the Order of the Day on this fourth day of Pesach? In what way is the fourth day of Pesach different from the other days of Pesach?
Let us look to the Torah to see what happened on the fourth day after leaving Egypt. The Jewish people left Egypt on the 15th of Nissan, they travelled for the 15th, 16th and 17th, then something happened on the 18th, what was it?
You remember that Pharaoh had been told that the Jews wanted to leave Egypt for three days in order to worship G-d. If so, on the fourth day they should have turned back; instead they continued going in the direction of Mt. Sinai. The messengers that Pharaoh had sent along with them to remind them to return within three days, told the Jews, "That's it, you have gone three days journey, now you must go back to be slaves in Egypt!"
What did the Jews answer? "We left Egypt because of G-d, not because of Pharaoh, and neither Pharaoh nor his messengers will make us go back." To this the messengers argued, "Pharaoh will force you to go back." The Jews took no notice of this retort and chased the messengers out of their midst. Returning to Pharaoh, the messengers blurted out that the Jews refused to return to Egypt and in fact were travelling towards Mt. Sinai.
Meanwhile in the Jewish camp Moshe said: "We don't want Pharaoh to think that we are running away," therefore we must act in a way to show that we don't reckon with him at all and that we are not afraid of him. Moshe decided to stop for a while, then go back a little bit, but not return to Egypt, this would show that they defied Pharaoh, and they were not running away out of fear. "We are resting a bit and will continue to go on to receive the Torah."
This is what took place on the 18th of Nissan. Now, what is the Order of the Day for Jewish children today?
A Jewish child attained his freedom at the beginning of Pesach; he has been free of the yetzer hora for three days. But the foolish yetzer hora does not realize that he can't win a battle with the wise son. So he comes along and says: "Pharaoh is very strong," or some other sly remark: "This food is very good -- don't waste your time saying a berachah," or he argues: "Don't check whether this food is kosher, eat it." Similarly with the other mitzvos.
We must know that this is just what happened at the time of leaving Egypt. And what did the Jews do? they chased away the messengers of Pharaoh and did not listen. They showed them "... a strong hand and an outstretched arm." They waited a bit, but only to show that they were not afraid. The wise son must show the yetzer hora that he has no chance to convince him or the other three sons; they will not go back! And if Pharaoh thinks there is some sign of fear -- they show no fear. And if the yetzer hora should return, they drown it in the sea and go on towards Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah. This is the Order of the day for the 18th of Nissan.
There is an additional, special Order of the Day connected to the portion of the week, Shemini, and the special Torah reading of the second day of Chol HaMoed (the intermediary days of the Festival).
The reading for Chol HaMoed starts with the verse: "If you lend money to any of My people that is poor with you..." (Shemos 22:24), and then goes on to discuss the three holidays, Pesach, Shavuos and Sukkos.
This gives us a special Order of the Day. Even if you are a small child, if you know someone who is poor, you should help that person with a loan. Do you have a penny, a nickel, a dime? lend it to the poor person. This pauper is "with you" and you Jewish children are with G-d. Lend him the money and the redemption of Moshiach will come sooner. As it says, "Tzedakah is great, for it brings the redemption closer."
Similarly from the third reading section of Shemini we find: "... and all the people saw, [the fire of G-d consume the Altar and the sacrifice] they uttered cries of exaltation and fell on their faces" (Vayikra 9:24). When a Jew wants to, he can see and feel G-dliness. This is what we mean when we say: "G-d stands over him,... and He searches his mind ... if he is serving Him as is fitting" (Tanya ch. 41). The Jew sees this. Of course, this causes exultation, he praises G-d with songs and thanks for giving us the mitzvos. Which is why: "The Jews should rejoice in their Maker..." (Tanya ch. 33).
From the Rambam portion of Sefer Hamitzvos for today, we also learn a special lesson for children. Among the mitzvos learned today is the commandment that one must be careful of conduct which causes the opposite of Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d's Name).
A Jewish child must know that his conduct can determine the presence of the holiness of G-d in the world! The people of the world look at the way a Jewish child behaves and if it is not proper, then it is not his personal shame but it relates to G-d's honor.
Today's mitzvah says: Stop making a Chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d's Name). If a goy sees a Jew lie, steal -- even only a penny -- or not obey his father or mother -- despite the fact that the Torah teaches us to honor father and mother -- so the goy says, "If a Jew acts this way we know that this is what G-d wanted" -- Heaven forbid! When the Jewish child realizes that taking the penny is a sin between G-d and himself he begins to realize that G-d, "... searches his mind and heart to see if he is serving Him as is fitting," and he realizes that he is not serving G-d properly. A member of Tzivos Hashem cannot do this! He realizes that it will cause a Chillul Hashem.
Today we remind the child: You might forget that you were just freed from Egypt -- from the yetzer hora -- and you might revert to the conduct of slaves, therefore remember that you can and must make a Kiddush Hashem. By doing the Order of the Day of the Commander-In-Chief you will make G-d happy and He will rejoice with His creations. Certainly He gives everyone the strength to fulfill his mission, and mainly, not to fall prey to the guiles of the yetzer hora, the representative of Pharaoh.
Today is also my father's birthday and we should connect this day to one of his teachings. My father explained that the greetings we give each other before Pesach is "Chag Kosher V'Sameach." The word KoSHeR -- [which means fit and proper to eat] is an acrostic for the words K'Motzei SHa'lal R'av -- "... Like one who finds great spoil" (Tehillim 119:162).
When a child is careful to eat only kosher, and he asks to know definitely -- not maybe -- that the food is kosher before he eats something, this is proper behavior. Similarly in all areas of his behavior, before he acts he thinks, "Is this right for a soldier of Tzivos Hashem?" or "Will it make a bad name for the Commander-In-Chief?" When he conducts himself in such a way, not only does he not eat the non-kosher candy, but rather he receives the "great spoils" of the war. It is like a discovery of a lost treasure because he has withstood the temptations of the "old and foolish king," the yetzer hora.
When he acts as a soldier of Tzivos Hashem and is careful in his conduct then he "... finds the great spoils."
Then he will truly "rejoice in his Maker" and this will bring the everlasting joy upon them with the complete and true redemption through our righteous Moshiach, quickly and truly in our days.
As we do at all rallies, we will conclude with the mitzvah of tzedakah. This is in addition to the 12 verses of Torah and the Minchah Prayer -- Avodah -- which we said all together. In this way we have combined the three pillars on which the world stands and which should be performed every day.
Today there is a special emphasis on tzedakah as it is in the Torah reading of today, which is not mentioned every day. So the tzedakah will be even stronger and with more joy.
I will therefore give each of you four coins. Pesach is connected with many fours: four cups of wine, four sons, four questions and so on. We also know that the number four is connected with the Name of G-d which has four letters. After the Exodus from Egypt when the Jewish People travelled in the desert, they were divided into four divisions, each under a special flag. These four flags constituted the camp of the Jews, which surrounded and made a protective circle around the camp of the Levi'im, and that surrounded the camp of the Shechinah, where the ark and the tablets with the Ten Commandments were.
By distributing these four coins to tzedakah, may we merit to leave this fourth and final golus -- diaspora -- and may we ascend to Eretz Yisroel, to the Temple Mount and to the Bais Hamikdosh.
Being that it is Yom Tov and we therefore have special joy, we will conclude with a joyous holiday song connected to Pesach -- and also the song "We want Moshiach now." With this joy, the children will resolve to follow the Commander-In-Chief. We will also sing "Sheyiboneh Bais Hamikdosh" and a song connected to the theme of the Holiday -- "Utzu Eitza" -- Pharaoh had a scheme and his representative the yetzer hora has a scheme, but it will come to naught. And the song "Ach Tzaddikim" which will be fulfilled when Moshiach comes. For then: "Indeed the righteous will extol Your Name; the upright will dwell in Your Presence" (Tehillim 140:14).
In distributing the coins: two should be given to charity -- one for general charity and one for Maos Chittim, [food for poor people for Pesach] the other two coins are for you to use as you please.