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Yud-Aleph Nissan, 5745

Yud-Gimmel Nissan, 5745

Tzivos Hashem

Acharon Shel Pesach

   22nd Day Of Nissan, 5745

Yechidus: 25th Day Of Nissan, 5745

Parshas Shemini

Pirkei Avos: Chapter 1

Acharei-Kedoshim

Pirkei Avos: Chapter 3

Lag B'omer

Behar-Bechukosai

Pride And Humility

Convention of N'shei uBnos Chabad

Tzivos Hashem

Erev Shavuos

Bemidbar

Shavuos, 5745

Yechidus-Shavuos

Parshas Nasso

Prison And Reform -- A Torah View

Graduates Of Bais Rivkah

Shabbos Parshas Shelach

Sichos In English
Volume 26

Acharon Shel Pesach
22nd Day Of Nissan, 5745
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1

The holiday which we are celebrating today is known as Acharon Shel Pesach, the Final Day of Pesach. Although the term Eighth Day of Pesach is also often mentioned, nevertheless the custom has been widely accepted to use the name Acharon Shel Pesach.

This presents us with several unclear points. In the case of Shavuos, the second day of the holiday is called "Second Day," why not call the eighth day of Pesach by the same term?

If you are concerned that just by adding a number we might be treading in forbidden territory, for we are forbidden to add any mitzvos to the Torah, and here we would be celebrating eight days instead of seven days, there is no problem. We would stress that it is the Eighth Day of Pesach in the golus (diaspora), making it clear that this is a rabbinic addition, in which case it is permitted.

In the case of the ninth day of Sukkos (the second day of Shemini Atzeres) -- which is known as Simchas Torah -- it is clear why we use the name Simchas Torah; it is better to bring out a new theme rather than just say that today is another day in sequence to yesterday.

But the name Acharon Shel Pesach indicates just another day in a sequence and not a new theme. If so, why not call today the Eighth Day of Pesach or Shemini Shel Pesach?

Furthermore, according to the teachings of the Mezritcher Maggid, the term Shemini is associated with the term "shuman" (shemen) and symbolizes the essence and true existence of the matter. Thus the name Shemini Shel Pesach would accentuate that this day embodies the essential concepts of the entire week of Pesach. Why then is the name Acharon Shel Pesach used in most communities?

Another paradoxical point crystallizes specifically this year, because the last day of Pesach falls in the week when we read the portion of Shemini. This year we read Shemini eight times in three weeks, so that the theme of Shemini has special importance. It also introduces the special aspects of the eighth day of inauguration of which we learn that the day received "ten crowns."

All of these aspects of the qualities of the eighth would be incorporated and expressed in the name Eighth Day of Pesach -- so why call the day Acharon Shel Pesach?

The explanation:

The spiritual theme of Pesach is symbolized by springing and skipping. On the word Pesach -- Passover -- Rashi explains that it means jumping. This concept also is alluded to in Shir Hashirim: "Here He comes, leaping over the mountains skipping over the hills" (Shir 2:8). This means that the revelation of G-dliness came in a manner that was beyond measure. As we say in the Haggadah:

... the King of the kings of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, revealed Himself to them and redeemed them.

There was a spiritual quantum leap, which invested the seven days of Pesach for all time with this power of springing.

However, the eighth day, which follows the seven days, receives a higher revelation and serves as a guardian and protector of the powers of the Divine service of the seven days.

In this role of guardian however, we must realize an important point. To watch and protect the cycle [of seven], the guardian must be involved with and have some aspect in common to the seven so that, although as the eighth it is higher, it is still close to the level of the seven.

The idea of Acharon, the final day, introduces the aspect of endlessness. It is the last level after all other possible levels of springing and skipping have been reached. Thus it brings the theme of infinity to the finiteness of the eighth day.

If you wonder how there can be a higher level of infinity in the eighth day if the whole concept of the "springing" during Pesach is a form of infinity, the answer is that in infinity there are also levels.

An illustration of this may be drawn from the way we describe geometric space. Simple human intelligence views space as endless. Although space was created at some point in time, nevertheless, once it was created it goes on endlessly. There is no place where it starts and no place where it finishes. [Note: This is not necessarily the theory of modern science.]

In this version of space try to imagine a one-dimensional line that stretches out into endless space; it would be composed of an infinite amount of points. [Note: in Euclidean geometry a point has no dimension and consequently a line of any length is composed of an infinite number of points -- "in line."] Thus we have "level one" infinity.

When we now move this line laterally to create a second dimension by adding width to length, we have an infinite number of lines, side by side, each composed of an infinite number of points -- "Level two" infinity. If we now add the third dimension and convert this single-plane space into solid space we now have an infinite number of plane spaces piled up to create the "cube." This is the third level of infinity.

Thus, simple intellect will agree that you may multiply infinity and reach new levels of infinity.

Consequently, in the case of the holiday of Pesach, it has had the theme of springing for seven days representing the cycle of the normal order of spiritual development ("hishtalshelus"). Then it has the eighth day which rises above the cycle to guard it while still being relative to it. There can, nevertheless, also be the springing of Acharon Shel Pesach, which will be infinitely higher.

In Likkutei Torah there is an esoteric discussion of the heavenly revelations of Pesach as they are explained in Chassidic philosophy.

The revelation of the first day of Pesach symbolizes the awakening from above (Isarusa Dil'aila) which radiates to the lower worlds without first being engendered by an awakening from below. When the "King of kings of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, revealed Himself to them and redeemed them," it was the revelation of an aspect of the light of the Blessed Ein Sof, (infinite) higher than the order of hishtalshelus (unraveling) of the spiritual worlds.

This transmitted the power to the Jewish people to spring out of their exile -- the limitations and restrictions of Mitzrayim (Egypt).

This initial revelation is followed by the orderly Divine service of Isarusa Dil'sata (the awakening from below) of the seven days: "Matzah shall be eaten seven days" (Shemos 13:7); the power of "bittul," self-abnegation, symbolized by unleavened matzah, must feed the seven days [the cycle of development] so that the revelation of the first night should be brought down and absorbed in an orderly fashion.

This is followed by the revelation of the Eighth Day when there is an awakening from above which descends and is revealed only in the perfection of the deeds of the worldly beings which were accomplished during the seven days; thus, in effect, a higher springing revelation.

However, being that the revelation of the Eighth Day can rest only where the previous Divine service -- no matter how lofty -- has been completed, it is also relative and dependent on the other days.

Here the revelation of the Final Day introduces true infinity, not being dependent -- hence not relative -- to the previous action.

Both these aspects apply on the eighth day depending on the intensity of the individual's Divine service. And the aspect of Final Day can truly effect a revelation of lofty infinite powers way beyond the normal accomplishments of the Divine service of the full week of Pesach.

Because the Jewish soul is "Truly a part of G-d above" this means that it is within our power to grasp G-dliness. Hence, in this context, when we utilize the infinite power of the eight days of Pesach we cause G-d to innovate a new level, a higher revelation. This goes beyond the original plan and the regular system of revelation from above. This is what happens on the final day of Pesach.

This presents us with a clear lesson for our practical Divine service.

The condition of springing that was included in the level of "Final Day" makes it infinitely powerful and it must initiate limitless activities. One might mistakenly think that having concluded all the activities and attained all the levels of Pesach there is nothing more to do. Acharon Shel Pesach instructs that you must make an infinite, quantum leap on top of your previous infinite accomplishments.

One may also mistakenly assume that having celebrated all the days of Pesach, including the festive meal of Moshiach and the four cups -- he has already done his leaping and springing. And now that Pesach is over he may tone down a bit and return to the orderly system of Divine service. Again, Acharon Shel Pesach teaches that having been imbued with the power of springing in a manner which is beyond all limitations and measures, even though Pesach and Nissan are now over, he must continue to spring and skip throughout the whole year.

At this point it might appear that this superior ability is bestowed only on one who utilized the special powers of Pesach and actually fulfilled all that was required of him in relation to his personal Divine service as well as in relation to encouraging others. The truth, however, is that even one who did not endeavor to fulfill his responsibility -- the Divine Service of Pesach -properly, even if he did nothing at all -- Heaven forbid -- he is still given the power of Acharon Shel Pesach -- the potential for springing in an infinite way. Had he risen to this point on his own accomplishments he would have the added satisfaction of: "A man desires one measure of his own." Nevertheless, he does not forfeit the force of Acharon Shel Pesach.

Just as in the principle of inheritance the level of the beneficiary is not taken into account -- a one-day-old baby inherits everything -- similarly a Jew inherits the power of Acharon Shel Pesach. Consequently, even one who missed something in his earlier Divine service of Pesach is still given the full measure of the aspects of Acharon Shel Pesach, so that he will function with the power of springing in all levels.

May it be the will of Heaven that everyone shall accept the good resolutions to utilize the powers bestowed by the Final Day of Pesach and to thereby imbue his regular Divine service with the quality of springing and leaping. And may this good decision immediately cause the effect that we should jump from golus to redemption, "... In Nissan they will be redeemed in the time to come" (Rosh Hashanah 11a).

May the impassioned plea of "Moshiach now" be fulfilled swiftly and we will speedily "dance" towards our righteous Moshiach, all of us together, "our youth and our elders ... our sons and daughters," to arrive in our Holy Land:

It is a land constantly under G-d your L-rd's scrutiny; the eyes of G-d your L-rd are on it at all times, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year, (Devorim 11:12)

to Yerushalayim the Holy City, "... the great city of a mighty king." To the Temple Mount and the Bais Hamikdosh and on the mountain to rise to its apex and peak, physically and spiritually.

Just as in the case of mitzvos, the good intention is not enough, for we must actually do the mitzvah -- so too, it is not sufficient that G-d would like to redeem us -- He must actually do so. "He tells His words to Ya'akov, His statutes and ordinances to Israel" (Tehillim 147:19). The Midrash explains this to mean: "G-d only tells Israel to do and observe those things which He Himself does" (Midrash Shemos 30:9).

So, may we "dance" into the redemption in a moment, a minute, a day, joyously, with repose, pleasurably, actually, and speedily in our time.


2

"The reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah" (Avos 4:2), which Tanya explains to mean that from the reward we receive we may understand the true essence and rank of the mitzvah. When the Navi Yeshayah tells us that in the future "[G-d will punish Mitzrayim and smite the sea and] make men go over dryshod" [with dry shoes] (Yeshayah 11:15), he is referring to mitzvos that are dependent on the feet. "Run to do a mitzvah" pertains also to the general situation in the time of golus, the era for doing mitzvos.

The general concept of mitzvos associated with the feet is explained in Chassidus to be symbolic of actions, which must be done swiftly and for which we must be zealous and ready.

At the time of the Exodus:

You must eat it with your waist belted, your shoes on your feet ... and you must eat it in haste. (Shemos 12:11)

Finish up all the remaining aspects of your Divine service in haste and be ready for that split second when you will leave the bondage of Egypt. There is no time, then, even to put on your shoes [hence they must be on now].

Thus, when Shir Hashirim says:

I have doffed my robe of devotion; how can I don it? I have washed my feet that trod Your path; how can I soil them? (Shir Hashirim 5:3),

it means that we are ready to be redeemed, for we have completed all that was required of us. And then the promise of going across "dryshod" will be fulfilled.

Among the mitzvos that are fulfilled by the feet is the march (Tahalucha) which is carried out every holiday and especially during Pesach -- the "First of the Holidays."

The walking is for the purpose of increasing the holiday joy among fellow Jews and also to teach the philosophy of Chabad Chassidus, which reveals the esoteric meaning of Torah in a manner that may be understood and grasped by the human intellect, even the intellect of the animal soul. And as explained in Tanya, this effects a "wonderful union" with the esoteric teachings of Torah.

What special relationship exists between the latter days of Pesach and the spreading of the teachings of Chassidus? The first days of Pesach are connected with the Exodus from Egypt, while the latter days -- mainly Acharon Shel Pesach -- are related to the future redemption. Chassidus goes on to explain that the future redemption is associated with the revelation of the esoteric teachings of Torah. Consequently, Acharon Shel Pesach has a special connection to spreading the teachings of Chassidus.

The marching, of course, is carried out zealously and joyously as Rashi comments on the verse:

"Then Ya'akov lifted his feet" [went on his journey]. After he had been informed of the good tidings, that he was sure of being guarded (by G-d) his heart lifted his feet and it became easy to [walk] journey. (Rashi, Bereishis 29:1)

Similarly, when the good tidings are known that everyone is given the opportunity to help other Jews increase their holiday joy and to teach them the inner meaning of Torah, it becomes "easy to walk."

The reward for this will be "... and make men go over dryshod," which Chassidus explains in the following manner.

In order for the revelation of the "light" [infinite life-force] from above to be absorbed in the physical world, there must be a condensation and concealment that hides and conceals the infinite light. This is effected by the angels which are euphemistically called the "Shoes of the Shechinah." In the future when the souls of the Jews will rise to infinite heights they too will need the "shoes" [they will have to be "dryshod"] so that the rest of existence will be able to receive the "light" of life through them. Then, the Navi goes on to say:

And there shall be a highway for the remnant of His people which shall be left from Ashur....

(Yeshayah 11:15)

By paving a highway across the world, the word of G-d is revealed in the physical world so that the goal of creation is realized "... for the sake of the Torah and for the sake of Yisroel"; and in that state the promise shall be fulfilled:

For then I will turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the Name of the L-rd to serve Him with one consent.

(Tzephaniah 3:9)

The effort will be seen even in the natural world for the "wolf will live in harmony with the lamb."

Consequently, all those who participated in the march should say "Le'Chayim," with joy and gladness of heart, as is customary every year -- and even those who could not go for some reason should also participate.

And may G-d grant that this activity, done with "your shoes on your feet," will be an immediate preparation for the prophecy of "going over dryshod," after the prophecy of "A shoot shall go forth from the root of Yishai," in the reality and actuality of the world.

3

There is another topic connected to saying "Le'Chayim": the custom of drinking four cups at the Feast of Moshiach (the last meal of Pesach).

In the year 5666, during the Feast of Moshiach, at the end of Acharon Shel Pesach, the Rebbe Rashab instructed that each disciple should be given four cups of wine. Since then it has been set as a custom to drink four cups during the Feast of Moshiach, which is eaten at the end of the day; "everything follows the conclusion."

The year 5666 was foretold to be a year of "A reckoned end of the days." Chassidim used to relate that the Rashab had said that he feared that year ... and he instituted several activities, and taught intensive Chassidic discourses, including the well-known series of ma'amarim known by the name: "The year 5666." This could possibly also be the reason for the four cups during the feast of Moshiach.

Being beneficial for the body and soul, and as an aspect of "be joyful in your festivals," there certainly will be no one who will refrain from fulfilling this custom.

So everyone should drink four cups and say "Le'Chayim" with joy and gladness of heart. And may it be the will of Heaven that all Jews will join together to be a great congregation in study as well as in action, and they will return in the true and complete redemption, through our righteous Moshiach. "As in the days of your coming out of the land of Egypt I will show them marvelous things"; there will be miracles even relative to the wonders of the Exodus from Egypt.


4

The Omer count for the night of Acharon Shel Pesach, which pertains to the entire day until the next counting, is: "Today is seven days, which is one week of the Omer." There are several other aspects which are stressed at the Omer counting. The specific Sefirah (attribute) which is rectified on this day is the Sefirah of "Royalty in Kindness." From the verses "May G-d be gracious ..." (Tehillim 67), the word specially emphasized today is "selah" -- (forever). The letter receiving special emphasis is the letter "yud" in the word "veeranenu" -- (sing for joy). And in the prayer "We implore You by the great power ..." (see siddur) on this day the stress is on the initial letters of the first sentence A'B'G'Y'T'Z'.

In each of these details there is a lesson and directive for us in our Divine service to G-d.

(A) "... seven days which are one week."

The mitzvah of counting the Omer includes:

A mitzvah to count the days and a mitzvah to count the weeks. (Menachos 66a)

It is stated:

"You shall count seven complete weeks ... a total of 50 days" (Vayikra 23:15-16), and "Then count seven weeks for yourself." (Devorim 16:9)

If so, the unique quality of the Omer of Acharon Shel Pesach is that now the counting is complete. Being that one week has been completed, we can now count days and weeks -- previously the mitzvah was incomplete, for we could only count days.

How can this be understood in a person's Divine service? At the end of tractate Pesachim, the RaN explains the meaning of Sefiras HaOmer:

When Moshe told the Jewish people that they would worship G-d on the mountain, the Jews said: "Moshe, our teacher, when will that Divine service be?" He replied, "At the completion of 50 days." Each person then carefully counted the days for himself. For this reason the sages established Sefiras HaOmer, which is to say, that in our times we do not bring a sacrifice, or the Omer, (to the Temple) and we therefore count the 50 days only to the joy of the Torah -- just as the Jews did the first time, then.

If so, what is the theme of Sefiras HaOmer? The craving and yearning to receive the Torah. How is this longing expressed -- by being involved in Torah study! For, once Torah has been given, this study is the truest preparation for Torah.

Actually Torah existed from the time of creation, as the Midrash says:

Adam studied Torah in Gan Eden. Avraham was a sage who sat and studied in a yeshivah. Our ancestors were never left without a yeshivah (scholar's council). In Egypt they had a yeshivah.

(Yoma 28b)

Agreed, prior to Mattan Torah this was true only for a chosen few, and not until after the Giving of the Torah was it given to all Jews. Because prior to Mattan Torah there was a decree that the lower worlds should not make contact with the higher worlds, and vice versa.

The preparation at that time for the Giving of the Torah was (a) the exile in Egypt -- turning from evil; and (b) doing good -- the yeshivah -- more specifically, the longing for Torah which expressed itself in study -- within the framework of that pre-Sinai time.

Thus the theme of the Divine service of counting the Omer every year is the preparation, yearning, craving, to receive the Torah in its fullest perfection.

How is this expressed? -- through increasing Torah study before Shavuos. Now, when is the first time that the counting can be done in its proper way -- "days and weeks" -- on Acharon Shel Pesach when the first week is completed.

(B) Royalty in kindness.

The theme of the Divine service of the 49 days of counting the Omer is to purify and rectify the attributes [seven composed of seven]. In fact, the word "Usefartem" -- "And you shall count," -- has a common root with the word "clarity" or "purity." In other words, to refine and purify the attributes of the animal soul and to transform them to holiness.

Again here, we will discern the special quality of the seventh day of the Omer when the rectification of the first attribute, kindness -- with all its permutations -- is completed; from kindness of kindness till royalty of kindness. Before that the purification process had not even completed one whole group.

The refinement of Chesed -- kindness -- has a broad influence because Chesed is considered "The day which goes with all the other days." Thus its influence is also felt in the other attributes, till royalty of royalty.

(C) "Selah -- forever."

The Gemara tells us:

Wherever in Scripture the expression netzach, selah, va'ed, (eternal, forever, always) occurs, the process to which it refers never ceases.

(Eruvin 54a)

In the theme of counting, so long as one attribute cycle, e.g. Chesed or Gevurah, has not reached completion there might still be a question as to eternality. However, now that a week has gone by and the Sefirah of Chesed has reached absolute refinement and purity, now we know that in fact there will be continuity forever. It also confirms the process of purification for the counting of the other middos (attributes).

Hence the power of forever permeates everything especially the service which will lead to the true and complete redemption.

(D) The letter "yud" of the word "Veeranenu."

"Yud" signifies the self-nullification wrought by wisdom. What gives the counting of the Omer the power to rectify the middos? By first effecting a general bittul -- self-abnegation of ego -- through the medium of intellect, specifically the power of wisdom. So the "yud" is emphasized today, because at the end of the first week of purification we see that there really was bittul to begin with, and thereby it gives potential to continue the Divine service in the weeks ahead.

(E) A'B'G'Y'T'Z'

In Likkutei Torah the numerical value [gematria] of A'B'G'Y'T'Z' is calculated to be 506, the same as the word "To'L'E'A'." Referring to the verse: "Fear not you ["Tolea"] worm Ya'akov, O men of Yisroel, I will help you, says the L-rd...."

The Midrash explains:

Just as a worm can attack the cedar tree only with its mouth, similarly the Jews have only the power of prayer ... (Tanchuma, Beshallach 9).

The same idea is also explained in connection with Torah study, as the Talmud relates:

When Dovid Hamelech would sit and study Torah he made himself flexible [and humble] as a worm.

(Moed Kattan 16b)

Therefore the initial letters of the first sentence: "We implore You, by the great power of Your right hand, release the captive": A'B'G'Y'T'Z', has the equivalent gematria of "To'L'E'A'" to show us that when the right hand is strengthened by the power of Torah it will "free the captive" -- just as the worm can decompose a strong tree by its mouth. Through verbal Torah study and prayer, with the attribute of humility, we can decompose and destroy the forces of evil. Thus the form of Divine service in "To'L'E'A'" includes the positive approach of Torah and prayer as well as the negative approach of destroying the forces of evil.

This same concept is portrayed for us in the Haftorah of Acharon Shel Pesach:

"And He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked" (Yeshayah 11:4)

The power of Moshiach will be Torah and prayer which will have the ability to accomplish everything. This is the power of "... the worm Ya'akov."

All of these aspects are to be found in the Omer counting of Acharon Shel Pesach.


5

The section of Rambam to be studied on Erev Pesach begins with the listing of the negative commandments -- part the Rambam's Introduction -- and concludes with the sum total of all the mitzvos including the mitzvos enacted by the sages.To begin:

The first of the negative precepts is not to entertain the idea that there is any G-d but the Eternal, as it is said "You shall have no other gods before Me."

For what purpose does the Rambam include the words, "The first of the negative precepts?"

In a previous farbrengen we discussed the Rambam's words at the beginning of the positive commandments where he said, "The first positive commandment ..." and clarified that there are authorities who say that belief in G-d is not to be counted as a specific mitzvah -- but rather as a general prerequisite for all mitzvos. For that reason the Rambam states unequivocally that belief in G-d [knowing G-d] is the first mitzvah.

Well, we might say here that since it was necessary to list knowing G-d among the positive commands -- similarly the converse should be listed here, among the negative precepts.

However there must still be some reason or cause for specifically mentioning the words "The first negative precept."

All mitzvos are divided into two groups along the two approaches, positive and negative, positive precepts and the negative precepts. Just as we must indicate that faith in G-d is a mitzvah to be listed among the 248 positive commandments, so too must it be stated that in the negative realm there is a specific command, number one on the list -- "not to entertain the idea...."

Clearly the source of everything is unity as Tehillim tells us: "One thing has the L-rd spoken..." (62:12). When this "one thing" descends into the realm of actual mitzvos it splits into a duality: "I have heard this dual truth therein ..." (ibid.); "I am the L-rd ...," "You shall have no other ..."; the positive and negative, the do's and do nots.

And in truth, with the completion of the Divine service it reverts back to unity as it was in its original source: "... last in creation, first in [G-d's] thought" (Lecha Dodi). This idea is in fact taught at the end of Yad HaChazakah when the Rambam states that the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d, "as the waters cover the sea." The sea includes kosher and non-kosher -- positive and negative -- do's and do nots. But in the future only the unity of the encompassing water will be seen.

Another point which needs elucidation comes at the conclusion of that daily portion of Rambam.

The Rambam writes:

These are the 613 precepts which were orally imparted to Moshe at Sinai ... There are other precepts which originated after the Sinai revelation, were instituted by the Prophets and sages and were universally accepted by all Israel. Such are the reading of the Scroll of Esther (on Purim), the kindling of the Chanukah lights, fasting on the Ninth of Av, washing of the hands before meals, and Eruvin.

(Introduction to Mishneh Torah)

Here we are faced with a perplexing question, a "Klotz Kashe," which no one seems to address.

The Rambam of course was very careful and specific when it came to numbers and their significance. He divided the Mishneh Torah into fourteen books and 83 halachos.

Several times he mentions and repeats the total number of all the mitzvos -- 613, 248 positive and 365 negative. In each halachah he lists the number of mitzvos pertaining to that halachah and in each book he again lists how many mitzvos were included. In fact he repeats himself several times -- to stress the total numbers of several categories.

If so, why does the Rambam not mention the number of rabbinic precepts? We know that there are seven rabbinic precepts. Chassidus explains:

"The Supreme Will is called and referred to as the Supreme Crown. In it there are 620 pillars of light ... This supreme Will is vested in the 613 commandments of the Torah and the seven precepts of the rabbis." (Iggeres Hakodesh 29)

Being so careful about the number of 613 mitzvos and their symbolic relationship to the organs of man and the days of the year -- why does the Rambam omit the seven rabbinic precepts, which are precise and exact and similarly project symbolic interpretations.

How does the Rambam view the rabbinic mitzvos?

... The Bais Din, together with the prophet living at that time, [will] institute an additional precept as an ordinance, judicial decision or decree ... just as they ... ordered the reading of the scroll of Esther at the appointed time, so as to proclaim the praises of the Holy One, Blessed be He, recount the salvations that He wrought for us, etc., and that we should therefore ... inform the future generations ..., etc.

(Introduction to Mishneh Torah)

This explanation focuses on the difference which the Rambam discusses between the Torah commandments and rabbinic precepts. In the case of the 613 Scriptural commandments, the Torah has clearly stated that we "may not add any new mitzvos." However in Rabbinic Law the Rambam holds them to be

... measures devised by them to serve as a fence about the Law -- measures designed to meet the needs of the times, comprising decrees, ordinances and customs.

Consequently in the case of rabbinic precepts, if there should arise such a Bais Din which will have authority to decree a new mitzvah that would be accepted by all Jews everywhere, and if they should see that such a mitzvah is necessary at that time, so that "religion will thereby be strengthened and safeguarded and the people will be restrained from disregarding the words of the Torah," it will be the responsibility of the Torah authorities to look into the possibilities of making new precepts.

Thus the Rambam did not write that there are seven rabbinic precepts and no more, because in theory the halachic framework is such, and there is the potential, that new mitzvos could be promulgated.

In fact, of course, there will not be any more mitzvos added by the rabbis, because there will not be a Sanhedrin with the proper authority to enact new mitzvos or because no events will precipitate it. So the number seven is final and Kabbalah and Chassidus elaborate on its significance.

On the other hand, so long as there is a theoretical halachic potential that a Bais Din might arise and proclaim additional rabbinic mitzvos the Rambam refrained from officially presenting the number seven.

An interesting illustration of this approach may be seen in the Rambam's presentation of the commandment, "To Exterminate the Seven Nations":

... [and although] the Seven Nations have long ceased to exist; a commandment which has been completely fulfilled by the attainment of its object ... cannot be said not to be binding for all time, because it is binding in every generation in which there is a possibility of its fulfillment.... A commandment may be binding for all time, and yet the occasion [for its fulfillment] may be lacking at a particular time; but the lack of occasion does not make it a commandment which is not binding for all time.

(Sefer Hamitzvos, Positive Commandment 187)

Similarly in our case, there is no probability that a Bais Din will exist that will actually add mitzvos, but in theory the possibility exists. If, in the case of a negative commandment, we are concerned about the theoretical potential, how much more so, a fortiori, when speaking of a good thing -- when the promise will be fulfilled: "I will give back your judges."

May G-d grant that from the study of the Introduction of the Rambam we will reach the conclusion of the Rambam "... as the waters cover the sea" -- the true unity which will be brought about by the study of Halachah of Torah -- the Mishneh Torah -- which deals with the details of worldly matters.

Mishneh Torah includes of course also matters pertaining to the Seven Noachide Laws, which, the Rambam rules, must be accepted and followed by all the nations of the world. And may we merit very speedily to see the fulfillment of the final halachah in Yad Hachazakah:

In that era there will be neither famine nor war, neither jealousy nor strife. Blessing will be abundant, comforts within the reach of all. The one preoccupation of the whole world will be to know the L-rd "... for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the L-rd, as the waters cover the sea" (Yeshayah 11:9). (Kings and Wars 12:5)

May it come with the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach. May he come and redeem us and lead us, upright, to our Holy Land, immediately.


6

In Seder Olam Rabbah it relates that on the 22nd of Nissan the process of encircling the city of Yericho began:

And you shall go round the city.... And it came to pass on the seventh day.... (Yehoshua 1:3-15)

Thus the day of Acharon Shel Pesach was the first on which the warriors, the Kohanim and the ark of G-d at their head, marched around the wall of Yericho. On the seventh day "the wall fell down flat" and this provided the Jews with the key to the conquest of the land of Canaan.

What connection is there between Pesach and Yericho?

All of the journeying that the Jews travelled in the desert from the Exodus out of Egypt until finally reaching the Jordan were all connected to Egypt, for they were still under the restriction of bondage; they had still not attained their goal to enter the Holy Land. Chassidus therefore explains that Yericho is related to "rei'ach," scent, for this is symbolic of the future redemption about which we read in the Haftorah: "And his delight (rei'ach -- scent) shall be in the fear of G-d" (Yeshayah 11:3). Our sages say in tractate Sanhedrin (93b) that Moshiach will be able to judge a case by sensing the scent of the wicked person and Bar Kochba was thus disqualified as Moshiach.

Consequently, Acharon Shel Pesach is connected to Moshiach and thus connected also to the surrounding of Yericho.

For us there is an important lesson from this. We must increase our efforts in encouraging our Jewish brethren to voice our supplication to G-d that Moshiach should come immediately: "May our eyes behold Your return to Tziyon in mercy." If we pray with a feeling of certainty it will come true.

And furthermore, on Acharon Shel Pesach, at the feast of Moshiach, by fulfilling the custom of drinking four cups we incorporate our hopes for Moshiach into a physical activity. Moreover when it is Shabbos, at the time of "greatest delight," we again associate the spiritual pleasure with a physical act. And it is done in a manner of "spreading out" to the point that it causes unity among the Jewish people through bringing them closer to these customs.

All this will speedily take us out of the golus -- with joy: "You will go out and be led forth in peace," the Holy Nation to our Holy Land, Yerushalayim the Holy City, to the Holy Mount, the Bais Hamikdosh, with joy and glad hearts.


  18th Day of Nissan, 5745Yechidus For Guests Who Arrived For Pesach 5745  
  
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