Nissan is called "the month of redemption," because the entire month revolves around Pesach, "the season of our freedom." Nissan (ÅæëÉ) is also connected with the concept of miracles, æÉ in Hebrew.
The two concepts are interrelated, for it was with great miracles and wonders that G-d took the Jews out of Egypt.
The connection with miracles receives greater emphasis this Shabbos which is called Shabbos HaGadol, "the Great Shabbos," because of the great miracle which occurred then.
What was this miracle? As the Alter Rebbe relates in his Shulchan Aruch, the firstborn of Egypt learned that G-d would slay all them and tried to convince Pharaoh to release the Jews. When he refused, they revolted against him as implied by the verse, "To strike Egypt with their firstborn...." This represented the beginning of the miracles of the redemption.
We must understand: Why did our Sages attach so much importance to the miracle of "striking Egypt with their firstborn"? Why is this considered as a great miracle and the beginning of the redemption?
Also, it is necessary to understand the association between this miracle and the Shabbos, i.e., it occurred on the Shabbos and is commemorated on the Shabbos.
There is another significant dimension related to the above. The redemption from Egypt is associated with Moshe. He was the one chosen by G-d to redeem the Jews from Egypt. When he requested that G-d send another person instead, G-d refused for it is Moshe who has the power to redeem the Jewish people.
The purpose of the exodus from Egypt is for the Jewish people to appreciate G-d's providence as it is written, "And I will take you unto Me as a people... so that you will know that I, G-d, your L-rd, is He who took you out of the bondage of Egypt." As the Jews exist within our material world, they should come to an awareness of G-d and accept His commandments (i.e., the acceptance of the Torah) and through their service reveal G-dliness in the world at large (as reflected in the construction of the Sanctuary).
The Sanctuary was, however, temporary in nature, and in a more permanent manner, this goal was realized in the Beis HaMikdash. The First and the Second Batei Mikdashos were destroyed. Thus, the ultimate vehicle for the revelation of G-dliness in the world will be the Third Beis HaMikdash, which will be an eternal structure. Then, in the Era of Redemption, "the glory of G-d will be revealed and all flesh will together see that the mouth of G-d has spoken;" i.e., there will be an open revelation of G-dliness which will be appreciated by all mankind.
Since the goal of the exodus was the revelation of G-dliness, it was associated with miracles which broke the boundaries of nature. The Hebrew for "nature" is teva which also has the meaning "submerged," i.e., the G-dly power which is invested in the world is submerged within the natural order which obscures our appreciation of Him. Miracles, in contrast, break through the natural set and allow us to openly appreciate G-d's infinite power.
Witnessing these miracles endows the Jews with strength to leave Egypt, to go beyond the boundaries and limitations of worldly existence and thus, experience freedom. In the same manner, the future redemption will be characterized by miracles as it is written "As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders," wonders which will transcend the natural order entirely, and which will be greater than those that accompanied the exodus from Egypt. Furthermore, G-d Himself will "show" us these wonders, revealing them openly.
As mentioned, the potential for the redemption is associated with Moshe. The nature of Moshe's influence and contribution to the Jewish people and to the world at large is expressed in the psalm, Chapter 90 of Tehillim, "A prayer of Moshe."6 (There is a unique connection between this psalm and the present days as reflected in the custom, initiated by the Baal Shem Tov, to recite the psalm which corresponds to the years of one's life each day.)
This psalm concludes, "May the pleasantness of G-d, our L-rd, be upon us; establish for us the work of our hands; establish the work of our hands." Our sages interpret this as a prayer in connection with the construction of the Sanctuary in the desert, saying "May the Divine Presence rest in the work of your hands." With this prayer, Moshe -- and this was his unique contribution -- established in a fixed manner, the dwelling of the Divine Presence among the Jewish people. The ultimate expression of this process of indwelling will be in the Era of Redemption, with the construction of the Third Beis HaMikdash, which will be an eternal structure.
To focus on the psalm in greater depth: The literary structure of repetition is employed both at the beginning, "A prayer of Moshe, the man of G-d" and at its conclusion "establish for us the work of our hands; establish the work of our hands."
This repetition is intrinsically related to the concept of establishing G-d's indwelling within the Jewish people in a permanent manner. For this, two qualities are necessary: a) One must have a power which is greater than the natural order that can infuse a revelation of G-dliness into this world which is characterized by concealment. This involves changing the nature of the world as it were, making it into a vessel intended to receive G-dliness, and indeed, to receive G-dliness in a permanent manner. b) This power must descend to the extent that it can enclothe itself within the world (for the entity which refines another entity must be on its level). Only in this way, will it be able to transform the world into a vessel that can receive G-dliness in a permanent manner.
These two qualities are alluded to in the repetition of the beginning and conclusion of the above psalm, because both these qualities were present within Moshe. Moshe served as "an intermediary who connects," binding the Jews to G-d.
The two qualities that an intermediary must possess are reflected in the phrase "the man of G-d." Our Sages commented, "His upper half resembled G-d; his lower half was like a man." More particularly, however, it is the phrase "Moshe, the man of G-d," which brings out these two dimensions. The name for G-d used in the above phrase is E-lohim (ìëäî-Ç) which is numerically equivalent to the word hateva (Æüêä), meaning "the nature"; i.e., E-lohim refers to the G-dliness which brings the natural order into being. "The man of E-lohim" refers to a person who has been able to establish a oneness with this G-dliness. It does, however, represent a limitation, for one unites only with the G-dliness that invests itself within nature and not with the essential G-dliness that transcends the natural order which is represented by the name Havayah (ä-à-ä-ë).
In contrast, the name Moshe refers to a higher level. The Torah states that he was given this name because "I drew him from the water." "The water" refers to the name Havayah, the level of Mah, the G-dliness which transcends creation. Moshe's soul had its source in these high levels of G-dliness and from these levels, it was drawn into this world. Furthermore, even as Moshe existed within this world, his soul was united with its source in the spiritual realms like fish who live in constant contact with their source of life.
Thus the phrase "Moshe, the man of G-d," represents the two qualities mentioned above: Moshe represents the connection with the levels of G-dliness which transcend nature. Since this connection continued even as Moshe existed within this material world, he had the potential to reveal G-dliness within the world and transform its nature in a permanent manner as explained above.
"The man of G-d" emphasizes the other dimension, the connection with the world which allows G-dliness to be drawn down within the world in an internalized manner, and thus allow for permanent change. Thus, the revelation of G-dliness which is above nature can be drawn into the creation itself.
A similar concept is reflected in the conclusion of the psalm, "establish for us the work of our hands; establish the work of our hands." The expression "for us" in the first phrase indicates that the revelation has its source in a level above our own. The second phrase, however, indicates that this level has become internalized within us to the extent that it is the work of our hands that is being established.
Our Sages relate the concept of repetition to the redemption, and to the aspect of eternality within the redemption. Similarly, repetition is related to Shabbos for each Shabbos is twofold in nature, reflecting a rest from the difficulties of the world (which parallels the G-dliness that is enclothed within nature) and the essential dimension of rest (the G-dliness that transcends nature). The two are interconnected as our Sages comment on the psalm "A psalm, a song for the Shabbos day," "a song for the era which is all Shabbos and rest forever," referring to the Era of Redemption where the concept of permanence and eternality (the contribution of Moshe) will be given full expression.
In that era, "the pleasantness of G-d, our L-rd, will be upon us," i.e., the essential pleasure will be revealed, and it will be "established for us the work of our hands."
In this context, it is significant to dwell on the significance of the number ninety. Ninety is three times three times ten and thus represents a complete expression of the concept of chazakah, a threefold sequence associated with strength and permanence.
To explain: Ten represents a state of perfection (and thus the Era of Redemption is associated with the number ten); 30 (3x10), a chazakah of that perfect state and 90 (3x30), a chazakah of that chazakah, and thus the fullest possible expression of this concept.
Ninety is represented by the letter Tzadi. Based on the concept that all aspects of Torah should provide us with a lesson in the service of G-d, we can also derive a concept from the name of this letter.
Tzadi means "my side" and thus can allude to the following idea: G-d created the world with two sides: "This one opposite the other," i.e., the side of holiness and its opposing forces; the good inclination on the right side and the evil inclination on the left side. Since "The Torah which Moshe commanded us is the inheritance of the congregation of Ya'akov," it can be understood that a Jew's side is the side of Torah and mitzvos and he has no relation to the other side at all.
Nevertheless, since a Jew still has freedom of choice, the Torah and its mitzvos are called "my side" and not "my existence;" i.e., he has to use this potential and choose to identify with the Torah. The material nature of the world conceals G-dliness and thus the possibility exists that a Jew will not appreciate the need to listen to the Torah's directives.
What is the intent behind the creation of such circumstances? So that the Jew will transform the world, even those aspects that on the surface oppose the Torah and its mitzvos, and have the Torah internalized within it. The question then arises: How is it possible for a Jew to cause the Torah to be internalized within the world? He cannot be objective about the matter. On the contrary, he shares a connection with the Torah for the existence of the Torah depends on the Jewish people and the Torah was given only because of the Jewish people.
This question is also answered by the name tzadi, "my side," i.e., as a Jew exists within this material world, he is standing to the side. His connection to the Torah and its mitzvos does not compel him to conduct himself accordingly. On the contrary, as mentioned above, he has free choice.
Ultimately, however, he will choose Torah and mitzvos, making them "my side." And since this identification with the Torah comes about through his own free choice, he will have the potential to cause the Torah to be internalized within the world.
(Here we see a parallel to the concepts of "Moshe, the man of G-d," described above. Since a Jew has free choice, he is "a man," i.e., he resembles mankind at large. However, since his soul has its source in the transcendent levels of G-dliness as mentioned in regard to Moshe, he has the potential to draw G-dliness down in a revealed manner within this world, making this world a dwelling for G-d, and transforming his human potential so that it becomes "the man of G-d.")
A question, however, remains: The service of tzadi, drawing G-dliness down into even the mundane and natural aspects of the world, should be complete, involving the transformation of every aspect of the world into a permanent dwelling for G-d. This must involve also the opposite side, the potential which is by nature opposed to G-dliness. How can these aspects of existence be transformed into a dwelling for G-d?
The resolution of this difficulty is based on the concept that, frequently the letter Tzadi is called Tzaddik, adding a kuf (ù). A kuf resembles the letter hay (ä). They both are made up of three lines which correspond to the three realms of existence Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, or our three means of expression, thought, speech and action.
More particularly, the top and right lines which are joined refer to the realms of Beriah and Yetzirah, or to thought and speech. Each of these pairs shares a close bond. The third line, which is separated by a gap, corresponds to the realm of Asiyah or to deed which are each separated from the pairs mentioned previously by a drastic difference.
Our Sages state that the world was created with a hay, which implies that there is a gap between the third line -- i.e., our world -- and the other two, the spiritual worlds above. This gap allows for concealment that calls for the service of tzadi, to make the Torah and its mitzvos one's side.
From this level one proceeds to the service of kuf as it exists with the realm of holiness. The left leg of the kuf extends below the line, indicating how one's service must be extended to even the lowest levels. In this manner, one becomes G-d's partner in the work of creation, refining and elevating even the lowest levels of existence, and making them part of G-d's dwelling.
Based on the above, we can understand the uniqueness of Moshe and why it is he who was chosen as the redeemer of the Jewish people. Since Moshe was, as explained above, "the man of G-d," he had the potential to draw the revelation of the unlimited dimensions of G-dliness into the world. This granted him the potential to take the Jews out of the limitations of exile, even the lowest limitations, the kelipah of Egypt.
Similarly, it is this potential which ultimately will lead to the era when "As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders," the revelation of miracles, not only miracles that are enclothed within nature, but miracles which transcend the limits of nature entirely. This will be a redemption that will not be followed by exile. The entire world will be permanently established as a dwelling for G-d.
The above also enables us to understand the greatness of the miracle of "smiting Egypt with their firstborn." The transformation of the firstborn of Egypt into a force which acted on behalf of the Jewish people represents an elevation of the lowest elements of existence (paralleling the service of the kuf mentioned previously). This, to a greater extent than the miracles which happened to the Jews themselves, revealed the infinite dimension of G-dliness within the limits of our material world.
For this reason, this miracle is associated with Shabbos for Shabbos is associated with the redemption, "the day which is all Shabbos and rest for eternity." Indeed, the commemoration of this miracle enhances the nature of Shabbos, making it Shabbos HaGadol, "the Great Shabbos."
There is also a connection between the above and this week's parshah, Parshas Tzav. Our Sages explain that Tzav refers to "an encouragement effective immediately and for all time." Here we see the eternal dimension mentioned above. Significantly, the verse relates how G-d tells Moshe to command Aharon, who serves as the medium, to communicate to the entire Jewish people. Aharon is characterized by the qualities of "loving peace and pursuing peace, loving the creations and bring them close to the Torah." The command given in the above verse "encourages" this service in a manner that is "effective immediately and for all time."
The above is enhanced by the unique nature of the present year, a year when "I will show you wonders." As we have seen in a clear and manifest wonder, it has been a wondrous year and we can be sure that these wonders will continue and include the greatest wonder, the coming of Mashiach as mentioned in the Yalkut Shimoni.
The miraculous nature of the present year should be reflected in the conduct of every Jew. Each one of us should increase his study of the Torah and fulfillment of mitzvos -- behiddur in a manner that appears truly miraculous when compared to his previous efforts. There is a unique potential for this service granted by Moshe's prayer, "May it be G-d's will that the Divine Presence rest in the work of your hands."
Moshe grants each Jew the power to reveal the service of Tzaddik in his service -- for "Your nation are all Tzaddikim." This begins with the service of Tzadi, making the Torah "my side," giving oneself over to the Torah to the point that there is no possibility for the existence of another side. Similarly, this approach must be communicated to others, spreading the study of the Torah and the performance of its mitzvos among Jews and spreading the observance of the seven universal laws commanded to Noach and his descendants to all mankind.
Here we see a unique working of Hashgachah Protis, (Divine Providence). The numerical equivalent of the name Tzadi (ëâû) when spelled is 104. Here we see a direct connection to resolution 104 of the Senate which declared Yud-Alef Nissan as a national "Day of Education."
The above activities should also involve an emphasis on providing each individual with his Pesach needs. One should not wait until the poor come asking. Instead, efforts should be made to discover who is needy beforehand and supply them with all that they require.
This leads to a second point. In this country, it is customary to arrange communal Sedorim. Generally, however, only one communal Seder is arranged and not two. It is important that all those who hold communal Sedorim should hold communal Sedorim for both nights.
Often, the reason while only one Seder is held is that there are not enough funds for two. If necessary, the first Seder should be held in a simpler manner to allow for a second Seder to be held. Furthermore, there is enough time that, if the proper efforts are made, enough funds can be raised to allow both Sedorim to be celebrated in the proper manner.
May we merit the ultimate fulfillment of the prayer of Moshe, "that the Divine Presence rest in the work of our hands" in the Third Beis HaMikdash, "the Sanctuary of G-d, established by Your hands."
- (Back to text) Indeed, since the word Nissan has two nunnim, it is related to "miracles of a truly wondrous nature."
- (Back to text) For this reason, we begin the recitation of the Haggadah on Shabbos HaGadol.
- (Back to text) This year, there is a greater emphasis on the connection between Shabbos and the redemption for Pesach begins on the Shabbos.
- (Back to text) Similarly, our sages associate the ultimate redemption with Moshe, declaring "He was the first redeemer, he will be the final redeemer." This also alludes to the connection the redemption from Egypt shares with the ultimate redemption as it is written, "As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders." Thus, all redemptions are brought about through the power of Moshe.
- (Back to text) The miracles of Pesach involve total transcendence, going beyond the natural order in a complete manner, in contrast even to the miracles of Purim which were enclothed within the natural order.
- (Back to text) This is the first of the eleven Psalms which were authored by Moshe.
- (Back to text) Permanence reflects an aspect of infinity and thus runs contrary to the nature of this world which is characterized by change.
- (Back to text) If the nature of the revelation is above what the recipient is able to accept, it will not be able to be internalized and the effect it produces may decrease as time passes.
- (Back to text) This is reflected in the opening verse of the Torah, "In the beginning, E-lohim created...."
- (Back to text) This explanation, however, provokes a question. In a simple sense, the water from which Moshe was drawn out was the Nile River, the divinity of the Egyptians, and the person who gave him the name Moshe was Pharaoh's daughter. How do these facts fit the mystic explanation quoted above?
The answer is that it is precisely such a fusion of opposites that reflected Moshe's mission in the world. One of the basic principles of Chassidus is that, it is the energies which have the highest source that have the potential to descend to the lowest depths. Similarly, it is because Moshe's soul had its source in these high levels did it have the power to enter the depths of Egypt and transform them into a dwelling for G-d.
- (Back to text) A further point is brought out by Rashi's interpretation of this verse. Rashi explains that the first expression refers to the prayer that the Divine Presence rest in the Sanctuary, while the second expression is a prayer for success in "the work of our hands" in the most simple sense, i.e., that our worldly affairs should prosper. This indicates how the spiritual levels mentioned above permeate even our mundane concerns.
- (Back to text) There is a connection between the Psalm mentioned above and Shabbos as reflected by its inclusion in the Shabbos morning service.
- (Back to text) Here also we see a connection to Psalm 90 for the psalm, "A psalm, a song for the Shabbos day" is one of the 11 psalms recited by Moshe and introduced by Psalm 90.
- (Back to text) There is an intrinsic connection between Moshe and the concepts of permanence and eternality as reflected in our Sages statements, "Moshe did not die" and "the work of Moshe's hands is eternal." In this context, it can be noted that several of the verses of Psalm 90 reflect these concepts.
- (Back to text) Significantly, a person's identification with the Torah and its mitzvos as Tzadi, "my side," comes about through the addition of the letter yud. The yud refers to the assistance which G-d grants a Jew after he chooses to make the Torah his side.
- (Back to text) Indeed, our Sages relate that there is a spark of Moshe within the soul of every Jew.
- (Back to text) Often in Chassidus (see the ma'amar Basi LeGani, English trans. p. 28ff.), it is explained that the kuf is associated with the forces opposed to holiness.
- (Back to text) The connection between Shabbos and the redemption is also reflected in our Sages' statement that there is a duality associated with the observance of Shabbos. Duality is also one of the characteristics of the redemption.
- (Back to text) Because of the unique quality of Shabbos HaGadol, it has the potential to bless the coming week, including the holiday of Pesach.
- (Back to text) The Baal Shem Tov taught that everything which a Jew sees or hears is a lesson for him in the service of G-d. In this context, it is related that a Torah sage who had to travel in a railway coach of a particular number perceived that the number of the coach could teach him a unique lesson.