This year, an additional dimension is granted to Erev Pesach, because it is also Erev Shabbos. Furthermore, this Shabbos is endowed with a dimension of greatness by Shabbos HaGadol, "the Great Shabbos," for all the days of the coming week, including the coming Shabbos, are blessed from the previous Shabbos.
The uniqueness of the present Shabbos is also reflected by its connection with Parshas Shemini. Shemini, "the eighth," shares a connection with the Era of Redemption and indeed reveals a level which is higher than that of Shabbos. Shabbos is associated with the completion of the natural order as reflected in our Sages' statement, "What was the world lacking? Rest. When the Shabbos came, [with it] came rest." Thus, Shabbos, the seventh day, is associated with bringing about perfection within the natural order. In contrast, Shemini, "the eighth," represents a level of perfection that transcends the natural order, i.e., the level of redemption.
This is also enhanced by our activities during the thirty days preceding Pesach in the collection and distribution of Maos Chittim, the unique tzedakah associated with Pesach. Tzedakah hurries the realization of all blessings, including the ultimate blessing, the redemption.
An additional element to the above comes about this year as reflected in the allusion, Shemini Shemoneh Shemainoh, "When Parshas Shemini is read eight times (i.e., this includes the readings on the Shabbos afternoons and on Mondays and Thursdays), it will be a plentiful year." Shemini is connected with the word shemen, meaning "oil." Oil permeates and penetrates all substances. Similarly, the blessings of this year will permeate every dimension of existence.
This will lead to the ultimate redemption, when we will proceed, "with our youth and with our elders, with our sons and with our daughters," to the Third Beis HaMikdash. There we will merit the revelation of the Tablets of the Ten Commandments in three different dimensions, the first tablets (the service of the righteous -- and "Your nation are all righteous"), the broken tablets (the service of Ba'alei Teshuvah which is "on a higher level than the service of the righteous," and the fusion of these two services. This will be revealed in the Era of Redemption when Mashiach will "cause the righteous to turn in teshuvah."
May we merit this immediately so that today, Erev Pesach will already be after the ultimate Redemption. Surely, this will be true on the seventh of Pesach, when the influence of the eighth of Pesach is already felt, as reflected in the fact that in Eretz Yisrael, the feast of Mashiach is eaten on the seventh of Pesach.
May this redemption not be delayed for a moment and may we immediately proceed to the Beis HaMikdash so that this Pesach, we may "partake there of the Paschal offerings and the festive sacrifices."
The description of the Paschal offerings also emphasizes the service of ba'alei teshuvah as reflected in the conclusion of the passage included in the Haggadah by the Alter Rebbe which states: "If the Paschal sacrifice was discovered to trefe (unfit), he is not considered to have fulfilled his obligation until he brings another one."
The description of the offering of the Paschal sacrifice in the Haggadah until this point reflects the service of the righteous. When this service is fulfilled, there is still a lack that must be compensated through the service of teshuvah. This is reflected in the transformation of "another one," achar in Hebrew, into a positive influence.
Achar (ÿçÇ) resembles the word Echad (âçÇ). They both share the same first two letters and the form of their third letters, the reish and the dalet, is similar. The difference between the reish (ÿ) and the dalet (â) is a yud (ë) which is placed behind the reish. This is an allusion to the point of the Jewish soul which is present within every single Jew. This is the potential which allows for the transformation of achar to echad.
Furthermore, the service of the dalet also is lacking, as reflected in the association of the dalet with dalus, "poverty." The completion of our service is not reached until another yud is added, forming the letter hay (ä). A hay has three lines referring to a balanced approach, reflecting the interconnection of the three services of Torah, service (prayer), and deeds of kindness and the interconnection of the three means of expression, thought, speech, and action.
In particular, we find a gap between the lines associated with thought and speech and the line associated with deed. As mentioned on other occasions, this indicates that despite the fact that a person has thought and spoke about a particular issue, before he actually performs a deed, he should stop and consider the matter again.
The same applies to G-d. Although He has both thought and spoke about the redemption, before He actually brings it about, He will reconsider and add to the many material and spiritual benefits which the Jews will receive. But the deed, the actual redemption -- that the entire Jewish people, together with their property, be redeemed -- is of greatest importance. Each and every Jew will be gathered together to Eretz Yisrael, to Jerusalem, and to the Beis HaMikdash where "we will partake there of the Paschal offerings and the festive sacrifices."
The emphasis on the service of teshuvah mentioned above also relates to the celebration of Pesach on Shabbos this year. In general, there are two patterns of service of G-d, that of tzaddikim ("the righteous") and that of ba'alei teshuvah ("the penitent"). The service of the righteous involves drawing G-dliness into the natural order of one's life, while in contrast, the service of teshuvah involves a departure from one's previous way of life, which has its source in a step above the natural order. Therefore, "in the place where ba'alei teshuvah stand, it is impossible for tzaddikim to stand."
In particular, the service of tzaddikim is paralleled by Shabbos, which represents a state of perfection within the natural order. The service of teshuvah, in contrast, relates to Pesach which means "leap" and thus represents a step above the natural order.
In this context, the celebration of Pesach on Shabbos can be understood as an allusion to the ultimate level of fulfillment to be reached in the Era of Redemption when, as mentioned above, "Mashiach will cause the righteous to turn in teshuvah."
[After distributing money to be given to tzedakah, the Rebbe Shlita said:] It is proper to conclude with a blessing, a blessing for a kosher and happy Pesach." Pesach is "the first of the pilgrimage festivals." May we actually be able to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to "the Sanctuary of G-d established by Your hands."
This is also an appropriate opportunity to thank all those who sent in blessings and good wishes. May all those who gave blessings be blessed, with the blessing of G-d Himself.
May we constantly share good tidings. And from the preparations for Pesach (the recitation of the laws of the Paschal sacrifice), may we proceed to the recitation of the Haggadah which focuses on three elements, the Paschal sacrifice, the matzah, and the morror. These share a connection to "the three pillars on which the world stands" and to the Third Beis HaMikdash which will be "established by Your hands." May it be in the immediate future.
- (Back to text) The law that oil penetrates all substances is recorded in the Shulchan Aruch, in Yoreh De'ah 105:5. Thus it also penetrates the laws of the other sections of the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, Choshen Mishpat and Even HaEzer. I.e., oil, which is a metaphor for Pnimiyus HaTorah will permeate every aspect of a Jew's Orach Chayim, "way of life." This will affect even his business affairs which are mentioned in Choshen Mishpat. This relates to Even HaEzer, for HaEzer relates to the word ezrah meaning "help," implying that Divine assistance will be granted in regard to all the above. Even means "stone," and implies that this Divine assistance will have the power of a stone.
From the four portions of the Shulchan Aruch, influence will be drawn down to the four corners of the world. From these four corners, G-d will gather together the entire Jewish people and bring them "on the clouds of the heavens," to the Third Beis HaMikdash, "the Sanctuary of G-d established by Your hands." There we will see the High Priest wearing the Choshen Mishpat, which was one of the priestly garments.
- (Back to text) This custom was begun by the Baal Shem Tov in the Diaspora, on the eighth day of Pesach. On that day, the influence of Mashiach is reflected in the Haftorah, which describes the coming of the Redemption. There is also an allusion to this in the Haftorah of the seventh day of Pesach, the song of King David who is also described as Malkah Moshichoh, "the anointed king."
- (Back to text) This will be enhanced by the influence of Eliyahu the Prophet who offers the sacrifices of the Jewish people.
- (Back to text) We are forced to say that the intent is a reference to the service of ba'alei teshuvah, for otherwise, concluding in this fashion would run contrary to the principle of concluding with a positive theme.
- (Back to text) Significantly, the yud is placed at the point where the height and the width of the letters become fused together.
- (Back to text) The mention of both the yud and the hay relates to our Sages' statement: "Our world was created with a hay and the World to Come with a yud as alluded to in the phrase, ä-ë the Creator of the worlds." This implies that the above service will be drawn down into the world at large. Also, Tzur, the Hebrew for "Creator" also means "Rock," and thus alludes to a dimension of strength and power.
- (Back to text) This is alluded to in the phrase, "their gold and silver will come with them." In an abstract sense, gold and silver refer to fear and love, which the Tanya describe as "wings" which elevate our service to the highest peaks.