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Monday, March 15, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

On the 2nd of Nissan, one day after the inauguration of the Tabernacle, Moses prepared the very first Red Heifer, in order to ritually purify the Jewish nation in preparation for the bringing of the Paschal Lamb in the newly erected Sanctuary.

Link: The Divine commandment of the Red Heifer

The fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneersohn ("Rashab"), was born in the White Russian town of Lubavitch in 1860. After the passing of his father, Rabbi Shmuel (in 1882), he assumed the leadership of Chabad-Lubavitch.

Famed for his phenomenal mind and analytical treatment of Chabad Chassidism, Rabbi Sholom DovBer wrote and delivered some 2,000 maamarim (discourses of Chassidic teaching) over the 38 years of his leadership. In 1897, he established the Tomchei Temimim yeshivah, the first institution of Jewish learning to combine the study of the "body" of Torah (Talmudic and legal studies) with its mystical "soul" (the teachings of Chassidism); it was this unique yeshivah that produced the army of learned, inspired and devoted Chassidim who, in the decades to come, would literally give their lives to keep Judaism alive under Soviet rule.

In 1915, Rabbi Sholom DovBer was forced to flee Lubavitch from the advancing WWI front and relocated to the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. In his final years, he began the heroic battle against the new Communist regime's efforts to destroy the Jewish faith throughout the Soviet Union.

Rabbi Sholom DovBer passed away in Rostov on the 2nd of Nissan, 1920. His last words were: "I'm going to heaven; I leave you the writings."

Links: About Rabbi Sholom DovBer; works by Rabbi Sholom DovBer

Laws and Customs

In today's "Nasi" reading (see "Nasi of the Day" in Nissan 1), we read of the gift bought by the nasi of the tribe of Issachar, Nethanel ben Tzuar, for the inauguration of the Mishkan.

Text of today's Nasi in Hebrew and English.

Tachnun (confession of sins) and similar prayers are omitted.

Daily Thought

Rabbi Alexandri said, “Master of the Universe! It’s obvious to You that we want to do what You want done. So what is holding us back? The yeast in the dough!” (Talmud, Berachot 17a)

What is so terrible about chametz, that once a year, for the Festival of Freedom, we must search, burn and destroy any trace of it in our possession?

Because yeast makes a little dough into a big loaf of hot air. And that pretty much describes the fundamental gameplay of all that imprisons you.

It's like the yeast that takes your healthy need to earn an honest living and blows it up into a desperate need for recognition and yet more recognition.

Or like the yeast that mixes in when you are about to do a beautiful mitzvah out of the sincerity of your heart, saying, “Yes! Do it! People will say you are such a tzadik!”

Or the yeast that appears when you are studying the wisdom of Torah and it whispers, “Soon you will be wiser than anyone else!”

It’s that yeast that ties every thought, every word, every deed you do to your ego, as though your existence is somehow invalidated if you do not occupy more and more space every day—with nothing but hot air.

You are its prisoner. It is your taskmaster. It has stolen your life from you, rendering you just another subject of an oppressive world you must satisfy and please.

On Passover, you are empowered to break your chains of bondage. To do a mitzvah only because it connects you to your G-d. To learn Torah wisdom only to become one with divine wisdom. To be yourself. To escape bondage to anything in this world. To be free.

And you begin by ritually eradicating a physical manifestation of that ego from our world. By selling and burning our chametz, we are empowered to set ourselves free.