Every day from Rosh Chodesh Nissan through the twelfth of Nissan, we read the section describing the offering for the dedication of the Altar brought by the Nasi (tribal leader) on that day.1 During these days Tachanun is not recited,2 for when each Nasi brought his offering, it was a festive day for him.3

Why do we continue to commemorate and celebrate a one-time event, an event that transpired thousands of years ago with but twelve individuals?

The dedication of the Altar served as the foundation and origin of the Divine service of the entire Jewish people throughout all generations. For the Altar’s dedication, chanukas hamizbei’ach, is similar to the root word chinuch; training and education:4

Just as one’s education lays the foundation for his entire life,5 so did the dedication of the Altar establish the foundation for the service in the Mishkan. This service is also the ultimate purpose of man’s spiritual labors throughout history,6 as the verse states, “You shall make for Me a Sanctuary and I shall dwell in your midst7 ” — “In the midst of each and every one of you.”8

Each of the tribes represented a different mode of serving G‑d.9 All of them therefore participated in the dedication, for thereby every manner of spiritual service was included. This, however, was accomplished specifically through the Nesi’im, the tribal leaders, “For the Nasi is everything.”10

Since the dedication by the Nesi’im was an eternal action, it therefore affects us now as well, to the extent that even now we are able to say in the prayer following the recitation of the daily section of the Nasi, “...that there shine upon me all the holy ‘sparks’ and lights contained in this tribe’s holiness ... all the days of my life ... from now and forever.”

In light of the above, it becomes obvious that the month of Nissan places special emphasis on the eternality of the Nesi’im, the leaders of Israel, for each Nasi in his generation is as the first NasiMoshe — in his generation. Moreover, Nissan also emphasizes the bond between Jews of all generations to their Nesi’im, something that derives from their binding themselves up and connecting themselves to their Nesi’im.

How can this connection with the Nesi’im be realized even after their passing? This will be understood in light of the following:

The second of Nissan marks the histalkus of the Rebbe Rashab, Rabbi Sholom Dovber, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Just prior to his demise the Rebbe Rashabsaid:11 “I am going to heaven; the writings [of Chassidus] I leave to you.”

The meaning of this statement is the following. “Tzaddikim are similar to their Creator.”12 Just as G‑d inserted Himself in His Torah, as it is written, G‑d said,13 “I have written and inserted My very ‘Soul’ [into Torah],” so, too, do tzaddikim “write and insert” their entire essence into their words of Torah.

This is also what the Rebbe Rashab meant by saying, “I am going to heaven; the writings I leave to you”: Since he “inserted” his very essence into his Torah, by studying his “writings” and translating this knowledge into practical good deeds, influencing both oneself and others, we are connected with his very essence, as he is now “in heaven.”

Since his “writings” are found within this physical universe, as such, the Rebbe Rashab himself is found here; which is to say, that herein lies an eternal physical bond and connection between the Nasi, the Rebbe Rashab, and all of Israel.

This concept was emphasized by his son and successor, the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, who in his very first discourse writes:14

“The place where a tzaddik studied Torah and engaged in the service of G‑d retains its sanctity even after he has ascended from corporeal life and begun ‘true life,’ for the luminescence of his Divine service remains there [in the physical world and physical place where he engaged in Divine service].

“We may therefore say that the place in which he studied and engaged in Torah, and all the vessels he utilized in the course of his spiritual service, retain their sanctity as part of his personal share in the spiritual rectification and elevation of the world.”

Clearly, then, the life of a tzaddik is eternal,15 and not only with regard to spiritual matters, but also with regard to physical matters — “the place,” “the vessels,” etc. — as in the saying, “Holiness is immutable.”16 For the sanctity of a tzaddik permeates everything that pertains to him.

When we bind and connect ourselves to the Nasi by “binding” ourselves with his writings, books, etc., into which he placed his essence, we derive nurture from the essential and eternal holiness of the tzaddik and Nasi, particularly when we translate our knowledge into deed, both with regard to ourselves, as well as disseminating the Nasi’s Torah to others.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXII, pp. 19-26.