1. Our Rabbis have declared, “Begin with blessing.” Surely, this applies on a unique day as the present, the eve of Pesach. Pesach is the first of all festivals and its eve is distinguished in its own right, being referred to in the Torah as “the first day.”

Today is also significant because it is the Rambam’s birthday.1 Generally, the yahrzeit of our sages are known, while attention is rarely paid to their birthdays. In the Rambam’s instance, the opposite is true, the date of his birthday is explicitly mentioned and the date of his yahrzeit was a matter of question until it was determined as 20th of Teves. This is surely an appropriate time to mention the importance of the three-coursed program for the daily study of the Rambam’s works.

The significance of the present day is also enhanced by the influence of the yahrzeit of the Tzemach Tzedek yesterday. Based on the principle “deed is most essential,” efforts must be made to increase the study of his teachings and increase our efforts in the activities that reflect the directives he has given.

The blessings with which we “begin” must also include an expression of appreciation to all those who sent blessings in connection with Yud-Alef Nissan. G‑d will surely bless all those who took on good resolutions on that day.

These Divine blessings will be revealed in regard to both physical and spiritual matters. We see a similar twofold dimension in matzah which is referred to as “the bread of faith” (relating to the soul) and “the bread of healing” (relating to the body). G‑d will bless each Jew with a healthy body and a healthy soul. The healing will be in the manner implied by the verse, “All the afflictions... I will not place upon you, because I am G‑d, your healer,” i.e., one will be on a level of health that does not require any medication.2 Rather, one will continue with a healthy body and a healthy soul and with a healthy connection between body and soul.3

The emphasis on the health of the body reflects the Zohar’s statement (which is included in the Maaneh Lashon which is recited at the graves of tzaddikim) that not only are the Jews’ souls holy, “their bodies are holy.” A Jew, body and soul, is a unique Divine creation. Thus, we find that we are commanded to break Torah law to save the life of a Jew (even if he does not observe Torah and mitzvos). Tanna D’bei Eliyahu relates that the conception of the Jews — as they exist a soul within a body — was G‑d’s first and most essential thought, even higher than the concept of Torah and mitzvos.

All this is enhanced by the month of Nissan. The name of the month Nissan contains two nunnim, interpreted by our sages as a reference to “miracles of a miraculous nature.” This should be reflected in a Jew’s behavior, lifting him above his normal daily routine.

This should be expressed in deed, first and foremost, in giving maos chittim, the tzedakah connected with providing each person with his Pesach needs.4

This will increase the Divine blessings which will be granted to every Jew, including the most important blessing, the coming of Mashiach. After the Minchah prayers, it is customary to recite the order of the Paschal sacrifice. May this lead to the actual offering of the Paschal sacrifice.5

In the Siddur, the laws of the Paschal offering are printed directly before the simanim for Seder. These simanim begin kadesh urchatz. Significantly, in contrast to the other simanim, these two are connected by a vav. This can be explained according to their mystic significance. Kadesh and urchatz refer to the sefiros of chochmah and binah which are described as “two friends which do not part,” while all the other simanim refer to the middos which are individual entities,

To explain: Chochmah is “a brilliant spark,” a conceptual flash, which reaches fulfillment through its expression in the explanations which are the contribution of the power of binah. Thus, chochmah and binah both contribute to and receive from the other potential.

Kadesh and urchatz refer to the services of sanctification and purification. At times, purification must precede sanctification. For example, in order to enter the Beis HaMikdash (“sanctification”), one had to first purify oneself. There is, however, a dimension of sanctification which can precede purification. For example, our service during the time of exile is one of sanctification; i.e., our service of Torah and mitzvos draws down holiness to our individual selves and to our surrounding environment.6 Only afterwards, after the Messianic redemption, will G‑d purify our people.

May we merit “to eat there (in the Beis HaMikdash) from the Paschal sacrifices and festive offerings,” with the coming of Mashiach. May it be in the immediate future.