1. The last two days of Pesach deal with two different events. The Seventh Day of Pesach deals with the redemption from Egypt, in particular the splitting of the sea. Acharon Shel Pesach, however, deals with the future redemption and the arrival of Mashiach. Within the Messianic Age itself, we have two stages: during the first stage, the world will continue to function largely as usual. The second stage, however, will be characterized by a complete transformation of nature, including the Resurrection of the Dead.

We have these two stages alluded to in our observance of Acharon Shel Pesach. The Haftorah speaks extensively of Mashiach — ‘A shoot shall come forth from the stem of Yishai, and a branch shall grow forth out of his roots,’ and so on. This corresponds to the first stage.

In addition, we are now participating in ‘Mashiach’s Seudah,’ which was instituted by the Baal Shem Tov, and later extended by the Rebbe Rashab to include drinking four cups of wine. This establishment of a particular time within Acharon Shel Pesach to deal specifically with Mashiach represents the second stage.

Even the first stage represents somewhat of an elevation above the natural order of things. This is alluded to in the verse from the Haftorah, ‘The L‑rd will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea, lift His hand over the River [Euphrates] in His mighty wind and smite it into seven streams, and cause men to cross over in shoes.’ The expression ‘over the River’ indicates a revelation higher than the forces of nature.

This revelation was actually foreseen and pointed out at the moment of creation. On the verse (Genesis 1:2), ‘And the spirit of G‑d was hovering over the waters,’ the Midrash comments, ‘this refers to the spirit of Mashiach.’ The phrase ‘over the waters’ alludes to this same revelation.

There is an even higher revelation, however, for the fact that one can say ‘over the river’ and ‘over the waters’ indicates that we are referring to a level that can be discussed together with the waters. This itself shows that it is not completely removed from nature.

The higher level is one completely transcending nature, to the extent that it cannot even be mentioned as being ‘over’ it. It is alluded to in the Haftorah from Shabbos Chol HaMoed Pesach, which speaks about the ‘dry bones’ and the Resurrection of the Dead. There it is written, ‘the spirit [of life] came into them, they came alive and stood up on their feet, a very, very (me’od, me’od) great multitude. This double expression indicates a level not only higher than nature, but even higher than such a level.

As mentioned previously, the ultimate goal of the coming of Mashiach was present at the moment of creation. All the descents and undesirable occurrences which have occurred since then — including the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge and the various exiles, from Egypt until the present — have been for the purpose of a later ascent. The world will not only return to the holy state present at the beginning of creation, but will reach an even higher level. This will be in two respects: first of all, there will be a higher and more revealed G‑dly revelation than was present at the beginning of creation. In addition, this holiness will penetrate the physical world and all the objects within it.

The latter point is hinted to in the verse (Psalms 66:6), ‘He changed the sea into dry land; through the river they passed in shoes.’ The question immediately arises, what need could there be for shoes under such conditions? Now we need shoes to protect our feet from various dangerous objects. In the Messianic Age, however, when all negative forces will be removed from the world, such protection would seem superfluous.

The explanation is that then shoes will be worn for the sole purpose of elevating the shoes themselves. In this way the G‑dly revelation which is higher than the creation will penetrate and transform the physical world, making it a place of holiness.

Since, as Rashi quotes, the world was made for the Jewish people, we find the same general order of progression in the individual as we do in the world at large. There is also a descent, as the soul comes down from its holy abode to be joined to a physical body and an animal soul. This is described as coming down ‘from a high mountain to a deep pit.’

However, the original purpose of this descent was to later elevate the soul higher than it was originally. And although the soul was previously united with G‑d’s essence, it still is elevated as a result of its descent to the world. This is because at first the soul is merely on a level where it was united with His essence. Later, however, it becomes totally one with Him, in a way that the whole idea of levels no longer applies — the soul has become part of His essence. Therefore, just as the world is in the midst of transforming its descent into the ascent of the Messianic Age, the soul is going through the same process.

There is also a more direct connection between the elevation of the soul and the coming of Mashiach. This revelation of the essence of the soul, yechidah she’b’nefesh, represents the spark of Mashiach which is within every individual. Therefore, both the descent of the world and the descent of the soul are for the same purpose, to bring about the original intention, the revelation of Mashiach.

The Alter Rebbe explains in Tanya that the perfection of the Messianic Age is dependent on our service of G‑d during exile. From this it is understood that our service actually accomplishes this perfection now; it is just that the revelation must wait for the days of Mashiach. The Rebbe Maharash compared it to a rich person who had all his wealth hidden in a chest. Although he is unable to see it, it still exists, and it will later on be revealed. Similarly here, our Torah and mitzvos have accomplished everything, but we will only be able to see it when Mashiach comes.

Actually, the revelation itself is also in our hands. Using the example, it is as if the rich person also has the key to the chest and can open it whenever he wants. We also have the key, because we also have the capability of bringing Mashiach. As the Alter Rebbe quotes from Tikkunim, if even one tzaddik would do a complete teshuvah, Mashiach would come. A similar idea is found in halachah, as the Rambam rules that even one additional mitzvah by one individual has the power to bring Mashiach.

From all this we can understand the importance of all our deeds — particularly in the last moments of exile, and even more so on Acharon Shel Pesach, since it is connected with Mashiach. This includes drinking the four cups, a custom originally instituted with the students of Tomchei Temimim. There is a close connection between Acharon Shel Pesach and Tomchei Temimim, for the Yeshiva was founded in order to hasten the arrival of Mashiach through spreading forth the wellsprings of Chassidus.

It is therefore appropriate that Tomchei Temimim should distribute wine to everyone who has not yet finished the four cups. The wine should have its effect, which is to cause physical joy, which leads to singing, clapping, and dancing.

[After the Sichah, the administration of Tomchei Temimim distributed wine, and during the singing, the Rebbe stood up and danced with tremendous joy.]

2. Pesach is closely associated with the education of children, as we see from the Seder. Many things are changed in order to keep the children awake, they are encouraged to ask many questions, etc. The reason that this is done specifically on Pesach is because, as the prophet Yechezkel said, Pesach represents the birth of the Jewish people.

The Haggadah makes mention of the four sons, the wise son, the wicked son, the simple son, and the one who does not know how to ask. The last one is particularly problematic, for even the wicked son is interested enough to participate in the Seder and ask questions. The cause of his sorry state is hinted to in the instructions of the Haggadah, ‘You (at (ÜÇ), the feminine form) must initiate him.’ The feminine form is utilized to indicate a weakness, in this case the weakness of his teacher — for if not for that, he would not be in a state that he ‘does not know how to ask.’ The fact that the child is in such need, means that one must devote extra effort towards his education.

This is a general lesson regarding education: even when one sees that his attempts have had no result, he should not lose hope. On the contrary, he should increase his efforts.

Another related topic: one should not only educate children in Torah study, but also in other areas of behavior, such as the proper way to eat, drink, etc. This is also alluded to in the Seder, when the Seder plate is moved aside — a change in the way we eat — at the beginning of the Haggadah. This change is aimed at keeping the children alert — which means that even such children who would otherwise fall asleep at the beginning of the Seder must nevertheless be educated even regarding matters of eating and drinking.

All the days of Pesach form a single unit, as seen from the law that the blessing Shehechiyanu is not said on the last days of Pesach. From this we can learn that the stress on education we see during the first days of Pesach must also reach the last days.

The content of this education, however, is somewhat different. During the first days, the child learns primarily about the exile and redemption from Egypt. During the last days, the education must deal with Mashiach.

This is also connected with the inner reason why we do not make the blessing Shehechiyanu on the last days. The simple reason is that they are covered by the Shehechiyanu of the first days. The inner reason is that Shehechiyanu is said only when there is a revealed cause for joy. Since the main idea of the last days of Pesach is Mashiach, who has not yet been revealed, the blessing cannot be recited.

Education regarding Mashiach must include teaching children to eagerly await, and to ask for his arrival. It also includes, of course, avoiding those things which could prevent his coming. For example, we find that G‑d wished to appoint Chizkiyahu as Mashiach. However, since he did not show his thanks to G‑d through song, the beginning of the Messianic Age was pushed off. This shows the importance of educating children to show gratitude. The same applies to other similar cases.

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3. It is customary to discuss a topic to be included in the Kinus Torah (Torah conference) the day after Yom Tov. In conjunction with the abovementioned, it is curious that chinuch (the education of children) is not counted as a Biblical law, but only as a Rabbinic obligation. Chinuch is absolutely vital, and is even commanded in Proverbs, ‘Educate the child according to his way’; why should it not be a Biblical requirement?

This is especially puzzling in view of the fact that we do find other mitzvos which appear to be associated with chinuch, which are Biblically required. The mitzvah of Hakhel, for example, requires that everyone, including children, come once in seven years to Yerushalayim to hear the Torah read by the king. We also find that one is prohibited by Biblical law from feeding a child non-kosher food. This would also appear to be associated with educating the child in the mitzvah of kashrus. Why then is the general requirement of chinuch not Biblically required?

One might wish to answer that it is only the preparatory step to a mitzvah, and therefore not a mitzvah itself. Just as one must slaughter an animal, make parchment, write parshiyos, etc. in order to perform the mitzvah of tefillin, these steps are still not in themselves considered mitzvos. The same seems to apply here — in order that the child be able to fulfill all the mitzvos immediately upon reaching bar/bas mitzvah, there must first be proper chinuch. But this does not make chinuch a mitzvah, just a preparatory step.

However, the sources which discuss the obligation of chinuch do not seem to support such an idea; it does not seem to be even a Biblically required preparation. The explanation seems to be in the other direction: since the child has not yet reached the age of being obligated in mitzvos, there is no Biblical requirement whatsoever.

It can be compared to the case of a convert, who before actually converting has no obligation in mitzvos. There is no requirement to teach him all the mitzvos before converting, although it would seem necessary for him to be able to fulfill them immediately upon converting.

Another similar case is that of the Jewish people before the Torah was given on Mt. Sinai. Upon receiving the Torah, the Jewish people immediately became obligated in all the mitzvos. Nevertheless, we don’t find that they were prepared previously by being taught the mitzvos.

Therefore, here too we can say that there is no Biblical obligation of chinuch since the child has not yet reached the proper age. The cases mentioned above of Hakhel and non-kosher food are no contradiction, because they are not really in the category of chinuch. We see this from the fact that the obligation applies even to very young children who are before the age of chinuch and unable to understand what they hear.

But ultimately we are still left with a question: but what does happen upon becoming obligated? How is it possible to immediately keep the mitzvos without any previous preparation? In the case of children, the question is not so pressing, because there is a strict Rabbinic command to educate children, and Rabbinic commands are even more firm than Biblical commands, etc. The question still remains, however, when it comes to the Jews immediately after the Torah was given.

The explanation of this is that ‘Torah was not given to ministering angels,’ and G‑d knows what is beyond our natural capabilities. Knowing that it would take time after the Torah was given to slaughter the animals, write parshiyos, etc., He did not hold us accountable for not putting on tefillin until we had time to prepare them. We see this clearly from the commandment to construct the Tabernacle, which was given on Yom Kippur, and only fulfilled six months later, on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. The reason for this is obvious: since the materials had to be donated, the various objects constructed, etc., this preparation time was necessary.

As mentioned previously, there is still a Rabbinic command to educate children and prepare them to fulfill mitzvos upon reaching the age of responsibility. As explained in Chassidus, the word mitzvah is associated with the word tzavsa, which means ‘connection,’ since through performing a mitzvah one becomes connected with G‑d. According to this, we can also explain the preparatory stage which precedes the actual mitzvah; that the person must prepare himself to be able to achieve this connection. At this stage, he is more involved with himself than with G‑d, but this nevertheless prepares him to be being able to later reach the level of being completely united with Him.

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4. As mentioned above, Acharon Shel Pesach is associated with Mashiach. This receives added emphasis this year when it falls out on Tuesday, the third day of the week. The number three signifies a state of completion, in particular the building of the third Bais HaMikdash.

In fact, many significant days of the month fall out on Tuesday: Rosh Chodesh Nissan, Pesach, Acharon Shel Pesach, and the final day of the month, Erev Rosh Chodesh Iyar. Since Rosh Chodesh includes all days of the month; Pesach, the 15th, is the full moon and the fullness of the month; and Erev Rosh Chodesh Iyar is its conclusion, the idea of Mashiach associated with the third day of the week receives an even greater stress.

When we reflect upon this, we realize that we have been given extra strength to bring about the redemption. It is up to us to utilize this strength properly through making strong resolutions for the future and then carrying them out in actuality.

It is therefore appropriate to once more mention the necessity of making each dwelling into a ‘miniature sanctuary,’ in particular the children’s’ rooms.

There are those who constantly complain when they see something new: ‘but our forefathers didn’t do it!’ The answer to them is, as usual, one must see whether it will add to additional observance of Torah and mitzvos or to the opposite. Those that have done even a little in this area have seen success far beyond what they originally imagined. How much more so for those who have acted with the proper degree of involvement! It is therefore fitting to spread this idea to the greatest extent possible.

It is customary to discuss a topic from the weekly parshah. The segment which corresponds to Tuesday speaks of the prohibition to enter the Temple or to issue a legal judgment when intoxicated. In discussing the exclusion of a drunkard from fulfilling mitzvos, the Rambam explains (Hilchos Nezirus 1:12) that the problem is not that he is unable to do them, but that he is ‘not obligated’ to do them (‘aino bar chi’uv’).

We can understand this better, and derive a lesson in serving G‑d in view of the background of this commandment. This prohibition follows the description of the death of Nadav and Avihu, who (according to one opinion, as quoted by Rashi) entered the Tabernacle after drinking wine. It is explained in Chassidus — based on the interpretation of the Or HaChayim HaKadosh — that Nadav and Avihu had reached a very high spiritual level, to the point that their souls actually left their bodies. The Torah demands that we fulfill mitzvos within the physical limitations of the body and of the world; they went completely beyond these limitations.

According to this, we can also explain the expression ‘aino bar chi’uv’ in a positive way. The term bar chi’uv refers to a person who is capable of doing mitzvos in the regular way. Aino bar chi’uv means that he performs mitzvos in an unusual way.

Therefore, in the simple sense, it refers to a person who lacks the competence to perform the mitzvos. However, it also conveys a positive meaning, that the person performs mitzvos in an unusually superb manner. He is not a bar chi’uv because he serves G‑d with his entire being, completely transcending all personal limitations.

5. We mentioned previously that every dwelling should be made into a ‘miniature sanctuary.’ This obviously applies in a much greater measure for dwellings in the city of Yerushalayim itself.

It is therefore proper for all Jews to participate in building dwellings in Yerushalayim for the Jews from Russia who will soon be coming out. [See Sichah of Motzaei Shabbos Tzav, Nissan 13, 5747.] Those that have already been appointed to head this project should do so with great haste and energy, and this should be the main point in their lives from now on.

Aside from discussing the project, it is proper that all those assembled here should take an active role in seeing it through to fruition — by donating money for the construction. Checks should be given after Yom Tov in order to help cover the costs of laying the cornerstone and other costs. We can also do something still on Yom Tov towards this goal. This is by giving some of the matzah from this gathering to be eaten at the seudas mitzvah of the laying of the cornerstone.

May we merit that this be the Acharon Shel Pesach HaAcharon (the last one) spent in exile; and that we spend next year in Yerushalayim. As the Rebbe, my father-in-law explained, this does not mean that we should wait until next year. Rather, let Mashiach come immediately and automatically we will spend next year in Yerushalayim.

[The Rebbe gave out matzah to Professor Branover and Rabbi Medanchik. He then began singing the Hakkafos niggun from his father, and then stood up again and danced with tremendous joy.]