1. In these days between Purim and Pesach we should give some thought to the common aspect of liberation. As the Gemara expresses it:

Bring one period of redemption close to another period of redemption (Rashi: Purim to Pesach). (Megillah 6b)

There are actually two forms of liberation:

(A) In the Purim redemption although we remained subjects of Achashverosh we felt and we knew that we were liberated. Being bound to the Holy One blessed be He, through His Torah and mitzvos, the state of subjugation was completely negated. The Jews “would not bend or bow,” for they were servants of G‑d, and the servant of a king is himself a king (see Tanchuma).

(B) The Exodus from Egypt was a complete liberation. More than emancipation from slavery, it was a true and complete redemption.

In this period which bridges Purim and Pesach we can experience both forms of liberation. We have freedom while we are still in exile, and we also are involved in the preparations for completeredemption.

The power of meditation can transport a person into a completely different state, so that even though we are in exile, by concentrating and anticipating the emotions of freedom, we can actually experience that state in a very essential and fundamental manner. In this state of mind we begin preparing for the real, ultimate redemption, by eliminating any wrongdoing and increasing Torah and mitzvos, which will speed the redemption.

One facet of our exile is the dispersion of the Jewish people. In the Megillah, Haman expressed it thusly:

Scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples. (Esther 3:8)

This is, of course, not our fault, but in fact the dispersion also causes divisiveness amongst the people, and we must work to nullify this discord and increase the unity of the Jewish people. How appropriate is this action at this time between the two holidays of liberation!

One way to effect unity is to gather Jews together in one place with a common goal. We did this on Purim, when we all gathered to hear the Megillah and to relive the story of Purim. For, although the incidents in the Megillah took place in the days of Mordechai and Esther, the memory of those events lives on and brings us joy and exuberance even today. Thus, the joyous gathering in one place, for one purpose, effects a true oneness to be “as one man with one intention.”

This evocation of unity prompts us to gather one more time before departing. Having come together and having spent time in unison, the impending separation, for reasons of livelihood or spreading Yiddishkeit, must be seen in the context of merely a physical dispersion — but the spiritual unity continues — and therefore, in truth the real unity continues, even after departing.

Under such circumstances, the physical distance evokes a longing for the originalcloseness and it intensifies the real, underlying unity. So that even the dispersed ones are really counted as one, as “one nation” with one G‑d and one Torah.

This unity will be expressed by the common bond of practice among all of you — starting the day with “Modeh Ani — I offer thanks” — and ending it with “B’yadcha Afkid Ruchi — I entrust my spirit into Your hand”; carrying out the mission of the Holy One, Blessed be He, in goodness and holiness everywhere.

Also, should there be an individual need there is the assurance of help with graciousness, materially and spiritually.

This form of conduct will engender the blessings of the Holy One, Blessed be He, in all areas of health, joy, abundant livelihood, and true nachas from children, grandchildren and self; also, to make the proper preparations for a kosher and happy Pesach and then for the complete and ultimate redemption.

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This week’s portion is Tzav, on which Rashi comments:

The expression “Command...!” always implies urging on (to carry out a command) at once (zealousness), and is binding upon future generations. (Rashi, Vayikra 6:2)

This means that the Holy One, Blessed be He, gives the potential to every Jew to fulfill his/ her Divine service zealously, and that it will be effective for generations to come, to the end of time.

These days between Purim and Pesach carry the theme of redemption; applying the theme of zealousness and eternity in this case we can hope and expect that the liberation should come quickly and be the true and eternal redemption.

Today’s study section in Chumash deals in general with the sacrifices brought during the initiation rites in the Tabernacle and specifically:

He brought forth the bull for the sin- offering, and Aharon and his sons pressed their hands on his head. Moshe slaughtered it and collected the blood. With his finger, he placed (the blood) all around the altar’s protrusions, thus purifying the altar...thus sanctifying it so that atonement could be offered on it. (Vayikra 8:14-15)

Rashi explains:

Sanctifying it: by this rite, that all atonement sacrifices might henceforth be offered upon it. (Rashi, loc. cit.)

When Moshe sacrificed this sin-offering on the altar he bestowed upon it a new power to effect atonement. The altar was empowered for all future generations with the quality of atonement and whenever a sacrifice would be offered on the altar, from then on and forever, it would bring total forgiveness.

This theme is associated with the future redemption, for it is because of our sins that we are still in exile, and if we can attain forgiveness, then the exile will evaporate and the true redemption will come.

In today’s Rambam study section we learn the last chapter (chapter 10) of Laws of Repentance. It may be said that the Rambam divided the Laws of Repentance into 10 chapters in order to symbolize the ten categories of Jews, enumerated at the beginning of the portion Nitzavim, from the heads of the tribes to the water carriers. More profoundly, it could also relate to the ten soul powers of every Jew. For teshuvah penetrates through all levels of the Jewish people and all levels of the soul.

At the close of the Laws of Teshuvah the Rambam notes that a Jew’s general conduct should always be in a manner of “teshuvah” or attachment to G‑d. For this attachment to be true there must be no ulterior motive involved; no desire for reward in this world, nor in the World to Come:

Such a man does what is truly right because it is truly right.... It is the standard of the patriarch Avraham whom G‑d called His lover.... When we love G‑d with the right love, we will straightaway observe all the commandments out of love. (Laws of Teshuvah 10:2)

It is through this universal love for G‑d, that the ten categories of Jews can unite and become “one nation”; by uniting with the “one Torah” and “One G‑d,” bound up with the love of G‑d to the degree that G‑d refers to every Jew just as He called the first Jew: “Avraham, My friend.”

Love of G‑d also evokes Ahavas Yisrael; for you love that which your beloved loves!

In connection with love of G‑d the Rambam has taught:

And what is the way that will lead to the love of Him...when a person contemplates on His great and wondrous works and creatures.... (Laws Concerning the Basic Principles of the Torah 2:2)

To which the Rambam adds in today’s study section:

One only loves G‑d with the knowledge with which one knows Him. According to the knowledge, will be the love. (Laws of Teshuvah 10:6)

Thus, the level of love of G‑d will depend on the study of the esoteric teachings of the Torah: Chassidus.

But there are those who argue that esoterics may only be studied, and will only be fathomed, by the specially initiated! The answer to this fallacious argument glares us in the face! Look at today’s Rambam section:

The illiterate, women and children are trained to serve out of fear, till their knowledge shall have increased when they will serve out of love.... Hence when instructing the young, women or the illiterate generally, we teach them to serve G‑d out of fear or for the sake of reward, till their knowledge increases and they have attained a large measure of wisdom. Then we reveal to them this mystic truth, little by little, and train them by easy stages till they have grasped and comprehended it and serve G‑d out of love. (Ibid.:5)

The Rambam clearly writes that everyone must study Chassidic philosophy, for only through that wisdom will they come to love G‑d!

And as the Rambam concludes:

A person ought therefore to devote himself to the understanding and comprehension of those sciences and studies which will inform him concerning his Master. (Ibid.:6)

To speed up the redemption we will conclude with tzedakah. As our sages say “Tzedakah is great for it brings the redemption closer.”

I will give each of you a dollar bill so that when you return home you will give the equivalent in local currency to tzedakah.

This role of “communal messengers of a mitzvah” will further unite all of you even after you will have returned home, for tzedakah is equal to all the other commandments and brings love and unity to the Jewish people. May it preface the culmination of the exile and may it be the harbinger of redemption. And may the good resolutions bring the results of a speedy redemption.

May you be blessed with a “safe journey,” success and joy and gladness in your preparations for Pesach.

May we merit even before Pesach the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach with the complete people, complete Torah and mitzvos, complete land; in the Holy City of Yerushalayim — on the Holy Mountain and in the Beis HaMikdash.

May it be expanded and joyous, truly and speedily in our days.

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2. May G‑d bless and bestow success on all of you who merit to have a share in bringing more Jews to the yoke of mitzvos: the bar-mitzvah celebrants, parents and their families.

G‑d is the source of all blessings. By entering the yoke of responsibility and connecting with G‑d through Torah and mitzvos you draw His blessings and success upon yourselves.

This is especially pertinent for the parents who educated their sons to accept the responsibility of Torah and mitzvos. And it is even stronger when the bar-mitzvah occurs at a propitious time, the time of happiness between Purim and Pesach.

On Purim we emphasized Jewish unity. Although the Jews were dispersed, yet they remained part of the “One nation,” whose religion was different, based on the One Torah. It is by following the Torah that the blessings of G‑d will reach you. All the blessings, material and spiritual, will be bestowed upon you.

This will come about when in the galus Jews are proud and stalwart, not bowing or bending, and educating their children in that way. It must be understood that the Holy One, Blessed be He, chose him and he must choose to fulfill his mission. Since this Pesach will be the first in which the bar-mitzvah boys will be “commanded to do” we can sense a greater blessing for each and everyone.

The custom is well-known that on his bar-mitzvah day the celebrant should increase his contributions to charity. It is also appropriate that his parents should do likewise and also all his relatives. In this manner they will form a community and their prayers will certainly be heard and G‑d will bless them with all their needs, in children, life and sustenance, all in abundance. And first and foremost they will see much nachas from the bar-mitzvah boy, and there will be the nachas which the Holy One, Blessed be He, takes when every Jew fulfills Torah and mitzvos with joy and glad hearts.

May it all be with freedom — in this Season of our Freedom — from anything that might bother us. So that the Torah life will be full and joyous and even while we are still in the galus there will be the light of Torah and mitzvos.

To share and participate in this happy occasion, I will give everyone of you a dollar bill. May this act of tzedakah bring the redemption closer that even now we should feel free, and truly be free, with the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach.

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3. May the Holy One, Blessed be He, bless and bestow success on each of you, so that the preparations for the weddings will go along with great success. For those who are married already may the good wishes and blessings continue throughout your life with great success, to build a Jewish home on the foundations of Torah and mitzvos. Your families should be as an everlasting edifice, in which joy may be concentrated, the joy of the groom and bride, the parents and relatives, and all Israel, and even more so, the joy of the Holy One, Blessed be He. May it lead to the joy of the true redemption as we say in the Sheva Berachos:

Let there speedily be heard in the cities of Yehudah and the streets of Yerushalayim the sound of joy and the sound of happiness, the sound of a groom and the sound of a bride. (Siddur)

This finds greater emphasis in its proximity to Purim, when the Jews reaffirmed what they had accepted earlier at Matan Torah. There was a renewal of the Shidduch (the match) between the Holy One, Blessed be He, and the Congregation of Israel.

This carries on to every “match” and wedding according to the law of Moshe and Israel.

The groom and bride should therefore make the proper commitments to establish the “mini-sanctuary” in their home and to make it a place of “gathering for the sages.” All this should be done joyously.

The Holy One, Blessed be He, will surely give His blessings and measures of success so that all this will be done with comfort and richness, good health, joy and good hearts, and mainly, to be blessed with sons and daughters involved in Torah and mitzvos, forever.

There is the good custom that the groom and bride should give additional tzedakah on the wedding day. It is also beneficial that the parents of the couple, brothers and sisters should give tzedakah on their behalf — more than usual! There is also the custom that the couple should fast on their wedding day, which will bring the complete repentance with joy, and may all these good acts increase blessings in all areas of need.

To participate in your simchah I will give each of you a dollar bill and you should add some more money of your own when you donate it to charity.

May G‑d grant that this will speed the marriage of the Holy One, Blessed be He, with the Jewish people, as the Midrash says: “This world is the engagement — in the next world will be the marriage.” Speedily and truly in our days, with the true and complete redemption through Mashiach, may he come and redeem us and lead us, walking upright, to our land, with joy and happy hearts.