1. We have the merit to gather together during Pesach, the “Season of our Freedom,” the time when the Jewish people were redeemed from the Egyptian exile — and from whence also comes the strength to be redeemed from the other exiles including the present one. For when we remember that the purpose of the redemption from Egypt was to receive the Torah, as written: “When you take out the people from Egypt, you shall serve G‑d on this mountain,” and consequently we promise G‑d (the Commander In Chief of Tzivos Hashem), “the Redeemer of Israel,” to increase in Torah and mitzvos (and carry out this promise), we thereby hasten the redemption from the present exile.

This is particularly so when this promise is given on the auspicious days of the “Season of our Freedom,” after we have destroyed the chometz — which symbolizes the Yetzer Hora (the Evil Inclination). G‑d in turn nullifies the Yetzer Hora, rendering him powerless to disturb a Jew from practicing Judaism mitzvos. As a result, we can serve G‑d free of any disturbances, and can therefore easily carry out our promise to increase in Torah and mitzvos.

The above increase in Torah and mitzvos begins while still in exile — as originally occurred in the redemption from Egypt: While still in Egypt, “All the children of Israel had light in their dwelling places” — the light of Judaism. And so may it happen to us, that while still in exile we increase in all aspects of light — “the lamp which is mitzvos and Torah which is light.” Through this we hasten the true and complete redemption, when we shall be able to fully carry out our promise to increase in Torah and mitzvos.

Jewish children (of pre Bar/Bas Mitzvah age) have a unique role to play in the above. The prophecy of Yechezkel depicts the exodus from Egypt as the birth of the Jewish people. Just as from birth until Bar Mitzvah (and Bas Mitzvah) a Jewish child undergoes the educational process, so also concerning the Jewish people: After the exodus from Egypt, the Jews underwent a period of education as a preparation to receiving the Torah.

The education of the Jews to receive the Torah was expressed in two aspects: 1) the mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer, in which the Jews so longed to receive the Torah that they counted the days until Mattan Torah. 2) Before they received the whole Torah, they were given some of its precepts; and they also recited a blessing when they ate the manna.

At Mattan Torah, Jews became obligated to observe all the Torah and mitzvos — similar to Bar Mitzvah, when a child becomes obligated to observe Torah and mitzvos.

When, therefore, Jewish children of pre Bar/Bas Mitzvah age gather together on a day between the 15th of Nissan (1st day of Pesach) and “the Season of the Giving of our Torah” — the educational period of the Jewish people for receiving the Torah. it is an appropriate occasion to resolve to learn and to fulfill mitzvos with greater enthusiasm and punctiliousness. And, consonant to the command, “You shall love your fellow as yourself” — which is “a great principle in Torah” — one should influence other children to join Tzivos Hashem and to increase in Torah and mitzvos.

When such a resolution is undertaken, G‑d will surely help each of you, amidst other Jewish children and all Israel, to be successful in carrying out these resolutions fully. This is especially so since it is now the festival of Pesach, when, because we are freed of the Yetzer Hora (as above) and we are in a state of joy, special strength is granted to implement the above resolutions in actual deed. Further, the month of Nissan in general bestows extra strength, for “Nissan” is the concept of “Nisi Nissim” — “Miracles upon miracles.” Thus, where necessary G‑d helps a Jew even with miracles.

Through fulfilling all of the above, may you all, with your parents, teachers and counselors, amidst all Israel, merit to greet our righteous Moshiach and to see the wonders that will then be present, as written: “As in the days of your going out from Egypt, I shall show wonders.”


2. Every year a gathering of Tzivos Hashem is held during Pesach. But there are differences each year, concerning the weekly parshah and the day of the month on which the gathering is held. Thus, in addition to the above lesson which applies to all years, there is a lesson to be taken from today’s Torah parshah — the sixth of parshas Kedoshim, and from today’s portion of Tehillim — that of the eighteenth of the month. These lessons serve as the “Order of the Day” of this gathering.

The lesson from parshas Kedoshim

All Jews were told “Kedoshim Tihyu” — “You shall be holy.” All Jews, in all places and at all times, must know they belong to a special nation, a “holy people” — and therefore must behave in a holy manner (“You shall be holy”).

The verse then continues, “You shall be holy for I am holy.” Should someone ask how a small child, belonging to a nation which is the “smallest of all the peoples,” is able to withstand the secular atmosphere of the world and be holy, the answer is, “You shall be holy for I am holy.” Because G‑d is holy, He gives Jews the strength to act in a holy manner. G‑d is master of the entire world, and when He chooses a Jewish child as His own and tells him to be holy, no one can prevent it.

Moreover, G‑d gives every Jew the strength not to be affected by the secular atmosphere of the world, by the fact that “G‑d stands over him ... and looks at him and searches the mind and heart (to see) if he is serving Him properly.” What does this mean? A mortal Commander In Chief of a regular army does not live with his troops. Not so with the Commander In Chief of Tzivos Hashem: “G‑d stands over him” — meaning that G‑d is together with every member of Tzivos Hashem, and “leaves the upper and lower worlds” just to “look at him and search the heart and mind.”

It is therefore obvious that a Jewish child need not take into account the foolish things said concerning his minority status in the world. G‑d, the Creator and Master of the world, is together with him and grants him the powers necessary to fulfill his mission in the world (by being holy). Moreover, a Jewish child carries out his task with joy: Knowing that “G‑d rejoices with His works” — with him and with the deeds he does in accomplishing G‑d’s mission — a Jew carries out his duties joyfully: “Israel rejoices with his Maker.”

A disturbing thought (stemming from non-Jews or from non-Jewish attitudes) may at this point occur to a Jew. The exile is still in force, the Bais Hamikdosh does not exist, and G‑dliness is unrevealed in the world. How, then, can a Jew be in a state of freedom and joy?

The response to this depends on the person. To be free from the literal exile, one must ensure that one’s soul is free of the exile imposed by the Yetzer Hora, to ensure that the soul dominates the body. When the body needs food, for example, the soul ensures that one eats only kosher food; and before eating, one makes the proper blessing. In general, the soul teaches the body to learn Torah and to observe mitzvos. When the soul is thus free from bondage, the body will also be free from bondage — meaning, the redemption will come. Moreover, when a Jew prays to G‑d for the redemption, G‑d hears the prayers and brings it.

This is what today’s portion of Tehillim, the eighteenth of the month, teaches. It states at the beginning (88:3): “Let my prayer come before You,” and further on it states (88:14): “To You, O L‑rd, I have cried, and in the morning my prayer shall attend You.” What is that prayer? “I will sing of the everlasting kindness of the L‑rd” (89:2) — meaning, he will relate G‑d’s kindness, the first and foremost of which is, “For I have said, The world is built with kindness ... I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to Dovid My servant, that your seed I will establish forever” (89:3-5). These verses refer to our righteous Moshiach, who will be a “king from the House of Dovid,” concerning whom G‑d made a promise and covenant at the creation of the world, as the Midrash says (Bereishis Rabbah 2:4): “‘The spirit of G‑d hovered over the surface of the waters’ (Bereishis 1:2) — this is the spirit of King Moshiach.”

Today’s portion of Tehillim is saying that since Jews have prayed to G‑d, learned Torah and studied mitzvos throughout all the generations, everything that has to be done has been accomplished, and thus “all the fixed dates for the redemption have finished” and the time for the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach has arrived.

That the time for Moshiach’s arrival has already come is referred to in the conclusion of today’s portion of Tehillim (89:51-52): “Remember O L‑rd, the disgrace of Your servants: how I bear in my bosom the insults of all the many peoples, wherewith your enemies have insulted, O L‑rd; wherewith they have insulted the footsteps of Your anointed.” That is, the nations of the world taunt the Jewish people about the tardiness of Moshiach’s coming.

The concluding words of today’s portion are: “Blessed be the L‑rd forever, Amen and Amen.” That is, we ask G‑d to bless every Jew and all Jews — that instead of “they have insulted the footsteps of Your anointed,” all the nations should see that the redemption, which will be eternal (“forever”), comes through our righteous Moshiach. And we say “Amen” twice, for we are certain that G‑d will fill this request, the prayer of all Jews in all places in all times, and the prayer of Dovid, King of Israel (in the Tehillim, authored by him).


3. [The following sichah was said in Russian.]

Now, a few words to Jewish children (and Jews in general) living behind the Iron Curtain, who as yet do not understand Yiddish.

Extra blessings are extended to these Jews, Jews who especially need them, blessings for freedom from all difficulties in learning Torah and observing mitzvos. As we have noted in the past, such difficulties have no basis even according to the Constitution of the countries behind the Iron Curtain. Their Constitution guarantees personal freedom to each citizen to live and to educate his children according to his conscience and convictions. It is forbidden for anyone to intervene and try to prevent a person from living according to the way he wants. Indeed, the state is obligated to protect a citizen’s personal freedom.

Thus, every Jew may freely live according to the Torah’s directives and customs, to pray in a synagogue, to observe the mitzvos of Pesach, of all other festivals, and of the whole year. According to the Constitution, the police must ensure that no person prevents a Jew from living his life according to the spirit of Judaism.

On this subject I would like to relate a story concerning my father, especially since today, the 18th of Nissan, is his birthday. My father was Chief Rabbi of Dnepropetrovsk, one of the large cities in the Ukraine. The Ukraine was a grain producing area, which supplied wheat to a large part of Russia; and when Jews needed flour for matzos, they came to this place from all over Russia.

When the government undertook the responsibility of supplying Jews with flour for Pesach, it turned to my father (the Chief Rabbi of the area) for a “hechsher” (Rabbinical certification of kashrus) that the flour is kosher for Pesach. My father said he would be happy to certify the kashrus of the flour, but on the (self-understood) condition that they agree to his placement of “mashgichim” (lit., “watchers” — persons sent by the certifying Rabbi to watch that the food is prepared according to the requirements of kashrus) to observe the grinding of the wheat — that it should not come into contact with water, etc. He would certify that the flour is kosher for Pesach, he said, only if the government would guarantee that they would not restrict the “mashgichim” in their work.

In response, the government representatives told my father that such an act was against the government. Through being unable to add water when the wheat was being ground, the amount of flour produced would be less. It was impossible, they said, for the government to lose thousands of rubles just so the flour should be kosher for Pesach.

My father answered that the Constitution allows each person to follow his conscience. Since his conscience does not allow him to falsely certify flour as kosher for Pesach, he would not give his certification — and none can force him to do anything contrary to his conscience!

The end of the affair was that my father went to Moscow to meet the then head of the government (Kalinin, or his deputies) to explain his position. He told them that one may not deceive Jews into thinking that the matzos provided by the government are kosher for Pesach, when the government forced the Rabbi to give a false certification!

The result? The government directed all flour mills in the Ukraine to give a free hand to Rabbi Schneerson’s “mashgichim,” and to provide them with all help — although it involved many expenses.

This story teaches that when one explains the situation to the government clearly — that a Jew’s conscience obliges him to follow Torah, to eat matzos on Pesach, to observe Shabbos, etc., and to educate his children in the same manner — then not only will the government not prevent a Jew from doing so, but will firmly direct the police and local authorities to protect one’s rights, and to ensure that none prevent a Jew from living according to his conscience.

May it be G‑d’s will that one’s personal rights and freedoms hasten the freedom of mankind from the fear of war — since there will be peace in the whole world, culminating in the ultimate peace through King Moshiach.

As a preparation to this, may peace and unity reign among Jews — Ahavas Yisroel — and may friendly relations reign among nations, allowing mankind to be free of fear. And in regard to Jews particularly, may they, while still in exile, live Jewish lives free of those things which disturb their true desire (to observe Torah and mitzvos).


4. It is customary to conclude each gathering with tzedakah, since it is one of the most important mitzvos. The importance of tzedakah is stressed on Pesach. The three festivals, Pesach, Shavuos and Sukkos, correspond to the three fathers, Avraham, Yitzchok and Ya’akov. Pesach corresponds to Avraham, for when the three angels came to visit Avraham, he told Sarah (Bereishis 18:6), “Knead [flour] and make ‘ugos.”‘ Our sages said (Bereishis Rabbah 48:12) that “ugos” means matzos, for it was then Pesach. The tzedakah and hospitality to visitors illustrated in this episode was Avraham’s principal mode of service — the service of Ahavas Yisroel, which expressed itself in tzedakah, as stated (Bereishis 18:19): “He (Avraham) will command his children and his household after him, and they will keep the way of the L‑rd to do charity.”

A further expression of tzedakah on Pesach is that before we eat or drink at the Seder we invite needy people to participate — “All who are hungry, come and eat; all those who are in need, come and participate of the Pesach.”

The special emphasis of tzedakah on Pesach must be extended to the whole year, thereby extending the concept of “the Season of our Freedom” (freedom from all undesirable things) throughout the whole year. This is the unique quality of tzedakah: When one eliminates a poor person’s troubles and worries, G‑d eliminates one’s troubles and worries — for G‑d pays “measure for measure,” but many more times so.

We shall therefore conclude this gathering by distributing coins to each of the members of Tzivos Hashem, to be given to tzedakah. There will thereby be present at this gathering the three pillars: Torah (the recital of the 12 verses and sayings of our sages), prayer (Minchah) and deeds of lovingkindness (tzedakah). This is connected with today’s Torah portion (the sixth of parshas Kedoshim), which states (Vayikra 20:8): “You shall keep My statutes, and you shall do them: I am the L‑rd.” “My statutes” encompasses the three pillars of Torah, prayer and deeds of lovingkindness.

It is also customary to end with joyful songs: First of all, “We Want Moshiach Now,” which is associated with today’s portion of Tehillim: Since there are “many peoples ... who have insulted the footsteps of Moshiach,” Jews announce that we are sure that G‑d will carry out our request that “Speedily cause the scion of Dovid Your servant to flourish.” Then the song, “Indeed, the righteous ...”; the song, “May the Bais Hamikdosh be rebuilt speedily in our days.” In connection with Pesach, the song “V’Hi Sheomdoh,” which talks of faith, in the merit of which our fathers were redeemed from Egypt; the song “Al Achas Camo V’Chamo,” which talks of G‑d’s many kindnesses to us — also associated with today’s portion of Tehillim, which states: “I will sing of the everlasting kindnesses of the L‑rd.”

May it be G‑d’s will that we speedily merit the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.