[The children said the 12 Torah passages and then sang, “We Want Mashiach Now.”]

1. Every meeting of Tzivos Hashem contains many lessons in how to serve Hashem. Since we are in the middle of Pesach, there must be a special lesson unique to this holiday.

The distinct quality of Pesach is stressed by its name, “the holiday of Matzos.” The difference between Chametz and Matzah is obvious even to a small child: Chametz rises and puffs up, but Matzah does not, and many precautions are taken with the dough (such as constantly working it) to ensure that it does not turn to Chametz.

This shows the way to properly serve Hashem. Chametz symbolizes arrogance (just as dough rises); so too, the yetzer hora is referred to in the Gemara as “Chametz.”

Matzah, on the other hand, negates the whole idea of arrogance, symbolizing humility and bittul.

This is the first lesson to be derived: a Jew must be like Matzah, completely humble and without arrogance. When the yetzer hora comes to tempt him into arrogance, the person rejects the advance completely just as the dough of Matzah is protected from becoming Chametz.

We already stressed this idea at the Seder. First we made the blessing, HaMotzi Lechem Min Ha’Aretz, just as we do the whole year on Chametz. We immediately added, however, the blessing Al Achilas Matzah, showing that the lechem we are eating is Matzah, which symbolizes complete bittul.

By following Hashem’s directive to behave with complete humility (like Matzah), we are freed from all sorts of worries, whether they are regarding physical health or that of the neshamah. This is connected with another name for the holiday, z’man cheiruseinu, or “the Time of Our Freedom.”

Since we are commanded to remember the exodus from Egypt each and every day, it follows that this lesson to be humble like a Matzah stays with us the entire year. This is especially true since, as was read previously in the 12 passages (passage 3), “In every generation a person must look upon himself as if he personally had gone out of Egypt.”

This, then, is the “order of the day” for soldiers of Tzivos Hashem. You all have the special privilege and merit of belonging to the “army” that has as its Commander-in-Chief none other than Hashem Himself. Knowing of one’s high level could lead, however, to a feeling of arrogance. Members of Tzivos Hashem therefore have the lesson of Matzah to remind them that they should not fall into this temptation.

Being humble does not mean, however, forgetting that you have special abilities. You must keep in mind that you belong to Tzivos Hashem and have tremendous advantages. But this knowledge does not lead you to arrogance. It leads to a strong and absolute conviction to utilize your abilities to the utmost and fulfill Hashem’s commands. You realize that you are never alone, but are always together with Hashem, the Commander-in-Chief.

You are therefore always joyous at your great fortune in belonging to Tzivos Hashem and being able to fulfill Hashem’s directives in Torah and mitzvos. In turn, this causes Hashem great joy, as you previously recited, “Hashem rejoices in His creations.”

And since, as you also said previously), (passage 6) “G‑d stands over him ... and searches his mind and heart (to see) if he’s serving Him as is fitting,” you all certainly carry out His commands fully, with strength and conviction.

This is a fitting opportunity to answer a question which many members of Tzivos Hashem have asked: “Since at the age of 13 (for boys) or 12 (for girls) the ‘training period’ for Tzivos Hashem terminates, what is one’s status afterwards?”

The answer can be seen by drawing comparison with a regular army. After the training period is finished, the soldier is promoted to a higher status, and goes through continuous levels of advancement. So too for members of Tzivos Hashem. After the “training period” concludes, there are many subsequent levels of promotion.

This is even more true when the effects of the child’s training in Tzivos Hashem are visible to all, and we see that he always thinks of Hashem, etc. Certainly he then remains within the ranks of Tzivos Hashem, but at an even higher level.

In accordance with the commandment of Ahavas Yisrael, certainly everyone, who can, will try to reach every single Jewish child: that those who do not yet have the privilege of belonging to Tzivos Hashem should learn Torah, do the mitzvos, and generally conquer the yetzer hora, known as Chametz.

As soldiers, you will certainly do this with great speed and vigor, thereby uniting all Jewish children; then all the Jewish children from all the generations; then their parents and teachers; then the entire Jewish nation (Shleimus Ha’Am) — with complete fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos (Shleimus HaTorah) — and with the complete land of Israel (Shleimus Ha’Aretz) with the arrival of Mashiach now.

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2. In addition to the general lesson to be derived from Pesach, there is something special to be learned from this particular day, the 18th of Nissan. This is the birthday of my father [R. Levi Yitzchok], so I will tell you a story about him which shows how one must be strong in Torah and mitzvos, and nevertheless remain humble.

Both have the same cause: since one’s accomplishments are due to the abilities granted by Hashem, one will not come to arrogance. So too, since one is together with Hashem, one will do whatever possible to fulfill His commands.

My father was Rav in a city in the south of Russia, surrounded by wheat fields which supplied the entire country. He was a highly respected Rav, and the grinding of flour for matzos had been under his supervision (with his own mashgichim, etc.) for many years.

The government then seized control of all businesses, including the mills for grinding flour for Pesach, the matzah bakeries, etc. Knowing that everyone relied on my father’s supervision, the government realized that without it, they would be unable to sell the flour.

They therefore summoned my father and informed him that this year he would also give his approval to the flour, and warned him that he is not allowed to invalidate any flour. Should he do so, they explained, it would be impossible to sell that flour. This would cause the government a financial loss, and he would be treated as one who is “waging war against the government”!

My father answered, “If I have a free hand in supervising the flour — having my own mashgichim, etc. — and can guarantee that it is fit according to the Torah, then I can give my approval to the flour again this year. If not, not only will I not give my approval, but I will publicly declare all over the land that the flour is not under my supervision!”

The government representatives repeated their demand that he give blanket approval to all of the flour, and again warned of the consequences awaiting him should he not comply.

However, my father remained firm, and again answered that he will not do anything against the Torah. Furthermore, he said, he was prepared to travel to Moscow and explain to the head of state that it is impossible to say something is kosher if it’s not. Such a thing is against the Shulchan Aruch, against Hashem’s will, and utterly impossible! If they wish to punish him, that’s their business. But he will not budge, and will never do something against Hashem’s will!

They continued their threats, but after seeing that they were getting nowhere, they left and related the conversation to their superiors (or the head of state). They were told to cooperate fully with my father, and to follow his directions completely. The result was that the flour was again under my father’s supervision, it was made without compromises or heterim, and all the government’s matzah bakeries used this flour!

This story took place in a Communist country, where only a few people could be told what happened. It is my pleasure to be able to relate it now, especially since it includes a lesson for every Jew, beginning with small children:

When a Jew stands firm and declares that he can not do anything against Hashem’s will, he will ultimately be successful, even against a powerful nation which opposes him. As we see from this story, through my father’s show of strength, the government not only didn’t interfere, but they themselves approved his flour and used it in all of their bakeries!

True, not everyone has the strength of my father. On the other hand, not everyone has such a difficult test — to have to stand up to a powerful government which ruled over 200 million people! The test facing the individual is much easier: he just has to overpower his own yetzer hora!

Therefore, when the yetzer hora tries to convince a Jewish child that the non-Jewish world will not allow him act as a Jewish child should, he should answer that this is a lie! Since Hashem constantly stands above him, He will certainly help him overcome any obstacles and to ultimately be victorious.

At that time my father’s strong resolution brought about a kosher and joyous Pesach for all. Now also, by resolving not to be affected by the yetzer hora, we bring about a kosher and joyous Pesach which will extend throughout the entire year.

An additional lesson on this same line can be derived from today’s Torah reading. We are commanded to lend money to “My [Hashem’s] people,” simply because they are His people; because they are Jews. This stresses the importance of Ahavas Yisrael to every Jew who is “poor,” i.e. in need of assistance.

This does not only apply to people who are lacking money. Any Jew who is lacking strength in matters of Torah and mitzvos is also “poor” in this respect. We therefore must teach him to have this firmness mentioned above.

And when Hashem sees Jews helping one another, He responds in kind: helping Jews wherever they are, in all of their needs. This includes Divine assistance in carrying out Torah and mitzvos even in the darkness of Exile. This includes His influence on the non-Jewish nations: not only will they not interfere with Jewish observance, but they will actually give their assistance (as mentioned in the story above).

We must help every Jew out of “spiritual” exile (not knowing about Torah and mitzvos) by speaking sincerely and living an exemplary Jewish life. This hastens the time when Hashem takes us (including every single Jew) out of exile with the arrival of Mashiach.

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3. Children have a special measure of strength in Torah and mitzvos, as the verse states, “From the mouths of babies and infants You have established strength.” This power (in Torah and mitzvos, as our Sages say, “‘strength’ refers to Torah”) is even more evident in members of Tzivos Hashem.

I therefore have a suggestion for the children. Since it is connected with the education of children, there is even more reason for the children themselves to carry it out.

Pesach is the proper time for this, since the Haggadah stresses the idea of education — and all of you certainly asked the Four Questions and also understood your father’s answer, avodim hayinu, etc.

By way of introduction: the situation in both the religious schools and the public schools is in need of improvement.

Regarding the religious schools, the law currently prohibits the government from giving financial support, even in areas unrelated to religion. Therefore, the yeshivos must spend money on transportation, lunches, etc. instead of using that same money for education itself. The schools should therefore raise a tumult: all other schools receive governmental assistance for such things as transportation, etc., whereas the schools that teach religion are punished and denied such assistance!

In the public schools, the law currently prohibits mention of the Creator, of “The Eye that Sees and Ear that Hears,” etc. We are witnessing the result of this attitude in the children the public schools are producing: children whose behavior is improper and unjust, to the extent that it resembles that of animals in the jungle! The cause for this is a lack of recognition of Hashem’s existence and presence in the world. It is therefore necessary to make a furor and urge the passing of a law requiring that each school day begin with a Moment of Silence, during which the child will have the opportunity to think about the Creator of the World, how He observes everything that happens, etc.

The suggestion is, then, that the children themselves try to accomplish this by sending petitions to the President of the United States (and to members of the Senate and House of Representatives) calling upon him to pass the two laws mentioned above. The children should, so to speak, “mix in” with the way the United States is run!

Therefore the children should organize themselves, and request their teachers to prepare a text of a petition requesting these two points.

The text should be brief and in English, and reflect the temimus (simplicity or naiveté) characteristic of children. The content should be, more or less, as follows:

“We, the children signed below, feel the necessity and importance of knowing that, ‘In the beginning Hashem created the heavens and the earth,’ (a child knows this as well as an adult, and sometimes with even more depth and feeling than an adult) — that the world is not a jungle and that there is Someone in charge.

“We therefore request that the President do everything within his power to enact a law requiring every school in the country to begin the day with a Moment of Silence, set aside for thought and meditation about the Creator of the universe.

“So too, we, the children, request the nullification of the shocking policy that religious schools cannot receive any financial assistance from the government.”

All children should sign the petitions, and they should be the ones to send them to the White House.

The yetzer hora might interfere and argue, “How can a child affect something which has to do with the entire country?” The first answer is that children have a tremendous power to accomplish things which relate to Torah and mitzvos, as we quoted previously, “From the mouths of babies and infants You have established strength.”

That same verse concludes, “to nullify the enemy and the avenger”: those who have no feeling for religion, and even those who oppose religion will find their objections weakened, to the extent that they are “nullified” completely.

Furthermore, even according to the natural order of things, it is almost certain that children will be more successful in obtaining concrete results than politicians! We see that the request of a child — especially in something he feels personally — leaves a very deep impression. Therefore, even according to nature, there is a high probability that their request will be accepted by the President, and that he will do everything within his power to change the two laws mentioned above.

It is obvious that this does not only apply to the children gathered here. All children should participate, both from religious schools and public schools; both Jewish and, l’havdil, non-Jewish children. Non-Jews must also know about the existence of the Creator, that He watches over them, etc.

Certainly everyone will participate in this; I am not doing it for glory, G‑d forbid, but rather for the benefit of hundreds of thousands of Jewish children (through aid to yeshivas) and millions of non-Jewish children (through recognition that the world has a Creator). As the Rambam puts it, “accept the truth regardless who says it!” Anyone who thinks about the idea itself will certainly conclude that (even should there be a doubt as to its success) its importance merits the greatest possible effort.

In conclusion: Pesach, which is the Festival of Liberation, is the proper time to “free” all inhabitants of the world from the yetzer hora’s arguments. This includes the idea that the world is a “jungle,” since there is no Supreme Being running it, G‑d forbid.

As mentioned above, this should begin with the children, through signing and sending petitions. This should be done as soon as possible but, because of the holiness of Chol HaMoed, it should start Isru Chag — but immediately thereafter.

If everything is done with sufficient effort, it will surely be successful, as our Sages promised, “Exert yourself and you will find.” This includes the idea of “finding” a lost object, where the reward is immeasurably greater than the effort expended. So too here, once the proper effort is invested, you will see that success is much easier than previously imagined.

4. The previous discussion regarding the petitions spoke only of the participation of children. Obviously adults should also participate in signing petitions, and to do so as soon as possible. Children were mentioned separately because that is an innovation: it is directly relevant to them, they have a special ability to achieve this, etc. However, adults should also sign and send such petitions.

In addition, anyone who has influence in a particular school or contact with teachers or the administration of a school should do everything possible to ensure that all children in that school sign and send petitions to the President.

Even the time before Isru Chag can be utilized, including Shabbos Chol HaMoed, Yom Tov, etc. Every shul’s Yizkor speech should include mention of the importance of participating in this project.

May it be Hashem’s will that these activities nullify the darkness of exile and thereby bring the immediate revelation of Mashiach.

We have already had two of the three pillars upon which the world stands: prayer, by davening Minchah; and Torah, by reciting the 12 Torah passages. We will therefore conclude, as we customarily do, with the third pillar, charity.

Pesach contains a special stress on the idea of “four”: the four Sons, the four cups, which correspond to the four expressions of redemption. I will therefore distribute 4 coins: one for charity connected with education; one for charity connected with Pesach; and two to do with as you wish.

As is customary, we will also conclude with joyous niggunim, corresponding to the joy associated with Pesach (even Chol HaMoed) and your joy in your good fortune to be members of Tzivos Hashem.

The niggunim shall be Al Tirah, Utzu Eitza, V’ad Ziknah, Ach Tzaddikim, Y’hi Ratzon, and Al Achas Kama V’kama (from the Haggadah). As we say at the conclusion of that section of the Haggadah, may we merit that Hashem “build for us the Bais HaBechirah” speedily in our days.