By the Grace of G‑d
Third Day of the Week,
Twice blessed with “good.”
Sedra of the Week:
Vayyikra El Moshe
Rosh Chodesh Nissan 5743
Brooklyn, N.Y.

To the Sons and Daughters of
Our People Israel, Everywhere

G‑d bless you all!

Greeting and Blessing:

It has often been pointed out that every festival contains general and particular instructions pertaining not only to the festival days themselves, but also for every day all year round.

Especially the Festival of Pesach, the first of all our festivals.

The above refers to all aspects of the festival, and even more strongly to those relating to the festival’s main features, particularly those that do not change with time and place, which are applicable in actual practice both during the time of the Beis Hamikdosh as well as in the time of Golus, everywhere alike.

Here we shall dwell briefly on some special points relating to two of the festival’s names: Zman Cheiruseinu (Season of Our Liberation) and Chag HaMatzos (Festival of Matzos, Unleavened Bread). Both these designations are mentioned many times in the prayers and blessings, etc., recited during the festival. They reflect aspects which are pertinent in actual practice always, also now and in every place.

Unlike the name Chag HaPesach, connected with the Korban Pesach, the Pesach sacrifice, which can be carried out only in the time of the Beis Hamikdosh; or the name Mo’ed Chodesh HaAviv, Festival of the Spring Month, which pertains to countries—like the Land of Israel and Egypt—in the Northern Hemisphere.

What is the relevance and meaning of Cheirus (liberation) and Matza, and their significance, instruction and influence, in regard to every day of the year?

Zman Cheiruseinu, Season of Our Liberation, signifies not only the liberation of our Jewish people, Tzivos HaShem (G‑d’s Hosts) from physical slavery in Egypt of old; but also, literally, our true liberation, namely, the liberation of every Jew, man and woman, in terms of a personal “Yetzias Mitzrayim,” as this concept is explained in the Written Torah and in the Oral Torah and in the Haggadah itself, beginning with the declaration, “Not our ancestors alone did the Holy One Blessed be He deliver from Mitzrayim, but also us has He delivered with them.” This concept is connected with the ultimate intent and purpose of the liberation from Egypt, which G‑d revealed to Moshe, as stated in the Torah: “When you will lead the people out of Egypt, you will worship G‑d on this Mount (Sinai).” In other words, the ultimate purpose and goal of Yetzias Mitzrayim was to receive and accept the Torah at Sinai (“נעשה”), to implement it and live accordingly. For it is only through Torah and mitzvos that a Jew attains true Cheirus: liberation from spiritual slavery, meaning: freedom from outside influences (especially not to be overwhelmed by the surrounding world, and get rid of any slavish inferiority complex to the non-Jewish world, and the like); as well as liberation from inner proclivities and habits, one’s personal “Mitzrayim” (literally, “limitations”) which preclude a Jew from attaining the fullest “completeness,” both individually as well as a part of the “completeness” of our Jewish people, through mutual love and identity (Ahavas Yisroel in its fullest sense).

One of the strongest obstacles to overcome is the natural disposition to self-love, egoism and the feeling of self-importance, which may cause divisiveness and separateness between Jew and Jew, G‑d forbid.

Incidentally, this also explains why Zman Cheiruseinu is connected with the announcement (at the beginning of the Seder, which is conducted in a manner of cheirus): “Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat; whoever is in need, let him come and share Pesach with us”—an invitation that is extended not just to relatives and good friends, but to “whoever is hungry” and “whoever is in need”—to any and all Jews without distinction, in keeping with true Ahavas Yisroel to all Yisroel (not just to one’s relatives and good friends).

For the same reason, when the first Zman Cheiruseinu was approaching and Pharaoh was presented with the demand to let the Jewish people go, the condition was made from the start: “We shall go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters,” etc., as it came to pass indeed when all the Jewish people, comprising each and all the tribes, left Egypt, and not a single Jew was left behind in Egyptian exile—all the Jews together, without distinction, were liberated and all in the same instant.

The inner significance of Chag HaMatzos is reflected in the two aspects of observance: the obligation to eat Matza, and the prohibition to eat Chometz, to the extent of it being “neither seen nor present.”

There is a significant difference in regard to this two-fold observance:

The obligation to eat Matza is limited in terms of the quantity of Matza that has to be eaten, as well as in respect of time (one may fulfill the obligation by eating Matza the size of two olives on each of the first two nights of Pesach; the rest of the time one may eat any and all Pesachdige foods, without Matza). However, the prohibition of Chometz is absolute, even a משהו (minutest quantity), and it applies to each instant (משהו in time) of the entire festival.

Herein is to be found an allusion and instruction for the spiritual life of the Jew, to be derived from the distinct natural characteristics of Chometz and Matza respectively.

The nature of Chometz (leaven) is that the dough rises and expands more and more; and this also provides the special taste of baked bread. Matza is quite the opposite; the dough is not allowed to rise and expand at all.

Thus it is explained in our holy sources that Chometz alludes to גאוה (haughtiness) and גסות הרוח (arrogance), which (Heaven forbid) creep into the everyday life. At the same time it is also explained that the trait of haughtiness is the root of all undesirable aspects in human character, as is written: “Everyone who is arrogant at heart is an abomination to G‑d.” So our Sages declare that HaShem says of a person who is arrogant, “There is no room for Me and him in the world,” and more expressions in this vein.

Hence, one of the reasons (although G‑d’s precepts have to be carried out as Divine imperatives, and not for any other reason) why the prohibition of Chometz applies even to the minutest quantity, thus indicating that haughtiness and arrogance must be rejected completely.

Furthermore, inasmuch as people are involved with “Chometz” all year round, in working for a livelihood (“six days you shall work”), in non-spiritual circumstances and in a gross materialistic world, etc., it is almost inevitable that some thought of self-importance, a trifle of egotism, and the like, should not rear their ugly heads, and be prompted further by the natural tendency to be prejudiced in one’s own favor, as mentioned above. Consequently, it is possible that the said attitude and conduct may become not only a “second nature,” but should also be considered as “justified” and “equitable,” etc. Hence this must be ruled out in the strongest possible terms.

Therefore, when Erev-Pesach comes around, a Jew is required to carry out a thorough “house-cleaning”—to search and eradicate the “Chometz” that has accumulated in the course of the year, however minute it may be; and from then on td guard himself and his entire household from the least bit of Chometz during the entire week of Pesach (with the extra eighth day in countries outside the Holy Land); a period that includes and represents all Sundays, Mondays, and all the other days of the week throughout the year; keeping them free of Chometz to the extent that it shall “neither be seen nor present.”

All this, together with the obligation to eat Matza and all that it teaches, instills into the Jew the strength to reject effectively all mundane influences of the materialistic world, as well as to overcome one’s own unworthy tendencies, in order to identify with Yetzias Mitzrayim in the fullest measure of personal cheirus as an everyday experience.

Having observed the Yom Tov of Chag HaMatzos, Zman Cheiruseinu, as above, one will be fully responsive to the obligation to remember Yetzias Mitzrayim every day, indeed twice daily, in the daytime (when things are “bright”) and at night (when it is dark outside), and the remembrance will help permeate all activities of the daily life with the inner content and meaning of Chag Hamatzos and Zman Cheiruseinu. One becomes liberated from all limitations and distractions and is able to carry out the G‑d-given mission, “I was created to serve my Maker,” through adherence to the Torah and Mitzvos—especially the Mitzva which is the Great Principle of the Torah, namely, v’ohavto lre’acho komocho; and also in areas of secular activities, Parnosso, etc. one is able to fulfill the obligation of “Know Him in all your ways” and “Let all your actions be for the sake of Heaven,” doubly good, “good to Heaven and good to mankind.” And all this is accomplished with joy and gladness of heart—in fullest recognition (as in the case of the first Zman Cheiruseinu) of G‑d’s assurance: “I am the L‑rd, your G‑d, (hama’alcho) who brings you up from Egypt,” that HaShem constantly delivers, “elevates,” every Jew from the Golus in the land of Mitzrayim.

May HaShem grant that everyone of us, in the midst of all our people Israel, should have a truly kosher Chag HaMatzos materially and spiritually, and enjoy true cheirus from all matters that do not conduce to peace of the soul and “peace” of the body.

And this should be a preparation for the imminent complete liberation that the complete and true Geulo will bring to each and all Jews, with the fulfillment of our fervent prayer: “Hasten and bring us in peace to our land from the four corners of the earth . . . and our eyes will behold our Teacher”; when also all of the world will feel the impact of the Geulo, in fulfillment of the prophecy, “And the nations shall go by your light . . . and the glory of G‑d shall be revealed and all flesh shall see . . . the awesome might of G‑d and the splendor of His majesty.”

With esteem and blessing for a
Kosher and joyful Pesach

/signed: Menachem Schneerson/