1. On the previous Shabbos today’s date, Rosh Chodesh Nissan, was mentioned in the special reading of Parshas Hachodesh, and also in the weekly portion of Vayakhel-Pekudei. In Pekudei the Torah relates that “in the first month (the month of Nissan),... on the first of the month, the Mishkan (sanctuary) was erected.” The Mishkan has a unique importance: it was built by Moshe. Our sages tell us that everything constructed by Moshe is eternal (Sotah 9a). Hence, the Mishkan is eternal. It was buried when the Jews entered Israel. It will be revealed again in the Messianic age.1

The significance of Rosh Chodesh Nissan is also connected with Nachshon ben Aminadav, Nassi (leader) of the tribe of Yehudah, who brought his sacrifice on that day. It was the self-sacrifice of Nachshon, who plunged into the water, that caused the Red Sea to split.2 Also, Rosh Chodesh Nissan is connected with the dedication of the altar in the sanctuary.3 Then, in the words of our sages, “that day took ten crowns.” Ten represents an ultimate state of completion. The world was created by ten utterances. Rosh Chodesh Nissan represents a level in which all ten elements are “taken” on the level of crowns. Similarly, because of the unique level of Rosh Chodesh Nissan it became the Rosh Hashanah (the head of the year) of the Kings of Israel4 and of the festivals.

Rosh Chodesh Nissan is a “meritorious day.”5 It is a day on which we can use every aspect of our lives connected with the number ten (the ten powers of our G‑dly soul; the ten powers of our animal soul; and the ten qualities in the world at large) to fulfill our mission by serving G‑d. Despite the darkness of Galus we can “serve G‑d with joy,” and serve Him in a manner which encompasses every moment of our lives and every aspect of our behavior, even our sleep.6

On the surface, it seems impossible for us to be happy when we are living in Galus. In the midst of our service to G‑d we are conscious of Galus. However, we must realize that our service consists of turning darkness into light, and bitterness into sweetness, and that through our service we will bring about the revelation of the Messianic age. Furthermore, our service, which brings about the Messianic revelation, possesses an advantage over the revelations itself, as our sages declared, “one moment of Teshuvah and good deeds in this world is better than the entire life of the world to come.” We must view ourselves as a person who owns a locked chest of precious jewels and also possesses the key. From this we can feel great joy.

And thus we will prepare for the dedication of the third Temple which will also take place on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. The Rambam declares, “the Torah has promised that in the conclusion of this exile Israel will do Teshuvah and then they will be immediately redeemed.”

2. The lessons are applicable to Rosh Chodesh Nissan every year, regardless of which day of the week Rosh Chodesh falls. This year we can derive a special lesson from the fact that Rosh Chodesh Nissan falls on Tuesday, a day on which the Torah twice says, “and G‑d saw that it was good.” Also, we can learn a lesson from the weekly portion, Parshas Vayikra, relating to Rosh Chodesh.

Parshas Vayikra has an intrinsic connection with Rosh Chodesh Nissan since it describes events which took place on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. The conclusion of the previous Sedra (Pekudei) relates that the sanctuary was erected and “the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the L‑rd filled the tabernacle.” Parshas Vayikra continues the narrative, explaining how “He called to Moshe from the tent of meeting,” telling him to enter the tent.

As mentioned a number of times, the repetition of the expression “It is good” on the third day of creation (Tuesday) implies that there are two types of good: “Good to Heaven,” and “good to the creatures.” It is not intended that we divide the day into two periods, one which emphasizes “good to Heaven,” and one which brings out “good to the creatures.” Rather, our goal is to combine these two types of service each moment of the day. For example, the service of prayer, which is the epitome of “good to Heaven,” must be fulfilled in such a manner that it elevates one’s entire environment. If so, it is “good to the creatures.” Likewise, one’s service in the area of “good to the creatures” must be for the purpose of influencing the creatures to serve G‑d. If so, it is “good to Heaven.” Avraham our forefather provides us with an example of this behavior.7 Avraham would give his guests food and afterwards ask them to bless G‑d, the source of their food. If they refused, he would cause them difficulties by asking them to pay large sums for their food and lodging (even though it was opposed to his nature). The ultimate kindness is not giving alone, rather, it is to give and to make the receiver aware of G‑d, the ultimate source of the beneficence. Thus, the two services become one.

There is a special connection between what is stated above (the fusion of two opposite services) and Parshas Vayikra. This can be explained as follows: The first verse of Parshas Vayikra begins, “And He called to Moshe,” without openly mentioning G‑d’s name. There are two (opposite) explanations for this. One is that this call emanated from a source which is lower than all the names of G‑d. The other explanation is that this call emanates from a level so transcendent that it cannot be contained in a name.8

From this we can learn an important lesson. If we find ourselves in a situation where G‑d’s name is not mentioned (and cannot be mentioned, for it is possible that a gentile name can be substituted for G‑d’s name, as is the case in Megillas Esther,) we must realize that the ultimate source of this situation is G‑d’s essence, a level which is above all limitations. Therefore, even when we see that an Achashverosh can rule over the entire world, and make a huge wine-party for all his countrymen, we Jews must persevere. Then, “the fear of the Jews will fall upon them, and many of the gentiles will convert,” thus elevating all the sparks of G‑dliness in the world. Similarly, in our personal worlds we can experience a redemption. In prayer each one of us can be alone with G‑d. Also in study, we can feel one with G‑d. In Jewish philosophy there is the expression, “If I could know (G‑d), I would be (G‑d).” The Rebbe Rashab once declared “when I open up a Likkutei Torah, I am, and I know.”9

This is the message which we can learn. Through Torah we can also be in contact with G‑d’s essence, as the Medrash comments in the following parable: There was a king who married off his daughter. She was very dear to him and he asked that wherever she and her husband go, they build him a small room so he could be with them. This unity is then expressed through our efforts in Mivtza Pesach, and in all the other Mivtzoim: Mivtza Ahavas Yisroel, Mivtza Chinuch, Mivtza Torah, Mivtza Tefillin, Mivtza Tzedakah, Mivtza Mezuzah, Bayis Maley Seforim — Yavneh V’Vhachomeha, Mivtza Nairos Shabbos Kodesh, Mivtza Kashrus, Mivtza Taharas Hamishpachah. The amendment of the law of ‘Mihu Yehudi’ (Who is a Jew), and the refusal to give up portions of Israel. Then, these efforts will bring about the ultimate and complete redemption, speedily in our time.

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3. The Talmud tells us that R. Shimon ben Gamliel maintained that one must begin studying the laws of the festival two weeks prior to its advent. He derived this principle from Moshe, who went over all the laws of the Pesach sacrifice with the Jewish people on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, two weeks before the Pesach sacrifice was to be brought.10

The first law mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch regarding preparations for Pesach is the custom of Maos Chittim (giving of special monies which enable the poor to meet the additional expenses of Pesach). In this context it is proper to mention a matter that is also connected to Mivtza Torah. There are many levels in the study of Torah — from a young child learning Aleph-Bais, to the point where a scholar who has studied the entire Torah learns for the sake of learning itself.

The latter point is what distinguishes a Yeshivah from a Kollel. The difference between them is not merely that these students are married, and these are not. Rather, it is that a Yeshivah student studies in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of knowing Torah, while a Kollel student learns for the sake of Torah itself. Someone “whose soul desires the Torah” will devote himself to Torah study for a number of years despite the pressure of financial worries. His situation should be like “those who ate manna,” not at all bothered by the worries of the world. Therefore, a stipend is given to these students so their studies can continue undisturbed by material concerns. Since there are extra expenses connected with the Pesach holiday, it is proper for the administration of the various Kollels to give an added bonus — and a generous bonus — for Pesach. Even if the financial situation of the Kollel is strained, the administration should know that “a community does not become poor.” There is money that can be collected. It is necessary only to apply a certain amount of effort in doing so.

The above suggestion is connected with “good to the creatures.” It is necessary that it be coupled with a suggestion that is “good to Heaven.” It is proper that the students of the Kollel should submit a report describing their progress in the study of Torah. The need for such a report will bring about progress in Torah study. We see that people can be influenced to apply themselves more to their studies when they know that they must report to someone, as R. Yochanan ben Zakkai declares, “May your fear of heaven be as your fear of man.” Other Kollels who follow this suggestion, or test their students in some manner or form, have seen good results.

The intent of the report is not to treat the Kollel students as young children; rather, it is to force them to be objective. When a person is left to himself it is possible that his Yetzer Hora will deceive him. The Yetzer Hora is crafty and does not appear coarse. (As the Rebbeim used to remark, “Do you think that Esav went around like a farmer. He was dressed in a silk Kaputa.”) Similarly, our Yetzer Hora tries to deceive us in a refined manner. However, if we have to report to someone else there is less chance that we will be deceived. Hence, it would be proper for the Kollel students to fill out a questionnaire similar to one that was used a number of years ago.

A similar suggestion is appropriate for those who have fixed times for Torah study although they don’t learn in Kollel. During their fixed times of study their state of mind should approach that of a Kollel student. Hence, it is also proper for them to give in reports of their studies.

This, in turn, will enhance their success and help lead to the fulfillment of the prophecy, “and the world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d, as the sea fills up the ocean.” with the coming of Moshiach who will teach Torah to the entire nation, from young to old.

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4. I would like to introduce a radical idea. Mivtza Pesach (and the other Mivtzoim as well) should be carried out in a fashion that will add new energy and life. We must begin with the children. We must approach children and tell them that the Pesach holiday is approaching and that there are many special customs and laws to fulfill. Therefore, they should tell their parents that they want to help prepare for Pesach and make this Seder the nicest and most Kosher they ever had.

In order to interest the children in such a campaign it is proper that a contest be arranged and that prizes be given out. The child should send in a card saying that he (or she) has added something to the celebration of Pesach — bringing a new custom or a new guest to the Seder — and then he will receive a prizes. It is self-understood that there should be differences from class to class. A child of kindergarten age cannot achieve what an older child can achieve. However, every child can add to the celebration of the holiday, increasing the Kashrus, joy, etc.

The child must take a leading role in all matters. Beginning with the sale of Chometz and the search (with a wooden spoon) for Chometz, and including all the other preparations. Every preparation should be carried out with the children.

The participation of the child is intrinsically connected with the celebration of Pesach. Many of the customs of the Pesach Seder were instituted for the purpose of attracting the interest of young children. Furthermore, the prophet Yechezkel compares the Exodus to the birth of a child. Hence, regardless of the fact that until now no such effort has been made, it is essential to use these next two weeks to the utmost. Particularly, educators, counselors, youth leaders, etc., should make great efforts to motivate the children. If so, the campaign will be successful, for if children are inspired, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. Therefore, it is essential to approach Jewish children11 and speak to them with words that come from the heart.

There are many different ways to approach this program. Each person should develop it as he sees fit. What is most important is that the work gets done. Tonight or tomorrow morning all teachers, educators, and those who can help, should accept the responsibility to work with the children (understanding that their work will influence their entire family). In order to stress the need for action, I am asking everyone to submit a report of what they have done before Pesach.

The children must show respect for their parents, but they must also tell them that they heard of a new, radical idea. They want to bring a Kosher Pesach, and happy Pesach, by taking the leader’s role in all the Pesach preparations. Then all the preparations will be carried out with the simple faith a child possesses. The child will eagerly take care of selling the Chometz and of providing the spoon for the search. A child does not know the difference between a custom, a Rabbinic ordinance, and a Torah law. He views them as equal expressions of G‑d’s will. His simple faith and love relates to the ultimate simplicity of G‑d’s essence.

Just as the Mivtza of Shabbos candles (the campaign to have young girls light candles) added light and blessing to Jewish homes, similarly, all campaigns bringing out the light of Torah, especially the holiday of Pesach will have a good effect.

There are many aspects of the Pesach Seder that were instituted so that children would not fall asleep at the Seder. At present, it is necessary for the children to try to make sure that their parents do not sleep12 through the Pesach holiday. Then, the prophecy of Malachai — “He will return the hearts of the fathers to (-through) their children” — will be fulfilled. The efforts of the children will influence the parents toward more involvement in Torah and Mitzvos. In the case of the Shabbos candles, the efforts of the children influenced entire households to greater Torah observance. For example, when one young girl began lighting Shabbos candles her mother shortly followed her example, Slowly but surely the entire house was transformed into a Kosher house. First the parents began to ask themselves how they could work while the candles burned. Then they began eating Kosher food (after all, how could they eat ‘trefe’ while the candles were burning?). Within a short while they became totally observant. A similar effect will surely come about from this Pesach campaign. In fact, the results will probably be even more successful because of the festive nature of the Pesach holiday. Furthermore, even those Jews who do not observe any other aspects of Torah and Mitzvos, are effected by the observance of Pesach. The Pesach miracle involved taking “one nation from the midst of another.” In some cases there wasn’t any difference between the Jew and the Egyptian. Nevertheless, G‑d redeemed us. Therefore, those Jews in a similar situation today feel a connection to the Pesach holiday.

The Jewish children will respond. We will approach a Jewish child in kindergarten and tell him about a fantastic event. A people were enslaved by a super-power for hundreds of years. Then a Jew named Moshe Rabbeinu came and redeemed them. The child may have heard about Moses, and he may have studied the entire story in the Bible, but he did not know it was related to him. When he is told so with feeling he will become excited; he will run home and tell his parents how the Jews were a minority and were surrounded by the Egyptians; how G‑d made Moses a messenger and told him to go to Pharaoh inspite of this; how Moshe went to the capitol and made a protest declaring, “Send out My people and let them serve Me...” And afterwards, when the child knows that in a few days there will be a Seder and he will have to ask the four questions; that the father will answer them, and that he will drink the four cups of wine; surely such a campaign will have a positive effect on tens of thousands of Jewish homes.13

The above should be publicized and spread. Furthermore, everyone should take part in this campaign. No one is excluded. Tonight plans should start to be made. Thus, we will bring all four sons to the Seder table, and even convince the fifth son (the son who does not want to participate) to come to the Seder. This will bring a kosher and happy Pesach and hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy, “as in the days of your Exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.”