1. Torah is called the Torah of life. It contains directives which govern every aspect of our lives. The difference between Judaism and the other faiths is that they are connected with specific events. When time elapses between those events a vacuum exists. Torah is called “our life.” Just as time cannot pass without life, also time cannot pass without Torah.1 It follows that all of our thoughts, speech, and actions are governed by Torah. In fact, no event or idea occurs which is not governed by Torah.

In general, the Torah gives us three types of directives related to the use of time: A) positive commands which tell us to use time for specific actions, B) prohibitions which tell us to use time to prevent specific actions, and, C) an allotment of time whose use is left to our discretion. In the last area it is up to us to choose a path of action. Similarly, in the world at large, there are things that are holy; there are things that are evil; and there are things that are permitted. In the latter realm, we must make our decision according to the principles of, “Make yourself holy in what is permitted to you,” and, “It is enough for you, what Torah has (already) prohibited.” In this manner “all your deeds will be for the sake of heaven.”2 We make our own decisions in the last realm because the Torah has left the decision up to us, not because we ourselves want to choose. Similarly, regarding the present occasion, an event which involves one, not only as an individual, but also as part of a group that includes many times the number ten (which is the minimum for a “holy congregation”), there is surely a directive in Torah from which we can determine our behavior.

That directive requires one to “open with blessing,” thanking those who have conveyed their blessings, and reminding them of G‑d’s promise, “I will bless those who bless you.” Nevertheless, G‑d desired that this promise be emphasized by the actions of the Jewish people.3 This is one of the reasons for the Farbrengen — to thank those who conveyed their blessings.4 I would like to thank all those who gathered together here, and in other places, in connection with this occasion. May G‑d’s blessing be fulfilled for each individual and for his family.

Today’s Farbrengen takes place shortly before Pesach, during days in which the preparation for Pesach has already begun.5 The principle mentioned above is closely related to the celebration of Pesach. One of the reasons for the Seder and the descriptions of the Exodus is to show our gratitude to G‑d for bringing us out of Egypt.

Again, I would like to open with a blessing, a blessing for children, health, and prosperity; a blessing that all the preparations for Pesach will be carried out in a manner that brings about “a happy and Kosher festival.” And also a blessing that the statement of our sages, “In Nissan they were redeemed, and in Nissan they will be redeemed,” will be fulfilled this Nissan, in the year of Shivi’is — the year that is “a Shabbos unto G‑d” — through the true and complete redemption, led by Moshiach.

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2. When G‑d sent Moshe to Pharaoh to demand the freedom of the Jewish people, He ordered him to begin, “My son, my first-born Israel” (Shemos 4:22); therefore, He is asking Pharaoh to allow the Jewish people to serve Him as child honors and serves his parents.6 This is especially relevant within the context of the emphasis (mentioned in the previous Farbrengen) to be laid on having children carry out the preparations for, and the celebration of, Pesach. The entire Haggadah is an answer to the questions posed by the children.

In general, parents are willing to sacrifice for their children. One of the reasons given for the Mitzvah of “Honor your father and your mother” is that a parent sacrifices himself in order to provide for the needs of his children. Not only a child’s physical needs, but (even more so) also his spiritual needs, are important to a parent. For their own welfare, parents are willing to sacrifice a certain amount. However, when the welfare of their children in involved, there is no limit to how much they are prepared to sacrifice. No matter how much they work for themselves, they will work much more for their children. Therefore, parents are willing to provide their children with a Jewish education no matter what difficulties or ridicule they encounter. When a child goes into the street he feels that he has to fight against those influences that conflict with true and complete Yiddishkeit. We must give him the Jewish background and the strength he needs to overcome such obstacles.

From these efforts the parents receive satisfaction. The pleasure that they receive from their children is the most precious thing to them. Through educating the children in the proper way, leading them to “Torah, Chupah, and good deeds,” the parents derive satisfaction that is worth much more to them than the sacrifices they made.

A similar concept applies to the Jewish people as a whole. On an individual level a parent considers the Jewish education of his children as something vital to their future. He realizes that they must be taught to be proud of their heritage; he realizes that they must be taught how to respond to the challenges and scorn the outside environment will present. This is also true in regard to our people as a whole. Though there are many important needs, the most fundamental is education. The Jewish community must consider “Torah education” as its primary goal and objective. This is not a “sacrifice;” it is an investment which will bring about increased returns, for, as mentioned above, the feelings of satisfaction the ‘parents’ derive far outweighs anything they have given up.

The above should be reflected in the Pesach celebration, i.e., children should be given an important role.7 They are the ones who begin the Seder. The questions they ask will demonstrate their interest and involvement. This, in turn, will add life and light to their Torah and Mitzvos the whole year round, especially the Mitzvah of “Honor your father and your mother.” Therefore, we must involve the children in the preparations for Pesach, the time when the family will join together, both spiritually and physically, in a common experience.

In this manner we establish “G‑d’s hosts,” i.e., the Jewish people, “our youth and our elders, our sons and our daughters.” All sit around the same table. These efforts will foster greater unity and togetherness in the family for the entire year to come. All will work towards making the family more complete, and making the house into a fitting resting place for G‑d’s presence.

Also, this will hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy “a great congregation will return there,” with the ingathering of the exiles to our holy land. We will see “the end of darkness,” the end of exile, and experience the Messianic redemption, speedily in our days.

3. Because there is the need “to return the hearts of the fathers through the children,” as mentioned above, this sicha will be addressed to the children. Just as the Sicha spoken to the adults “began with blessing,” so, too, the children who have gathered together and offered their good wishes will be blessed by G‑d, as the verse declares, “I will bless those who bless you.” G‑d will grant them the blessing to grow up as Jewish children who fear G‑d, complete both spiritually and physically, healthy in body and soul. He will set them up in the mainstream, as a source of true satisfaction to their parents.

Their mission is to become the future of the entire Jewish people. Since G‑d demands this of the children, it is self-evident that He has given them the potential to carry out the mission, no matter what obstacles confront them. This applies to the people as a whole, and each family in particular.

When we approach children pleasantly, “educating them according to their way,” i.e., teaching them in a language they can understand and they relate to, we can be sure that they will be encouraged to fulfill the Mitzvah to “Honor your father and your mother,” as well as all of the other 612 Mitzvos of the Torah. To be good children, i.e., children who will give their parents true honor and satisfaction, they must fulfill all of G‑d’s Torah. They must begin at the youngest of ages. To stress this point a child is taught the Posuk “The Torah which Moshe commanded us is an eternal inheritance of the congregation of Ya’akov” as soon as he begins to speak. Even though the child does not understand what he is being taught, the repetition of the verse influences him and effects his behavior.8

Therefore, even though in certain matters, they are still dependent on the education they will be given by their parents, still, in regard to other matters, they know what it means to be a Jew, what Judaism means, and what a Jewish child means. Thus, they are given the privilege, responsibility, and mission from G‑d to add life and light to their homes. Just as the parents cannot shirk off their responsibility to educate their children in the face of every challenge, similarly, the children must carry out their mission inspite of all obstacles they encounter. They must honor their parents; but they also must do all that is necessary to fulfill G‑d’s will. They must make their homes fit to be the dwelling places of G‑d’s presence.

Furthermore, parents are willing to listen to their children. If they see that their child speaks from the heart, that Judaism really means something to him, their love for the child causes them to fulfill his wishes.9 When a child approaches his parents a number of times and asks them to prepare for Pesach showing them that he is willing to take an active part in the effort they will happily accept his request.10 Even if the parents do not feel so strongly about Pesach and fulfill its Mitzvos only for the sake of their children, still, they will derive great satisfaction from the fact that their children live together with them. They will soon realize that, more than they did for their children in fulfilling their request, their children did for them.

The following is to summarize what has been said: Children must approach their parents and tell them that they want a Jewish home. Particularly at this time should they ask to make preparations for Pesach — for a Kosher Pesach, and therefore, a happy Pesach. If they speak with genuine feeling their parents will accept their wishes. (Even if the parents do so only to satisfy their children, they will later understand the true reasons for the Mitzvos of Pesach, as the Torah promises, “We will do and we will listen — understand.”) However, we cannot wait until we understand to act — the time for Pesach is approaching — now the preparations must be made. And then, “as in the days of your Exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.” That is, just as after the redemption from Egypt, at the splitting of the Red Sea, “they (the children) recognized first,” so too, in the redemption from the present Galus, the redemption from the U.S.A.,11 the children who fulfilled G‑d’s mission, bringing “the candle of Mitzvah and the light of Torah” into their homes, will recognize Him first, with the complete and true redemption, led by Moshiach, speedily in our days.

4. This year Yud-Alef Nissan falls on a Friday in the week of Parshas Tzav. Both of these factors provide lessons in our service of G‑d. The word Tzav implies, as Rashi comments, “An encouragement applicable immediately, and for generations to come.” This should lead to “zealousness” in the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos. The Talmud explains that zealousness leads to great heights in our service of G‑d, including hastening the coming of the prophet Eliyahu, the herald of the redemption. The zealousness implied by Parshas Tzav is such that it will have an effect on one’s children and grandchildren. All of our efforts in Mivtza Pesach and the campaign to “return the hearts of the fathers through the children” must be carried out with zealousness.

Friday is a unique day. In the Biblical narrative of creation, on the sixth day, it is twice mentioned, “And G‑d saw that it was good.” A similar phenomenon occurred on only one other day, the third day of creation. There is a difference between these two days. On the third day the expression, “And G‑d saw that it was good,” is repeated twice. On the sixth day that expression is used once and the expression, “and G‑d saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” The third day has an advantage over the sixth in that it marks the first time a two-fold good is mentioned. However, the sixth day also has an advantage: On this day the Torah uses the expression “very good.” The Hebrew word for every — Maod — refers to a level beyond limitation. The good of the sixth day was beyond limitation. Hence, it was able to add completeness to all the creations of the previous days, as the verse declares, “and G‑d saw everything that He made.”

Similarly, now, in our service on this, the sixth day, in the sixth millennium of creation, we can bring about unlimited good as we prepare for the Messianic redemption. We must “spoil Egypt” by elevating all the sparks of G‑dliness enclothed in the world, thus transforming darkness into light, and hastening the coming of Moshiach.

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5. On Yud-Alef Nissan it is customary to read about the sacrifice brought by the prince of the tribe of Asher. Asher is connected with the quality of pleasure. (Bereishis 30:13, “Happy am I.”) Pleasure is a quality of unlimited potential, transcending the boundaries of the powers of our souls. It is the highest of all powers and effects us in a very profound way. The Talmud

(Gittin 56b) relates that when Vespasian heard a report that gave him great pleasure (namely, that he was appointed Emperor of Rome), it affected him to the point that the bones of his feet swelled. The very lowest aspect, the heal of a foot of a non-Jew, could be affected by pleasure.

Even now, in the time of severe Galus, every Jew must derive pleasure from his service of G‑d. We must study Torah and fulfill Mitzvos with pleasure. This, in turn, will give us the potential to expand our service and hasten the coming of Moshiach.