1. The last days of Pesach are a continuation of the service which began on the first days. The first days represent, in the words of the prophet Yechezkel (Ch. 16), the birth of the Jewish nation. Similarly, the AriZal interprets the verse (Devorim, 4:34) “to take Him a nation from the midst of (another) nation,” as a reference to pregnancy and birth.1 An embryo has a complete body with 248 limbs, even hair and fingernails. However, it does not live independently. Its existence is hidden; only at birth does it come into revelation. In this metaphor the eighth day of Pesach is the day of the “bris,” the day which “is the beginning of the entry of the holy soul.” Similarly, the eighth day of Pesach commemorates the bris of Yitzchok, the first Jew to be circumcised after eight days.

The above further explains the connection between Moshiach’s Seudah (the meal eaten at the conclusion of the eighth day of Pesach) and the eighth day of Pesach. Since in Messianic times Yitzchok will be given prominence over the other forefathers. — The Jewish people will tell him, “You are our ancestor.” — Similarly, the number eight (which is intrinsically related to circumcision) is representative of Messianic times, as our sages comment, “the harp of the Messianic age will have eight strings.”2 Through eating Moshiach’s Seudah our connection to Moshiach becomes stronger. This will be true not only within our minds and hearts — in our thoughts and speech — but also within the realm of action. The food is assimilated into our bodies, thus becoming part of our flesh and blood.

The connection between the last days of Pesach and the Messianic redemption is also emphasized by the Torah and Haftorah readings of those days. The Torah reading of the seventh day includes the “Song of the Red Sea,” which begins, “Then Moshe and the children of Israel sang.” The Talmud notes that the conjugation of the Hebrew word for song — Yashir — is future tense, not past, and comments: “This is an allusion from the Torah to the resurrection of the dead.” The Torah reading also contains the phrase “the Sanctuary which Your hands, 0 L‑rd, have established.” This is a reference to the third Temple. The Haftorah also contains the phrase, “He is a tower of deliverance to His king, and bestows kindness upon His anointed , to David and his descendants forever,” which is a reference to Moshiach. The Haftorah of the eighth day refers to the Messianic age, not only in allusions, but directly, e.g., “The wolf will dwell with the lamb,” “the earth will be full with the knowledge of the L‑rd, as the waters cover the sea.”3

The four cups of wine drunk during Moshiach’s Seudah are also an allusion to the Messianic age. The four cups symbolize all of the following: the four expressions of redemption during Yetzias Mitzrayim (Shemos 6:6-7), the four cups of retribution G‑d will force the nations to drink, the four cups of comfort G‑d will grant the Jewish people, the four letters of G‑d’s name, and the four levels of Teshuvah (alluding to the transformation of darkness into light).4 All of these are related to the Messianic redemption.5

The Zohar calls Matzah “the food of faith” and “the food of healing.” The Rebbe Maharash explains that when we eat Matzah on Pesach we “eat G‑dliness.” The level of G‑dliness which is “eaten” on the last days of Pesach is much greater than that of the first days. The Matzah of the last days is parallel to the Matzah of the Messianic era, “Matzah Ashirah.” Matzah Ashirah alludes to the richness — Ashirah — of knowledge that will be at that time, “the earth will be full with the knowledge of the L‑rd, as the waters cover the sea.”

Thus we see that both in regard to the Torah readings and to the food eaten, the eighth day has an advantage over the seventh day.6

The lesson the above provides for us is as follows: The seventh and eighth days of Pesach are connected with the service of Mesirus Nefesh (self-sacrifice). It was the service of self-sacrifice with which the Jews jumped into the Red Sea that caused it to split. The concept of Moshiach influences that service of Mesirus Nefesh. One might think that the world is opposed to our service, and that efforts must be made not to be effected by it. Moshiach’s Seudah teaches that the world is not opposed to G‑dliness, on the contrary, it aids that cause. Since each Jew has within him a spark of Moshiach, he can control the world, for the world is waiting and hoping for Moshiach to bring it to a state of fulfillment.7

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2. Chassidus explains that our intention while performing a Mitzvah is the soul (of the Mitzvah), and the actual deed is the body. Nevertheless, “deed is most essential.”8 Similarly, though Pesach is connected to the birth and education of every Jew — emphasizing that every Jew, no matter what his level is a child compared to G‑d’s infinity — nevertheless, it is particularly connected to children. On Pesach special efforts are made to involve the children. The Seder, a unique element which is not found in the celebration of other festivals, revolves around the children. Its entire narrative is related as a response to the children’s questions. Also, many changes have been instituted in the Seder so that the children do not fall asleep.9 Throughout the Jewish community it is common custom for the youngest child to ask the four questions first. His questions stimulate those whose duty it is to answer to respond, “We were slaves to Pharaoh...”, and continue with the entire Seder.

Similarly, the last days of Pesach also emphasize the involvement of children. The splitting of the Red Sea on the seventh day of Pesach brought about a revelation in which “Israel beheld the mighty hand which the L‑rd wielded against the Egyptians, and the people feared the L‑rd, and believed in the L‑rd and in Moshe His servant.”10 The Talmud relates that the Jewish children “recognized Him first.” He had miraculously protected them and sustained them during their ordeal in Egypt. Hence, at the Red Sea they were the first to recognize Him.11

The Messianic revelation itself emphasizes the important role of children. The Haftorah relates how “the wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the young goat... and a little child will lead them12 ... The nursing child will play on the hole of the asp, the weaned child will stretch his hand over the den of the viper.”13

We see that “the child will lead.” In order that these prophecies be fulfilled, it is necessary to prepare for them now, in Golus. This is particularly true regarding Nissan, the month of redemption; Pesach, the holiday of redemption; and the final day of Pesach, the day connected with Moshiach.

G‑d shows a special love for children. Therefore, it is understandable that their efforts can have a great effect, particularly their efforts to turn the hearts of their parents. The above holds true regarding their efforts during Pesach. Their actions will lead to the fulfillment of the prophecy “the young child will become a thousand, and the youth a great nation; I, G‑d, will hasten it (the Messianic redemption) in its time.” Then, too, the children will “recognize G‑d first,” and “a young child will lead them.”

The Shulchan Aruch teaches that before Shabbos it is proper to taste the foods cooked for Shabbos. Right now we are in the generation before Moshiach, and we must taste “from every dish” of the revelations that will occur then. Therefore, now, also, young children must become leaders — turning the hearts of their parents to Torah. These efforts will hasten the coming of Moshiach and the fulfillment of the prophecy “all will know Me, from the small to the great.” Through our present efforts to spread Torah — knowing that “our souls never went into Golus” — not one Jewish child will remain in Golus. We will find success in our attempts to involve children in the study of Torah and the fulfillment of Mitzvos. This, in turn, will lead to even greater efforts and hasten the coming of Moshiach, speedily, in our days.

3. The Talmud states that it is proper to “join the redemption (of Purim) to the redemption (of Pesach).” The reason for this connection is that the beginning of Haman’s downfall and the redemption from Egypt both took place in the month of Nissan. Also, the spiritual service that brought about the Purim redemption — Mordechai’s efforts to “go collect all the Jews — took place in Nissan. The Alter Rebbe writes that on the second day of Pesach it is proper to make a remembrance of the feast Esther gave that led to Haman’s downfall.

The redemption of Purim is also related to the Messianic redemption, and therefore bears a connection with the last days of Pesach. Purim and the Messianic redemption both share a connection with Teshuvah. The Zohar states that Moshiach will cause Tzaddikim to do Teshuvah. Purim represents an intensification of the Jews’ commitment to Torah despite the challenges of Golus, a service parallel to Teshuvah.14

The redemption of Purim is closely related to Jewish children. It was the “voice of the kids and lambs — the little (‘Tinuk’) children, — the voice of the 22,000 children that Mordechai collected together that brought about the negation of Haman’s decree in the spiritual realms.15 Furthermore, the Medrash (Esther Rabbah 7:13) relates that after hearing Haman’s decree Mordechai met three children coming from school. He asked them to repeat the verses that they had learned. The first replied: “Do not fear sudden terror, nor the destruction of the wicked when it comes.” The second continued: “Contrive a scheme, but it will be foiled; conspire a plot, but it will not materialize, for G‑d is with us.” The third added: “To your old age I am [with you]; to your hoary years I will sustain you; I have made you, and I will carry you; I will sustain you and deliver you.” When Mordechai heard this he was very happy. He knew that the promises contained in the children’s verses would be fulfilled.

Similarly, the redemption from Egypt was connected with Jewish children. Our sages declared that the redemption was caused by the merit of the righteous women who raised children to be part of “G‑d’s hosts.” The women followed the laws of Taharas Hamishpachah (Vayikra Rabbah 32:5) and thus gave birth to a generation that was able “to recognize G‑d first,” at the splitting of the Red Sea.

The Haggadah teaches that “...not one alone desired to destroy us. Rather, in each and every generation, they are standing over us to destroy us, hut the Holy One, Blessed Be He, saves us from their hands.” Just as the redemptions of Pesach and Purim were connected with children, so too, every redemption is related to the efforts of children. This is particularly true during the festivals, the time of rejoicing. When a father sees his son happy, he also feels joy — and grants him all his wishes. Similarly, when G‑d our Father sees his children — the Jewish people — happy, He blesses them from His holy and broad hand. When a father sees his child make a blessing he will give him that which he desires. Once one of the Polishe Tzaddikim, then a child, wanted an apple. His father did not want to give it to him. He made a blessing and, in order that the blessing not be in vain, his father gave him the apple. Similarly we have made the blessing proclaiming how G‑d will “bring us to festivals and holidays;” this will force G‑d to bring the redemption.

The participation of children in Moshiach’s Seudah and their request, made with joy and happiness, asking G‑d to bring Moshiach, will hasten Moshiach’s coming. A child knows no compromises and will not settle for anything less than actually seeing Moshiach come.16

Likewise, it is the voice of the children which will protect us from any challenge to Shleimus (the complete state of) Torah, Shleimus of the land of Israel, and Shleimus of the Jewish nation. Now there is severe fluctuation back and forth in all three areas. Many of the undesirable factors are known to many. The informed few know more, and “the one to whom the miracle happens does not realize the miracle,” i.e., there are other factors of which no one knows. The efforts of the children will protect us and bring about the Messianic redemption.

Hence, the children should all say L’Chaim and then join in singing the melody “Utzu Eytzo” (which is based on the verse “contrive a scheme,” mentioned above). In this way they will extend the influence of Moshiach into the coming days. Furthermore, these efforts will herald the time when “they will recognize Him first,” with the redemption of Moshiach.

4. Our sages declared “Deed is most essential.” It is not enough that we have explained to the children that Moshiach will come and redeem them with their families and their friends. It is also necessary for them to make resolutions in regard to deed and action. They must increase their study of Torah,17 fulfillment of Mitzvos, and Ahavas Yisroel. This should be done with joy.

Also they must continue their efforts, in the time that they are not involved with the study of Torah and the fulfillment of Mitzvos, “to turn the hearts of their fathers,” to influence their parents toward a greater observance of Torah and Mitzvos (while continuing to show them proper respect and honor), just as they influenced them to prepare for Pesach.

In the time of Purim it was the voice of the children that negated the decree, but it was necessary for Mordechai to bring them together. This is similar to now, when it is the responsibility of adults, educators, and Rabbis to use the days ahead for activities connected with Jewish children. This is particularly true regarding the remaining days of the month of Nissan, the month of redemption. And then we will proceed with the children at the head to greet Moshiach, speedily, in our days.

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5. The custom of drinking four cups of wine during Moshiach’s Seudah was mentioned above. Surely that custom will be actually carried out, since “deed is most essential.” Even though we wait for Moshiach every day, and as the Baal Shem Tov taught, “In the place where one’s mind and will is — there he is to be found,” still, by partaking of Moshiach’s Seudah, we establish a deeper connection. We make the awareness of Moshiach part of flesh and blood. In this way it will influence our behavior in the future.

The Alter Rebbe taught that we must derive a lesson from the weekly Torah portion applicable to our behavior. The portion connected with today is the third Aliyah of Parshas Shemini. The previous Aliyahs describe the preparations for the inauguration of the altar, the priestly blessing given by Aharon, and the revelation of G‑d’s honor to all the nation. The third Aliyah begins “And a fire came out from before the L‑rd, and consumed the burnt offering and the fat upon the altar; and when all the people saw (it), they shouted — they praised-and fell upon their faces.” The revelation of G‑d’s fire brought fulfillment to all the preparations previously made. This revelation was the purpose of all the other acts.18 Hence, the portion stresses the concept that “deed is most essential.”

Similarly, the conclusion of the portion stresses the concept of deed. It reads: “Wine or strong drink you shall not drink,... that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the L‑rd has spoken unto them by the hand of Moshe.” Our sages declare that someone who is drunk is prohibited from rendering a Halachic decision. Furthermore, the Talmud explains that this prohibition refers to decisions that deal with deed and action. One may study Torah while drunk and when doing so one fulfills the Mitzvah of Torah study. However, in such a state one is forbidden to give a directive for action. Hence, this passage also stresses deed.

The stress on deed is enhanced by the fact that the eighth day of Pesach falls on Tuesday, a day connected with two-fold good — “Good to Heaven and good to the creations.” Our aim is to fuse the two services together. “Heaven” must be brought down and unified with “creations.” This, in turn, enhances the stature of “Heaven” itself. For example, our sages relate that when the gentile nations heard the ten commandments, at first they protested. After hearing the first four commandments they argued that G‑d was merely “demanding His own honor.” Only after they heard the fifth commandment, “Honor your father and mother,” did they find them acceptable. Similarly, the Alter Rebbe declared that “Ahavas Yisroel” — good to the creations — is a vessel for “Ahavas Hashem” — good to Heaven.

To conclude with a directive for action: Everyone should fulfill the custom of drinking four cups of wine. The Previous Rebbe explained that this custom is connected with Tomchei Temimim (the Lubavitcher Yeshivah). Therefore, it is the responsibility of Tomchei Temimim to see to it that the custom is fulfilled as it should be.

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6. The summer is approaching. Therefore it is necessary to begin enrolling children in summer camps that follow Torah and Mitzvos. Now is also the time when parents are enrolling their children in schools for the upcoming year. It is appropriate to attempt to involve them in a Yeshivah, or other programs of Torah education.

The registration of children in Torah camps is most important. During the school year the home plays an important role in the child’s upbringing. No matter what he hears at school, his parents can correct his impressions and teach him Torah when he comes home. Camp, on the other hand, completely occupies the child. He is totally dependent on the camp environment — the parents don’t know what is happening to him until he returns home. Therefore, it is most necessary that the camp environment be according to Torah.

Hence, it is fitting to stress that the children are the foundation of our people now, during the festival which marks the birth of the Jewish nation. Just as they were the ones who negated the decree of Haman, they will negate all the undesirable decrees at present by following Torah. We must try, and the children themselves must try — for the hearts of the fathers will be turned by the children — to enroll children in a “happy and kosher” summer camp. Particularly teachers and educators must take part in this effort. They must influence the children to demand that their parents send them to a Torah camp. In this way the “vacation” will not be (heaven forbid) a vacation from Torah and Mitzvos. By sending children to a Kosher camp we will raise Kosher sons and Kosher daughters, and go with happiness and joy to greet Moshiach.

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7. [Trans. note: The Rebbe Shlita mentioned that it is customary to make a Kinus Torah (a gathering for the study of Torah) on the day after Pesach. He gave over a Sicha as his contribution to that gathering. Within the context of his remarks, he mentioned that the Rambam compares the command to remember the Exodus to the command to remember the Shabbos. He explained the connection between the two as follows:] The Mitzvah of remembering Shabbos adds a positive element to its observance. In addition to the prohibition to do work, there is also the Mitzvah to rest. The presence of this positive element is brought out by our sages statement, “What was the world lacking? Rest. Shabbos came and rest came.” We see that resting on Shabbos is more than a cessation of previous activities, rather, it constitutes a contribution that brings about the world’s completion.19 This point is also emphasized by Mussar texts which explain that other nations view a day of rest as a day where no work is done, while for Jews Shabbos is a day of holiness.

This difference is also brought out in Halachah. On Yom Kippur one is allowed to trim a vegetable from Minchah onwards, (in order to prepare the meal to be eaten directly after the fast,) while on Shabbos such an act is prohibited (Shabbos 114b). It is not a ‘Malachah’ (one of the 39 labors forbidden by the Torah), hence, it is permitted on Yom Kippur if done for a purpose. On Shabbos it is prohibited for it would disturb the atmosphere of rest that prevails then.

A similar concept applies with regards to our freedom from slavery in Egypt. When someone is freed from slavery there are two aspects involved: 1) the negation of the ownership of his previous master, and, 2) the establishment of his own independent existence. Similarly, our freedom from Egypt can be viewed as merely the negation of the influence of the Egyptians or in a positive light as the establishment of our people’s bond with G‑d. The Rambam stresses the second perspective, maintaining that the Mitzvah of remembering the Exodus is to tell of the wonders and miracles that G‑d wrought for our forefathers. It is this connection between the remembrance of Egypt and the remembrance of Shabbos which causes the Rambam to adopt his view.

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8. Although the splitting of the Red Sea occurred on the seventh day of Pesach, it shares a unique connection with the eighth day. The Talmud relates that until the Jews “saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore,” they were still afraid that “just as we ascend at one side [of the sea] so do the Egyptians ascend from another.” Only after they saw their bodies, did they “believe in the L‑rd and in Moshe His servant;” and recite the song of the Sea. Thus, the effects brought about by the sea’s splitting are related to the following day, which is the last day of Pesach.

The verse, “Israel beheld the mighty hand which the L‑rd wielded against the Egyptians,... and believed in the L‑rd,” raises an obvious question. If they saw, why did they have to believe?20 Belief is necessary only when something is not known.

The name of G‑d used in the above verse is Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay. The Alter Rebbe explains that there are two levels of G‑dliness — one lower and one higher — both symbolized by that name. For that reason, there is a pause between the repetition of the name Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay in the 13 attributes of mercy. In regard to the above verse, they say the revelation of the lower level of Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay, and they believed in the existence of the higher level.

This concept helps resolve another problem. The Torah declares “And I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchok, and to Ya’akov, (by the name) ‘E-1 Sha-dai,’ but (by) My name ‘Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay’ I made Me not known to them.” However, in a number of places, the name Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay is mentioned in regard to the forefathers. The above explanation resolves that difficulty. The lower aspect of Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay, the aspect that is the creative force in the world, was revealed to the forefathers. However, the higher, transcendent aspect was not revealed until the giving of the Torah. The lower aspect was perceived openly at the splitting of the Red Sea; the higher aspect was not revealed. There, the only way the Jewish people could relate to that higher aspect was through belief.

The above produces a lesson in the service of G‑d. Each day we declare “Hear, 0 Israel, the L‑rd is our G‑d, the L‑rd is One,” and “You shall love the L‑rd your G‑d with all your... might.” We must have love that reaches the level of Mesirus Nefesh. Since the love must be motivated by meditation on Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay, there are also two approaches to this love. One approach is to meditate on the creation, and through it to recognize the Creator. This approach results in a service that is limited, as the creation itself is limited. It involves systematic growth, refining one’s nature step by step. This service is incomplete, for the soul of each Jew is “an actual part of G‑d.” Just as G‑d is unlimited, a Jew also is unlimited.21 The second approach involves meditation on G‑d’s transcendent aspects — it involves a service without limitation, leaping and jumping forward in G‑d’s service.

To fully understand the above, we must answer the following question: If the second level of Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay is above the level of the world, how can we establish a connection with it? The verse answers, “and they believed in the L‑rd, and in Moshe His servant.” Moshe is a symbol of Torah, as the verse declares, “Remember the Torah of Moshe, My servant.” The Torah is the connecting bond between G‑d and the Jewish people, and between G‑d and the world. Torah is described as G‑d’s “plaything” (Mishlei 8:30), something which gives Him pleasure. This aspect of Torah is “not in the heavens,” but in the physical world. This aspect of Torah has been given to the Jewish people in our low world. Our sages relate that G‑d and the heavenly court come to hear the Torah of the Jewish people. Questions in Torah law cannot be answered in the heavens; they must be resolved by a Jew on the physical plane. Thus, Torah serves as the medium which connects us with the higher aspect of Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay.

The above concept gives us a practical lesson: The Shulchan Aruch teaches us that first one should pray, then learn Torah, and then go to his business. There are those who are so involved in business that they do not pray with a Minyan and never establish fixed times for study. When a Jew believes in the higher aspects of Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay, nothing in the world can stand in the way of his service of G‑d, as the Medrash relates: G‑d made a condition with the world that if it helps the Jewish people, it would remain in existence, and if not, it would cease to exist. For that reason, the Red Sea split before the Jewish people. Similarly, on a more individual level, the river Ginai split for R. Pinchus ben Yair while he was in the midst of fulfilling the Mitzvah of Pidyon Shivuim (Chulin 7a). That event shows that every Jew, if he is connected to Torah and Mitzvos, can change the physical nature of the world and bring out the innate G‑dliness contained within. Each one of us can overcome any obstacles that face us and reveal G‑dliness throughout the world, thus prepare for the Messianic redemption.

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9. Pharaoh’s decree “Every son that is born, you shall cast him into the Nile” can be interpreted as a reference to the spiritual death of Jewish youth. The Nile, the physical source of Egypt’s wealth and prosperity, was worshipped by the Egyptians as a god. Throwing the child into the Nile means immersing the Jewish child in an educational system whose focus is the wealth and worship of Egypt.

(In Israel, there are religious leaders who are following this path.) They are letting children be educated in a school system whose officials burn a Tanach in front of their eyes, in return for money to use for Torah projects. The Talmud says that “One should not exchange a soul for a soul.” Nevertheless, they allow 80% of the immigrant children to be educated in secularly oriented schools in return for 20% of the children and money. Furthermore, they boast of the fact that they have been successful in receiving the money they are promised. When asked about this course of action, they reply with a fiery speech about the importance of education. Yet when it comes down to action, they argue that they have no power; they cannot change the status quo. If they have no power, they should leave the coalition. If this approach is presented to them, they reply: What would happen if we leave the coalition, would it help? This approach is false — staying in the coalition automatically implies the acceptance of its actions. If two partners share a business and one decides to remain open Shabbos, the second cannot shut his eyes and say that this is not his concern. He must dissolve the partnership. If not, he ipso facto accepts the other’s actions.

The clearest example of this procedure involved the immigrants from Persia. The first who immigrated thirty years ago were sold to secular schools in exchange for money by the religious parties. Things have not changed. Recently more children from Persia immigrated to Israel, and, again, for money, they were placed in non-religious schools.

A related problem has recently surfaced. Russia is finally letting the Jews emigrate. However, one of the conditions for emigration is a statement of interest to settle in Israel signed by the Israeli government. It is a tremendous merit for Israel that she can assist in getting Jews out of Russia. Leaving Russia protects a Jew from the danger of assimilation. This is the greatest accomplishment and is as such accepted by the orthodox, conservative and reform. It allows a Jew to remain a Jew, also it affords him the opportunity to increase in his study of Torah and in his fulfillment of Mitzvos.

However, some of the Russian immigrants who have settled in Israel have not been satisfied with the living conditions there. Therefore, they have written to their relatives in Russia telling them to emigrate to other countries, not Israel. The Russians will only let Jews leave if they have the above mentioned statement. Now, there are officials in Israel who will not provide Russian Jews with the statement unless they will definitely settle in Israel. Hence, many are being forced to stay in Russia instead of emigrating to the U.S. and other countries in the free world. This situation is one where the prohibition “Do not stand over the blood of your neighbor” applies, and yet no positive action is being taken. Rather than trying to save a Jew who has been prevented from expressing his Yiddishkeit for 60 years, they argue that it is forbidden to lie. Furthermore, there are those who try to influence American philanthropists to not give money to help Russian Jews who have not settled in Israel. In fact, the American government is planning to give 60 million dollars for the benefit of Russian Jews. Israel has already tried to appropriate that money for only those who settle in Israel, and not to help those who settle in other places. This is a question of saving the “Jewish” lives of these individuals. Helping a Jew from Russia emigrate, to whatever country in which he will settle, gives him a chance to live as a Jew. Nevertheless, there are “Torah authorities” who work against helping the Russian Jews, or at least remain silent partners in a government that does so.