Shabbos Chol HaMoed Pesach,1 Day 4 of the Omer

גַּם בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְצָהֳלָה. שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם. אֵשֶׁת חַיִל. מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד. דָּא הִיא סְעוּדָתָא, וְיִתֶּן לְךָ — אוֹמְרִים בְּלַחַשׁ.

[Whenever Shabbos coincides with Yom-Tov or (as in the present case) with one of the days of Chol HaMoed,] the wording [in the last stanza of the Lechah Dodi hymn in Friday evening’s Kabbalas Shabbos service] is gam besimchah u’vetzahalah (“both with rejoicing and gladness”).2

[In the above-described situation,] the passages beginning Shalom aleichem, Eishes chayil, Mizmor leDavid and Da hi seudasa [that are recited on Friday evening],3 and the passages beginning VeYiten Lecha [that are recited after Havdalah],4 should be said in a whisper.

פַעַם פֵּרֵשׁ אַאַמוּ"ר: מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּיְלָה — גָּלוּת שֶׁנִּמְשַׁל לְלַיְלָה — הַזֶּה — הָאַחֲרוֹן — מִכָּל הַלֵּילוֹת — גָּלֻיּוֹת שֶׁקָּדְמוּהוּ.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אֵין אָנוּ מַטְבִּילִין — לְשׁוֹן מֵרוּק נִקָּיוֹן וְטַהֲרָה — אֲפִילוּ פַּעַם אֶחָת — לֹא נִגְמַר הַמֵּרוּק בָּהֶם, כִּי הֲרֵי הָיָה אַחֲרֵיהֶם עוֹד גָּלוּת — הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה שְׁתֵּי פְעָמִים — מֵרוּק גּוּף וְגִלּוּי הַנֶּפֶשׁ.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִים חָמֵץ אוֹ מַצָּה — הַיְנוּ כִּי גַם אַחַר הַגָּלוּת, הָעֲבוֹדָה הִיא מִצַּד נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹקִית, מַצָּה בִּטּוּל, וּמִצַּד נֶפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית, חָמֵץ יֵשׁוּת. הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה — אַחַר גָּלוּת הָאַחֲרוֹן — כּוּלּוֹ מַצָּה — שֶׁיּוּעֲבַר רוּחַ הַטּוּמְאָה.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת — כָּל הַמְקַנֵּא פָּנָיו מוֹרִיקוֹת, וּבְכָל הַגָּלֻיּוֹת הַרְבֵּה בְּחִינוֹת בְּקִנְאָה: קִנְאַת סוֹפְרִים וְהַדּוֹמֶה — הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה — אַחַר גָּלוּת הָאַחֲרוֹן — כּוּלּוֹ מָרוֹר — קִנְאָה הַיּוֹתֵר גְּדוֹלָה, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה כָּל צַדִּיק נִכְוֶה מֵחוּפָּתוֹ שֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין בֵּין יוֹשְׁבִין בֵּין מְסוּבִּין — כָּל הַגִּלּוּיִם שֶׁעַל יְדֵי הַגָּלֻיּוֹת — אוֹכְלִין — בְּחִינַת הַתַּעֲנוּג, וְיֵשׁ הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת הַתַּעֲנוּג וְתַעֲנוּג הָעַצְמִי וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁמַּגִּיעַ בַּעֲבוֹדָתוֹ לְהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת הַתַּעֲנוּג וְיֵשׁ לַתַּעֲנוּג הָעַצְמִי — הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה — אַחַר גָּלוּת הָאַחֲרוֹן — כּוּלָּנוּ מְסוּבִּין — שֶׁכָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל יַגִּיעוּ לִבְחִינַת תַּעֲנוּג הָעַצְמִי.

My revered father, the Rebbe [Rashab], once gave the following [mystical] interpretation [of the Four Questions]:5

Why is this night, this final exile (for exile is symbolized by night), different from all the other nights, from all the exiles that preceded it?6

On all [other] nights we do not dip (the verb מטבילין also means [immersion and thus implies] scouring, cleansing, and purification) even once. The process of cleansing was not completed in the previous exiles, as is evident from the fact that each was followed by yet another exile. On this night we dip twice, [once to] scour the body and [once to] reveal the soul.

On all [other] nights, we eat chametz or matzah. Following all the other exiles, our Divine service involves both the G‑dly soul, symbolized by matzah, which represents bittul (self-nullification), and the animal soul, symbolized by chametz, which represents yeshus (egoism). On this night, after this final exile, [we eat] only matzah, for the spirit of impurity will be removed from the world.7

On all [other] nights, we eat other vegetables. [This recalls the popular saying that] “when a person becomes envious, his face turns green.”8 During all the exiles there were many kinds of envy, [including negative ones, such as envying another’s wealth, and also positive kinds of envy,] such as “the envy of scholars, [which increases wisdom].”9 On this night, after this exile, [we eat] only maror: envy will be [only positive and of] the most intense [kind]. As the Sages said,10 “[In the World to Come,] every tzaddik will be singed11 by the [fiery] canopy of his colleague.”

On all [other] nights, we eat either sitting or reclining. [In the case of] all the revelations elicited by [the Divine service of Jews throughout] the exiles, “we eat” [i.e., we experience] the pleasure [that G‑d derives from this service]. Now, there is a [mere] emanation of this pleasure, and there is the pleasure itself. Some people, through their Divine service, reach a point [of spiritual growth] at which they apprehend [merely] an emanation of G‑d’s pleasure; others reach a point at which they can apprehend the very essence of His pleasure. [Sitting connotes a limited level of relaxed pleasure; reclining connotes the ultimate level of pleasurable tranquillity. Hence:] On this night, after this exile, we are all reclining: every Jew will reach the level at which they will apprehend the ultimate level of [G‑d’s] delight.12

Probing Beneath the Surface

The trials and tribulations of exile cleanse us of our spiritual impurities and prepare us for the Future Redemption. Slowly — sometimes excruciatingly so — we are rid of our self-centeredness, the spiritual counterpart of chametz. In the era of the Redemption this process will be complete: the true light of every Jewish soul will shine forth, every person manifesting the unique G‑dly intent for which his soul was brought into being. And in response to the consummation of this epic task, the world will be made radiant with the pleasure of its Creator.

This is not merely a promise of the distant future, for our Sages teach:13 “In Nissan [our forefathers] were redeemed, and in Nissan we will be redeemed.” On Pesach night, there is an even greater possibility for us to realize this promise.14