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  KD MAGAZINE!         ב"ה              
  Tzav-Shabbat Hagadol Birkat Hachamah  
By Rabbi Yonassan Biggs

It is customary to replace the Eruv Chatzerot this Shabbat Birkat Hachamah is Wednesday morning
The first Seder is Wednesday Night






























































































Shalom and Bracha!

   This Shabbat we read the portion of Tzav which means command. Rashi comments that the word Tzav in this portion is an encouragement immediately and for all generations. Although this week is the second week that deals with the offerings in the Temple, the word Tzav is mentioned here. Rashi explains that this section is speaking about the Olah, the offering that was fully offered to Hashem and the Kohen ate nothing. Where there is a financial loss, there is a need for special encouragement. The word Tzav also means binding. When we are ready to endure a loss for Hashem, it creates and reveals as stronger and deeper bond than previously. Rashi comments that this is an encouragement for all generations. With the current crisis, many of us are faced with difficult choices. Maintaining our standards of Kashrut, education and charity can become a question. The word Tzav in this week’s portion teaches us that Hashem has already blessed us with the strength to forge forward and that by doing so and enduring the hardships we receive a much deeper connection to Hashem and as a result a tremendous blessing.

Much of the portion describes the consecration of Aharon and his children as Kohanim, priests of Hashem. The very conclusion of the portion is that Aharon and his sons did as Hashem commanded Moshe. Rashi comments that this teaches their praiseworthiness because they didn’t veer to the right or the left. Seemingly, what is so great? Would we imagine they had done otherwise? Hashem Himself had just commanded them! Rashi is actually alerting us to a great lesson. When a person is raised to a position of importance, he tends to become haughty and egotistical. His reliance upon his own opinion becomes greater. In our relation with Hashem, the opposite must be true. As we become closer to Hashem, we must become more aware that His greatness and His wisdom are unfathomable. Our subjugation to His will must become even greater. This quality of Aharon and his sons was that although they were raised to the highest office of the Jewish people, their humility towards Hashem grew. This is also the lesson of Matzah, which represents humility.

The Shabbat before Pesach is called Shabbat Hagadol, the great Shabbat. This is because of the great miracle that occurred on this Shabbat. The Jewish people were commanded to take the Pesach lamb on the tenth of Nissan, four days before slaughtering it. That day was Shabbat. The lamb was the idol of the Egyptians. Readiness to slaughter the lamb was a tremendous act of self-sacrifice. When Moshe initially spoke to Pharaoh, he told him that the Jews must perform their offering outside of Egypt because the Egyptians would surely stone the Jews for slaughtering sheep. Holding a lamb for four days, in preparation for slaughter, was an even greater act of courage. Nevertheless, imbued with faith in Hashem and the coming redemption, The Jews followed Moshe’s command. 

  Upon seeing the Jew’s taking sheep into their homes, the Egyptians asked them what they are doing. They responded that in four days they would slaughter the lambs, and then Hashem would kill all of the firstborn Egyptians. Upon hearing this, the firstborn Egyptians rebelled, demanding the release of the Jews. Many Egyptians were killed quelling the rebellion.

  The reason that this is called a “great” miracle is that although many times our enemies have been given over into our hands, or defeated by Hashem, here the Egyptians were smitten by there own, by their firstborn. The firstborn represent the epitome, the cream of the crop. By the Jews selflessly fulfilling the will of Hashem, the epitome of evil became a tool to smite evil and pave the path to redemption. Further, the merit of their self sacrifice made them worthy of the redemption. May Hashem grant us the miracle of redemption immediately.

Sunday, April 5th, marks the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Hundred and seventh birthday. Those who say the Rebbe’s chapter of Tehillim daily begin to say chapter 108. As we mark this day it is an appropriate time to reflect upon the Rebbe’s effect on worldwide Jewry and to think how we can follow in his path, both by ourselves fulfilling additional Mitzvot and by encouraging fellow Jews wherever they may be to embrace their heritage. Just as we begin the Seder by inviting the hungry to partake, every Mitzvah we do should be accompanied by a desire to share with the spiritually hungry. Once, after the Rebbe’s secretary had left for the night, someone slipped a note under the Rebbe’s door. Upon receiving an answer, he realized that the Rebbe had had to kneel to pick up the letter. Feeling that this was disrespectful, he wrote an apology. The Rebbe responded that his whole being was only to bow down to help a fellow Jew. This is a lesson to all of us.

Chabad of Great neck is marking the Rebbe’s birthday with the groundbreaking for a new center, the culmination of twenty years of work and planning. The center will serve as a beacon of Jewish heritage and identity in the community and a sorely needed center for the Friendship Circle, a wonderful program for handicapped and special needs children. Everyone is invited to attend and each person’s presence adds to the Kiddush Hashem ad meaningfulness of the event. This is particularly significant in a Hakhel year. The event will be this Sunday, 3 p.m. at 400 East Shore Rd, Great Neck NY 11024. We are currently in the days of the consecration of the Tabernacle. Every Jew participated in the consecration and construction of the Tabernacle. This is a project the Rebbe himself blessed. Every person who participates Sunday will be a part of this special blessing. Those who cannot attend, please help financially. Even the smallest donation, when multiplied by all of my readers, will make a great difference.

On a person’s birthday, his Mazal is strong. On a leader’s birthday, the Mazal of the entire Jewish people is strengthened. If anyone would like a prayer said by the Rebbe’s resting place, please contact me at rabbibiggs@gmail.com and include your Hebrew name and your mothers Hebrew name. May Hashem immediately grant the goal that the Rebbe strived for endlessly, the coming of Moshiach.

  Birkat Hachamah

This year we have a privilege to do a Mitzvah that comes only once in 28 years. When the Sun returns to the same position and day of the week it was during the six days of creation, we make the blessing “Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who re-enacts the work of Creation.” This occurs Wednesday morning, the day preceding the Seder. The blessing should be said after morning prayers, during the first quarter of the day (in NY by 9:48. If it is cloudy or you missed the ideal time, the blessing can be made until midday (in NY 12:59). Being that it is a rare and special Mitzvah, it is desirable to make the blessing with a large congregation including men, women and children. The blessing always falls in a Hakhel year, the year of gatherings. One should look at the sun when it is not cloudy (don’t gaze at the sun it can damage your eyes) and look away and make two blessings “Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who re-enacts the work of Creation. Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.” Since there is some question concerning the second blessing, it is desirable to where a new garment or eat a piece of a new fruit after the blessing.

What does this mean to us? The sun is the great luminary Hashem placed in the firmament to enlighten the world. He uses it to provide us with heat, energy and to grow our crops. The sun returning to its origin symbolizes a new era of blessings from Hashem and that is a reason to express thanks. It may also be one of the reasons the Rebbe recommended everyone give charity after the blessing. This year is very special in that the blessing is made on the same day we burn the Chametz. Symbolically, Chametz represents ego which interferes with Hashem’s blessings and presence in our lives. The removal of Chametz in conjunction with the blessing on the sun is a powerful vessel for Hashem’s blessings.

There is also a teaching in our service of Hashem. The words for the sun in Hebrew are Shemesh and Chamah. The word Shemesh is related to the word Shamash, which means servant. A renewal in the sun teaches us that we must renew our relationship with Hashem as His servants, with total humility and acceptance. This parallels the Matzah of Pesach. The word Chamah comes from the Hebrew word Cham, which means warm. A renewal of the sun represents a renewal of warmth and excitement in service of Hashem. Every Mitzvah we do must be imbued with warmth and humility. By doing so we will merit the new blessing from Hashem and we will truly feel “lessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.”

Rabbi Yonassan Biggs is from Chabad of Great Neck, NY. His website is: http://www.chabadgn.com/

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