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B”H

Shalom and Bracha!

This Shabbat is very unique in that we read from three Torah scrolls. In the first scroll we read the portion of the week, Vayikra. Because this Shabbat coincides with Rosh Chodesh, We combine the sixth and seventh Aliyah and for the seventh Aliyah we read the Rosh Chodesh portion in the second Torah scroll. This week is the last of the four special portions we read in preparation for Pesach and in the third Torah scroll we read the portion of Hachodesh which discusses the Mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh and the Mitzvah of the Pesach offering and the Seder. Whenever powers of sanctity coincide, their united power provides much greater empowerment and inspiration. This is enhanced by considering their common bonds.

Vayikra-Reaching Our Higher Self

Vayikra discusses the commandments concerning the offerings in the Temple. Although the Temple is currently not standing, and the literal fulfillment of these Mitzvot is beyond our grasp until Moshiach comes, there are deep lessons to be learned from them in our daily lives. Further, since we cannot fulfill these Mitzvot through action, our studying of them is their fulfillment.

The portion begins with the word Vayikra, “He (G-d) called to Moshe.” The Alef in the word Vayikra is smaller than the other letters in the Torah scroll. This teaches us that in order to hear the call of Hashem, we must be humble. We mustn’t approach the Torah with preconceived notions, but rather be ready and anxious to learn the will of Hashem. The Mitzvah of Matzah echoes this idea. The Matzah does not rise, symbolizing humility. This is paralleled by the new Moon, Rosh Chodesh, which only shines its new light after disappearing.

The small Aleph teaches another deep lesson. Without the Aleph, the word becomes Vayakar, which means coincidence. Everything in the world is by Divine providence. Often that which appears as a coincidence is Hashem calling out to us. We must always seek the small Aleph, the lesson from whatever we see.

The Ramban teaches that when a person brings a sacrifice, he should imagine that all of the procedures that are done to the animal are being done to him. Hashem, by His kindness, allowed us to bring an animal in our stead. Chassidut goes a step deeper. The laws of the sacrifices teach us how to live our daily lives. The primary portions of the animal that were offered on the altar were the blood and the fats. Blood is the life and warmth of our bodies. Although much of our time is spent in mundane pursuit, the excitement and warmth should be dedicated purely to Hashem. The word Cheilev in Hebrew means not only fat, but also the finest. Whatever we possess or come across, the very finest should be reserved for the service of Hashem.

In a deeper sense we must sacrifice the animal within ourselves. When the Torah introduces the subject of offerings, it says “A person who will offer from among you a sacrifice to Hashem from the animals, the cattle or the sheep, you shall bring your sacrifice. The grammar of the sentence demands a deeper understanding. The words “from among you” seemingly should follow the words “A person.” The Previous Rebbe explains that the Torah is hinting that the sacrifice comes from amongst you, from the animal within each of us.

We are a composite of two souls. Our animal soul parallels the soul of every living creature. It draws us to fulfill our mundane needs and wallow in mundane pleasure. By its nature, it is the epitome of selfishness. Our Divine soul is the spark of G-d within us that makes us strive to become closer to Hashem. Whenever we break our desires for the service of Hashem, we are sacrificing our animal soul. The Torah tells us that the sacrifice can come from the cattle or the sheep. Some of us have a very course animal soul like a huge ox. Some have a meek nature like a sheep. Regardless, we must overcome our nature and become G-dly beings.

Rosh Chodesh-The Power Over Time

As an introduction to the Mitzvot of Pesach, Hashem first commanded Moshe the Mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh, the sanctification of the new moon as the beginning of the Hebrew month. As this was the first commandment to the Jewish people as a nation, it carries great significance. This year, when we read the giving of this Mitzvah on Rosh Chodesh, the impact and meaning are even greater. The purpose of the Exodus was to receive the Torah. The purpose of giving the Torah was that the Jewish people should reveal Hashem’s presence in the world through their efforts. The holidays are dependent on the sanctification of the new moon. If the Sanhedrin (the Jewish court) declares Shabbat to be Rosh Chodesh Nissan, two weeks later will be Pesach. If they declare Sunday, two weeks from then will be Pesach. Chassidut teaches that on each holiday Hashem reveals Himself in the manner He did when that Holiday first occurred, be it Pesach, Purim, Rosh Hashanah or any other holiday. The power to sanctify the new moon is the power to affect when and how Hashem reveals Himself.

Hachodesh-Self Sacrifice and Unity

The sheep was the idol of the Egyptians. Hashem commanded that the Passover offering in Egypt be brought into the homes four days before it was offered. This gave the Egyptians ample time to know that the Jews would be slaughtering the sheep and that Hashem had promised to eradicate the firstborn Egyptians the night preceding the Exodus. The risks involved in fulfillment of this commandment demonstrated a total dedication to Hashem, even to the point of boldly risking their lives. This parallels the above mentioned self sacrifice symbolized by the offerings. This is also the symbolic meaning of the total waning of the moon to receive the light of the Sun.

The centrality of unity is also expressed in Parshat Hachodesh. The Pesach offering, although brought by each family individually, was a communal offering. The Torah stresses that if one family is lacking, they should combine with another family. When we sit down to our Pesach Seder, we invite the hungry and the excluded to join us. This is because Pesach, the birth and redemption of the Jewish people, is dependent upon our caring for others. In our times, this is also expressed by inviting as many people as possible who might otherwise not attend a Seder.

The Talmud says that we were redeemed in Nissan and will be redeemed in Nissan. May we merit that this Nissan will herald the coming of Moshiach and the ultimate revelation of Hashem’s presence in this world.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov!

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated to Margarette Chabot and Michael Chira on the occasion of their wedding. May their home be overflowing with Hashem’s blessings in every manner.

There is a great Pesach Website at
chabadgn.com/holidays/Passover

----------
Nissan

This Shabbat is Rosh Chodesh Nissan. The word Nissan is related to the Hebrew word Ness, which means miracle. This is the month of Pesach, the greatest miracles of our history, and is a propitious time for miracles both as individuals and as a people. As the spring breathes new life into the world, it is a time to rededicate ourselves to Hashem and receive a new level of blessings. The month of Nissan is unique in that Tachanun (penitential prayers) are not said the entire month. This is because the first twelve days are the celebration of the consecration of the Temple in the desert. The fourteenth until the twenty-second are Pesach. Since most of the month is celebration, the entire month is treated as a holiday. It is customary during the first twelve days in Nissan to recite the occurrences of that day as related in Bamidbar (Numbers) chapter 7. Many communities have the customs to add related prayers as found in the Prayer book.

During the month of Nissan, when we see fruit trees blossoming for the first time, we make the blessing Blessed are You, Lord, Our God, King of the Universe, for nothing is lacking in His universe, and He created in it good creatures and good trees, to cause mankind pleasure with them. This blessing is a statement of faith and gratitude recognizing that all blessings come from Hashem.

Passover begins the eve of Friday April 3rd and continues through Saturday April 11th. From the latter morning of the 3rd throughout Passover, it is forbidden to own any Chametz, i.e. any grain products or byproducts that are not prepared specially for Pesach. As disposal of all Chametz is often difficult, it is customary to sell all Chametz to a non-Jewish person before Pesach and buy it back after Pesach. Due to the complications in Jewish law concerning the sale, most people appoint a Rabbi as their agent. If anyone would like me to arrange the sale of their Chametz fill out and send/fax/email me the form below Please include all addresses (home, business, vacation home) where Chametz may be. According to the Kabbalah, removal of Chametz from our possession symbolizes and affects removal of evil and negativity from our souls and lives. Chametz can also be sold online here .
 
If you know of anyone who needs a place to go for the Seder go here .
 
The Rebbe has encouraged on numerous occasions that if at all possible everyone should have hand baked Shmurah Matzah for the Seder. Similarly, we should try to see that others get Shmurah Matzah. During the Nazi occupation of France, the Rebbe risked his life and personally distributed Shmurah Matzah to many Jews throughout Paris. Jewish unity is the key to redemption and Pesach is the time when we feel that bond most intensely.

Unfortunately, this year after a difficult winter many people lack the funds to provide their families a basic Seder. Chabad is helping poor families here and in Israel. Please donate generously to
Chabad Emergency Pesach Fund
400 East Shore Road, Great Neck NY, 11024
Those who would prefer to donate via credit card can call my office at 516 4874554 or contact me via e-mail at RabbiBiggs@gmail.com.


There is a beautiful video of the Rebbe encouraging helping the needy for Pesach here .

May Hashem grant that this year we will celebrate Pesach as one great family in Yerushalayim together with Moshiach.

Rabbi Biggs
A project of Chabad of Great Neck
400 East Shore Rd.
Great Neck NY 11024
516 4874554 fax 516 4874807

 


 
   
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