The Birth of a Nation
A free translation of a letter of the Rebbe
Rosh Chodesh Nisan, 5737 (1977),
Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the first day of the month of redemption, occurs on the same day of the week as the first day of Passover, two weeks later. It is the day when the Jews in Egypt were informed of the imminent departure and redemption from Egypt (on the 15th of the month), and thereupon received the mitzvot of the Passover Sacrifice, the matza and maror, and all other directives and details pertaining to the redemption from Egypt.
Torah designated the day of Rosh Chodesh Nisan as the "New Year for Kings and Festivals."
This designation also suggests a connection with the fact that in this month the Jews were reborn as a nation and were ordained and promised by G-d to be a "Kingdom of Priests and a holy nation." Thus, royalty and holiness were linked together: Every Jew would be both a "priest" and a "royal servant" in the service of the Supreme King, by carrying out His commandments, (and "a royal servant is also royalty"), and infusing holiness into the secular world.
The Prophet Ezekiel compares the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt to the birth of a child, in that the bodily and spiritual liberation from Egypt, and their development thereafter, parallels the birth of a child, whereupon it immediately begins its physical development, which lays the foundation for its entire life.
The birth of the Jewish nation was accompanied by extraordinary difficulties, inasmuch as Egypt was at that time the mightiest and most advanced country in terms of power, science, etc., yet, also the most depraved in terms of morality and religion.
After centuries of physical and spiritual enslavement in Egypt, the Jews had to undergo a complete transformation -- and in quite a short period of time -- and to move to the other extreme, in order to be ready and worthy to receive the Torah at Sinai.
There they would attain the highest level both in the realm of religion -- the belief in One G-d (pure Monotheism) -- as well as in relation to man, as expressed in the Ten Commandments, and all this to be implemented in the actual everyday life and conduct.
Yet, despite the extraordinary difficulties, the Jewish people succeeded in making the radical transition from abject slavery to sublime freedom. This they achieved by virtue of the fact that, while still in Egypt, they took a stance of "an upraised arm" in their resolute determination to carry out all the Divine imperatives pertaining to the Passover sacrifice.
This sacrifice called for public renunciation -- at grave peril to their lives -- of the idolatry of Egypt, which they did, after renewing their Eternal Covenant with G-d through circumcision, sealed in the flesh, thus sanctifying also the body to the service of G-d.
Thus, the birth of the Jewish nation was coupled with the highest degree of liberation and independence -- while still in Egypt -- both spiritually and physically.
One of the basic teachings and instructions that follow from the above is that what is true of the birth of the Jewish nation as a whole is also true of the birth of every Jewish child.
Jewish parents should realize that the upbringing of a Jewish child begins from the moment that the child is born. They must immediately begin preparing the child to be a rightful member of the "Kingdom of Priests and a holy nation."
Notwithstanding the fact that life in this world is replete with difficulties -- though many of them are only imaginary -- it is certain that when parents take the stance of "an upraised arm" in providing a Torah-true education for their children, they are bound to succeed, just as our ancestors in Egypt succeeded; all the more so since the road has already been paved.
Moreover: it is stated, "Every day a Jew should see himself as if he was liberated from Egypt."
Every Jewish man and woman, including parents and adults in general, must devote themselves also to their own education in Torah and mitzvot -- and here, too, there is the assurance, "Make the effort, and you will succeed."
May G-d grant that every Jew exert himself (or herself) in all the above, in a manner of "an upraised arm," and this should bring closer the fulfillment of the promise, "Exalted will be the glory of the righteous (tzadik)," referring to all Jews, as it is written, "Your people are all tzadikim."
And also the fulfillment of the promise, "As in the days of your going out of Egypt, I will show you wonders" -- with the true and complete Redemption through our righteous Moshiach.