A Timeless Lesson
Freely translated from a letter of the Rebbe 11 Nisan, 5724
...The liberation from Egypt, which is the essence of Passover is linked with the Korban Pesach (the Paschal offering).
The liberation from Egypt was not merely the liberation of numerous individuals; it was the liberation of a People.
Accordingly, one would have expected that the Korban Pesach would emphasize the "nation" motif, the idea of community. Actually the approach and instruction was exactly the reverse.
True, all the "congregation" was enjoined to offer the Korban Pesach, but the instructions were explicit: each home had to have its own Korban Pesach; each Jew was individually singled out and counted for the purpose of sharing in it; each one had to be confined to his particular home or company for the duration of the Korban Pesach repast.
Herein the Torah teaches us that the way to accomplishment, even if it is intended for the community as a whole, and even if it concerns the very "liberation" of the community, must nevertheless begin with concentration on the self, and on the members of one's family and immediate circle, even though the call must necessarily go out to the whole community.
Moreover, attention should be directed not towards general considerations and all-embracing resolutions, but towards applying the main concern and energy in the realization, in the daily life, of the various "small" duties. For it is precisely this approach that will eventually bring the deliverance of the individual as well as of the community as a whole.
Of particular importance is this message to leaders of groups and movements, and especially to those who occupy the position of spiritual leaders of their communities.
All too often are they involved in "world problems," in "tremendous issues ," while only occasionally, or even quite rarely, do we find a leader who stoops to engage in "small, ordinary" problems besetting the daily life; problems which directly concern his congregants.
The more prominent the leader, the more acutely is he "compelled" to address himself to all humanity. If he is particularly imaginative, he sees himself called upon to speak also to posterity. Should he be blessed with oratorical powers, he considers it his duty to arouse the "world conscience" with all the powers of his eloquence, which makes headlines, so that he comes to be regarded as a leader of leaders and the voice of spokesmen, who envy his "public image" and seek to emulate him and even outdo him.
Responding to the leader, the follower is often carried away, and he joins the leader in offering wise council to various governments on matters of policy, and to all mankind -- on matters of good conduct, so as to ensure the happiness of all future generations. After engaging in such lofty resolutions, it would hardly be "fitting" to sound the alarm on ordinary problems in daily life; problems which cause a large percentage of the children, of those who are supposed to be led and guided, to be brought up in a way which, by any stretch of the imagination, cannot bring them to become the Wise child of the Hagada; rather they swell the ranks of one who is conspicuously absent from the Seder.
What is true on the collective level, is true also of the individual.
Every individual comprises "leaders" -- (the head and the heart; the intellectual and emotion), and "followers" -- (the limbs). Here, too, the same phenomenon is frequently in evidence: The individual makes general resolutions on a cosmic (microcosmic, since every individual is a microcosm) level: to be good and righteous before G-d and man, aware that it is G-d Who breathed a soul into him, and that He is the "King of the Universe"; he even fulfills the instruction of taking upon himself the fulfillment of the mitzva of "You shall love your fellow as yourself."
But when it comes to details and "small" deeds there is neither time nor patience; and when it comes to the injunction against business encroachment, he is tempted to disregard it, lest the Alm-ghty might deduct it from his livelihood; and when it comes to help the needy before Passover -- he desires to be affluent in "silver and gold vessels, and garments" for himself and his family, leaving very little to be spared for charity for strangers.
May G-d grant that every Jew take a lesson from the above-said, and unsaid, messages of Passover; and just as at the time of the Exodus, the liberation of the People came as a result of the liberation of the individual, so be it also here and now...