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Liberating Heaven and Earth

Changing Winter to Spring

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When Private Affects Public

Reclaiming The Fifth Son

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Tefillin and Egypt

Enjoyment or Achievement?

Levels of Freedom

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Sacrificing Slavery

Schooling During Pesach

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Last Days of Passover

Text of the Passover Haggadah

 Counting With Miracles Changing the Unchangeable

Striving Higher

Translation of a letter from the Rebbe

Rosh Chodesh Nissan, 5735 [1975]

The highlight of the month of Nisan -- the month of Geula [Redemption] -- is the festival of Passover, which is denoted in our sacred liturgy as z'man cheiruseinu, "Festival of our Liberation."

In the plain sense, cheiruseinu means "our liberation," i.e. the collective liberation of all the individuals belonging to our people. However, as we can see from a similar text, z'man simchaseinu -- "Festival of Our Rejoicing" -- the Alter Rebbe [the first Chabad Rebbe] interprets the plural form (also) in a dual sense: the rejoicing of the Jews and the rejoicing of G-d. Accordingly, the term "our liberation" may also be understood in a dual sense: the liberation of the Jews from Egyptian bondage as well as the liberation, as it were, of the Shechina [Divine Presence], as this is indicated in the Hoshana prayer: "You saved the people and G-d..." and in the words "v'hotzeisi eschem" ("I will liberate you") which, according to tradition, may be read also "v'hotzeisi itchem" ("I will be liberated with you).

This means that Jewish liberation, individually and collectively, is two-fold: the Jew's liberation and the liberation, as it were, of the Shechina, of the G-dliness that is in every Jew -- the Divine soul, which is a spark of G-dliness itself.

The said liberation is reflected in, indeed achieved through, the Jew's daily conduct in a manner of true freedom and expansiveness (true because it is rooted in Toras Emes, the Law of Truth), in both aspects of his life.

To elucidate the above:

The events and concepts of Yetzias Mitzrayim [the Exodus from Egypt] and z'man cheiruseinu present many didactic aspects of moral instruction for the Jewish people as a whole and for every Jew individually, at all times and in all places, as in the case of all matters of Torah, the source of eternal values and instructions.

The moral lesson of Yetzias Mitzrayim, which we are commanded to remember every day, is that every Jew must constantly strive to free himself from mitzrayim [bondage], from all restraints and inhibitions that limit the fullest Jewish expression and development, for he could be better and finer were it not for various impediments.

Obviously, the first thing is to free oneself from the evil practices of Mitzrayim, in the area of "turn away from evil" (the don't mitzvot) and from hindrances in the area of "do good" (the do mitzvot) in the actual conduct of the everyday life.

At the same time, there is in every "do mitzva" which one fulfills, and every "don't mitzva" which one heeds, the al-pi-din [according to the law] and lifnim meshuras hadin [going beyond the letter of the law], which is also an imperative of our eternal Torah. And since all matters of Torah and mitzvot, good and holiness, derive from, and were commanded by G-d, the Infinite, they are also infinite.

Hence, however satisfactory one's level of Yiddishkeit [Judaism], Torah and mitzvot, it could be -- and therefore must be -- better and higher, in accordance with the principle that "all things of holiness should be on the ascendancy" (maalin b'kodesh).

If one makes no effort and does not strive hard, to advance to a higher level, beyond his habitual routine which becomes second nature (teva, fixed form, imprint) -- he has not yet achieved true freedom.

This then, is one of the basic teachings of Yetzias Mitzrayim, z'man cheiruseinu: the liberation from Egypt was a double one: the physical liberation of the Jews from Egyptian bondage, coupled with the liberation of their Jewish soul, as it is written, "Draw and take unto yourselves" -- "draw back from idolatry"; reject it completely.

And although both were achieved with a "high hand" -- including inner freedom, yet, upon their departure from Egypt, the Jews immediately began their steady rise, each day rising to a higher spiritual level and true freedom, until they attained the highest level of freedom with the receiving of the Torah, as our Sages observe: charus al haluchos [engraved on the tablets] -- [to be read] cheirus al haluchos [freedom through the tablets].

May G-d grant that just as at the time of the Exodus from Egypt, "the children of Israel went out with a high hand" -- with self-esteem and free spirit, so may also today, every Jew everywhere order his daily life in complete freedom, with dignity and joy.

And may we very soon merit to welcome our righteous Moshiach, with the true and complete Redemption.

 Counting With Miracles Changing the Unchangeable

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