What marks the birth of a child? The moment the child is freed from the constraints and limitations of the womb. And what marks the birth of the Jewish people? When we were freed from the physical limitations of Egyptian slavery and the spiritual constraints of the idolatry and culture we had adopted during our exile in Egypt.
And so, because of the magnitude of the change from one status to another, we celebrate. We celebrate our birthdays on the anniversary of the day we were born and we celebrate the birth of the Jewish people on Passover.
The Talmud teaches that on your birthday good fortune is on your side. In addition, Jewish mysticism explains that on the anniversary of an event, the divine forces that were present on that day are present once more.
This means that on Passover, the divine forces that helped us lift ourselves out of slavery of mind, soul and body can be harnessed to help us lift ourselves out of these constraints and limitations once more.
A few days before Passover, the birthday of the Jewish people, we celebrate the birthday of the Rebbe.
Celebrating a birthday in a traditional Jewish manner involves using the day for the greatest spiritual benefit. This is done by giving charity; sharing words of Jewish thought and content with friends and family; reflecting on the year gone by; making good resolutions for the future.
On his birthday, the Rebbe has regularly devoted his time to giving. He has given blessings, he has distributed holy books as gifts to thousands of followers and admirers, he has shared his time and his vast knowledge of Torah concepts. Nevertheless, many people will want to give gifts to the Rebbe on such a special occasion.
What gifts can we give the Rebbe? A single good deed. A few moments specially set aside for Torah study. A coin in a tzedaka box each weekday. A determined effort to grow Jewishly. Any Torah study or mitzvot performed with the intent of preparing for and hastening the long awaited Redemption for which the Rebbe has devoted his life.