What does Yud Aleph Nissan or Pesach mean to me Today?
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik
This coming Tuesday will be Yud Aleph Nissan, the Rebbe’s birthday. In a Chai Elul Sicha (5703-1943) the Previous Rebbe quoted the words of the Tzemach Tzedek. He explained to his son Reb Baruch Shalom what occurs in the higher worlds on the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe and how powerfully it affects us. The same holds true for Yud Aleph Nissan. The best things for us to do on this auspicious day is to strengthen our connection by saying Tehillim, writing a pan, going on mivtzoyim, and preparing for Pesach.
When we ask others what the Lubavitcher Rebbe represents, we get differing answers. One will say that he is best understood by his Ahavas Yisroel; how he thinks about every Jew wherever he is and worried to do as much as possible to help each person according to his or her needs. We see during his distribution of dollars where he listened and cared for each person on an individual basis. By the Rebbe there was no such thing as a Jew being left behind. Others will point to the teachings of the Rebbe, the depths of his Sichos, explanations of Rashi and Rambam and his Maamorim. Others will point to the Rebbe’s leadership and innovation that has changed and continues to change the world in a lasting way. (See Letter from the Rebbe the 3rd of Tammuz 5710-1950, which explains that a Rebbe is even more than all of the above)
In a sicha on Yud Shevat 5730-1970 the 20th year after Yud Shevat 5710, the Rebbe spoke about chinuch and the upcoming generation. He quoted the pasuk; “Ki yishalcha bincha machar- When your child will ask you tomorrow what are these laws etc.” He then quoted Rashi on the word machar-tomorrow who gives two definitions. One is a literal definition, meaning tomorrow. The second definition of tomorrow means; further in the future, or at a distance. The Rebbe explains that there are two different types of children that will ask this question. One child understands and has a feeling for what his father is saying because although he is in a different generation they share a common language and therefore this child is asking from the vantage point of tomorrow, close by, meaning literally the very next day. The second son feels out of touch and because he doesn’t speak a common language finds the previous generation irrelevant to him. This is because he is not able to appreciate the Torah’s message and then translate it properly properly. For this son tomorrow is far off in the distance. The Torah tells us not to worry, that the Torah has a vital and relevant message for him as well.
As it was in 5730-1970, 20 years after Yud Shevat 5710, so too today we approach 20 years since Gimmel Tammuz, and today also there are also two sons. There is one that lives in today’s generation but remains connected and shares a common language. He is able to see the vital relevance of the message of the Torah and Chassidus in the same way as in the past if not more. Sure there are challenges, and sure there are questions. Nevertheless they stay strongly connected and therefore are a directly involved. Their questions are like questions asked the very next day, from close up. There are others who have not been able, for whatever reason to maintain a strong connection between what they were taught yesterday and integrate it into their lifestyle today. The greater the distance the greater their challenge to connect to what it really means to be a Chabad Chosid today. They will start with terms of indifference, saying to the older generation; you saw the Rebbe, you experienced the fabrengens etc., what do you expect from me?
Another place we see this in a less obvious way is in how we view the mitzvah of ahavas Yisroel. In this age of moral relativism, to some it means to be open to everyone no matter what and not to criticize anyone. On one hand while that is a very beautiful thing, on the other hand something essential is missing. Sometimes we know others that are living a harmful lifestyle, and it’s as if they are calling out for help. They need a friend, a parent or mashpia to pay attention, to get involved and express their concern. We owe it to our friend our child and our student. To be able to sit down and explain why his situation is wanting and how he can improve is real ahavas Yisroel. Where is the ahavas Yisroel if we just to look the other way? He needs our help! Have we forgotten these basics? Is the tomorrow of today become too distant and out of touch? We need to reconnect and relearn what we have been taught.
In this generation of ours some think that Chabad has become an umbrella organization. Chabad is not a rainbow coalition made up of the Ultra Chassidic, Regular Chassidic, Modern Chassidic and Chabad Lite. It is not a Chabad thing to look the other way and just love everyone. The Rebbe taught us by example over and again the exact opposite. We need to get involved, to reach out and share chassidus and pay attention to our friend, child and our student and point out his situation and how it compares. We can then suggest ways to improve. It’s not politically incorrect, it’s our responsibility to teach, show and live the life of a Lubavitcher Chosid as taught in the Rebbe’s Sichos and letters.
Throughout the 12 days of reciting the Nasi, the day of Yud Aleph Nissan and throughout Pesach we are given the power to break free of our habits. So as we sit by the Seder, 3 ½ thousand years after the exodus we we remind ourselves that we have one Hashem, one Torah, one Chassidus and one Moshe Rabbenu. Our job is to open the channel of connection and tap into the power of the Nasiim, Yud Aleph Nissan and Pesach by doing all of the mitzvos and observing all of the minhagim. The effect is powerful. A kosher and freilichen Pesach.