Birthdays, The Rebbe & Passover

By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui


As a devotee and disciple of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention a very significant day in the life and soul of our teacher and master, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.

Our sages tell us that everything that is significant in one’s life, becomes the pattern of their soul forever. The soul of a teacher remains forever connected to his students and the important day of a birthday when a person’s soul is strengthened to take on the next leg of life’s journey, remains significant to the soul forever.

The 11th of Nissan marks the Rebbe’s birthday. This is an auspicious day for our own souls to be strengthened through our connection with the soul of the Rebbe.

The Holy Baal Shem Tov instituted the tradition to say daily the chapter of Psalms associated with the number of one’s years. Students of a great teacher and master will say in addition to their own chapter the chapter in Psalms of their teacher as a way of praying to G-d for his wellbeing. This act connects and attaches the student even more deeply with their mentor and spiritual father figure.

This short chapter is only 10 verses long. In verse nine we read: “He has distributed, giving to the needy; his righteousness will endure forever, his horn (his strength) will be exalted with honor.” Chasidic teachings explain when one gives charity in a manner of distributing – the Hebrew word “pizar” is used here which more literally means “to scatter” rather than to give carefully, without any limitations – the effects of this charity are limitless – it endures forever.

Our Sages state, “Great is charity for it brings the Redemption closer.”

The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s concern and longing for the final Redemption was evident even when he was a child, as seen in the Rebbe’s 1956 correspondence with Yitzchak ben Tzvi (the President of Israel at that time).

“From the day I went to cheder [primary school] and even before, the picture of the final Redemption started forming in my mind – the Redemption of the Jews from their last exile, a Redemption in such a way that through it will be understood the sufferings of exile, the decrees and the destruction … And all will be in a way that with a complete heart and full understanding it will be said on that day, ‘Thank you G-d for chastising me.'”

The Rebbe’s dream and his lifelong dedication was and forever remains, redemption for the entire world from all its problems.

In the book of the prophets it describes the time leading up to the final redemption as birth pangs. It compares the moment Moshiach comes as the moment of his birth.

When a child is born it’s not just a celebration for the parents and friends, it’s mostly a celebration for the child himself. Although the baby had nothing to worry when it was in its’ mother’s womb, birth allows for the fetus to become distinct and independent.

In the mothers womb everything is provided without effort and therefore can never be attributed or credited to the child’s own effort. Anything we receive free  without working and struggling for it remains aloof and superficial.

Only by virtue of our own individual struggles and overcoming challenges have we truly grown and become something evolved and better.

Redemption for the individual is the result of their own choices. It is the reward in each person’s life for never giving up and always marching forward.

The Holiday of Passover is the power of freedom and redemption from all that constricts and restrains a person from reaching the fullest potential. By performing the G-dly act of eating the hand baked special Matzah, at least one ounce within four minutes, on both nights of the Seder, G-d promises us strength to experience freedom.


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