1. “Acharon Shel Pesach” means the last day of Pesach. A principle in Torah is that “one ascends in sanctity.” Thus, despite the lofty nature of the first days of Pesach, Acharon Shel Pesach is loftier yet. And we can therefore appreciate its greatness by first explaining the distinction of the preceding days.

Even before Pesach starts, we remove all chametz, even the slightest amount. This corresponds to the complete elimination of all evil, the idea of, “I shall execute justice against all the gods of Egypt.” And the elimination of idolatry and evil require special revelation of G‑d’s greatness.

On the 14th of Nissan, the Pesach sacrifice was offered [which in our days is replaced by the recital of the “Order of the Pesach Sacrifice”]. The Pesach sacrifice effects the exodus from Egypt, and at the exodus, Jews became G‑d’s servants in perpetuity, thereby eliminating the possibility of becoming slaves to anyone else.

This greatness of the Pesach sacrifice is emphasized by reciting Hallel during its offering. Hallel is recited only over a miracle. Thus the Pesach sacrifice (and its result, the redemption from Egypt) indicates a state of Jews transcending nature.

The greatness of the first day of Pesach, (when we celebrate the Seder and recite the Haggadah), is that then “the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, revealed Himself in His glory to them [the Jews in Egypt] and redeemed them.”

Then follow the days of Chol HaMoed. Although some work is permitted then, in contrast to the first days (Yom Tov), there must nevertheless be a distinction in Chol HaMoed not present in Yom Tov — following the rule of ascending in sanctity. In Chol HaMoed itself, each successive day sees an increase in sanctity over the previous day.

Likewise according to this rule, the last days of Pesach are loftier not only compared to Chol HaMoed, but even compared to the first days. On the last days, which celebrate the Splitting of the Sea, the revelation of G‑d was greater even than when “the Supreme King of kings the Holy One, Blessed be He, revealed Himself in His glory to them.” At the Sea, G‑d’s revelation was so lofty that the Jews “pointed at Him with a finger,” and “a maidservant at the sea saw what the prophets did not see.” Things which were not revealed on the first days of Pesach were revealed on the seventh day. Indeed, the Haggadah states: “In Egypt, what does it say? ‘The sorcerers said to Pharaoh, it is the finger of G‑d!’ At the Sea, what does it say? ‘Israel saw the great hand.’” The revelation on the seventh day of Pesach at the Splitting of the Sea was five times (a hand comprising five fingers) that of the first days of Pesach.

Moreover, the revelation of the last days is infinitely greater than the first days. The latter correspond to the redemption from Egypt; the former to the future redemption which will be infinitely greater.

Again, following the rule of always ascending in sanctity, in the last days themselves, Acharon Shel Pesach is loftier than the seventh day. Indeed, Acharon shel Pesach is uniquely associated with Mashiach — as stressed in the Haftorah, and evidenced by “Mashiach’s banquet” being held then.

We see, then, the great distinction of Acharon shel Pesach. It is loftier than all the other days of Pesach, including the first days and the seventh day.

2. Despite the lofty nature of the last days, we do not recite the blessing Shehecheyanu then. One of the reasons given is that these latter days correspond to the future redemption. Because “Shehecheyanu” is the blessing to G‑d for having “granted us life ... to reach this occasion,” we cannot recite this blessing while still in exile.

We find, however, that the Rebbeim would speak of the blessing of “Shehecheyanu” on Acharon Shel Pesach, explaining why we do not recite it then. Thus, although the blessing is not actually recited, the very fact that we speak of it — even in a negative reference (explaining why we do not make this blessing) — indicates its association to Acharon Shel Pesach. We find other concepts, which, because of their profundity, can be understood only in terms of what they are not, and not in terms of what they are. So, too, in our case. Because Acharon shel Pesach is so lofty (associated with the future redemption), we can relate to it only by explaining why we do not recite the blessing “Shehecheyanu.”

On the other hand, we do relate to it through such a “negative” understanding. The Alter Rebbe in Likkutei Torah (Pekudei 6c) explains that one can attain profound understanding of a concept through such a method, “to the extent that in physical matters, a person, through much ‘negative’ knowledge (understanding what it is not), can just about picture the thing as it is.”

Furthermore, when the Rebbeim speak of not reciting “Shehecheyanu,” it is an explanation in Torah — the halachic reason why we do not recite it. Thus the concept of “Shehecheyanu” is present on Acharon shel Pesach in its halachic (Torah) form, which is loftier than its actual recital.

Simultaneously, however, it should not remain in the realm of halachah. From the halachah in Torah it extends below, to the world. This is the idea of “halachah.” Our Sages state: “Whoever studies Torah laws (halachos) every day, is assured of life in the World to Come, for it says: ‘Halichos (the ways) of the world are his.’” Halachos, Torah laws, are the revelation of the Divine will, transcending world. Simultaneously, these halachos must extend into the world — “The ways of the world are his.”

In our case, the halachic explanations of the Rebbeim on why we do not say “Shehecheyanu” on the last days of Pesach must also have an effect in the world. The reason why we do not recite “Shehecheyanu” is because in exile we cannot say “Shehecheyanu” on something associated with the future redemption. Talking about this awakens a desire and longing for the future redemption, and “a person is where his thoughts are.”

Moreover, the longing for the redemption expresses Jews’ pain over the exile, and feeling this pain breaks the exile.

In simpler terms: Even a plain Jew knows that following the rule of always ascending in sanctity, the last days of Pesach are loftier than the preceding days. Yet it is specifically the last days on which we do not recite “Shehecheyanu”! Moreover, on every other Yom Tov we do recite “Shehecheyanu.” Only on the last days of Pesach do we not!

The reason for this is to arouse a Jew’s longing for the redemption. When a Jew knows that we don’t recite “Shehecheyanu” because in exile we cannot make this blessing over the future redemption, he is inspired to yearn for that event. If, on the other hand, “Shehecheyanu” was said on the last days, there would be no reason to talk of it and explain why we don’t make the blessing — and no longing for the redemption. Not making the blessing, and explaining why, emphasizes a Jew’s pain in the exile, and awakens the yearning for the redemption.

May it be G‑d’s will that from talking of the future redemption we merit the actual redemption. This is particularly so since we are now in the auspicious time of “Mashiach’s banquet,” and especially this year, when Acharon shel Pesach is Tuesday, the day when “it was good” was said twice — “good for heaven and good for creations.” In the future redemption, “heaven” and “creatures” will be synthesized — G‑dliness (“heaven”) will be revealed in all creation (“creatures”). Then we will merit to make the blessing “Shehecheyanu” — “Blessed are You ... Who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.”

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3. Everything associated with Mashiach is of the loftiest nature, and exists only in the future. How then, some people ask, can we celebrate “Mashiach’s banquet” in the time of exile? Moreover, it is stressed that every Jew, notwithstanding his spiritual standing, participate. Is this not insulting to Mashiach?

However, in the future redemption not one Jew will remain in exile. Just as not one Jew was left in Egyptian exile, so too every Jew, notwithstanding his spiritual standing, will be redeemed by Mashiach. This is so obvious that Rashi brings it in his interpretation for a five year old child learning Scripture (Devarim 30:3) — “He Himself must literally take hold with His hand every person [to take him out] from his place, as it is stated: ‘And you shall be gathered one by one, children of Israel.’” Scripture states explicitly (Yeshayahu 27:13): “Those who were lost in the land of Ashur and those who were banished in the land of Egypt shall come and bow down to the L‑rd on the holy mountain in Yerushalayim.” All Jews — even those who were “lost” or “banished” — shall come to the third Bais HaMikdash to be built by our righteous Mashiach!

It is not surprising that Mashiach will concern himself with every Jew. Our Sages tell us that Moshe Rabbeinu, the “redeemer of Israel,” when he saw that one lamb had strayed from his flock, left the flock and chased after the lamb to bring it back. Every Jew was precious to Moshe, even a Jew who had “strayed” away. So too with Mashiach: Every Jew, whoever he may be, is most precious to him.

Moreover, the above story concerning Moshe happened before the Giving of the Torah. Certainly then, after Mattan Torah, when “You chose us from all the nations,” every Jew, chosen by G‑d, is dear to Mashiach.

Because Mashiach will redeem every Jew, each Jew must make the proper preparations to this event — beginning with his participation in “Mashiach’s banquet.” And because “one mitzvah causes another mitzvah,” this participation will bring other efforts to hasten the true and complete redemption.

But, these same people claim, not all is clear. Although it is perfectly clear that Mashiach will redeem every Jew, we are nevertheless in exile — and how can all Jews celebrate “Mashiach’s banquet” in exile? Does this not insult Mashiach?

The answer to such people is: You yourselves do the same thing — you pray that you, in exile, should have that which is said of Mashiach! It is customary on Yom Tov, when opening the ark to read from the Torah, to say a special prayer beginning with the words “Master of the World.” In that prayer we say, “May there be realized in us the verse which states, ‘And the spirit of the L‑rd shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the L‑rd.’” This verse in Scripture refers to Mashiach, as we find in the Haftorah of Acharon shel Pesach, “A shoot shall come forth from the stem of Yishai, and a branch shall grow forth out of his roots. And the spirit of the L‑rd shall rest upon him, the spirit of understanding....” How can a Jew stand in the synagogue, before the Sifrei Torah, and cry out, “May there be realized in us the verse which states, ‘And the spirit of the L‑rd shall rest upon him’ — a verse concerning Mashiach?

In other words: This verse speaks of the future, referring to Mashiach, that he shall merit to have the “spirit of the L‑rd” rest upon him — because he is a “root ... from the stem of Yishai.” How then can a simple Jew (and compared to Mashiach all are simple Jews) be so brazen as to request that the verse regarding our righteous Mashiach be realized in him?

The Meor Einayim writes, in the name of the Baal Shem Tov, that “every Jew must rectify and prepare that part of Mashiach’s ‘body’ that is relevant to his [personal] soul.” That is, each Jew has within his soul part of Mashiach’s soul. He continues: “As it is known, the letters of the word adam (man) are the beginning letters of Adam, David, Mashiach.” Every person called “adam” (and all Jews are called adam) has in himself the levels of Adam, David and Mashiach. Adam — because all men are his offspring. David — because he is “King of Israel,” and the king is the life and existence of the country and its citizens. Likewise, every Jew has part of Mashiach’s soul within him.

Since the purpose of everything is the concrete result that must eventuate, the Meor Einayim continues to say, “every Jew must prepare that part of the level of Mashiach applicable to his soul, until all the ‘body’ will be rectified and prepared, and there will be a general unity speedily in our days.” In other words, the service of every Jew is to awaken and reveal the level of “Mashiach” in his soul, and to ensure that this “Mashiach” will redeem him and everything related to him. This is his personal redemption, similar to the general redemption through Mashiach.

The latter is dependent on the former. The general redemption depends on the personal redemption; for when all Jews have eliminated their sins — the cause of the exile — the exile will also be eliminated.

When a person’s service is in such a fashion, he reaches the ultimate in the idea of “adam”: the three levels of Adam, David and Mashiach are revealed within him. Indeed, the level of Mashiach becomes the principal level. Of Mashiach it is said that he is “very exalted, uplifted, and high.” “Very” in Hebrew is “Meod,” which has the same letters in Hebrew as the word “Adam.” However in this case, the letter “mem” which corresponds to Mashiach is the first letter, for Mashiach is the principal level revealed in the person.

This is why every Jew can ask that, “There be realized in us the verse which states, ‘And the spirit of the L‑rd shall rest upon him.’” Since every Jew has part of Mashiach’s soul, he can ask that this verse be realized “in us” — in the level of Mashiach in his soul.

This, then, is the simplest answer to those who argue against all Jews celebrating “Mashiach’s banquet” in the times of exile — for they themselves pray that a verse referring to Mashiach be realized in them! Indeed, if there is any question, it should be the opposite: Why is “Mashiach’s banquet” celebrated only on Acharon shel Pesach and not on other Yomim Tovim?! But our Rebbeim, beginning from the Baal Shem Tov, revealed that the right time for “Mashiach’s banquet” is Acharon shel Pesach.

May it be G‑d’s will that through waiting and longing for Mashiach, expressed through our celebrating “Mashiach’s banquet,” we speedily merit the true and complete redemption.

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4. Besides celebrating “Mashiach’s banquet” on Acharon Shel Pesach, it is customary to also drink four cups of wine at this banquet (as the Rebbe Rashab made known). There is a difference between these four cups and the four cups drunk on the first days (at the Seder). The latter are drunk at the beginning of the entire 24-hour day — at night; the former are drunk at the end of the 24-hour day — at the third meal (“Mashiach’s banquet”).

This difference reflects the general difference between the first and latter days of Pesach. The first days correspond to the redemption from Egypt, the latter to the future redemption. The redemption from Egypt was not so much the end of exile, but principally the beginning of a new era, as stated: “When you take out the people from Egypt, you shall serve G‑d on this mountain” — the idea of Mattan Torah. Thus the exodus is principally the beginning of a new era when the entire world arrived at perfection through the Giving of the Torah — and therefore the four cups which correspond to the redemption from Egypt are drunk at the beginning of the day.

The future redemption, however, from our point of view today (before the redemption), is principally the end of the exile and end of our service (rectification of the sins which caused the exile). Moreover, the future redemption is the idea of receiving the reward for our service when the exile will be finished. Thus the time for drinking the four cups on Acharon shel Pesach, which corresponds to the future redemption, is close to the end of the day.

Furthermore, the exile is ended and the redemption ushered in when, through introducing G‑dliness into the world, we convert the exile into the redemption. “Exile” in Hebrew is “golah” (“golus”), and “redemption” is “geulah.” The difference in their spelling is that “geulah” has the letter “aleph” which “golah” does not. The “aleph” represents “alupho shel olam” — the “master of the world,” G‑d. By adding G‑d to the exile — by introducing G‑dliness into the world — we convert golus into geulah.

The “aleph” in “geulah” is not at the beginning of the word, but in the middle. This teaches that even if we have not yet reached the level of having the “aleph” at the head of the word, but only in the middle — it is still sufficient to bring the geulah.

This idea is similar to the word “adam” which, we have previously explained, stands for Adam, David, Mashiach. Here too the letter “mem,” which represents Mashiach, is not the first letter, but the last. In the future, the combination of letters will be “meod” — Mashiach, Adam, David — where the letter “mem” corresponding to Mashiach is the first letter. In exile however, the “mem” (in “adam”) is the last letter.

Thus the drinking of the four cups now, in the time of exile, is at the end of the day, just as the letter “mem” corresponding to Mashiach is the last letter of “adam.”

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5. Although previously we spoke at length of the distinction of the last days of Pesach compared to the first days — consonant to the rule “we ascend in sanctity and do not descend” — it is obvious that in some aspects the first days have a distinction the last days do not possess. For example: We celebrate the Seder on the first two days, and on these days “The Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, revealed Himself to them.” Similarly, although the rule of ascending in holiness forces us to conclude that Chol HaMoed is in some respects loftier than the first days, there are certainly aspects in which the first days are loftier than Chol HaMoed. (As we see, they are purely Yom Tov, whereas Chol HaMoed (“chol” meaning weekday, mundane) is only partially Yom Tov).

In other words, in some respects the first days are loftier than the succeeding days, and in other respects the last days are loftier than the preceding ones. This is because every period of time has its unique concept particularly emphasized at that time, and this concept is the “gate” through which all the other concepts “enter.” Thus, during the first days of Pesach, the distinction of these days is stressed, for this distinction serves as the “gate” for the other matters — including the distinction of the last days. On the other hand, when we are in the last days of Pesach, their distinction is emphasized, for at this time, they are the “gate” for all other matters (including the distinction of the first days).

This is expressed in man’s service to G‑d. During the first days, a person’s principal service is in the special aspects of the first days. In the last days, his service and enthusiasm is in the special aspects of the last days.

For example: There is a type of service exemplified by the command that one should serve G‑d “with all your might.” This is a service which transcends all limits, and is effected through contemplation of the greatness of the matter in which he is occupied. If, for example, a person is praying, he does so with all his might by contemplating the greatness of G‑d. If he is giving charity, he does this service with all his might by thinking of the greatness of tzedakah (that it is equal to all the mitzvos).

Now, if a person is engaged in a particular mitzvah with all his might, and in the middle he is suddenly confronted with another mitzvah that cannot be deferred to another time — it is obvious that he cannot perform this second mitzvah with all his might. For since the level of “with all your might” requires suitable contemplation, it is impossible to perform this second mitzvah (which must be done immediately) in such a fashion. Thus the idea of “with all your might” applies only to the matter in which he is principally engaged.

More generally speaking, the service of Jews is divided into two categories: Yissachar — those who study Torah; and Zevulun — those engaged in good deeds. Although Yissachar also does good deeds, and Zevulun also studies Torah, the principal enthusiasm of each type of Jew is in his particular category of service — which he performs with all his might.

So, too, with the service of Pesach: The emphasis on the types of service in the first and last days of Pesach is commensurate to the unique aspects of the day in which the person finds himself.

This is why our Sages said, “We ascend in sanctity and do not descend.” The words, “do not descend,” are seemingly superfluous, for if we are commanded to ascend, we surely do not need to be told, “do not descend.”

However, we learn from this that after completing the service of the first days, and a Jew now ascends to the service of the last days, he must be sure that in addition to ascending in sanctity in those things particularly associated with the last days, he must also not descend in those things associated with the first days.

In other words: On the last days of Pesach, we cannot demand of a Jew that he should ascend in the unique aspects of the first days at the time his principal service is in the unique aspects of the last days (for, as explained above, the service of “with all your might” at any particular time is associated with the mitzvah of that time). However, we do demand from a Jew not to descend from the service associated with the first days.

In plain terms: When a Jew learns in Chassidus about the lofty nature of the last days of Pesach, he remembers what he learned previously about the lofty nature of the first days — and therefore he does not descend from those matters even when “ascending in sanctity” in the matters of the last days.

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6. At the farbrengen of Yud-Aleph Nissan, we spoke of the duty of Jews to see to it that non-Jews observe the Seven Noachide Laws. This is for two reasons: 1) Principally, because it is a specific ruling by the Rambam, and 2) the observance of these laws make the world a safe, decent place to live in, thereby working also for the good of Jews.

At the farbrengen we related the following story concerning how a Jew’s actions can influence a non-Jew. A wealthy Jew owned a yacht in which he would sail from time to time. He employed a non-Jew to be the captain of his yacht. This Jew had begun to be religious, and had started to observe Torah and mitzvos. Sailing on his yacht, he wished to pray, and asked the captain in which direction was east. The first time this happened, the captain did not pay too much attention, thinking it of no importance. But when the owner asked the same question from time to time, the captain decided to get to the bottom of the matter, and asked him why he was always interested in knowing in which direction was east. The owner answered him: I am a Jew, and I wish to pray to G‑d facing Yerushalayim which is in the east. Therefore, every time I pray to G‑d, I need to know where east is.

Upon hearing this, the captain became greatly excited; and thought: If a wealthy man, who owns his own yacht and employs a captain to sail it, can interrupt what he is doing to think of praying to the Creator of the world, he (the captain) should certainly do likewise.

At the Yud-Aleph Nissan farbrengen I concluded that since this Jew had conducted himself according to the Torah, the captain’s inspiration would almost certainly continue even afterwards.

I have since found out that, indeed, the captain told the owner of the yacht that ever since he (the captain) decided on the yacht to pray to the Creator of the world, he has, at every opportunity, when he meets his family and friends, spoken with them of the need to think about G‑d and pray to Him. The captain concluded by saying that if all people in the world would think about their Creator and pray to Him, the world would not look like the jungle it does today!

Because “one mitzvah leads to another,” it is certain that when a non-Jew speaks to another about the Creator of the world — and the resultant need to conduct oneself honestly and properly — it will lead to another mitzvah: the second non-Jew will speak to a third, who will speak to a fourth, and so on.

No effort should be spared in this matter (of influencing non-Jews to keep the Seven Noachide Laws). Compared to the importance of this matter, any effort is trivial — even if success is unsure. If, for example, it is suggested to a person that he invest one penny on the chance that he will thereby reap profits of hundreds of thousands of gold coins — a person will certainly not hesitate to invest that penny. If this is so in regards to material profits, it is certainly so in regards to vast spiritual profits — that the whole world should recognize the Creator and Master of the world. Any effort is negligible compared to such an important achievement — even if success is unsure — and certainly when we have seen actual success in this area.

There are certain other aspects to the above story. The source and root of everything in the world is the Torah, as stated: “He (G‑d) looked into the Torah and created the world.” Because Torah is the cause of the world, it has complete mastery over it. Now, in Torah there are general principles and there are specifics; but simultaneously, each specific detail is associated with the entire Torah. Since the world derives from the Torah, it follows that in the world there is also the idea of general principles and specifics — and each detail is associated with the world in general. Thus, a particular event happening to a particular person — through Divine Providence — is associated with the world in general.

In our case, the story of the yacht — although happening to one individual — affects the entire world.

Rashi, on the word “Bereishis,” (“In the beginning”) explains that the whole world was created “for the sake of the Torah which is called ‘reishis,’ and for the sake of Israel whom are called ‘reishis.’” However, when we look around us, the state of the world does not seem to be as if it were created for the sake of Israel!

The answer is that really a Jew is the true master of the world. But because of the exile, this fact is concealed, and outwardly it seems as if Jews need the help and protection of the government.

A parable to this is a ship sailing in the sea. Although it seems the captain of the ship is master, for it is he who controls the rudder which steers the ship — the truth is that it is the owner of the ship who is master. The captain is but an employee of the owner, and it is the owner who directs the destination of the ship.

So, too, with the world: The world during this era of exile is like a ship sailing in stormy waters. In such a situation, the Jews on the ship need special help. Because we are still in exile, the world (the ship) is controlled by nature (the government) and Jews need its help. In reality, “Torah and Israel,” are the owner of the world, for whom it was created. The governments, which actually conduct the world’s affairs, are no more than the captain who steers the ship on behalf of the owner. Just as the owner employs a captain because he is busy with loftier affairs, so too the government conducts affairs as the employees of Jews because Jews are engaged in Torah study.

The above is a general principle in Torah. It is mirrored in the particular story related previously. The captain of the yacht is a non-Jew. Although he steers the yacht, he is but an employee. The owner of the yacht is a wealthy Jew, and “there is no wealthy person except in knowledge” — wealthy in knowledge of Torah. The parallel to this is the mastery of Jews over the world through Torah — as we saw in the above story, the owner of the yacht knew that he had to connect himself to G‑d through prayer, and sought to do this in the best way possible, facing towards Yerushalayim.

The lesson from this in regard to Jews’ conduct with non-Jews is clear: Through a Jew (the owner of the yacht) conducting himself according to Torah, firmly, not ashamed to ask the non-Jew where east is — i.e., he showed the captain that his bond with G‑d is also expressed in actual deed — the captain was influenced to also recognize G‑d. When Jews stand firm in matters of Torah and mitzvos — including the command to influence non-Jews to observe the Seven Noachide Laws — they influence the peoples of the world to recognize the Creator and Master of the world.

This story shows the great strength of a Jew. Even during a weekday, in a secular state, in exile, in the footsteps of Mashiach when impudence increases — he has the strength to influence non-Jews to change their ways. Moreover, this happened even when the Jew did not intend to influence the non-Jew. He only knew he had to face east when praying — and because he was not ashamed to ask the captain where east was and to explain why it was necessary for him to know — he influenced the captain to think of G‑d, and in turn, to influence his friends to do likewise.

May it be G‑d’s will that very soon we merit the fulfillment of the promise, “The L‑rd will be king over the entire earth,” and, “the glory of the L‑rd will be revealed and all flesh will see that the mouth of the L‑rd has spoken,” in the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach.