The Aish Kodesh to His Followers, 1939

by Rabbi Binyomin Gidon HaLevi Kelsen, Esq.

Note: The following is a letter written in 1939 by the Piasceztna Rebbe to his followers before Pesach 5699 (1939). At this time, though the war had not yet begun, there were some indications of the horrors to come. The Piasceztna Rebbe had urged as many of his followers as possible to leave Europe. By April of 1939, Pesach 5699, it was becoming difficult if not impossible to get out of Poland. This letter sent out to his followers on Erev Pesach was meant to be a source of comfort and chizuk to his people. This letter was originally printed in Hebrew in Sefer Derech HaMelech, letters, p. 409.

My dear ones, I am calling to you and speaking to your souls. The Holy days of Pesach are approaching. The holiness of these days infuse us thoroughly; inside and out. Their light fills us and encompasses us.

Nevertheless as Dovid HaMelech is stated in Sefer Tehillim (97:11) “Ohr zarua laTzaddik, U’ l’Yishrei lev simcha” “Light is sown for the righteous and there is joy for the upright of heart”. Light is like a seedling; at the beginning it requires our nurturing and our efforts to foster its growth. Like a field needs plowing and hoeing and weeding watering, so do we need to prepare ourselves before the Chag. Without the preparation, there can be no joy, no growth and no light. With all the preparations needed for the festival, we must be careful not to divert our attention from ourselves, not to forget to draw down the Holiness of the season.

The main aspect of the festival is to be joyful; to praise and glorify Hashem Yisborach for all the miracles and all the goodness. This is actually the purpose of the entire creation and the essence of the relationship between the earthly creation and the heavenly family above.

When the time comes for the Pesach evening Ma’ariv prayer, you should rejoice in your tremendous fortune, in the great privilege you have to be engaged in the Avodah of Pesach. You should say to yourself, “My joy is without bounds that I have been granted the opportunity to achieve my purpose in the world and to be elevated to the upper spheres. True I have my problems, both material and spiritual, but for now I discard them, the entire world is longer important to me. I even nullify my own self in order to stand in the company of angels, awaiting the presence of the Ribbono Shel Olam. My only thought is to praise and glorify his great name and to draw down the Holy splendor of HKB”H’s light into the world, into my own soul and into the souls of my family.”

Your joy should so exalted that you feel that you can barely hold yourself back from breaking into an ecstatic dance; leaping from the earth to the heavens.

Afterwards when you sit at the Seder table, you imagine yourself sitting down to a festive meal in Gan Eden itself, participating in the celebration of the final redemption. All of the aspects of the Seder, eating the matzo and maror, drinking the four cups of wine, and reciting the Haggadah, Hallel and other songs of praise, comprise a holy service to Hashem. The angels above are crowded around to hear our praises of Hashem. Even Hashem himself rejoices in delight as he receives our praise and song as is known from the esoteric literature. A Jew is able to feel Hashem’s delight with each word that he utters from the Haggadah. He is imbued with such holiness that he is replete with sorrow when he finishes each word; if only he could go back and recite the Hallel another 1000 times, he would does so. His whole being is at one with his Creator as he recites words of incredible sweetness; the Haggadah lying open in front of him. One must endeavor to provide sanctuary for the holiness of this night, so that it will abide by him for the whole year.

…Continue to foster your love for your fellow Jew for that is the hinge on which all divine service revolves. . . I bless you with… Chag Kasher v’Sameach.

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4 Responses

  1. Shira Schmidt says:

    Erev Pesach 5771
    If you want to read more about the Piasceztna Rebbe, about the context in which he wrote, and the developmentof his thinking during the Churban, see the chapter by Rabbanit Esther Farbstein in her book “Hidden in Thunder: Perspectives on Faith, Halachah, and Leadership during the Holocuast” (Feldheim 2007). Ch. 11 is devoted completely the Aish Kodesh and his teachings in the Warsaw Ghetto.

  2. Steve Brizel says:

    FWIW, I would suggest that anyone with an interest in the kids at risk issue read Chovas HaTalmidim which was how the Piasceztna Rebbe ZL addressed the issue in his age, which was clearly of a ideological and hashkafic nature. Nevertheless, I think that the refuah prescribed by the Rebbe ZL certainly is relevant to how kids at risk should be dealt with-BAhavas Yisrael, first and foremost.

  3. David says:

    Any body know what page in Derech Hamelech it is? I don’t see it on page 409 of the Hebrew (is there an English?).

  4. Shmuel says:

    David, the above letter can be found on page 444 in the “Letters” appendix to the sefer. Enjoy!

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