This week we will once again celebrate Pesach, the anniversary of our freedom and the birth of our national identity. However, before we mark Pesach, we must commemorate another anniversary that we are currently in the middle of. Today is the eighth day of Nissan. The Torah tells us that on the first of the month, the Jews first built the Mishkan. From that day, for twelve days, the twelve princes of the tribes brought their inaugural sacrifices. Each day a different prince brought his offering, and even though they were all the same, Ramban teaches us that each expressed a new aspect of the giver's personality.
We are now on the eighth day, the anniversary of the gift of Gamliel, the son of Pedahtzur, prince of the tribe of Menashe. We will mark four more days of sacrifice. It is no coincidence that these sacrifices came immediately before Pesach in the desert. There would have to be a functioning Mishkan for the Jews to be able to bring their Pesach sacrifice. In a real sense, the inauguration of the Mishkan and bringing these first sacrifices was an act of preparation or Pesach.
Today, we, too, are deeply involved in Pesach preparation. We clean our houses, search our chametz, and bring our homes into line with the community's expectations at this particular time. However, let's keep sight of the goal of our labour. We are working not to complete our spring cleaning but to reconnect to our people, express the richness of our identity, and connect with our history and our divinely mandated destiny. Just like our ancestors, we can prepare for Pesach physically and spiritually. In so doing, we will not enter the festival exhausted after weeks of hard labour. We will instead begin the party energised and ready to take advantage of the fullness of the opportunity.