Sach: sach—to channel in another direction (when spelled with a samech), to converse (when spelled with a sin)
So we see from this that Pesach is about a personal & verbal relationship with Hashem.
This makes sense because in the Torah's whole saga of slavery and redemption, Am Yisrael rouse Divine Mercy whenever they cried out to Hashem.
Rav Bender recalls the Ari’s promise that whoever is careful from a little bit of chametz on Pesach is guaranteed not to sin the whole year.
And Rav Bender stresses that if we really want to achieve this, it can only happen through tefillah.
There are 2 advantages to doing this:
- Via tefillah, we are saved from mistakes—unintentional chametz. (For example, after davening to be saved from chametz, you find yourself cleaning something you’d overlooked in years past and seeing chametz or possible chametz.)
- You merit to be saved from chametz by attaining it through the highest means possible: tefillah.
Like Elul, Nissan is a month of teshuvah.
- Elul is teshuvah from reverence.
- Nissan is teshuvah from love.
I’m not the only one to notice that a lot of kaparahs happen during Nissan leading up to Pesach.
Sometimes, it’s hard to see them because it looks like part of Pesach stress, but closer introspection often reveals something similar to what happens to you in Elul.
The Elul-Nissan Connection
In Elul & the 10 Days of Repentance, Jews are busy with fasting and repentance.
In Nissan, says Rebbe Baruch, Jews are “busy with preparing geese and fat ducks, fish, and eggs for the sake of the festive banquet” (Leil HaSeder).
If only we would switch the order, says Rebbe Baruch, and do in Nissan what we do in Elul, and repent and pray to be saved from a little bit of chametz on Pesach, then we would be sure not to sin the entire year, and THEN we wouldn’t need the fasts and mortification of Elul & the 10 Days of Repentance because we never sinned. (Yay!)
Rav Bender emphasizes the importance of tefillah in Nissan, especially in the days leading up to Pesach when it is hardest to find extra time for prayer.
“All beginnings are difficult,” he acknowledges as he encourages us to do our best.
You can also talk to Hashem while you’re scrubbing or sweeping or making charoset.
You can thank Hashem and force yourself to smile at least for a millisecond even when you’re stressed out.
Let's finish off with Rav Bender's final words on the topic on page 223:
Adar and Nissan are two months that a person has to make a special soul-accounting.
There are many types of work to do for Pesach. To get rid of chametz and other important work for the holiday.
But make sure to also give tefillah an honorable spot. Without this, it is not only half of something — if it is lacking tefillah, it is lacking the main thing.