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Passover Family Memories

Friday, 26 March, 2021 - 12:53 pm

One of the beautiful elements of Passover is the connection to family. We all have a memory of a Seder with parents or grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Many families have certain traditions, customs, stories or memories that they incorporate into their Pesach observances. These are passed from generation to generation and serve to keep families connected to each other as well as to Judaism.

I would like to share an anecdote from our family that I reflect on each year around this time. One of the observances of Passover is selling the chametz. This usually done by authorizing a Rabbi to represent you in a sale of the chametz to someone who is not Jewish. The chametz is then reacquired after Passover is concluded. The Chabad custom is that this sale be treated with all the seriousness of the real sale that it is. For some added gravitas, a guarantor, called an Arev Kablan, is used to ensure that the sale will go through. The Rebbe would sell his chametz to a Rabbi using an Arev Kablan. In 1991 my grandfather, R’ Mordechai Rivkin, was designated by the Rebbe to serve as the Arev Kablan for the sale of the Chametz. For the occasion he purchased a new handkerchief to use for the transaction (as per Jewish custom that commitments are made by the raising of a handkerchief). Incidentally, this handkerchief has been used in our family at engagements and weddings for the bride and groom to make their commitments to each other.

At the end of the procedure, the Rebbe began to share a few words of inspiration with the handful of people present to witness the sale (the Rabbi, my grandfather and two or three of the Rebbe’s close aides). Upon concluding his words, the Rebbe turned to my grandfather and said, “You are a Kohen. You should merit and prepare to give the priestly blessing in the third Beis Hamikdash (holy temple) with the coming of Moshiach very soon.”

This story was shared under the chuppah at our daughter Sara’s wedding earlier this month. It is a story that I think of often, especially around Passover and other holidays when the priestly blessing is recited. It was a privilege for me to offer the priestly blessing alongside my grandfather for many years. It is a privilege for me and my sons to carry on this sacred task bequeathed to us through his lineage.

May this blessing that the Rebbe gave my grandfather 30 years ago, be fulfilled with immediate the coming of Moshiach, giving us the great honor of conferring the priestly blessing on all of Israel in the third Temple.  

Have a meaningful, Kosher and joyous Pesach!
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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