To my dear brothers and sisters in Kew Gardens Hills,
My name is Chaim Axelrod, and as some of you know I was born and raised in KGH. I believe that I had a great childhood in a wonderful neighborhood. My closest friends until today are those I met and played with in the “Shabbos” park. I now live in New Rochelle, NY where I have the privilege to serve as the Assistant Rabbi at the Young Israel of New Rochelle. Our community was one of the first to be struck with the Coronavirus that is now plaguing us all. I write this to you on the eve of completing five full weeks since our community began a period of quarantine, followed by “regular” social distancing. There are some in our community that are still struggling for their health. Many, Baruch Hashem, are on the road to recovery. Perhaps the hidden blessing is that Hashem guided us to quarantine early, which helped stop the spread of this terrible virus in our community. If I can offer any chizuk, it is that we must continue to hold strong, and follow every guideline that our medical professionals are telling us. As others have said, if we have a Pesach that is challenging because we will not be with family or friends, and we may even be alone, our reward as a nation will be to celebrate many future Pesach’s to come. This past Shabbos, in our homes, we read of the Korban Mincha, whose leftovers were eaten by the Kohanim. The Torah tells us, “Matzos Taiachel Bimakom Kadosh”, the leftover flour should be turned into matzos to be eaten in a holy place. My Rebbe, Rabbi Baruch Simon, shared the explanation of the Tiferes Shlomo, the first Rebbe of the Radomsk Chasidic dynasty. The Rebbe saw in these words a hint to the Yom Tov of Pesach, which is quite fitting as we usually read this pasuk the week prior to Pesach. The Rebbe explains that we who eat the matzah need to ensure that the body into which we ingest the matzah, is a holy place. We need to try and make ourselves into the proper type of vessel to accept and receive the matzah. Part of our preparation for Pesach should include thinking of ways we can improve in our Avodas Hashem, both Bein Adom Lamakom and Bein Adom Lichaveiro. If we can do that, then indeed the matzah that we eat at the Seder will be present in a very holy place. I thought that we could humbly add to the words of the Rebbe. Each of us will be eating the matzah in our own homes this year, and we must remember that each of our Jewish homes is a holy place. Our homes are full of kedusha, and we should find comfort in celebrating Pesach in the very same homes that we strive to imbue with holiness throughout the year. The very first Korban Pesach, had no Kohen, no Mizbeach, and no Mikdash. Each Jew served as the Kohen, the doorpost served as the Mizbeach, and each Jewish home served as the Mikdash. This Pesach we relive what it was like to have Korban Pesach in our own home. “Matzos Taiachel”, we will all eat matzah, “Bimakom Kadosh”, in place that is very holy, our homes. This year as we conclude Maggid, we say the same words that we have said every year, but this year it will have a very poignant and unique meaning. May Hashem grant that these words will come to fruition very soon for all of us. “Yagiainu Limoadim Ulirigalim Acherim Habaim Likrasainu Lishalom”, enable us, Hashem, to reach future holidays and festivals in peace. Wishing all of Kew Gardens Hills a Chag Kasher Vesameach!