Rabbi Uriel Vigler, of Chabad of Manhattan and founder of Be'Lev Echad, is excited to be able to host a public seder after two pandemic years when it was not possible.
“We’re very excited to be back. We have about a hundred Israelis coming for the Passover holiday,” he tells Israel National News. “We’re also giving out a lot of shmurah matzah for the seder, making sure everybody in the community is selling their chametz, it’s another big component. And we’re giving out Ma'ot Chitim (“Wheat Money”) to hundreds of families who cannot afford the Passover seder so they can afford it.”
This is a busy time of year for Rabbi Vigler, as he also specifically helps wounded IDF soldiers.
“The last couple of weeks have been very busy for us. We have an organization called Belev Echad ("One Heart"), which helps severely wounded IDF soldiers,” he explains. “We have a center in Israel where they come, from the time these soldiers are injured our team is there in the hospital visiting them, giving them whatever they need. We help the soldier from rehabilitation to the time they are totally rehabilitated. For the last few weeks we hosted 12 wounded soldiers for a beautiful trip to New York, giving them everything New York has to offer. And then we took another 12 soldiers to Miami, breakfast and dinners and events, Shabbat dinners, 90 foot yachts, jet-skis, whatever Miami and New York has to offer – we gave it to our soldiers.”
He adds: “The whole idea of Pesach is going out of our boundaries to liberate ourselves in a spiritual sense, and a wounded soldier… a soldier who is healing himself, who is liberated, that is the greatest thing that you can do for a wounded soldier so these trips are literally a lifeline for our soldiers, they receive love and more love form our community.”
Some of the soldiers have PTSD and going outside is difficult for them. The trips help them heal.
“Some of the soldiers don’t go out. It’s so hard for them because of the PTSD. Bringing them to Miami, to New York, it allows them to go out, to do something beyond what’s the norm for them. It just an incredible experience for them,” he says.
Rabbi Vigler comments on the terrorist who shot 29 people in a Brooklyn subway station, saying that the power of goodness always overcomes the power of evil.
“People are afraid but the message is the power of goodness is infinitely greater than the power of darkness. So if a despicable terrorist can sow so much fear and panic into so many people by one incident by shooting 29 people, can you imagine how much goodness and kindness and light and inspiration you can bring to the world by doing a mitzvah. One person with one act sows so much fear and panic, you today with one mitzvah can literally spread light and change the world, transform the world. Light and mitzvah has a ripple effect across the universe.”