Monday, January 18, 2016

“The Great Shabbat” before Pesach - as of 5776

We call the Shabbat before Pesach “The Great Shabbat” because of a great miracle that transpired on the Shabbat before the Jewish Exodus from ancient Egypt.

What miracle was that? It turns out many answers exist to this question, but here we’ll only consider the unique view of Chabad’s Alter Rebbe, from his “Shulchan Aruch”.

“When the Jews ushered in their Pesach lambs on that Shabbat, Egyptian firstborns clustered around them and asked the Jews what they were doing ... They were told, ‘It’s for a sacrifice to God Who will kill the Egyptian firstborns.’”

“The firstborns then went to their fathers and to Pharaoh requesting they expel the Jews. When rejected, the firstborns went to war against their fathers and Pharaoh, killing many of them. This is what is meant by ‘the Egyptians were struck down by their firstborn’.” [Psalms 136:10]

Note the Alter Rebbe makes no mention of the Jews’ success but rather highlights the internal war that arose between the firstborns and their fathers. So what greatness is there in this miracle?

The answer lies in what the Rebbe continues to say, that this miracle served as “the start of the redemption and the miracles.” That is, the greatness of this miracle is not just because many Egyptians were killed (“the Egyptians were struck down by their firstborn”), but rather the order and demand by the Egyptian firstborns to free the Jewish People was the turning-point that embodied the beginning of the Exodus!

This miracle had even higher value than the miracles of their exit from Egypt. The exodus from Egypt occurred once the power and force of Egypt was broken or annulled, during the Plague of Firstborns, when God took out the Jews. In contrast, the miracle of The Great Shabbat occurred while Jews were still within the Egyptian exile, when, nevertheless, the dominant representatives of Egypt (their firstborns) demanded the freedom of the Jews.

This is why on The Great Shabbat we read part of The Hagaddah, for, just as on the night of Pesach, when the Jews left Egypt, we read The Hagaddah, so too we read part of it on this Shabbat, because that’s when actually began “the start of the redemption and the miracles”!

So what has this to teach us now? In my humble opinion, we are seeing the start of The Ultimate Era of Redemption as today we watch all enemies of Israel striking down and destroying each other (in accord with Isaiah 19:2).

(On the other hand, why we continue to suffer horribly from individual sacrifices by Muslim vermin - eludes me! It is simply unintelligible and horrifying.)


  1. ...why? because we do not visualize moshiach and geulah enough and imagine him being here. We know but we do not see him in our minds and we believe in waiting more than in living as though he is already here.

    1. Anonymous, regarding your answer to my last paragraph:

      I'm sure you too cannot believe the simplicity of your reasoning. You're like the guy who "knows" why Hashem let 6 million Jews die in the Holocaust, something the Rebbe himself said he knew not why.

      Did you research the families that were unfortunately struck by terror to determine than none of the victims felt Moshiach in the air? Please - stop giving lame reasons for our people still being murdered.

  2. Very exciting times we livse in! Thanks for the post.