Courage Works Miracles – Shabbos Hagadol

April 14, 2016 at 4:59 PM , ,

The Shabbos before Pesach is called Shabbos Hagadol, the great Shabbos, because a great miracle happened on this day. (Tur, Orach Chaim 530)

שבת שלפני הפסח קורין אותו שבת הגדול והטעם לפי שנעשה בו נס גדול – טור או”ח סתק”ל

One of the miracles attributed to Shabbos Hagadol is recorded in the Midrash (cited in Machzor Vitri 259 and elsewhere): “The selection of the lamb for the Pesach sacrifice was on the 10th of Nissan, which was on Shabbos. …When the Egyptians saw this, they wanted to rise up and take revenge, but their intestines became sweltering and torn and they were stricken with horrible pains and afflictions, and could do no harm to Bnei Yisrael.”

The Tur relates a similar account, but with slight variations: “Each took a lamb for the Pesach sacrifice, and tied it to his bedpost. When the Egyptians asked why are you doing this, they replied that it is to be slaughtered as a Pesach sacrifice as commanded to us by G-d. The Egyptians gnashed their teeth, because their gods were being slaughtered but they could say nothing. In recognition of that miracle, we call that day Shabbos Hagadol.”

Notably, the Tur makes no mention of the Egyptian’s desire to harm Bnei Yisrael nor that G-d miraculously saved Bnei Yisrael by afflicting the Egyptians. He states only that the Egyptians were powerless. On the other hand, he documents a full dialogue between Bnei Yisrael and the Egyptians, emphasizing Bnei Yisrael’s response, “it is to be slaughtered as a Pesach sacrifice as commanded to us by G-d.

Shabbos Hagadol

The Tur’s choice of words indicates that Shabbos Hagadol does not commemorate the salvation from the Egyptians’ revenge, for that is celebrated on Pesach among all the other miracles associated with the exodus. Rather, Shabbos Hagadol commemorates the mere fact that the Egyptians were unable to stop Bnei Yisrael from observing their mitzvah.

The Tur therefore omits the details of the afflictions that held back the Egyptians, and elaborates instead on Bnei Yisrael’s courageous response — they disregarded the risk involved and openly stated that they would slaughter the lamb in observance of G-d’s will. This highlights, that Bnei Yisrael’s determination and courage to fulfill G-d’s command brought about the great miracle of Shabbos Hagadol, in which the Egyptians became entirely powerless to stop Bnei Yisrael from doing G-d’s bidding.

—Likkutei Sichos, vol. 37, pp. 7-8


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