Sav- Shabbat HaGadol – Thoughts on the Perasha

Five shabbatot before Pesah are known by a special name. This special name is derived from the extra Perasha that we read on these special shabbatots, i.e. Shabbat Shekalim, Zakhor, Parah and HaHodesh. The fifth Shabbat, the one just before Pesah, is an exception; it is known as Shabbat HaGadol the Great Shabbat, yet it has no special Perasha read on it.

What makes this Shabbat greater than all other Shabbatot?  Let us, for a moment, imagine ourselves in the place of Bene Yisrael several thousand years ago on this very day.  I am sure emotions were running high.  On the one hand, there was a sense of jubilation as a result of impending freedom.  On the other hand, there was a sense of trepidation, and fear of the unknown.  How can these contradictory feelings be reconciled?  Although, the Torah was not given yet to the Israelites, there were some customs which had been practiced by our forefathers.  Shabbat was one of those Missvot, which was already being practiced, as Moshe had requested it from Pharaoh.  Shabbat was also already recorded in Perashat Bereshit when Hashem created the world in six days, and rested on the seventh.

Shabbat Hagadol – The Great Shabbat then, was the first time that Bene Yisrael were about to celebrate it as an emerging nation, as a free People. In certainty, it was probably the first time that Shabbat was fully celebrated in Egypt because as slaves, there was no opportunity to fully celebrate it by resting at will on the seventh day.

On this Shabbat Hagadol, although we are free people, we should take a minute to reflect on some of the things that we take for granted. This “Great Shabbat” should emerge large in our minds and hearts as we prepare to celebrate the holiday of Pesah, and remember our exodus from Egypt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *