The Jewish People have come a long way over thousands of years since the Exodus. Finally, with God’s help, we are meriting to come home to Jerusalem. The Jewish People were born in Egypt, but the revelation of their benevolent soul for all mankind is in Jerusalem, the source of light of the world. That is where the redemption of Israel and the world, which began with Israel’s appearance on the stage of history in Egypt, will finally take place.

By HaRav Dov Begon

[From his book, “Israel Redeemed” – translated by Rabbi Menachem Weinberg]


The Miracle of Shabbat HaGadol


“The Sabbath before Passover is called Shabbat HaGadol [the great Sabbath] because of the miracle that was performed then” (Shulkhan Arukh, Orach Chaim, 430). What was that miracle? The year that Israel left Egypt, the tenth of the month of Nissan came out on a Sabbath. Every Jew took a lamb for his Pascal offering and tied it to the bedpost, as it says:


“On the tenth of this month, every man must take a lamb for

each extended family, a lamb for each household. . . . Hold it in

safekeeping until the fourteenth day of this month. The entire

community of Israel shall then slaughter their sacrifices in the

afternoon” (Exodus 12:3, 6). The Egyptians saw this and asked

them why they were doing this, and they replied, “To sacrifice

it for the sake of Passover, following God’s command to us.”

The Egyptians gritted their teeth over the fact that the Israelites

were slaughtering their gods, while they, the Egyptians, were

not allowed to say anything in response. And because the tenth

of the month came out that year on the Sabbath, it was decided

that the Sabbath before Passover must always be called “Shabbat

HaGadol” (Mishnah Berurah, Ibid).


According to our sages, the great miracle occurred when the Israelites bound the lamb and publicized that they were about

to slaughter it, despite the Egyptians considering it a god. The

Egyptians were unable to speak a word and they could not touch

the Israelites.


The Egyptians worshipped and subjugated themselves to base

materialism. They saw in the lowly and base material the source and purpose of all of life. The surrender to materialism and passion was the

chief axis around which the culture of the society and individual

in Egypt turned. This animalistic ideology was symbolized by the

lamb and the calf. Suddenly Israel rose up, a people who were enslaved

to Egypt, who in turn were enslaved to their passions and their

beasts, and Israel slaughtered their deity before their eyes, without

the Egyptians being able to protest or touch them. This, by

itself, was a great miracle which God performed, still performs,

and will perform in the future for the Jewish People forever.


The Ramban brings another reason for why the Israelites chose

precisely a lamb: It is because the month of Nissan is under

the astrological sign of the lamb, and the Egyptians believed

in astrology – that is, that everything is under the control of

the constellations and nature. They did not believe that there is

Someone who is the Supreme Deity, the true Master of all. God

therefore commanded that Israel slaughter a lamb and consume

it, to make known to Israel and to the whole world that not by

the power of the constellations did we leave Egypt, but because of

the decree of God, and because of His love for the Jewish People.

On Shabbat HaGadol, even before Passover, we must recall

the great miracle that was performed for us. Despite our being

a weak, enslaved people in Egypt, we raised up our heads, and

the miracle, for all of Egypt to see, was performed for us out of

God’s love of Israel. Today too, all our enemies will be unable to

overcome us, because “He who chooses Israel with love” (Morning

prayers) continues with His great love and compassion for

the Jewish People.


The Pace of Redemption – in Egypt and for All Time


The miracle of the Exodus occurred with suddenness, chipazon.

After hundreds of years of slavery, the redemption came with

lightning speed. All at once for all to see, both Israel and Egypt,

God’s omnipotence was revealed, unlimited by time and space.

Everyone saw that when God wishes it, He can redeem us in a



Regarding the Pesach offering it says, “You must eat it with

your waist belted, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your

hand, and you must eat it in haste. It is the Passover (Pesach)

offering to God” Shemot 12:11)).


Rashi comments:

“The offering is called the ‘Pesach’ (Hebrew for ‘pass over’)

because God passed over the Jewish homes amongst the Egyptian

homes, skipping from Egyptian to Egyptian, with the Israelites in

between being spared. Therefore, you too must perform all the

entire service with alacrity, skipping for the sake of God.”


The matzot too were first made with haste: “[The Israelites]

baked the dough that they had brought out of Egypt into unleavened

[matzah] cakes, since it had not risen. They had been driven

out of Egypt and could not delay, and they had not prepared any

other provisions” (Shemot 12:32).


The miracle of the Exodus occurred with suddenness and with

haste, and we consumed the Pesach offering hastily as well, yet

our sages teach us that the Pesach offering in the future will not

be consumed in haste but slowly and moderately (Pesachim 96a).

In our own generation, the generation of our national rebirth,

we must distinguish between miraculous spiritual redemption

and a more gradual natural process. The student of Rav Kook,

and Rosh Yeshiva of Merkaz Harav, Rabbi Ya’akov Moshe

Charlap, taught:  Since in the redemption from Egypt the fundamental element was the liberation of the spirit, the redemption therefore occurred hastily. Yet as far as the physical liberation, the majority of the

nation, with their exilic character, feared everything and wished

to return to the exile, saying, “Let us select a leader and return to

Egypt” (Numbers 14:4).


The physical redemption may proceed slowly, but will not be

followed by additional exile. Regarding the redemption of the

spirit in the future redemption, we may expect that it will be

hasty as well. Rav Charlap continues:


“The Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His Temple,

and the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in, behold,

he is coming!” (Malachi 3:1). Nature advances gradually. Miracles

come suddenly. When it comes the turn of the soul to be redeemed,

the light of the soul’s redemption will suddenly begin to shine and

to emanate. . . . And the sons will return to their Father in Heaven

with remarkable repentance, with total love, following the Lord

their God and clinging to Him . . . And even those far removed

from God and from His Torah will hear and will come to crown

God with the crown of kingship (Rav Charlap, M’Ma’ayanei

HaYeshua 21:4).


“A redeemer will come to Zion, and unto them that turn from

transgression in Jacob – says the L-rd. As for Me, this is My

covenant with them – says the L-rd. My spirit that is upon

you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not

depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed,

nor out of the mouth of your seed’s seed – says the L-rd  –

henceforth and forever” (Isaiah 59:20).

We were born in Egypt and we are growing to

adulthood in Jerusalem. On the Seder night, all Jews sit together in families, joyously retelling the story of the Exodus, the story of the birth of the Jewish People and of their being chosen. It is a story that discretely reveals a small share of God’s great love and affection for

His people Israel, His firstborn son, whom He saved from slavery

and took for a people. Thank God, in our day we can tell those

present at the Seder that God likewise brought us into the Land

that He swore to our ancestors to give to us as an inheritance.

We must remember that not only at the Exodus did God love us,

but that He loves us every day and every second.


When a baby is born, a fine new soul appears in the world,

for “man’s soul is God’s candle.” Yet the joyous parents have

their eyes trained on the future as well. They ask: What will be

the future of this fine soul when it grows up and matures? How

will it be privileged to spread its good, sweet light? We do not

suffice with the birth; our eyes are always looking towards the

future. It was that way at the Exodus as well. We were born and

set apart and redeemed in Egypt. Yet our eyes are lifted towards

the future redemption, the redemption towards which our nation

and all mankind are heading.


The Jewish People have come a long way over thousands of

years since the Exodus. Finally, with God’s help, we are meriting

to come home to Jerusalem. The Jewish People were born in

Egypt, but the revelation of their benevolent soul for all mankind

is in Jerusalem, the source of light of the world. That is where

the redemption of Israel and the world, which began with Israel’s

appearance on the stage of history in Egypt, will finally take

place. We will merit to continue marching upward along the long

path from Egypt to rebuilt Jerusalem, and we will be privileged

to see the rebuilding of the Temple. Through us will be fulfilled,

“For out of Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of God

from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:4).




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