Posted on March 23, 2011
by Charlene Thrope
This Shabbat is Shabbat HaGadol, the Shabbat before Pesach. Traditionally, rabbis would give only two sermons a year – one on Shabbat Shuva, the Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah, and one on Shabbat HaGadol, this Shabbat. This week’s sermon would describe all of the complicated laws surrounding Pesach.
While it is unclear where exactly its name comes from, Rashi says that Shabbat HaGadol (the Great Shabbat) is named for a miracle that occurred on the Shabbat before the original Pesach. On the 10th of Nisan, the Israelites tied up the lambs they would sacrifice on the 14th of Nisan for the Pesach sacrifice. The Egyptians worshiped sheep, it was likely the Egyptians would kill the Israelites, but luckily they did not. This miracle makes this Shabbat gadol, great.
Shabbat HaGadol is our last reminder that Pesach is coming. Pesach stills seems weeks away during the four other Shabbatot leading up to Pesach – Shabbat Shekalim, Shabbat Zachor, Shabbat Parah, and Shabbat HaChodesh. This week, however, we know that Pesach begins not in a few weeks, but in a few days. Now is the time to clean our houses and buy our matzah – there’s not much time left.