Tzav: Shabbat Hagadol
Volume XVIII, No. 24
12 Nisan 5764
April 3, 2004
The Evans family
in memory of Bonnie’s grandparents
Louis and Mildred Friedman
(Aryeh Leib ben Baruch a”h
and Mina bat Avraham David a”h)
Mr. and Mrs. Moshe Cohen,
in memory of his father
R’ Chaim ben R’ Zvi Hakohen a”h
The Spector family,
in memory of husband, father and grandfather
Avrohom ben Nosson Nota a”h
The Katz family on the yahrzeits of
Chaya bat Yisroel Hakohen Katz a”h
and Yitzchak ben Yisroel Hakohen Katz a”h
Daf Yomi (Bavli): Chullin 71
Daf Yomi (Yerushalmi): Ketubot 58
A well- known midrash states that the Shabbat before Pesach is called “Shabbat Hagadol” / “The Great Shabbat” because of the miracle that happened on the Shabbat preceding the Exodus. On that day, the Jews set aside lambs to be sacrificed for the Korban Pesach, and the Egyptians, who worshiped the lamb, did not challenge the Jews or even object.
Why is this miracle particularly worthy of a day commemorating it? asks R’ Zalman Sorotzkin z”l (1881-1966; the “Lutzker Rav”). Surely, many more incredible miracles have taken place in our history!
The typical person, notes R’ Sorotzkin, is much more moved by an open miracle, i.e. one which is difficult to explain in natural terms, than he is by a miracle which can be rationally explained. In fact, however, the opposite should be true. G-d’s using nature to accomplish His ends should be much more impressive than a sudden change in the course of nature. When G-d uses nature to accomplish His goals, he demonstrates that when He created the world thousands of years ago, He foresaw the future and implanted in creation the tools that He would need in the future.
The miracle which happened on the first Shabbat Hagadol is so memorable because there, in the midst of the open miracles of the plagues, Hashem performed this low-key and “natural” miracle, a miracle which can easily be explained rationally. In all likelihood, this miracle actually went unnoticed by the masses. Chazal, however, recognized its greatness, and they therefore called this day “Shabbat Hagadol.” (Quoted in Birkat Chaim p.103)
“If he shall offer it as a todah / thanksgiving offering . . .” (7:12)
The Gemara (Berachot 54a) teaches, “Four types of people are obligated to give thanks: one who traverses the sea, one who traverses a desert, one who was sick and is healed, and one who is released from prison.” Why these four?
R’ Shmuel Eliezer Eidels z”l (“Maharsha”) explains that there are four types of problems that commonly impact on a person’s spiritual growth: earning a living, enemies, sickness and wealth. The four types of people who must give thanks correspond to these. Also, the four cups of wine at the seder correspond to these four types of problems. [Unfortunately, Maharsha’s explanation is too lengthy and complex for this space.]
Our Sages say: “The todah will never cease to be brought.” R’ Aryeh Levin z”l (died 1969) asks: Why is this a happy tiding? The korban todah is brought, after all, by one who has been saved from danger! If the todah will never cease to brought, that means that people will never cease to find themselves in danger!
R’ Levin answers: When Pharaoh refused to release Bnei Yisrael from Egypt and instead decreed that they work harder, Moshe asked Hashem (Shmot 5:22-23), “Why have You made things worse for this nation?”
Hashem answered him, “You will see!” He meant: You will see that from every tragedy comes something good; from exile and persecution comes redemption.
The Midrash says that when Yosef died, the Jews wanted to assimilate into Egypt. Hashem therefore made the Egyptians hate the Jews, causing the Jews to reunite and to support each other. This is an example of how good — the continued existence of the Jewish people — came from bad – the Egyptians’ hatred.
So, too, Chazal say that the gift of Eretz Yisrael is acquired through suffering. The Torah (Devarim 8:5) tells us, however, that it is the type of “suffering” which a loving parent imposes on a child for the child’s own well-being.
Thus, it is not a bad tiding that a korban todah will always be necessary. Good comes from what is seemingly bad.
(Quoted in Ish Tzaddik Hayah p.303)
Why is it that Eretz Yisrael can be acquired only through suffering? Why, similarly, do Chazal say that the gift of Torah is acquired through suffering? What kind of gift is that?
R’ Yehuda Alkali z”l (of Saraevo; 1798-1878) explains that the holiness of these gifts requires that man be purified before he receives them. The purpose of suffering is to break down man’s material nature and purify him.
(Darchei Noam: Introduction)
“Take Aharon and his sons with him . . . Hakhel/Gather the entire assembly to the entrance of the ohel mo’ed/Tent of Meeting.” (8:2-3)
Rashi writes: “Take Aharon with persuasive words.” R’ Baruch Sorotzkin z”l (1917-1979; rosh yeshiva of Telz in Cleveland) explains as follows:
Being Kohen Gadol means giving up all semblance of a “normal” life. This is a tremendous commitment to ask of a person, even a person of the caliber of Aharon. One has to be persuaded that being Kohen Gadol is the greatest fortune possible, notwithstanding the inconveniences involved. Therefore Moshe had to “take Aharon with persuasive words.”
To ease Aharon’s transition, he was appointed be’hakhel / in an assembly of the entire congregation. Very few mitzvot had to be done be’hakhel, but Aharon’s appointment was done before all of the Jewish people so that he would see that they accepted him. A leader who is not accepted by a segment of the people cannot influence the people. (For similar reasons, Pirkei Avot teaches, “Make for yourself a teacher.” Only if you accept the teacher upon yourself can he influence you.)
(Ha’binah Ve’ha’berachah pp. 216 & 204)
From the Pesach Haggadah
“This year, we are here; next year may we be in Eretz Yisrael! This year, we are slaves, next year may we be free men!”
R’ Yehoshua Heschel of Cracow z”l (known as “the rebbe, Reb Heschel”; died 1663) notes that the above statements appear to be redundant. He explains:
We have a tradition that the enslavement in Egypt ceased six months before the actual Exodus. Presumably, says Reb Heschel, the same will be true when the Complete Redemption arrives. Six months before mashiach arrives we will notice a marked improvement in the Jewish People’s condition. [In the discussion below, we will refer to the Complete Redemption as “Step 2” and the lightening of the burden of exile that will take place six months beforehand as “Step 1.”]
There is a dispute in the Gemara whether the Complete Redemption will take place in the month of Nisan (the opinion of the sage Rabbi Yehoshua) or the month of Tishrei (the opinion of the sage Rabbi Eliezer). Our passage from Haggadah refers to both of those views. [For greater clarity, we will explain the second sentence first.] According to Rabbi Eliezer, it is not likely that we will be in Eretz Yisrael next year, for if the Complete Redemption (Step 2) were destined to occur in this coming Tishrei, we would already have seen signs of Step 1 now, six months before. If we have not seen those signs, then the most we can hope for is that Step 1 will occur by next Pesach, and Step 2 will occur six months afterward, in the second Tishrei from now. Hence, “This year, we are slaves, next year may we be free men [i.e., by next Pesach, Step 1 will occur].”
According to Rabbi Yehoshua, the Complete Redemption (Step 2) could indeed happen by next Pesach. Perhaps Step 1 will indeed occur by next Tishrei, six months before Pesach. Therefore, “This year, we are here; next year may we be in Eretz Yisrael [i.e., even Step 2 may occur by next Pesach].”
In many homes, the Seder begins with the poem “Kadaish U’rechatz.” Numerous commentators have found homiletical meaning in this poem, aside from its obvious purpose of reminding us how to conduct the Seder. R’ Yehoshua Segal Deutsch z”l (mid-20th century rabbi of Yerushalayim’s Katamon neighborhood) offers the following:
King David asks (Tehilim 24:3): “Who will climb Hashem’s mountain, and who can stand in His holy place?” This poem tells us how one can stand before Hashem and not worry about falling: “Kadaish u’rechatz” / “Sanctify yourself and be confident!” (“Rechatz” in Aramaic means “be confident.”)
How does one accomplish this? “Karpas yachatz” / Man’s material nature (which, like karpas, comes form the earth) cannot be reined in overnight. Indeed, according to one commentator, Bnei Yisrael’s defense for the sin of the Golden Calf was that Matan Torah / the giving of the Torah had been too sudden for them, and left them confused and disoriented. Rather, divide (“Yachatz”) and conquer.
Another tactic is “Maggid rochtzah” / Tell others to cleanse themselves. This will inspire you to do the same.
One might ask, however, “Who am I to rebuke others?” The answer to this is “Motzi matzah” / Get rid of that humility, that view of oneself as being lowly as matzah. As important as humility is, there is no place for it when one sees others violating the Torah. But do not become arrogant or haughty. Rather, “Maror koraich” / – Wrap yourself in a cloak of authority (= “marah”) which you can use when rebuking others, but can shed at other times.
In order to be an effective teacher, “Shulchan oraich” / Make sure your Torah knowledge is like a set table before you so that it will always be at your fingertips. Also, make sure that your rebuke does not become a weapon of the Heavenly prosecutor. Make sure that “Tzafun baraich” / Hidden (“Tzafun”) within your heart should be blessings for your fellow Jews. You should also “Hallel” / Praise your brethren before Hashem.
If you do this, your deeds will be “Nirtzah” / Accepted by Hashem.
(Haggadah Shel Pesach Kol Yeshuah)
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