The Decisive Couple

Nissan 7, 5782
April 8, 2022
Candlelighting Time 7:13 PM

            As we continue to gear up for Pesach, this Shabbos, referred to as Shabbos Hagadol, inspires us in our preparation for this wonderful Yom Tov. Why indeed is this Shabbos denoted in this manner? The traditional explanation is that we were commanded to sacrifice the worshipped idol of the Egyptian’s, the lamb, and there was a concern that they would retaliate and perhaps even kill us. However, we persevered and relied upon Hashem to protect us. Therefore, when they took the lambs for the Passover offering and ignored the potential threat, that in itself was a tremendous merit which also facilitated their release from bondage. The day that they prepared the lamb for its sacrifice, checking to make sure that it was flawless, was Shabbos, hence we call this Shabbos before Pesach, Shabbos Hagadol, the great Shabbos because of the miraculous intervention which occurred.

            S’fas Emes offers another deep insight into this Shabbos. He cites the Midrash that Shabbos requested from Hashem to provide a mate. All the creations of Hashem had their mate but not Shabbos. Hashem responded that we, the nation of Israel, will be the mate of Shabbos. How does one explain the coupling of Shabbos with our nation?

            The sanctity of Shabbos pours out into the week. However, in order for that benevolence to be conveyed, there has to be a beneficiary. We would be that recipient when we became Hashem’s people, through receiving the Torah on Mt. Sinai. Firstly, though we had to be released from Egyptian bondage and become free. Once we marched out of Egypt as a liberated nation, then we were able to enjoin Shabbos and benefit from its aura. Although we didn’t practically leave Egypt until the 15th of Nissan and eventually receive the Torah until a few weeks later, however, the preparation for the Pesach offering which was the catalyst for that future event, began on the 10th. Rashi cites the Midrash that we were lacking in merit to facilitate our departure from bondage and therefore we were given the mitzvah of the Pesach sacrifice beginning four days before Pesach. We had the obligation to check out the sacrifice to ensure that it didn’t possess a blemish that would invalidate its use. Our intense scrutiny of the offering and our absorption in this mitzvah was of such magnitude, that it displayed a tremendous desire and passion to perform Hashem’s mitzvos in general. That impassionate involvement was the merit with which we merited to leave Egypt days later and experience the miracles at the splitting of the sea. Therefore, obviously that zeal and enthusiasm triggered and advanced our freedom from slavery. And once we were unfettered and ready to receive the blessing of Shabbos, that in turn made Shabbos even greater because it was able to convey its blessings to us. S’fas Emes concludes with the verse from the Song of Songs which we recite during Pesach, the nation of Israel pleads to Hashem, pull me and I will hasten after You.

            The famed Vilna Gaon on that verse explains that it is referring to the eventual redemption from our present exile. In other words, we will merit, hopefully soon, that we too will march out of our lengthy exile and return to Jerusalem. However, that is dependent upon the merits we need to become free from this exile. S’fas Emes is strongly insistent that displaying our ardent desire to indeed march out of exile both on a community level and in our personal lives will be the fundamental merit that we will have.


Many think that even though that are not reaching their potential, however, they are doing much better than others. However, this attitude is not appropriate. Just as the metsorah who is wealthy must bring a better sacrifice than one lacking in resources, so too, we must attempt to accomplish more if we have the capacity to do so.                                                                                   CHOFETZ CHAIM