This coming Shabbos is Shabbos Hagadol, (The Great Shabbos) which commemorates the uprising that began during the Egyptian exile when the Egyptian first-born sons found out that the final plague would bring their death. Understandably angry, the male first-borns (בכורים) went to their fathers and complained that they should let the Jews leave, or else they would die. When their fathers refused to acquiesce, the sons waged war on their fathers. This Shabbos is called Shabbos Hagadol because of the Great Miracle that happened when the Egyptian firstborns fought for their lives.
This seems strange! How can we say that this Shabbos is greater than any other Shabbos because of an internal war in Egypt? Shabbos has had its own dynamic since the creation of the world, what could this battle amongst non-Jews add to Shabbos?
The answer is in the pasuk/phrase itself:
למכה מצרים בבכוריהם, כי לעולם חסדו
Everyone understood that not only were the events that defied the laws of nature divinely ordained, but even a war between two non-Jewish nations is too. The events of Shabbos Hagadol teach us that not only are the myriad of things that ה׳ does for us, the Jewish nation, directed by ה׳, but even the interactions of non-Jews are too.
It was crystal clear to everyone living then that the war was part of ה׳’s master plan and was orchestrated so that at the exact time when the Jewish nation were supposed to leave Egypt, they would, with the Egyptians assisting the deliverance.
You may ask: So what is the connection to Shabbos?
Shabbos itself testifies that ה׳ created the world in six days and rested on Shabbos. We have אמונה that this is true. When the miracle of Shabbos Hagadol took place, it became clear before our eyes, that ה׳ created the world and directs its activities constantly. Shabbos so to speak gained a new level of greatness due to the events of Shabbos Hagadol.
I do not think it is hard to see the message and parallel it to our lives today. We are living at a time when two nations are fighting a war that makes absolutely no sense. The aggressor was not prompted to attack but has nonetheless brought vast destruction. Is this a coincidence? I think not. Just as the war in Egypt was a step in the imminent גאולה, so too should the war that is going on today be an indication that we will soon be redeemed from our גלות with the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu.
On behalf of all of the board members, instructors, course builders, graphic designers and marketing staff,
I wish you all a כשר און פרייליכען פסח,
Dr. Chavi Goldberg, EdD.