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Friday, April 7

שבת הגדול - The great promise

Unlike the other four special shabbosos leading up to Pesach, Shabbos HaGadol has no special maftir reading. Rather, there is only a special haftarah. The haftarah comes from the very end of Trei Asar, essentially the very end of the Navi portion of Tanach. It is quite difficult to find a direct connection between the haftarah and the theme of the day. The most clear correlation is the reference to the ultimate redemption and the sending of Eliyah(u) HaNavi as it relates to the great redemption of Pesach. But what of the rest of the haftarah?

There is a section of the haftarah that does bear a remote, yet interesting connection to Shabbos HaGadol. HaShem chastises B'nei Yisroel for their failure to properly fulfill the mitzvos of ma'aser and terumah. HaShem then makes a promise, (Malachi 3:10) "and challenge me with this (terumah and ma'aser), if I will not open for you the windows of the Heavens and bestow upon you never-ending blessing." Usually, we are expected to do mitzvos unconditionally and not to expect any specific reward in return. However, here we are told that we may in fact "test" HaShem with the mitzvos of terumah and ma'aser, that we will receive subsequent reward.

Although this is quite unique, there is another instance of immediate and direct reward in the Torah. Our answer to both the rasha and the eino yodei'a lish'ol reference the pasuk, (Shemos 13:8) "Ba'avur ZEH asah HaShem li betzeisi miMitzrayim," in return for this, the mitzvah of Korban Pesach, HaShem led us out of Mitzrayim. The Korban Pesach were a merit for B'nei Yisroel to be redeemed. Indeed, we rebuke the rasha by asserting that his contemptuous attitude toward the Korban Pesach would have excluded him from the redemption.

Perhaps this may be another interpretation of the term Shabbos HaGadol, referring not only to the great redemption, but to the great promise that the proper execution of the mitzvah of Korban Pesach will lead to the exodus, a comparable promise to that found in this week's special haftarah.

Pesach is a time to reaffirm our emunah. Telling over the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim is quite possibly the most efficient way to reming ourselves that HaShem is running the world. Understanding the unequivocal promise spoken about in the haftarah is a perfect way to prepare ourselves for this task.

שבת שלום

חג כשר ושמח

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