Achieving greatness with Shabbat Hagadol

  • RabbiSackstein
This Shabbat bears the title of being Shabbat Hagadol – the Great Shabbat. There are many reasons advanced as to why the Shabbat that precedes the great holiday of Pesach is called Shabbat Hagadol.
by Rabbi Danny Sackstein, Sunny Road Kehilla | Apr 11, 2019

It reminds us of the first Pesach in Egypt, when the tenth of Nissan, the day of taking the Paschal lamb, fell on Shabbat. There is also the great Haftorah from the prophet Malachi that speaks of the “great day” at the time of the final redemption. But the truth is that the title is granted to this Shabbat simply because of its association with Pesach.

Greatness is an emotion that comes from self-confidence and self-worth. Great people have always felt the beat of greatness within themselves. Greatness presupposes a feeling of being special, of importance and purpose. The entire message of Pesach is therefore one of greatness. For it is the story of our salvation from Egyptian bondage that is the basis of all Jewish pride and existence. Our entire national existence is built upon the remembrance of that event that started our history as a nation.

The Peel Commission of 1936 was a British Royal Commission of Inquiry set out to propose changes to the British Mandate for Palestine. One of the people interviewed was David Ben-Gurion. Ben-Gurion turned to the British members of the commission, and asked if the average British child knew about the founders of their nation. He asked the Americans how many children in the United States could relay the momentous voyage more than 300 years ago of the Mayflower that landed at Plymouth Rock? Who was their leader? How many people were involved? What day was it? What did they eat?

He said any Jewish child could tell you that 3 300 years ago, the Jewish people were led out of Egypt to Israel by Moshe their leader, and there were more than 600 000 males over the age of 20. It was a Thursday morning, and they ate matzah. Ben-Gurion ended his presentation by emphasising this unique quality of the Jewish nation, and that we needed to come home.

Pesach instils in our children an awareness of our beginning as a people. When we know where we come from, we will know where we are supposed to be going.

The seder is the time to “passover” to our children loads of Jewish identity and pride, to plant within them and ourselves the seeds of greatness.


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