The Great Shabbos
"Avi, this Shabbos is 'The Great Shabbos.'"
"Isn't every Shabbos great, Abba?"
"It surely is, Avi. Shabbos is the 'ose' (sign) that Hashem gave us, His people. Every Shabbos, we refrain from melacha, and by doing so we demonstrate that He created the universe."
"What could be greater than that?"
"True, Avi. However, this Shabbos is especially great. This is the Shabbos before we left Mitzrayim. The Auruch HaShulchan explains that the miracles of Yetzias Mitzrayim show how Hashem controls everything in the world with His Hashgacha. This goes hand in hand with Shabbos - He created the world and He guides it. Therefore, this Shabbos is called Gadol, because it demonstrates Hashem's Gadlus (Greatness) in both creating and directing the world."
"Fascinating! Are there any other reasons for the name Shabbos HaGadol?"
"Yes, there are. Great miracles occurred on this Shabbos, the final one before we left Mitzrayim. Hashem commanded that each household take a lamb for their Korbon Pesach and tie it to the bedpost."
"The Mitzrim must have been furious, Abba. The lamb was their sacred animal."
"They were livid, Avi, and that is where the miracle comes in. They did not attack the Jews; rather they only asked them what they planned to do with the lambs. When the Bnei Yisrael answered that they would slaughter them for the Korbon Pesach, the Mitzrim's teeth became blunted. They could not answer back."
"That is not all, Avi. The bechoros (first born males) asked the Bnei Yisrael why they were binding the lambs. They answered that The Almighty was going to kill the bechoros in Mitzrayim. Instead of attacking Bnei Yisrael, they went to Paroh and demanded that he free the Jewish slaves. When he refused, they made a war and killed many Mitzrim."
"That is a big miracle."
"That's right. That's why they call this day Shabbos HaGadol, Avi. Because nissim gedolim (great miracles) happened on it." "May we see more in our days!"
"Amen. That is the subject of today's haftorah, the prophecy of the coming of Eliyahu HaNovi. He will inform us of the final geula, redemption. That day is referred to as 'the great and fearful day,' when we will see miracles greater than those of Yetzias Mitzrayim. May it come speedily and in our days."
Kinderlach . . .
Shabbos HaGadol is truly a Great Shabbos. We mark the day with a special haftorah and minhagim. Some have the custom to recite the Haggadah, in preparation for the Seder. The Rav delivers a drasha before the congregation on the subject of the halachos of Pesach, and inspiring Aggados about the upcoming days. Appreciate the greatness of Shabbos HaGadol, kinderlach. We are on our way to having a truly great Pesach.
"Imma we're home!"
"Wonderful! How was the matza baking?"
"Great! We worked super fast!"
"Fantastic! Let's keep up the momentum. We still have a lot of work to do. We all want to have a beautiful Seder tonight. So we have to focus on the final preparations."
"Okay, Imma, where do we start?"
"Let us begin with setting the table. Decide where everyone is sitting, and set their place. Include the Haggadah and the wine glass that they choose."
"Now, Ahuva, please arrange the pillows for the haseiva (leaning.) Also prepare the wine and grape juice that we will drink for the Four Cups. Who is the sar hamashkim, the one in charge of the drinks?"
"Good. Avi, it will be your job to pour the wine during the Seder. Shoshie, can you please join me in the kitchen and help me prepare the kezaisim (olive sized pieces) of maror, in plastic bags? Then, when we reach that point in the Seder, Abba will not have to take time measuring the maror."
"That's clever, Imma. Do you have any other time-saving ideas?"
"Yes, Leah. We need to get everything on the Seder plate ready ahead of time. Oh, and also prepare a bag of nuts for Abba to give out to the little ones for answering his questions. Speaking of Abba, here he is."
"Shalom, kinderlach! Who wants to help me?"
"I do, Abba! What can I do?"
"Make sure my kittle is ready. Who is prepared to explain the halachos of the Seder?"
"I am, Abba!"
"Great, Chaim. That will be your job. Explain the halachos of each section of the Seder before we begin that particular section. That is a very important job. It prevents confusion, and helps us all appreciate the mitzvos and perform them correctly. Who wants to prepare the Yom Tov candles?"
"I want to, Abba."
"Good, Yossie. Take the largest candles you can find, to make sure they burn through the end of the meal. Now, we just have to work out a time schedule to ensure that we have enough time for each section of the Seder, because we have to finish eating that afikomen before chatzos, which is halachic midnight."
"Can I check the matzos to make sure that we have enough shelaymim (whole, unbroken pieces)?"
"Go ahead, Yossie. Just be super careful."
"Abba, you are so organized!"
"It pays off, kinderlach. We will all enjoy the Seder more. Now, let's get to work. We want to finish in time to eat Imma's delicious lunch. We need a good solid meal, because we will not be eating the matzah till late tonight."
"We also need to rest."
"Thank you for reminding me, Esti. All of us, including Imma and me, are going to take a good long nap so we can be rested and relaxed, and really enjoy tonight's Seder."
Kinderlach . . .
Preparation and organization are the keys to a great Pesach Seder. Chaim and Avi's family gave us the basic guidelines. Perhaps you can think of other ways to make your Seder go smoother. Imma and Abba will surely appreciate your help this Erev Pesach. Let us not forget the most important preparation of all: pray to Hashem that your Seder will be wonderful. May He answer all of your prayers, Amen
(These stories are reprinted from "You Left Mitzrayim.")
How did Moshe Rabbeinu inaugurate the Kohanim? (8:6-13)
Who could eat the mincha offering? (6:11)
Where was the korbon chaatos shechted? (6:18)
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