תש”פ פ’ צו – שבת הגדו ל
Volume 33, Issue 2
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedibarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
ולבש ה כהן מדו בד… והרים את הדש ן
“And the Kohen shall don his fitted linen tunic…and he shall remove the ashes.” (6:3)
QUESTION: What is the significance of the mitzvah of removing the ashes from the altar?
ANSWER: When a person sins, he must offer a korban and along with it do teshuvah. He regrets his past and takes upon himself to do better in the future. According to the halacha, (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 228:4), it is forbidden to remind a penitent of his past. The Torah alludes to this with the mitzvah of the removal of the ashes. After the korban has been sacrificed on the altar, only the ashes are left. Removing the ashes teaches us that a person can start over with a clean slate, with no trace remaining of his sin. (Iturei Torah)
ויחגר אתם אבנט ו יחבש להם מגבעו ת
“And he girded them with a belt and he fitted them with hats…” (8:13)
The Meshech Chochmah points out that in referring to the אבנט – the belt worn by the kohen – the Torah uses the singular form, whereas in referring to the מגבעות – the hat worn by the kohen – the Torah uses the plural form. The Rambam writes that the belt worn by the kohanim was standard: thirty-two amot long and three finger widths wide and was wrapped around the kohen’s waist. On the other hand, the hat was made to size each kohen. Thus, the belt is referred to in singular because it was identical for each kohen. The hat is referred to in plural because individual ones had to be fashioned for each kohen. (Torah Anthology)
Shabbat HaGadol
Why is the Shabbat before Pesach called “Shabbat HaGadol” – the Great Shabbat?
The first mitzvah the Jewish people were commanded prior to their leaving Egypt was to prepare the sheep for a Pesach-offering and other details pertaining to celebrating the Pesach Yom Tov. Our patriarchs Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov fulfilled all the mitzvoth of the Torah (see Yoma 28b), and undoubtedly, they, too, made a Pesach-offering on the fourteenth of Nissan and celebrated Pesach.
Nevertheless, there is a big difference between us and them in regard to pertaining mitzvoth. The Gemara (Kiddushin 31a) says that “Gadol hametzuveah ve’oseh mimi she’eino metzuveh ve’oseh” – The one who is commanded and fulfills is greater than the one who fulfills without a command.” The reason is that the one who is not commanded has the option of not performing the action at all, while the one who is commanded is worried and under pressure due to his obligation (see Tosfot). Thus, on this Shabbat the Jews exhibited the greatness of one who is commanded, and therefore this Shabbat is called “Shabbat haGadol” – the great Shabbat.”
Alternatively, the Pesach-offering and the Yom Tov of Pesach emphasize the mitzvah of “ve’ahavta le’eiacha kamocha” – “love your fellow as yourself”. The Pesach-offering is a communal get-together. Not only does the family share, but also neighbors gather to partake in the offering, as the Torah says “He and a close neighbor…Everyone according to what he eats shall be counted for the lamb” (Shemot 12:4) Ahavat Yisrael is also demonstrated by the special mitzvah of ma’ot chitin – extending financial assistance for Yom Tov to enable everyone to celebrate the holiday properly.
Regarding the mitzvah of “love your fellow as yourself”, Rabbi Akiva says, “Zehu klal gadol ba’Torah” – “This is a great rule in the Torah”. Thus, the Shabbat is called “Shabbat HaGadol” because on this Shabbat the great mitzvah of loving your fellow as yourself is emphasized.
Alternatively, the Jews were liberated from Egypt in the year 2448 after creation. They had their first real taste of freedom on the Shabbat before Pesach, when they prepared the sheep for the Korban Pesach. The words ” “שבת הגדול remind us of the redemption: “ש ” stands for Shabbat,
“ב ” = 2,000, “ת ” = 400, and the word “הגדול ” has the numerical value of 48. (Iturei Torah)
The Gerrer Rebbe, Rav Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter zt”l (Sfas Emes) would say:
“Until Yetziat Mitzrayim, Shabbat was the symbol of one thing alone: that the world was created by Hashem in six days and He rested on the seventh. But since that time, Shabbat has gained an additional menaing. It also recalls how we left Egypt, as it says: Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and G-d took you out of there…therefore Hashem commanded you to make the Shabbat day (Devarim 5:15). Thus, Shabbat has a higher status, since it bears double witness, both to the creation of the world and to our redemption from the house of slavery. It is fitting, then that the first Shabbat to have gained this double meaning should be called Shabbat HaGadol – the great Shabbat.”