top of page

Tzav, Shabbos Hagadol: The Greatness of Doing Chesed

צו את אהרן ואת בניו לאמר זאת תורת העולה היא העולה על מוקדה על המזבח כל הלילה.

“Command Aharon and his sons, saying: ‘This is the law of the Olah offering; this is the Olah that is brought on the fire of the Altar all night.” (Vayikra 6:2)

Rashi comments: “The word tzav (command) implies that they were being hastened... Rebbe Shimon said: There is a greater need for haste [with a mitzvah] when a financial expense is involved.”

This Shabbos is called Shabbos Hagadol – The Great Shabbos. There are many reasons why it is so called. One of the reasons is that when a child turns 13 and becomes obligated to fulfill all of the mitzvos, he is called a “gadol” – a big one. The first mitzvah that the Jewish people received in Egypt was to take sheep to be used for the Pesach sacrifice. The Jews were commanded with the first mitzvah on this Shabbos, which is why it is called Shabbos Hagadol – the Shabbos when we became “big” and were obligated to start keeping mitzvos.

Another reason why this Shabbos is called Hagadol is because Hashem promised Avrohom that after the Jewish people would be in exile for four hundred years, they would leave with a “rechush gadol” - a great fortune. The week before Pesach, Hashem told Moshe to command the Jewish people to collect their fortune from the Egyptians. This Shabbos is called Hagadol as an allusion to the rechush gadol, the great fortune.

When Hashem told Moshe to urge the Jewish people to take the Egyptians’ valuables, He used the word “please,” as if He were begging the Jewish people to fulfill this command. In this week’s parsha, Rashi tells us in the name of Rebbe Shimon that a person must be urged to hurry with a commandment when a financial expense is involved. In the case of the Jews being commanded to take the Egyptian valuables, there was only financial gain involved. If so, why did Hashem have to plead with them to fulfill His command and hurry them along?

The Jewish people were afraid to take the Egyptian valuables, because they did not want to own anything that belonged to the Egyptian idol-worshippers. A person’s essence can be felt in his possessions, and the Jewish people did not want the Egyptian essence to penetrate their homes. Hashem urged them to take the valuables and reassured them that all of the Egyptian fortunes came through Yosef Hatzaddik when he was the viceroy of Egypt. Yosef led the land of Egypt to great wealth during the years of famine, and his essence permeated these valuables. Therefore, the Jewish people had no reason to avoid taking these fortunes.

The Yom Tov Pesach is approaching, and Jewish families are facing many expenses. Making Pesach comes with many costs, including matzos, wine, produce and other essentials. We see people hurrying to usher in Pesach, even though this wonderful mitzvah comes with many expenses. They do not need to be urged to hurry; they hasten to do this mitzvah willingly and with great joy. People are helping each other by donating to Pesach tzedaka funds. Even those who barely have enough for their own family’s needs try their best to donate to those who are truly in need. This is a great zechus that brings many blessings upon the donors.

The tzaddik Rebbe Mechel of Zlotchiv interpreted the verse that tells us how the Jewish people borrowed from the Egyptians, imparting the following teaching: “Each person borrowed from his friend.” The Jewish people did chesed (kindness) with each other and helped each other in every possible way. And then “Hashem made the Jewish people to have grace in the eyes of Egypt.” When the Egyptians saw the Jews doing so much chesed with each other, they became willing to share their own valuables as well.

Chesed – kindness is called gadol – greatness, as it says: “To You Hashem is greatness and strength,” which refers to Hashem’s great kindness. This may be another reason why this Shabbos is called Hagadol, as an allusion to the chesed that the Jewish people did for each other in Egypt.

Recent Posts

See All

Devarim, Shabbos Chazon: Come Close To Me

והדבר אשר יקשה מכם תקריבון אלי ושמעתיו. Moshe said to the Jewish people: “If anything is difficult for you, bring it to me and I will listen.” (Devarim 1:17) Moshe told the leaders of the Jewish peopl

Devarim, Shabbos Chazon: A Thousand Times More

יסף ה' אלקי אבותיכם עליכם ככם אלף פעמים ויברך אתכם כאשר דבר לכם “Hashem the God of your forefathers will increase you a thousand times, and bless you according to what He spoke to you.” (Devarim 1:11)


bottom of page