Friday, March 23, 2018

Tzav & Shabbos Hagadol The Connection

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The Shaloh Hakadosh tells us that the parsha of the week is connected to the time of year that it is read. In a regular year (not a leap year), it is very common that Tzav falls on Shabbos Hagadol, the Shabbos right before Pesach. What is the connection between Tzav and Shabbos Haggadol?

What is Shabbos Hagadol?  Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi in the Shulchan Aruch Harav says, "We call the Shabbos before Pesach Shabbos Hagadol, because a great (gadol) miracle happened on it. Because the Pesach (lamb) was taken on the 10th of the month (of Nissan)... That day was Shabbos... And when (the Children of) Israel took their Pesach (lambs) on that Shabbos, the first borns of Egypt gathered near (the Children of) Israel, and asked them, why are they doing so? They responded, that this is a Pesach offering to Hashem, because He will slay the firstborns of Egypt. The firstborns went to their fathers and to Pharaoh, to beseech that they send Israel, and they didn't want to. The firstborns made war with them and killed many of them, this is the meaning of the verse, 'To hit Egypt with their firstborns.'  They established to remember this miracle in all generations on Shabbos and called it Shabbos Hagadol. Why didn't they establish (the remembrance of this miracle) on the tenth of the month, whether it fell on Shabbos or during the week, like they established all of the holidays? Because on the 10th of Nissan Miriam passed away and they established it as a fast day when it falls during the week..."

So we call it Shabbos Hagadol, the Great Shabbos, because a great miracle happened. What was so great about the miracle, that we should remember it in every generation? This miracle didn't really help the Jewish people, even after they had their war, the Jewish people were still stuck in Egypt. It wasn't until the death of the firstborn, that they were able to go free. So it doesn't seem to have helped them at all.

Miriam passed away 39 years after the miracle of Shabbos Hagadol. Why was the fast that was established on the day of her passing, able to push off the remembrance of the miracle, to Shabbos?

There were many miracles that happened for the Jewish people over the generations, as we say in the Haggadah, "In every generation they stand up to destroy us, and Hashem saves us from their hands." In those miracles, either the enemy was destroyed or they were subdued.

What made this miracle great was that it came from the Egyptians themselves, and not only that, it came from their firstborns, the strength and vigor of Egypt. They themselves went to their fathers and to Pharaoh and demanded that Israel be released, and the even went to war against their own for this. The darkness itself became the light, our enemies became our advocates.

To take it a step further, a miracle is a change in nature. But in this case even the nature of Torah was changed. In the Torah system, there are things that are holy, and there are things that are neutral, but with some work we can elevate them to holiness. For example, food. Food is generally neutral, but if you recite a blessing over it and use the energy that the food gives you, to serve Hashem, that food is elevated to holiness.

Then there are things that are intrinsically unholy, and we can't make them holy, all we are meant to do with them, is avoid them. For example, non kosher food, there is no way to elevate it.

The Egyptians fell into the unholy and can't elevate category, and here they were transformed to do Hashem's will.

This is a truly great miracle, beyond any other. Therefore it is called great, hence the name Shabbos Hagadol.

This will help us understand the connection between Shabbos Hagadol and Miriam's passing.

Rashi asks, "Why is the passing of Miriam near the teaching of the Parah Adumah (the Red Heifer)? To tell you, that just as the Parah Adumah atones, so too, the passing of Tzadikim atones." Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains that this means that "they accomplish salvations in the midst of the land, by atoning for the sin of the generation, even for those done intentionally, low and depraved."

Just as the miracle of Shabbos Hagadol changed the unholy and what can't be elevated, to do what Hashem wants, so too, the passing of Miriam atoned for low and depraved sins that can't become holy. And true atonement means that the actual sin becomes a merit, the darkness itself becomes light.

Now we understand why the remembrance of the miracle could be pushed off to another day, in this case, Shabbos.

It is similar to when Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos, the law is that we don't blow the shofar, because an ignorant person may want to hear the shofar and mistakenly carry it to the person who knows how. By carrying in a public place, he would be breaking the Shabbos. To protect him from breaking the Shabbos, we all don't hear the shofar.

You may ask, why should we all miss out on the great mitzvah of shofar, because of a few ignorant people? The answer is, that we don't exactly miss out on the mitzvah, because what is spiritually accomplished by blowing the shofar, gets accomplished by the day of Shabbos itself.

The same is true about Miriam's passing. Being that the essence of the great miracle, was that the darkness itself became light, and that is also what the passing of Miriam represents, it is not truly pushed off. The essential idea is accomplished by commemorating Miriam's passing.

At the end of parshas Tzav, it tells about the seven days of milu'im, a time of training for Aaron and his sons in the Mishkan service. Why was it called milu'im? Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains, that it comes from the word miluy, which means full and complete. About the time of Moshiach it says, "That the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun." That which was lacking in the moon, will be filled (it will give its own light). A similar thing happened spiritually, when the Mishkan was set up during that week, the spiritual attribute of malchus was raised up.

To explain. The moon doesn't give its own light, it reflects the light it receives from the sun, but when Moshiach comes, its status will be raised and it will give its own light. Same thing applies to the spiritual attribute of malchus. Right now it has nothing of its own to give, it only reflects what it receives from the other attributes, however when Moshiach comes it will be raised and have what to give on its own. And what Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi is saying, is that in a small way, this happened when the Mishkan was set up.

In other words, that which is normally dark and doesn't give its own light, the moon and malchus, will begin to give their own light. The darkness itself becomes light.

This idea is seen in the name of the parsha, Tzav. In the Talmud it says, that whenever it says Tzav, it is referring to idol worship. At the same time, the Torahs Kohanim tells us about the word Tzav, that it means, "alacrity (to fulfill Hashem's will), now and for generations, even if it means taking a loss." And Tzav (96) has the numerical value of the two names of Hashem, E-l (31) and Adnai (65) combined. What is dark is itself giving light.

We can accomplish turning the darkness itself into light through teshuva. When we do teshuva, our worst sins become merits. The darkness itself becomes light.

The common denominator between Shabbos Hagadol, Miriam's passing and parshas Tzav, is that the darkness itself becomes light.

May we merit to see the coming of Moshiach soon, when we will see how the darkness and the suffering of the exile, itself will become light. The time has come.

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