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Shabbat, March 24, 2018

Shabbat HaGadol
Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

On the Shabbat before the Exodus--Nissan 10th on that year--the first-born of Egypt, who occupied the senior positions in the priesthood and government, fought a bloody battle with Pharaoh's troops, in an effort to secure the release of the Israelites and prevent the Plague of the Firstborn. This "great miracle" is commemorated each year on the Shabbat before Passover, which is therefore called Shabbat HaGadol, "The Great Shabbat." (This is one of the rare instances in which a commemorative date in the Jewish calendar is set by the day of the week rather than the day of the month.)

For more on the war of the Firstborn, see here.

The grand 180-day feast hosted by King Achashverosh came to an end on this day.

Achasverosh miscalculated the start date of Jeremiah's prophecy which promised the rebuilding of the Holy Temple after 70 years of Babylonian exile. When, according to his calculations, the seventy years had passed and the Jews were not redeemed, he orchestrated this grand party to celebrate the "demise" of the Chosen Nation. During the course of the party he brazenly displayed many of the vessels looted from the Holy Temple by the Babylonian armies.

Esther 1 (For a vivid description of the feast.)
The Royal Feast

Laws and Customs

In today's "Nasi" reading (see "Nasi of the Day" in Nissan 1), we read of the gift bought by the nasi of the tribe of Menasseh, Gamliel ben Pedahtzur, for the inauguration of the Mishkan.

Text of today's Nasi in Hebrew and English.

The Shabbat before Passover is termed Shabbat HaGadol ("The Great Shabbat") in commemoration of the "great miracle" that happened in Egypt on this day, heralding the Exodus from Egypt five days later (see "Today in Jewish Hstory"). Shabbat HaGadol customs include reading a portion of the Haggadah (from "Avadim hayinu..." to " kol avonotainu"), which tells the story of the Exodus; it is also customary that the rabbi of the community delivers a lecture in which he elaborates on the laws of Passover and their significance, in preparation for the festival.

Daily Thought

If you do His will only because it makes sense to you,
then what does it have to do with Him?

You are doing your will.
You’re back in prison.