Nissan is known as the “Month of Redemption.”1 This is because the central theme of the month is the holiday of Pesach, known asthe “Time of Our Redemption.”2 This theme receives special emphasis on the Shabbos that precedes Pesach, called Shabbas HaGadol, “the Great Shabbos.”

The word Nissanis related to the word nes, or miracle.3 Moreover, Nissan,possessing as it does two “nun’s,” is indicative of the “miracle of miracles”4 — the spectacular miracles that G‑d performed during this month in taking the Jews out of Egypt.

This is particularly emphasized on Shabbas HaGadol, “for on this Shabbos there occurred a great miracle,”5 referring to the extraordinary miracle of smiting the Egyptians through its firstborn. Moreover, “on this day the redemption and miracles [of the Exodus] began.”6

Why is “smiting the Egyptians through its firstborn” referred to as a “great miracle,” implying that it was greater than the other miracles and plagues that preceded it? Also, why is the miracle expressly related to Shabbos, as it is stated: “It was instituted that this miracle be remembered in future generations on Shabbos, a Shabbos that is therefore known as Shabbas HaGadol7 ?

The purpose of the liberation from Egypt was so that: “I shall take you to Myself as a nation, and I will be to you as a G‑d. You will know that I am G‑d your L‑rd, who is bringing you out from under the subjugation of Egypt.”8

In other words, the revelation of G‑dliness at the time of the Exodus enabled Jews to discern and know G‑d even when they occupy themselves in worldly matters. Additionally, at the time G‑d gave the Torah, this revelation at the Exodus allowed them to unconditionally accept His Torah and mitzvos, as the verse states:9 “When you will take the nation out of Egypt they shall serve G‑d on this mountain.”

Jews were thus expected to reveal G‑dliness — through their spiritual service — in a permanent and ongoing manner within this world. Thus the Exodus and the receiving of the Torah culminated in the building of the Mishkan, a physical place wherein G‑d would “dwell among them.”10

This came to fruition in an even more permanent manner with the erection of the Beis HaMikdash, and will attain ultimate completion and perfection with the building of the Third and eternal Beis HaMikdash.

This explains why the Exodus came about specifically through miracles, for only a supernatural event can manifest G‑d’s unlimited ability. Such an event enables a person to perceive that G‑d is the supreme master of nature, doing with it as He wills. In turn, this enabled the Jews to free themselves from the bonds and limitations of materiality as a whole and from Egyptian exile in particular.

The greatness of “smiting the Egyptians through its firstborn,” as well as its connection to Shabbas HaGadol, will be understood accordingly.

The “miracle of miracles” of “smiting the Egyptians through its firstborn,” lies in the fact that only the revelation of G‑dliness as it wholly transcends nature could cause the firstborn Egyptians — the mightiest11 force of evil — to smite Egypt.

This miracle was thus labeled a “great miracle,” one that served as the pivotal event through which “the redemption and miracles [of the Exodus] began.”

The commemoration of this wonder was established on Shabbos, for Shabbos is not only the day of the week during which we venerate G‑d as He rested from the Six Days of Creation, removed from and towering above nature, but also because Shabbos is related to the eternal Redemption, a time “composed entirely of Shabbos and tranquility.”12

This further emphasizes the fact that eternity — that which transcends time and nature — descends within and permeates this finite and time-bound world.

Based on Sefer HaSichos 5751, Vol. I, pp. 395-409.