Shabbos HaGadol – Experiencing Infinity

By Rabbi Dovid Markel


This Shabbos, which precedes Pesach, is referred to as “Shabbos HaGadol”—The Great Shabbos (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 403:1).

The great Talmudic genius, Rabbi Yosef Engel, explains an interesting insight into this in his work Otzrot Yosef (Derush 7). It is explained that all the days of the subsequent week are blessed by the preceding Shabbos. The energy therefore for the exodus of Egypt that takes place on Pesach is derived from the Shabbos before Pesach.

The Talmud (Moed Katan 18a) explains that the Pharaoh was a small man. “Pharaoh the contemporary of Moses, was [a puny fellow] a cubit [in height]…”

Maharal explains (Be-er HaGolah, Be-er 5) that what is meant in this expression is not that he was literally this height, but because his spiritual energy was miniscule, he was as small as humanly possible.

Indeed, the very concept of Egypt, Mitzraim, which translates as constraints is indicative of the minutest G-dliness possible.

To combat this smallness and constraint the opposite energy is needed—the quintessence of largeness.

Now, any quantifiable number is not truly large, as there can be another number that when compared to it, makes this large number seem small. Only infinity is truly large as there is not limits to its greatness.

The Talmud (Shabbos 118a) states “He who delights in the Sabbos is given an unbounded portion.” The essence of Shabbos is that it is a day without limits and boundaries—truly great.

Through experiencing the infinite energy of the “Great Shabbos” we have the ability to great even the greatest expression of spiritual boundaries.

Indeed, may we experience this infinite energy and the exodus from the greatest boundaries with the coming of Moshiach, Now!

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