By Rabbi Dovid Markel
This Shabbos, that which precedes Pesach, is referred to as “Shabbos HaGadol”—The Great Shabbos.
While there are various reasons that are postulated as to why this particular Shabbos is referred to as a “great” Shabbos, the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, suggests the following reason (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 403:1):
When the Israelites told the Egyptians that their firstborns would die, the firstborns then went to Pharaoh to convince him to let the Israelites leave Egypt. When he refused, a civil war ensued between the firstborns and the Egyptians. To commemorate this event, the Shabbos is referred to as Shabbos HaGadol.
The Rebbe explains, that the reason this event is referred to as a great miracle, is because it symbolized that the strength of Egyptians themselves realized G-d, to the extent that they themselves fought that the Israelites should leave.
The exodus is not something that merely happened thousands of years ago, but is something that is reenacted yearly in our own lives.
Each and every one of us has our personal Mitzrayim (Egypt), which is derived from the word meitzar, meaning constraints.
The miracle of Shabbos HaGadol is that not only are we taken out of our constraints, but we are to be permeated with G-dliness and refined, to the extent that even our evil-inclination realizes that it does not wish to impede us in our service to G-d. Not only do we fight for our freedom, but our evil-inclination demands our freedom as well.
When we study Chassidus in earnest and contemplate on its content during prayer, we help our animal-soul realize as well, that in truth there is nothing besides G-d!
May we indeed merit the ultimate expression of this, with the coming of Moshiach speedily in our times!