It would be rather strange if President Trump were to decide that July 4th would, from now on, be celebrated on the day that it happened rather than date of the month that it happened. By the way, July 4th, 1776, did happen on a Thursday.
Even if it wasn’t president Trump, if the founding fathers of the United States were to have declared Independence Day as the first Thursday of every July rather than on the fourth – everyone would ask the question as to why it was done this way. Why on the day of the week rather than the day of the month?
But, l’havdil, this is what we do on this forthcoming Shabbos.
WHY NO DATE?
A great miracle happened on Shabbos HaGadol. Yetzias Mitzrayim, the Gemorah tells us, happened on a Thursday (Shabbos 87b). Therefore, the miracle that occurred on Shabbos happened on the tenth of Nissan. Most of the commentaries (Tur 430) tell us that Shabbos HaGadol is celebrated and called with this name on account of that great miracle that transpired on that day.
If so, why was it established on the Shabbos before Pesach rather than on the tenth of Nissan?
THE ACTUAL MIRACLE
To understand the answer to this question we must first go back and understand what the miracle was exactly, in the first place. The Tur explains that there was a great miracle in that sheep were worshiped as a deity in Egypt. The very fact that all of Israel took thousands of sheeps and tied them to their beds in preparation for a grand shechita and the Mitzrim said nothing to them – is a remarkable miracle. This is Rashi’s understanding cited in Sefer HaPardes (page 343) and is also cited in Shibolei HaLeket (305).
Tosfos (Shabbos 87b “v’osos hayom”), however, bring down a different miracle. The firstborn of Mitzrayim asked the Bnei Yisroel while they were taking the paschal lambs why they were doing so. They responded that it was an offering in appreciation for the fact that the firstborn of Mitzrayim were to be destroyed. Frightened, the firstborn of Mitzrayim returned to their fathers and to Paroh to demand that he let the Jews go. When they did not adhere to this request, a civil war in Mitzrayim erupted, decimating Mitzrayim. This civil war allowed the Jews to be left alone.
Both the Levush and the Prisha (Siman 430) explain that the miracle happened on account of Shabbos observance. How so? The Mitzrim only asked the Jews about the paschal lambs because of their observance of Shabbos. The Prisha explains that the Mitzrim did not know that Jews are allowed to tie a temporary knot on Shabbos, and thus posed their question.
The Maharal MiPrague explains that it was Shabbos itself which had caused the miracle. Shabbos is a testament to the Oneness of Hashem and that He had created the world. Shabbos is the great antidote to Avodah Zara – and in her zchus the Mitzrim were unable to do anything to the Jewish people.
SO THAT MIRIAM COULD HAVE HER YARTZEIT
The Mogain Avrohom writes that the day that Miriam was to pass away was on the tenth of Nissan (See SA OC 580:2) – therefore that date was not chosen. This is a fascinating answer, in that we can appreciate how great a Tzaddaikes Miriam was – the date of the nais itself was pushed off – on account of her.
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