Shabbbat HaGadol Parashat Tsav - Take the Fire HIGHER!
6. A constant fire shall burn upon the Altar; it shall never go out.
ו. אֵשׁ תָּמִיד תּוּקַד עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ לֹא תִכְבֶּה:
Pirkei Avot teaches us that among the ten nisim (miracles) that took place in the Beit HaMikdash, one of them was that the fire on the Mizbeah (Altar) would never extinguish, even when Benei Yisrael were on their journeys. As a child I was always amazed by this little fact; despite water and wind, this fire would keep burning! The more I keep thinking about it, the more powerful this concept becomes in my mind. It takes a lot to keep a fire continuously ignited! How does one do it?
First let’s focus on what makes this Shabbat so special, and the key to our question will automatically present itself to us. The Shabbat immediately before Pesah is referred to as Shabbat HaGadol. The first time Benei Yisrael celebrated Shabbat HaGadol was in Misrayim, on the tenth of Nisan, five days before their redemption. On that day, HaKadosh Barukh Hu gives Benei Yisrael their first missva which applied only to the Shabbat of that generation, but not to future generations: On the tenth day of this month [Nisan]... each man should take a lamb for the household, a lamb for each home (Shemot 12:3).
Benei Yisrael are commanded to take their lamb and tie them to the bedpost for four days and then take the blood of this lamb and to smear it on their doorposts so that HaKadosh Barukh Hu will salvage them on the night of the Redemption.
When HaKadosh Barukh Hu, told Moshe Rabbenu to take this lamb for Korban Pesah, Moshe Rabbenu answered: ‘Ribono Shel Olam! How can I possibly do this thing? Do You not know that the lamb is the Egyptian god? If they see us slaughtering the lamb, they will surely come after us!’ HaShem replies: ‘For as long as you are alive, Benei Yisrael will not depart from here before they slaughter the Egyptian gods before their very eyes, that I may teach them that their gods are really nothing at all.’ (Midrash Raba)
And this is exactly what happens.
Put yourself in the place of one of the Benei Yisrael. We were slaves for these people for 210 years, they did whatever they wanted with us, they killed our children and used them for bricks, they tortured us, anguished us, detained us, they forbade us to live normal lives lest we all be killed, and now in the middle of all this, we take their gods and literally slay them before their eyes without expecting severe retaliation. Just imagine if a tourist goes to India and accidentally kicks a cow (their god, bar minan). They will murder him on the spot! Meanwhile, this guy was a free man not under their jurisdiction, and he didn’t even slay the cow, he just kicked it! Now imagine an ENTIRE nation of minimally 3 million people all butchering the god of the Egyptians before their very eyes….and just to rub it in, put the remaining blood of the lamb on their doorposts so it could be publically seen.
You don’t think Benei Yisrael were scared out of their minds of what would happen???? Who were Benei Yisrael in the eyes of the Egyptians to even rise up and leave from their bondage? And now, it’s not like they’re murdering Egyptian civilians, that would be one thing, but they’re murdering Egypt’s divine gods! So much worse!
But what happens? Not one Jew is touched. Benei Yisrael leave as free men and use these very lamb to make Korban Pesah. On that night HaShem slew the Egyptian firstborn and on that night Benei Yisrael were able to slaughter the Korban Pesah and eat it. When the Egyptians beheld their firstborn slain and their gods slaughtered, they could do nothing….
Do you see now how a fire can remain constantly lit?
When a person remains this committed to HaKadosh Barukh Hu, there is nothing in the world that can extinguish his fire, not even the most powerful empire in the world like Misrayim was at the time. Look at the steadfast commitment and Trust in HaShem Benei Yisrael had. This is why they were deserving of a Geulah.
It is not simply enough to be committed; most of us are. We daven, keep Kosher, Shabbat, Seniut. But how consistent are we in doing it? Most of us could ignite the fire, but how many of us can keep it lit?
To keep this fire always burning, no matter where we are and when it is, even if it seems strange to us, even when we are on our journeys, even if it is against everything everyone around stands for, as long as HaKadosh Barukh Hu requires you to do it, our fire must remain lit, we must do it! Do it with passion! THIS is what brings the Geulah!
Benei Yisrael were scared for their lives when HaShem Yitbarakh required of them to slay the lamb in front of Misrayim, but they decided they are even willing to die on Kiddush HaShem and risked being mass murdered so they could do Rasson HaShem. If we are willing so much to die for a Kiddush HaShem, why don’t we LIVE for Kiddush Hashem??
Says Rebbitsen Yemimah Mizrahi in the name of Rebbisten Kanievsky zt’’l that during Hadlakat Nerot of Shabbat HaGadol, it is a segulah to take something small upon ourselves that we will be consistent with in order for the negative decrees that were decided upon us will pass over us and our homes. Yes, we all try not to speak lashon hara, we are committed, but let’s be consistent! Sure, we all understand we must act and dress with Seniut, we are committed, but let’s be consistent! Of course we all know to speak pleasantly with others, we made that commitment since we learned how to talk, but let’s be consistent! We are all committed to keeping Shabbat Kodesh, Kashrut, Sedaka and Ahavat Yisrael but let’s be CONSISTENT!
Take one thing upon yourself, and instead of committing to a hundred and one things, let’s remain consistent in just that one thing. Be’ezrat HaShem in this zekhut, may we only be blessed with positive decress from Shamayim. May we all attain a steadfast commitment to Torah, Missvot and Middot, no matter where and when we find ourselves and who we find around us. May the passionate fires inside us continue to burn and never extinguish! Be’Ezrat HaShem may we all be zokhim to finally witness the constant fire burning on the Mizbeah in the Beit HaMikdash THIS year, AMEN!!
Shabbat HaGadol Shalom uMevorakh!!!!
**PS, you know what’s so special about a fire? When it is shared with others, it doesn’t take away anything from itself. Think about it ; )
Inspiration: Rabbi S. G. Ginzberg