Parshat Tzav, Shabbat Ha-Gadol, “The Great Sabbath”- Why is it the Great Sabbath? In the story of the First Passover, this Shabbat was the day, according to the Talmud, the 10th of Nissan, when the Jews chose the lamb they would sacrifice on Passover. And considering that the lamb was considered a god by the Egyptians, preparing to sacrifice it was the first real challenge to Egyptian authority that the Jews made.
But the other reason is that this Shabbat was the one that rabbis would always give a sermon (can you imagine that once rabbis didn’t always give sermons – why did people even come to shul?). The sermon would be on the rules for getting ready for Passover.
And what is the significance of Passover? It is nothing short of our birthday, or maybe a little like our Bar Mitzvah, as a people. We had been around, as a tribe, before that, but on Passover, like the book of Leviticus from which our weekly parshah comes, is all about, we were separated out by God, and set on the path towards holiness, kedushah.
That idea of holiness in Hebrew is about being set apart, called, as it were to be different – to take on responsibilities and have a certain mission in life that God gives us.
On Passover we are separating out all sorts of things – dishes, food, many things, but most important, we are separating ourselves, reminding ourselves, of our call to be holy: קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ כִּי קָדֹושׁ אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃ “You shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy.”