By Rabbi Yitzchok D. Frankel
Agudath Israel of the Five Towns
We do not mention Pesach in the blessing after the haftarah; neither in the middle nor at the conclusion.
“We do not mention”—This is because the haftarah on Shabbos of chol ha’moed Pesach is due to Shabbos alone, as we see that we do not read a haftarah on the other days of chol ha’moed. Therefore, we recite the blessing after the haftarah just as we recite it on other Shabbosos.
—Mishnah Berurah (ad loc., 15)
We have Shabbos chol ha’moed in two different seasons of the year: Pesach and Sukkos. Each time, the berachah following the haftarah is different. On Pesach we end it like on a regular Shabbos, with “Mekadeish haShabbos,” while on Sukkos we end it with the special added words “Mekadeish haShabbos, Yisrael, v’hazemanim.”
Why is this? Technically, it’s because every day of Pesach has the same korbanos. It is one and the same holiday the whole time, with no difference between the days, so the holiday does not warrant another mention at this point. But on Sukkos, every day, including Shabbos chol ha’moed, takes on an individual significance because of the varying korbanos that are offered each day.
Actually, the Vilna Gaon holds that even on the Shabbos of chol ha’moed Sukkos there is no special berachah following the haftarah, nevertheless, according to the prevalent minhag there is a special berachah, as we mentioned. What is the significance of this? Why does Pesach appear to have less importance than Sukkos does?
If we take another look we will see that the truth is just the opposite. There is a symbiotic relationship between Pesach and Shabbos that needs to be explained.
Shabbos signifies our belief that HaKadosh Baruch Hu created the world. This is something that all human beings are required to know and believe. One might even theorize that Shabbos should therefore be kept by all the nations of the world. Indeed, Shabbos preceded Jews. It started with Adam HaRishon, who sang “Mizmor Shir l’Yom haShabbos.” Nevertheless, as the Aruch HaShulchan points out at the beginning of ch. 242, Shabbos is uniquely for Klal Yisrael:
“‘To know that I am Hashem Who makes you holy’ (Sh’mos 31:13). HaKadosh Baruch Hu said to Moshe: ‘Moshe, I have a goodly gift in My treasure house; it is called “Shabbos.” I wish to give it to the Jewish people. Go and let them know.’ (Beitzah 16a)
“R. Shimon ben Yochai taught: Shabbos said before HaKadosh Baruch Hu: O Master of the World, everyone has a spouse, and I don’t have a spouse. HaKadosh Baruch Hu said to her: The Community of Israel is your spouse.
“When the Jewish people stood before Mount Sinai, HaKadosh Baruch Hu said to them: ‘Remember’ the matter that I said to Shabbos, that the Community of Israel is your spouse. This is the commandment, ‘“Remember” the Shabbos day, to sanctify it.’” (Bereishis Rabbah 11:8)
We see that Shabbos and the Jewish people have a very special relationship. Shabbos is Hashem’s goodly gift to them from His treasure house. It is the sign that Jews are sanctified: “To know that I am Hashem Who makes you holy.” Furthermore, Shabbos is wedded to the Jewish people: “The Community of Israel is your spouse.”
Despite Shabbos’s great importance, Chazal tell us the following: Said R. Acha bar Yaakov—A person must mention the Exodus from Egypt when reciting Kiddush. It is written here, “In order that you remember the day you went out of Egypt” (Devarim 16:3). And it is written there (Sh’mos 20:7), “Remember the Shabbos day, to sanctify it.” (Pesachim 117b)
Shabbos serves as a reminder of Yetzias Mitzrayim. If we don’t mention Yetzias Mitzrayim in Kiddush, we have not fulfilled our obligation.
“It is a positive Torah mitzvah to recount, on the night of the 15th of Nissan, the miracles and wonders that were done for our forefathers in Egypt. This is as it says (Sh’mos 13:3): ‘Remember this day that you went out of Egypt,’ and as it says (Sh’mos 20:7): ‘Remember the Shabbos day . . .’” (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Chametz Umatzah 7:1)
The Rambam connects the mitzvah of telling about Yetzias Mitzrayim to the mitzvah of Kiddush on Shabbos. They are compared to one another. This is underscored by the fact that the Aseres HaDibros do not open with: I am Hashem your G‑d Who created heavens and earth. They rather open with, “I am Hashem your G‑d Who took you out of the land of Egypt.” Why is this so?
Because without Pesach, without being aware of Hashem’s continued involvement in the world, Shabbos loses its significance. It becomes a dry historical issue. Instead of believing in the ancient Greek theory that the world always was, or believing in some modern scientific theory, we rather believe that Hashem created the world. This is good, but for Shabbos to have real significance for our lives it needs Pesach.
Similarly, Pesach needs Shabbos.
“You shall count from the day after Shabbos . . .” (Vayikra 23:15)
“‘From the day after Shabbos’—This means from the day after yom tov.” (Rashi, ad loc.)
We see that Pesach itself is actually called “Shabbos.” This is the name the Torah gives it in connection with the mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer.
All this is reflected in the berachah following the haftarah on the Shabbos of chol ha’moed Pesach. This is the day when Shabbos and Pesach intersect one another and form one grand partnership to testify to the greatness of the Borei Olam. And we conclude the berachah with the words “Mekadeish haShabbos.” This is due to the greatness of Pesach, not due to its lesser status. On the contrary, it shows that Pesach itself is called “Shabbos.” Pesach and Shabbos blend into one harmonious union to express our everlasting emunah in HaKadosh Baruch Hu. He created us, He took us out of Mitzrayim, and He will be with us always. v
Rabbi Frankel can be reached at email@example.com. Now in print: Machat shel Yad Vayikra.