But apart from exceptionally lengthy sermons in the synagogue, there is an interesting act of conscious defiance associated with Shabbat Ha-Gadol. Rabbi Joseph Karo, in his 16th century Shulchan Aruch explains, "The Shabbat before Pesach is called Shabbat Ha-Gadol because of the great miracle that happened on it." In and of itself, Rabbi Karo's perspective is limited. We are made aware of a great miracle that took place, but we are left wondering as to what precisely that miracle truly was.
In his 19th century commentary Mishnah Berurah, Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan attempts a more detailed explanation of the phrase "great miracle." According to rabbinic calculations, in the year of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt, the 10th of Nisan fell on Shabbat. This was a day of great importance for the Israelites because they were commanded, "On the tenth day of this month, each of them shall take a lamb...." Four days later, the Israelites would sacrifice this lamb, and place its blood on the two doorposts and lintels of the houses in which they would eat it. Rabbi Kagan explains that the Israelites were preparing to slaughter the lamb for the purpose of observing Pesach and for recognizing their commitment to God's commandments. The only problem was that the Egyptians' "teeth were dulled," and they could not bring themselves to say anything to the Israelites about this particular matter.
Was it that the Egyptians' "teeth were dulled" or perhaps that they were absolutely stupefied by what was unfolding before their eyes? Ordinarily, the Egyptians would have been fuming, deeply enraged that the Israelites could take a lamb, one of the Egyptian gods, and sacrifice it. But what else besides absolute bewildered mouths gaping in speechless shock could have been the Egyptian reaction to members of more than 600,000 Israelite households taking a lamb in preparation for sacrifice to their God?
For our commentators to express that a great miracle transpired for our Israelite ancestors may challenge our notion of "great miracles." There are many people among us who pray for miracles, who hold out hope that a miracle will transpire. I have been one of them and will continue as such.
Yet this episode in ancient Israelite history offers another remarkable perspective. The history of Shabbat Ha-Gadol as referenced in our sources seems to teach that we humans have a hand in effecting miracles too. The work of "miracle-making" is active, not just passive or reliant. The events of the first Pesach and subsequently, the Israelite Exodus from Egypt, required a conscious act of defiance, a profound gesture of civil disobedience on the part of each Israelite. Each Israelite played his or her active part in selecting a lamb and preparing it for sacrifice, an act that was a lynchpin in a much larger process, a Rosa Parks moment if you will.
Our celebration of Pesach affirms that we are in covenant with God, partners forever linked in the redemption of our world. This Pesach, in addition to remembering the miracles that our tradition ascribes to God, we should pause and ask ourselves (perhaps at our Seder) how we, like our Israelite ancestors, might become "miracle-makers." What words and actions would continue to effect positive and lasting change in our world? How might we stand up against the powers and authorities that terrorize, threatening justice, kindness, compassion and love? To be a "miracle-maker," in the world, one may need to be outspoken and even defiant by necessity. Yet it is these actions that will continue to lead our people and others, out of the dark and narrow places, the metaphorical Egypt in which each of us resides. Chag kasher v'sameach
 Isaac Klein, A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice, p. 108.
 Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 430:1.
 Exodus 12:3.
 Exodus 12:7.
 Mishnah Berurah 430:1, my own translation.