The Dificult Rambam
Why is the Shabbat before Pesach called Shabbat haGadol?
On Wednesday afternoon, the 14th day of Nissan, the Jews slaughtered the korban Pesach, and left Egypt the following morning (Thursday), the 15th day of Nissan. Hashem commanded them to prepare the lamb and tie it to the foot of their bed on the 10th day of Nissan, which was a Shabbat.
When the Egyptians visited the homes of their Jewish slaves, they were horrified, seeing how the Jews were treating the lambs which the Egyptians worshipped. When the Egyptians asked what they were doing with the lambs, the Jews did not try to evade the question, and proudly proclaimed "We have a G-d Who commanded us to sacrifice these."
A major difference between a katan -- a minor -- and a gadol - - an adult -- is that the minor is frequently afraid to tell the truth and begins to use excuses and alibis. On the other hand, an adult, mature and not ashamed of his actions, proudly proclaims his convictions.
On this Shabbat, the Jews acted as mature adults and did not hesitate to make known their allegiance to G-d. Since they acted like gedolim, this Shabbat is known as Shabbat haGadol.
It is the custom in many congregations for the Rabbi to deliver a scholarly drashah on Shabbat haGadol. The learned people of the city look forward to this event and immensely enjoy the Rabbi's erudition.
One year a certain Rabbi stunned his listeners and told them that he had been unable to sleep for the past week due to an exceptionally difficult passage in the Rambam he had come across.
The town scholars were all ears, wanting to hear what was bothering their Rabbi. The Rabbi went on to explain that the word "Rambam" is an acronym for raisins, matzah, potatoes and beets, and maror. During Pesach we need raisins for wine, matzah and maror to perform the mitzvot, and the staple foods eaten on Pesach are beets and potatoes.
"As Rabbi of this city, I know that we have many needy people and families who are suffering from the recession, I cannot figure out how they will deal with this difficult 'Rambam' on the yom tov of Pesach. If anyone has an answer, please come forth." The people were dumbfounded and unable to solve their Rabbi's dilemma. Finally, the Rabbi said, "Last night I managed to find a solution. When I opened my Rambam I noticed that the most popular commentary is the Kesef Mishnah, which means 'double money.'
If the rich will double their contribution of last year, it will be easy for everyone to tackle the difficult Rambam, and enjoy a kosher and freilachen Pesach."