Weekly Shabbat Messages

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, April 11, 2014. Click here for archived Shabbat Messages

Shabbat HaGadol – The Great Sabbath

So… this Shabbat, the Shabbat before Passover, is traditionally called “Shabbat HaGadol,” The Great Sabbath. There are many theories about why this is, of course. One theory is that in the old days – 2000 years ago – it was the one time during the year that the rabbi gave a REALLY long sermon in the synagogue. (This is a practice today reserved for EVERY Shabbat… or perhaps for the High Holidays. However, in the old days it was just before Passover.) The sermon was primarily devoted to all the complicated rules of Passover. Passover cleaning. Passover cooking. When you can cook, and when you can’t cook. What you can eat and what you can’t eat. Etc.

Another theory was that in the original Pesach story, the tenth Nissan was the Sabbath before Passover.

On the tenth of this month (Nissan), each of the Community of Israel shall take a lamb to a family, a lamb to a household… You shall keep watch over it until the fourteenth day of this month; and… slaughter it at twilight. (Exodus 12:3-6).

According to the rabbis, the Israelites actually tied the lambs in their homes to protect them, and to keep the Egyptians from interfering since the lamb was considered an Egyptian deity. The sacrifice of the lamb just before the eve of Pesach was continued during the days of both the first and the second Temples in Jerusalem. However, unlike all the other sacrifices that were offered by the priests, this Passover (or “Paschal”) sacrifice was offered by the people, rather than the priests.

On many special Sabbaths such as this one, there is a special Torah Reading – often from a different part of the Torah than the regular reading, necessitating the use of a second Torah Scroll to read both readings. On Shabbat HaGadol, however, there is no additional Torah Reading. But... there IS a different Haftorah reading (a reading from the Prophets read after the Torah Reading). Taken from the Book of Mal’achi, the reading tells us that:

"Lo… I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord (Mal’achi 3:44)

Tradition has it that Elijah will appear on Passover to announce the coming of the Messiah. Therefore, we read from this prophetic statement on Shabbat HaGadol, and, five days later at the Seder, we put a special goblet of wine on the Seder table for Elijah.

Shabbat Shalom, and Chag Sameach.



Past Shabbat Messages

Shabbat & Secret Jews - Friday, April 26, 2013

Out of the Land of Heaven - Friday, May 3, 2013

Almost Shavuot - Friday, May 10, 2013

Cakes on Shabbat - Friday, May 17, 2013

Dressing Up for Shabbat (Part I) - Friday, May 24, 2013

Dressing Up for Shabbat (Part II) - Friday, May 31, 2013

Solomon's Temple and the Shabbat - Friday, June 7, 2013

Shabbat Starts When? - Friday, June 14, 2013

Making Commandments Beautiful: Part I - Friday, June 21, 2013

Making Commandments Beautiful: Part 2 - Friday, June 28, 2013

Making Commandments Beautiful: Part 3 - Friday, July 5, 2013

Crypto Jews and the Shabbat - Friday, July 12, 2013

Shabbat Nachamu... The Sabbath of Consolation - Friday, July 19, 2013

Bialik and Kabbalat Shabbat - Friday, July 26, 2013

Angels and Shabbat - Friday, August 2, 2013

Shabbat in the Land of the Midnight Sun - Friday, August 9, 2013

Shabbat in Jerusalem As Told By Jody-  Friday, August 16, 2013

Shabbat in Jerusalem II As Told By Jody - Friday, August 23, 2013

The Streets of Jerusalem - Friday, August 30, 2013

The Final Heat – Closing in on Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat - Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Shabbat and Yom Kippur - Friday, September 13, 2013

Species, Species and More Species - Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shabbat Breishit - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Evening & Morning - Friday, October 4, 2013

Singing and the Sabbath - Friday, October 11, 2013

The Rainy Season - Friday, October 18, 2013

The Triennial Torah Cycle - Friday, October 25, 2013

The Sabbath and the Temple - Friday, November 1, 2013

It Is All In the Timing - Friday, November 8, 2013

Challah - Friday, November 15, 2013

Why is the Challah Braided? - Friday, November 22, 2013

Shabbat, Thanksgivukkah and Beyond - Friday, November 29, 2013

Carrying on Shabbat - Friday, December 6, 2013

Eruv Art - Friday, December 13, 2013

Celebrating the Sabbath in Darkness - Friday, December 20, 2013

Celebrating the Sabbath in Darkness Continued - Friday, December 27, 2013

The First Shabbat of the Year - Friday, January 3, 2014

Shabbat Shirah - Friday, January 10, 2014

Shabbat and Trees - Friday, January 17, 2014

Strangers in our Midst - Friday, January 24, 2014

The Ten Commandments, Part I - Friday, January 31, 2014

The Ten Commandments, Part II - Friday, February 7, 2014

Shabbat, Babylonians, Tacitus, and the Communists - Friday, February 14, 2014

The Shabbat Umbrella - Friday, February 21, 2014

Lighting Shabbat Candles - Friday, February 28, 2014

Philip Roth and Shabbat - Friday, March 7, 2014

Shabbat Zachor - Friday, March 14, 2014

Shabbat in Amsterdam - Friday, March 21, 2014

Ahad Ha’am and the Shabbat - Friday, March 28, 2014

Shabbat at the JCCA Biennial - Friday, April 4, 2014

Shabbat HaGadol – The Great Sabbath - Friday, April 11, 2014