D’var Torah for March 23, 2018

This Shabbat we will be reading from parashat Tzav. In it, we find more laws regarding the sacrificial offerings. There is also the dedication of the Tabernacle as well as a ritual involving the ordination of priests. This Shabbat also happens to be Shabbat HaGadol, “The Great Shabbat.”

Shabbat HaGadol takes place on the Shabbat immediately preceding Passover. By tradition it was one of two Shabbatot that the rabbi would give a sermon. The other being Shabbat Shuva, the Shabbat in-between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The Shabbat HaGadol sermon was focused on the laws, customs and rituals associated with the observance of Passover. It was a way of reminding Jews how to observe the rites of Passover.

For example, by tradition you can select your lamb for sacrifice on Shabbat HaGadol. There is also another custom of reading through the hagaddah on that day in preparation for Passover. Basically, this Shabbat is about celebrating God’s creation as well as turning our hearts and minds towards the most observed of all the Jewish holidays in the home.

As a reminder, we will not be holding Shabbat evening services on Friday, March 30th so that everyone can enjoy the first night seder with their family and friends. If you wish to mention a loved one for Yahrzeit, we will be reciting their names on Saturday, March 31st at our Shabbat and Festival morning service.

And to everyone marching in New City, New York City, Washington D.C. in an effort to speak truth to power on the issue of gun violence prevention, may this truly be a Shabbat HaGadol as well. For the celebration of our redemption from Egypt is an ongoing process. None of us are free, until we are all free. Free from oppression, persecution, suffering, and violence. May your steps be as world changing as the steps our ancestors took over two thousand years ago.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Benjamin Sharff