Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Parashat Tzav (Shabbat HaGadol)

In his D’var Torah this week, the Chief Rabbi explains why this will be a great Shabbat…

The Shabbat before Pesach is called Shabbat HaGadol, ‘the great Sabbath’. Many reasons are given for this. The one that I identify with most strongly, is the fact that we find with a lot of our important Shabbatot of the year, they take their names from a key word in the Torah reading or the Haftorah of that day. For example, Shabbat Chazon, Shabbat Zachor, Shabbat Nachamu and Shabbat Shuvah.

And similarly, in our Hafotrah for Shabbat HaGadol, we have the words of the Prophet Malachi, who declares: Hineh Anochi Sholeach Lachem Et Eliyahu Hanavi, ‘behold’ says Hashem, ‘I sent to you Elijah the Prophet’, Lifnei Bo Yom Hashem Hagadol Vehanorah, ‘before that great and awesome day of Hashem’. Here we are referring to the great day of the coming of the Moshiach, and seeing as we read it on this Shabbat, this Shabbat takes its name from that term and becomes ‘Shabbat HaGadol’.

‘Thanks to our outstanding educational systems, we are finding so many children now, moving ahead of their parents in terms of their Jewish knowledge and observance’

And then the Prophet continues, Veheishiv Lev Avot Al Banim Velev Banim Al Avotam, ‘the hearts of parents will be inclined towards their children and the hearts of children will be inclined towards their parents’.

Here is a description of a remarkable phenomenon, one in which we don’t only find children being influenced by their parents, but in addition to that, parents being influenced by their children. And I believe that this is exactly what is happening within the Jewish world, today.

Thanks to our outstanding educational systems, we are finding so many children now, moving ahead of their parents in terms of their Jewish knowledge and observance.

If that happens, parents should not take this as a rejection, but on the contrary, as a compliment to them because they want their children to grow and develop as individuals and as responsible Jews.

‘Parents should not take this as a rejection, but on the contrary, as a compliment to them because they want their children to grow’

And they should always strive to be one step ahead, to know more than their children, to enable their children, to inspire and to be role models for them.

So, therefore, let us celebrate Shabbat HaGadol, this ‘great Shabbat’, which is within Hatekufah Hagedolah, this ‘great era’ of which we are a part of and let us pray that the words of Malachi will come about speedily in our time – Lifnei Bo Yom Hashem Hagadol Vehanorah, ‘when we will experience the great day of the ultimate redemption’.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Kasher V’Sameach