Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Parashat Tzav

In this week’s D’var Torah, the Chief Rabbi explains why this Shabbat will be great. 

The Shabbat prior to Pesach is always called Shabbat HaGadol which means the great Sabbath. I’ve come across seven major reasons as to why this is the case – and there must be some others as well.

The Shabbat prior to Pesach is always called Shabbat HaGadol – the great Sabbath

Amongst the seven I’ve come across, there is one which I believe deserves greater attention. The Shibbolei HaLeket who lived in Italy in the 13th century offers the following peirush. He says that originally, every Shabbat prior to a major festival was called Shabbat Hagadol – the great Sabbath. The reason for this is that one might think, as a result of all my preparations for the festival and the pride of place that it has in our calendar, that the importance of the festival transcends that of Shabbat. Therefore, the Shabbat before the festival is called Shabbat HaGadol to remind us that Shabbat is actually the greater of the two.

It is fascinating therefore, that this custom only survives on the Shabbat before Pesach. This is because our preparations for Pesach by far surpass our preparations for any other festival.

Now, any great educational expert will know that the value of an important event rests not in the event itself but rather in the follow up.

So, with regard to the follow up to Pesach I believe that the finest way to follow up our experiences is on each and every Shabbat.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if we had the family atmosphere of Pesach at our tables throughout the year, if we had the ruach, the spirit, of Pesach; the singing of Pesach; the intergenerational and educational experiences?

Wouldn’t it be incredible if we had the family atmosphere of Pesach at our tables throughout the year, if we had the ruach, the spirit, of Pesach; the singing of Pesach; the intergenerational and educational experiences?

We can actually relive this and bring it back into our lives each and every week, thus guaranteeing that each and every Shabbat of the year will be for us Shabbat HaGadol.

And that is because Shabbat is one of the greatest things in our lives.

Shabbat Shalom

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