Candles Friday 15th April 7:16pm
April 16th Havdalah 8:12pm
Mazal Tov for Mathew Gatan’s Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat.
The Shabbat before Pesach is always called Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Shabbat. There are several reasons that are given. Some concern the past and others the future.
The past: This was the Shabbat before the Exodus. The slaves were told to be ready and their preparations must have alerted the Egyptians that something was afoot. Yet they do not appear to have bee afraid. Daubing blood on their doorposts to distinguish the Israelites from Egyptians meant that they were prepared to take a very positive to identify themselves as being different. Commitment involves action. Shabbat HaGadol, therefore, stands for a historic moment of identification.
The Haftarah on Shabbat HaGadol hints at a totally different significance. It comes from the Prophet Malachi and ends “ Behold I am sending you Elijah the prophet before the arrival of that great ( Gadol) and awesome day.” This idea that at some time in the future we will reach a higher spiritual standard than we have today is a very significant theological part of Judaism. It is the optimistic goal of improving ourselves and making this world a better place for everyone.
These two opposite ideas are indeed the bedrock of Jewish ideology. We have a long history of surviving to represent an ethical spiritual example of how humans should and can behave on earth. But we know we are nowhere near perfect. So we also look to the future because we are required to strive for a higher state for ourselves and for humanity. We are inspired by the past and aspire to the future. That is how we should all live.