Shabbat Tsav & Shabbat Hagadol

Candles - Friday, March 23rd @ 6:51pm
Havdalah - March 24th @ 7:47pm

The Shabbat before Pesah is called Shabbat HaGadol,
the Great, or Important, Shabbat.

It is not mentioned in the Torah or the Talmud. As a custom, it appears in the medieval Tur Shulhan Aruh where this reason is given. The Israelites in Egypt were commanded to prepare a lamb for the Pesah sacrifice days before the plague of the First Born and the Exodus which occurred on Shabbat. This was an open affront to Egyptians who worshipped sheep. Yet miraculously there were no reprisals. Another reason given is that Haftorah on Shabbat HaGadol mentions “That great and awesome day when God will usher in a new era of freedom, peace and understanding.” One reason in the past and one in the future. History and redemption.

But there are other possibilities. The sectarian Samaritans, Sadducees and Karaites both thought that Pesah should always fall on Shabbat. The counter custom developed to make sure that no one mistook this Shabbat before Pesah for the First Day of Pesah itself, by calling it Shabbat HaGadol instead. Similarly, Christians celebrated the Holy Weekend before Easter as a Great Sabbath (others called it the Black Sabbath). That was why we called the Shabbat before Pesah the Great Shabbat to distinguish ours from theirs.

It was also the custom for Rabbis to give only two sermons during the year in the synagogue (as opposed to the Study Houses). Before Yom Kippur on Shabbat Shuvah and before Pesah on Shabbat HaGadol. The one before Pesah was long because the rabbi spoke at length about the complicated laws of Hametz and Matzah. Because the sermon sent on for so long that was why it was called Shabbat HaGadol. Nowadays when rabbis often speak for too long all year round most congregants would probably prefer to call it Shabbat Hakatzar. The short, not the long!

If you need to sell your Hametz at home or your office, please email me authorizing me to do it for you and specify the location of the Hametz.


Pesah Timetable 2018

Thursday evening, March 29th: Bedikat Hametz
Search for Hametz after 8pm

Friday, March 30th: 
Stop eating Hametz by 10:54am
Burn Hametz by 11:57am

Friday Night Candles @ 7:01pm
1st Seder Night

Saturday, March 31st: Pesach 1st Day
Shabbat Morning Service @ 9:30 am

Candles Second Day @ 8:08 pm
2nd Seder Night
Start Counting the Omer @ 8:40pm

Sunday, April 1st:  2nd Day Pesah
Sunday Morning Service @ 9.30am
Havdalah @ 8:10pm

Thursday, April 5th: 7th Day Pesah Candles @ 7:07pm

Friday, April 6th: Morning Service @ 9:30 am
Friday, April 6th: Candles @ 7:08 

Saturday, April 7th: Pesah 8th Day
Shabbat Morning Service @ 9:30am
Havdalah - Pesah Ends @ 8:17pm

Happy Pesah, wherever you are!