Shabbat HaGadol (5776)

Drash Cards for Shabbat HaGadol/Metzora (5776)

By Marc Mangel

  • Here we are, halfway through the year – a check-in time for our self improvement goals set during Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur and a time when we free ourselves from personal slaveries.
  • That should make this Shabbat big enough. But here are some other reasons for this being called Shabbat HaGadol
  • This is really Shabbat Nes HaGadol, shortened to Shabbat HaGadol. What is the the miracle? That today the Israelites took rams from the Egyptians, telling them that they were going to use the blood of the ram to mark their houses and the Egyptians let them do so.
  • Ezra began the return from Babylon (348 BCE)
  • Pri Chodesh: The Jewish people did their first mitzvah. This was like a Bar Mitzvah –> they became gadol
  • The Last Lubavitcher Rebbe:  “We now return to the great Shabbat. Passover is a festival of glory and significance; it represents freedom, prosperity and nationhood.  It is a heady time for the Jewish people; we are at our strongest during this holiday.  Shabbat by contrast does not celebrate a high point for Jews; it is a weekly occurrence set in place by God. By comparison it seems dull and unimportant.
  • “Now along comes the Shabbat before Passover and reminds us where true greatness lies. It little to do with feeling achievement or greatness; it has everything to do with serving God. Shabbat is great because it is established by God as the day in which the creator is to be worshipped. No day stands above Shabbat. Not because there is no day more important; there are many more exhilarating days than Shabbat.  Shabbat is great because it does not care to be exhilarating or significant. It cares only to be the day in which God is served”.  So Shabbat HaGadol reminds us of the service to God.”
  • The Haftorah read in many communities on this Shabbat speaks of the coming of Moshiach, referring to the day of his arrival as the “yom Hashem hagadol v’hanora” — the “great” and awesome day of the Lord
  • Because at Pesach even Jews who don’t believe in God show up for the seder.  They share our story of freedom even if they do not believe in anything else. That’s big.
  • From the sublime to the less sublime:
  • This is the week that the Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam finishes in the small heated building and moves into the unheated main synagogue
  • This the day when the rabbis traditionally deliver extensive lectures about the laws of Passover, and pontificate about the lessons to be learned from the holiday. A sermon gadol!

I want to end with two related questions, since the Seder is all about questions

  • Why is this week the Big Shabbat instead of the one before Rosh HaShannah — when the entire world is judged?
  • When God introduces the 10 commandments (Shmot 20:2), God says “I am took you out of Egypt”, not “I created the entire world”. Why the former and not the latter?