Saturday, March 31, 2007

DVAR TORAH S2: Tzav/Shabbat HaGadol (It's the Great Sabbath, Charlie Brown!)

This Shabbat is called The Great Sabbath because it was one of the only two times a year in which Rabbis in olden times would address the community and the remarks, about how to properly kasher for the holiday, were greatly extended, hence the superlative Shabbat HaGadol. This makes it more ironic that my commentary will be short due to the fact that I am following the very instructions to kasher many kitchens and therefore have not the time required to compose a "great" sermon (in multiple senses of the word "great", quality AND quantity).

The Torah portion read during Shabbat HaGadol tends to get ignored but there is something very pertinent to passover. They used to offer a grain sacrifice daily on the altar. What would you do during Passover when you can't possess leaven? The answer, found in this week's Torah Portion, Tzav, is that the priest is to NEVER offer Chametz, leavened bread, on the altar. Rather it is always to be in the form of Matzah, unleavened bread.

I wish we could have read the Haftarah assigned to Tzav (but not read this week because it is superseded by Haftarah Shabbat HaGadol the last words of Malachi). It would have concluded with the famous words: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the strong man glory in his strength, let not the rich man glorify himself with his wealth. For only with this may he glory: contemplating and knowing me, for I am the Lord. Who does kindness, justice and righteousness in the land, for these I desire -- the Word of The Lord."

Here's some fun with acronyms: כי אני ה' עשה חסד משפט וצדקה. The Rashei Teyvot (first letters) of the three things God desires spell חמ"צ. Chametz God desires leavened bread On Passover

And then there is the end of Malachi, the book which the Christians end their Old Testament. As for the Jews it is the last book in Prophets. We still have the Writings section to go. Anyway, it talks about the arrival of Elijah the Prophet to announce the Messiah. The final thing that happens is that God "will send Elijah the Prophet,
לפני בא את יום ה' הגדול והנורא before the Great (Shabbat HaGadol could also be named after this term in the Haftarah) and Awesome Day of God. And he will incline the hearts of fathers toward their sons and sons toward their fathers." There is a little more but it is a bad note so we repeat the penultimate verse.

Well, I went on way too long. It really is the Great Sabbath.

Have a Great Sabbath! (Ha! Get it? Great Sabbath? Oh this stuff is wasted...)

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