PARSHAT TZAV – SHABBAT HaGADOL

FRIDAY, March 23th

The Shabbat before Pesach is known as Shabbat HaGadol, (“The Great Shabbat”) in reference to the phrase at the conclusion of the special Haftarah for this day, from the end of the book of Malakhi, envisioning “the Great and Awesome day of Hashem.” This Haftarah, envisioning the ultimate, messianic redemption, reminds us that the experience of redemption is not just some long past event, but something that is still to come.  The custom of leaving a place for the Prophet Eliyahu at the Seder, recalls Malakhi’s promise in the haftarah that God will send Eliyahu to us ahead of the coming of the Mashiach.  On Pesach, we reenact our first experience of redemption as a people, and we look forward to the ultimate redemption.

However, this final redemption is not something we are to merely await passively.  In God’s name, Malakhi adjures us “Turn back to me, and I will turn to you.”  God is warning us, that the coming of Moshiach, depends on us.  When we do our part, and return to God, He will return to us. This Pesach, as we give thanks for that first miraculous redemption from slavery, and we pray for the hastening of the final redemption, let’s remember that we have a part to play in bringing this redemption about.  When we return to God by committing ourselves to observing His Torah, and treating our fellow human beings, created in His image, with love and dignity, then and only then, can we expect that He will send His Moshiach.

If there are obstacles to prevent us from doing our part and serving Hashem with a whole heart—work commitments, habits and addictions, economic or health struggles, or simple old fashioned fear and doubt, let us pray this Pesach that He liberate us from those limitations, just as He liberated us from the enslavement in Egypt, so that we may return to Him, and He in turn, will turn towards us.

Rabbi Garth Silberstein