Thought for Shabbat – March 23, 2018
This weekend we celebrate Shabbat Hagadol: “The Great Shabbat”. Shabbat Hagadol gets its name from the fact that this is the Shabbat before Pesach/Passover. Next Friday night, we will sit down to observe Pesach at the Seder. Someone at the table will ask the famous four questions, which when boiled down to their essence, are all really one question. Why is this night different from all other nights of the year?
We eat differently and even sit differently. We sit together and celebrate our freedom and our commitment to the freedom of others. We talk about our history as a people. We even talk about some of the Seders we have celebrated together in the past with family and friends and remind ourselves of our family histories.
At the same time that we reminisce, eat and remind ourselves of who we are as a people, Jews all over the world will be doing the same. They will not all do it exactly the same way, but they will do it. And they will reminisce, eat and remind themselves of who they are as a people, just like us: a Jewish people.
Pesach is the first holiday we ever celebrated as the Jewish people. The modern holiday of Pesach celebrates not only freedom but more importantly, the creation of the Jewish people. No longer would we be a collection of clans and families. Instead, we would be a people united by a common law, sense of ethics, commitment to justice, and a unique relationship with God.
We keep all of this going by telling each other our personal stories, stories of past Seders, stories of family history and the history of our people. When we know where we came from, we have a better idea of where we are going. We better understand what we need to do to keep our traditions alive. The Seder reminds us that wherever we go and whatever we do, it should be together.
Rabbi Yaier Lehrer
This weekend is the first weekend of spring break, so your attendance at services will be appreciated in order for us to have meaningful services on Friday night, Shabbat morning and Sunday morning. May your preparation for the upcoming holiday be stress free.