The New Shul

Parshat Tzav/Shabbat Hagadol

The Shabbat before Pesah is called Shabbat Hagadol, “the Great Shabbat,” after the concluding words of its haftarah, which speak of “the great [hagadol] and fearsome day of YHWH.” It is a tradition on this Shabbat to spend time reviewing the laws of biur hametz, the removal of leavened products from our homes.

The removal of hametz is not just an outer cleansing, but an inner one as well. Hametz (which comes from the Hebrew for “fermented”) represents everything that is stagnant in our lives, everything that needs to be aired out and cleansed in order for us to make a fresh start. To truly leave Egypt means to look inside ourselves, to see what has been holding us back from making real choices and taking full responsibility for our lives, and to clear away that inner hametz.

What is true of us as individuals is true of us collectively as well. So often our society – and humanity in general – repeats the same mistakes over and over again, as if we were stuck in Egypt. Redemption means breaking patterns that have grown stagnant. And that process starts with our own inner cleansing.

May our Pesah preparations be a time of introspection and cleansing for all of us, so that, when we arrive at our Seder tables, we will be ready for the inner redemption that enables us to work for the redemption of the world.

  • Candle lighting this Friday evening March 31 is at 6:29 pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday night at 7:26 pm.
  • The New Shul’s Shabbat morning service is from 9 to about 11:45 am, followed by a kiddush-lunch open to all. This Shabbat, April 1, the kiddush-lunch is sponsored by Stacy Andrews in memory of her brother Scott Albert, by Adam Stone in honor of the birthdays of his two sons, and by our former members Lee and Patsy Bakunin in honor of Lee’s 83rd birthday (and his second bar mitzvah, which will take place this Shabbat in Cyprus).
  • Pesah begins on Wednesday evening April 5. Our services for the first two days of Pesah, Thursday and Friday April 6 and 7, will be from 9 am to about 11:30 am.
  • Services for the seventh and eighth days of Pesah, Wednesday and Thursday April 12 and 13, will also be from 9 am to about 11:30 am. The service on the eighth day, April 13, will include Yizkor, the memorial prayer.
  • Please note that there will be no e-message for the next two weeks due to the holiday. The next e-message will be sent on Thursday April 20.