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Parshat Tzav - Shabbat Hagadol

Greeting, With the cleaning and scrubbing well underway, Pesach is inching closer and closer.

Traditionally, the Shabbat before Pesach is called Shabbat Hagadol, the Grand Shabbat. We have already explored four (4) special Shabbatot, however, these belonged to a certain category in which a special maftir was added. The other type of special Shabbat is one in which a particular Haftorah is read. Shabbat Hagadol falls under the latter category.

The name Shabbat Hagadol is derived from the Haftorah that we read in which it states:

הִנֵּ֤ה אָֽנֹכִי֙ שֹׁלֵ֣חַ לָכֶ֔ם אֵ֖ת אֵלִיָּ֣ה הַנָּבִ֑יא לִפְנֵ֗י בּ֚וֹא י֣וֹם יְהוָ֔ה הַגָּד֖וֹל וְהַנּוֹרָֽא׃

Lo, I will send Elijah the Prophet to you, before the great and awesome day of the Lord.

The Haftorah explores the ultimate and somewhat stereotypical story of salvation. The story of Chapter 3 of Malachi (the book from which we read the Haftorah) talks about the ultimate combination of sins in which the people curse God, disobey God and forsake his name. Yet, the final message of the book is one of redemption. Despite the sins of the people God relents, he creates tranquillity and peace, he forgives the people, they fight to see another day.

Not all stories are so poetic.

The story of Malachi presents rehabilitation as a binary state: you are either sinning or you have been forgiven. I think humans are more complex. Like other parts of our being, our imperfections are a spectrum and as such rehabilitation is a spectrum. The Torah often presents a 2D image of good and bad in relation to certain actions. Characters in the story being the culmination of good and bad actions, leading us to conclude (for the wrong reasons) that a character is flawed. One need look no further than Moses for an example of this. A shift in paradigm, or perhaps a more realistic view of humanity, is to view all actions as falling somewhere on a spectrum of good and bad. Characters remain a culmination of actions but their addition is complex. In this way, we begin to finesse our actions.

Rather than abandoning hope for our future or for the futures of others we must attempt to view the positives in every action followed by real approaches of mitigating the negative aspects. The story of Malachi forces us to reflect on the binary view of people. We must use this as a model of what not to do. Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach. For the story of Malachi go to:

(It is quite short)

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