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Are there any special customs for Shabbat Hagadol?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

Library » Holidays » Passover » Shabbat Hagadol | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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1. Today, practically every pulpit rabbi delivers a homily every Shabbat. This wasn't always the case. In Jewish communities of old, the rabbi would speak to the congregation twice a year: On Shabbat Shuvah (the Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) the rabbi would speak about the importance of doing Teshuvah, and would remind the people of the numerous laws associated with the holiday of Sukkot (Sukkot is five days after Yom Kippur). And on Shabbat Hagadol the rabbi would discuss in his sermon some of the practical laws associated with Pesach. The rabbis had it easy, and some of the congregants had to find some other time to catch up on their sleep...

2. Many communities read a special Haftorah (Malachi 3:4-24) which discusses "bring[ing] the entire tithe to the storehouse [of G-d]." In some communities (including Chabad synagogues), this Haftorah is only read if Shabbat Hagadol actually falls out on the day before Pesach. The reason for reading a Haftorah about tithing is as follows: In the Land of Israel, tithes must be separated from all produce. Some is given to the Kohen, some to the Levite, some to the poor, and some simply had to be eaten in Jerusalem. (For more information, see What's the best way to be a farmer?). On the day before Pesach of the third and sixth year of the seven-year sabbatical cycle, one was required to ascertain that none of these tithes remained in his/her possession. Any remaining tithes had to be distributed to their proper owners or destroyed.

3. In preparation for Pesach, it is customary to read a large section of the Haggadah (from Avadim Hayinu until the end of Al Achas Kama V'Kama) after the Minchah service of Shabbat Hagadol.

See also Why is the Shabbat before Passover called Shabbat Hagadol, “the great Shabbat”?


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Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Teshuvah
Repentance. Or, more literally, "return" to G-d. Teshuvah involves regretting the past and making a firm resolution not to repeat the offense.
Levite
A descendant of Levi, son of Jacob. The Levites were the teachers and spiritual leaders in the Land of Israel. They had various responsibilities in the Holy Temple, including choir and orchestral duties.
Rosh Hashanah
The Jewish New Year. An early autumn two day holiday marking the creation of Adam and Eve. On this day we hear the blasts of the ram's horn and accept G-d's sovereignty upon ourselves and the world. On Rosh Hashanah we pray that G-d should grant us all a sweet New Year.
Sukkot
A seven day autumn festival commemorating the miracle of the Heavenly Clouds which enveloped the Jews while traveling in the desert for forty years. On this holiday we dwell in makeshift booths and shake the Four Species.
Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement. This late-autumn high-holiday is the holiest day of the year. We devote this day to repentance and all healthy adults are required to fast.
Chabad
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
Haggadah
Text read at the Passover Eve feasts. The Haggadah recounts in great detail the story of our Exodus from Egypt.
Haftorah
Section from the prophetic writings that is read at the conclusion of the Torah reading on the Sabbath, Jewish holidays and fast days. The Haftorah contains a message similar to the weekly reading, or speaks of the current holiday.
Jerusalem
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
Pesach
Passover. A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Minchah
Afternoon prayer service. One of the three prayers a Jew is obligated to pray every day.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.