The shabbat before Passover, Festival of Freedom, is called Shabbat Hagadol, the “Great Sabbath”. Like all biblical events, it holds timeless meanings and messages.

Great Shabbat, because it recalls a miraculous event before the Exodus, when Moses instructed the Jews to tie lambs to their bedposts, a symbol of their freedom, an act which led the Egyptians to acknowledge the Jews’ imminent departure, showing Egyptians’ powerlessness against the Jews.

Shabbat Hagadol, as a time for in-depth teachings, and reacquainting with Passover laws and lessons.

Most significantly, Shabbat Hagadol, because the Haftorah reading from book of Malachi 3:20, is a stirring prophecy about the coming of the Messiah and God’s protection of Israel.

“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. 3 Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.
“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

This powerful imagery so relevant on this very Shabbat Hagadol, as the winds of war have been blowing fiercely over Israel. We are living history in real time, and this passage reminds us of God’s promise to His people.

As we reflect on the miracles of our past, we look ahead to passing over this tense and troubled time. Shabbat Hagadol serves as a reminder of our collective journey from bondage to freedom. From war to peace. It prompts us to reflect and rekindle our commitment to our faith, our heritage, and our divine right, “to be a free people in our country, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.”

We pray for the safety of our courageous soldiers, the return of the hostages, the speedy recovery of the wounded soldiers and send condolences to all the families who lost their loved ones.

We pray with hope for peace to come
to bless this land, our old Zion
may winds of war cease thier roar
and love will reign for evermore.
Yakira Shimoni Fulks
April 18, 2024, OC, California

Photo: Full moon over the synagogue at Har Adar Jerusalem, 2018

Video: My Uncle Zvika in Jerusalem, April 13, 2024