Shabbat HaGadol

Tzmished. If you say it outloud, it will sound like what it is. Confused. Turned around. that’s me right now, which is why some of you may have noticed that I posted a lovely Dvar Torah last week…on the wrong parasha. It wasn’t Tzav, it was Vayikra, the first parasha in the book of Leviticus. My apologies. Pre-Passover prep does that to me.

As you know, I almost always write about Torah portions. Well, this week there is a special Haftorah portion read, the chosen section from Prophets; a Haftorah is read every week along with the Torah portion. Usually, they’re linked somehow through theme, or even a word or two. The section we read this week is from Malachi, and there are a number of passages that remind us of Passover. We’re reminded of what it means to be in awe of God, and be aware of those who act opposite to God’s wishes: Who practice sorcery, who commit adultery, who swear falsely, who cheat laborers of their hire, and who subvert [the cause of] the widow, orphan, and stranger, said the Lord of Hosts. (Malachi 3:4 – emphasis mine.  Malachi isn’t talking about how many offerings we bring, he’s reminding us that it’s how we treat each other that makes an impact on God.

Later on, Malachi says the heralding of the “Day of Lord of Hosts” will bring Elijah to us: I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord. He shall reconcile parents with children and children with their parents…(Malachi 4:23-24) This passage is recalled at Seder, when we open the door for Elijah to come visit each home. My family always laughs at the idea of reconciling parents and children; truly, if that happens, it will be a Messianic age! But there’s a deeper message.

This year, as we sit around the table with friends, family, strangers, whoever you’ve gathered with, remember that how we treat each other – our children and parents, our spouses, our workers, and the most vulnerable of our society – this is what will improve our world, whether the Messiah comes or not, frankly. Our community needs every voice, every step, every vote, every phone call and email sent to those who swear falsely, cheat laborers, and subvert the cause of the widow, orphan, and stranger. Every year the Passover story, which moves us from oppression to freedom, resonates anew. It’s astounding, really, that such an old story can do that.

I leave you with the lyrics to a song from “Once on this Island”, (lyrics by Stephen Flaherty) which is enjoying a Broadway revival now:

Through the years
We tell the story
We tell the story
Life is why we tell the story
Pain is why we tell the story
Love is why we tell the story
Grief is why we tell the story
Hope is why we tell the story
Faith is why we tell the story

Hope and faith is certainly why we tell the story. May your Seder table be filled with sweetness, joy, loving faces, and a renewed purpose for why we tell the story.

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