Cantor Shapiro's Shabbat Message - April 19, 2024

  • Clergy
  • Shabbat
Cantor Shapiro's Shabbat Message - April 19, 2024

In the 90’s Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub starred in a film called Big Night in which the two brothers prepared to open a restaurant. It’s full of drama, love, and a lot of food prep. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth a watch! I was thinking about it today as I noticed that this Shabbat is Shabbat HaGadol (or Big Shabbat)! Our homes may feel a little like the hustle and bustle of the grand opening of a new restaurant as we rush about cleaning, prepping, getting ready for family and friends to fill our seder tables.

As we rightly focus on the home celebrations of Passover, our textual focus is often drawn away from Torah and prophets toward the Hagaddah. In many Reform congregations, the Festival services are given short shrift. (You are welcome to join us at our Festival services! 10 AM on 4/30 at the Resnick campus.) Shabbat HaGadol features a special haftarah (reading from the prophets) that has particular significance in this moment:

For you who revere My name a sun of victory shall rise to bring healing in the folds of its garments. You shall go forth and stamp like stall-fed calves.  (Malachi 3:20)

The prophetic language is so beautiful, evocative, and poetic. At this moment, imagining a garment that holds and disperses healing for the Jewish people from within its folds is precisely the image I am ready to take with me as I prepare for my own big night at my home.

Nachman of Bratslav takes Malachi’s image a step further, saying, ‘This is as it is written, “a benevolent sun with healing in its wings.” “A sun” alludes to Yaakov, who is the aspect of both speech-with-wisdom and a tree with the power to heal. This is as the verse states: “God, the Lord, is sun and shield.” For Yitzchak and Yaakov are the aspects of judgment and compassion.’ (Likutei Moharan 74:3:5)

We are reminded that bringing true healing to ourselves and others requires the balance of judgment and compassion. In our homes around our Seder tables, may we invite and encourage this balance in ourselves and among our guests. May this Passover bring enduring healing to our people. 

Shabbat Shalom,
Cantor Shapiro