Shabbas HaGadol

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Oil Paintings, Prints, Drawings and Water Colors

 

Shabbas HaGadol

 

 

Passover Seder in A Blink
Passover Seder in a Blink
© Drew Kopf 2001

 

Title: Passover Seder in A Blink

Medium: Water Color on Paper

Size: 20" x 26" signed

Available Framed or Unframed

Signed: Drew Kopf 4/01 lower right

Created: April 2001

Original: Artist's Collection

The text afixed to the back of the framed origional and which is provided with each geclee copy, reads as follows:

The Passover Seder: A Time to Shake Things Up

By
Drew Kopf

Updated in 2012 from notes made in 1994

Shabbas Ha Gadol
Parshas Tzav
Leviticus VI – VIII
Haftara Malachi III, 4 – 24

The Sedrah for Shabbas Ha Gadol is Tzav (Leviticus VI – VIII) has its overarching theme stated in the sentence at Leviticus VII, 21:

“And when anyone shall touch any unclean thing … and eat of the sacrifice … that soul shall be cut off from his people.”

The Sedrah first explains in great detail the way the various sacrifices are to be performed with particular emphasis as to the order of which sacrifice is to be done when and where and, more particularly, in what order each piece is to be handled and exactly how.  “This order of sacrifices is to be done by Aaron and by his sons … forever.”

This takes us back – like a flashback – to Mount Sinai on the day they, Aaron and his sons, were anointed to be priests. And again, at the end of the Sedrah, it is clearly stated, “Keep the charge of the Lord that ye die not.”

It should be noted that when we say: “Mee toch sheh lo lishma vo lishma” it is telling us that to do (Mitzvos; i.e. Commandments) not for the sake of doing (them, but just doing them) will bring about the doing (of Mitzvos) for the sake of doing (Mitzvos) for their own sake.

That is to say, “I am not going to do Mitzvos until I really understand why I should, i.e. “What’s in it for me?”, stops people from enjoying or even trying to enjoy the doing part of Judaism.

If we, or we might want to say “ if they” – but we can probably all relate to this feeling about the doing of Mitzvos to some degree – would just do the Mitzvos, the Mitzvos would almost explain themselves to us – just through the doing of them.

What Dr. J.H. Hetrz, C.H., the Late Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, points out is that the Torah in Parshas Tzav is trying to make clear to us the utter uselessness of worship when combined with what might be termed unholiness and unrighteousness.

So, if we are not sure why we are doing a Mitzvah but we elect to do it anyway, we may feel a little silly, but we are at least not living a lie. However, to do a Mitzvah in perfect order – step by carefully delineated step – but soiled by the taint of everything in word and deed – and, perhaps in thought, if we believe that the mind and the body work together – that is in opposition and contradiction to the basic tenants of the religion, is to waste one’s time and effort. We will simply get nothing from it. Doing it will serve no purpose.

The Haftarah (Malachi III, 4 – 24) echoes this message – when Jeremiah denounces the mere mechanical performance of acts of worship.

Someone said that Judaism is a deed and not a creed. But, for certain, it also demands adherence to a higher moral standard backed up by; or guarded by; or, better, in the framework of deeds, which we refer to as Mitzvos.

The Haftarah concludes in an up beat way – truth, justice and righteousness must be preceded by mercy; “Chessed vee emmes” or they are not truth, justice and righteousness.

But, where in all of this is a message for Shabbas Ha Gadol, the Shabbas that comes right before the Holiday of Passover?

The carefully detailed structure of the Laws of Sacrifice is presented in an order – much like the order of the Passover Seder as outlined in the Haggadah.

We could leave it right there and say that the Seder can be seen as an ordered representation of how we became unified and amalgamated as God’s People and that in the observance of the Seder, it is critical to do it correctly and, even more so, with the correct intention.

But, there is perhaps a deeper level of understanding here. The Sfas Emes, Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (1847–1905), helps us see an even deeper meaning of the order of the Passover Seder. The Exodus happened all in a rush and what it meant could be felt by those who experienced it. But, we need what amounts to a kind of “reenactment” of the original Seder to be done so as to slow it down for us; something like an instant replay does in the reviewing of an athletic play when shown in slow motion, to reveal for us the deeper meaning behind the events at that time and so that we may hopefully feel it as those who experienced and felt whatever feelings they felt during that amazing night just before the Exodus.

If we go back to Braishes; i.e. Genesis, and the story of Creation we will recall that the Lord created the world and everything in it in six days. But it is related to us in great detail. Why?

It is done so because we are commanded to emulate the Lord and His ways.

“Mah hoo rachoom eff ahtah rachoom.”
“As He is merciful so you should be merciful.

With the creation detailed in what amounts to “slo-mo” we are to emulate and create in the same way; in “slo-mo.”

This is the Seder – the order in which we are to build a fine good world – at our own level of course- but with great detail and slowly; deliberately; with purpose.

The observance of the Passover Seder reminds us that we are to try and act in accordance with the Lord’s divine plan of order – recreating for ourselves so that we strive to reach the level of Adam Ha Reshone – original man - before he sinned.

Thus, as we take part in the observance of the Passover Seder in its carefully ordered and yet simple splendor, it is our hope that our doing so will reverberate with echoes that will take us back; way way back; back to the beginning of time.

 

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