Shabbat HaGadol is traditionally a morning when the rabbi addresses the congregation with an often lengthy discourse about the mitzvoth applying to preparation for Pesach – how to rid one’s home of Chametz, preparation and koshering of kitchen, stove, fridge, counters, burning of Chametz and planning of Seder.

So much work to prepare and I will admit, the list seems longer as the years go by, the knees less willing to bend, the hands sore from scrubbing! But then there is that moment when the special Pesach tablecloth is on our table, special dishes and pots at the ready, those favourite recipes about to be prepared, where all is worthwhile, the effort exceeded by the sheer satisfaction of those preparations.

This year many of us will gather at our community Seder on First Night giving thanks for our freedom, especially in light of what has been taking place in the Ukraine. As you gather at home, or at friends, it is custom to acknowledge our freedom – what a privilege. In light of our history of repeated exiles, this ideal of freedom became our lighthouse, a beacon of what truly is important.

At our Seder this year we are incorporating a Sephardic custom of holding the Seder plate over the heads of each person, welcoming them with this songBibhilu yasanu mi-mitzrayim, ha lahma ‘anya, bené horin,”  “With haste we left Egypt, this is poor bread, [now] we are free.” If you would like to learn the tune, and more about the custom here is a link:

 Wishing everyone the blessing of Pesach,

Chag sameach,

Rabbi Lynn