Pesach draws near. Last Shabbat we learned that the penultimate Shabbat before Pesach didn’t carry a special title like the other four preceding parshiot (Shabbat Shekalim, Shabbat Parah, Shabbat HaChodesh and this Shabbat coming up, Shabbat HaGadol). But in fact a few Chassidic masters designated the Shabbat before Shabbat haGadol, a very special Shabbat indeed – and named it Shabbat Penuyah, after, variously, a young girl, opening, or turning. This last Shabbat is (symbolically) the Shabbat where the people of Israel become ‘engaged’ to God, in preparation for the betrothal ceremony on Pesach and the actual marriage ceremony on Shavuot! Shabbat Penuyah is the Shabbat where the people of Israel turn away from their former life and open up towards a life of Covenant.
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