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Shabbat and Eighth Day of Pesach (Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17)

“Oh, shout for joy, You who dwell in Zion!
For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 12:6)

Pesach in Israel ends Friday night, even as it continues everywhere else through Saturday night (Reform communities follow the Israeli custom.) This means synagogues in Israel will read a regular parasha (Torah portion) on Shabbat, while synagogues in the rest of the world will read the special selection for the eighth day of Pesach. There is also a special haftarah, or Prophetic reading.

Rabbi Yechiel Hoffman (Director of Youth Learning & Engagement at Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles) notes a slave asks only question: When will I be free? Once freed, of course, that slave must ask endless questions about how to live in freedom. It is only fitting the haftarah for the last day of Pesach speaks of redemption, justice, and peace.

This utopian vision begins with an end to foreign oppression (Isa. 10:32) and the establishment of a just society governed by wisdom, justice and equity, and reverence for God (Isa. 11:2-5). The world will be at peace (Isa. 11:6-8) and the remnants of the Jewish people will be gathered together again in one place (Isa. 11:11-16); a new exodus, as it were, from its long and painful dispersion.

The words, “Hinei el y’shuati…Behold the God who redeems me, I am confident, unafraid…” (Isa. 12: 2-3) trigger a connection to Shabbat, because they are recited as part of the havdallah, or separation ceremony at Shabbat’s end. Pesach, like Shabbat, is a holiday to both remember (Ex. 12:14) and to keep (Ex. 12:17). We tell the story of Pesach to remember where we came from. We preserve the memory to keep us on the path to freedom and justice.

Gut Shabbos/Gut Yontif
Shabbat Shalom/Happy Holiday

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