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Weekly D'rash and Parsha Tzav HaGadol

This Shabbat is called Shabbat HaGadol or the Great Shabbat. It has great importance because it is the shabbat right before Passover. Traditionally it is a day of preparation. Of course, there is a lot of preparation that goes into the celebration of Passover. We must remove the leavened bread, and we have to purchase everything that we need for the Seder. However, something that is often neglected is our spiritual preparation for this great holy convocation. In the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38–42, we see that Martha and her sister Mary hosted Yeshua for dinner. Martha was distracted with all the preparation while Mary sat at Yeshua's feet and listened. Yeshua said that Mary had chosen the good (i.e., better or best) part. In other words, there is a time and place for everything. Yes, we need to make sure that we have a nice Seder and make a nice meal, but the "good part" is the spiritual interaction that we have with God. In our services for the last few weeks, we have been talking about the Hallel Psalms (Psalms 113–118). Meditating on these psalms helps us to have a softened heart to be able to receive what God has for us at Passover. We are thankful for our deliverance, and we are reminded that we no longer have to fear death and destruction because of the deliverance that we have in the Messiah. Our Haftarah portion this week contains a future promise that applies to everyone who embraces the Messiah and trusts God for their future. It is found in Malachi 3:15–18 “’So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape’”. “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name”. “‘They will be Mine’, says the LORD of hosts, ‘on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him’”. “So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him”. May I suggest that the ‘arrogant’ are those who are so full of themselves that they cannot discern the difference between trusting God and trusting themselves. They are the people who boast of their faithfulness when they are really boasting in their own hubris and their own power for their own future! Internally, they do not esteem the name of God. This is detestable to the Lord. God will not remember those who call themselves faithful but are arrogant. But those who fear the Lord, who are repentant and trust God for their ultimate future, and who desire to honor His name, will be remembered and be as sons to God. This is a good challenge for us at this time of year. Are we arrogant without realizing it? Are we boasting in ourselves, but couching it in spiritual terms? Remember that those who are last shall be first! God does not give points or gold stars for being religious! God does not define spirituality by boasting about how much faith we have or how spiritual we are. That is called false humility (i.e., arrogance)! Those who fear God and esteem His name are those who take nothing for granted and see themselves as servants of God without making any demands. Those who fear the Lord according to this passage are those who are concerned for the glory of God's name and not their own name. This year as we prepare for Passover, may we remember that Yeshua is always the priority. To live is Messiah and to die is gain. May our concern be for His name and His reputation. As we read last week on Shabbat from Psalm 115:1, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your faithfulness”. May we approach Passover as a great moment of humility and thanksgiving. How wonderful to remember that while we were helpless, Messiah died for us! Today, He has given us His Ruach (Spirit) to be able to live a life that esteems his Name! May you have a Passover Seder filled with joy and thanksgiving! Shabbat HaGadol Shalom, Rabbi Howard

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