Giving New Life to Shabbat HaGadol: Elijah’s Covenant between the Generations — Saving the Earth from Utter Destruction
“Shabbat HaGadol” —- this year April 11-12, just before Pesach — takes its name from a powerful prophecy of danger and redemption in its Haftarah — the last passage of Malachi, the last of the biblical Prophets.
We read “Here! — I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of that great [haGadol] and awesome [haNora] day of YHWH [YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh, Yahhh, the Breath of Life], so that he [Elijah] will turn the hearts of the parents to the children and the hearts of the children to the parents, lest I come and strike the earth with utter destruction.”
Earlier in the Prophetic reading, the Haftarah announces that the Earth will burn like a furnace, but the sun’s rays –- its “wings” — will bring healing. (Mal. 3: 19-21 and 23-24.)
Today, living in the midst of the climate crisis, we might hear this outcry pointing starkly to global scorching –— and urging that we look to solar and wind energy as a remedy, with older and younger generations working together to heal our world.
One way to observe Shabbat HaGadol would be to ask congregants to sit in groups of three or four people of different generations, to read these very last lines of the Neviim, and to explore what it would mean for all the members to become Elijah, connecting with each other to save the earth from utter destruction.
Drawing on but distinct from Shabbat HaGadol, The Shalom Center has created a ceremony and a curriculum on these questions for use in preparation for bat/bar mitzvah students and their families — bringing the hearts of the parents and the children together to avert disaster. The curriculum — Brit Eliyahu, Elijah’s Covenant Between the Generations— was created by Noam Dolgin, an extraordinary teacher in the Teva Learning Alliance work with teen and younger Jews. The curriculum has many suggestions for further learning and for action, well fitted to their ages.
If you would like to receive the Brit Eliyahu booklet, please click to
Make a recurring donation and receive Freedom Journeys as our token of appreciation. Click here for more info about the book. Freedom Journeys is a deep meditation on the timeless—and timely—relevance of the Exodus narrative. In the grand tradition of mystical exegesis, Waskow and Berman reflect upon Exodus not only as an event that happened “then” and “there”, but a paradigm of movement that is happening here and in the now, for all of us, Jew and Muslim, Black and White, male and female. —Omid Safi, professor of Islamic studies, University of North Carolina.