Passover and the Global
Climate Crisis

Is the Environmental Protection Agency a modern-day pharaoh? Sweep eco-chameitz from your life with these simple steps.

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Making green renovations and new buildings. Supporting legislation mandating such measures.

Making these changes is, of course, not easy. Chametz looks better and it tastes better. Being more puffed-up in size, it tends to attract people and get more attention. And it's not even completely bad, as it's permissible to enjoy chametz 51 other weeks of the year. What's not all right is to be a slave to it. More about that later.

Shabbat HaGadol - The Great Sabbath

The Shabbat just prior to Passover is called Shabbat HaGadol. This year it falls directly before Passover begins, since the first seder is on Saturday night of April 19, 2008, immediately after Shabbat HaGadol ends.

A long-standing and only partially tongue-in-cheek reason for calling this Shabbat "Great" is because it (along with the Shabbat between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur) was one of two times in the year when a lengthy sermon would be given. As Eliyahu Kitov, in The Book of Our Heritage (volume 2, p. 156) observes: "From as far back as the days of the Tana'im and Amora'im it was the custom, wherever Jews lived, for the outstanding scholar of the town to address all the people on Shabbat HaGadol. He would instruct them in the ways of God and teach them how to behave. …He would also introduce into his address some topical comments and explanatory notes in order to arouse the interest of his audience." So while we encourage leaders to keep their sermons mercifully short on Shabbat HaGadol, we do endorse using the tradition of "addressing some topical comments" to focus this year on the global climate crisis.


Shabbat HaGadol also gets its name from the haftarah, the prophetic portion that is traditionally read on this day. The context of the haftarah is dramatic: its 25 lines represent the final words of the final prophet, Malachi.

He writes, speaking on behalf of YHVH:

Behold! I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of that great and awesome day of YHWH, so that he 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. (Malachi 3:23-24)

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