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Brit Chadashah

March 28, 2015
Nisan 8, 5775

Shabbat Hagadol


Lev. 6:8-8:36

Malachi 3:4-24
(Shabbat HaGadol)

Heb. 7:23-8:6
Heb. 9:11-28


Passover Dates 2015

The Sabbath before Passover...

According to the Talmud, the Exodus occurred on Thursday, Nisan 15th, and the people selected their lamb to be offered four days earlier, on Nisan 10, which happened to be a Shabbat that year (Exod. 12:1-6). This Shabbat is considered "gadol" (great) because the Israelites took lambs from among the Egyptians for sacrifice despite the humiliation of their deity (i.e., the ram god Amun). According to midrash, the Israelites explained that they intended to sacrifice the lamb by the LORD's command, who would then destroy all the firstborn of Egypt. When the Egyptian firstborn heard this they begged their fathers to let the Israelites go, but their cries were ignored until a civil war broke out in which many were killed (Tosafot Shabbat 87b). This internecine warfare is called the "War of the Firsborn" and is considered an additional miracle that helped the Israelites leave Egypt. For these reasons, the Sabbath before Passover is called "Shabbat HaGadol" (שבת הגדול).

Shabbat HaGadol foreshadowed the offering of the "Lamb of God" who takes away the sins of the world. The New Testament notes that it was on Nisan 10 when Yeshua made His great entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, signifying His Messiahship, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey" (Zech. 9:9). During this time, when the pilgrims had come to select the lamb for the Passover - they saw Yeshua and cried out: hoshiah na (הוֹשִׁיעָה נָּא), meaning "please save" or "save now" (in English this phrase was translated from the Latin to form "Hosanna!"). The people spontaneously began singing Psalm 118:25-26 in anticipation of the great Messianic hope:

אָנָּא יְהוָה הוֹשִׁיעָה נָּא אָנָּא יְהוָה הַצְלִיחָה נָּא
בָּרוּךְ הַבָּא בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה בֵּרַכְנוּכֶם מִבֵּית יְהוָה

an·na · Adonai · ho·shi·ah · na  / an·na · Adonai · hatz·li·cha · na
ba·rukh · ha·ba · be·shem · Adonai / be·rakh·nu·khem · mi·bet · Adonai

"Please, LORD save us! Please, LORD rescue us!
Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD
We bless you from the house of the LORD."
(Psalm 118:25-26)

The cross, not the scales
Hebrew Study Card

The Haftarah for Shabbat HaGadol (Malachi 3:4-24) foretells of Yom Adonai (יוֹם יהוה), the great Day of the LORD, and the return of Yeshua as Mashiach ben David. May that day come soon, chaverim. For more information, click here.

Note: If the miracle occured on Nisan 10th, then why don't we celebrate this as its own holiday? According to Jewish tradition, the prophetess Miriam (the sister of Moses) died on Nisan 10, exactly one year before the Israelites entered the Promised Land (i.e., 40 years after the Exodus), and therefore Shabbat HaGadol is commemorated on the Shabbat before Passover rather than on the calendar date of Nisan 10 itself.

About Passover - פסח

Passover (i.e., Pesach) is an eight day holiday that commemorates the liberation of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt by the outstretched arm of the LORD and the blood of the Lamb of God some 3,000 years ago. Since the events of the Exodus led directly to the covenant given at Sinai (and the revelation of the altar), Passover also memorializes the emergence of the nation of Israel in history.

The Passover Seder remembers the fateful night when the faithful were protected from the plague of death by the blood of the lamb - foreshadowing the great sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah as Seh HaElohim - the "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). Before his crucifixion, Yeshua used the symbolism and imagery of the Passover Seder to foretell of the New Covenant given in his broken body and shed blood (Matt. 26:26-28). His followers are expected to purge out the "the old leaven" and to keep the feast, understanding how He is the embodiment of this sacred holiday (see 1 Cor. 5:7).

Note: Passover begins on Friday, April 3rd this year, with the seder beginning approximately 18 minutes before sundown. With only a week before Passover, time is running out to begin preparing for your seder! To help you get started, I have created a free Seder Guide you can download here. Let's keep the feast, chaverim! (1 Cor. 5:7-8).

Passover Week Torah Readings

The Torah Reading cycle is suspended for the holiday week of Unleavened Bread (called "Passover Week" in the Jewish tradition), with each day of the week (from Nisan 15 through Nisan 22) assigned additional readings from the Torah and Haftarah. 

Learn More about Passover

Because the Jewish calendar is solar-lunar, the dates for each day's readings are not fixed, but vary from year to year.  This means that the intermediate days of Passover, called chol hamo'ed (CH"M) will vary from year to year. Remember the day begins at sunset. To ensure the accuracy of a particular day's readings, always check a good Jewish holiday calendar.

Click on the links to display the Scriptures:




Brit Chadashah

Erev Pesach (Shabbat)
(14 Nisan - Fri. Apr 3)
(night of Passover)

We read the haggadah during the Seder... This is also Shabbat!

Pesach 1
(15 Nisan - Sat. Apr 4)
Sabbath of Passover

Exod. 12:21-51
Num. 28:16-25

Josh. 5:2-6:1
Song of Songs (K)

Luke 22:7-20; John 1:29-31;
1 Cor. 15:20-28

Pesach 2 (Omer)
(16 Nisan - Sun. Apr 5)
Second day of Passover

Lev. 22:26-23:44
Num. 28:16-25

2 Ki. 23:1-9; 21-25
Omer Count Begins

Rev. 15:1-4

Pesach 3 (CH"M 1)
(17 Nisan - Mon. Apr 6)
Resurrection Day

Exod. 13:1-16,
Num. 28:19-25


1 Cor. 15:20-23
of Yeshua

Pesach 4 (CH'M 2)
(18 Nisan - Tue. Apr 7)

Exod. 22:24-23:19, Num. 28:19-25



Pesach 5 (CH'M 3)
(19 Nisan - Wed. Apr 8)

Exod. 34:1-26
Num. 28:19-25

Ezek. 37:1-14


Pesach 6 (CH'M 4)
(20 Nisan - Thur. Apr 9)

Num. 9:1-14;
Num. 28:19-25



Pesach 7 (Shabbat)
(21 Nisan - Fri. Apr 10)

Exod. 13:17-15:26;
Num. 28:19-25

2 Sam. 22:1-51
Song of Songs (K)

Rev. 15:1-4

Pesach 8
(22 Nisan - Sat. Apr 11)
Diaspora only

Deut. 15:19-16:17
Num. 28:19-25

Isa. 10:32-12:6
(Messiah's Feast)


Note: Chol Hamo'ed (CH"M) are "intermediate days" of Passover, i.e., the days sandwiched between the two beginning and two ending days of the festival. (In Israel, Passover is seven days long with the middle five days regarded as Chol Hamo'ed.)

The Song of Solomon is customarily read during the morning service of the Sabbath of Passover, or during morning service on the Seventh Day of Passover...

The 49-day
Omer Count begins on the day after the Passover (i.e., Nisan 16), which this year is Saturday April 4th, 2015 after sundown. The holiday of Shavuot ("Weeks/Pentecost") therefore begins Sat., May 23rd, at sundown this year.

About the Spring Holidays...

The commandment to sanctify the very first new moon of the year (i.e., Rosh Chodashim) reveals that it is our responsibility to sanctify (i.e., observe) Biblical time in general. In other words, when we observe "the beginning of months," we are acknowledging that time itself is rooted in the Biblical calendar with its divinely inspired cycle of festivals (i.e., the moedim). Note that this year the Biblical New Year began on Friday March 20th at sundown, and therefore Passover begins exactly two week weeks later, Friday April 3rd at sundown:


Three spring festivals occur in the month of Nisan and overlap and run into each other: Pesach (Passover), Chag Hamotzot (Unleaved Bread), and Yom habikkurim (Firstfruits). The fourth and climactic spring festival is Shavu'ot (Pentecost). Shavu'ot is held exactly seven weeks (or fifty days) following the morning after Pesach. In general, the spring holidays portrary the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah: Yeshua was crucified on erev Pesach, buried during Chag Hamotzi, and was resurrected on Yom Habikkurim (Firstfruits). Shavu'ot was the day the Holy Spirit fell on the followers of Yeshua in fulfillment of the promise given by our Lord. Click the timeline below for more information.

The Holiday of Passover is really a month long celebration. Over and over it is referred to as the "month of spring" (חדֶשׁ הָאָבִיב), the "month of redemption," the month of Nisan, and so on. The word Nisan might come from either the word nitzan (נִצָּן), meaning "bud" (Song 2:12), or the word nissim (נִסִּים) meaning "miracles," both of which suggest physical and spiritual resurrection in our lives. Others think the word comes from the verb nus (נוּס), meaning "to flee," both in relation to Israel's flight from Egypt and Egypt's flight from Israel (i.e., when the pursuing Egyptian cavalry fled (נָסִים) before the sea closed upon them (Exod. 14:25, 27). We also see this usage in the verse: "The wicked flee (נָסוּ) when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion" (Prov. 28:1). The devil's power is found in the lie. If he can make you afraid, you will not think clearly. Establishing your faith in the truth will embolden you to deal with the lies and distortions that are intended to enslave you in fear. As Yeshua said, the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

Blessing before Torah Study:

Click for the blessing

Some terms:

  • Parashah is the weekly Scripture portion taken from the Torah. Each parashah is given a name and is usually referred to as "parashat - name" (e.g., parashat Noach). For more information about weekly readings, click here.
  • Aliyot refer to a smaller sections of the weekly parashah that are assigned to people of the congregation for public reading during the Torah Reading service. In most congregations it is customary for the person "called up" to recite a blessing for the Torah before and after the assigned section is recited by the cantor. For Shabbat services, there are seven aliyot (and a concluding portion called a maftir). The person who is called to make aliyah is referred to as an oleh (olah, if female).
  • Maftir refers to the last Torah aliyah of the Torah chanting service (normally a brief repetition of the 7th aliyah, though on holidays the Maftir portion usually focuses on the Holiday as described in the Torah).  The person who recites the Maftir blessing also recites the blessing over the Haftarah portion.
  • Haftarah refers to an additional portion from the Nevi'im (Prophets) read after the weekly Torah portion. The person who made the maftir blessing also recites the blessing for the Haftarah, and may even read the Haftarah before the congregation.
  • Brit Chadashah refers to New Testament readings which are added to the traditional Torah Reading cycle. Often blessings over the Brit Chadashah are recited before and after the readings.
  • Mei Ketuvim refers to a portion read from the Ketuvim, or writings in the Tanakh. Readings from the Ketuvim are usually reserved for Jewish holidays at the synagogue.
  • Perek Yomi Tehillim refers to the daily portion of psalms (mizmorim) recited so that the entire book of Psalms (Tehillim) is read through in a month. For a schedule, of daily Psalm readings, click here.
  • Gelilah refers to the tying up and covering the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) as an honor in the synagogue.
  • Divrei Torah ("words of Torah") refers to a commentary, a sermon, or devotional on the Torah portion of the week.

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