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World’s Chief Rabbis Call Us Home, It’s Shabbat HaGadol


Shalom Bayit, “peace in the home,” is a foundation of Judaism. And during this coronavirus pandemic when we are forced to stay in our home, this very principle can save lives.

Shalom Bayit in Hebrew means “peace in the home,” and this is what our world needs right now. These worst of times can bring out the best in us, our middot, good character traits, such as Peace, Harmony, Safety, Love, Nurture, Compassion, Empathy, Humor, Comfort, Forgiveness, Respect, Cooperation…this is what makes a house a home. Shalom bayit keeps us united, calm, and going strong under one roof, together. These important values are everything we yearn for during these times of uncertainty. We don’t have control over many things happening in our lives right now, but shalom bayit, we do. Right now, we have a shared purpose, and our actions directly impact others.

If we are fortunate enough to be with at least some of our loved ones at home, the silver lining in this dark time would be that at least we can spend more time together and focus on what matters, being in the moment. Shalom bayit is creating an atmosphere in your home that touches your soul. Right now for me, a pot of chicken soup simmering on the stove, the sweet smell of chocolate morsels melting in the oven, the mellow music of James Taylor filling the room, a friendly reminder to each other to wash hands and get some exercise and Vitamin D in the sunshine, a cup of warm indigo punch tea, real dialouge about our unique ability to help others in need, relaxation in an aromatherapy bath, and the welcome our house extends when we return again after another walk around the neighborhood…all of these actions create shalom bayit. We now have the time to be at home, share what’s on our mind, our fears, our concerns. We express thanks and gratitude to each other, trying not to sweat the small stuff.

On Shabbat, the candles, the wine, the rituals, the hunkering down and doing our part while praying for the outside world in chaos is the ultimate calling for shalom bayit. And this Shabbat, the Shabbat before Passover, is the ultimate calling for unity. Shabbat HaGadol, or Great Shabbat, was first celebrated at the birth of the Jewish people, moments before we were freed from slavery. In the Passover story, as the angel of death (tenth plague) descended upon the land of Egypt, the Jews who stayed home were spared their lives, with a sign upon their doorposts. And now some 3,332 years later, on Shabbat HaGadol, again we sit, isolated in our own homes. We are united in our commitment to abide by whatever it takes to stay safe and healthy for not only our sake, but for the sake of others.

On this Shabbat, the Chief Rabbis of the world, invite us to be one people, one heart, and come together to uplift each other in prayer, spirit, and joy. As we enter this special Shabbat, may our collective prayers and energy rise up together for the common good of all mankind.The Chief Rabbis of the world call on Jews in every corner of the globe to do these three things:

  1. Call or message each other with words of support before Shabbat
    In our heroic global quest to protect each other, we find ourselves physically cut off from one another. So many of us are completely alone. Call or message someone you know who is alone or struggling, wish them Shabbat Shalom and offer them words of support and encouragement. There is so much we cannot do at this time – but let’s not underestimate the power we have to uplift, encourage and support one another.
  2. Pray for each other just before candle-lighting
    As the devastation of COVID-19 sweeps across the world, so many people need our prayers. Let us pray to our Father in Heaven together – for each other and all humankind.
  3. Keep this Shabbat together
    Let us bring this Shabbat into our homes together and harness its immeasurable invigorating power. Let us connect to light and love and disconnect from the relentless news cycle for a precious 25 hours. Let us fill our homes with theradiant light of Shabbat candlestogether. Let us proclaim G-d Almighty’s sovereignty over the world, and feel his loving embrace, as we recite Kiddush together. Let’s cook before Shabbat, put away our car keys, dress up, switch off all electronics, eat, sing, pray, hope and dream together.