Parashat Hol Ha’moed Passover: the Intermediate Shabbat of Passover

Torah reading: Exodus 33:13 to 34:26

This morning around the world, Jews are making last minute preparations for the first Seder. In another twenty-four hours, we will celebrate Pesach at our congregation, with prayers, joyous music, and great food. This Shabbat is the intermediate pause in the Passover week, as we digest our matzahs and kugel. The cycle of Torah readings is on pause, and we read a special chapter from Exodus, and Moses’ encounter with the divine. We read about Moses’ conversation with God, asking that the divine reality be revealed to him, in some material form. Of course this is impossible. The Torah explains, after I (the Eternal) have passed by you, Moses, you will perceive my “back”… the other side. Following that paragraph we read about the 13 attributes of mercy that are revealed to Moses.

This Shabbat we also read a special Haftorah portion–the Book of Shir haShirim, the Song of Songs. These chapters include some of the most beautiful poetry in our Hebrew Bible. The question of why we read Song of Songs on Passover will be part of our Torah discussion this Shabbat.

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