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Each year on Shabbat Hagadol (the Shabbat just prior to Pesach), our shul rabbi explains that the reason it is called "Shabbat Hagadol" is that it means "The Shabbat of the Gadol" ("The great one"). It is a reference to the "gadol" or the rav of the community or congregation.

My rav explained that originally, the rav delivered a sermon only twice yearly - on Shabbat Hagadol and Shabbat Shuva (Shabbat between Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur.) He did not deliver weekly sermons as is quite common in shuls, currently.

My question is when and why did the original custom change?

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    Actually Rashi is quoted by his students as saying it was called shabbos hagadol because the drasha from the rabbi made the shabbos seem like it lasted for a very long time! True story. – user6591 Aug 29 '17 at 19:44
  • Is this on-topic? I can’t decide whether this is Jews not Judaism. – DonielF Aug 29 '17 at 21:05
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    @DonielF The rabbi is a Jew (I think. Plenty of fake ones, out there!) Giving Shabbat sermons is Judaism. – DanF Aug 29 '17 at 21:54
  • @DanF Like I said, I wasn’t sure whether this would qualify - thus, I didn’t vote. – DonielF Aug 29 '17 at 21:55
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Rashi on the Gemorah in Gittin on 38b ד"ה בעידן בי מדרשא says that a chacham used to give a drasha Shabbos (friday) night.

  • gemara brachot, its called calla. the gemara speeks about shedim in synagogue. mishna shabbat about kitve kodesh which are prohibited because if the drasha in shabbat – kouty Aug 29 '17 at 20:33
  • @kouty I'm confused regarding what your comment adds to the answer. – DanF Aug 29 '17 at 20:34
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    @DanF He’s quoting other Gemaras that discuss Shabbos derashos. I believe that Shabbos Kalla was done specifically before Yamim Tovim, however; the reference to sheidim is that in the Shabbos Kalla the place feels packed because of the sheidim, even when there’s plenty of room between each person. I have not learned the one in Shabbos, so I can’t elaborate on that. – DonielF Aug 29 '17 at 21:04

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