What Is The Haggadah And Why Do I Need It?
The Haggadah is the book that is used for the Pesach Seder. The root of the name is from the Torah – vehigadeta levincha– and you shall tell your child. The Torah instructs us to teach our children about the story of the Exodus and the birth of the Jewish People at the night of the Seder. The Haggadah is a guide that takes us by the hand and leads us through the 15 steps that we must complete during the Seder night.
The Hagaddah is a combination of texts spanning the entire story of Jewish history. Verses from the Torah and the rest of the Tanach (Bible) are mixed with teachings from the Midrash and the Mishna. Songs composed in the middle ages and in some homes, the Hatikvah (The Israeli Jewish Anthem) may even be sung as part of the prayer of next year in Jerusalem.
Today there are thousands of Haggadot (plural for Haggadah) available catering to every taste, level, and ability. There is even a Harry Potter Haggadah!
I have a personal custom of buying a new Haggadah every year and gleaning new insights to share at my table.
The Haggadah provides us with a framework in which to engage with our children and our guests with the Pesach story. The Haggadah teaches us that in every generation we need to feel as if we personally left Egypt. There is thus a need to find the style and messaging that will allow us to transmit the feelings and experiences of the Seder to our children.
In the same way as we prepare the house for Pesach by cleaning and removing the Chametz, we need to prepare for the mitzvah of teaching our children. We would never walk into a meeting unprepared, we certainly should not arrive at the seder unprepared.
Here are some of the classic Haggadot that you may wish to use to enhance your Seder this year:
Easy Overview And Beginner Level
An excellent overview with brief explanations and a step by step guide as to what to do over the course of the eder.
For Those Who Want Some Deeper Thought And Analysis.
Rabbi Sacks Haggadah
Excellent essays and commentaries by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks the former Chief Rabbi of the UK. One of the pre-eminent Rabbis of our generation. Wonderful essays on a wide range of Pesach themes. See It Here
Rabbi Frand is one of the great orators of our time. He takes the ancient wisdom and repackages them for a modern audience.
Fun Ideas For The Seder:
A Different Night by Noam Zion and David Dishon
A family participation Haggadah filled with pictures, discussion points and role play ideas to bring your Seder to life. Get It Here
For The Serious Scholar
In depth discussions and halachic diagrams to prepare for Pesach and the Seder. Click Here Now