It is never too early to start thinking about which Haggadah we are going to use this chag, hagg, or Passover holiday. There are so many to choose from, and in the same way that some people buy a new xmas ornament each year or a new dreidel, I believe in purchasing and using a new haggadah each year, and finding a paragraph or reading from each one, or a concept to share at the table. I especially recommend one where all the participants each year can sign the haggadah, like a guest registry, so decades from now, we can all recall who was there and when.
Red & Yellow, not just my HS colors
So, which one do you use? I start out with the Maxwell House classic, and use the red and yellow Conservative staple as a foundation, the way a cook starts out with a basic soup base.
Chock full of unleavened readings
I then like to add in some readings from the servies of haggadot based on the writings of several rosh yeshivah’s (or is that roshim yeshivot, or roshot yeshivim?) and Torah Scholars. For example, in my edition, Rabbi Kotler asks why the haggadah says were it not for the Exodus, we would be slaves. After thousands of years, would not the Hebrews have freed themselves? R’ Aharon replies that the seder text changes tense from slaves to enslaved, and that although we would be free, we would still be enslaved to Egyptian or a foreign culture and its priorities. Hmmm. I also like anything from Urim Publishing. Urim seems to come out with a new haggadah each season, the way Hallmark
My pic of the Prague Haggadah, circa 1592
(or American Greetings, since they have Jewish roots) comes out with a new card. This year, I will use their Haggadah based on Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. I like Carlebach’s commentaries. For example, when describing the RasHa child, he feels that the child is not “wicked.” The child is there, present at the seder. The “RaSHa”, he writes, is a resh ayin surrounding a Shin. The SHin in the middle shows that the kid has potential and is not being nurtured. Similiarly, the Clever son is perhaps a little too clever and devoid of spirit. Unleavened food for thought? Also, it can’t hurt to breeze through some of the ideas listed in, How To Create Lively Seders,” a book that suggests ways to keep everyone engaged and interested.
Passover Live! and Lively
From “The Holistic Haggadah, ” I like the idea that “The Alienated Child is angry. With compassion and understanding must come the answer. Help the child soften. Explain that a rejection of the Divine is a rejection of Self; that giving up leads to self-condemnation in the crucible of enslavement; that there are many questions, but not necessarily corresponding answers. The entire evening, in fact, can be seen as being dedicated to this dejected and rejecting child.”
A Holy-istic Seder?
And it comment on bread: “Hametz is bread – soft, delicious bread. It consists mainly of empty space produced by a gas that does not sustain human life. Its great volume is an illusion of its true essence. Hametz is symbolic of our inflated, swollen egos – mostly hot air.”
A Seder for Jews and Ju-Bu's
For the second seder outside of Eretz ha’Knaidalach, I like to spice things up with a unique haggadah, like the one for Hin-Jews; Jew-Bu’s and others at the left. There is The Telling and Ma’ayan, and other more female focused haggadot. Or the Shalom Seders, an oldie but goodie; or the standard haggadah from the university Hillel’s. There is even a 30 minute seder that you can find online, download, and make as many copies as you like for a nominal fee.
SO… what about you? Any tried and tested ideas for a good and meaningful seder? What haggadah do you plan to use?