VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF THE SEDER
The Passover story is a source of great inspiration. For the Jewish nation the Exodus holds a special place in the culture and religion.The themes of Passover have resonated with all facets of the Jewish community through time. It is the ultimate story of hope, redemption and faith.
We are commanded by God to tell the Exodus story to our children (Exodus 13:8). Thus on the first night of Passover we hold a Seder, a festive meal during which the Exodus story is told. Seder means order named so because the meal follows a specific organization. The order of the meal is found in a book called the Haggadah.
While the story of the Exodus, blessings and ritual foods remain consistent in all versions of the Haggadah, there are in fact thousands of versions. These versions are affected by current events and variying lifestyle and religious viewpoints. Many Haggadah include additions such as songs and anecdotes. Others are written for specific groups of people such as children, vegetarians, soldiers, those interested in scholarly commentary or literary interpretation. At least 4,000 printed editions of the Passover Haggadah have appeared. Before that, there were centuries of hand-lettered and illuminated manuscripts.
The Sarajevo Haggadah
One of the oldest known Haggadah is the much disputed Sarajevo Haggadah. It is a hand-written, beautifully illustrated medieval manuscript. During the 1492 expulsion of the Jews during the Spanish Inquisition the fleeing Jews managed to smuggle it out of Spain.
Notations within the Haggadah tell of its appearance in Italy and of a 1609 incident claiming that it did not speak out against the Church, which saved it from being burned like other Jewish books. While not written as such, this Haggadah’s journey exemplifies the ongoing survival of the Jewish people and represents the story of the Spanish Jews.
The Second Aliyah Pioneers
In the early 20th century during what has come to be known as the Second Aliyah, Zionist pioneers emigrated to the Promised Land mostly from Russia. Upon arrival they established communal farms called kibbutz. The events of the Exodus spoke to these pioneers and their current situation. They created their own Haggadot that reflected their members’ sensibilities and experiences. While optimistic in tone, these Haggadot communicate the atmosphere of constant siege and conflict that was such a large part of their settlement experience. Additionally, they focused greatly on the agricultural aspect of the holiday and season relating the survival of the Jewish nation to the survival of crops.
After the Holocaust
Haggadot created during the years just after the Holocaust understandably took on a more cynical and sad tone. However, in the aftermath of this great tragedy, we find some of the most powerful images of Passover filling the pages. Images, stories and songs exemplifying imprisonment, destruction, slavery, good versus evil and finally redemption and freedom are charged with their experiences. While telling the Exodus story they allude to despair over the Holocaust and hope for a new independent homeland for the Jewish People in the Promised Land.
The Maxwell House Haggadah
In the United States the most ubiquitous Haggadah is the Maxwell House Hagaddah. In the early 1930s an advertising agency convinced Maxwell House Coffee to invest in a campaign targeting Jewish consumers. Coffee was loved then as much then as it is now, however the coffee bean was thought to be a legume and therefore banned on Passover.
This advertising agency came upon the fact that coffee beans are not beans at all but rather the pits of berries and therefore could indeed be consumed at Passover. They had a Rabbi certify their findings and used it as a spring board to launch their campaign to Jewish households. Thus since its first printing in 1932 to today, Maxwell House Coffee is associated with Passover and theirHagaddah is offered free with the purchase of any Maxwell House product.
The Israel Defense Forces have always produced their own Haggadah for soldiers who cannot make it home for Passover. The first was printed in 1949 for the first Passover since the independence of the State of Israel. It is an incredibly moving document with an introduction written by the IDF’s Chief Rabbi ShlomoGoronchick (see side bar).
In 1968 the IDF produced another fascinating Haggadah in which photographs from the War of 1967 are used to illustrate a direction connection to the Exodus.
An unusual Haggadah is the Emergency Haggadah that was printed during the War of Attrition (1968-1970) which was characterized by the continuous, static, local fighting along the ceasefire borders of the Six Day War, especially around the Suez Canal. It was created because the soldiers on this line would not have uninterrupted time to complete the Passover Seder. Therefore, this Hagadah was edited to guide them through the major important parts of the Seder.
Messianic congregations celebrate Passover by focusing on how Yeshua would have celebrated the holiday, especially at the Last Supper which is believed to be a Passover Seder. It is a guide through the feast of Passover that teaches about the journey of Passover from the Exodus through the life of the Messiah.
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Friday March 3rd and
Saturday, March 4th
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1949 IDF Haggadah
IDF Chief Rabbi's Introduction...
"After 2000 years of physical & spiritual slavery, we have merited to celebrate the Festival of freedom... the light of redemption and freedom which has shone over the skies of Israel has shined upon us anew and just as we left Egypt and saw miracles of G-d, so too we saw in the War of Independence that we waged in our land. Raise high the flag of freedom that you have acquired by your hands in great bravery and self sacrifice! Till we shall envision the complete Redemption and celebrate the Festival of Passover in the Temple of G-d in Jerusalem, that shall be rebuilt! Shlomo Goronschick, Chief Rabbi of the IDF"