Addition to the Hagaddah shel Pesach by David Mescheloff

  • by: David Mescheloff

Click here to see related source: http://www.lookstein.org/resource/hagada1.pdf

Several years ago, at a Shabbat retreat in Jerusalem of the Bar-Ilan Talmud Department, I presented an addition to the haggada which we had been using in my family for several years. This week the addition and the rationale for it are presented on Bar-Ilan’s web site, and in its “daf shvui”, at the following addresses:

http://www.biu.ac.il/JH/Parasha/pesah/pmis.pdf
http://www.biu.ac.il/JH/Parasha/pesah/mis.html

The story of the exodus from Egypt is told in the haggada, after the questions about this night being different from all others, and after the first answers ( “We were slaves … and G-d took us out …” and “Our ancestors were idol worshippers … and now G-d brought us near”), by reading 4 verses from the speech of thanks to G-d which the Torah says should be recited by the person who brings his first fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem (earlier: to the tabernacle in Shilo), between Shavuot and Succot. These four verses, from Devarim, tell the story of our descent into slavery in Egypt, our becoming a great nation, our suffering, our crying out to G-d, and G-d’s redeeming us from there – these verses are the basis for the gratitude of the bringer of his first fruits, who recalls our humble beginnings and thanks G-d for the wonderful gifts G-d has given him.

These same verses were chosen by our sages as the concise vehicle for fulfilling the commandment of telling the story of the exodus on the night of the seder. They are the backbone of some 80% of the haggada. Each verse is first recited whole, and then is broken down into segments; on each segment some comment is made so as to shed light on the deeper meaning of the verse. This continues until we get to the piyyut “dayenu”, in which we thank G-d for all that G-d did to us in bringing us out of Egypt, including bringing us to the land of Israel and building the Temple.

The fifth verse said by the bringer of the first fruits, is “And you brought us to this place, and you gave us this land, flowing with milk and honey.” This was left out of the haggada, even though the Mishna and the Rambam both say one should read the declaration of the bringer of the first fruits to its conclusion. Apparently it was too painful to say “and you brought us to this place” etc in the darkness of exile; besides, perhaps, the author of the haggada did not want to encourage people to think that the land of exile in which they found themselves was “the promised land.”

In any event, since we Jewish people are now privileged to be coming home to Israel, for about ten years my family has been adding the fifth verse in the appropriate place in the haggada, together with several comments on its three major segments.

Last Friday a printed color version of the addition, suitable for use at the seder table, was distributed at synagogues throughout Israel. I understand that not enough copies reached every location (60,000 were printed), and several people have asked me how to get copies for printing at home in sufficient quantity for use at the seder.

The color version can be accessed at http://www.lookstein.org/resource/hagada1.pdf

It is also available in Black & White at http://www.lookstein.org/resource/hagada2.pdf

Please feel free to forward this information to your relatives and friends in Israel, or use it in your classroom.

Best wishes to all of Israel, for a happy and kosher Pesach!

Rabbi Dr. David Mescheloff
Moshav Hemed
50295 Israel
Tel: 03-9607156

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