Making sense of Ḥad Gadya beyond its explicit meaning has long inspired commentary. For me, Ḥad Gadya expresses in its own beautiful and macabre way a particularly important idea in Judaism that has become obscure if not esoteric. While an animal’s life may today be purchased, ultimately, the forces of exploitation, predation, and destruction that dominate our world will be overturned. Singing Ḥad Gadya is thus particularly apropos for the night of Passover since, in the Jewish calendar, this one night, different from all other nights, is considered the most dangerous night of the year — it is the time in which the forces of darkness in the world are strongest. Why? It is on this night that the divine aspect of Mashḥit, the executioner, is explicitly invoked (albeit, only in the context of the divine acting as midwife and guardian/protector of her people), as explained in the midrash for Exodus 12:12 . . .
The Haggadah of the Inner Seder focuses on revealing the inner structure of the seder. This haggadah gives signposts and cues as to where the important shifts in meaning are happening. It also makes clear the seder’s structure and adds in some commentaries that will make sense of not just what things mean but how they work. It also includes some of the customs I am fond of. It does not include a lot of material meant to update the seder or to bring in contemporary issues (though it does have a few commentaries related to peace between Israelis and Palestinians). The Haggadah is 18 pages long. . . .
Although God often speaks to humanity in the rumble of earthquakes, the roaring of wind and the thunder of storms, God spoke to Elijah, instead, in a still small voice. And, it was the nurturing power of the still small voice that slowly gave Elijah the courage and strength to be able to peek out of his deep abyss. On this night when we welcome Elijah to join our celebration, we acknowledge those who are so pained that they cannot fully celebrate, for joy eludes them. Although we may witness their physical wound with our eyes, we must also find ways to become attuned to their spiritual hurt and their emotional despair. The blood from the wound in their heart may not be visible and the cry in the depth of their throat may not be audible unless we train ourselves to attend to them. But, they are there. Our challenge is see and hear the pain of those whose depression affects their lives. Our response does not have to be bold in order to make a difference. A still small voice can transform a frown into a smile. A caring whisper that says, “I care” can raise a stooped head. A tender embrace can provide salve to a soul racked with pain. . . .
“The wicked child asks: What does this work mean to you? Mah ha’avodah ha’zot lachem” (Exodus 12:26). I think about this question a great deal as a rabbi whose core work involves fighting modern-day slavery. I think about it when I talk to my children about what I do every day, when I call anti-trafficking activists and say, “What can rabbis do to support you?” or when I stand before Jewish audiences and urge them to put their energy behind this critical human rights issue. The answer must go deeper than simply saying, “We were slaves in Egypt once upon a time.” The memory of bitterness does not necessarily inspire action. What inspires me is not slavery but redemption. God could part the Sea of Reeds, but the Israelites could not truly be free until they had liberated themselves, after 40 years in the desert, from slavery. . . .
ראש השנה לבעלי־החיים – על מה ולמה? מקורו של ראש השנה לבעלי־חיים הוא באותה משנה שבה המקור לט”ו בשבט: “ארבעה ראשי שנים הם: באחד בניסן ראש השנה למלכים ולרגלים. באחד באלול ראש השנה למעשר בהמה; רבי אלעזר ורבי שמעון אומרין, באחד בתשרי. באחד בתשרי ראש השנה לשנים לשמיטים וליובלות, ולנטיעה ולירקות. באחד בשבט ראש השנה לאילן, כדברי בית שמאי; בית הלל אומרין בחמישה עשר בו”. (משנה ראש השנה א, א). . . .
This Haggadah was created specifically for a seder that took place April 20, 2014 outside the White House as an act of solidarity with the #not1more deportation campaign hunger strikers. While it is created for a seder without food, in a cross cultural setting, framed around the issue of deportation, there are many gems that can be adapted to work for any seder. This is a work of love. We hope you enjoy, use, and share! We would love to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch or to share how you adapt it for your community. Check out some reflects on the seder here. . . .
Forty years after the first Freedom Seder, new Pharaohs have arisen. The institutional Pharaohs of our day are pressing down not just one people, one community, or another, but all the peoples on our planet and the web of life itself. In this Freedom Seder, we address Dr. Martin Luther King’s warning about “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism,” which have threatened the very earth that sustains us all. For the Passover story reminds us: not only do new Pharaohs arise in every generation; so also do new grass-roots movement to free ourselves from these new pharaohs. Forty years after the first Freedom Seder, America today stands also on the brink of hope, “mixing memory with desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” . . .
There it sits on the Seder plate: ḥaroset, a delicious paste of chopped nuts, chopped fruits, spices, and wine. So the question would seem obvious: “Why is there ḥaroset on the Seder plate?” That’s the most secret Question at the Seder – so secret nobody even asks it. And it’s got the most secret answer: none. . . .
Haggadah Shir Ge’ulah, the Song of Liberation, is a new Haggadah for Passover. It is at once traditional and radical, featuring egalitarian Hebrew and English, full transliteration, progressive theology, and a focus on modern issues of oppression and liberation. It is my hope that this Haggadah will elicit questions from all participants, and that everyone will find something in it to challenge them: both people steeped in Jewish learning and used to traditional texts, and also people who are new to the Passover seder or are coming from different worldviews and ideologies. . . .
This Tu BiShvat haggadah focuses on healing the wounded Earth today, with passages on major policy questions facing the human race in the midst of a great climate crisis and massive extinctions of species. In each of the Four Worlds in this Haggadah (Earth, Water, Air, Fire) there are traditional, mystical, and poetical passages, and in each there are also contemporary passages on aspects of public policy (Earth: food and forest; Water: fracking; Air: climate; Fire: alternative and renewable energy sources.) These policy-oriented passages help make this a distinctive Haggadah. After these passages, this Haggadah encourages Seder participants to take time for discussion. They may also decide to omit some passages and/or add others. The desire for such a Haggadah grew from discussions of the Green Hevra, a network of Jewish environmental organizations. Thanks to Judith Belasco, Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Sybil Sanchez, Rabbi David Seidenberg, Richard Schwartz, Rabbi David Shneyer, and Yoni Stadlin for comments on an earlier draft of this Haggadah. . . .
A tale is told of Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Joshua, Rabbi Elazar son of Azariah, Rabbi Akiva, and Rabbi Tarfon, who held a seder [lit: reclined] in Bnai Brak. They discussed the exodus from Egypt all that night, until their students came and said to them, “Rabbis, the time has come to recite the morning shema.” . . .
The storytelling portion of the Passover seder, part three (of four) of Gabriel Wasserman’s extensive haggadah for Passover. . . .
The feast of the Passover seder, part four (of four) of Gabriel Wasserman’s extensive haggadah for Passover. . . .
The beginning of the Passover seder, part two (of four) of Gabriel Wasserman’s extensive haggadah for Passover. . . .
Preparation for the Passover seder, part one (of four) of Gabriel Wasserman’s extensive haggadah for Passover. . . .
Ḥaza”l suggest that at this season in particular, we honor the spirits of our friends and teachers, the trees. On Rosh HaShanah La’Ilan, the New Year of The Tree, we connect with the spirits of those trees. According to Rabbi Tzvi Elimelekh of Dinov (B’nei Yissakhar):
On this day the saraf, the sap containing the Holy Sparks in those trees, begins its upward flow. That saraf contains a spiritual dimension, a ‘fire’ or ‘burning energy’, the sacred sparks that the fruits of the Holy Land contain in abundance. On this day, HaShem our Creator begins to place the first sacred sparks into the tree, from where the fruits of the coming year will emerge. Those sparks can ignite the reponsive soul with a burning desire to rise even higher and closer to HaShem.
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A haggadah shared by Michael Plotke that he made for his family many years ago based on the haggadah of the late Rebbe of ḤaBaD, R’ Menachem Mendel Schneerson. . . .
We are pleased to announce that the first copyleft licensed haggadot are coming online. First, our friends at Haggadot.com began sharing contributed content with the Creative Commons By Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC-BY) license. Today, Jewish Boston announced that their new haggadah, “The Wandering is Over Haggadah,” is free for download and free as in freedom — it’s being shared with a CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported license — so it’s adoptable, adaptable, and derivative works are freely redistributable so long as they correctly credit and attribute the original author and work, and are also licensed CC-BY-SA. . . .
Tu biShvat, the 15th of the month of Shevat, was designated by the Talmud as the New Year for the Trees. It was tax time for HaShem, a time of tithing for the poor. This tithing has its origin in the following Torah verse: “Every year, you shall set aside a tenth part of the yield, so that you may learn to revere your God forever.” The Kabbalists of 17th century Safed developed the model of tikkun olam that we embrace today — healing the world by gathering the scattered holy sparks. To encourage the Divine flow — shefa — and to effect Tikkun Olam, the Kabbalists of Safed (16th century) created a Tu biShvat seder loosely modeled after the Passover seder. In recent decades we have learned how the well being of trees is intimately connected to the well being of all creation. This relationship is clearly stated in the following Midrash: “If not for the trees, human life could not exist.” (Midrsh Sifre to Deut. 20:19) Today the stakes of environmental stewardship have become very high. Tu biShvat calls upon us to cry out against the enormity of destruction and degradation being inflicted upon God’s world. This degradation includes global warming, massive deforestation, the extinction of species, poisonous deposits of toxic chemicals and nuclear wastes, and exponential population growth. We are also deeply concerned that the poor suffer disproportionately from environmental degradation. Rabbi Abraham Heschel wrote: “[Human beings have] indeed become primarily tool-making animal[s], and the world is now a gigantic tool box for the satisfaction of [their] needs…” . . .
From the Pri Etz Hadar, the first ever published seder for Tu Bishvat, circa 17th century: “speech has the power to arouse the sefirot and to cause them to shine more wondrously with a very great light that sheds abundance, favor, blessing, and benefit throughout all the worlds. Consequently, before eating each fruit, it is proper to meditate on the mystery of its divine root, as found in the Zohar and, in some cases, in the tikkunim, in order to arouse their roots above.” . . .