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☞   Leil Pesaḥ

This is an archive of prayers, songs, and other individual works relevant to the first night(s) of Pesaḥ (Passover).

Click here to contribute a work or a transcription and translation of a historical work that you have prepared for Pesaḥ.


Looking for something else?

For a list of Haggadot for the Seder Pesaḥ, go here.

For an archive of prayers, song, and other supplemental material specific to each course of the Seder Pesaḥ, go here:

סֵדֶר סְפִירַת הָעֹמֶר | the Order of Counting the Omer in the Spring

Each day between the beginning of Passover and Shavuot gets counted, 49 days in all, 7 weeks of seven days. That makes the omer period a miniature version of the Shmitta and Yovel (Jubilee) cycle of 7 cycles of seven years. Just as that cycle is one of resetting society’s clock to align ourselves with freedom and with the needs of the land, this cycle too is a chance to align ourselves with the rhythms of spring and the spiritual freedom represented by the Torah. . . .

הָא לַחְמָא עַנְיָא | Ieste el pan de la afrisiyon | Ha laḥ’ma anya (This is the Bread of Oppression): the opening of Magid in a Ladino translation

This is Ha Laḥma Anya in Aramaic with translations in Ladino and English, from the Passover Seder Haggadah of Rabbi Emily Aviva Kapor-Mater, Haggadah Shir Geulah (2015, v.2.1/2016). . . .

וּתְקוֹל | U-tqol of Djerba — a Midrashic Addition to the Haggadah relating the story of Avraham & Nimrod’s Furnace in Judeo-Tunisian Arabic

The ancient Jewish community of Djerba, an island off the coast of southern Tunisia, has many unique customs and practices. Among them is that during the Maggid, after the citation of Joshua 24:2-4 and before the paragraph beginning “Praise the One who keep faith with the people Israel,” an extensive work in Judeo-Tunisian Arabic is recited, telling the well-known story of Abraham’s realization of divine unity and his ordeal in the oven of fire. Here is a transcript of that text, vocalized according to the original manuscripts, transcribed, and translated into English and modern Hebrew. . . .

כוונה לסדר פסח | A Kavvanah for Human Rights for the Passover Seder, from T’ruah

We are hereby ready to fulfill our obligation of K’vod Habriot, respect for the dignity of every human being. We pray that our fellow citizens shall not be the source of suffering in others. We commit ourselves to raise our voices in support of universal human rights, to know the heart of the stranger, and to feel compassion for those whose humanity is denied. May our compassion lead us to fight for justice. Blessed is the Source of Life, who redeemed our ancestors from Egypt and brought us together this night of Passover to tell the story of freedom. May God bring us security and peace, enabling us to celebrate together year after year. Praised are you, Source of Righteousness, who redeems the world and loves justice and freedom. . . .

אָז רוֹב נִסִּים | Az Rov Nissim, a piyyut by Yanai for the first night of Pesaḥ in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

The piyyut, Omets G’vurotekha by Elazar ha-Qalir, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel. . . .

אוֹמֶץ גְּבוּרוֹתֶיךָ | Omets G’vuratekha, a piyyut by Eleazar ben Qalir for the second night of Pesaḥ in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

The piyyut, Omets G’vurotekha by Elazar ha-Qalir, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel. . . .

Ḥaroset, the Seder’s Innermost Secret: Earth & Eros in the Celebration of Pesaḥ, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

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. . . .

כּוֹס לְמִרְיָם | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Miriam’s Cup of Water

Rabbi Yosi son of Rabbi Yehuda says: “Three good sustainers arose for Israel. These are they: Moses and Aaron and Miriam. And three good gifts were given because of them, and these are they: well, and cloud, and manna. The well was given in merit of Miriam… Miriam died and the well ceased, as it is written (Numbers 20:1-2) “And Miriam died there,” and it says right afterwards “and there was no water for the community.” . . .

קְלִפּוֹת לֶפֶת | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Turnip peels, after the Holocaust remembrance of Pearl Benisch

Pearl Benisch… remembers Passover in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in the spring of 1945, just days before her liberation. . . .

פִּלְחֵי תָפּוּ״ז | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Orange segments, after the teaching of Susanna Heschel

In the early 1980s, while speaking at Oberlin College Hillel, Susannah Heschel was introduced to an early feminist haggadah that suggested adding a crust of bread on the seder plate, as a sign of solidarity with Jewish lesbians (suggesting that there’s as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the seder plate). Heschel felt that to put bread on the seder plate would be to accept that Jewish lesbians and gay men violate Judaism like ḥamets violates Passover. So, at her next seder, she chose an orange as a symbol of inclusion of gays and lesbians and others who are marginalized within the Jewish community. She offered the orange as a symbol of the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life. . . .

סִילְקָא דְּרָב הוּנָא | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Beets, after the rabbinic teaching of Rav Huna (ca. 3rd c.)

The color of beets, which never leaves our hands, symbolizes the teachings of the sages, which are still passed down. And the redness symbolizes the blood of the covenant, still there after all these years. . . .

A Guided Meditation for Pesaḥ, by Rabbi Daniel Raphael Silverstein

A meditation which can be used to prepare for Pesaḥ, or for sharing at the Seder, to deepen the experience of liberation for yourself and others. . . .

הארבה כוסות ואת הארבה חופשות | The Four Cups of Wine and the Four Freedoms, by Dr. Aurora Mendelsohn and President Franklin R. Roosevelt

Traditionally each cup in the Passover Seder is liked to a promise made by God in these verses, Exodus 6:6-7. The four cups can also be associated with the Four Freedoms first articulated by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941, which were an inspiration for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and were explicitly incorporated into its preamble. . . .

הַכָּרָת רִבּוֹנוּת הָאָרֶץ | Indigenous Land Acknowledgement for Toronto, by Aurora Mendelsohn (2020)

An acknowledgement that the land we are conducting our religious ceremonies on is the sacred and traditional land of Indigenous people. It involves a kavvanah and study verses as well as the land acknowledgement. . . .

Our Liberation Will Not Be Live-streamed, by Rabbi Raysh Weiss (2020)

Modeled after Gil Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not be Televised,” written for Passover during the pandemic (April 2020). . . .

A HaLakhma Anya Passover Seder Supplement for the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic (Our Common Destiny 2020)

A Passover supplement created for recitation at Passover seders in the context of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. . . .

Mah Nishtanah: what needs to change, a seder supplement to the Four Questions by Kohenet Ilana Joy Streit

A playful, powerful, passionate reading for Passover seder or any time. Can be chanted to the traditional Ashkenazi lilt for the Four Questions. . . .

מַא כְׄבַּר הַדִׄה | Ma Khəbar Hādhih, a Yemenite Judeo-Arabic Elaboration on the Four Questions

In Yemenite practice, directly after the four questions are recited the youngest literate person at the table reads a brief Judeo-Arabic passage, here transcribed per the Yemenite transliteration system (wherein gimel dagesh = j and qof = g) and translated into Arabic and Hebrew. Instructional notes say this passage is “for the benefit of women and toddlers,” the two main classes of people who would have not had access to Hebrew education at the time. . . .

תרומה הבדילנו | T’rumah Hivdilanu (A Gift Distinguished Us) — A Poetic Ḳiddush for the Pesaḥ Seder, according to two of its nusḥaot (ca. 9th c.)

Rav Saadia Gaon lists three additions to the Seder Pesaḥ which he considers not necessary, but acceptable. This is the first, a poetic version of the Kiddush. Interestingly enough, it is still recited in many Yemenite communities, which are in general less likely to incorporate poetic sections to their liturgy. Here it is recorded and translated into English according to two nusḥaot — that recorded in the siddur of Rav Saadia (marked in blue), and that recorded in modern Yemenite texts (marked in red). In cases where only the spelling differs rather than the meaning, the editor generally went with Rav Saadia as the older variant. . . .

אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵֽינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה | “Said our Sages of Blessed Memory” — a Midrashic Addition to the Extrapolation of the First Fruits

In many eastern communities, including the communities of Aleppo and Yemen as well as the haggadah of Ḥakham Ovadia Yosef, this text is added to the extrapolation of the First Fruits declaration found in the Pesaḥ Maggid. Specifically, it is found after the citation of Exodus 12:12, specifically within or after the passage concluding “…who is Me and there is no other.” . . .

דַּיֵּנוּ | Daiyenu, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

The piyyut, Dayenu, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel. . . .

כְּרֵשׁוֹת | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Leeks

An old Persian tradition involves hitting each other with leeks during the recitation of Dayenu. Nowadays this is replaced with a gentle tap with a scallion for safety reasons. . . .

נִשְׁמַת כָּל חַי (ספרד)‏ | Nishmat Kol Ḥai, arranged by Aharon Varady

The text of the prayer Nishmat Kol Ḥai in Hebrew with English translation. . . .

נִשְׁמַת כָּל חַי | Nishmat Kol Ḥai, interpretive translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

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נִשְׁמַת כָּל חַי | Nishmat Kol Ḥai, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

The text of the prayer Nishmat Kol Ḥai in Hebrew with a Latin translation . . .

הָאֵל בְּתַעֲצֻמוֹת עֻזֶּךָ | ha-El b’Taatsumōt Uzekha, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

The text of the short prayer ha-El b’Taatsumōt Uzekha in Hebrew with a Latin translation. . . .

שׁוֹכֵן עַד | Shokhen Âd, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

The text of the short prayer Shokhen Ad in Hebrew with a Latin translation. . . .

וּבְמַקְהֲלוֹת | uv’Maqhalōt, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

The text of the short prayer uv’Maqhalōt in Hebrew with a Latin translation. . . .

Prayer for Israelites Lost in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, by Sholomo ben Levy

A prayer for the Passover seder recognizing the enslavement and estrangement of Jews and Israelites of African descent with hope for their ingathering. . . .

יִשְׁתַּבַּח שִׁמְךָ | Yishtabaḥ Shimkha, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

The text of the prayer Yishtabaḥ Shimkha, in Hebrew with a Latin translation . . .

הַגָּדַת “וַיְבִאֵנוּ אֶל הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה”‏ | “And Hashem Brought Us to This Place,” a Magid supplement for Those Living in Erets Yisrael

According to Mishnah Pesaḥim 10:4, “One expounds (doresh) from ‘A wandering Aramean was my father’ (Deuteronomy 26:5) until he finishes the whole story.” This supplement to Maggid, the verse Deuteronomy 26:9 and its midrash, fulfills the obligation. The verse and its midrash fit into the Passover Haggadah after the ten plagues and the midrash on them, right before the song Dayyenu. . . .

אֱמוּנִים עִרְכוּ שֶֽׁבַח | Emunim ʿIrkhu Shevaḥ — a Poetic Addition to Rabban Gamliel’s List

Emunim ʿIrkhu Shevaḥ is a brief piyyut recited in North African communities in Rabban Gamliel’s list, between Pesaḥ and Maror. It spells out “Aaron the Priest” as an alphabetical acrostic, but it is uncertain whether this is an authorial signature or a mystical reference to the Biblical figure. . . .

בִּסְעוּדָה הַזּוֹ | At this meal!, a piyyut for the Passover seder translated by Rabbi Jonah Rank

A litany of mythical guests and creatures presenting at the Passover seder. . . .

דָּג לְמִרְיָם | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Miriam’s Fish, recorded by Rav Sherira Gaon in 10th-century Iraq

A millennium-old tradition, recorded by Rav Sherira Gaon in 10th-century Iraq. He would always have three cooked foods on the seder plate. The egg, a product of the birds of the sky, a sign of renewal and rebirth, represented Moses, the law, the heavens, and the revelational aspects of faith. The shankbone, a product of the animals of the field, a commemoration of the original Pesaḥ sacrifice, represented Aaron, the priesthood, the earth, and the ritual aspects of faith. And the fish, representing the constant flowing nature of water, represented Miriam, prophecy, the waters, and the spiritual aspects of faith. . . .

אַתָּה ה׳, מָגֵן בַּעֲדִי | Attah Adonai Magen Ba’adi, a piyyut by R’ Fradji Shawat (late 16th c.)

A (kosher-for-Passover) prayer for redemption from exile. . . .

שתי כוסות, לאליהו ומרים | Two Cups: Elijah and Miriam, a kavvanah and a prayer by Trisha Arlin

We lift Miriam’s cup, Dancing prophet celebrating the world that is now. And we tell God we are grateful For the water from the earth that was Miriam’s gift, Welcome necessity, On God’s behalf. Miriam announces joy! And teaches us to save ourselves. Miriam, the bringer of mercy, There’s no prayer for her in the haggadah— So make one up! . . .

הקול קטן של אליהו הנביא | A reflection on despair and suicide awareness to be read upon opening the door for Elijah at the Passover seder

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. . . .

אַדִּיר בִּמְלוּכָה | Adir Bimlukhah, a Latin translation of the piyyut by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

The text of the popular piyyut “Adir Bimlukhah” (a/k/a “Ki lo na’eh”) in Hebrew, with a Latin translation. . . .

בּױגעזאנג | Baugesang (Building Song): an alphabetical Yiddish adaptation of the piyyut Adir Hu (1769)

This Western Yiddish alphabetical adaptation of Adir Hu is first found in the 1769 Selig Haggadah, under the name of “Baugesang” (meaning Building Song). It grew to be a beloved part of the Western Ashkenazi rite, to the point where the traditional German Jewish greeting after the Seder was “Bau gut,” or “build well!” . . .

אַדִּיר הוּא | Adir Hu, the acrostic piyyut in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

The alphabetic acrostic piyyut, Adir Hu, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel as found in his translation of the Pesaḥ seder haggadah, Liber Rituum Paschalium (1644). . . .

אדיר הוא | Awesome One: an Alphabetical English Interpretation of the piyyut Adir Hu, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Adir Hu, a classic Pesaḥ song if ever there was one, is a part of Seder tables all over the planet. Its alphabetical list of God’s attributes, combined with its repeated pleas for a return to Jerusalem, make it a classic, to the point where the traditional German farewell greeting for Passover was not “chag sameach” or “gut yontef” but “bau gut” – build well. This interpretation, while not a direct translation by any means, has the same rhythmic pattern and alphabetical structure, giving a sense of the greatness of God. . . .

חַד גַּדְיָא | Ḥad Gadya in Aramaic and Yiddish (Prague Haggadah, ca. 1526)

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 . . .

און קאבﬞריטיקו | Un Kavritiko :: a Judezmo (Ladino) Translation of Ḥad Gadya

A Judezmo/Ladino translation of the popular Passover song, Ḥad Gadya. . . .

יַאן יִכְּרוּ | Yan ikru :: a Judeo-Berber Translation of Ḥad Gadya

A Judeo-Berber translation of the popular Passover song, Ḥad Gadya. . . .

ואחד גׄדי | Waaḥid Jady :: a Judeo-Arabic Translation of Ḥad Gadya

A Judeo-Arabic translation of the popular Passover song, Ḥad Gadya. . . .

ואחד ג’די | أغنية لعيد الفصح اليهودي | Waaḥid Jady :: Ḥad Gadya in Arabic translation (Syrian Damascus variation)

An Arabic translation of Ḥad Gadya in its Syrian Jewish Damascus variation. . . .

חַד גַּדְיָא | Ḥad Gadya, a Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

A Latin translation of the popular Passover song, Ḥad Gadya. . . .

בִּיר אוּלָק | Бир Улакъ | Bir Ulaq :: a Qrımçah tılyı (Krymchak) translation of Ḥad Gadya by Rabbi Nisim haLevy Tsahtsir (1904)

A Judeo-Tajik translation of the popular Passover song, Ḥad Gadya. . . .

יַכֵּי בּוּזְגָאלַה | Йаке бузғола | Yake Buzghola :: a Judeo-Tajik Translation of Ḥad Gadya, by Rabbi Shimon ben Eliyahu Hakham (1904)

A Judeo-Tajik translation of the popular Passover song, Ḥad Gadya. . . .

אֶחָד מִי יוֹדֵעַ | Eḥad Mi Yode’a, a Latin translation of the counting song by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

The text of the popular counting song “Who Knows One?” in its original Hebrew, with a translation in Latin. . . .

אֶחָד מִי יוֹדֵעַ | Eḥad Mi Yode’a :: Who Knows One?, a counting song in Hebrew and Yiddish (Prague Haggadah, 1526)

The text of the popular Passover song “Who Knows One?” in its original Hebrew and Yiddish, with a translation in English. . . .

חַד מָה יוּדָא | Ḥad Mah Yuda :: Who Knows One?, a counting-song in Aramaic translation

The text of the popular Passover song “Who Knows One?” in Hebrew set side-by-side with an Aramaic translation. . . .

קָפֶה בֵּית מַכְּסְוֶיל | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Maxwell House coffee

Why is this coffee different from all other coffees? Because Maxwell House coffee is a deeply spiritual representation of the Diaspora experience. . . .

אתה גאלת | Atah Ga’alta (You Redeemed Our Ancestors), a Poetic Rendition of the Blessing of Redemption in the Pesaḥ Seder (ca. 9th c.)

Rav Saadia Gaon lists three additions to the Seder Pesaḥ which he considers not necessary, but acceptable. This is the third, a poetic insert of the blessing of redemption known as Ata Ga’alta. In the form of an alphabetical acrostic, this poem is still recited in many eastern communities including the Babylonians, Persians, and Yemenites, and was a feature of the the old Kaifeng rite. Here it is recorded and translated into English according to the nusaḥ of Saadia Gaon, with notes in several locations for additional phrases used in some customs. . . .