07 Jun 2006

The text, dating from Talmudic times of the “Seder” Ceremony, celebrated on the first night (and outside of “Eretz Yisrael” also on the second night) of “Pesach.” Literally, it means the “telling.” The central focus of what is being told is the story of the Exodus of the Jewish People from “Mitzraim,” the “House of Bondage.” But in truth, all of Jewish History is being retold. The “story” follows a trend, or a pattern, “from the negative to the positive.” But there are two opinions among the Sages as to the meaning of that trend as played out in Jewish History. They are, according to one opinion, “from slavery to freedom;” according to the other, “from idol-worship to Worship of the One G-d.” Both opinions are embedded in the “Haggadah,” as the history of the Jewish People and its unique relationship with HaShem is retold.

The “Haggadah” is divided into fifteen parts, corresponding to the fifteen parts of the evening’s ceremony. These include reference to the Commands of eating “Matzah” and “Marror,” enjoying the Festive Meal [referred to as the “Shulchan Aruch,” the “Set Table”] and the recitation of the “Hallel,” the Prayer of Thanksgiving, composed of a selection from the Psalms of David. In the “Haggadah” and at the “Seder,” the “Hallel” is divided into two parts, one recited before the Meal, to express Gratitude to HaShem for the Salvation from Egypt, and the second, recited after the Meal, to express Gratitude in advance, so to speak, to HaShem, for the anticipated Redemption of the Future.

After the recitation of the second part of “Hallel,” the “Nirtzah” (Accepted) Prayer is recited, expressing Gratitude for the Acceptance of our Prayers by HaShem. Outside of the Land of Israel, this Prayer is concluded by the resolution, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

The last part of the “Haggadah” contains the unofficial text of the Pesach Seder, additional songs of joy and gratitude to HaShem. The final song, the “Chad Gadya,” pictures the Jewish People as a little lamb, in the long context of Jewish and World History, until the Holy One, Blessed is He, appears at the end of historical time, to destroy the Angel of Death, and usher in the “World-to-Come.”