Rabbi Lamm Reviews OU Hagaddah, The Seder Night, Based on the Rav

13 Mar 2009

What a marvelous volume this is! It makes the Rav, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik come alive as he makes the Seder come alive. On almost every page you will encounter nuggets of wisdom that will undoubtedly enhance your experience of the Passover Haggadah. Thanks to Rabbi Menachem Genack, one of the leading disciples of the Rav, and his colleagues, we have this glorious opportunity to transform an old and cherished but, for too many of us, unsurprising and repetitious annual ritual, into an adventure of the heart and mind, filled with novel halachic interpretations and spiritual elevation.

An example: Hasevah, the requirement to eat while leaning on the left side, is more than the adoption of a Roman sign of nobility. For the Rav, it is “the reverse of erect posture, which demonstrates obedience and submissiveness” by soldiers who stand erect and at attention, ready to obey. “Hasevah is indicative of disobedience, a courageous stand, of refusing to take orders, of rejecting the authority of man. Hasevah means defiance.”

Another of the Rav’s gems: The word Haggadah is not merely the name of the Passover booklet, or the commandment to repeat the story of slavery and redemption. The word Haggadah is similar to the term Haggadat Edut, the giving of evidence at a trial. In exercising this juridical function, the witness must give testimony based exclusively on his personal experience, not on hearsay. Thus the passage in the Seder that one must relate the story of exile and redemption “as if he [personally] experienced the Exodus from Egypt.”

In this volume the Rav both teaches and inspires. His intellectual creativity and his elegance of expression, his sophistication and the charm of his style, will make you enjoy this Pesach as an unforgettable experience.

Go out and buy this book at once!

Norman Lamm