The Passover haggadah enjoys an unrivaled place in Jewish culture, both religious and secular. And of all the classic Jewish books, the Haggadah is the one most "alive" today. Jews continue to rewrite, revise, and add to its text, recasting it so that it remains relevant to their lives.
In this volume in the JPS Commentary collection, Joseph Tabory, one of the world's leading authorities on the history of the Haggadah, traces the development of the Seder and the Haggadah through the ages.
The book features an extended introduction by Tabory, the classic Hebrew Haggadah text side by side with its English translation, and Tabory's clear and insightful critical-historical commentary.
“The Passover eve ceremony, commonly known as the seder, is probably the most universally celebrated Jewish ritual. It is the founding ceremony of the Jewish people, a ceremony based on the centrality of the family as the basic Jewish institution. It is also a celebration of freedom of person and of nation.” (Page xv)
“The texts of the second cup, which embodies the story of the Exodus, and those of the fourth cup, Hallel or songs, are unique to this evening.” (Page 7)
“it instructs its reader, the participant in the seder, ‘to see him or herself as though they had gone out of Egypt.’” (Page xi)
“The earliest sources that help us understand the modern seder are those found in talmudic literature. Although these sources were created during the period that stretched from sometime before the destruction of the Second Temple until the beginning of the sixth century, they were apparently not written down until the eighth century.” (Page 1)
“Questions are asked twice during the seder: the four questions at the beginning and thirteen questions at the end (Ehad Mi Yode‘a). There are two litanies in the haggadah: the Dayenu before the meal and hodu after the meal.” (Page 16)
This is a significant and valuable work that, in examining the Haggadah from an historical perspective, offers insight into Jewish history as well.
—Chicago Jewish Star
Joseph Tabory is a professor of Talmud at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. He is also an ordained Orthodox rabbi. He received his Ph.D. from Bar-Ilan University in 1978. He has written many articles and is the author of two major volumes in Hebrew, one on the history of Jewish festivals (The Passover Haggadah, upon which the JPS Commentary on the Haggadah is based) and one on the history of the Passover Seder.
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