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Posted on 03/29/2010 12:20:44 AM PDT by nickcarraway
A Closer Look at the Peculiar Preamble to the Passover Seder
It always helps to know what you're saying, especially if you want to get into the spirit of things. Most American Jews who attend a Passover Seder these days say the Haggadah in English, which makes sense if your Hebrew is rather limited. In ancient times, the common language, the lingua franca, in Israel and the surrounding countries was Aramaic. Nonetheless, the Haggadah was said in Hebrew, because most Jewish people understood it reasonably well even though they didn't speak it at home or on the street. And yet, the very first paragraph of the Haggadah, the preamble to the Seder, was said in Aramaic. Apparently, it was important that people understand it perfectly. So let's take a close look at it. What is so critical about it?
According to the ancient tradition, we hold up a piece of broken matzah, and we say, "This is the poor bread our ancestors ate in Egypt. All that are hungry may come and eat. All that are needy may step inside (veyifsach, Rashi, Ex. 12:11). Now we're slaves, next year we'll be free. Now we're here. Next year we'll be in the land of Israel."
What's going on here? Are we really issuing an invitation to the hungry and the indigent to come sit at our Seder table? Does it make sense to invite them after we've locked the door, turned the deadbolt and put the chain on for extra security? This doesn't seem like a very sincere invitation.
Let us imagine for a moment that a hundred years from now a Jewish father is telling his young children about the Holocaust. "It's important for you to know, kids," he says, "that about two hundred years ago the Nazis tried
(Excerpt) Read more at jewishworldreview.com ...
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