Haggadah is the book that is used during the Seder on Passover eve (outside of
Israel, we do Seders on the first two evenings of Passover, this year, April 10
and 11, 2017).
The word Haggadah meansIt guides participants through the ritual-rich Seder meal
“telling,” as its primary purpose is to facilitate the retelling the story of
the Exodus from Egypt. It also guides participants through the ritual-rich
Seder meal, indicating when and how each rite is performed.
Read: What is a Seder?
It is said that the
Haggadah is the most commonly printed Jewish book. Indeed, walk into your local
Judaica store, and you’ll be greeted by dozens of Haggadahs, each offering
unique commentary, illustrations and translations.
When picking a Haggadah, it
is advisable that you choose one that features Hebrew texts alongside an
accurate translation into the language of your choice. After all, its purpose
is to help you tell the story of the Exodus.
You will want to have a
Haggadah for every participant in your Seder so that everyone can follow along.
Print a Haggadah here
Purchase a Haggadah here
The Importance of Telling
The word “Haggadah” comes
from the word, “vehigaadato,” “And you shall tell,”
from the verse, “And you shall tell to your son on that day [the eve of
Passover], ‘It is because of what the L‑rd did for me when I went free from Egypt.’”
When the Jewish people were
redeemed from slavery, Moses commanded the nation to remember that day, as it
was the day G‑d took them out from the house of bondage and made them into a
free people. He then instructed the Jewish people to recount the events of this
day to their children, so that the story would be passed on from generation to
In the words
of the Talmud, “In every generation a person is obligated to view themselves as
if they personally left Egypt.”
In the Haggadah itself it says, “And even if we were all wise, all men of understanding, all elders, all
knowledgeable of the Torah, it would be incumbent upon us to speak of the Exodus
Learn Haggadah insights here
The core text of the
Haggadah is found in the book of Deuteronomy, in the
verses farmers would recite when thanking G‑d for taking their ancestors
out of Egypt and bringing them to the Promised Land.
The Haggadah also contains
the Hallel prayer, which contains selections from King David’s Psalms.
Many elements of the
Haggadah are found in the Mishnah, which was finalized in the first century.
The Talmud records a major disagreement between the sages Rav and Shmuel (approx. 230-250 CE) on how the Haggadah should
In practice, it has become common to include the texts recorded by both rabbis
in a formula that was crystallized by the late medieval period.
The Haggadah follows a
15-step procedure. (The entire text of the Haggadah can be seen here.)
Kadesh – Sanctify the holy day over a cup
Urchatz – Wash hands without reciting the
Karpas – Dip a small piece of a vegetable
in salt water.
Yachatz – Take the middle matzah and split
it in half, setting aside the larger half to be used as the afikoman.
Maggid – Recite the story of the Exodus in
Rachtzah – Wash hands for the matzah.
Motzi Matzah – Recite the blessing over the
matzah, and eat the required quantity of matzah.
Maror – Eat the bitter herbs after dipping them into charoset—a
sweet, sticky paste of nuts and fruits. (Click here to see delicious recipes for charoset.)
Korech – Eat a sandwitch of matzah and maror (again dipped in charoset).
Shulchan Orech – The meal begins.
Tzafun – The afikoman is now eaten.
Beirach – Birkat Hamazon, the Grace After
Meals, is now recited.
Hallel – Recite songs and praise to G‑d.
Nirtzah – The Seder is now concluded.
Read a step-by-step Seder guide here
The Haggadah is more than a
user’s guide throughout the Passover meal. It engages us in a dynamic experience,
giving us the sense that it is we who left Egypt. The Haggadah explores our history, starting
from the first Jew, Abraham, and leading us to the climactic Exodus from Egypt.
It educates us and challenges us, beginning with the Four
Questions, and continuing with The
On a deeper plane, it also
tells the story of the Jewish people throughout the ages—how we’ve sufferedThe Haggadah is our secret to survival
again and again, undergoing slavery and mass murder. But the Jewish spark
within us has not been extinguished. Like the Jews that defeated the Egyptians and
were redeemed from their rule, we too have been subjugated to persecution and
slaughter, but in the famous words of Mark Twain, “All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass,
but he remains.” The Haggadah is our secret to survival, reminding us where we
came from and who we are.