The Haggadah in Depth

Studying the Passover Haggadah

Study the Haggadah, the central text of the Passover Seder, line-by-line with explanations and commentary.

We Were Slaves in Egypt...
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 1
Understanding the answer to the Four Questions. If G-d would not have taken us out, would we really still be slaves in Egypt? This class begins from right after the child asks the Four Questions, and covers the paragraph “Avadim Hayinu” (We were slaves in Egypt).
Telling the Story of the Exodus
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 2
Understanding the Haggadah’s requirement to expound upon our exodus from Egypt, taking our cue from the five sages of Bnei Brak. This class covers the two paragraphs of “It happened that Rabbi Eliezer . . .” and “Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah said . . .”
Four Blessings for Four Sons
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 3
Understanding the biblical basis for the Four Sons, their place at the Seder and what they mean to us. This class covers the paragraphs discussing the Four Sons, beginning with the passage “Blessed is the Omnipresent One . . .”
Tracing Our Early Roots
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 4
When is the proper time to tell the story of the exodus from Egypt? And why do we preface it with the shameful beginnings of our people? This class covers three paragraphs that begin with “One may think . . . ,” “In the beginning our fathers served idols . . . ” and “And I took your father Abraham from beyond the river . . .”
G-d’s Promise to Our People
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 5
We praise G-d in the Haggadah for keeping His promise to redeem His people Israel. But, what is so impressive with the fact that G-d keeps his word? This class covers the paragraph that begins with the words “Blessed is He who keeps His promise”.
The Secret of Jewish Survival
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 6
We read in the haggadah that despite how in every generation they attempt to destroy us, G-d saves us. Why is it so important to focus on this at the Seder? This class covers the paragraph that begins with the words “This is what has stood by our fathers and us”.
Saved from Laban. Persecuted by Pharoah!
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 7
We read in the haggadah, prior to describing Jacob’s decent into Egypt, that earlier Laban wanted to destroy him. Why do we digress from the exodus narrative at this point? Moreover, it seems to diminish from the emphasis on Pharos’s evil? This class covers the paragraphs that begins with the words “Go forth and learn what Laban the Aramean wanted to do” and "And he went down to Egypt”.
Our Miraculous Population Explosion!
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 8
In telling the story of the Jews sinking into slavery and deprivation in Egypt, we preface in the Haggadah how in the beginning, despite all odds, we prospered and experienced tremendous growth. This class covers the paragraphs that beginss "Few in number…" till the passage of "And numerous…,"
The Egyptian Persecution
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 9
We read in the Haggadah how Pharaoh cleverly plotted to persecute and afflict the Jewish people, which paved the way for all the atrocities of their enslavement. This class covers the passages beginning with words "The Egyptians treated us badly and they made us suffer, and they put hard work upon us."
We Cried Out to Heaven
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 10
In this class we take a closer look at the passage in the Haggadah: "And we cried out to the L-rd, the G-d of our fathers… And the L-rd heard our voice…"
And G-d Saw Our Suffering, Toil and Oppression
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 11
This careful analysis of Scriptural references to the Egyptian bondage that elicited a divine response gives us a new understanding of not only the physically backbreaking and painful slavery, but rather how the Pharaoh and his henchmen terrorized us psychologically, emotionally and spiritually in order to bring about his final solution!
Who Took the Jews Out?!
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 12
This class explores the cryptic section of the Haggadah that places great emphasis on G-d “Himself” taking us out of Egypt. You’ll discover why it was so important to remove the participation of any mediums from the actual redemption process, and garner newfound understanding and appreciation of why this had to be left in the ‘hands’ of the Creator alone. Finally you will learn the meaning behind the Haggadah’s mystifying triplicate terminology, and even see how the preclusion of “heavenly messengers” demands an imitation for the Jewish Nation in our modern day and age!
The Essence of Exodus
Video | 1:04:16
The Essence of Exodus
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 13
The Haggadah continues to analyze Scripture’s strange synopsis of our Egyptian Exodus as recounted in Deuteronomy. This class presents a profound understanding of the Haggadah’s narrative as we discover how the entire redemptive schematic is incorporated into a single sentence. Learn the secret meanings behind the deceptively simple euphemisms of G-d’s “strong arm”, the raising of a “sword”, “revelation, signs and wonders”, culminating in “blood, fire and smoke” and spilled wine.
Spilling Wine, Precisely on Time!
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 14
This inspiring Haggadah class introduces you to the unusual custom of wasted wine intentionally spilled from your cup when mentioning the proverbial Ten Plagues. Discover the different reasons for, and the methods of this strange spillage (learn why wasting good wine, can actually be a good idea?!), and finally see why everybody would be best off “Going Kabbalistic” at this juncture in the Seder!
Abbreviated Afflictions
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 15
This careful and insightful study of the Haggadah’s inclusion of seemingly insignificant plague mnemonics is a real eye-opener. See how the mundane-looking unique restatement of the proverbial 10 plagues in abbreviation form contain incredibly profound messages; not only in their code syntax, but even in the strange words they end up forming.
Plague Ratio’s Recap
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 16
Following the ten plagues’ individualized enumeration and its accompanying mnemonic, the Haggadah narrative now turns to exegetic teachings of our Sages – introducing a 1 to 5 plague ratio principal. Rabbi Yosi invokes a divine “finger” versus “hand” analysis of descriptive biblical terminology about the plagues which befell Egypt in comparison to the overwhelming firepower directed against them at the Red Sea. This class sheds light on a challenging concept, clarifying a complex and easily misunderstood Torah teaching.
Penetrating the Plagues
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 17
Featuring an in-depth review and multi-levelled clarification of the Sages seemingly disparate subdivision of the proverbial 10 Plagues in Egypt; and the full impact of the crushing Makot that struck our abusive Egyptian slave-masters. This incisive lecture concludes with a penetrating analysis of the truest meaning of plagues subdivided into 4 or 5 unique categories.
Introducing Dayeinu: Levels of G-d’s Kindness
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 18
Following the recap and analysis of the plagues, a multi-layered enumeration of the many favors the Almighty bestowed upon us is presented. We are now introduced to the iconic Seder song-of-praise "Dayeinu", with it’s the famous refrain “it would have sufficed us.” Subjects covered in this introductory teaching about the cherished Passover hymn include: its mysterious origins, unusual verbiage, historic allusions, deeper meanings and even the numerology of the grateful recounting of the “beyond-the-required” favors Hashem bestowed, and the Jewish journey it represents!
The Dayeinu Hymn: Divine Favors or Level Best?
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 19
This in-depth analysis of the varying levels of the many favors the Al-Mighty preformed for us at the time our nascent nation rose out of the bowels of another, opens with overarching insight about the well-known Haggadah hymn “Dayeinu, it would have sufficed us.” We move on to focus on the specifics: the opening iterations of G-d’s goodness, which seem to be enumerated out-of-order. The quest for clarity leads us into a deeply moving message about the essence of our Jewish faith, and the eternal relevance of Exodus in a dynamic and vibrant fashion!
Dayeinu: The Gratitude Attitude
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 20
We continue our attempt to decode dayainu and unlock the rhyme and reason of the rising scales that enumerate G-d’s favors. The focus is the second set of poetic verses, corresponding to our metamorphosing into a miraculous nation that consistently defies nature and statistics. A pattern of a gradually heightening awareness of Divine design in every aspect of our existence is also uncovered. Particular attention is lavished on G-d not only splitting the Red Sea, but also miraculously drying the ocean-bed, effectively sparing us a muddy walk. Yet, in the grander scheme of things, is that really such a big deal? The multiple answers proffered climax in a remarkably enlightening lesson.
Dayeinu: Would It Really Have Been Enough?
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 21
This fourth and final class on Dayainu, elucidates the concluding stanzas of enumerated kindness; designed to inspire reciprocal love and loyalty towards Hashem. But would it really have sufficed if G-d had merely brought us to Mount Sinai, and not given us the Torah?! Numerous explanations are explored and we peel away the layers to reveal the fuller picture of Divine goodness. We also address the curious notion of including events centuries beyond our leaving Egypt as part of the official Passover Seder exodus narrative in a profoundly insightful fashion. When it’s all said and done, you’ll certainly sing this Haggadah hymn with fresh fervor and passion!
Haggadah Essentials: Stating the Case, Tellingly
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 22
The framework to effectively convey our ancestors’ Egyptian exile narrative has already been mapped out. Now, our Seder Handbook introduces us to a critical component of the parental duty to recount our saga of national liberation; verbalizing the motifs behind Passover’s iconic items. This foundational class introduces and explores the origins, scope, rationale and purposes of this mandated articulation about these proverbial Pesach holiday essentials.
Haggadah Essentials: Passover’s 3D Plan
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 23
To fully appreciate R’ Gamliel’s Passover principles, his teachings must be seen as focal points of the Seder narrative – and by extension the fulfilment of Torah Judaism itself. Ultimately, the three types of foods may also be viewed as a sort of recommended scale of spiritual nutrition. The question of which historical Rabban Gamliel this might be is carefully considered. Next, we pass over to the subject of the Paschal Offering itself; the origin of its actual name serves to illuminate its true essence and the sustaining message we are expected to digest.
Haggadah Essentials: Passover’s Paschal Pre-eminence
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 24
Having established a solid understanding of Passover’s primary principles, we begin to analyze the first of the three, the Paschal Offering. Our initial point of departure demonstrates that we refer here not to actual consumption of roasted lamb, but rather to a broad overarching theme. Appropriately we embark on a discovery what this unique offering means. By carefully analyzing the specific verses in which Scripture unambiguously articulates the message, we are led towards a profound new understanding of the Korban Pesach and ultimately the holiday itself.
Haggadah Essentials: The Meaning of Matzah
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 25
Having appropriately clarified the messages contained in the proverbial Paschal offering, we now move on to the second of Passover’s primary principles: Matzah. After a brief telling introduction (including details of actual customs), we are lead into a deeply insightful seminal and even counterintuitive understanding of this holidays unique unleavened wafers. A wide range of sources are kneaded together to incorporate multiple layers of mutually complementary meanings, all miraculously rolled into one in the Matzah’s thin crust!
Haggadah Essentials: A Bitter Taste of Freedom
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 26
Of the three Seder essentials, the third element is Marror—the bitter herbs. Why is Maror, which is reminiscent of the bitter suffering of our ancestors, part of the Passover freedom experience?
A Bitter Taste of Freedom Revisited
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 27
Everything on Passover night is about freedom, yet Maror symbolizes the intense bitterness of exile. Discover how this bitterness complements the feeling of redemption.
The Sound of Freedom
Video | 1:16:04
The Sound of Freedom
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 28
In pursuit of personalizing Exodus—grasping the generational obligation and phenomenon of experiencing inner freedom!
Raise Your Glass
Video | 52:04
Raise Your Glass
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 29
The case for raising a glass of wine to sing Hashem’s praises, while preserving dignity to express thanksgiving. How we “save” bread from shame as we “uplift” a cup of joyous blessings!
Call of Duty
Video | 1:04:55
Call of Duty
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 30
Understanding and faithfully discharging our obligations to thanks, praise, extol, glorify, exalt, honor, bless, ennoble and acclaim G-d!
Songs of Redemption
Video | 1:13:00
Songs of Redemption
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 31
A discovery of a songful chant entirely unlike any other, with unique posture, practice and packaging!
Song of Freedom
Video | 1:15:10
Song of Freedom
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 32
The Hallel as found in the Haggadah: Explore how & why it's uniquely Jewish, yet labeled an Egyptian song of praise. Retreat of a Pharaoh and exchanging masters. Fresh definitions of slavery. Right to sing. A global perspective: sunrise to sunset.
Raised From Dust
Video | 1:24:10
Raised From Dust
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 33
The Hallel as an Exodus narrative: beyond transcendence. How G-d uplifted the downtrodden, and granted offspring to the infertile, and why that is relevant for us!
Out of Egypt
Video | 1:12:38
Out of Egypt
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 34
Hallel as Exodus narrative continued: Of foreign tongues and holy nations. The making of a divine dominion and the royal coffin that caused the sea to flee!
Moving Mountains
Video | 1:24:43
Moving Mountains
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 35
How in heaven does recalling earth’s topography of shaking like a “flock of sheep” serve to inspire and stimulate our spirituality, and what does it even mean?!
Blood of Redemption
Video | 1:33:51
Blood of Redemption
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 36
This detailed analysis of the Seder night’s formal “Blessing of Redemption” that concludes the section of Maggid (telling the story of the Exodus) traces its origins, clarifies its basic meaning, and goes on to decode layers of its deeper messaging. You'll also discover why the "Blessing on Miracles" recited on this night of Pesach is different.
Knight of Cups
Video | 1:28:10
Knight of Cups
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 37
The precise order of the Seder night’s formal rituals convey much about the mechanism of the holiday conventions. An interesting example of this is the fact that the Seder's telling part (Maggid) ends with a cup of wine, and the edible part begins with a cup of water for handwashing. Discover why, and find insight into the unique nature of these unique Passover observances.
Matzah Time: Blessings
Video | 1:06:52
Matzah Time: Blessings
The Haggadah in Depth, Part 38
This class focuses on "Motzi", step seven of fifteen that comprise the Pesach Seder's order. Featuring analysis of the blessing prior to eating Matzah. In addition to learning all about the precise order of the Brachot we recite, we also investigate the blessing that seems to be missing! We will discover just how instructive the formal instructions can be, as we highlight its subtleties!
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