Nusach Ari Haggadah

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chassidut and first Rebbe of the Lubavitch dynasty, also known as the Alter Rebbe, published many sefarim which earned him much acclaim for his erudition in all parts of the revealed and esoteric teachings of Torah. Among his universally popular works are the Tanya and Shulchan Aruch. In addition, in 1803 he published a Siddur which became known as the Nusach Ari Siddur.

There were numerous editions of Nusach Ari Siddurim prior to his, but this one differed in that while others emphasized the Lurianic kavanot — meditations — and were intended solely for Kabbalistic scholars, his was geared to serve as a prayer book for laymen who were not well-versed in the Kabbalah teachings. The text was developed after a careful review of sixty other Siddurim and he edited it to make it consistently conform to the Lurianic Kabbalah as well as Talmudic and halachic rulings concerning the prayers. (For the advantages and superiority of Nusach Ari over other forms of liturgy, see Introduction to Sha’ar Hakolel, Rabbi Avraham Lavut; Responsa Maharashdam, Orach Chaim; Minchat Elozer vol. 1, #2; Chatam Sofer, vol. 1, #15; Divrei Chaim vol. 2, #8.)

In the Siddur he also included theHaggadah together with relevant instructions of the procedure to follow in conducting the Seder.

In 1946 the Haggadah was published separately with a comprehensive commentary by the Rebbe. It was received with much praise by Torah scholars throughout the world and many, then for the first time, had a chance to recognize his illustrious genius. In addition to the profoundly scholarly notes, he included Chabad customs in general, and the tradition observed by the Rabbeim of Chabad (Minhag Beit Harav) in particular.

To retain the completeness of the Alter Rebbe’s work, the Hebrew part of the Haggadah was reprinted exactly as it appeared in the original form. However, in the English section, there are elaborations on halachah, custom, and particularly the prevailing Lubavitch custom.

About The Translation

The Haggadah is a compilation of passages related to the Exodus, explanations offered by the Sages of the Talmud to Biblical verses, Psalms, passages from the Shabbat morning prayers, and various berachot — blessings.

All of these were written originally in Lashon Hakodesh — the Holy Language — which is a beautiful and multi-faceted language. Commentaries often offer many interpretations for the same word, some of which appear to be mutually contradictory. Nevertheless, all the interpretations are true, and the great number of interpretations gives us an insight into the profundity and deep thinking of the author of a particular piece.

Indeed, our Sages state that there are “70 countenances to Torah” (Zohar 1:47b), which means the Torah can be interpreted and elucidated in 70 different ways, and all are correct and part of Hashem’s wisdom.

Unfortunately, regardless of which language Torah is translated into, it is impossible really to bring out the grandeur and varied nuances of the original text. The most one can achieve in a translation is to assist the reader to a superficial comprehension of the text as it is explained by one of the many commentaries.

For this reason, it is strongly recommended that one use the translation only as a means to gain insight but not for actual prayer.

* * *

In contemporary times we are witness to a tremendous awakening. Many of our brethren are expressing an interest in Yiddishkeit and returning to the authentic Torah way of life. Their limited knowledge, or at times complete illiteracy of Hebrew, compels them to pray in the language of their native tongue.

To accommodate this need, I have endeavored to offer them an accurate and clear text, which hopefully they will find comprehendible and accessible. I am indebted to Sichos In English for granting me access to the translation of the Haggadah which was made for their Haggadah, “At our Rebbe’s Seder Table” by Rabbi Eli Touger. He is an articulate and prolific writer and has done a superb job. Nevertheless, after reviewing it and the other translations which were made by Rabbi Jacob Immanuel Schochet, Rabbi Nissan Mangel, plus many other Haggadah and Siddur translations, I saw fit to make a number of changes. Some of these reflect halachic issues (see p. 61) about which there are legitimate differences of opinion, and others were geared towards producing an aesthetically pleasing text. It is hoped that the present translation will help the reader to see, at least somewhat, the beauty and profundity of our prayers.

Translating His Name

A dilemma with which all translators grapple is how to translate the Ineffable Name or the Tetragrammaton — the Holy four letter Name, which refers to His Holy essence.

It is not acceptable to translate the Name as “Hashem” because if one prays reciting the translated text, he must either recite His Name correctly or use a word that means “G‑d” in another language.

To translate it as “Lord” is also not a solution because according to halachah (Orach Chaim 214) any berachah in which there is no mention of His Name is not a valid berachah, and it is highly questionable whether using the term “Lord” meets the requirement to be considered His Name.

My esteemed brother, Rabbi Shmuel Pesach Bogomilsky, of Maplewood, New Jersey, has written and published extensively on the subject and concludes that it is definitely insufficient. Many renowned halachic authorities have corroborated his opinion, including the universally acceptedhalachic authority of our generation, Rabbi Moshe z”l Feinstein, who agrees with my brother in a letter dated 15 Elul, 5741.

Another alternative under consideration was to translate it as “G‑d.” However, I refrained from doing so because in aberachah where the Tetragrammaton is mentioned together with the Name Elokeinu, even though it would be correct to say “G‑d, our G‑d,” there would be no distinction for the reader if both Names were translated in this way.

Thus, in the English section of this Haggadah, for the Holy four letter Name the authentic pronunciation of A-donai, is used, exactly the way the Gemara (Pesachim 50a) says His Name is pronounced.

The Name Elokim is translated as “G‑d.” And in accordance with (Rashi, Bereishit 31:29, Ramban 17:1) and Siddur commentaries (see Eitz Yosef, Siddur Otzar Hatefilot pg. 668) the Name “Keil” is translated as “Al-mighty.”

Note On Transliteration And Format

Transliteration generally employs the Sephardi accent, with the following usages:

1. Words with a final hei are spelled with a final “h.”

2. “Ei” (the vowel-sound in “freight”) is used for a tzere.

3. “Ai” is used for the vowel-sound in the word “tide.”

4. An apostrophe is used between distinct consecutive vowels, as in “Ba’al.”

5. An “e” is used for a vocalized sheva, i.e. “bemeizid,” not “b’meizid.”

6. “F” is preferred to “ph.”

7. “O” is used for cholem.

8. Doubling of consonants is generally avoided.

Use of Italics:

Transliterated Hebrew words are generally given in italics without capitalization, except for proper nouns, which are capitalized and, in the case of names, not italicized. Some exceptions are made for very familiar Hebrew words, such as “Torah.”

English and Hebrew:

Names of Biblical persons and names of the books of the Pentateuch are given in Hebrew, but other books of Tanach are given in English; thus “Moshe” is preferred to “Moses,” Bereishit to “Genesis,” and “Proverbs” to Mishlei.” Generally English words are preferred to Hebrew ones, but often the content requires the use of the Hebrew.


Exceptions to these rules most often involve forms already familiar to the English reader, forms that would otherwise be awkward, and ones likely to be mispronounced.