The question of why Moses—the hero of the Passover story—does not appear in the Passover Haggadah is a popular one. Many answers have been suggested, some more likely than others, but all of them enlightening.

For accuracy’s sake, note that Moses’ name actually does appear once in the Haggadah: In the section where the various rabbis recount the great number of miracles that happened during the Exodus and the splitting of the sea, a proof text includes the words “and [the people] believed in the L‑rd and in His servant Moses."1 But the question still stands: Why isn’t Moses part of the Haggadah’s Exodus narrative?

1.There Is None Other Than G‑d Himself

The Haggadah itself stresses that it was not through angels or messengers that we were taken out of Egypt. Rather, it was done through G‑d Himself:

“And I will pass through the land of Egypt”: I, and not an angel.

“And I will smite every firstborn in the land of Egypt”: I, and not a seraph.

“And I will carry out judgments against all the gods of Egypt”: I, and not a messenger.

“I—the L‑rd”: it is I, and none other.

To emphasize this point, we don’t mention Moses in the Haggadah.2

Some provide additional context, hypothesizing that the editors of the Haggadah were especially careful to make this distinction since they lived in an era when splinter groups like the Samaritans were looking to turn Moses almost into a deity. They therefore felt the need to stress that the miracles were performed by G‑d Himself.

2. Moses’ Humility

Scripture attests that Moses was the humblest of all men, and it is safe to assume that he would not want to be the center of attention and the object of adulation year after year. We read that G‑d “does the will of those who fear Him.”3 It therefore stands to reason that events were orchestrated so that Moses got his wish and was barely referenced in the Haggadah.4

3. Moses Didn’t Talk About Himself

Torah instructs us: “You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘Because of this, the L‑rd did [this] for me when I went out of Egypt.’ ”5

Picture the very first Passover, held exactly one year after the Exodus. Almost all the children remembered the events very clearly, having witnessed them themselves. All except for Moses’ children, who had been in Midian at the time. Thus, Moses was the only Jewish parent who had a new story to tell his children, and he obviously didn’t make a big deal about himself.6

4. The King and the Servant

A focus of the Seder night is to recognize, praise and thank G‑d for taking us out of Egypt. After all, “If the Holy One, blessed be He, had not taken our fathers out of Egypt, then we, our children and our children's children would remain enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt . . .” When we celebrate, the Divine Presence celebrates with us. It is not respectful to thank the servant (Moses) in the presence of the King.7

5. Body and Soul

The redemption from Egypt was twofold: It was a physical release from backbreaking labor, and it was a spiritual metamorphosis, as we were transformed into a free people whose spirits could never be crushed. This explains why we continue to celebrate Passover even while we are in exile. Although we’ve been physically oppressed throughout history, our souls have been freed, and that is eternal and irreversible. And while Moses played a role in the physical redemption, this essential spiritual freedom was conferred by G‑d alone. Thus, since this is what we are truly celebrating, the focus is on G‑d and not Moses.8

6. The Kabbalistic Take

The Zohar tells us that the Israelites in Egypt had reached the “49th gate of impurity.” Had they fallen but one more level, they could not have been redeemed. It was only through G‑d’s mercy and an “arousal from Above” (Itaruta Dile’eyla, in Kabbalistic terms) that the Jews were able to be redeemed in the nick of time.

Relative to G‑d, Moses represents that which comes through human effort (Itaruta Diletata, “arousal from below”). It is therefore fitting that he is not mentioned on this night, when we celebrate G‑d’s swooping down to save us even though we were barely deserving.9

7. In His Own Words

The Haggadah is essentially an expansion of a group of verses in Deuteronomy, formulated to be said when the Jews would bring bikkurim(first fruits) to the Temple, to give thanks for the gift of the Land of Israel. As a succinct (and grateful) retelling of the Exodus, this text was the perfect base upon which to build the Passover-night Haggadah.

Unlike the first four books of the Torah, Moses speaks in the first person in Deuteronomy. It follows naturally that the text does not emphasize Moses’ contribution.10

8. There Is Always Hope

The sages knew that there would be times during the long exile in which, seeing no one of Moses’ stature ready to lead them, people might wonder if their situation would ever improve. We therefore emphasize in the Haggadah that ultimately G‑d alone redeemed us from Egypt, and history can repeat itself at any moment.11

9. The Reluctant Redeemer

During their dialogue at the burning bush, when G‑d tells Moses to take the Jews out of Egypt, Moses tries to get out of the job: “I beseech You, O L‑rd, send now [Your message] with whom You would send.”12 The sages explain that Moses, knowing that he was not destined to be the final redeemer of the Israelites, was beseeching G‑d to send the final redeemer, Moshiach, and thus end the exile once and for all.13 Since Moses didn’t want to be the one to take the Jews out of Egypt, his name is omitted.

10. Look Deeper!

Our sages state that “Moses was the first redeemer and he is the final redeemer.”14 While this is obviously not meant in the literal sense, since Moses was a Levite and Moshiach will be a descendant of King David, the mystics explain that Moshiach will have part of Moses’ soul. Thus, he will indeed be both “the first redeemer and the final redeemer.”15

Some point out that the final step of the Seder is called Nirtzah (נרצה), which has the numerical value of 345—the same numerical value as the name משה (Moses). Thus, as we conclude the Haggadah with the prayer for the ultimate redemption, we allude to Moses, who is both the first and final redeemer of our people.16

May the final redemption come speedily in our days!