A Night of Questions: A Passover Haggadah

By Simon, Edward | Shofar, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

A Night of Questions: A Passover Haggadah


Simon, Edward, Shofar


edited by Rabbi Joy Levitt and Rabbi Michael Strassfeld. Wyncote, PA: Reconstructionist Press, 2000. 160 pp. $18.00.

Every generation writes its own history, interpreting the past in the light of the present and looking towards the future. Similarly, every generation must interpret the haggadah in its own way. That is why there have been so many of them over the years.

A Night of Questions is written from a Reconstructionist perspective: It has reverence for tradition, but tries to speak individually to each of the four children, be they wise, alienated, confused, or simply uninformed.

The craft with which this book has been assembled is immediately evident. It begins with the question: Is this story true? And if not, why celebrate the holiday at all? The authors suggest that even if the exodus as described in the haggadah were not literally true as history, it is still true in its essence. This work strives to keep the traditional form of the holiday, while explaining its inner meaning and emphasizing its relevance for today's world.

Unlike the Torah or Talmud, the Haggadah is a "living" document. It evolved over a period of at least 2,000 years and even in Orthodox circles continues to change to this day. A widely accepted addition is a portion commemorating the Holocaust and the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. This is found here as well. However, two other wrinkles have been added that may be disconcerting to some.

One is the addition of a "Cup of Miriam" to the traditional "Cup of Elijah." In contrast to the usual wine, this cup contains "spring water" and reflects the midrash which states that it is in the merit of Miriam that a well followed the Israelites during their sojourn in the desert. …

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