I am back now from tonight's Passover dinner, celebrated this year with just a few women friends.
I led the seder--for the first time in my life.
Reading the Haggadah of Pesach reminded me of two very beautiful, very big, and very expensive Haggadot that were displayed at last month's Jerusalem International Book Fair.
Like this one.
Five of the greatest Tannaim, Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya, Rabbi Akiva, and Rabbi Tarfon, are shown elaborating on the Exodus story all through the night.
Even if you don't know Hebrew you can enlarge the photo (with a click or two) and enjoy the artwork.
Haggadah means the telling (to your children), and this nice idea just appeared online from Jerusalem Post blogger Ben Corn:
The great medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides famously asks whether one is obliged to read the Haggadah if alone when conducting the Seder. He answers that the Commandment still prevails in that circumstance. The explicit reason is that there is an inherent value derived from articulating the story, but the implicit rationale for this Maimonidean ruling is that there is a child present even in that scenario. A child exists within each adult.
Here is another special book, opened to the piyyut written in Israel by Yannai in the 5-6th century.
This piyyut (liturgical poem) in the Haggadah and is known as Az Rov Nissim or Vayehi Bachatzi Halayla" (and it came to pass at midnight) or Karev Yom (a day is coming) and describes the miracles that happened to Israel at night.
You can read the translation on the right--the text is beautiful even in English.
The last stanza, the mystical wish for redemption, was made into a well-loved Israeli song.
Hear it here.
The lyrics and a translation of the refrain are here.
Chag sa-MEH-ach -- happy holiday!