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Reading The Haggadah (Part 1 of 5)

How To Read The Haggadah: Explanation, Dvar Torah & The Pesach Story

Reading the Haggadah is just one of many, many rituals at the Passover Seder – but it’s not easy to read. Sometimes in a rush to fit it all, we mumble our way through the Maggid text, without really considering what it means. But Haggadah is a text to be studied, not rushed, and it’s easy to miss the bigger picture – and one of the most important messages behind the Maggid.

You might ask, where in the Haggadah is the actual Exodus story, the reason we hold Passover? Instead, the Haggadah shows us the story from a farmer’s perspective, written much later, as well as stories of God’s interaction with the Israelite nation – all the way back to Abraham. How does reading the Haggadah fulfill our commandment to retell the Exodus on Passover? Why not skip the introductory text, dive straight to the Exodus, and finish the Seder a bit earlier?

The main part of the Haggadah, Maggid, literally means “retelling a story”. And “retelling” is the key word for reading the Haggadah – if we look closer at the text, we can find pointers on how we should also retell the story, even in a modern world. The Haggadah is the perspective of the Exodus story that the Rabbis wanted us to see – to find a meaningful story that we never imagined existed. But what is the crucial meaning that the Haggadah authors wanted us to see?

Rabbi Fohrman argues that the Maggid is really a deep narrative that shows evidence of God’s ongoing promise to save His people. It grounds all the survival of the Israelite nation throughout the centuries, to show that God’s original promise to Abraham wasn’t a one-time thing, even if it was delayed by twists and turns that the people imposed upon themselves.

Rabbi Fohrman urges you not to rush through the Maggid reading. In this video course, he looks at how the different stories hang together. Through these connections, discover how the Haggadah is still a message for Jews in exile today, that even if faced with oppression or dark times, the hope is real – God will bring us out of this, and the nation will never be extinguished on foreign soil. Even if it may take years, Abraham’s promise has always been with us – even today.    

Although the Maggid section of the Haggadah may be difficult upon first reading, Rabbi Fohrman shows how the Maggid is really a meta-story that introduces an actual story – and that's where all of the action takes place.

Discover other great pesach videos at Aleph Beta, including ‘Why Did God Allow Slavery’, ‘Why Did God Harden Pharaoh's Heart’, and ‘The Spiritual Meaning of Crossing The Red Sea’.

Rabbi David Fohrman

Founder and Lead Scholar






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