Reb Zalman on Freeing Your Seder


As most of you know I’m a huge fan of Reb Zalman so when I saw that  had posted his Pesach booklet, (not sure what else to call it) I thought I would whip up a quick post, letting people here know about it!  It really is worth reading!

While we are on the subject of Pesach I want to remind you all (if you haven’t already) to check out Shimshonit’s post on the subject and don’t forget to share your own Passover resources in the comments section of her post.

Below is a snippet from from Reb Zalman’s bit on Pesach. Enjoy!



I am here to free you from the Maxwell House Haggadah, to free you in your Pesach celebration!

One thing that’s wrong with widely-used Haggadahs is archaic English like “vouchsafe,” or “bestow.”  This kind of language makes it hard for us to understand even the of-this-plane plagues of the Egyptians, e.g. what is “murrain?”  And the instructions are wooden.

Why? Because at the time when these Haggadahs were edited, people wanted specific directions, a definite, “Amy Vanderbilt” description of precisely how one was to do it.  They weren’t interested in being free to play, to elaborate.

But you are not just free to use better Haggadahs, (the ones with good translations and more openness), you are also free to use the material as a jumping-off point for playing, for elaboration.   Like the Siddur, the Haggadah is a kind of a cookbook filled with recipes.  You can’t eat a cookbook, even ones with the tastiest, the most nourishing recipes.  You must do the cooking to turn recipes to dishes.  And it’s similar with the Haggadah:  You make the words three-dimensional, four-dimensional.  Every Seder you have is a different way to bring the words off the page with different “spices,” different life-conditions.  Here are some notes toward freeing your Seders:

You can read the rest here.

About the Author

Avi M

Avi is a Jew by choice who converted to Judaism in the spring of 2006 after two years of study and participation in Ottawa’s Jewish community. Although he began his Jewish journey as part of a Reform congregation, he now calls the Conservative movement home. Read More

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