An old Jewish Joke:

A distinguished writer in England is contacted by Buckingham Palace and informed that at an upcoming ceremony he will be knighted by the Queen. A protocol official explains that when he is knighted, there is a phrase in Latin that he must recite. The great day arrives, and the writer waits his turn as one person after another steps up in front of the queen, recites the phrase, and is knighted. Finally, he finds himself in front of the queen, but he forgets the Latin words. Time is ticking, and he blurts out the only non-English words he knows: “Ma nishtana ha’laila ha’zeh meekol ha’leilot.” The puzzled queen turns to her protocol official and asks, “Why is this knight different from all the other knights?”

The refrain of the four question is “Why is this night different from all other nights?” followed by inquiring as to the specifics of what we are doing differently tonight--why we are doing them?

מַה נִּשְּׁתַּנָה הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילוֹת?


Why is this night of Passover different from all other nights of the year?

Question 1

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה, הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה - כּוּלוֹ מַצָּה.

She-b'chol ha-lei-lot anu och'lin cha-meitz u-matzah. Ha-laylah hazeh kulo matzah.

On all other nights, we eat either leavened or unleavened bread, why on this night do we eat only matzah?

Question 2

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת, - הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה מָרוֹר.

Sheb'chol ha-lei-lot anu och'lin sh'ar y'rakot. Ha-lai-lah h-azeh maror.

On all other nights, we eat vegetables of all kinds, why on this night must we eat bitter herbs?

Question 3

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אֵין אֶנוּ מַטְבִּילִין אֲפִילוּ פַּעַם אֶחָת, - הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה שְׁתֵּי פְעָמִים.

Sheb'chol ha-lei-lot ein anu mat-beelin afee-lu pa-am echat.Ha-lai-lah hazeh sh'tei p'ameem.

On all other nights, we do not dip vegetables even once, why on this night do we dip them twice?

(greens into salt water, and bitter herbs into sweet charoset)

Question 4

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין בֵּין יוֹשְׁבִין וּבֵין מְסֻבִּין, - הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלָנו מְסֻ

Sheb’khol ha-lei-lot anu och-leem bein yo-shveen u-vein m’su-been, ha-lailah hazeh kulanu m’subeen.

On all other nights, we either sits up straight at the table or recline, why on this night do we only recline and eat at leisure?

haggadah Section: -- Four Questions
Source: Rabbi Joseph Telushkin