The Introduction to Magid, telling the story
RAISING THE MATZOT, ALL RECITE:
This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt.
Let all who are hungry come and eat.
Let all who are needy come and celebrate the Passover.
Now we are here; next year in Israel.
Now we are slaves; next year free people.
We begin the central sectionof the Haggadah, Magid (‘telling’), by combining action with words—raising the matzot for all to see and declaring what this flat bread represents. Telling our story must lead to action.
The Haggadah borrows a phrase from the Bible.“…For seven days…you shall eat unleavened bread, bread of affliction” (Deut. 16:3, lechem oni or lach’ma an’ya here in Aramaic). The Haggadah instantly connects memory with empathy. Remembering the bread of our affliction—bread of poverty, as some render it—compels us to care for the needy. Rav Huna, a third century sage from Babylonia, seems to have inspired this invitation to the hungry. Impoverished in his early life, Rav Huna never forgot the poor when he became wealthy.
According to the Talmud, “when he had a meal he would open the door wide and declare, ‘Let all who are in need come and eat.’” Why the expectation that “next year” so much will change? Because in the Talmud Rabbi Joshua taught, “In Nisan[the month when Passover falls] they were redeemed: and in Nisan they will be redeemed.” But we live now, in the unredeemed present—between the epic past and a messianic future—and today our world will become what we make of it. Maybe that’s why this introduction to the Passover story focuses on us, and doesn’t mention God.
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