In the absence of a stable homeland, Jews have made their home in books – a Jewish home without books is not a Jewish home – and the Haggadah – the core of which is the re-telling of the Exodus from Egypt – has been translated more widely, and revised more often, than any other Jewish book.  Everywhere Jews have wandered, they have produced Haggadot (plural: there are 7,000 known versions, not to mention the countless homemade editions like this one), including the most famous of all – the 14th-century Sarajevo Haggadah, which is said to have survived World War II under the floorboards of a mosque and the siege of Sarajevo in a bank vault (cf: 2008 novel People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks).

 Although it means “the telling,” the Haggadah does not merely tell a story: it is our book of living memory.  Because it is not enough to re-tell the story: we must make the leap of empathy into it. “In every generation a person is obligated to view himself as if she or he were the one who went out of Egypt,” the Haggadah tells us.  And, in the midst of this empathic exercise, it is our role to dissect, extrapolate and discuss its meanings for ourselves – now – in this contemporary world.  Those of us who are Jews, who are the Children of Israel, should know the origin of our name: we are named after Jacob (Ya’akov, variation: Akiva) who became Yisrael (Israel); which translates as: ‘he who wrestles with God.’  And, in keeping with our origins and our tradition, on Pesach the story of the Exodus is not meant to be merely recited, but wrestled with.

{with acknowledgement to Jonathan Foer}

So/Nu/Tak, as we enter the Haggadah and begin to tell the story and engage in the symbolic rituals that are part of this event, I invite you to loosen up, get your hands dirty and join with me in wrestling with the ideas, promises, challenges and contradictions of what lies therein.

haggadah Section: Introduction
Source: Original