Israel Drazin

A very instructive Haggadah

The new 2024 Urim Publications “Empowering Seder Conversations Passover Haggadahis very instructive. The Passover Seder is a family meal and ceremony, frequently with guests, using an ancient book called Haggadah, “The Telling,” which contains multiple ancient writings designed to encourage participants to think about Jewish history, freedom, and the future and speak about the biblical story of the Israelites’ exodus under Moses’ leadership from Egyptian slavery over 3,000 years ago. The ancient Jewish sages encouraged Seder leaders to seek ways to prompt participants to offer their thoughts about the departure and freedom and its meaning today because the Seder, the Haggadah used during it, and the ceremonies in it teach people today how to improve themselves and all that is created.

The Urim Haggadah contains many thoughtful insights into the meaning of the exodus, the Seder, and Passover that will enlighten the participants and spark conversation. The insights also address history, freedom, pain, adversity, loneliness, love, and loss, among many others.

Thirty-five Jewish men and women contributed short essays to stimulate participation. One points out that Moses tried to persuade God not to send him to Egypt by saying, “I am not a man of many words.” However, tonight, we read how he led the Israelites from slavery. Doesn’t this show that limited words can achieve great things? Can you think of examples?

Another wrote, among much else, that we need to understand the root of Israel’s Egyptian slavery. Didn’t it all begin when Jacob’s sons, Joseph’s brothers, showed hatred and envy? Doesn’t this tell us some things about what bitterness can lead to?

Still, another wrote, if Elijah is such a mighty prophet, why do we have to open the door for him at the Seder? Does this reveal something about opening the door for freedom?

A fourth reminded readers that the Israelites collapsed in fear when they saw the Egyptian chariots chasing after them and pleaded with Moses to let them return to Egypt and slavery. What does this tell us about human nature, fear, freedom, and how we should think and act?

The book details all the tools needed for the Seder and provides seven pages of instruction on managing the meal and ceremonies. The traditional Hebrew text of the Haggadah and an easy-to-read English translation are included with explanations. There are Seder instruction icons, a Hebrew copy of the biblical book Song of Songs, traditionally read in synagogues during Passover, which deals with love, is also included, and more.

Empowering Seder Conversations Passover Haggadah

Leora Ashman et al.

Urim Publications, Jerusalem. New York

128 pages, 20124


About the Author
Dr. Israel Drazin served for 31 years in the US military and attained the rank of brigadier general. He is an attorney and a rabbi, with master’s degrees in both psychology and Hebrew literature and a PhD in Judaic studies. As a lawyer, he developed the legal strategy that saved the military chaplaincy when its constitutionality was attacked in court, and he received the Legion of Merit for his service. Dr. Drazin is the author of more than 50 books on the Bible, philosophy, and other subjects.
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