Monday, April 06, 2009

An idea for those who want a shorter Maggid

I'm not someone who complains about Maggid. I like the Pesach seder, and I'm happy to stay up late talking, eating and singing. Its one of my favorite events of the year.

Many of you disagree, however, and find the whole affair one long, boring haul. Though I may regard you with a hint of disdain, I'm not entirely unsympathetic. In fact, today, I'm pleased to help you out by presenting a torah-true solution based on the following argument from the Absolut Haggadah
Everyone knows when it comes to Jews there are always at least two opinions. How we relate the story of the Exodus is no exception. Two opinions found in the Talmud debate the exact nature of Israel’s disgrace. The first is the opinion of Rav who says that the disgrace is that our forefathers were idolaters. Shmuel says that our disgrace was that we were slaves in Egypt.

This debate has far reaching consequences. It touches upon the main theme of the evening: How did we go from disgrace to praise? What changed?

Rav, who says [the disgrace was thet fact that] our forefathers were idolaters, states that the turning point was our embracing of [God and His commandments] Shmuel who focuses on the miracles, states that it [comes from our recognition of God's role in our redemption from slavery]

Our current version of the Haggadah first appears in complete form in the Gaonic period (500 CE - 1000 CE). Before this period, it appears that some Haggadahs only contained Shmuel’s עבדים היינו (“We were slaves…”) and others, only Rav’s מתחילה עובדי עבודה זרה היו אבותינו (“From the beginning our fathers were idol worshipers”)

It appears that in the times of the Gaonim these two versions were blended together to form our modern Haggadah.

According to this view, the first part of Maggid (from the four questions to the four sons) develops Shmuel's theme, while the second part of Maggid (from the four sons to Vhee' She'amda) was written in support of Rav's theme. According to the Absolute Haggadah, the two sections are thematically different but structurally parallel. Each, apparently, is intended as an introduction to the crucial part of the Seder, written from the perspective of either Rav or Shmuel. Until the time of the Geonim, Haggadot were written according to one nusach or the other; the two versions weren't knitted together at first.

If that's the case, well, chadesh yomeinu k'kedem. Those of you who like to speed things along can dedicate the first night to Shmuel, and use his introduction only. On the second night you can commit yourselves to Rav and start the Seder at the the four sons. It might be what our heiliga ancestors did in the time of the Geonim, so why not?

No comments: