As the Jewish family sits down on a table on the night of the Feast of Passover, the Haggadah is also present being a central part of the seder or the Passover meal. This is considered as the basis, script, guide and liturgy of the Passover meal, which make sure that everything is according to its original custom and order.
The Haggadah is a Hebrew word which literally means “telling” with its plural form as “Haggadot”. Haggadah is a book read by the Jews on the first night of Passover as the Passover Seder is being served. It is where the narrative of the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery and bondage in Egypt is being written and read by the Seder leader before those who will partake of the meal.
The reading of Haggadah is somehow the fulfilment of what the scriptures said in Exodus 13:8 which affirms, “And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt.’ This book also contains poetry and psalms which have been part of the Jewish tradition.
Haggadah and its role in the Pesach Seder
The purpose of the Haggadah in the Pesach Seder or Passover meal is very distinctive that it serves as a guide and liturgy for the Jews, whenever this holy day comes. Thus, it is a commandment to all that it must be read, reminding everyone of them of their freedom and of how God has worked behind the scenes for them.
Throughout the years, since it was established to be an integral part of Passover celebration, there are various forms and editions that have been published. There are efforts to update and modernize the Haggadah by contemporary Jews nowadays, though there are some who added something to it, but the Orthodox Jews still adhere and follow the traditional texts.
Famous and Well-known Haggadot
- Golden Haggadah- earliest illuminated Haggadah created near Barcelona, Spain that was likely created for a wealthy Jewish family.
- Bird’s Head Haggadah- the earliest illuminated Haggadah manuscripts for Ashkenazi Jews. It was also the first to introduce the baking of Matzot or Unleavened bread.
- Saravejo Haggadah- one of the earliest illustrated Haggadot
- Prague Haggadah of 1527- probably the best known for printed and illustrated Haggadot
- Maxwell House Haggadah- has dominated American Jewish rituals
- Hillel Council Haggadah- where the “Ten modern plagues” came from.
- Sta. Cruz Haggadah- widely available version that follows the traditional order.
- Amsterdam Haggadah- the first Jewish publication with the inclusion of the map of Canaan (Land of Israel.)
- Szyk Haggadah- illustrated by Arthur Szyk in Poland in 1930s and famous for its detailed images.
- Rylands Haggadah- one of the finest Haggadot in the world.