Shabbat Ha- Gadol--Passover 5769/ April 4, 2009
the weekly Torah reading by the faculty of
A Haggadah for Israel
Dr. Haggai Ben-Arzi
Center for Basic Jewish Studies
On the Sabbath before Passover, known as Shabbat ha- Gadol, it is customary for the Rabbi to deliver a sermon on matters of religious practice during the festival. In many Jewish communities liturgical poems ( piyyutim) incorporating motifs from the Haggadah and the rules of Passover observance used to be recited on this Shabbat, as was the first part of the Haggadah itself. In the spirit of Shabbat ha- Gadol, we shall devote this article to the Passover Haggadah.
In Pesahim 10.4,
the Mishnah clearly defines the commandment of recitation
(Heb. haggadah), requiring parents to tell
their children (“you shall tell your son”) at the Seder table about the
festival: “The father should teach his
son, in accordance with the son’s ability to grasp, beginning with the shameful
tale and ending with the praiseworthy narrative, interpreting the text from the
words, ‘my father was a fugitive Aramean,’ until he
finishes the entire passage.” In other
words, the Haggadah is based on the passage in
Deuteronomy (26:5-9) that was recited when bringing first fruits to the
"And Gave Us This Land"
Nevertheless, it turns out that the
traditional Haggadah does not satisfy the
requirements of the Mishnah.
stipulates that one should exposit “the entire passage,” which actually ends
with the verse, “He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land
flowing with milk and honey” (Deut. 26:9).
In no traditional version of the Haggadah do
we find this text, which indeed is the
It turns out that the formulation of the traditional
Haggadah which we have today was completed by the Sages in
In recent generations, during which we have had the good
fortune to witness an extensive ingathering of exiles from all over the world
(some 5.5 million Jews, almost half of the Jewish people, now live in Israel)
and a sovereign Jewish state in our own land, there is no reason not to return
to complete performance of the commandment of haggadah
– of telling our children – using the original formulation from the land of
Israel. Indeed, this has been done by
certain rabbis who published a “
Rabbi Kasher even went so far as
to claim that the commandment to interpret the text homiletically (
ve-doresh) should be taken not only in the formal
sense of presenting homilies on the verse, but also by associating the Egyptian
liberation from bondage with events of our times in order to fulfill the
mishnaic requirement that “in every generation we must view
ourselves as if we have just come out of Egypt” (Pesahim
10.5). In this spirit, Rabbi
Kasher added extensive appendices to his
"I Will Bring You"
A similar thing seems to have happened to the four
expressions of Redemption. The
expressions of Redemption are based on the tidings that Moses brought the
The association between the cups of wine at the Seder and the expressions of Redemption dates back to the Jerusalem Talmud. The Talmud notes that Rabbi Tarfon used to drink five cups of wine, the fifth one being for the expression, “I will bring you.” 
It turns out that Rabbi Tarfon
was preserving an ancient practice which gradually disappeared after the
destruction of the
Restoring the passages in the Haggadah that deal with the land of Israel should not be viewed merely as a reconstruction of the ancient version found in the land of Israel,  but rather as a self-evident obligation to give thanks and praise to the Creator for our good fortune in having returned to the Holy Land, the Lord’s portion, after two thousand years of exile, and for having been blessed with seeing the fulfillment of G‑d’s promise to our patriarchs and prophets in out time.
 The questions of the four sons as they appear in the Haggadah as we know it, for example, differs from their formulation in the Jerusalem Talmud (Pesahim 10:3), which reflects the version of the Haggadah that was current in the land of Israel. See the Hebrew article by Menahem Ben-Yashar, “Al Midrash Arba’at ha- Banim she-be-Haggadat Pesah,” Bar-Ilan Parasha Page for Parashat Tzav and Shabbat ha-Gadol 2007 (no. 697).
Even Maimonides, who ruled explicitly in Mishne Torah that one should complete the entire passage at the Seder ( Hilkhot Hametz u- Matzah 7.4), also omits this verse and the commentaries on it from the Haggadah which he presents at the end of Hilkhot Hametz u-Matzah. This apparently explains why he stressed in his introduction to his Haggadah that this was “the version used by the Jews in exile.”
Published by Makhon ha-Mikdash
further reading, see “Kos Hamishi, in Rabbi
Shelemah, Makhon Torah
 For example, see Rabbi Ariel’s Haggadat ha- Mikdash, in which he says: “Those who wish the embellishment of a fifth cup should say: I am ready to observe the commandment of the fifth cup, for the fifth expression of Redemption, as it is written: ‘I will bring you to the land, … and I will give it to you for a possession, I the Lord,’ and then they drink the fifth cup.” Drinking a fifth cup was also practiced by the Maharal of Prague.
 In a similar vein, see the Hebrew article by Rabbi Dr. David David Mescheloff, “Hashlamah le-Haggadat Pesah le-Toshavei Eretz Yisrael,” Weekly Torah Study, Parashat Aharei Mot and Passover 2005 (no. 597).