Thursday, April 1, 2010

Time to uncover the matzahs

Jewish families around the world famously incorporate all sorts of fascinating and quirky customs and traditions into their Seders.

For example, by coincidence or by design, at many Seders – including our own – each one of the attendees uses a different Haggadah.

Some enjoy whimsical and attractive illustrations and/or reams of commentary and explanations, while others prefer their Haggadahs straight up. (“Just the text, ma’am…”)

The more scholarly-inclined bring a stack of impressive tomes with them to the table. (As it so happens, a certain Shiputzim son was born a few weeks before Pesach. And as a result, over the years, he has amassed quite the Haggadah collection in the form of birthday presents.)

My personal favorite is the classic and ever popular “Zol Mehadrin – Sano” Haggadah. (There’s something about a Haggadah issued by a cleaning supply company in conjunction with a long-defunct supermarket chain which amuses me… :-))

Yet, having so many different Haggadot at one Seder table can be problematic.

I mean, it’s great that each family member has an opportunity to express his or her own individual taste, but there’s one catch.

Inevitably, minor disputes arise over those little instructions which every Haggadah thoughtfully provides.

You know, things like:

  • “Uncover the matzot.”
  • “Cover the matzot.”
  • “Pour the next cup of wine.”
  • “Lift the Seder plate.”
  • Etc.

Apparently, according to the Official Haggadah Printers Bylaws – strictly enforced at the Annual Haggadah Printers Convention! – no two Haggadot may have the exact same set of instructions.

Thus, no Seder is complete without the requisite discussion about the proper time to pour the Third Cup: Should it be done BEFORE or AFTER the door is opened for Eliyahu HaNavi?


What’s your favorite Haggadah? How do you resolve these types of, um, Haggadah conflicts?

 !מועדים לשמחה


  1. "Haggadah conflicts" - they become a topic of discussion or a game to see if anyone has it differently in their haggadah. I can't remember specifics because 2 am is not my strongest hour.

    Moadim L'Simcha.

  2. Loved this post. Our kids are too young for hagaddah conflicts, but we came across some of these issues with our guests. We went according to the majority, who were using the enlarged print edition (with English translation) that I bought the first year we made a seder.

  3. Leora - Yes, they really do become a game...
    Mo'adim L'Simchah and Shabbat Shalom!

    Yaffa - "Majority rules" is usually our policy as well. But for some reason, there are those who insist that just because they use the same Haggadah as their father always uses, their instructions should hold more weight than, say, my "Zol Mehadrin-Sano" Haggadah... :-)

  4. We hold by the "BarKol" haggada. It is defined as the correct method since it is what we did last year. We did it last year because the leader of the seder used it last year. The rest of the proof is by induction.

  5. Miriam's mathematical logic works for me. Anything other than what was in my childhood haggadah feels off to me. Unfortunately, it seems that haggadah went out of print almost before I was born.

  6. Miriam - Nice work! Your inductive proof earned you the much-coveted Comment of the Week Award! :-)

    TRN - Happy Isru Chag! Do you still have a copy?


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