Introduction to the Haggadah of the Jewish Idea
The purpose of the Haggadah of the Jewish Idea is not to add yet another Haggadah to the collection of Haggadot already available to the public. It’s purpose is rather to present the concepts of the authentic Jewish Idea in general, and in particular the concept of faith in G-d, on this holy night of the year: the Seder night, which was ordained as the night which would define the faith of the Jew. There is no task more important today than that of rectifying those most fundamental Jewish concepts, including – indeed, in particular – among b’nei Torah, Torah scholars. For indeed, on one hand the long exile has caused us to forget the very soul of Judaism and the Jewish idea; and on the other hand, foreign cultures have penetrated deep, including into the halls of Torah, and have emasculated our ideology. So widespread have these phenomena become, that few today are capable of differentiating between hametz and matza, between Jewish ideas and foreign ideas.
Similarly, at the core of the necessity for this Haggadah stands the fact that many Jews sit at the Seder table in order to fulfill the mitzvah of the night, to recount the Exodus from Egypt, but find themselves entirely dependent upon “vortim” which have only the slightest of connections with the message of Pesach, or indeed the teachings of Judaism in general. I hope that this Haggadah will serve to aid all who are interested in expounding on the Exodus on the Seder night. “And all those who labor in it greatly are praiseworthy.”
This Haggadah was written according to the principles which I learned from my father and teacher of blessed memory, may G-d avenge his blood. Having said that, I have cited as primary sources his various books (in particular The Jewish Idea and the series of commentaries on the Bible, Perush Hamacabee) only when I quoted from them directly, or when I set forth an idea according to a specific source in his writings; however, I have not cited my father’s works when I concatenated several different sources, nor when I expounded upon a general trend of thought which appears in his writings… Having said that, it is important to emphasize that almost the entire commentary is based upon his words, and of course upon the principles of his teachings. And I hope that my work will cause no one to stumble.
During the months of work writing this commentary, I was “honored” to be harassed by the authorities, especially when they chose precisely this time to carry out an intensive interrogation against me; I was accused of the “crime” of writing various commentaries on the Torah – “incitement” by their definition. Indeed, even this very work was saved from falling into their clutches by the grace of G-d; I was but a step away from being forcibly prevented from publishing this commentary in time for Pesach of this year 5757 (1997). However, it was precisely this fact which ultimately gave me the added strength and impetus necessary to complete this work, to publish this Haggadah, and to spread the authentic Jewish Idea among the Jewish People – in spite of those who desire to delegitimize and to ban the truth, and to prevent us from speaking that truth.
In closing, I hereby thank all those who helped me in this work: David Cohen, one of the outstanding Torah scholars in the Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea in Kfar Tapuach, who toiled unstintingly in preparing the practical and halachic sources for the Seder night so that every detail be written accurately; he neither slumbered nor slept until he prepared a complete addendum (which is at the end of this Haggadah), which gives in a concentrated form the sources for all of the halachot throughout the Haggadah, as well as additional halachot and glosses. I also thank two other members of our Yeshiva – Uri Amit for donating his time to check the entire commentary and to provide his enlightening comments; also of course to the artist Avinadav Vitkin who was good enough to place his unique talent at our disposal. I also thank the anonymous benefactor who placed at my disposal his personal computer for the specific purpose of compiling this work, after the Israeli police saw it fit to confiscate my own computer from my house during the preparation of this Haggadah.
I conclude with the prayer that all those who study and learn this work will be enriched, and will be brought closer to the clear and straightforward concepts of Judaism in general and of Pesach in particular. I also pray that it will encourage them to study and to relate to the authentic concepts of Judaism throughout the year.
Binyamin Zev Kahane
Adar II, 5757 (March ’97)
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“Why Is This Night Different?..”
If he has a son, the son asks. In contrast to Hanukah and Purim where we are commanded to “publicize the miracle” (and include everyone), on Pesach, the publicizing of the miracle starts first of all with the children. And this is for the reason we mentioned (in the introduction) – that here the goal of the publicizing of the miracle is that the father, at the first available moment, will pass down the principles of faith in the G-d of Israel and the exodus of Egypt to the small son, so as to continue the unbreakable chain. And how tremendous is the fact that the Emunah of Yisrael, despite it’s depth, is simple enough in its basis, that it can be conveyed from father to small boy, by means of a simple story appropriate for a child. This is the significance of the questions which appear here. And it is incumbent upon us to arouse each child, according to his ability, to ask more and more questions. Because the idea is better internalized if he asks and gets an answer, than if he just gets the answer (without asking). And from here one can learn that even if there are no children, the adult should provoke questions for himself and others, in order to sharpen the understanding.
On this night we add another link to the chain of our tradition, conveying the concrete basis of the faith through all the generations, because in such a way can the new generation ITSELF see things properly, despite the fact that “officially”, thousands of years have passed since the event took place. And, behold, he did not see it with his own eyes. But the passing down of the message from generation to generation in such a concrete and precise fashion makes it EXACTLY AS IF HE SAW IT. Just as no one doubts historical events which took place two hundred years ago, since everything is known and passed onward by humanity, so, too can the events of over 3,000 years not be doubted, because the people passed it down in the same way, each one to his children. And this is the difference between Hanukah, Purim, and Passover. For only on Passover was each one commanded to see himself as if he left Egypt, since this fact is the basis of our faith, and without it, our faith would not have survived in such a precise manner after so many thousands of years, hundreds of generations, and countless tragedies and exiles. In such a way, the child is not only connected to his father, but also to the father of his fathers who lived hundreds of years ago and thousands of years ago, each one being a special pipeline for this message which is intended PERSONALLY FOR HIM! On this night, the Jewish child will also receive upon himself his responsibility for the next generations, to continue the chain and the pipeline, and he will understand that if he does not connect himself to the Jewish People, there is no reason for his existence.
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