The Passover Haggadah is a set form of benedictions, prayers, midrashic comments and psalms recited at the seder ritual on the eve of Passover.
The Haggadah is based on the seder service prescribed by the Mishnah (Pes. 10), which had apparently been conducted in the form of a banquet. The observance of the precepts at the seder – the eating of the pesaḥ (the paschal sacrifice ), matzah ("unleavened bread"), and maror ("bitter herbs"); the drinking of arba kosot ("four cups of wine"); and the recital of the story of the exodus from Egypt (the narrative of the Haggadah) were integrated into this banquet celebration. Essentially, the Haggadah is an account of the Egyptian bondage, a thanksgiving to God for the redemption, and, in Temple times, a thanksgiving for the acquisition of the Land of Israel. After the destruction of the Second Temple, the latter was replaced by a prayer for the ultimate redemption. The purpose of the Haggadah ("Ve-higgadta le-vinkha" – "And thou shalt tell thy son," Ex. 13:8), one of the central commandments of the day, is represented by the narrative itself. Not written by any particular author, or group of authors, the Haggadah is not a "literary composition" in the accepted sense of the term. Its narrative is a collection of excerpts from the Bible, Mishnah, and Midrash, interpolated with the ritual performances: the Kiddush , the benedictions recited on the performance of precepts, and for food, Grace after Meals , and the Hallel . Gradually, stories, psalms, and songs were added. Many recensions of the Haggadah, differing from one another to a greater or lesser degree, have been preserved in various manuscripts, mostly dating from the 13th to the 15th century, and also in fragments from the Cairo Genizah . Some halakhic works also contain the text of, and commentaries on, the Haggadah (see below: Manuscripts and Editions). In keeping with its compilatory character and the varied nature of its sources, the literary or logical nexus between the different sections of the Haggadah is not always discernible. The quotations, derived from a multiplicity of sources, have mostly been adapted to the needs of the seder service.
(1) The Kiddush . It is not specific to the seder service but is prescribed for all the festivals.
(2) Ha Laḥma Anya ("This is the bread of affliction") are the opening words of a declaration in Aramaic, designating the matzah as the bread of affliction and inviting the needy to join the meal. It ends with "This year we are here, next year may we be in the Land of Israel. This year we are slaves, next year may we be free men." There seems to be no clear connection between the three statements of the declaration. It appears to be a folk composition which was added to the seder liturgy after the destruction of the Temple.
(3) Mah Nishtannah ("How is this night different"), popularly known as "the four questions," is according to the Mishnah (Pes. 10:4) apparently a formula with which the father can instruct his son. This formula passed through a number of stages till it assumed the forms which are to be found in the different recensions that are in use today.
(4) Avadim Hayinu ("We were bondmen") is an introduction to the formal narration of the exodus from Egypt, based on the views of Samuel (Pes. 116a). Passages of unknown origin supplement the narration stressing its importance.
(5) Ma'aseh be-Rabbi Eli'ezer… Amar Rabbi Elazar ("It is told of R. Eliezer… R. Eleazar b. Azariah said") is a story concerning the leading tannaim, followed by a discussion between them, whose purpose it is to emphasize the importance of the narration. While the story is preserved only in the Haggadah, the debate is cited in the Mishnah (Ber. 1:5) and in halakhic Midrashim (Sif. Deut. 130; Mekh., Pisḥa 16).
(6) The baraita of the Four Sons, also preserved in a halakhic Midrash (Mekh., Pisḥa 18) and in the Talmud (TJ, Pes. 10:4, 37d), but in a recension differing considerably from Haggadot in use today, incorporates all the biblical verses enjoining the narration of the exodus (Deut. 6:20; Ex. 12:26; 13:8; 13:14). It adapts them to four different types of "sons": the wise, the wicked, the simple, and the disinterested, who should be instructed according to the halakhah "that according to the understanding of the son the father instructs him" (Pes. 10:4).
(7) Yakhol me-Rosh Ḥodesh ("It might be thought that [this exposition should begin] from the New Moon [of Nisan]") is a tannaitic commentary on Exodus 13:8 (Mekh., Pisḥa 17), adducing exegetical proof that the narration of the exodus story is obligatory on the eve of Passover.
(8) Mi-Teḥillah Ovedei Avodah Zarah Hayu Avoteinu ("In the beginning, our fathers worshiped idols") is an introduction to the narration of the exodus story based on Rav as opposed to Samuel's view (see above Avadim Hayinu).
(9) A tannaitic Midrash on Arami oved avi (Deut. 26:5–8) – "An Aramean would have destroyed my father" (usually rendered: "A wandering Aramean was my father") which, according to the Mishnah (Pes. 10:4), everyone is obliged "to expound." This commentary, also preserved in the Midrashim based on the Sifrei (Sif. Deut. 26:5 (301), especially Mid. Lek. Tov, and Mid. Hag., ad loc.), is a haphazard selection of aggadic interpretations. In the seder ritual, it is prefaced with "Blessed be He who observes His promise… Go and learn what Laban the Aramean sought…," a passage not found in the Midrashim and apparently composed in the post-talmudic period.
(10) Commentaries of the tannaim on the miracle of the plagues and the division of the Red Sea during the exodus from Egypt are recited. In most Jewish communities these have been seen as a continuation of the preceding Midrash; their source is the Mekhilta (Va-Yehi be-Shallaḥ 6).
(11) Kammah Ma'alot Tovot la-Makom Aleinu ("How many goodly favors has the Almighty bestowed upon us") is a poem in two versions which is preserved only in the Passover Haggadah. The poem was composed during the Second Temple period and seems to have no direct connection with the seder service.
(12) The Mishnah of Rabban Gamaliel. It explains the significance of the Passover sacrifice, the unleavened bread, and the bitter herbs. Taken from the Mishnah (Pes. 10:5), it
was reworded (in a question-and-answer form) during the post-talmudic period.
(13) Be-Khol Dor va-Dor ("In every single generation") is a passage from the Mishnah (Pes. 10:5), or from an expanded Mishnah (baraita), which had been supplemented by a statement of Rava (Pes. 116b).
(14) The first two chapters of Hallel are recited, as prescribed in the Mishnah following Bet Hillel (Pes. 10:6).
(15) The benediction for redemption "Who redeemed us" is based on the ruling of R. Tarfon and R. Akiva in the Mishnah. After observing the commandments to eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs, the meal is eaten, followed by Grace after Meals. (According to the opinion of scholars such as Elbogen, Ginzberg, and Finkelstein, etc. it is obvious from the text of the Mah Nishtannah that at some stage in the development of the seder service this part of the ritual followed rather than preceded the meal.) The company then continues with the second part of the Haggadah.
(16) Shefokh Ḥamatkha ("Pour out Thy wrath") is a collection of verses whose theme is a supplication for vengeance on the nations that have oppressed Israel. The custom to recite these verses is attested since medieval times; their number and order differ according to the various rites.
(17) The last part of the Hallel is recited, as specified in the Mishnah (Pes. 10:7).
(18) Yehallelukha Adonai Eloheinu al Kol Ma'asekha ("All Thy works shall praise Thee") is a benediction of praise ("Birkat ha-Shir") in accordance with R. Judah's view (Pes. 118a).
(19) The Great Hallel (Ps. 136). Its recital became obligatory at a later date. (It is based on the baraita of R. Tarfon (ibid.).)
(20) Nishmat Kol Ḥai ("The breath of all that lives"), another version of the Birkat ha-Shir ("Benediction over the Song") is recited, in accordance with the view of R. Johanan (ibid.).
The text of the Haggadah is also divided according to the prescribed ritualistic acts of the seder service. Each textual section is headed by a descriptive phrase which, in some rites, is chanted as a separate litany. The sections are kaddesh (the Kiddush), u-reḥaẓ ("washing" of the hands), karpas (eating the "herbs" dipped in saltwater), yaḥaẓ ("dividing" the middle matzah), maggid (the "narration"), raḥaẓ ("washing" the hands for the meal), moẓi-matzah (the "benediction" over the matzah), maror (eating the "bitter herbs"), korekh (eating "bitter herbs with matzah"), shulḥan orekh (the "meal"), ẓafun (eating of the fikoman – the "last maẓẓah"), barekh ("Grace after Meals"), hallel (recitation of the second part of Hallel), and nirẓah (the closing formula). This Passover Haggadah and seder ritual follows the practice of the Pumbedita and Sura academies of Babylonia and was adopted by all the Jewish communities in the Diaspora. It completely superseded the ancient Palestinian recension which differed from it in certain respects (such as the omission of sections 4–7 listed above.
A tendency, however, existed to elaborate on the text of the Haggadah with midrashic and poetic sections. These additions are neither obligatory nor universally accepted: e.g., the tannaitic exposition Ani Adonai ve-lo Aḥer ("I the Lord and no other"; Maḥzor Vitry, 293) and an interpretation of ve-natan lanu et mamonam ("and gave us their substance"; the siddur of Saadiah Gaon, 143), the latter is derived from the Mekhilta de-R. Simeon b. Yohai, and was adapted to the seder ritual. Similarly, certain benedictions were expanded through the interpolation of piyyutim (e.g., in the siddur of Saadiah Gaon, 144). Among Oriental communities it is customary to recite in the first part of the seder service the hymn "And ye shall say: This is the offering of the Passover." In later times, hymns and roundelays were gradually incorporated into the Haggadah, and sung at the end of the seder: Az Rov Nissim ("Of old, Thou didst Perform most Miracles at Night"; from a kerovah by Yannai ); Omeẓ Gevurotekha ("The Strength of Thy Might"; from a kerovah by R. Eleazar Kallir ); Ki Lo Na'eh ("For to Him Is it Becoming"; by an anonymous paytan); and Ḥasal Seder Pesaḥ ("Accomplished is the Order of the Passover"; from a kerovah by R. Joseph Tov Elem Bonfils ). Other hymns introduced are just folk songs composed for the entertainment of children, e.g., Addir Hu ("Strong is He"); Eḥad Mi Yode'a ("Who Knows One?"); Ḥad Gadya ("One Only Kid"). In other communities different piyyutim have been adopted: e.g., "On Passover in Egypt my Captives went forth Free"; "From the House of Iniquity, Seat of my Strifes" or "Home of my Medanite [captors]" (both are in the Maḥzor Carpentras); or "Who Wrought Wonders in Egypt" (Maḥzor Romania, Constantinople, 1510). In northern France it was customary to sing at the end of the seder "The Lovers Sing with Ringing Voice" (Maḥzor Vitry, 298).
Textual difficulties in the Haggadah called for the annotation of the text. The earliest commentaries were written in a talmudic style and can be found in the halakhic works of the school of Rashi and his disciples (e.g., in Maḥzor Vitry; Ha-Orah, ed. by S. Buber, 1905; Siddur Rashi, ed. by S. Buber and J. Freimann, 1911; Ha-Pardes, ed. by D. Ehrenreich, 1824). The commentary attributed to R. Samuel b. Meir is written in the same style. A more comprehensive and profound exposition is found in Shibbolei ha-Leket by R. Zedekiah b. Abraham Anav (13th century; ed. by S. Buber, 1886), in which are incorporated some annotations by Isaiah di Trani , as well as interesting novellae, by the author's brother. The two important commentaries composed in the 14th century were by R. Aaron b. Jacob ha-Kohen of Lunel (in Orḥot Ḥayyim; it also appeared in Kol bo ) and by R. David b. Joseph Abudarham (in his commentary on the prayer book; Venice, 1566). These early commentators merely annotated the text. They were not concerned with the investigation of the historical aspect of the Haggadah and did not refer to the sources of its different texts. This simple explanatory type of commentary came to a close in the 15th century with Afikoman by R. Simeon b. ẒemaḥDuran , which until that time was the only commentary published as a separate book. After the 15th century, the commentators included material of their own in their expositions, both as an elaboration on the narrative and as a discussion of philosophical and theological concepts. R. Isaac Abrabanel in Zevaḥ Pesaḥ (Venice, 1545; figure 3) poses 100 questions which he answers at length. With reference to the verse "Know thou of a surety…" (Gen. 15:13), he asks: "What benefit have we derived from the exodus from Egypt, in view of the fact that we are once again in exile?" In his reply he discusses the significance of the exile and the ways of Providence at great length, without establishing any direct connection with the text. The commentary thus becomes a separate discourse. Subsequent commentators, who followed his style, mostly annotated in an aggadic vein, while a few gave mystical interpretations, e.g., R. Eliezer Ashkenazi in Ma'asei Adonai (Venice, 1583); R. Judah Loew b. Bezalel (the Maharal) of Prague in Gevurot Adonai (Cracow, 1582), in which he also expounds halakhic matters; and the kabbalists R. Moses Alshekh and R. Isaiah Horowitz . The best known later commentators are: R. Jacob Emden , R. Elijah b. Solomon Zalman of Vilna, Jacob of Dubno, Jacob b. Jacob Moses Lorberbaum (of Lissa), and Moses Sofer (Schreiber) who wove their homiletic compositions round and into the Passover Haggadah. R. Ḥayyim Joseph David Azulai (18th century), known for his critical approach, also follows the above method in his commentaries on the Haggadah, though occasionally the critical view is discernible. Only in the 19th century did scholars begin to analyze the text, to clarify its sources, and to determine the original wording. This method was adopted by H. Edelman, E. Landshuth , D. Cassel , M. Friedmann, and D. Goldschmidt, whose commentaries were published in articles or in book form.
MANUSCRIPTS AND EDITIONS
Through the generations the Passover Haggadah has been one of the most popular works – perhaps the most popular – in Jewish religious literature. Many recensions, differing from one another to a greater or lesser degree, have been preserved in various manuscripts mostly dating from the 13th to the 15th century, and also in fragments from the Cairo Genizah. These manuscripts originate from all countries in which Jews have lived. Some halakhic works also contain the text of and commentaries on the Haggadah. Others are found in daily or festival prayer books; the majority, however, are separate works for use on the eve of Passover only. These manuscripts have not yet been adequately investigated; only a selected few, particularly the illuminated copies, have engaged the attention of scholars. In the seventh or eighth century the Haggadah was apparently compiled as a separate work by the geonim. The oldest extant version however is in the prayer book (siddur) of Saadiah Gaon (10th century; ed. by I. Davidson, S. Assaf and B.I. Joel, 1941); other early versions are found in Maimonides' Mishneh Torah (12th century) and in Maḥzor Vitry (11th century). Since the 15th century, the Haggadah has had more than 2,700 editions, either with or without commentaries. Later editions have included as many as 200 commentaries. The Haggadah has been translated into vernaculars used by Jews, e.g., Yiddish, Ladino, Judeo-Greek, Judeo-Arabic (in its various dialects), and Judeo-Persian, which are often printed together with the Haggadah. Oral vernacular renderings are traditional in those communities which have no printed literature in their spoken idiom (e.g., in modern Aramaic). The Haggadah has been rendered into a number of languages, and the translation, whether with or without commentary, is often included in the editions. "Emended" editions, which do not give the traditional but a substitute version, are customary in certain communities, e.g., the Haggadah of S. Maybaum (1891), Caesar Seligmann (Frankfurt, 1913), Guggenheim (Offenbach, 1927), the Central Conference of American Rabbis (from 1905 onward), the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues in London (1953), and the Reconstructionist movement in the U.S. The tendency to "reform" the Haggadah exists also in Israel, especially in nonreligious kibbutzim which tend to emend the text of the Haggadah from year to year; as a rule, these editions do not appear in print, but in cyclostyled form only. The Karaites have composed a Passover Haggadah of their own, which is completely different from that of the Rabbanites, and consists of biblical verses and a few benedictions. It has been printed several times (Pressburg, 1879; Odessa, 1883; Vilna, 1900; Ramleh, 1953). Haggadah editions based on scientific analysis and research are by: H. Edelman (1845); E.L. Landshuth (Maggid me-Reshit, with an introduction, 1855); J.D. Eisenstein (Oẓar Perushim ve-Ẓiyyurim al Haggadah shel Pesaḥ, 1920); C. Roth (in English, 1939); D. Goldschmidt (with a commentary in Hebrew; 1947) and with an introduction on the history of the Haggadah and the texts of all the midrashic and paytanic additions in 1960; and M.M. Kasher (containing Mss. recensions, genizah fragments, and a collection of commentaries, as well as a lengthy introduction, 1955).
During the 13th to 15th centuries the Passover Haggadah was one of the most popular Hebrew illuminated manuscripts in Sephardi as well as Ashkenazi or Italian communities.
The popularity of the Haggadah for embellishment at that time was the result of the fusion of several factors. To begin with, the crystallization of its text into a single received and authoritative version made it easier to extract the Passover Haggadah from the complete annual cycle of prayers contained in the siddur and to copy it as a separate book. Such a book, the record of the most important private, domestic ritual, performed with the entire family gathered around the Passover table, was a much more personal object, less subject to communal prescription and prohibition, and so lent itself to the expression of personal taste in enrichment more than any other sacred codex. Being instructive in nature, the illustrations
may have served as a means of holding the interest of the children through the long Passover eve ceremony. Because of its comparatively small size, it was not too expensive for the head of a family to commission or purchase, nor too laborious for scribe to write and artist to illuminate. Nor is it a coincidence that, just at the time when illuminated Haggadah manuscripts began to appear as separate books, that is to say during the 13th century, new developments were coming to the fore in European manuscript production. The social and economic growth of town life at this period fostered an increase in the number of secular workshops concerned with the manufacture of books. Interest in learning and need for the written means of its transmission coincided with a feeling of freedom and security in the more established towns. At the same time, new techniques in the preparation of parchment, inks, colors, gold leaf, and other materials brought the acquisition of illuminated manuscripts within the reach of many citizens.
Even so, not every household in the Jewish community could afford to possess an illuminated Haggadah. Only the richer Jews, who, especially in Spain, were employed by princes or their courtiers and were therefore better acquainted with beautifully illuminated codices, would have the means to attempt the imitation of the fashion for such objects by commissioning the illumination of Hebrew books. Such commissions would present the artist with the problem of a subject matter which was new to him, and the problem was met by the fusion of traditional Jewish themes, motifs, and iconography, with the more fashionable styles and layout of contemporary Christian illumination, according to the style of the artist and the taste of his patron. In the 14th and 15th centuries, especially in Germany, a more popular type of illuminated Haggadah was developed which could reach many more patrons and more easily satisfy the growing demand. The pattern, system, and choice of subject in the illuminated Haggadot were influenced by Greek and Latin illuminated manuscripts, chiefly psalters, of a type common in the princely courts of Europe.
Types of Illustration
The range of Haggadah illumination was obviously dependent in the first place on the contents of the book, which can be roughly divided into four categories: textual, ritual, biblical, and eschatological. These four categories may be applied to all illuminated Haggadot of the 13th to the 15th centuries, whether Ashkenazi, Sephardi, or Italian. The most common textual illustrations are of the main elements of the Passover ritual according to Rabban Gamaliel : pesaḥ (paschal lamb), matzah (unleavened bread), and maror (bitter herb). In fact, the matzah and maror may have been the earliest textual illustrations in the Haggadot of the ninth and tenth centuries and, judging from the fact that an example was found in the Cairo Genizha , may have derived from Egypt, Palestine, or Mesopotamia. Decorated initial words were common to most Hebrew illuminated manuscripts, though some were peculiar to the Haggadot. One example is the decorative construction of bold initial words, written one under the other on either side of the page, for the poem Dayyeinu ("It would have sufficed us"). This construction exists in eastern Haggadot, as well as in those included in the prayer book. In some Haggadot Rabban Gamaliel himself and his pupils are illustrated, as well as other rabbis mentioned in the text. Other textual illustrations include the "four sons," described in the narrative; the wise son was depicted as a rabbi, the wicked son as a soldier, the simple one as a boy, and the one who "does not know how to ask" as a jester. Some of the decorations are pictorial witticisms, such as the one of the man pointing at his wife while reciting maror zeh – "this bitter herb" or literal representations of the text, like the man leaving prison as an illustration to Psalm 118:3–7 in the Sassoon Spanish Haggadah. In Italian and Ashkenazi Haggadot there are even more literal illustrations of the Hebrew text, such as that of a man dressed for travel coming out of a town gate placed beside the text which begins, "Come out and learn what Laban the Aramite sought to do to Jacob"; or the picture of a naked woman to illustrate Ezekiel 16:7 as in the Joel b. Simeon Haggadah in the British Museum.
The ritual illustrations are for the most part didactic, beginning with the preparations for Passover – the baking of the matzot, the killing of the paschal lamb, and the cleansing of the house and the dishes. Other illustrations show people reciting the Haggadah in the synagogue – a custom which was known in Spain – or leaving the synagogue; the family sitting round the seder table; the washing of the hands; the pouring, lifting, or drinking of the four cups of wine; the hiding and finding of the afikoman; and the eating of the various herbs. These genre scenes of medieval Jewish life depict the customs of various European communities by portraying their daily and festive dress, household utensils, furniture, and buildings and may have been invented at the time by the Jewish artists themselves for use in the Haggadah. Most interesting of all the categories are the biblical pictures. They begin as illustrations of the biblical and midrashic texts contained in the Haggadah, with the chief emphasis on the story of the Exodus, preceded by the history of the Patriarchs. The cycle was sometimes broadened to include other episodes ranging from the Creation, as in the Spanish Sarajevo Haggadah (see below), to Jonah under his gourd in the Yahuda Haggadah (Israel Museum, Jerusalem) and the Second Nuremberg Haggadah (Schocken Library, Jerusalem. Sometimes these biblical illustrations and the ritual pictures are intermingled. For example, the smearing of the lintel with blood is incorporated into a cycle of the preparations for Passover in the Rylands Spanish Haggadah (John Rylands Library, Manchester, England); and the baking of matzot is introduced into the Exodus story in the Birds' Head Haggadah (see below).
Many legendary episodes from early Midrashim are depicted along with the biblical illustrations, some being found in Sephardi as well as Ashkenazi Haggadot. Only a few can be mentioned here: Abraham cast into the fire by Nimrod; Joseph's meeting with the angel on his way to his brothers in Dothan, as in the Golden Haggadah (see below); Joseph's
coffin thrown into the Nile by the Egyptians in the Sarajevo Haggadah; the testing of Moses by means of gold and a live coal in the Kaufmann Haggadah (see below); Zipporah feeding Moses in prison for seven years in the Yahudah Haggadah; and Moses receiving two tablets of the Law and passing on five – the Pentateuch – in the Birds' Head Haggadah. Some biblical illustrations are quite literal, such as a tongueless dog barking at the Israelites coming out of Egypt to illustrate Exodus 11:7 in the Kaufmann Haggadah.
The eschatological illustrations refer to the ultimate destiny of the Jewish nation and the fate of the individual Jew. One such representation is the entry of the righteous into paradise (Psalm 118:19), which is depicted in the Birds' Head Haggadah, for example, as the three Patriarchs led by an angel. In many Haggadot the passage "Pour out Thy wrath upon the nations that know Thee not" (Psalm 79:6) is an invitation to eschatological illustration. In the Kaufmann Haggadah an angel is seen pouring the contents of a cup over a group of people.
More common in Ashkenazi Haggadot is an illustration associated with the prophet Elijah, the traditional harbinger of the Messiah, who is to come riding on an ass, bringing vengeance on the unbelievers who have destroyed Israel and redeeming the Jewish nation. The custom of opening the door to Elijah during the recital of "Pour out Thy wrath" is illustrated in the Washington Haggadah. The final verse of the Haggadah, "Next year in Jerusalem," is illustrated in the Birds' Head Haggadah by a rendering of the newly built Jerusalem and its Temple, with Jews adoring it, while in the Sarajevo Haggadah the facade of the Temple is depicted. In the Second Nuremberg Haggadah the prophet Elijah is seen riding a donkey with the Israelites following him to Jerusalem.
Three types of Haggadot are distinguishable on the basis of their illustrations and the way these are placed: Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Italian. While some features are common to all schools, each regional school has some local trait peculiar to its Haggadah.
The rich Spanish Haggadah is usually composed of three parts: the text; full-page biblical miniatures; and a collection of the piyyutim recited in the synagogue during Passover week and on the Sabbath before Passover. The text of the Spanish Haggadah is very sparsely illustrated, mainly with textual and ritual representations, and the piyyutim section is barely decorated. The most significant artistic section is that of the full-page miniatures. The best known of about a dozen surviving specimens of this rich type of Spanish Haggadah are the Sarajevo, the Kaufmann, and the Golden Haggadah.
The full-page biblical miniatures that preceded the Spanish Haggadot may have been derived from the manner of illuminating the Latin psalter in England and France during the later Middle Ages, which in its turn was based on the "aristocratic" type of Greek psalter illumination of earlier Byzantine schools.
The Ashkenazi Haggadot, from France and Germany, are all decorated with illustrations in the margins surrounding the text. There are two main groups; the earlier one places ritual and biblical illustrations, literal representations of the text, adjoining the passages they interpret. Good examples are the 13th-century Dragon Haggadah from France, now in Hamburg, Germany, and the Birds' Head Haggadah of about 1300. The later group contains a consecutive cycle of pictures from any of the books of the Bible, placed with no direct relation to the Haggadah text. Examples of this decoration can be found in Jerusalem in the Schocken Library and in the Yahuda Haggadah. The famous Darmstadt Haggadah, of the first half of the 15th century, has very few textual and ritual illustrations, and none is biblical. Equally few appear in the Erna Michael Haggadah in the Israel Museum. Joel b. Simeon of Bonn was responsible for many illuminated Haggadot, both in Germany and in Italy; his best in the German style is the one in the British Museum. A crude but expressive example of his transition period is the First Nuremberg Haggadah in the Schocken Library. The Washington Haggadah illuminated in the Florentine style is one of his best.
The third type of Haggadah, the Italian, may have been the earliest of the three and the model for the others. Since no early Italian Haggadah has survived, however, the type must be reconstructed from later examples which have already been subject to other influences. In the 15th century, the Italian Haggadot must have been influenced mainly by the Ashkenazi type, since they contain marginal illustrations only. In the first half of the century the Ashkenazi influence is apparent chiefly in the general overall design. Following an influx of Jews expelled from Germany, a new group of Italo-Ashkenazi Haggadot emerged in which, though the style is Italian, the script and layout are Ashkenazi. In this group are the numerous manuscripts executed in the workshops of Joel b. Simeon, and those influenced by him. The Haggadah in the sumptuous Rothschild Miscellany in the Israel Museum is illustrated on traditional Ashkenazi lines in the Ferrarese style of about 1470.
The most outstanding examples of the illuminated Haggadot are discussed in greater detail below.
Examples of Illuminated Haggadot
BIRDS' HEAD HAGGADAH (Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Ms. 180/57). So named because many of the human figures are depicted with birds' heads, this is probably the oldest surviving Ashkenazi illuminated Haggadah manuscript. It was discovered in 1946 by Mordekhai Narkiss . It was copied in the south of Germany late in the 13th century by a scribe named Isaac who also copied the first volume of the Leipzig Maḥzor. Its illumination consists mainly of marginal text illustrations, depicting historical scenes from Exodus, and ritual as well as eschatological scenes. The style of the illumination, the bright colors, and the decorative motifs, though somewhat primitive, indicate its Upper Rhenish origin. Its name is imprecise
because the artist uses other methods of human distortion, such as a boy with a bulbous nose, angels with blank faces, and Egyptians in helmets with lowered visors. The manuscript was reproduced in facsimile in 1967 accompanied by an introductory volume of essays.
CINCINNATI HAGGADAH is a 15th-century illuminated script in the library of the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati. It was copied in square Ashkenazi script on 69 vellum leaves by the scribe Meir b. Israel Jaffe of Heidelberg. It is decorated with painted initial-word panels, a decorative border, and miniatures in the margin illustrating the Passover ceremony and the text. The style of the miniatures and decorations indicate that the manuscript was executed in the late 15th century in southern Germany. Landsberger suggested that the scribe was also the artist of the Haggadah. This theory however has been challenged on the grounds that more than one artist seems to have worked on this manuscript. Moreover, it is unlikely that a scribe-artist would paint miniatures which obliterate his own script, as happens on several folios.
DARMSTADT HAGGADAH is an early 15th-century manuscript preserved in the Darmstadt Landesbibliothek (Cod. Or. 8). Its richly decorated folios are unusual for Haggadot. It was copied about 1430 by Israel b. Meir of Heidelberg in two full-page miniatures. The illustrations consist mainly of teachers, with male and female students, some in small frames and others in many-storied gothic frames, an unusual iconographic feature. The origin of these types must have been on contemporary "Heroes and square Ashkenazi script. Its decoration contained initial-word panels, a few fully framed borders, and Heroines tapestries" or frescoes showing Hebrew, pagan, and Christian worthies. The miniatures depict a hunting scene and a spring of youth. Little room is left in the manuscript for the text. Though the artist of the miniatures is unknown, the fact that the 15th-century art was not wholly dependent on church and court workshops made the emergence of an outstanding Jewish illustrator among the expert Jewish calligraphers possible. A facsimile reproduction was produced in 1927 in Leipzig.
GOLDEN HAGGADAH (British Museum Add. Ms. 27210) is the earliest and most sumptuous of the illuminated Sephardi Haggadot. It contains the text of the Haggadah, a collection of 100 piyyutim, and 15 full-page miniatures illustrating the biblical story from Adam naming the animals up to the exodus from Egypt. The style of the miniatures and the text illustrations suggest that it was executed in Barcelona in the first quarter of the 14th century. It is based on the northern French gothic style of the late 13th century. The full-page miniatures, divided into four compartments each painted on a burnished gold background, were executed by two artists. The iconography of the scenes derives from the illustrations of contemporary Latin manuscripts and from Jewish aggadic iconography which may go back to early Jewish Bible illumination. There is a companion manuscript of the second half of the 14th century in the British Museum (Or. Ms. 2884). A facsimile reproduction was produced in 1970 in London and New York (figure 7).
KAUFMANN HAGGADAH (Budapest, Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Kaufmann Collection, Ms. A422) is a 14th-century Spanish manuscript composed of two parts: 14 full page miniatures (fols. 1v–10, 57v–60) and an illustrated Haggadah (fols. 11v–56). The Kaufmann Haggadah has an incomplete miniature cycle of Exodus. The manuscript is incorrectly bound, as the entire group of full-page miniatures is dispersed, with some attached to the beginning of the manuscript (fols. 1v–10) and others to the end (fols. 57v–60). The facsimile edition of the manuscript, by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1954, did even more to hinder an understanding of the cycle by printing the miniatures on both sides of the pages and omitting alternate blank pages, thus preventing a correct reconstruction of the sequence. The episodes represented in the extant miniatures begin with the discovery of the infant Moses and end with Miriam's song after crossing the Red Sea, with one miniature of the preparations for Passover eve (fol. 2). Among the biblical illustrations are many midrashic ones such as Moses removing Pharaoh's crown from his head. In most cases these illustrations are within the large, painted, initial-word panels, but sometimes they appear in the margins between the extended foliage scrolls. The Haggadah also contains some red, green, and purple filigree-work panels. The text illustrations are elaborate and contain, besides the usual rabbis, four sons, matzah, and maror, some repetitions of the biblical episodes depicted in the full-page miniatures, such as the labor of the Israelites (fol. 15v), the throwing of the male children into the river (fol. 27v), and the Israelites coming out of Egypt (fol. 43).
The Italianate style of the illumination is pronounced. In describing this Haggadah in the introductory volume of Die Haggadah von Sarajevo, J. von Schlosser attributed the style to northern Italy. In fact, it is Castilian of the late 14th century, characterized by many Italian stylistic elements. The Byzantine-Bolognese figure style and the very colorful, fleshy leaves support this assumption, as does the triple-towered castle – the emblem of the Kingdom of Castile – which is depicted in the center of the round, decorated matzah surrounded by four naked personifications of the winds blowing trumpets.
Sarajevo Haggadah (Sarajevo National Museum) is a 14th-century Spanish illuminated manuscript composed of the traditional three parts: 34 full-page miniatures (fols. 1v–34); illuminated Haggadah text (fols. 1–50); and piyyutim and Torah readings for Passover week (fols. 53–131). It is by far the best-known Hebrew illuminated manuscript, and has been reproduced in part twice during the last 70 years with scholarly introductions by H. Mueller and J. von Schlosser, and by C. Roth. The full-page miniatures in the Sarajevo Haggadah display the widest range of subjects even among the rich Spanish Haggadot, from the Creation of the World to Moses blessing the Israelites and Joshua before his death, followed by illustrations of the Temple, preparations for Passover, and the interior of a Spanish synagogue. There are few full-page miniatures; most are divided horizontally into two framed sections, with some in four sections. Although the greater part of the iconography of the miniatures is derived from Latin Bible illumination of the Franco-Spanish school, some Jewish elements can be detected, as in the abstention from representation of God or any heavenly beings. Other Jewish aspects can be found in the text illustrations of the Haggadah, such as a miniature of Rabban Gamaliel and his students, and the matzah and maror. Stylistically, the illuminations are related to the Italian-gothic school prevailing in Catalonia in the 14th century. That the Sarajevo Haggadah originates from the Kingdom of Aragon can be inferred from three coats of arms displayed in the manuscript. The Haggadah reached the Sarajevo Museum when in 1894 a child of the city's Sephardi Jewish community brought it to school to be sold, after his father had died leaving the family destitute.
WASHINGTON HAGGADAH (Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.) consists of 39 vellum leaves, 6 by 9 in. (15 × 22.5 cm.), written in square Ashkenazi script, completed by Joel b. Simeon in 1478. It has painted initial-word panels, and many marginal illustrations of the Passover ceremonies and the Exodus story. Although the illustrations depict German customs, their stylistic features and decorative elements indicate a late 15th-century northern Italian origin. The illustrations are closely related to those in other manuscripts believed to have been executed in the northern Italian workshop of the same scribe-illustrator. A facsimile was produced in 1965 with a preface by Lawrence Marwick.
PRINTED EDITIONS OF ILLUSTRATED HAGGADOT
The earliest known edition of the Haggadah to be printed separately was produced in Spain at Guadalajara about 1482, on 12 pages in double column. Only a single copy is known to exist, and it may well be that other, perhaps earlier, editions have disappeared. The bibliography of the Passover Haggadot published by A. Yaari in 1960 includes 2,717 entries, but taking into account omissions and later editions, there can be no doubt that the total to the present date is at least 3,000. In the text of the Haggadah included in the prayer book according to the Italian rite (Casalmaggiore, 1486), there is a conventional representation of the maẓẓah, as in some of the earliest Haggadah manuscripts, and these may be considered the earliest known illustrations to the printed Haggadah. The crudely executed but by no means ignorant illustrations in the Latin Ritus et celebratio Paschae (Frankfurt, 1512) by the Christian Hebraist Thomas Murner, drawn by his brother Beatus, may have been inspired by a Jewish model. In the extremely rare Seder Zemirot u-Virkat ha-Mazon (Prague, 1514) there are figure woodcuts on the same subjects which appear later in illustrated Haggadot, and may derive from some lost edition. Of the earliest known illustrated edition, hypothetically attributed to Constantinople about 1515, only fragments remain. From the worn state of some of the blocks it may have been a reprint. From these fragments it is obvious that the whole work must have been lavishly illustrated.
Prague Edition (1526)
The continuous record of the illustrated printed Haggadah begins with the Prague edition of 1526. This magnificent work, with its profuse marginal cuts and decorations and its superb borders, is among the finest productions of the 16th-century press. The beauty of the work lies above all in the disposition of the type and the exquisite balance of the pages. Its most remarkable feature is three pages with engraved borders in monumental gothic style. The printers and publishers were Gershom Solomon Kohen Katz and his brother Gronem (Geronim). The artistic work was apparently executed partly by Ḥayyim Shaḥor (Schwartz), Gershom Kohen's collaborator, who sometimes signed his initials, and partly by a gentile assistant. Some of the decorative features were derived from non-Jewish works, including the Nuremberg chronicle of 1484. In recent years the Prague Haggadah has been reproduced repeatedly in facsimile. The cuts and illustrations in the publication were long imitated, deteriorating progressively as the years went by. The Prague edition of 1556 retained some of the original elements but this was not the case with the one published in 1590 or with other commonplace editions that continued to appear in Prague and elsewhere down to the mid-18th century. An interesting new edition, apparently by Ḥayyim Shaḥor, appeared in Augsburg in 1534. This, however, had little influence and only one complete copy is preserved.
Mantua Edition (1560, 1568)
The next important step in the record of the illustrated Haggadah was the Mantua edition of 1560, published by the shammash, Isaac b. Samuel. This reproduced the text of the Prague edition page for page and letter for letter in facsimile, but introduced new illustrations and marginal decorations which had already been used in non-Jewish publications and were in conformity with Italian taste. The format was repeated with remarkable success in another edition published in Mantua in 1568 by a non-Jewish firm which concealed its identity under the name Filipponi. The marginal decorations were specially recut for this production, which rivals the Prague edition of 1526.
The Mantua editions served as precise models for a group of illustrated Haggadot in smaller format produced in rapid succession at the turn of the century (1599, 1601, 1603, and 1604) in Venice, which had become the great center of Jewish publishing. These converted the hybrid but impressive Mantua editions into a cohesive but unimpressive unity, reproducing every accidental decoration and copying every accidental marginal detail. The major illustrations at the foot of the pages were expanded into an entirely fresh series of 17 engravings, some of them appearing more than once. These illustrated the seder service, the subject matter, and the story of the Exodus. Thus, this is the first Haggadah which is consistently and systematically illustrated.
In 1609 the veteran printer Israel ha-Zifroni of Guastalla planned an edition with completely new illustrations. Printed for him by Giovanni da Gara, it was set in bold type, each page within an engraved architectural border. The illustrations were placed at the top or foot of almost every page in the early part of the volume, and more sparsely toward the end. There was one important innovation in this edition: in a series of small panels on an introductory page, the various stages in the Passover celebration are illustrated with men and women dressed in contemporary fashion; a later page similarly illustrates the ten plagues. These features were henceforth to become usual in illustrated Haggadot.
The illustrations of the first part of the service (before the meal) are almost wholly devoted to the exodus, while those in the second part (after the meal) deal with the biblical story in general and with the messianic deliverance. In 1629 a further edition based on ha-Zifroni's with a similar format was published in Venice by the Bragadini press. This continued to be reproduced, without any basic change but with increasingly worn types and indistinct blocks, until late in the 18th century. The illustrations continued to be copied in Haggadot printed in the Mediterranean area, especially in Leghorn, almost to the present day. Thus the pattern of the traditional illustrated Haggadah was established.
In 1695 there appeared in Amsterdam a new edition of the illustrated Haggadah which followed closely, in its general layout as well as in detail, the example of the now accepted Venetian prototype. The illustrations were, however, much improved by being engraved on copper. The artist was Abraham b. Jacob , a former Protestant preacher. He chose many of the same incidental scenes as had appeared in the Venice Haggadot, but he drew them afresh, basing his work on the biblical pictures in the Icones Biblicae by Matthew Merian the Elder; he probably used the second edition of the work which had appeared in Amsterdam in c. 1655–62. Abraham b. Jacob also used miscellaneous scenes taken from other works by Merian. Thus the four sons of the Haggadah text (depicted together for the first time in one illustration) are miscellaneous figures brought together from various publications of Merian, without any attempt at grouping. The "wise son" and the "son who could not ask," for example, come from an engraving of Hannibal sacrificing before the altar, while the scene of the sages celebrating at Bene-Berak is reproduced – with some alterations – from Merian's picture of the feast given by Joseph to his brethren. The first map of Ereẓ Israel known in a Jewish publication was added on a folding page at the end of the book. A further edition of the work was produced in Amsterdam in 1712, with minor differences, and the name of the artist was omitted from the title page.
As the Venice Haggadah of 1609/29 was widely imitated in southern Europe, so the Amsterdam editions had an enduring influence on the Haggadot produced in the Ashkenazi world. The pictures were imitated, if not copied, time after time with increasing indistinctness in innumerable editions illustrated with woodcuts or steel engravings. Such editions appeared in Frankfurt in 1710 and 1775, in Offenbach in 1721, and in Amsterdam in 1765 and 1781. Throughout the 19th century and down to the present day the illustrations, including the four sons and the Passover at Bene-Berak, continued to be reproduced in ever-decreasing quality in hundreds of cheap Haggadot published on both sides of the Atlantic. The Amsterdam editions also inspired a number of illustrated Haggadot by 18th-century German Jewish manuscript artists, some of whom even improved on the original.
Some Later Editions
A few independently conceived Haggadot of the later period may be mentioned: the Trieste edition of 1864 with 58 original copper engravings of considerable artistic merit by K. Kirchmayer; the Prague edition of 1889 with illustrations by the Slovak artist Cyril Kulik; and the curious lithograph edition published in Poona in 1874 for the benefit of the Bene Israel community . In the 20th century, editions have appeared illustrated (or in some cases entirely executed) by artists of the caliber of Joseph Budko , Jakob Steinhardt, Arthur Szyk , Albert Rothenstein, and Ben Shahn , and in Israel by J. Zimberknopf and David Gilboa (d. 1976), the last being written in scroll form. The modified Haggadot produced for the kibbutzim are also almost always illustrated, sometimes by local artists.
Chanting and singing the texts of the Haggadah is generally observed in all Jewish communities, each one according to its peculiar style and custom. Although the celebration of the seder night is a family affair in which nobody is obliged to sing, it is customary to do so according to the example set by one's parents. From a musical point of view, the Haggadah text offers opportunities for solo chant as well as for responsorial and community singing. The scope of singing styles encompasses the simple chant (of the narrative and didactic sections), a more developed and melodious recitation that blends well with the responses of the company (for psalms and the old-style hymns), and melodies sung by all those present (for the more recent songs). The melodic recitations often come close to the simpler forms of synagogue chant; the Ashkenazi reader, for instance, largely uses the Adonai Malakh Shteyger, while the Jews of Iraq employ their Tefillah mode for some chapters. The psalms of the Hallel are usually intoned to the ancient patterns of psalmody (see Jewish Music ), and sung with great enthusiasm; already in the Gemara a proverb is
quoted which says that singing the Hallel "cracks the ceiling" (TJ and TB, Pes. 7:12). The stanzas of the medieval poems that conclude the Haggadah, however, are given veritable song tunes in contemporary and past popular styles. These tunes vary from family to family and constitute a still unexplored treasure of folklore. Melodies in the folk style are normally attached to the poems Addir Hu, Ki Lo Na'eh (Addir bi-Melukhah), Eḥad Mi Yode'a, belonging to the widely disseminated category of "counting songs," and Ḥad Gadya. Less frequent are Ḥasal Seder Pesaḥ and the two acrostical hymns following it, as well as certain psalm verses and responsorial refrains in the earlier sections. The homelike atmosphere of Haggadah reading also permitted singing these poems in the vernacular. In the Ashkenazi community, this custom is not attested later than the 18th century, when it appears to have been abandoned. The Sephardim, however, not only continue singing the poems in the Ladino vernacular, but extend this even to more formal chapters such as Ha Laḥma Anya. There is an example from Bulgaria in which every Ladino verse is repeated immediately in Bulgarian and Turkish; the Bulgarian version was to serve the young generation, the Turkish text was meant for the older one, while Ladino was for all.
At some places it is regarded as a merit and even a duty to extend the celebration of the seder night by joyful singing, eventually accompanied by dance steps, for as long as possible. This custom, of course, has its roots in mystical concepts, but it did not remain confined to such circles and is honored by eastern and western communities as well. Ḥasidic niggunim ("melodies") are most often inserted by Ashkenazi celebrants. The Haggadah was also adapted by the Reform tendencies; there were several additions of music in rather dull style, but the substance was not touched. Kibbutzim in Israel have either designed their own tunes out of old and new elements or embellished tradition by additional songs and melodies. Israel songs (in the "classical" style of the 1940s and 1950s) are largely employed for stressing the national and seasonal aspects of Passover, and these tunes display their full charm in the traditional setting. A widely used "Kibbutz Haggadah" setting is that by Yehudah Sharett . Another side-development was the use of the Haggadah for an oratorio, jointly undertaken by Max Brod and the composer Paul Dessau in 1933–35. There the traditional text has been expanded by selected scenes from the Bible and Midrash, and the music combines a declamatory style with the harsh harmonies of that period and full orchestral accompaniment.
Feminist Haggadot create a format for women's communal celebration of Passover by giving prominence to the experiences of women in the narrative of the exodus from Egypt and by acknowledging women's efforts to achieve full participation in Jewish communal and religious life. Inspired by the liberation and exodus imagery used by Civil Rights and New Left political activists, American Jewish women designed the first feminist Haggadah in 1971 for use in private women-only Passover seders. The growth of Jewish feminism and new forms of religious expression during the 1970s and 1980s fostered the production of innovative rituals and liturgy among non-Orthodox religious Jews. A number of feminist Haggadot circulated and were adapted to fit the distinct concerns of each seder's attendees. These Haggadot share many features in structure and content. Relying on classical midrashic texts, they give significant attention to female leadership in the exodus narrative. Miriam takes a central role in the magid and other sections of the seder, supplanting Elijah in portending redemption. The Haggadot present girls and women with historic Jewish female role models who struggled against oppression, including sexism within the Jewish community. Feminine or gender-neutral God language and feminine liturgical language are the norm.
In these Haggadot, the rituals and symbols of the traditional seder are revised or reinterpreted to relate to women's lives. Common features include: (1) modifications of the Four Questions to fit a seder consisting only of women and inclusion of questions about the need for female separatism, the reasons for the bitterness of women's oppression, and the potential for liberation; (2) the Four Sons are transformed into Four Daughters; (3) the Four Cups are presented as stages in women's emancipation or as representative of Jewish heroines; (4) the Ten Plagues are re-named as the plagues cast upon women in Jewish life, for example, blood represents the myriad ways that women's menses and reproductive capacity are blamed for excluding women from Torah study and communal privileges; (5) the Dayyenu song is altered to acknowledge advances in women's status and to voice dissatisfaction with incomplete emancipation; and (6) the seder foods and rituals are given multiple symbolic meanings relating to women's lives. New features include the Passover-themed songs of Debbie Friedman ; the use of Kos Miryam (Miriam's Cup), a goblet of water signifying Miriam's sustaining guidance in the wilderness; and the placing of an orange on the seder plate to acknowledge the contributions of gays and lesbians in the Jewish community. Most feminist Haggadot exist only in photocopied form. Hebrew Union College Library and Ma'yan: The Jewish Women's Project have archived many for research purposes.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.
Haggadah: E. Baneth, Der Sederabend (1904); A. Berlinere, Randbemerkungen zum taeglichen Gebetbuche, 2 (1912), 47ff.; Finkelstein, in: HUCA, 23 (1950–51), pt. 2, pp. 319–37; idem, in: HTR, 31 (1938), 291–317; 35 (1942), 291–332; 36 (1943), 1–18; M. Friedmann (Ish-Shalom), Me'ir Ayin al Seder ve-Haggadah shel Levlei Pesaḥ (1895); D. Goldschmidt, Haggadah shel Pesaḥ ve-Toledoteha (1960), introduction (cf. reviews by E.E. Urbach in KS, 36 (1961), 143ff., and J. Heinemann in Tarbiz, 30 (1960/61), 405ff.); Z. Carl, Mishnayot im Be'ur Ḥadash: Pesaḥim (1927), introduction; J. Lewy, Ein Vortrag ueber das Ritual des Pessachabends (1904); Marx, in: JQR, 19 (1927/28), 1ff.; Stein, in: Jewish Studies, 8 (1957), 13–44; Zunz, Vortraege, 133–5; ET, 8 (1957), 177–93. Illuminated Manuscripts: Mayer, Art, index; B. Narkiss, Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts (1969), index. BIRDS' HEAD