Let My People Know

"One may jest, one may ask questions, one may play"

The external framework of the seder, despite it being fixed, is not rigid; it allows, and even encourages, the introduction of changes and innovations.

Not only were new sections added to the text of the Haggadah over the generations from time to time, but the text itself, by its very nature, demands completion.

In each generation parents and children are again asked to think about the enslavement and liberation from Egypt—to discuss them, study them, and to examine the many points at which present-day life meets, identifies with and clashes with the Passover Haggadah.

Essentially, everyone is asked to add to the story, to perfect it and to “relate the Exodus from Egypt” at least for “that entire night.”

For this reason, there is no hard and fast rule as to how one is to read the Haggadah and who is to read it.

If they wish, the members of the household may ask the oldest one to read it and to explain;

if they prefer, they may all read it together;

if they wish to sing the text, fine;

if they prefer it may be read without song and melody.

Whoever wishes to ask questions is invited to ask, whether young or old–the wise child, the wicked one, the stupid one.

And whoever wishes to answer or to discuss the matter is praiseworthy.

The night of the seder expresses that characteristic of Judaism which was succinctly put by one of the Hassidic teachers: “’You shall be a holy people unto Me’–that your holiness shall be human.”

Thus, the atmosphere at the seder may not be one of scorn or joking, but of respect for the sacred—but in a human manner.

One may jest;

one may ask questions;

one may play.

The afikoman is “stolen,” one acts out the Exodus from Egypt, and once again this Jewish family, which is now celebrating the Passover Seder, is connected with the entire Jewish people, in all places and throughout the generations.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

Adapted from The Passover Haggadah by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz ( Carta, Jerusalem, 1983)