The Passover Seder, the most popular and widely celebrated occasion on the annual Jewish calendar, and its Haggadah, which is a unique combination of liturgy, biblical exegesis, and rabbinic lore, have both delighted and confounded celebrants for nearly two thousand years. Over time, the traditional Haggadah has become increasingly obscure as the distance between the authors and readers, in both chronological and cultural terms, widens over time. This is because the Haggadah is essentially a rabbinic work, much of which is written in a style similar to that found in the classic works of Rabbinic Judaism such as the Talmud and Midrash, works that demand much more from those who would understand them than casual perusal.
Although some good translations of the Haggadah have appeared over the years, even the best is necessarily an interpretation as well, and may tend to obscure some of the nuances in the original language of composition that permit alternative explanations of the author's intent. The problem of maintaining fidelity to the original has become exacerbated as efforts to make the text more relevant to the modern reader have in some instances introduced assertions that, while essentially meaningful, bear little direct relation to the language and likely intent of the original work. This book strives to unravel the mysteries of the traditional text of the Haggadah and provide the reader insight into the highly sophisticated thought of its authors.