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Creating a Living Passover Seder


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi Preface xiii Introduction xv How to Use This Book xix A Few Words for Seder Leaders xxi A Note on Rabbinic Literature, the Haggadah, and Translations xxiii 1 The Long Road from Slavery to Freedom: From Ancient Egypt to Our Time 1 Slavery in Ancient Times * Exodus and the American Ethos * Vengeance versus Empathy * The Great Seal of the United States: Israelites Crossing the Red Sea versus a Pyramid * Former Slaves Speak * Let Freedom Ring: Historic Words on Freedom * Jewish Values and Social Justice:American Jews in the Antebellum South * Slavery in Our Time 02 The Four "Questions": Who's Asking What and Why? 25 Engaging Children during the Seder: An Ancient Lesson * Questions about Questions * The Greek Symposium and the Jewish Seder * Why These Particular Questions? 03 Two Haggadot in One: The Haggadah's Early Development 33 When Two Sages Disagree: A Story about the Haggadah's Early Development * Art Midrash:"Begin with Disgrace and End with Praise" * Crossing Rivers and Taking Responsibility 04 The Five Sages' Seder: Who Were They and What Kept Them So Late? 43 Five Super-Sages:Their Times and Teachings * Banning Rabbi Eliezer * The Seder in B'nei B'rak: Reconstructing the Conversation 05 The Four Children: A Seat at the Table for Everyone 57 The Four Children * Torah versus Haggadah * The Wise versus the Wicked: A Recipe for Conflict or Conflict Resolution? * Four Voices on Four Children 6 Hardening Pharaoh's Heart: The Toughest Part of the Story 71 The Bible and the Hardening of Pharaoh's Heart * The Commentators' Struggle * "I Will Send All My Plagues into Your Heart . . . " * The Softening of God's Heart 07 The Festival of Spring: Reconnecting Passover and Nature 85 On Spring and Time * The Origins of Passover:Two Views * History Trumps Nature * Activities, Blessings, and Readings 08 The Exodus as a Personal Spiritual Journey 103 Exodus:The Spiritual Journey * Milestones along the Road * Crossing the Sea and the First Song * The Journey's Ultimate Purpose 09 Enslaved in Egypt: Why? 115 The Covenant of the Pieces * Israel Enslaved: Many Questions, Many Answers * Joseph and the Enslavement? * The Self-Critical Voice: Benefits and Dangers 10 "Strangers in a Land Not Theirs": Remembering to Treat the Strangers among Us Justly 129 Knowing the Heart of the Stranger * A Blessing:Treating Strangers Justly * Israel and Its Minority of Arab Citizens 11 "In Every Generation . . ."? God's Role in History and the Jewish People's History among the Nations 137 God: The Elephant, as It Were, at the Seder * Arguing with God * The Sages on Innocent Suffering * Modern Voices 12 "Go Out and Learn . . .": How the Haggadah Tells the Story of the Exodus 153 How the Haggadah Tells the Story * The Pilgrims' Prayer and the Haggadah * Jacob in the House of Laban * A Much-Interpreted Phrase * Moses in the Haggadah * Deuteronomy's Israelite History without Sinai 13 Women of the Exodus: Redeemed by Their Righteousness 169 Passover in an Upside-Down World * Women and the Haggadah: Missing in Action * Women of the Exodus in Midrash * Eden and Egypt:Two Tales of Exodus * Serakh bat Asher and the Exodus * The Legend of Miriam's Well * The Ritual of Miriam's Cup * Redeemed through Blood and Water: Balancing Elijah's Cup with Miriam's Cup 14 The Ten Plagues: Who Suffered and Why? 189 Plagues Against the Israelites? * Why Spill Wine from Our Cups? * When Our Enemies Fall * The Plagues and Knowing God * Signs, Wonders, and Faith: Or Did the Plagues Fail? * Measure for Measure * Revealing the Creator through Anti-Creation 15 Rabban Gamaliel: An Embattled Leader 205 Who Was Gamaliel? * Deposed and Reinstated * Fingerprints on the Haggadah viii 16 Reliving the Exodus: The Story of the Last Night in Egypt 213 Setting the Stage * The Last Night in Egypt * Bibliodrama: Knocking in the Night * Bibliodrama:To Stay or to Leave? * A Prayer for the Journey * Marching from Egypt to the Promised Land 17 Israel and the Haggadah 225 The Fruits of Israel versus Egypt: A Puzzle * Israel's Absence from the Heart of the Haggadah * Whither Israel? * The Fifth Cup * Readings for the Fifth Cup * Passover, Messianism, and Israel 18 The Restoration of Wonder: The Miracles of Egypt and Our Day 241 The Bible and the Dictionary * The Sages on Miracles * The Restoration of Wonder * Jewish Voices on Miracles * At the Red Sea: Two Midrashim * Between Pharoah and the Red Sea * The Horse and Driver 19 "From Darkness to Great Light": What Do These Words Mean to Us Today? 259 An Art Midrash Project * Variations on a Theme * Four Interpretations of Five Phrases * A Deeper Look at a Memorable Passage * The Cultural Milieu 20 "Blessed Are You . . . Who Redeemed Us": The Seder of Redemption 271 The Seder of Hope: Tuning in to Themes of Redemption * Redemption in the Bible and the Ancient Near East * An Age-Old Question:Why Did God Redeem the Israelites? * The Four Cups of Redemption * A Quartet of Twentieth-Century Voices on Redemption * On Faith in Redemption 21 "A Remembrance of the Temple": The Life and Times of Hillel 287 The Meaning of Hillel's Sandwich * A Legendary Leader * Hillel's Teachings * The Talmud on the Destruction of the Temple 22 Elijah's Transformation: From Zealot to Folk Hero 301 Elijah Comes to the Seder * Elijah's Cup * The Biblical Elijah * The Elijah Puzzle * Modeling the Potential to Change * A Mirror: A Tale of Elijah and the Seder * "Pour Out Your Wrath" versus "Give Up Anger" 23 The Exodus from Egypt: The Question of Archeology 315 History and Story * Five Sage Perspectives on the Exodus and History Appendix I: Chapter Ten of the Mishnah Pesachim, the Night of Passover 323 Appendix II: What Is Midrash? 325 Appendix III: Directions for Art Midrash Projects 326 Appendix IV: Blessing for the New Moon 327 Abbreviations and Abbreviated Titles Used in This Book 329 Notes 331 Select Bibliography 360 Index 365

About the Author

David Arnow, PhD, a psychologist by training, is widely recognized for his innovative work to make the Passover Seder a truly exciting encounter each year with Judaism's most central ideas. He has been deeply involved with many organizations in the American Jewish community and Israel and is a respected lecturer, writer and scholar of the Passover Haggadah. He is author of Creating Lively Passover Seders: A Sourcebook of Engaging Tales, Texts & Activities and coeditor of the two-volume My People's Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries, with Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, PhD (both Jewish Lights).


"David Arnow has written the afikomen of Seder books: An ingenious synthesis of history, legend, law, and spirituality (un)leavened with practically helpful, politically important, and psychologically sophisticated suggestions on how to transform your meal into a true celebration of asking and learning. This book belongs next to every seder plate." -Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, Emanu-El Scholar at Congregation Emanu-El, San Francisco; author, The Way Into Jewish Mystical Tradition "This richly informative and inspiring book is a treasure for all those seeking to create a Seder that is alive with questions that matter." -Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, coeditor, The Women's Passover Companion "What is most enjoyable is the connection between the ancient and the contemporary, the timely and timeless quality of our eternal texts which David Arnow has masterfully managed to bring to our attention. Will serve as a marvelous companion piece to the Passover Haggadah and can be referred to year after year." -Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, chancellor, Ohr Torah Stone Institutions of Israel "A deeply enriched and enriching Seder awaits those who use [this] comprehensive sourcebook. [Its] chapter on women of the Exodus is alone worth the cover price." -Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author, Deborah, Golda, and Me: Being Female and Jewish in America "The book everyone who has to lead or attend a Seder has been waiting for. Simply put: This book will ensure that Seders will be intellectually challenging, emotionally engaging, and spiritually uplifting for years to come. If we only have David Arnow's new book to guide us to creating lively Passover Seders, Dayyenu-it would be enough!" -Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of CLAL: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership; coeditor, The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices: CLAL's Guide to Everyday & Holiday Rituals & Blessings "A gift to Jewish parents and teachers who want to explore the many layers of history and interpretation in our celebration of freedom." -Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, editor, The Open Door, the Reform Haggadah "A treasure trove of lore and scholarship, insight and activities that will fascinate and enlighten readers and enrich their Seders for decades. An extraordinary array of strategies for reaching the diverse groups who gather to share the Seder experience." -Rabbi David A. Teutsch, past president, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College "A welcome support for Seder leaders everywhere. As Jewish life continues to evolve, the Seder remains a pivotal moment to transmit values, stories, and the culture of our people. This book is full of ideas, texts, and information on how to enrich the experience for all gathered at the table!." -Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael, rabbinic director, Jewish Women's Spirituality Institute, JCCs of Greater Philadelphia

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