Rab­bi Jonathan Sack­’s Haggadah

Jonathan Sacks
  • Review
By – November 11, 2011

If you want to under­stand a peo­ple, lis­ten to the way it tells its sto­ries. The sto­ry of Jew­ish enslave­ment and ulti­mate redemp­tion has cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion and cre­ativ­i­ty of gen­er­a­tions of rab­bis. Lit­er­al­ly thou­sands of edi­tions of the Hag­gadah exist, and more are pub­lished each year. Jews are exhort­ed to elab­o­rate on the dis­cus­sion of the Exo­dus and this has spawned a pletho­ra of com­men­taries. Rab­bi Sacks’s Hag­gadah first appeared in Great Britain in 2003 and is now avail­able in the U.S. Rab­bi Sacks has divid­ed this book into two sec­tions. Read­ing right to left (and using the Hebrew Hag­gadah text edi­tion of Rab­bi Shlo­mo Riskin) he has pro­vid­ed a run­ning com­men­tary replete with bril­liant insights, nov­el inter­pre­ta­tions, and clever obser­va­tions. Of spe­cial inter­est is his com­men­tary to the post- Seder songs. For deep­er con­tem­pla­tion, going left to right, are twen­ty-one essays focus­ing on Passover and Jew­ish iden­ti­ty, the place of Passover in West­ern polit­i­cal imag­i­na­tion, its role in sus­tain­ing a peo­ple through the vicis­si­tudes of time, and some new inter­pre­ta­tions of key parts of the text. 

There are two Seder nights, and the Chief Rab­bi of the British Com­mon­wealth has pro­vid­ed ade­quate mate­r­i­al for both. Draw­ing upon clas­si­cal rab­binic com­men­taries, Eng­lish writ­ers and philoso­phers, as well as Hasidic teach­ings, this Hag­gadah will pro­vide hours of fruit­ful dis­cus­sion and inspi­ra­tion for many Passovers.

Wal­lace Greene, Ph.D., has held sev­er­al uni­ver­si­ty appoint­ments, and cur­rent­ly writes and lec­tures on Jew­ish and his­tor­i­cal subjects.

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