The JPS Com­men­tary on the Hag­gadah: His­tor­i­cal Intro­duc­tion, Trans­la­tion, and Commentary

Joseph Tabo­ry; David Stern, fwd.
  • Review
By – April 23, 2012
Just as Jews gath­er every Passover to reex­pe­ri­ence the exo­dus from Egypt, so the hag­gadah over the years has reflect­ed their expe­ri­ences in the var­i­ous places and soci­eties they have lived. In the JPS Com­men­tary on the Hag­gadah Rab­bi Joseph Tabo­ry, a pro­fes­sor of Tal­mud at Bar-Ilan Uni­ver­si­ty and author­i­ty on the his­to­ry of the hag­gadah, traces the hag­gadah to its ori­gins and shows how it devel­oped through a com­plex of sources includ­ing rab­binic dis­course, midrash, and local cus­tom. Tabo­ry opens with a his­to­ry of the sources, then goes through the seder step by step, tak­ing each rit­u­al from its ori­gin to its mod­ern form. The third sec­tion is Tabory’s trans­la­tion of the seder, along­side the Hebrew, with addi­tion­al com­men­tary. Tabory’s focus is the tra­di­tion­al seder and does not cov­er addi­tions that speak to many con­tem­po­rary con­cerns — the Shoah, the Civ­il Rights move­ment, fem­i­nism — although he occa­sion­al­ly notes where such addi­tions might be insert­ed. For seder lead­ers and stu­dents inter­est­ed in deep­en­ing their knowl­edge and under­stand­ing of the text and the rit­u­als, this com­men­tary is a valu­able source. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, illustrations.

Maron L. Wax­man, retired edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor, spe­cial projects, at the Amer­i­can Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry, was also an edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor at Harper­Collins and Book-of-the-Month Club.

Discussion Questions