Jew­ish Text

The Medieval Illu­mi­nat­ed Hag­gadah: Fam­i­ly Edition

David Holz­er
  • Review
By – March 27, 2015

The Medieval Illu­mi­nat­ed Hag­gadah, a com­pan­ion to The Medieval Hag­gadah Anthol­o­gy with the com­men­tary of Rab­bi Joseph Soloveitchik, is intend­ed for eas­i­er use at the seder table than the over­sized vol­ume pub­lished in 2014. David Holz­er, who was a stu­dent of the Rav, as Soloveitchik was known, has short­ened the com­ments from the orig­i­nal vol­ume to make them more usable at the seder with­out sac­ri­fic­ing help­ful infor­ma­tion and pithy insights.

Much of the charm of this hag­gadah lies in the many illus­tra­tions from medieval hag­gadot, dig­i­tal­ly remas­tered to recre­ate the orig­i­nal col­or. They form a trea­sury of visu­al mate­r­i­al on medieval life, down to fash­ion and fur­nish­ings. Holz­er points out inter­est­ing or unusu­al fea­tures in the pic­tures and also pro­vides some his­to­ry of the haggadah.

This edi­tion has the same hand­some Hebrew and Eng­lish texts as the first vol­ume, with a few minor changes, sev­er­al based on the com­ments of the Rav. In addi­tion it has sev­en­ty new illus­tra­tions and a sec­tion at the end on some medieval prac­tices, such as the par­tic­i­pa­tion of women in prayer and study, head­dress in the Mid­dle Ages, and a few exam­ples of what dig­i­tal remas­ter­ing has achieved in repro­duc­ing the art. The hag­gadah can be used on its own but also as a way into The Medieval Hag­gadah Anthol­o­gy and its fuller ver­sion of the Rav’s inter­pre­ta­tions and deep rab­binic knowl­edge of the seder. This is the sixth in the series The Rav Think­ing Aloud.

Relat­ed Content:

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