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.
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.