Jew­ish Text

The Ratio­nal Passover Haggadah

  • Review
By – March 30, 2022

Rely­ing on rea­son to explain the text, The Ratio­nal Passover Hag­gadah offers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­sid­er the impor­tance of rit­u­al, the his­tor­i­cal accu­ra­cy of Exo­dus, and time­less ques­tions about the rela­tion­ship between God and the Jew­ish peo­ple in our mod­ern world. The Ratio­nal Passover Hag­gadah does this by inter­spers­ing thought-pro­vok­ing arti­cles with the tra­di­tion­al Hag­gadah text; this guides read­ers in dis­cus­sions for any time of the year but is espe­cial­ly appro­pri­ate when sit­ting togeth­er to cel­e­brate Passover.

For exam­ple, fol­low­ing the recita­tion of the tra­di­tion­al four ques­tions, the author sug­gests four addi­tion­al ques­tions we might ask, includ­ing Must the Seder be a reli­gious expe­ri­ence, or is it enough for it to be a fam­i­ly and/​or nation­al Jew­ish expe­ri­ence?” While encour­ag­ing Seder par­tic­i­pants to first con­sid­er these ques­tions on their own, Prager also offers his own expla­na­tions which may spark fur­ther deliberation.

The design of the Hag­gadah — its text-cen­tered inter­pre­tive approach — and the focus on addi­tion­al arti­cles for dis­cus­sion makes The Ratio­nal Passover Hag­gadah best suit­ed for adult audi­ences. The text is pro­vid­ed in Hebrew and Eng­lish, with­out translit­er­a­tion. Quotes from oth­er mod­ern thinkers, such as Rab­bi Jonathan Sacks and Dr. Jor­dan Peter­son, are inter­spersed to sup­port the author’s analysis.

The Ratio­nal Passover Hag­gadah is a valu­able addi­tion to the Passover Seder, allow­ing par­tic­i­pants to con­sid­er Judaism’s cen­tral themes with Prager’s clar­i­ty of thought and appre­ci­a­tion for dif­fi­cult ques­tions. It may be used inde­pen­dent­ly or as a source for sup­ple­men­tal readings.

Jonathan Fass is the Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of Edu­ca­tion­al Tech­nol­o­gy and Strat­e­gy at The Jew­ish Edu­ca­tion Project of New York.

Discussion Questions