A Passover Haggadah: Go Forth and Learn Paperback – Mar 1 2011
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“For those with a serious Jewish background, or serious intellectual curiosity, [A Passover Haggadah] is a gold mine.”—Jay Michaelson, The Forward
(Jay Michaelson The Forward)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Very nice commentary below the text of the Haggadah, plus real insightful essays at the back. Just what you would expect from the extremely close reading that Rabbi Silber brings to Biblical and other Jewish texts.
Printed on nice paper too.
Rabbi Silber is an Orthodox Jewish scholar of major significance with the broad and deep knowledge of a first rate Talmid Chacham. While in high school, we recall that he placed among the highest finalists in the world Bible contest. Silber knew the entire Tanakh by heart and could cite it with great facility on any topic. He is known now as an expert in the entire range of Jewish learning and as a master teacher of our tradition.
Silber's book appeared in time for Passover last year, A Passover Haggadah: Go Forth and Learn. His collaborator in writing this book is Rachel Furst, an accomplished scholar and teacher in her own right. Although we single out Rabbi Silber here, all of our comments and compliments ought to be allocated between both authors.
This is a volume of great erudition and careful learning. Silber derives his insights from a range of sources including the work of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, but not limited by that influence. Silber's writings show an originality of theological insight that is deeply rooted in the classical texts and sources and informed by a wide ranging knowledge of the liberal arts.
The essays are works of pedagogic mastery. Silber has taught this material for decades and over time has highly refined his presentations. He balances his use of previous scholarly sources between the rabbinic and the academic and arrives often at original insights that are compelling. Thus, the essays in this volume are parts of the book that will be cited by many who seek fresh and modern angles of vision into the old and established contents of the Tanakh and rabbinic writings.
Silber's comments in this book's Haggadah-text-section are substantial, original and faithful to the rabbinic record. Interspersed here are not just nuggets of interpretation, but also coherent essays and excurses on topics brought to the Seder table by the Haggadah text.
The book authentically amplifies the strong and weak aspects of the Haggadah itself. The Haggadah book is a complex composite of liturgy, learning and rituals. It's notable that we call the occasion on which we read and enact the book the "Seder" as that implies order and organization. Indeed the Haggadah is the one rabbinic book that comes with its own embedded table of contents - a listing of the fifteen Seder sections.
Yet organization with a list of contents does not imply a tight coherence to a set theme. The Haggadah ranges widely and richly across the landscape of Israelite and rabbinic history and ritual. It hops often without warning from one mode of expression and rite to another and from one crucial topic in Jewish religious life and thought to another.
Silber and Furst enrich this winding and even dizzying Haggadah-journey that we embark on each year with the expertise of seasoned and expert scouts. At the end of the trip with this marvelous guide book we can safely say that these pathfinders took us on a great adventure with deep and keen perceptions into every stop along the way.
Rabbi Silber has a profound mastery of Biblical text which is demonstrated throughout his essays. If you are searching to find meaning in the yearly ritual of the Seder, than this book is a must read. I recommend that you start reading the essays several weeks before Passover begins and discuss with your friends and family the themes Rabbi Silber raises well in advance of your Seder.
The work is well worth the price.
For the uninitiated in Passover, the Seder means order, as in the order of the setting and its components.
It does not mean the order of its clarity of reasoning.
Much of a Passover evening is devoted, ideally at least, to contemplation of the underlying meaning of Symbols, texts quoted in the Seder and what logical unity there is to the whole.
The purpose of the prayers, questions, songs, accoutrements and the meal are often discussed at length and to no complete conclusion. This is reasonable as a full conclusion has yet to be reached in 2000 years that everybody (at least those interested in the business) can agree to. Multiple works out there have various takes on the course of the evening's events and all have some seeming validity. Often the points of views and the conclusions can be quite contrary.
A favorite part is the 4 Questions: "Why is this night different from all other nights"
There are answers to be had which employs a good part of the evening. This is a major focus of quite varied theses. I can count out some 45-50 discrete ones that I have read thus far.
The nature of annotations and the stated explanations, at least in this as in much of Commentaries available for Mishnah or Talmud, are subjective. There is ultimately no single correct answer or even manner of thought and there is an advantage to having many similar works to peruse to understand the complexity of what is a Seder.
This work is a worthy member to join many others of its ilk.
Take off one star because it is awkward to read at the Seder table.
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