Enlivening The Seder


People often ask for advice on which Hagadah they should use for their Pesach seder, and there are indeed a wide variety of hagadot coming from every conceivable angle and expanding the story of the Exodus in a myriad of directions. But even more important than choosing a hagadah is deciding how it will be used. Too often we read through the Hagadah word for word, hoping this will somehow make the story and the experience come to life for us. Unfortunately, this approach can shut down the very voices at our seder that we most need to hear: the voices of children, the voices of guests unfamiliar with the story, the voices of adults reengaging with the story for the first time in years. Every voice, every viewpoint holds the potential to change our understanding of the meaning of this ancient story and to help us grow in new ways. So whichever hagadah you use, try to find away to take everyone’s eyes off the page and let them find the eyes and hear the voices of those gathered around the table. You can ask provocative questions (way beyond four), engage in role-playing, act out the story, or ask guests at the seder (in advance) to come prepared with a contribution in story, poetry, or song. Whichever way you choose, the more voices get to express themselves at your table, the more engaging and rich your seder will feel, and the more everyone will learn. As the Hagadah teaches, “All who expound upon the Passover story shall be praised.” May we all be blessed to learn something new from those at our seders this year.