Monday, March 19, 2007

Pesach Rant

My roommate has pointed that I have a bitter and/or cynical rant for just about every holiday (including Tisha B'Av, Tu B'Shvat, Succot, and even Rosh Chodesh, sorta). This, combined with the fact that the theme of almost all of them is "nobody but me really gets the point" probably makes me a bad person, but what can you do?

Anyway, Pesach rant. I sort of lost steam in that long introduction, but here goes.

I think it's a shame how Sippur Yitziat Mitzrayim has evolved. I mean, the root of the mitzva is to tell the story. You know, once upon a time, Ten-Commandments\Prince-of-Egypt style, with details and characters and maybe even voices. Not, I'm afraid, to tell brilliant vortlach about how the haggada is written or who the four sons represent or why everyone was staying up all night that night. Just tell the story.

I know that it seems a little immature, but then again, the haggada sort of acknowledges the issue when it says "Even if we are all old and learned and brilliant and clever, we still have to tell the story. As much as possible." I've been to seven or eight shiurim that analyze with elegance and flair how the mitzva of sippur relates to reliving and how it's all so important and so forth, but I have never been to a seder that actually focuses on the story telling. Instead, the haggada is plowed through, with varying degrees of interpretation. As if the point was to reach the p'shat of the haggada.

Not that anything can really be done about the subject. Because once we have a haggada, we've sorta got to use it. Although really, there's only one section that claims to be mandatory.

The only real hope is children. (There are 3 buzzwords that one is supposed to use in every argument for Israel: hope, future, and children, in any combination that seems convenient. 2 out of 3 is not bad to use on a subject like this.) Because when you have kids, they actually want to know what's going on and you actually have to tell the story to them, and there you go. But the older the population gets, the more sophisticated everyone feels that they have to be.

I don't know, really. I've never run a seder and I think that I would probably run it just the way that everybody else does, but my ideal seder- as it conglomerates in my head just now- would have minimal emphasis on the haggada and a whole lot on a really good story-teller, telling a really good story complete with visual aids and so forth.


Halfnutcase said...

its interesting you say that, because that is exactly what I grew up with. My father, given that he had 4 add/adhd kids, had asked a rabbis help about how he should give over the seder, because in his experience if he did it the regular way his kids wouldn't stay for even 1/4 of it, and then what would be the point?

But in my own experience the hagada as we know it is designed to address the 4 questions, and the questions of the 4 sons. I realized this one time while I was leading a seder my self.

Most years I do not actualy get to elaborate on the story of the seder because my brother and mother ask me to fly through it so that they can get to bed, but I think that you are right. We really need to be focusing on the telling of the story, rather than pilpulim on the text of the haggada.

The haggada is ment as an explanation of the story after all. That and a confusing document designed to illicit questions from children who don't understand what's going on. Chazal where rather cleaver that way. The sad thing is that most of us read it "backwards" as if the point of it is to satisfy the adults interests instead of as the real point, to convey the lessons of the seder to children.

Miri said...

ask Eli. he knows lots of good ways to make the seder fun.

e-kvetcher said...

e-kvetcher said...

e-kvetcher said...

Dammit! It keeps getting truncated!

Click Here