4/07/2006

צא ולמד

The Mishna (Pesachim 10:4) selects the summary of the Egyptian enslavement and Exodus that is found in Devarim 26 as the central narrative to be expounded during the Seder. It’s very terse, in narrative form, and is written from the first-person-plural perspective of a member of the group which experienced the events recalled.
The Mishna instucts us to be doresh (expound, discuss, solicit) this segment. Our Haggadot include a standardized form of this drisha, roughly akin to the one found in the Tannaic Midrash, the Sifri. With the advent of Maxwell House (or perhaps a bit earlier), this part of the seder, which is the central recounting of the Exodus, has evolved from a drasha into a kri’ah – a recitation.
This year, with the permission of the hosts of the Sedarim I will be attending (i.e., my in-laws), we will be doing something a bit different for this part of the Seder. Each person will receive a compilation of several different summaries of the events of Yetziat Mitzrayim, all of which have the central features of a story with a plot (or, in the words of the Mishna, that ‘begin with degradation and end with praise’). We will then compare and contrast these different summaries, look for subtle meanings and turns of phrases that lead the reader in a particular direction, look at the particular context of each summary, to try and gauge its general purpose, etc. Here are the texts from which I’ll be compiling. I’ll use Devraim 26 and 2 or 3 others (I’ll provide links, rather than clutter this post up with full texts). I’d recommend having a full TaNach :
Devarim 26:5-8
Joshua 24:2-7
Ezekiel 16:2-14
Nechemia 9:7-15
Psalms 78:42-53
Bereishis 15:7-21(hat tip: Yehupitz)
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