Who Wrote the Haggada?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

The authorship of the Pesach hagadda is a subject which is both intriguing and mysterious, with no clear answers. In fact, it is a book which has evolved from its original form over time, and continues to do so. Indeed, one will readily notice that there are a multitude of different editions of the modern day haggada available, each of which often include a variety of supplementary readings. The name of the haggada derives from the Torah which commands us “And you shall tell (v’higgadeta) your children on that day”.[1] 

The haggada, as was the case concerning the siddur, and even the Tanach itself, were projects initiated by the Anshei Knesset Hagedola, the members of the “Great Assembly” who were the first to compile and canonize many of the texts that we have today. The haggada, however, was only started during this era but it was not completed until much later. For example, it is evident that the “chad gadya” poem which is sung at the conclusion of the seder only found its way into the haggada at a much later time. This is because chad gadya is written in Aramaic which was the vernacular of the Jews of Babylon.  Indeed, it is worth noting that one is required to read the haggada in a language which one understands.[2] Some suggest that chad gadya was written by Rabbi Eliezer Rokeach.[3] Even though chad gadya is not among the original or even the halachically required readings of the seder, we are taught that one who intentionally omits it “deserves to be excommunicated”.[4] On the other hand, the famous and beloved “ma nishtana” reading which is generally reserved for the children is clearly of older origin, as it is taken directly from the Mishna.[5] In contrast to “chad gadya“, it is likely that “adir bimlucha“, originated in the Land of Israel.[6] 

Similarly, the section of the haggada which mentions the rabbis who stayed awake all night in Bnei Brak discussing the Exodus from Egypt is cited in the works of the Tosfot.[7] We know that the “avadim hayinu” section was written by Rabbi Elazar Hagadol.[8] The closing passage of “chasal siddur pesach” was added to the haggada by Rabbi Yosef Tur-Elam.[9] The Maharil seems to be the first authority to cite the poem “vayehi b’chatzi halayla“.

There are a number of other haggadic pieces such as “kamaa ma’alot tovot“, “vayered mitzrayim“, “Rabban Gamliel” and “nishmat” which can be traced to the Talmudic era.[10] We know that Rashi’s haggada included the “dayeinu“, a poem which was likely introduced by Rav Saadia Gaon.[11]

It is interesting to note that in theory one can fulfill the mitzva of reading the “haggada” by merely focusing on those passages which discuss the symbolic meaning of the Pesach offering, the Matza, and the Marror. Nevertheless, to properly fulfill the mitzva of teaching the story of the Exodus from Egypt one should certainly read the entire haggada. The first known printed haggada as we have it today was printed in 1485 in Venice, Italy.


[1] Shemot 13:5

[2] Rema O.C. 473:6, Rivevot Ephraim 1:302:2

[3] 1160 CE -1238 CE

[4] Chaim Shaal 1:28

[5] Pesachim 116a

[6] Yerushalmi Rosh Hashana 4

[7] Ketubot 105a

[8] Mechilta;Bo, approximately 195 CE

[9] Died 1040 CE

[10] Yoma 74b, Pesachim 118b, Pesachim 109a, Tosefta Sukka 3,

[11] 882 CE – 942 CE

About Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (8 volumes), Rabbinic Director of United with Israel and a RA"M at a number of yeshivot. www.rabbienkin.com

47 comments

  1. You say that “We know that Rashi’s haggada included the “dayeinu“”. How do we know this? Are there responsa of his that detail the contents of the Haggada?

  2. Simon-

    I definately saw it somewhere, but dont remember now. I wrtoe this piece many years ago and it appears in my book “Halacha Bilvad”.

    Regards

    Ari Enkin

  3. “we are taught that one who intentionally omits it “deserves to be excommunicated”.”

    I hope this doesn’t mean that any non-Ashkenazi Jew (whose haggadot simply end at the end of Hallel) “deserves to be excommunicated.”

    “On the other hand, the famous and beloved “ma nishtana” reading which is generally reserved for the children is clearly of older origin, as it is taken directly from the Mishna.”

    No it isn’t. The text is different. There are many theories about Mah Nishtana.

    “Similarly, the section of the haggada which mentions the rabbis who stayed awake all night in Bnei Brak discussing the Exodus from Egypt is cited in the works of the Tosfot.”

    This is, in fact, the only part of the Haggada (i.e., Magid) that appears nowhere in Talmudic sources.

    ““kamaa ma’alot tovot“…Rashi’s haggada included the “dayeinu“”

    These are the same thing. I attended a series of shiurim this week where it was pointed out that Dayeinu is quite possibly one of the oldest parts of the Hagada (note that it *ends* with the building of the Mikdash- no Churban mentioned), yet is first mentioned in the context of the Hagada in the Middle Ages, and then only as an option. Ditto the whole math bit about the plagues, which is more suited to Shvi’i Shel Pesach, etc. etc.

  4. The Rambam’s introduction to his nusach of the haggadah (namely that the text is specifically that to be used in galut) would seem to argue against our haggadah being the same as that of the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah who would have written their haggadah for a ceremony based on eating the korban pesach.

  5. By “Tur-Elam”, don’t you mean “Tov Elem”? (Tov Elem being the transposition of the French “Bonfils”, i.e. “Goodson”.)

  6. Awesome feedback and sources!

    Thanks!

    Ari Enkin

  7. Haggadah Shlemah has a number of essays on this and related issues.

  8. >For example, it is evident that the “chad gadya” poem which is sung at the conclusion of the seder only found its way into the haggada at a much later time. This is because chad gadya is written in Aramaic which was the vernacular of the Jews of Babylon.

    Does this mean that Akdamus Milin was written in Babylon?

  9. ….highly likely.

    Ari Enkin

  10. >….highly likely.

    Ai, it was written by R. Meir ben Yitzchak Sha”tz of Worms?

  11. Okay, my point is that Aramaic is a literary language of the Jews, too. The fact that some text is in Aramaic proves nothing, in itself, about when and where it was written.

    In case anyone is interested, here is a discussion about Chad Gadya which I posted last year:

    http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2010/04/so-where-did-chad-gaya-come-from-anyway.html

  12. Anonymous wrote:

    “Ditto the whole math bit about the plagues, which is more suited to Shvi’i Shel Pesach, etc. etc”

    Why? Are not the Makos part and parcel of describing what HaShem did prior to and during the actual Yetzias Mitzrayim ?

  13. The central portions of the hagadah ie starting with mentioning our debased origins and concluding w praise of G-d is Talmudic (rav v Shmuel)
    the texts of the exegesis of Arami over Avi is mishnaic as is the the mentioning of the Pesach matzo and maror and recitation of
    hallel Of course the concept of those components is d’oraisa even though the exact textual wording may have come at a later date

  14. Yi’yasher kochakhem, R. Enkin and company.
    Regarding what is the minimum amount of the Haggadah that must be communicated in order to fulfill the mitzvah of sippur yetzi’at mitzrayim, here is a suggestion from RSZA in Shulchan Shelomoh, Erkei Refu’ah I, p. 131:

    “A physician who is summoned on the Seder night to treat a patient, and he is concerned that due to his occupation [with the patient] he will not be able to fulfill the mitzvot of the Seder before midnight, if he has only a little bit of time, he should try at least to recite Kiddush on a cup of wine and say the section “Avadim Hayinu etc.”, which is the principal obligation of sippur yetzi’at mitzrayim which is of Torah law. And also he should recite the rabbinic blessing of “Asher Ge’alanu”. And if possible he should also add the section “Rabban Gamliel Hayah Omer etc.”, which is only a mitzvah min hamuvchar. And all this must be orchestrated before eating the matzah and afikoman, as the Sages said “onin alav devarim harbeh”.”

  15. Steve, I was “Anonymous,” sorry. The speaker’s point (it was, by the way, Avigdor Shinan) was that the Yam Suf is otherwise not mentioned at the seder (apart from a prooftext from the Midrash and Hallel, of course), and we *know* this to be a much later addition anyway.

    R’ Spira, every year I’m able to say almost the entire Maggid (on Shabbat HaGadol) in about ten minutes. Another ten for Hallel, and that’s not much.

  16. Yah, I’m surprised you didn’t cite any of the standard works on the history of the Haggadah – the Goldschmidt haggadah, R’ Kasher’s Haggadah Shelemah (as noted by R Steve Brizel), or Baruch Bokser’s “Origins of the Seder”. Or the Safrais’ Haggadat Chazal, or Joseph Tabory’s JPS Haggadah – neither of which I’ve read yet, they’re both newer. They’re all in print.

    There’s a lot out there on the history of the Haggadah text. Tze ul’mad.

    Trying to learn history from the gemara is like trying to learn science from the Tanach. It’s not what it was written for.

    As a curiosity item: R Menachem Leibtag has a theory that Tehillim 105 was written as a text for Maggid, long before the Midrash known today as the Haggadah was compiled sometime, probably late Tannaitic or early Amoraic period.

    Huh. The Goldschmidt Haggadah, if you want to buy it from Amazon, will set you back $900-1100 dollars. But if you buy it direct from Mosad Bialik, it’s still in print for a bit more than $13 (plus shipping from Israel, of course). For that $900, you could pay someone to go over, spend a couple of days in a hotel, pick it up and bring it back for you.

  17. MiMedinat HaYam

    “chasal siddur pesach” was written by the rav of york, england. he was one of the “baalei tosfot” (besides a “baal hahagadah”.) i guess the name you gave. the one who wrote one of the kinot on on 9av for the jews of york who wre burned in the castle. (we actually dont say that kinah, but its in rosenfeld, so i guess it may be said by british and / or german jews.)

    2. the chatam sofer has a few perushim / commentaries on chad gadya; one of them (appearing in some, but not all editions of his hagadot; its also either in drashot CS, or in his perush to chulin, but again, not all editions) where he ties it into to “(ke)hah lachma anya” and dates it to galut bavel after churban bayit rishon. one of his reasons is that just like we begin tfilah with “adon olam”, so we begin and end the hagadah in the (galut) vernacular, aramaic. and it was also the vernacular in mishnaic times, too.

    but the generally accepted version is that it was “found between the walls of the beit medrash of the rokeach”, which S discusses in his onthemainline blog post.

    3. i believe gil had a post on who wrote the hagadah several years ago. where he also refers to the “symposium” practice. a greek custom, obviously adopted by the “Baal HaHagadah”. i believe that is the post where r gil got the additional title of “Baal HaBlog”.

  18. lawrence kaplan

    Thanbo: If you can get me a plane ticket to Israel and a few days at a hotel for $900, I will give you a Extra $100 for your services!

    More seriously, I agree with you re the troubling absence of any reference on the part of R. Enkin to the standard and, I would have hoped, well known historical works you mentioned.

    Also note the recent article on the Mah Nishtanah by Dr. Richard Steiner.

  19. it is evident that the “chad gadya” poem… found its way into the haggada at a much later time [than the Anshei Knesset HaGedola]… because chad gadya is written in Aramaic which was the vernacular of the Jews of Babylon.

    I have no problem with the conclusion, but I don’t hear the proof. Daniel and Ezra were themselves members of the Anshei Knesses HaGedola, and their sefarim were canonized by the Anshei Knesses HaGedola in Aramaic.

  20. another helpful (but painful to read) work is heinrich guggenheim’s Scholar’s Haggadah

    THANBO:

    there is an earlier goldschmidt edition that is much less common. perhaps this is what the are charging so much for? (although academically it’s worth even less than the standard edition we all have)

    and on the topic of ealier editions of standard works, i like rav kasher’s haggadah eretz yisraelit

  21. Rabbi Enkin:
    Can you put a stop to the series of posts that pose historical questions when you don’t bother to consult appropriate and relevant literature? There is a method for this type of inquiry but you don’t seem to be acquainted with it. Just as you don’t pasken from a gemara, you don’t reconstruct a history from it. And just as you turn to experts with difficult halakhic questions, you turn to experts who have the requisite training to research these kinds of questions.

  22. Lawrence Kaplan

    MJ: Well said.

  23. If you are interested in the historical development of the Haggadah, I recommend the Polychrome Historical Haggadah, written by Jacob Freedman and published in 1974. It’s an extraordinary work, in that every word in the Haggadah is printed in one of 7 colors, corresponding to the era in which it was written.

    Unfortunately it’s out of print, with prices for it on Amazon ranging from $275 to $2500. But if you can borrow a copy from a Judaica library you’ll be well rewarded.

  24. MJ & Lawrence Kaplan-

    Thank you for your oomments which are well received. Ill get back to halacha and not history.

    ….The Polychrome is now on the top of my “to-get-my-hands-on” list.

    Ari Enkin

  25. R’ Enkin, I don’t think anyone is telling you not to write something. Just a bit more context, if you please.

  26. Shachar Ha'amim

    “It is interesting to note that in theory one can fulfill the mitzva of reading the “haggada” by merely focusing on those passages which discuss the symbolic meaning of the Pesach offering, the Matza, and the Marror. Nevertheless, to properly fulfill the mitzva of teaching the story of the Exodus from Egypt one should certainly read the entire haggada. ”

    the former is only according to the view of Rabban Gamliel. See the last tosefta of p’sachim for a variant of the “staying up all night to…” story, in which it says that it was Rabban Gamliel who stayed up all night reciting the halachot of Pesach.
    Our version of the haggada accomodates both views by including the variant that refers to the haggada as a recital of the story of national liberation (i.e. Rabbi Akiva) versus the view that views the hagga as a recital of the laws of Pesach (i.e. Rabban Gamliel).

  27. R’ Nachum,
    Thank you for your kind response. I agree with you. RSZA must be referring to a healthcare worker who finishes treating his dangerously ill patient literally five minutes before midnight. So RSZA is offering a super-accelerated 5-minute-program to fulfill the basic obligations before midnight. [Brings new meaning to the verse “ki vichipazon yatzata me’eretz mitzrayim”.]

    R. Enkin,
    I wanted to ask you what you think of my suggested new stringency for this year: After drinking the second cup, everyone should rinse out their mouths with water before proceeding to Rachtzah and Motzi-Matzah, so that the wine residue on one’s palate will be dissipated. If one does not rinse out one’s mouth, then the wine residue in one’s mouth may interfere with the taste of the matzah, apropose the opinion of the Sages in Pesachim 115a that foreign foods interfere with the mitzvah of matzah. Thank you.

  28. lawrence kaplan

    R. Spira: Though you did not ask me, it seems to me that before you propose new stringencies that have never been practiced by anyone, you should first have stronger grounds. To compare a possible very slight wine residue in one’s mouth to foreign foods interfering with the taste of matzah is really a stretch.

  29. Fotheringay-Phipps

    “Even though chad gadya is not among the original or even the halachically required readings of the seder, we are taught that one who intentionally omits it “deserves to be excommunicated”.[4]”

    This is a bit unclear. The Chida was dealing with someone who mocked the piyut, and he meant someone who deleted it on that basis. Or possibly anyone who deleted it because of the type of historical analysis that is being done here. If someone intentionally omitted it because he was tired and wanted to go to sleep he does not deserve to be excommunicated, all the more so if his custom is not to say it.

    “The closing passage of “chasal siddur pesach” was added to the haggada by Rabbi Yosef Tur-Elam.[9]”

    Also a bit misleading. This passage was clearly written by RYTE as part of his piyut for Shabbos Hagadol, as the close of his enumeration of the laws of Pesach. It was likely someone else who later added it to the haggada.

  30. Fotheringay-Phipps

    I think he was kidding.

  31. MiMedinat HaYam

    r spira’s chumra would be applicable to those using the “salty” matzot.

    (humor, but you’ll prob need some background.)

    (and f-p: glad to have you back. you were gone for a while.

    2. a friend (member of rabbinic alumni) emailed me a pre pesach email rabbinic lumni sent out, that has two articles on chad gadya, and more. they seem related to our discussions here.

    3. i’ll agree with r enkin on proposing ideas, even though they might not be fully developed. thats what comments are for (if properly regulated, which problem we do not have here yet.) like your 821am comment says.

  32. lawrence kaplan

    FP: Perhaps. I’m not so sure.

    I’m also glad to have you back.

  33. R’ Phillips,
    Thank you for your kind response. I should have formulated my question to R. Enkin more reverentially, so that it is clear that it is a real question being posed to be mekhabed R. Enkin, as Mori ViRebbi R. Kaplan correctly appreciated. My apologies for my initial unclarity. [Cf. gemara in Menachot 37a, where the same type of shakla vitarya occurred between Plimo and Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi.]

    Thank you, also R’ Mimedinat Hayam, for your tzu shtell to the dispute between the Mechaber and the Rema in OC 475:1 whether one should salt the matzah at the Seder. Barukh shekivanta; I just saw a moment ago that R. Moshe Sternbuch in Teshuvot Vihanhagot V, no. 138, suggests precisely such a reason why Rema discourages salting the matzah. [Although R. Sternbuch adds that this is a hiddur, and that me’ikar hadin as small amount of salt will not matter, entirely parallel with what Mori ViRebbi R. Kaplan responded.]

  34. Lawrence Kaplan

    FP: I rest my case.

  35. Rav Spira-

    Its a nice idea, but besides for “lo shamanu lo ra’inu” the Gemara you quote is discussing eating other foods together with the matza. It sodes not refer to residue in the mouth or between the teeth.

    And again…”lo shomanu, lo ra’inu”.

    Ari Enkin

  36. Besides, R’ Spira, if you’re going to worry about wine residue in the mouth affecting the taste of the matza, perhaps you should also worry about remaining water in the mouth, from the rinsing, rendering the matzah gebrokts.

    I was taught that residue (or taam?) in the mouth doesn’t count for basar bechalav, – e.g., if I’ve just had cheese and my wife has just had meat, is there a BBH issue when we kiss? Apparently not. So, it would seem, is the case here.

    Create a silly humra, get a silly refutation.

  37. Fotheringay-Phipps

    LK: “I rest my case.”

    Case closed. 🙂

    I also agree with your earlier comment (4/6 6:25), but I think you didn’t go far enough. You can’t ever “propose new stringencies that have never been practiced by anyone”, no matter how strong the grounds. The only ways around this are 1) to claim that the circumstances have changed in some manner, or 2) to claim that people always practiced it but it happened to never get mentioned in any sources. (The latter would apply to rare and obscure situations, that are not dealt with by poskim, and not to subjects that are as standard and as extensively dealt with as eating matza after having drunk wine.)

  38. R. Enkin,
    Thank you for your analysis and the honour of your response. Indeed, the sugya in Pesachim 115a (and R. Sternbuch’s application thereof to salting the matzah) deals only with adding a food to the matzah outside one’s mouth. Thus, as you say, there is no precedent to concern oneself with residue that remains in one’s mouth from previous eating. However, as R’ Thanbo subsequently observed, we do see in Hilkhot Bassar BiChalav (YD 89:1) that the meaty residue in one’s mouth prohibits one from eating cheese, and – more controversially (YD 89:2) – that the intense dairy residue in one’s mouth (in the case of hard cheese) might prohibit one from eating meat. By the same token, if a person drinks an intensely sweet wine (e.g. grape juice) and then eats matzah, the matzah will taste like cake. On the other hand, it could be this is a rabbinic strignency unique to Hilkhot Bassar Bichalav which can’t be transposed to akhilat matzah.

    R’ Fotheringay-Phipps,
    Your points are well taken. But, on the other hand, the gemara in Chullin 7a speaks of the concept “makom hinichu li avotai lihitgader bo”.

  39. “The Maharil seems to be the first authority to cite the poem “vayehi b’chatzi halayla“.” Huh? It’s part of the yotzros for shabbos Hagadol, which was written by R’ Yosef Tuv Elem, one of the ba’alei Hatosfos.

    Also, on a similar note, R’ Yosef Tuv Elem didn’t write “Chasal Sidur Pesach” as part of the Hagadda. He wrote as the concluding passages to the piyut in his Shabbos Hagadol Yotzros, after going through all of hilchos Pesach. This is what is meant by “ka’asher zachinu l’sader oso, ken nizkeh la’asoss” – just as we just merited to learn all the halachos in the proper order, so too we should merit to perform all the halachos on Pesach itself. As an ending to the hagada, on the other hand, it’s very difficult to understand and people assume it means “we should merit to fulfill in future years”, or something along those lines, which is very difficult to fit into the words.

  40. Quite importantly (and as a credit to my interlocutors), I should note that the Mishnah Berurah in 0C 461, se’if katan 18 evidently rejects my proposed stringency. MB permits momentarily dipping the kezayit of matzah in wine before eating it, as this will not nullify the taste of the matzah. Surely, then, MB will permit one with wine residue in his mouth to eat the matzah.

    The only room for my question is according to the Magen Avraham and R. Moshe Sternbuch who both diverge from MB. Namely, Magen Avraham (cited by MB in the Sha’ar Hatziyun no. 32) prohibits even momentarily dipping the matzah in wine. And R. Moshe Sternbuch diverges from MB in terms of explaining why Rema in OC 475:1 says not to salt the matzah. [MB says it is to make the matzah visually resemble “lechem oni”. R. Sternbuch says it is a hiddur mitzvah to avoid interfering with the taste of the matzah, apropos the gemara in Pesachim 115a.] Thus, according to the Magen Avraham/R. Sternbuch school of thought, we can inquire whether it is possible to extapolate from Hilkhot Bassar Bichalav to akhilat matzah that even a pre-existing taste in one’s mouth should be significant.

  41. MiMedinat HaYam

    my comment about salted matzah refers to a “controversy” that the satmar bakery matzot (wheat from top chumra place in arizona) is too salty. so some machmirim have pbklms with being more machmir on satmar, etc controversy. (which i obviously dont agree personally.)

    my personal objection to pesach chumrot is this business about non gebroxt. it is flat out NOT a chumra, but a minhag / custom. however, it has become a chumra nowadays, with ppl throwing out dishes that had matzah meal in it, etc. even completely dry shmura matza meal. (which one doesnt do with dishes touched by rice!) but its the chumra du jour of the past few years.

  42. Fotheringay-Phipps

    SS: “But, on the other hand, the gemara in Chullin 7a speaks of the concept “makom hinichu li avotai lihitgader bo””

    WADR, your approach undermines the foundations of halacha, and Judaism itself. (Which isn’t to say that a lot of other people aren’t also doing the same thing, but in your case it might not be as apparent because you’re ostensibly being machmir.)

  43. R’ Fotheringay-Phipps,
    Thank you for your important rejoinder and for endeavouring to protect me from error. The concerns you raise are definitely significant, and relate to the question of what is a “chiddush” and what is a “shinui”.

  44. the Psak By RSZA about he Doctor is based very clearly on a MB in Siman 473 S”K 64 about a waiter/servant at a meal what is the minimum the ‘master’ of the house is obligated to allow them to seat at the table for.

  45. Who added “Rabbi Yossi HaG’lili” to the haggadah? I notice it’s not in the Rambam’s girsa of the haggadah, and there are many people today who say that Moshe Rabbeinu’s name isn’t mentioned in the haggadah — even though almost every haggadah in use today includes “Rabbi Yossi HaG’lili”. (i.e. the people who say Moshe Rabbeinu’s name isn’t mentioned in the haggadah generally aren’t Yemenites.)

  46. R’ Zave Rudman,
    Thank you and yi’yasher kochakha for the source.
    It’s interesting that RSZA and MB evidently disagree with one another. RSZA prioritizes Avadim Hayinu, to the exclusion of Rabban Gamliel. MB prioritizes Rabban Gamliel (up to and including the Asher Ge’alanu blessing), to the exclusion of Avadim Hayinu.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter


The latest weekly digest is also available by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter

Archives

Categories

%d bloggers like this: