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”.
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. Some suggest that chad gadya was written by Rabbi Eliezer Rokeach. 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”. 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. In contrast to “chad gadya“, it is likely that “adir bimlucha“, originated in the Land of Israel.
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. We know that the “avadim hayinu” section was written by Rabbi Elazar Hagadol. The closing passage of “chasal siddur pesach” was added to the haggada by Rabbi Yosef Tur-Elam. 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. We know that Rashi’s haggada included the “dayeinu“, a poem which was likely introduced by Rav Saadia Gaon.
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.
 Shemot 13:5
 Rema O.C. 473:6, Rivevot Ephraim 1:302:2
 1160 CE -1238 CE
 Chaim Shaal 1:28
 Pesachim 116a
 Yerushalmi Rosh Hashana 4
 Ketubot 105a
 Mechilta;Bo, approximately 195 CE
 Died 1040 CE
 Yoma 74b, Pesachim 118b, Pesachim 109a, Tosefta Sukka 3,
 882 CE – 942 CE