Should Maggid Take Forever?

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maggid-midnightShould Maggid Take Forever?
The Shulchan Aruch’s view may surprise you

by Chaim Saiman & Josh Weinberger

The view of the seder that has become commonplace is a fairly long maggid– replete with each child opening up his notebook to recite the Brisker Rov’s vort on derech cheirus—thereby delaying the eating of the meal until rather late into the night.

All Night Long

The source for this practice is found in the haggadah itself which famously notes that “כל המרבה לספר ביציאת מצרים הרי זה משובח׳,” “whoever elaborates in the retelling of the story of the exodus from Egypt is praiseworthy.” This point is illustrated as the haggadah recounts the story of the five tannaim in Bnai Brak who were so engrossed in retelling the Pesach story that they had to be reminded that it was time for shacharit.1

מַעֲשֶׂה בְּרַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר וְרַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ וְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן-עֲזַרְיָה וְרַבִּי עֲקִיבָא וְרַבִּי טַרְפוֹן שֶׁהָיוּ מְסֻבִּין בִּבְנֵי-בְרַק וְהָיוּ מְסַפְּרִים בִּיצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם כָּל-אוֹתוֹ הַלַּיְלָה, עַד שֶׁבָּאוּ תַלְמִידֵיהֶם וְאָמְרוּ לָהֶם רַבּוֹתֵינוּ הִגִּיעַ זְמַן קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע שֶׁל שַׁחֲרִית.

It happened that Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Joshua, R. Elazar b. Azaryah, R. Akiva, and Rabbi Tarfon were reclining at a Seder in B’nei Brak. They were retelling the story of the Exodus from Egypt the entire night, until their students came and told them: “Our Masters! The time has come for reciting the morning Shema!”

This view, that more is better, is then codified by the Rambam in his introduction to the Seder (Chametz u’Matzah 7:1) and refined a few paragraphs later (7:4).

אפילו חכמים גדולים חייבים לספר ביציאת מצרים וכל המאריך בדברים שאירעו ושהיו הרי זה משובח.

Even great scholars are obligated to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. And anyone who elaborates in recalling the events that occurred is praiseworthy.

וכן מתחיל ומודיע שעבדים היינו לפרעה במצרים וכל הרעה שגמלנו ומסיים בנסים ובנפלאות שנעשו לנו ובחירותנו. והוא שידרוש מארמי אובד אבי עד שיגמור כל הפרשה. וכל המוסיף ומאריך בדרש פרשה זו הרי זה משובח.

One begins by recalling that we were slaves in Egypt, and recounting all the hardships Pharaoh wrought. But he should conclude with the miracles and wonders that were done for us, and with our freedom. That is, he should expound on the verse “my father was a wandering Aramian” until he concludes that paragraph. And anyone who adds and elaborates in the exposition of these verses is praiseworthy.

According to Rambam, and as common practice confirms, the idea of kol hamarbeh is tied to: (i) retelling the story of pesach and (ii) primarily to maggid, which takes place prior to the meal. This point is made clear as Rambam ties the concept of kol hamarbeh specifically to the recitation of the drasha of ארמי אובד, which, common practice aside, stands as the core of maggid.

Are we there yet?

Notwithstanding the prominence of kol hamarbeh in the standard Haggadah and Rambam, this surprisingly does not appear to be the view of either the Tur or Shulkhan Arukh (“SA”). Notably, both of these codes suggest that one should move to the eating part of the seder quickly. Hence Tur/SA open their laws of the Seder as follows (OC 472):

יהיה שלחנו ערוך מבעוד יום כדי לאכול מיד כשתחשך ואף אם הוא בבית המדרש יקום מפני שמצוה למהר ולאכול בשביל התינוקות שלא ישנו אבל לא יאמר קידוש עד שתחשך:

One’s table should be set while it is still daytime, in order to eat immediately as it gets dark. And even if he is engaged in Torah study, he should conclude his studies and hurry [home] as it is a mitzvah to eat right away so that the children not fall asleep.

Eating immediately as it gets dark” offers a rather different ethic than “elaboration is praiseworthy.” Rather than the long maggid and late meal, Tur/SA rule that one should hurry and eat in order to keep the children awake and engaged. Interestingly, the Mishneh Berurah cannot quite accept that the eating part of the seder should start right away – presumably at the expense of an elaborated maggid – and thus reinterprets SA to require starting the seder and maggid immediately. But this is not the plain meaning of either Tur or SA, a fact recognized by the Mishneh Berurah itself.2

Even more surprisingly, neither Tur nor SA cite the famous language of the haggadah – kol hamarbeh harei zeh meshubach – codified in paraphrase by the Rambam. This is particularly unusual, as the SA usually follows the ruling of the Rambam (often verbatim) in absence of clear consensus in dissent among the Ashkenazi Rishonim, such as here.3

The source of Tur/SA is a Tosefta (Pesachim 10:6), repeated with slight variation in the Gemara (Pesachim 109a).

ר”א אומר חוטפין מצה לתינוקות בשביל שלא יישנו. ר’ יהודה אומר משמו אפילו לא אכל אלא פרפרת אחת אפילו לא טבל אלא חזרת אחת חוטפין מצה לתנוקות בשביל שלא יישנו

Rabbi Eliezer states: We grab the matzot so that the children will not fall asleep. R. Yehuda related in his name: Even if he has only eaten one appetizer, and even if he has not dipped in relish, we grab the matzot so that the children will not fall asleep.

Rishonim offer different understandings of this “grabbing” practice. For Rambam (C&M 7:3), it is intended as a tool to pique the children’s interest in the Seder, likely the source of the customary hide-and-go-seek afikomen game. Others (Rashi, Rashbam ibid; Ra’avad to C&M) read “grab” the matzot as meaning to quickly eat them, so that the children will not fall asleep before eating the matzah, the night’s central mitzvah.4

Returning to the Tur/SA then, there seems to be no merit in elongating the maggid on the basis of kol hamarbeh. To the contrary, their plain reading implies that the eating, not maggid, is the night’s primary focus.

Overtaken by Exhaustion

Before we too hastily conclude that the Tur/SA prescribe “Seder-lite,” we should note a line in the SA, based on the Tur, at the end of the laws of the Seder (OC 481):

חייב אדם לעסוק בהלכות הפסח וביציאת מצרים ולספר בניסים ובנפלאות שעשה הקדוש ברוך הוא לאבותינו עד שתחטפנו שינה.

A person is required to delve into the laws of the Pesach sacrifice and the Exodus and to recount the miracles and wonders that God performed for our forefathers until he is overtaken by exhaustion.

On a careful reading, it is clear that this concept is distinct from the Rambam’s idea of kol hamarbeh. The first divide emerges regarding the timing. Tur and SA cite this at the very end of the laws of the Seder; not only does Rambam, in contrast, place kol hamarbeh in his discussion of maggid, but even the haggada itself puts kol hamarbeh in the opening paragraph of maggid. Further, in the codifing structure of the SA and the Tur, this law shares a chapter with only one other ruling, the restriction on drinking wine beyond the fourth and final cup of the seder. The language draws the conceptual link, that the restriction is meant to encourage staying awake to learn after the Seder. These two instances would indicate that this obligation of lengthy study is reserved for following the completion of the seder.

The source for this halacha is once again found in the Tosefta (Pesachim 10:8), which cites an alternate/parallel story to the one found in the haggadah.

אין מפטירין אחר הפסח כגון אגוזים תמרים וקליות . חייב אדם לעסוק בהלכות הפסח כל הלילה אפילו בינו לבין בנו אפילו בינו לבין עצמו אפילו בינו לבין תלמידו. מעשה ברבן גמליאל וזקנים שהיו מסובין בבית ביתוס בן זונין בלוד והיו עסוקין בהלכות הפסח כל הלילה עד קרות הגבר. הגביהו מלפניהם ונועדו והלכו [להן] לבית המדרש.

One does not eat any desserts after the Pesach sacrifice, such as nuts and dates. A person is obligated to engage in the laws of the Pesach sacrifice all night, even just with one’s son or even by himself or with his student. It once happened that Rabban Gamliel and the elders were reclining at a Seder in the home of Beithus b. Zunin in Lod, and they were engaged in the laws of Pesach that entire night, until the rooster crowed. At that time, the tables were removed from before them and they arose to attend the synagogue.

When compared with the story in the haggadah, several key differences emerge. First, in the Tosefta’s version, the all-night chavruta takes place after the Pesach sacrifice has been eaten (nowadays, the time when we eat the afikoman) and the Seder has concluded. In fact, these are the penultimate lines of Tosefta Pesachim. The Tosefta’s “takeaway” image of Pesach is the post- Seder learning trailing off into the night. Second, rather than telling the story of pesach, these tana’aim are learning the technical halachot of korban pesach.5 Finally, whereas the haggadah suggests that the students had to remind the rabbis to wrap up the Seder because they lost track of time, in the Tosefta the Rabbis conclude their study session in a seemingly deliberate and orderly manner as dawn breaks.In fact, Sefat Emet audaciously reads the haggadah’s story as suggesting that the Rabbis were so involved in their discussion, they forgot to eat matzah!6

Thus, while the Tosefta records a requirement to stay up all night learning the laws of the Pesach sacrifice after the Seder, it says nothing about elaborating the maggid before the meal. Additionally, it makes no mention of the language כל המרבה לספר.

Notably, the Rambam follows the haggadah’s version rather than the Tosefta and likewise makes no mention of the requirement to stay up all night to learn. To the contrary, Rambam ends his laws of the seder with the halacha of what happens when someone falls asleep at the Seder! Further, whereas Tur/SA explain the reason one cannot drink after the fourth cup is to be able to stay up to learn Torah (i.e., hilchot ha-Pesach), the Rambam gives a different reason: so that the taste of the matzah (afikoman) remains the final memory of the Seder on the palate.7 (Rambam 8:9). For the Rambam, the work of the Seder is done before the meal, not after.

If the most famous line of the Haggadah is kol hamarbeh the second most famous phrase is likely בכל דור ודור חייב אדם לראות/להראות את עצמו כאילו הוא יצא ממצרים that “everyone must see himself as if he personally participated in the Exodus from Egypt.” Surprisingly, this line is also absent from Tur and SA, a highly unusual omission given the prominence this idea receives in the Mishnah, Haggadah and Rambam.

Minimum and Maximum

A clue to understanding the different views of the Seder may be related to the reading of yet a third famous line in the Mishna, which too appears in the haggadah.

אמר רבן גמליאל כל שלא אמר שלשה דברים אלו בפסח לא יצא ידי חובתו ואלו הן: פסח מצה ומרור.

Rabban Gamliel said: Whoever does not mention these three things on Pesach has not fulfilled his obligation, and they are: the Pesach offering, matzah and maror.

The conventional understanding is that Rabban Gamliel is setting forth the minimal standard required to fulfill the mitzvah of סיפור יציאת מצרים, the retelling of the Exodus story during Maggid. This indeed is the view of the Rambam (7:5).

Rabbi Joseph Soloveichik, however, is quoted as noting that RambaN likely disagrees. Rabban Gamliel’s לא יצא refers not to the minimum standard for maggid, but to eating the Pesach, matzah and maror. On this view, Rabban Gamliel holds that unless one explains why each item is eaten, he has not fully fulfilled the mitzvah of eating the Pesach, matzah and marror. (Milchamot to Rif on Berachot 2b)

What emerges then is a debate over the central theme of the Seder. Consistent with his focus on the maggid, Rambam understands Rabban Gamliel as offering the corollary of the kol hamarbeh principle: The ideal is to stay up all night telling the story, but Rabban Gamliel informs us of the minimal baseline: at the very least, note the Pesach, matzah and marror.

RambaN, by contrast, holds that the eating of the Korban pesach is the primary focus, and thus R. Gamliel addresses this mitzvah. Moreover, as the protagonist of the Tosefta’s version of the all-night learning session, Rabban Gamliel is encouraging a short and quick maggid – just covering the main points– in order to transition the Seder toward its true focal point, eating the Korban Pesach (today, the matzah).8 This accords with the view codified by Tur/SA, who encourage one to proceed quickly to the eating, and then spend the rest of the night learning the laws of the Korban Pesach.

Different Girsas & Different Goals

To sum up, we have raised the following issues: (i) the ideal of kol hamarbeh, (ii) the related story in the haggadah, and (iii) the ideal of לראות את עצמו, Rambam holds the core mitzvah is the retelling of maggid, hence the longer the better. From this perspective, the mitzvot of eating the Pesach, Matza and Maror are understood as visual and tactile props used to enhance the retelling of the story.

The goal of this view of the Seder is to create an experience where the entire family, בנערינו ובזקינינו, uses story, study and song, to relive the birth of Am Yisrael. When successful, this is surely close to the Seder’s ideal, but there is also a cost to setting ambitions too high. Elaborate lomdusche vortlech are not always appreciated: the kids might fall asleep, the adults tune out, and tracking Sfat Emet, some may even miss out on the matzah itself. It is no wonder that Rambam who champions this view, ends his halachot of the Seder with the laws that apply to those who fell asleep in the middle (8:14)!

By contrast, following the Tosefta’s requirement to keep the children awake for the matzah, and its story of R. Gamliel and the Elders, the Tur and SA adopt a more modest view of the Seder. There is no mitzvah kol hamarbeh if the effect is that the audience will lose interest or fall asleep. Hence maggid is kept short and the night’s focus rests on eating the Pesach (today, matzah). Then, once the Seder is over, and the kids are presumably asleep, one should follow R. Gamliel’s lead to stay awake all night in discussion of the laws of the Pesach. Notably, this approach hews closer to what some Rishonim as well as academic scholars understand as the practice during Mikdash times. The food came first and the discussion followed.9

Halakhah & Aggadah

The tension between whether the core of mitzvah is to retell the story of Pesach or to focus on the halachot of the korban pesach is also reflected in a competing version of the beraita of the Four Sons. Following the Mechilta, the text of the haggadah explains that we teach the חכם the “הלכות הפסח” whereas the תם,is told stories, כי בחוזק יד הוציאנו’. By contrast, the Yerushalmi’s version is reversed. The חכם is told the story of the Exodus whereas the טיפש—a term far less ambiguous term than תם– is told the halakhah of not eating after the afikoman.10

Of course, the very definitions of halacha and aggadah shift depending on the abilities of the student. In the standard version of the haggadah, the halacha taught to the חכם’s is the lomdus of kodshim relating to the korban pesach. Here halacha takes on a broad meaning: not just a series of rules but a complex religious worldview developed from the analysis of halacha and its principles. The aggadah told to the תם , on the other hand, is more along the lines of the “Little Midrash Says”– a basic narrative that children of all levels can grasp.

The Yerushalmi teaches the opposite. In telling the Exodus story to the חכם, we mean the philosophy and theology of being an עם הנבחר and what it means to serve Hashem. On the other hand, the halakhah we tell the טיפש is much flatter, akin to a קיצור שלחן עורך: Eat this, drink that, and do not touch that. These are rules of conduct, but not much more.

This machloket is replicated in the competing stories of how the tannaim spent the Seder night. Did these proverbial חכמים learn the halakhah of the korban or retell the aggadah of the Exodus? The argument about the details of the Seder is no less than a debate over how to convey the essence of the Jewish experience: halakhah or aggadah? Talmud or theology? This tension is presented in the Mishnah and Tosefta and filters down to Rambam, Tur and Shulchan Aruch, with implication for how we should run our own Seder tables.


  1. The text of this story is indigenous to the Haggadah. it does not appear in any other classical source. 

  2. See MB, OC 472 (1) and (3) and Sha’ar HaTzyuin at (2); See also Arukh HaShulkhan 472:1. 

  3. We note that R. Sa’adya Gaon’s haggadah omits both the text of kol hamarbeh as well as the follow up story of the Tana’aim in Bnei Brak. This text does appear, however, in the Haggadot of R. Natronai Gaon, R. Amram Gaon, as well as the Rambam. See Shmuel and Zev Safrai, Haggadat Chazal at 266-67 (Carta 1998). 

  4. See also Sha’ar Hatziyun 472:2. 

  5. The version of the Tosefta cited in Tur states חייב אדם לעסוק בהלכות הפסח וביציאת מצרים כל הלילה. This girsa is reflected in the psak of the Shulchan Aruch cited above. Nevertheless, many of the girsaot of the Tosefta do not contain this addition, a position favored by most scholars. See Safrai, at p. 45, Joshua Kulp, The Schechter Haggadah at 203,(Schechter Institute 2009); Menachem M. Kasher, Torah Shelimah vol. 12 p.176. 

  6. 5640 d”h kol hamarbeh. 

  7. The Tur/SA also cite the concept of not eating after the Afikoman, based on the Mishna of אין מפטירין אחר הפסח אפיקומן, in addition to the custom not to drink after the fourth cup for fear of falling asleep. The Rambam, on the other hand, does not mention the additional concern of not drinking more wine after the Seder. 

  8. Interestingly, R. Gamliel who holds that the halachot of the korban are to be learned all night, also holds that the Korban can be eaten all night, as per the first Mishna in Berachot and more explicitly in Mechilta Bo 6. By contrast, R. Eliezer who holds that the Korban can only be eaten until midnight, maintains that the mitzva to learn about the korban also applies only until midnight. (See Mechilta to Shemot 13:14) This reinforces the connection between learning the laws of the korban and a seder focused on eating the korban. 

  9. This is probably the simplest reading of Mishna P’sachim 10:3, and is so understood by the Mordechai (Seder Shel Pesach), and the “Seder Pesach Le’Rabbeuni Shmaya”, a student of Rashi. Amongst modern scholars, see Safrai, 13-18 who assumes that a seder centered on the retelling of the story, (as opposed to the recitation of Hallel and Korban) is a post-Churban innovation of Chazal. For a more complete discussion, see Yosef Tabory, Pesach Dorot at 70-78 (Hakibutz Hameuchad, 1996). 

  10. This idea is developed in R. Kasher’s Haggadah Shleima at 120-123 (Machon Torah Shleima 1967) and The Schechter Haggadah at 206-210. 

About Chaim Saiman


  1. I dont think this article is as surprising as the title and subtitles make it sound. The conclusion is still in favor of “and whomever [tells] more, that is (he is?) praiseworthy.” Rather it shifts that time out of Maggid.

    And really the argument only works with certain children. Younger ones, certainly. But many school age children are coming home with a whole hagaddah full of things they are bursting to share during Maggid. Growing up, my father imposed a limit — we could only say over those thoughts we understood well enough to tell over without reading them. But once it’s the children more than the parents who are stretching out Maggid, I don’t see how fears of falling asleep before the main act are relevant.

  2. Fascinating article.

    As a supplement:

    R Bednarsh, in this years YU Pesach To-Go, notes (at the immediately after Avadim Hayinu, we jumpst into ten paragraphs of various halachic discussions before we reach the story. (With the interupption of a brocho that’s about Torah, and not about yetzias Mitzrayim).

    He concludes that vehigadeta l’vincha is about telling the story, but that ba’avur zeh is to tell that the purpose of leaving Mitz’ was to accept Torah.

    Instead of merely telling our children that the best use of our freedom is to serve Hashem, we guide them through the experience of halachic living, and share with them the process by which a Torah Jew fulfills the mitzvos in the exacting and precise fashion… I.e., we frame the narrative of the Exodus in the context of Hilchos Pesach, we ingrain the message that the only appropriate context for freedom is the striving to fulfill the will of Hashem.

    I think R Saiman, that your article works very well together with that of R Bednarsh.


  3. According to the two approaches that have been presented is it noteworthy that in the Haggadah, we have the “aggadic” leaning episode of Tana’im juxtaposed to the “halachah” directed answers to the four sons.

  4. Well written and thought-provoking article.

    (In the following comments I address myself to the conceptual framework of the article and the interpretive comments the authors make about the opinions of Tur and Shulchan Aruch. On a practical level, I don’t think anyone can argue with the need to expedite things if there are participants, whether children or adults, whose needs are better served with a quicker pace…)
    The notion that Tur and Shulchan Aruch (TSA) do not agree with the Rambam’s concept of the obligation to “see himself as if he exited Egypt” because of their understanding of R. Gamliel is, to mind, impossible, for the simple reason that the very same Mishnah that cites R. Gamliel immediately proceeds to state that “in every generation, one must see himself as if he had left Egypt!” There is no indication of any dispute or discrepancy between the former and latter passages of the Mishnah, and neither do either the Babylonian or Jerusalem Talmud raise any objection as to the continuity and compatibility of the two statements. Furthermore, TSA do not emend the text of the Hagadah which contains the statement of this obligation, and they make it clear (473:7) that the text of the Hagadah is well-known.
    This second point, not incidentally, holds true for the question of whether or not TSA accept the teaching that “the more one discusses the exodus, the better.” This is, after all, something contained in the Hagadah that they assumed is being read and recited by every Jew, a fact that makes it difficult to imagine that they reject that ruling.

    The authors question TSA’s omission of both the obligation to see oneself as if he left Egypt as well as the praiseworthiness of expanding on the Haggadah and see this as evidence that they do not accept either of these statements. By their logic, we should conclude that they do not accept R. Gamleil’s statement either, for they omit it! And we may as well point out that Tur/S.A. neglect to mention the fact, spelled out explicitly by Rambam, that there is a Biblical command to eat matzah, as well as to relate the story of the Exodus! The answer to all of these questions has to do with the difference in design and purpose between Rambam on the one side and TSA on the other. While Rambam aims to teach Torah within a conceptual framework, beginning with the Biblical commandment and amplifying its particulars as well as Rabbinic embellishments, the objective of TSA is quite simply to facilitate Halachic observance. As noted previously, all three of these teachings are found in the text of the Hagadah, so there is no need for TSA to repeat this (as opposed to Rambam who cannot rely on the recitation of the Hagadah but rather must impart the information with its conceptual underpinnings.)

    To my mind, Mishnah Berurah’s interpretation of TSA’s portrayal of eating immediately as referring to beginning of the seder, as opposed to the authors’ suggestion that it refers to rushing to get the matzah, is actually the correct one. According to the authors, S.A. contradicts himself mid-sentence! After stating that one should begin eating immediately at dark, which the authors understand as eating matzah, S.A states that one may not recite Kiddush under dark! Now in between Kiddush and Matzah we have the first dipping, then the breaking of the matzot, then reading the entire hagadah, and the recitation of hallel and the drinking of the second cup. How does one eat matzah “immediately at dark” if he is only reciting Kiddush at dark?! Furthermore, according to the authors, TSA should have stated that one should proceed through the preliminary steps of the seder, including the relating of the narrative, with haste in order to eat as soon as possible. Talking about the setting of the table as do TSA is altogether the wrong focus. Also, TSA state that one should “eat” immediately at dark. If this refers to eating matzah, then the Hagadah will have been read during the day, before Pesach has actually begun. But we know that the mitzvah of sippur yetzias Mitzrayim is, as we take pains to recite in the Hagadah, specifically at the time that matzah and maror are placed before us, and not while it is still daylight! Additionally, the placement of this Halachah in TSA is inappropriate according to the authors: It is found before the TSA have even begun their instructions for the Seder proceedings, along with all of the general preparations for the Seder, indicating that, as correctly understood by Mishna Berurah, TSA are not discussing the speed of the Seder itself but rather the prerequisites that will allow one to begin the Seder with the greatest alacrity.

    Rambam’s omission of the Tosefta about remaining awake the entire night is well taken. In terms of how the Seder is to be conducted, however, I see absolutely no difference between Rambam and TSA. (The authors write that according to TSA, “there is no mitzvah kol hamarbeh if the effect is that the audience will lose interest or fall asleep” as if Rambam would insist that the leader of the Seder hold forth eloquently even as his hapless children and guests snooze over their Seder plates! Obviously, circumstances must play a role in determining the speed ans style of the Seder!)

    • Josh Weinberger

      Thanks very much for reading and sharing your thoughtful comments. Chaim and I hope to reply/respond/clarify soon, but that may not happen before YT (hopefully over chol ha-moed). Thanks again and chag kasher vesameach-Josh

      • Josh Weinberger

        B. Feldman,
        Thank you for your detailed comments on the article. For ease of reference, we have summarized your arguments in the numbered paragraphs and responded.

        1. Your claim that the Mishna cites R. Gamliel.

        First, as a conceptual matter, we don’t see why Tur/SA cannot read R’G like RambaN, that is deals with the mitzvah of the eating, not sippur.
        Second, however you slice it, there is some degree on tension between R’G and the TK/stam Mishna. The drasha of arami oved does not include mentioning pesach, matzah and marror. So even if this is not an all-out machloket (i.e. TK would agree to R’G, and RG simply comes to add to TK), at the very least, they hit different notes.
        Third, note that while RG’s focuses on the events that happened la-avoseinu (the term is repeated three times), the next statement focuses on chayav adam liros es atzmo. This is another reason to think that R’G and the tanna of our mishna had different views of the focus of the mitzvah of sippur yetzias mitzrayim. As we noted already, the differing stories of the Tosefta and the hagada allow for different focuses – where R’G is the protagonist, the emphasis is on the halacha and based on the korban pesach. By contrast the hagada focuses more on the story, where the concept of chayav adam liros es atzmo takes on greater significance.

        2. Your second claim that TSA do not emend the text of the Hagadah which contains the statement of this obligation, and they make it clear (473:7) that the text of the Hagadah is well-known and recited by everyone.

        Recall that the hagada of R”SG does not have this line at all, and its one of the few lines in maggid that does not have a parallel in other chazal sources. To be sure, at some point this becomes standard, but I would not be as confident that in the pre-printing world of the Tur everything was as set as you imagine.

        In this regard note this statement of the Ritva:

        הגדה של פסח לריטב”א
        וחייב אדם לספר בלילה הזה לנשים ולתינוקות ולכל בני החבורה בענין יציאת מצרים, ואם אינו יודע, אומר מה נשתנה וסדר ההגדה, ושמעתי כי הראב”ד ז”ל היה נוהג לדרוש פסוק אחד מענין יציאת מצרים קודם שיפתח מה נשתנה, וחייב אדם לומר ההגדה בנעימה ובקול רם בכל כחו.

        Understanding exactly what he means is a challenge, as there seem to be some internal contradictions. At the very least however, it indicates that as late as the the Ritva, the text of the haggadah is neither fixed nor universally normative.
        More significantly however, we are not saying that there has to be an absolute machlokes between the mishna/hagada/ Rambam on the one hand, and the tosefta/TSA on the other. Clearly the TSA can have a hagada with the idea of kol hamarbeh quoted in it – but it does not necessarily become a question of absolute psak. Rather, we are noting that there are clearly different lines of thinking as to emphasis of the content (and relatedly) the style of the hagada that play out in the different formulations of the Mishna, Tosefta, Hagada, Rambam, Tur, and SA.

        3. TSA omit R. Gamliel’s statement, thus clearly an omission does not mean they do not hold of it. Same for matzah and sippur. This points to a difference in genre, not substance.

        Your point has validity as to the mechaber, but much less so the Tur. And in this case its pretty clear the mechaber is following the Tur closely (but not the Rambam) Tur certainly goes beyond a literal instruction manual format of the SA, in fact at times at more length that the Rambam would in the Yad. Therefore, we think it is noteworthy that the Tur never cites kol hamarbeh or chayav adam liros es atzmo,

        4. Mishnah Berurah’s interpretation of TSA’s portrayal of eating immediately as referring to beginning of the seder, as opposed to the authors’ suggestion that it refers to rushing to get the matzah, is actually the correct one.

        We would submit that you are either over-reading our point, the SA or both. The idea that to get to the Matza quickly is not our innovation but rather comes from the Tosefta about chotfin et hamatza as understood by Rashi, Rashbam, Raavad and others. (See also Tosefta pesachim 2:15 which we did not cite in the article) Of course, the Tur and SA agree that we do the rest of the seder, and kiddush and maggid need to occur after it is dark. But that does not change the fact that the focus and objective, is to get the matzah quickly, which is based on their understanding of the Tosefta per the rishonim. Notably, the Rambam – who understood chotfin hamatzos differently –does not cite or state the principle of yemaher le’echol miyad. But in the end, we do not view it as an either/or question, rather a question of ikar and tafeil.

        5. Rambam’s omission of the Tosefta about remaining awake the entire night is well taken. In terms of how the Seder is to be conducted, however, I see absolutely no difference between Rambam and TSA.

        Again, as we noted the Tosefta talks about learning hilchos haPesach; the Rambam focuses on the story. That is clearly different. It is true that at the end of the laws of the seder the Tur cites both versions of the “staying up all night” story, and the mechaber combines the two as per the text in the article. Nevertheless, this is cited in the context where the maggid is already over. Further as we noted, this seema to track the idea of R. Soloveichik that what R’G’s kol shelo amar is itself a point of dispute – and turns on whether the focus is on the story or the eating (originally the korban and now the matzah).

        6. The authors write that according to TSA, “there is no mitzvah kol hamarbeh if the effect is that the audience will lose interest or fall asleep” as if Rambam would insist that the leader of the Seder hold forth eloquently even as his hapless children and guests snooze over their Seder plates!

        On a personal note, both of us actually prefer the long version of the seder – often to the dismay of our families! Chaim has been known to bring sourcesheets to the seder, and guests have vowed never to return.

  5. Well, done guys.
    I would add a historical dimension to this. This simple pshat in the mishnah is that in the times of the tanaim as in th etimes of the mikdash, magid followed shulchan orech. Obviously when there is a korban pessach it is the center of the seder, magid is secondary. In EY, where they had tzli esh, the meal was much more of a zecher lechurban as is clear form the original three questions in the yerushalmi’s mishnah. at some point the order switched and primacy was given to magid. In ruling as he does against the rambam and the hagadah, it seems that the mechaber is reaching back to restore the primacy of ShulchanOrech.

    Chag KAsher ve-Sameach!

    • Josh Weinberger

      Moshe, thanks! See footnote 9 above — those sources seem to work well with the Yerushalmi that you cite. Chag kasher vesameach to you as well!

  6. Thanks for the detailed response to my comments, which I hope to respond to when I get the chance (either before of after YT…)
    Thanks for the tip about the source-sheets – I’m toying with the idea…
    One quick observation. In note 9 and in Moshe Shoshan’s comment it is suggested that the simple reading of the Mishnah is that the Hagadah is said after eating matzah and the meal. That would mean that hagadah, followed by two psalms of Hallel, is recited over the second cup before Birkat Hamazon, after which BH is recited over the third cup, and the rest of Hallel is then recited over the fourth. I don’t understand 1) why BH would be delayed until after the saying of the hagadah – should it not be recited immediately? – as well as 2) why would Hallel by interrupted only in order to recite BH? At least the way we do it, matzah is bracketed by Hallel, but what would be the point of bracketing BH with Hallel?

    On a personal note, I happen to favor the shorter, but power-packed, version of the seder, much to the dismay of my family (at least the kids)…

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