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How old is the Haggadah?

THE ORIGINS OF THE SEDER AND THE HAGGADAH HAVE long been a subject of interest. According to the Bible, ever since the Israelites made their escape from Egypt in the middle of the night, following their first paschal meal, Passover has been marked by a nighttime ceremony. The question is, when did the seder as we know it today, with its ordered set of rituals and accompanying texts, come into being? No later than 200 C.E., the year of publication of the Mishnah, according to most scholars, because Mishnah Pesahim 10 presents a detailed description of the seder. (1) Y. N. Epstein, the great investigator of the Mishnah, thinks otherwise. He dates the chapter and hence the seder to no later than the end of the Second Temple period, at least 130 years earlier. (2) Other scholars also claim great antiquity for the haggadah, or the telling of the story. Even though no haggadah has been found that dates back to the Temple period, they suggest that a version of it had already come into being at that early time. (3)

For as long as the Temple stood, there seems to be little doubt that the main Pesah celebration took place there and that its central feature was the offering of the paschal lamb. As Mishnah Pesahim (5:5-7) records, most likely embellishing a memory of the past, groups of Israelites filed into the Temple court, priests or Levites blew trumpets, priests held out gold and silver vessels to collect blood, and Israelites slaughtered their lambs and poured the blood into the waiting vessels. During this time, the Levites sang Hallel (Psalms 113-118), repeating it several times until all had finished slaughtering. After the Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E., the Pesah night celebration, if it were to continue to be observed, had to change in both form and substance. I suggest that the Tosefta, the companion volume to the Mishnah, preserves for us a description of the seder as it was evolving in this interim, undocumented period from 70-200 C.E. Moreover, I am claiming that the absence of a haggadah in the Tosefta an d its presence in the Mishnah imply that this key feature of the seder took a longer time to appear than is generally thought.

The late dating of the haggadah--or "maggid" as we now call it-does not result from historical inquiry but from re-reading Mishnah and Tosefta Pesahim. Recent studies show that there is much material in the Tosefta that antedates the Mishnah. This observation, when generalized, challenges the conventional notion that the Mishnah is the oldest, ordered, tannaitic collection and the Tosefta the first commentary on and response to it. The opposite is more likely to be true: the Tosefta contains within it a core collection that the redactor of the Mishnah then reworked and reorganized to produce his own. (4) If so, the description of the seder that we find in the Tosefta is not a collection of notes on the Mishnah, as thought heretofore, but a coherent description of the seder as it was celebrated sometime before 200 C.E. Mishnah Pesahim 10 presents, according to this theory, a later version of the seder, revised by the redactor.

The major difference between the two seders is that in the Tosefta there is no mention whatsoever of telling the story, not in the form of questions the son asks the father, nor in the form of midrash on verses that the father teaches the son, nor in the form of talking about the symbolic foods of the evening. The main event is the recitation of the Hallel. Note that this set of psalms is particularly appropriate for recitation at the seder because Psalm 114 makes explicit reference to the Exodus and other psalms thank God for salvation. Whereas the Mishnah devotes little attention to the Hallel, the Tosefta dwells on it. This difference makes sense if the Hallel is the "haggadah" in the time of the Tosefta. If so, the simple and obvious explanation for why the Tosefta makes no mention of telling the story or the questions or the midrash is that these had not yet come into being.

The Tosefta's seder, I am suggesting, is an early attempt at fashioning a Passover night celebration without a paschal lamb. It takes time for people to develop a substitute ritual. That there would be a festive meal that night, complete with meat, matzah, lettuce, (5) and Hallel was to be expected. If Passover night had been observed like that when there was a Temple, it would most likely continue to be observed like that even when there was no Temple, although Hallel would be recited by the head of household and not the Levites. What is new is that the seder in many ways resembles a Greek banquet or symposium, with many of its protocols, such as numerous cups of wine, dipping hors d'oeuvres and appetizers, (6) and most important, a study session after the meal.

To appreciate how the Tosefta alters our understanding of the evolution of the seder, let me review the seder as it is described in Mishnah Pesahim 10 (see appendix for the full version of the text). Four cups of wine punctuate the seder (M1). Blessings are recited over the first cup. The Houses of Shammai and Hillel dispute the order of the blessings (M2). Hors d'oeuvres of lettuce, matzah, and haroset are served. They are eaten as dips (M3). When the second cup of wine is served the son asks the father questions about the seder foods. If the son is not able to ask, the father asks on his behalf, and then tells him the story of the Exodus using several verses in Deuteronomy as a basis for his midrash (M 4). Rabban Gamliel then requires a person to talk about the three main seder foods, the pesah, matzah, and maror. Other texts to be recited follow (M 5). Hallel is begun before the meal. A blessing on the theme of redemption is recited (M 6). The meal is served and the rest of Hallel is recited. Another bles sing follows (M 7). It ends the seder. As the Mishnah notes, no afiqoman follows the pesah meal (M 8).

This seder, it is easy to see, is essentially the one we know today. (7) If we compare it to the Temple nighttime ritual that preceded it, we notice that both contain a recitation of Hallel and a meal, with either the paschal lamb or meat as the main course. The Mishnali's seder adds four cups of wine, blessings over the various cups, and dipping appetizers of matzah, lettuce, and haroset. In particular, it devotes much space--more than one-third of the chapter--to telling the story to one's children.

We now turn to the Tosefta's account. Many of the Tosefta's paragraphs resemble those of the Mishnah with only minor disparities. Others are wholly different. The seder begins with kiddush over the first cup of wine (T 2) and then moves on to hors d'oeuvres of sweetbreads (literally intestines) in salt water passed around by a servant (T 5). Wine and hors d'oeuvres were standard fare not only at Greek banquets (8) but even at rabbinic festive meals, as described in Tosefta Berakhot (4:8). The seder continues with Hallel, part of which was recited before the meal (T 6-9a). The importance of Hallel as a Passover night ritual is underscored by the Tosefta's discussing it at length and saying, among other things, that if a person cannot recite it himself, he has to go elsewhere to hear it. Even small children, both sons and daughters(!), are to participate in its recitation. If they seem drowsy, one may snatch matzah from (or for)9 them (T 9b). Dipping appetizers of matzah, lettuce, and haroset are served (T 9b) . The meal follows. The rest of Hallel is recited. No afiqoman is served after the pesah meal, which means, says the Tosefta, no sweets for dessert (T 11). Instead, as at a Greek symposium, one engages in intellectual analysis of an issue, in this case a study of the laws of Pesali (T 11). The Tosefta recommends that this activity occupy the head of household and his study partner the whole night through. It records an instance of a number of sages who did exactly that (T 12). (For other statements the Tosefta makes, such as about women drinking wine at the seder, see the appendix.)

This is not the seder we know today. If we compare it to the seder in the Mishnah, in the chart below, we see that each has elements the other lacks. In addition, one element appears in a different place in each of the two seders.
Tosefta Mishnah

four cups of wine (T1); four cups of wine (M1) (10)
kiddush (T2,3); kiddush (M2)
hors d'oeuvres of sweetbreads (T5); matzah,lettuce,haroset (M3)
 haggadah of questions and
-- answers etc. (M4,5)
Hallel, part 1 (T6-9a); Hallel, part 1 (M6)
matzah,lettuce,haroset (T9b) --
meal (T9b); meal, Grace (M7)
Hallel, past 2 (T8,9); Hallel, part 2 (M7)
study session through the night --

Even after adopting several aspects of the Greek banquet, the seder continued to evolve. As time passed, the study session at the end of the evening was moved to a place earlier in the order of events and transformed from a study of law into a telling of the story of the Exodus to the children in the manner of questions and answers. The first text to inform us of this change is the Mishnah. Instead of staying up all night with one's son and studying together the laws of Pesah, as mandated by the Tosefta, the Mishnah stipulates that early in the evening, upon pouring the second cup of wine, the story of the Exodus and the main foods of the evening are discussed by father and son. All of this takes place before the first part of the Hallel is read and clearly before the meal. We now have to ask: Why did the redactor of the Mishnah change the curriculum? Why did he move the give-and-take from after the meal to before?

Before answering, we need to consider the origin of the requirement to tell the story at the seder. Although many think it goes back to the Bible, I would like to argue that this is not so. An investigation of the four verses in which the Torah discusses teaching children about the Exodus reveals that the closest the text comes to stipulating that a father tell the story to his son is the statement that when your son asks you why you slaughter the lamb, you should answer him that it is a passover offering, so named because God "passed over the houses of the Israelites when He smote the Egyptians" (Exodus 12:26).

This is not, it seems to me, a requirement to tell the story at the seder year after year. (11) It is an answer one gives when the question arises. Similarly, in Exodus 13:8, when the verse says "explain to your son on that day 'it is because of what the Lord did for me when I went free from Egypt,"' the point the father is to make to his son is that God has the right to make demands of the Jewish people, such as to refrain from hamez and to eat matzah, because He took them out of Egypt. This too does not constitute a requirement to tell the story at the seder year after year. Once more, when v. 14 of the same chapter says that when your son asks, in reference to giving firstborn animals to God and redeeming firstborn sons, what does this mean, the father should answer, "God brought us out of Egypt, slaying their firstborn, therefore I sacrifice my firstborn animals to Him and redeem my sons." This verse, too, does not stipulate telling the story at the seder. The same claim can be made for the son's questio n and the father's answer in Deuteronomy 6:20. The common theme of these verses is that in exchange for redeeming the Israelites from Egypt, God can demand observance of His mizvot. And that is what a father must communicate to his son.

These verses, therefore, do not reveal that a requirement to tell the story existed in the biblical period or later. There is no denying that people may have told the story to their children. But that is not at issue. What is at issue is when the seder and haggadah as we know them developed. Oral traditions, of which we have no record at all, cannot provide us with an answer. Let me suggest that it is the redactor of the Mishnah who introduced the requirement of telling the story at the seder and who deliberately chose to turn the study session into a haggadah. (12) The well-known tannaitic text about the four sons, which appears in the Mekhilta (a work of halakhic midrash slightly later than the Mishnah), (13) the Talmud Yerushalmi, (14) and the haggadah, suggests that there are two kinds of answers to give the various children who ask: either a brief statement about the Exodus or a discourse on the laws of pesah. This choice supports my point: that telling the story and teaching the laws were two different ways of performing the same act. One gave rise to the other. (15)

Why the rabbis made the change from law to story is open to speculation. Telling the story was a better way of transmitting Jewish values to the next generation. It was a better way of thanking God for salvation than just reciting the Hallel, which is also recited on other major festivals. It was a good way to expand the focus from thanks for past redemption to a plea for future redemption from foreign domination, asking God to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the Temple and to reinstitute the worship service. (Such notions were entering the daily liturgy at about this time.) (16) And, according to Y. Yuval, it was a way of differentiating the Jewish understanding of Passover from the Christian one. (17) The Jews talked about redemption yet to come and the Christians about redemption already in place.

As for why the story was moved from after the meal to before, (18) the explanation seems obvious. Just as the Tosefta was worried about drowsy children, so was the Mishnah. And since the redactor of the Mishnah saw the point of the haggadah as transmitting the story of the Exodus to the children, he inserted it before the meal, when the children were awake, and gave them the responsibility to ask questions. (19) Were one to wait to recite the haggadah until after the meal, the children would have fallen asleep. (20) (Elsewhere in the chapter (M 8) the Mishnah does worry about sleepy adults!)

Additional evidence of the redactor's moving the study session from after to before the meal can perhaps be found in the wording of Mishnah 10:4, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Why does the Misbnah say that when "they pour him a second cup of wine, here the son asks the father"? (21) In all other instances, the phrase "they poured him a cup" is followed by a verb, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] or [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (finish or bless). There is no need to state that what happens after the cup is poured, happens precisely there. It is possible that the reason the Mishnah introduces the word sometimes spelled [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], (22) is to indicate that here is where the child asked the questions, and not at the end of the seder as was the practice until that time. The Mishnah wants to distinguish its haggadah of questions and answers that takes p]ace before the meal from the Tosefta's post-prandial intellectual inquiry. This is a major innovative point of the Mi shnah and for that reason the Mishnah may be calling our attention to it with the word "here."

A second change in the Mishnah's seder is that the hors d'oeuvres have disappeared and the symbolic foods, matzah, lettuce, and haroset, have taken their place. Whereas these foods used to be appetizers eaten as the first course of the meal, after reciting the first part of the Hallel, in the Mishnah's seder they themselves are the hors d'oeuvres and are eaten right after kiddush but before the questions are recited and before the Hallel and, hence, much before the meal.

This change also made sense because the children, prior to asking about matzah and lettuce (and haroset), actually ate them. However, when the redactor of the Mishnah moved the passage about the matzah, lettuce, haroset, and paschal lamb--"but in the Temple they serve him the paschal lamb itself"-from right before the meal, where it was in the Tosefta, to the beginning of the seder, the meaning of one of its phrases became obscure. It looked as if eating the lamb in the Temple period (M 10:3) was followed by the recitation of the haggadah (M 10:4). Because of this possible interpretation, scholars began to cite this Mishnah as evidence that the haggadah dates back to the time of the Temple and that it was recited after the meal and not before. (23) But Mishnahtosefta studies have now repudiated these claims. All this Mishnah is saying about the pesah is what the Tosefta says: that when the meal was eaten in the time of the Temple, the main course was the pesah and not grilled meat. (24)

It is noteworthy that the Tosefta's description of a seder without a haggadah is consistent with external sources. Philo, writing in the first century C.E., comments on the Passover meal: "The guests assembled for the banquet have been cleansed by purificatory lustrations, and are there not as in other festive gatherings, to indulge the belly with wine and viands, but to fulfill with prayers and hymns the customs handed down by their father." (25) This is all Philo can say because beyond the Hallel-the presumed referent of prayers and hymns--there was no haggadah. (26) To the best of my knowledge, no ancient descriptions of a seder, such as the ones in the Christian Bible, (27) mention a haggadah.

I am thus suggesting that the differences between the order of events in the Tosefta and the Mishnah are not the result of chance but are deliberate modifications of the ritual by the redactor of the Mishnah. It is only by comparing the entire chapter of the Mishnah with the entire parallel chapter of the Tosefta that we can make these observations.

According to this understanding of the evolution of the seder, the Tosefta's silence about the haggadah and its different sequence of seder events are not problematic because the Tosefta presents an older version of the seder. The redactor of the Misbnah took the Tosefta material and reworked it, producing a somewhat different seder, for the reasons mentioned above. But those who claim that the Tosefta is a commentary on the Mishnah will need to explain why the Tosefta has nothing whatsoever to say about the haggadah, a main feature of the Mishnah's seder, and why the Tosefta talks about the matzah, lettuce, and haroset in an altogether different place from where the Mishnali discusses them, after the Hallel and not before. I know of no satisfactory answers to these challenges. I therefore think that seeing Mishnah Pesahim 10 as a response to Tosefta Pesahim 10 provides a more cogent reading of both texts.

A person can read the Tosefta in two ways, at least. One way is as a commentary on and response to the Mishnah and another is as the source of the Mishnah, as the tannaitic collection upon which the Mishnah is based. Those who read the Tosefta as a commentary on the Mishnah will run into the difficulties noted above. Those who read the Tosefta as the source of the Mishnab will recognize that what we have in front of us is a hitherto unnoticed or unremarked-upon stage 'in the development of the seder ritual. We find these older practices precisely at those places where the Tosefta differs from the Mishnah.

As compelling as are the arguments for the Tosefta making a statement of its own and predating the Misbnah, there is one phenomenon that still needs to be addressed. The Tosefta, in several of its paragraphs, most notably the ones which present the dispute of Shammai and Hillel about kiddush and Hallel (T 10:2,9), seems to quote the Mishnah and then gloss it by adding rationales for the views of each side. Elsewhere, the Tosefta, after citing the same halakhah as m the Misbnah, adds supplementary details, such as requirements for the seder wine (T 10:1). It is paragraphs like these which seem to establish that the Tosefta knows the Mishnah and comments on it. (28) But even if the Tosefta in part is a commentary on the Mishnab, that in no way compromises what has been argued above. The central thesis is that there exists within the Tosefta an old stratum of tannaitic material that the redactor of the Mishnah knew and reworked. These claims still stand. No assertion has been made that this old stratum is equal to the entire Tosefta.

The conclusions I arrived at in this paper about the origins of the haggadah and seder were incidental by-products of Mishnah-Tosefta studies. I set out to compare Mishnah and Tosefta Pesahim 10 in order to see what differences of interpretation would flow from the assumption that a chapter of the Tosefta predates a chapter of the Mishnah. Reading Mishnah and Tosefta Pesahim 10 together--engaging in a global comparison of the two accounts of the seder--shows how the seder evolved over time from lacking a haggadah to having a haggadah of questions and answers and midrashim. This conclusion, arrived at by literary analysis and comparison of texts, is fully consistent with all historical data gathered until now.

No report of a Passover meal before the destruction of the second Temple refers explicitly to any set of questions asked or texts recited at the meal. All that the documents talk about are pesah banquets with wine, good food, and hymns of praise to God. Therefore, if we look at the evidence, we will have to acknowledge a slower and later evolution of the Passover seder and haggadah than has been suggested until now. It does not surprise me that the seder and haggadah are post-destruction innovations of the rabbis, in particular the redactor of the Mishnah, since the same can be said for so much else injudaism as it is practiced today. It was that group of men who preserved judaism in the wake of catastrophe by changing it, by developing it according to their own evolving sensibilities.


I would like to thank David M. Freidenreich for his many helpful suggestions.

(1.) Baruch M. Bokser, in The Origins of the Seder(Berkeley: University of California, 1984) claims that Mishnah Pesahim 10, the "first formulated version of the expanded rite" (53), presents a seder composed of both old and new elements. He says that the message of this chapter is that nothing is new, that the seder ritual had always been followed (37). As for telling the story at the seder, he claims it goes back to the Bible (40-41). Although I agree with Bokser that the Mishnah presents the first seder and haggadah as we know them today, I will stress the Mishnah's discontinuities with the seder that preceded it, not its continuities. Also, whereas Bokser sees Tosefta Pesahim 10 as a supplement to Mishnah Pesahim 10, I see this chapter of the Tosefta as the basis for the corresponding chapter of Mishnah.

(2.) Mevo'ot Lesifrat Hatannaim (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1957), pp. 57; 333--334. See n. 24.

(3.) Y. Tabory, in Pesah Dorot (Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1996), says that E. E. Urbach, L. Finkelstein, and M. D. Cassuto hold this view (351). Tabory himself thinks that, despite the lack of evidence for an early haggadah, it is hard to imagine that people overlooked the seder night as an opportunity to inculcate in the young memories of Israel becoming a people (350). Before the destruction of the second Temple, he writes, people told the story of the Exodus on Passover night by means of midrashic interpretation of Deuteronomy 26:5ff. (74;366). D. Goldschmidt (Haggadah Shel Pesah V'Toldoteha [Bialik Institute: 1969], p. 69) says that some paragraphs of Mishnah Pesahim 10 are ancient, from the time of the Second Temple, including the paragraph that presents the son's questions.

More recently Yisrael Yuval has claimed that the seder and the haggadah were created at Yavneh, shortly after the destruction of the Second Temple ("Haposhim Al Shtei Hase'ipim," Tarbiz 65, 1995, pp. 5-24). He supports his claim with texts from the haggadah itself, even though the earliest extant haggadah dates back only to the Geonic period.

Yuval's proof for an early haggadah rests on his interpretation of two texts. One is the report of the five rabbis who gathered to tell the story of the Exodus and stayed up all night doing so. This version of the report can be found only in the haggadah. The version of the same incident in the Tosefta says that they studied the laws of pesah all night. Since this latter version, in a confirmed tannaitic text, is more reliable, and since it lacks the expression "they were telling the story," it undermines Yuval's point. It is likely that the preceding paragraph in the haggadah, about telling the story at great length, a passage that cannot be dated earlier than the amoraic period, led to a modification of the tale of the five rabbis. The words "telling the story," not found in other tannaitic texts, may have displaced the words "studying the laws."

There is another problem with this version of the tale. Bnei Beraq is a town associated with R. Akiba. Would tannaim of the stature of R. Eliezer and R. Joshua go to spend the night with their junior colleague, R. Aqiba, at Bnei Beraq?

Yuval's second proof is equally problematic. Immediately following the story of the rabbis in the haggadah we find a mishnah, Berakhot 1:5, that opens with the statement, tvlylb Myrxm tayxy Nyrykzm, which means one mentions the Exodus at night. R. Elazar ben Azariah, one of the five rabbis mentioned in the previous text, features prominently in this mishnah. This text, too, says Yuval, is proof that the practice of telling the story began in Yavneh. But this claim, too, is flawed. One has first to read the Mishnah in its context in Berakhot. There it means something altogether different, that one inserts a reference to the past redemption from Egypt into the blessings following Shema, also at night and not just in the morning. It is clear that whoever added this mishnah to the haggadah, and we do not know when he did so, inserted it for the reason Yuval mentions, that on the surface it appears to say that one tells the story of the Exodus at night, at the passover seder. But this is not the plain sense meanin g of the words. One therefore cannot say with any degree of certainty that this mishnah was recited at the seder in tannaitic times. Hence, the presence of this mishnah in the haggadah does not suggest that "telling the story" was part of the tannaitic seder.

(4.) See my article in JUDAISM, Spring 2001, "Does the Tosefta Precede the Mishnah?" for a full presentation of this alternate theory.

(5.) Many people understand the Mishnah's "hazeret" as horseradish. A better translation is lettuce.

(6.) S. Friedman (Tosefta Atiqta, forthcoming, 386ff.) notes that in the time of the Temple the pesah night ritual was eating the paschal lamb fast. There was no gracious meal. Evidence for this limited ritual is the report about Hillel who ate the three seder foods together (Tosefta Pesahim 2:22). After the destruction of the Temple the rabbis developed the gracious seder meal as a replacement for the Temple paschal rite. Friedman mentions the cups of wine, hors d'oeuvres, and appetizers, but does not include the study session as part of the adaptation of a gracious meal. That is, he does not relate the seder to the symposium.

(7.) Because many paragraphs and prayers have been added over the years, today's haggadah is much longer than the one described here. The seder of today has also been some what reorganized. For instance, haroset is eaten at a later point, before the meal and not early in the evening. The same is true of matzah.

(8.) See S. Stein, "The Influence of Symposia Literature on the Literary Form of the Passover Haggadah," JJS8 (1957): 13--44. This influential article raised issues that all subsequent scholars of the seder had to address. See Tabory (367--377) for a comparison of the seder and the symposium. See also Bokser, Chapter 5.

(9.) Shamma Friedman suggests that the most reasonable explanation is that one snatches matzah and gives it to the children to keep them awake (383).

(10.) The Tosefta and the Mishnah both mention, in their opening paragraph, four cups of wine. Only the Mishnah refers backs to each of these cups in the course of the chapter. This structural feature is characteristic of the Mishnah. The redactor introduces signposts into his text for clarity and ease of memorization or recall. Therefore, on so many occasions, the Mishnah is easier to understand than the Tosefta. See "Does the Tosefta ...?," pp.231--232. For another exam le of this phenomenon, see Mishnah Baba Qama 1,2.

(11.) S. Stein (15) says that the biblical passages do not allude to the duty of telling the story at night. He also notes (34--35) that the Tosefta makes no reference to an obligation to interpret verses midrashically and seems to precede the Mishnah's requirements.

(12.) Rabban Gamliel, in the Tosefta, is said to have studied the laws of Pesah with other sages all night long (T 10:12). He is also the one who suggests, in the Mishnah, that the leader of the seder discuss the meaning of the pesah foods. It is possible that the redactor of the Mishnah has placed Rabban Gamiliel's discussion of pesah foods before the meal whereas it used to be after.

(13.) Bo 18 (Horovitz-Rabin edition, p. 73). At the end of the paragraph about the four sons, the midrash continues with R. Eliezer's statement that a havurah of sages or students must study the laws of pesah until midnight Some scholars derive from here that the obligation to study applied to sages only. I think otherwise. This midrash is the view of one rabbi only.

(14.) PT Pesahim 10:4; 37d.

(15.) Yet another midrashic text derives from the words "and you shall tell your son" (Exodus 13:8) that one is to tell him the story not in the afternoon but at night, when matzah and maror are on the table. Since this is not the simple meaning of the words of the verse, this midrash, too, is a rabbinic attempt to give Torah authorization to the practice of telling the story at the seder (Mekhilta Bo 17; p. 66; and in haggadah).

(16.) See Tosefta Berakhot 3:25, a reference to 18 blessings and to "He who rebuilds Jerusalem."

(17.) Tarbiz, p.5 ff.

(18.) It is not unusual for the redactor of the Mishnah to move paragraphs to new places when editing the older collection. See Mishnah Bezah 2:1 and Tosefta Bezah 2:1--5 for an example.

(19.) S. Friedman (383) reads the telling of the story into the Tosefta's account of the seder. Were the children to fall asleep, the father would not be able to fulfill "and you shall tell your son" (Exodus 13:8). For that reason, they snatch matzah from the children, etc. He does not notice, it seems, that there is no explicit reference to telling the story in the Tosefta.

(20.) Tabory makes this same point (74; 254). He says that after the destruction of the Temple they postponed the meal to after the haggadah whereas it used to be before. He thus holds that there was a haggadah, or at least a telling of the story based on the verses in Deuteronomy, in the time of the Temple. On this point I disagree.

(21.) Tabory (73; 320ff.) regards this mishnah as a later addition. I see no evidence for this claim. Just because the word "v'khan" does not appear in conjunction with the other cups, there is no reason to say that this mishnah was added later and that the son's questions are not part of the earliest layer of the haggadah. See Tosefta Tohorot 6:17 for a possible source for the expression da'at lish'ol, capacity to ask.

(22.) Mss. Farina, Pails, Kaufman.

(23.) Goldschmidt (10, n.1) surveys the many Talmudic commentators and later scholars who deduce from this Mishnah that in Temple times the meal or pesah was eaten before the haggadah was recited. See also Lieberman, Tosefta Kifshuta, Pasha, 654.

(24.) See S. Friedman (394-395) who traces the interpretive history of Mishnah 10:3. He says that D. Z. Hoffman was the first of many to see this mishnah as dating from Temple times. Friedman himself disagrees. He sees this mishnah as describing practices begun after the destruction of the Temple.

(25.) Special Laws 2:145-148, vol. 7, pp. 395-397. Cited in Bokser, 23, 58.

(26.) Naomi G. Cohen, in Philo Judaeus: His Universe of Discourse New York: Lang, 1995), suggests that Philo knew "the basic rubrics of the text of the haggadah" 313). What she has shown, to my mind, is that Philo knew one of the developing midrashim on the three Passover foods, the pesah, matzah, and maror. Philo's statement appears as a commentary on Exodus 12:8.

(27.) The Hebrew translation of Mark and Matthew mentions Hallel thus confirming the notion that Hallel was an ancient part of the Passover night ritual. Matthew 26:17-30: the phrase "eat pesah" occurs in 17; "prepare pesah" in 19; and "they read Hallel" in 30; Mark 14:16-26; the phrase "prepare pesah" in 16; "they read Hallel" in 26. Luke 22:7-20: the phrase "eating the pesah" appears in 8,11,12,15. Y. Yuval p. 8, n. 9) cites these verses from Matthew and Mark to p rove that Hallel was part of the home) Passover ritual in the time of the Temple. Seth Schwartz electronic communication, 1.17.02) does not consider the Hebrew translation of the Christian Bible reliable. He says that there was a tendency to judaize it in order to win Jewish converts.

(28.) This is not necessarily so. The older version can be the fuller one and the later version a summary.

(29.) The printed edition adds, "and two cooked foods." Much has been written on this difficult Mishnah. See Rishonim; Hanokh Albeck, Moed (Jerusalem: Mossad Bialik, 1952), pp. 455-456; Tabory, 67ff.; and S. Friedman, 379-395.

(30.) The word "hayu" appears in the printed editions but not the mss.

(31.) The versions of the Mishnah vary. The Kaufman ms. has only three questions. See Goldschmidt, pp. 10-13. See D. Halivni, Meqorot Umesorot New York: JTSA), pp. 579-581.

(32.) Goldschmidt agrees with those scholars who see this passage as an anti-Christian polemic (52). Bokser says that Rabban Gamliel's point is to make matzah and maror as prominent as the paschal sacrifice (39).

(33.) This passage and the following prooftext are missing in some mss.

(34.) The difficulties in this passage are addressed by Halivni, Meqorot Umesorot, Pesahim, pp. 582-584.

(35.) The word pesah, even in post-Temple times, is used to refer to the seder meal of meat. See Tabory 101. The rest of this paragraph of mishnah talks about the sacrifice itself. And so does the following mishnah. The word pesah in Mishnah 10:8 provides a segue from talking about the meal of meat at the seder to talking about the pesah offering in the time of the Temple. This disjuncture, within one and the same paragraph, derives from the fact that the redactor of the Mishnah is "sewing" together a statement from the Tosefta about the afiqoman with other material about the paschal offering with which he will end the chapter. There is no reason in the Tosefta to understand this word as referring to the paschal offering. On the contrary, the passage goes on to talk about no sweet desserts and the requirement to study all night.

(36.) It is not uncommon for the Mishnah to speak more concisely than the Tosefta. However, in Mishnah and Tosefta Pesahim there seems to be a pattern for the Mishnah to demand far less of women in terms of the ritual acts of Passover than for the Tosefta. See my article "Nashim B'masechet Pesahim," in Atara L'Chaim, Studies in the Talmud and Medieval Rabbinic Literature in Honor of Professor Haim Zalman Dimitrovsky (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2000), pp. 63-78.

(37.) Lieberman (Tosefta Pasha, 96) interprets the verb makhbish as dipping in salt water.

(38.) Much material suggests that Hallel was recited antiphonally, with the leader reciting the first half of the verse and the assembled group reciting the second half or making a slightly different response. See Tosefta Pesahim 10:7. If all are obligated, i.e., adult males, each group's recitation can fulfill the obligation of the other group to hear Hallel. In other words, reciting half a verse and hearing half a verse together discharge a person's obligations as long as those whose recitation he listens to are similarly obligated. See Tosefta Sotah 6:2,3 and Lieberman's comments.

(39.) Like the Mishnah mss., the word "hayu" (they used to) does not appear.

(40.) That the main course is meat is deduced from the fact that the term "pesah" continues to describe the meal even after the Temple is destroyed. See note 35.

(41.) There is scholarly debate about whether this is the elder Rabban Gamliel or Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh. See Tabory, 365.

(42.) Lieberman, Tosefta Pasha, 198.

RELATED ARTICLE: Appendix: Paragraph by paragraph comparison of Mishnah and Tosefta Pesahim 10

Mishnah 10:1 Pesah eve, from about minhah time (mid-afternoon) and on, a person should not eat until it gets dark. Even the poorest Jew should not eat until he reclines. All are required to drink four cups of wine, even if on the dole.

Mishnah 10:2 The first cup of wine is served. The Houses of Shammai and Hillel dispute the order of the blessings over it. Neither side gives a rationale. The same dispute is found in reference to the order of the blessings over Sabbath wine in Misbnah Berakhot 8:1.

Mishnah 10:3 They brought before him, presumably the head of household, lettuce for dipping, and then matzah, more lettuce, and haroset. (29) A dispute is presented about whether or not haroset is a requirement. The paragraph ends with the statement "but in the Temple they serve him the paschal lamb itself" (30)

Mishnah 10:4 The second cup of wine is poured. At this point the son, if he is competent, asks the father a series of questions. If he is not able to, the father teaches the son. The subjects of the questions are matzah, the dipping of vegetables, and grilled meat. (31) The father then tells the story of the Exodus by means of midrashic interpretation of the verses beginning "A wandering Aramean was my father.. ." (Deuteronomy 26.5ff). He begins with shame and ends with glory.

Mishnah 10:5 Rabban Gamliel stipulates that every person is required at the seder to explain the significance of the three pesah foods, the paschal lamb, the matzah, and the maror. (32) The Mishnab then says that to tell the story of the Exodus to one's son a person must feel as if he himself left Egypt. A proof text follows, "And you shall explain to your son on that day, it is because of what the Lord did for me when I went free from Egypt" (Exodus 13:8), which implies, according to the rabbis, that a person must talk about the Exodus in the first person. (33) It also suggests, according to the rabbis, that telling the son about the Exodus "on that day," which they interpret as the night of the seder, is rooted in the Torah. A long blessing of praise to God for salvation follows. Hallel is introduced.

Mishnah 10:7 The third cup of wine is served, the Grace after meals is recited, the fourth cup of wine is served, and Hallel is completed. A blessing follows.

Mishnah 10:6 The Houses dispute about how to divide up Hallel before and after the meal. R. Tarfon and R. Aqiba disagree about the text of the blessing that follows Hallel. (34)

Mishnah 10:8 No afiqoman is allowed after the pesah or meal. (35) The Mishnah does not define the difficult term. It discusses whether people who fell asleep before the time came to eat the paschal lamb may partake of it or not.

Mishnah 10:9 There are time limits for eating the paschal lamb and blessings to be recited over the lamb and the accompanying other sacrifice.

Tosefta 10:1 Passover eve, from about minhah time and on, a person should not eat until it gets dark. Even the poorest Jew should not eat until he reclines. All are required to drink four cups of wine. Details about the wine follow. This passage is nearly identical to Mishnah Pesahim 10:1.

Tosefta 10:2,3 The Houses of Shammai and Hillel dispute the order of the blessings over the first cup of wine. This same dispute is found in Mishnah Berakhot 8:1 and Tosefta Berakhot 5:25 with respect to blessings over the Sabbath wine. Each view is followed by one or more rationales. This passage is like Mishnah 10:2 but longer.

Tosefta 10:4 A man is required to make his wife and children rejoice on the holiday. The means of rejoicing is wine. R. Judah dissents and says that women and children should each be given something appropriate for them, but not wine. The paragraph appears at this juncture apparently to suggest that women and children should also drink wine at the seder. The Mishnah makes no mention of women. (36)

Tosefta 10:5 The servant dips intestines in salt water and serves them to the guests. (87) There is no parallel passage in the Mishnah.

Tosefta 10:6-9a discuss Hallel. The Tosefta stresses the absolute requirement to hear these psalms recited, even to the extent that if a person cannot recite them on his own, he has to go and hear someone else recite them. It also describes a situation in which a father reads Hallel aloud for his young sons and daughters. He is required call out the responses together with them, (38) either because they are too young to know the words or because their exemption from reciting Hallel would not allow them to discharge his obligation. If no one in the family can recite Hallel, the head of household goes to the synagogue for the first chapter, then back home to eat and drink, and then back to the synagogue to finish Hallel. If this is not feasible, the whole Hallel is recited in the synagogue before the meal. In an abrupt change of subject, R Lezer says that one snatches matzah from children so that they not fall asleep. R. Judah adds that even if he (the child?) ate only one spread (parperet) or dipped one lettuc e, adults snatch matzah from the children so that they not fall asleep. The Houses dispute how much of Hallel is recited before the meal. Each provides a rationale for its view. Little of this material on Hallel appears in the Mishnah.

Tosefta l0:9b Matzah, lettuce, and haroset are served, even though haroset is not a requirement. R. Lezer b'R. Zadoq claims it is a requirement. The paragraph ends with the statement, as in the Mishnah, "in the Temple they serve him the paschal lamb itself." (39) By implication, after the destruction of the Temple, rather than a paschal lamb he is served a main course of meat. (40)

Tosefta 10:10 An anecdote refers to haroset as a requirement.

Tosefta 10:11 No afiqoman is allowed after the pesah or meal. The Tosefta defines it as fruit and nuts. A person is obligated to occupy himself with the laws of Pesah the whole night through, even if he can do so only with his son, or all by himself, or only with his student.

Tosefta 10:12 Rabban Gamliel (41) and several elders reclined [on Pesah night] at the home of Boethus b. Zunin in Lydda and engaged in the study of the laws of Pesah the whole night through until the cock crowed. They raised the table, (42) stood up, and left for the bet midrash.

Tosefta 10:13,14 The blessings for the pesah sacrifice and for the accompanying sacrifice are spelled out.

JUDITH HAUPTMAN, the E. Billi Ivry Professor of Talmud and Rabbinic Culture at the Jewish Theological Seminary, is the author of Rereading the Rabbis: A Woman's Voice (1998). Her article, "Does the Tosefla Precede the Mishnah: Halakhah, Aggada, & Narrative Coherence," appeared in the Spring 2001 issue.
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Author:Hauptman, Judith
Publication:Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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