Friday, July 19, 2019 -
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Favorite seder questions

Illuminated Haggadah, Pressburg 1773.(Godong/UIG/Getty)

Illuminated Haggadah, Pressburg 1773 (Godong/UIG/Getty)

Have you ever noticed that the same questions pop up every year at the seder? We got to wondering about this. Is it because there are no satisfactory answers? Is it because as Jews we just love discussing things over and over again? Is it because Passover is a night of annual traditions, and asking these customs has become one of those annual traditions?

They say that we recite the Four Questions to kick off an evening of discussion. Now, don’t get us wrong. The Four Questions remain a highlight of the seder, especially when there’s a real young’un reciting, but the questions aren’t strictly necessary. When it comes to the seder, discussion will ensure. The rabbis who constructed the readings created a collections of tales and recitations sure to provoke questions.

So — based on an unofficial survey of IJN staff — these are some of the ones that keep popping up at our seders. Do they match yours? Or do you have different favorites? And, of course, answers to these questions are more than welcome!

  • Why do we eat matzah on Passover? Is it because the Jews were in a rush and their bread didn’t have time to rise, or is it because matzah represents poor man’s bread, therefore reminding us of the sorry state the Jews were in during slavery?
  • What is the difference between the Wise Son’s question and that of the Wicked Son’s? In other words, why is one termed wise and the other wicked?
  • What does Dayyenu mean? Would it truly have been enough had G-d freed us from slavery, but not saved us from Egyptian aggression? IJN Editor & Publisher Rabbi Hillel Goldberg has a thought on this one.
  • Why does the Passover story begin with Abraham’s origins?
  • Why is “Ha Lachma Anya,” the passage inviting those in need to participate in the seder, recited in Aramaic?

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