This is an updated copy of a page I posted at UW several years ago, and reposted on Coffeecups. I’ve checked and updated the links. Use the search box INSIDE the blog to look for other things I’ve posted about Passover. — Passover 2017.
חג כשר ושמח
From Seth Ward
THE PASSOVER STORY.
From my teaching: A note about Moses
Moses in the Passover story.
Based on the prominence of Moses in the movie retelling of the Exodus, it is perhaps surprising that the ritual and liturgical retelling of the Exodus gives him almost no role at all. Moses is mentioned only once in the traditional Haggadah, the order of prayers, psalms, and ritual foods for Passover eve, in the context of recalling the “Song of the Sea.”
This is not particularly surprising, as Moses does not play a large role in the daily, Sabbath or festival liturgy. On a daily basis, the prayer book recalls that Moses and the children of Israelrecited the Song of the Sea. On the Sabbath, the evening Amida service recalls Creation, with no reference to Moses, but the morning Amida service recalls revelation, with Moses depicted as rejoicing that he was called a “faithful servant” and through his agency, the Two Tablets of the Decalogue were given, with their command concerning the Sabbath. (Interestingly, this passage introduces a selection from Exodus 31 about observing the Sabbath, not the passage on the Sabbath from the Ten Commandments). All in all, the ritual and liturgy emphasize divine revelation and redemption, not Moses’ role.
Contrast this, of course, with the depiction of Moses in all the movies and bible stories. Paul Flesher suggests one possible reason why: http://filmandreligion.blogspot.com/2007/08/ten-commandments-christian-tale.html. Moses’ role is the archetypical figure for Protestant America, basing law on revelation—but revelation of the heart—and foreshadowing both the Christian savior and the American enterprise of freedom. (Flesher’s point is not less valid even though some of the motifs he points to are mirrored in Midrashic texts glorying in the miraculous birth and career of Moses; these may themselves be responding to Christian themes, or themselves be the models on which those themes are based.)
One could say, too, that Moses’ role in the Biblical books of Exodus through Deuteronomy is greater than that in the Jewish ritual. Nevertheless, these books are not simply narrative or celebration of Moses’ role in the escape from slavery, and leading the way to the Promised Land. All have very lengthy descriptions of building the Tabernacle, ritual worship, social legislation, and religious exhortations that usually do not play a role in the American retelling of the story. A typical explanation of why Moses is downplayed in the Haggadah is to emphasize the divine role in the Exodus. Passover is not about human leadership but about divine intervention—and about the redefinition of a tribe knit together primarily by memories of common ancestors, into a coherent people. Freedom from slavery is only the starting point. While, to paraphrase the haggadah, it “would have been enough for us” simply to leave Egypt, that was not enough for the divine purpose: the journey necessarily led to definition of social and religious values, a way of worship and a way of life, and a way forward to the fulfillment of the national promise and purpose. Hag kasher vesameah.
Passover Links and Texts.
WHY DO JEWS TELL THE STORY OF PASSOVER AFTER ALL?
Among the more compelling arguments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iU4YA9DVqyw.
You may find the Projecting Freedom project quite useful in exploring the holiday. Although some of the links lead to a website, several years ago, the videos migrated to a YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQZ9nJU4NiQxf17nfoNz-VQ
MISHNA Chapter 10 of tractate Pesachim http://www.bmv.org.il/shiurim/pesachim/pes10.html — this chapter is the basic guide to the Seder.
My discussion of the Seder Plate http://uwyo.edu/sward/SederPlate.doc. A source sheet I prepared: https://drsethward.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/i-have-not-had-time-to-update-all-the-links-on-my-passover-pages-from-last-year-and-of-course-not-to-check-the-links/
Text of my brochure on Passover http://uwyo.edu/sward/An%20Order%20for%20the%20Passover%20Eve%20Service.doc
HAGGADA TEXT AND MELODIES—ARIEL BENJAMIN SIDDUR PROJECT
Full text of the Haggadah—with transliteration! http://siddur.arielbenjamin.com/texts – look at the bottom of this page for a link to the Haggadah! (other links are to the full text of the Siddur).
Passover Tunes (with sheet music)—free access http://siddur.arielbenjamin.com/tunes
A historic Performance of Israel in Egpyt by G.F. Händel. The recording was made by the Jerusalem Symphony with a choir from Edinburgh. The setting: the Red Sea (Gulf of Eilat) overlooking Jazirat Far’un “Pharoah’s Island” – or Coral Island, as it was called by the Israelis. It is about ten minutes’ drive south of the current border. The castle on the Island was built by Saladin. The full oratorio includes a setting of the complete Song of the Sea (Ex. 15).
Who was responsible for the Exodus?
The fundamental question in Exodus narrative, and in the Passover Seder, is “Who precisely was responsible for letting the Israelites out of Egypt?” The Haggadah’s answer is unambiguous, restated in different ways over and over. The video poses this question, but does not really reply to it.
Deliver Us—song by Ofra Haza in Prince of Egypt. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GbI2Tlt55w Ofra Haza recorded this in multiple languages, so that every release would have it in the language, sung by her, not dubbed.
We may not know much about Moses, but we know how he would have done the Exodus if he had had facebook! http://www.aish.co.il/v/ch/118904474.html
The same in English: http://www.aish.com/h/pes/mm/Passover_Google_Exodus.html
All you really need to know about the importance, taste, and ramifications of eating Matzah: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Olg1efSlvLg
Projecting Freedom project. This is a Matza Music Video for “Motzi Matzah.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRVfnb122z8&list=PLCsAgjSYnaChuzDvj2rVaXT0GnP01jSsp&index=15
Here is the entrance video to the project:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMSEFCQCKPo&feature=related Michele Citrin (“Rosh Hashana Girl”)
The Passover Seder:
The Singing Seder Plate: scroll down to hear this part of the important record “Menorah’s Little Seder:”
The recording is from the 60s I think. Stanley Sperber (founder of Zamir Chorale) is conducting the Camp Massad choir, precursor to the Zamir. The original is usually called the “Orchestra Song” and apparently is by Willy Geisler. Here is a version from Hollywood: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwqmFBttKW8&feature=related (For Hebrew readers interested in this song:http://www.zemereshet.co.il/song.asp?id=1566) and read more about it at https://drsethward.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/the-singing-seder-table/
60 Second Seder http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_htcl7LCuK0 (Hebrew)
Arab Labor: hit Israeli TV show. Season One had a Passover episode, with a sendup of almost every group within Israeli society: Haredim, Israeli Arabs, Secular Jews, Reform Judaism, “traditional” Jews (in this context, neither religious nor secular); the Reform Jewish woman is depicted in very “Beautiful-People-Leftist” terms as being something like a “flower child” in her approach. Unfortunately, I cannot find a live link to this episode at present!
This is from a movie about the most important question at the Seder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIet8kykrUM
http://www.cc.com/video-clips/mku27v/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-faith-off—easter-vs–passover Jon Stewart on Passover vs. Easter.
Songs in English (parody texts):
There are quite a few of these. Here is one: http://www.jr.co.il/humor/pass01.txt Sample: “haggada wash that man right out of my hair” and “afikomen round the mountain”
A large number of songs and jokes: http://www.jewishmag.com/142mag/humor/humor.htm
Songs from the end of the Seder:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYAI0Fqi_Z4&feature=related Who knows one—The “Glick/Tasky girls”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6zMGUDCwp0&NR=1 same—Sydney and Andrew.
Moishe Oysher’s most famous Passover performance piece, Chad Gadya:
Chad Gadya—a Jewish/Arab choir from Jaffa, singing Chad Gadya in Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic, with an extra verse by Chava Alberstein:
Here is Chava Alberstein singing it herself:
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