Once the house is clean, a large meal is prepared. Jews in Israel and the Diaspora of varying levels of religiosity assemble round the table and enjoy a scripted holiday meal.
The script of the meal is contained in a book called the Haggadah (“the telling”), which dictates the evening’s proceedings.
The Haggadah wasn’t written by any one person or group. Rather, it evolved over the centuries, beginning in the years after the destruction of the Second Temple and to this very day.
While the major parts of the Haggadah remain the same, variations arose based on culture, local tradition and the like. As for the evolution of the book still taking place – there has been a virtual explosion of versions in recent generations, including versions for feminists, for the LGBT community, and so on. There are even versions for atheists that leave the Lord entirely out of the process.
The major objective of the evening is to retell the story of the exodus of the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt, as told in the Book of Exodus. This is traditionally believed to have taken place in 1,313 B.C.E.
Most of the Haggadah is in Hebrew, though some parts are in Aramaic. It tells the story of the Exodus, with foods serving as props.
Picture: A Passover Haggadah from Vienna, 1930. Photo by Reuters