Relying on reason to explain the text, The Rational Passover Haggadah offers the opportunity to consider the importance of ritual, the historical accuracy of Exodus, and timeless questions about the relationship between God and the Jewish people in our modern world. The Rational Passover Haggadah does this by interspersing thought-provoking articles with the traditional Haggadah text; this guides readers in discussions for any time of the year but is especially appropriate when sitting together to celebrate Passover.
For example, following the recitation of the traditional four questions, the author suggests four additional questions we might ask, including “Must the Seder be a religious experience, or is it enough for it to be a family and/or national Jewish experience?” While encouraging Seder participants to first consider these questions on their own, Prager also offers his own explanations which may spark further deliberation.
The design of the Haggadah — its text-centered interpretive approach — and the focus on additional articles for discussion makes The Rational Passover Haggadah best suited for adult audiences. The text is provided in Hebrew and English, without transliteration. Quotes from other modern thinkers, such as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Dr. Jordan Peterson, are interspersed to support the author’s analysis.
The Rational Passover Haggadah is a valuable addition to the Passover Seder, allowing participants to consider Judaism’s central themes with Prager’s clarity of thought and appreciation for difficult questions. It may be used independently or as a source for supplemental readings.
Jonathan Fass is the Managing Director of Educational Technology and Strategy at The Jewish Education Project of New York.