“Unlocking the Haggada” by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin— Renewing the Seder

Goldin, Rabbi Shmuel. “Unlocking the Haggada”, Gefen, 2019,

Renewing the Seder

Amos Lassen

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin is the former president of the Rabbinical Council of America and in “Unlocking the Haggada”, he renews the traditional guide to the Passover Seder service placing emphasis on the big picture. First we must ask these questions—“What is the Seder really all about? What are the overall goals of this richly textured service? How does the Haggada, step by step, enable the realization of these goals? What are the connections between each paragraph of the Haggada and the next? Why do the rabbis structure the evening as they do?” 

The book addresses these and other fundamental questions in a clearly defined experience of learning that reaches from the beginning of Jewish history to today’s Seder table. The rabbi’s language and style makes this a book for any reader, from the scholar to the novice. Rabbi Goldin speaks to us as if we are sitting across from him and he takes each of us  by the hand through two journeys—- one is the journey of the Seder and the other is a journey to understanding. 

As often as we have read the Haggada, it is a safe bet to say that we do not necessarily understand it all. Rabbi Goldin’s looks at the underlying nature of the Haggada and poses questions that bring us into the most important themes and messages of the Haggada. He focuses on the big picture by looking at the way the Haggada is structured and by doing so, he enriches our understanding of the kaleidoscope of details that make up the Seder experience. He has taken a text that has been analyzed and probed for more than a millennium and gives it new meaning, original insights and thoughtful perspectives. Goldin s commentary focuses on the step-by-step details of the Seder while at the same time, emphasizing its overall structure. Through primary material and original thought, his overview of the structure and flow of the Haggada toward its overall goals along with the relevant messages of each passage of the Haggada make the Seder  an experience that is intellectually, emotionally and spiritually fulfilling.  


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