Berit Engen: WEFT and D'RASH – Weaving a Thousand Jewish Tapestries


THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (I)
– My Seder Rundown: Plate, Cups, and Steps; Multiple Layers and Four QuAPs

 
As the charming Haggadah is somewhat confusing when it comes to its thematic mix, repetitions, sudden changes, and theatrical directions, I have found it meaningful to approach the lively text by matter-of-factly internalizing its apparent layout, mapping concealed structures, organizing in my head the overriding themes, and listing the myriad of symbolic interpretations for the same ritual objects and text elements. 
 
(8/8 tapestries)



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (II)
– Kindling


The sound and flickering of a match followed by the lighting of two candles signals a special day (unless you live in Scandinavia where people light candles morning, noon, and night every day of the year). I like this visual countdown.

(1/1 tapestry)



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (III)
 – Four Upbeats and a Hunted Hare

 
 
(5/5 tapestries)



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (IV)
 – Short Prelude: Anticipation
 

After the four smaller introductory steps the drama begins. Placed between Yachatz and the Maggid, this Aramaic fanfare bewitchingly connects the ritual beginning of the seder with the Passover story. 

(1/1 tapestry)



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (V)
– Mega Interlude: MAGGID, the Telling  (Questions and statements) 


We fulfill the commandment of telling why and how we left Egypt to our children and in the process to ourselves by recalling, redefining, and reflecting on the story as recorded and retold.
 
(The Maggid tapestries are shuffled: rather than being shown in the order of the Haggadah, they are organized in five divisions/series according to themes and types of text (questions and statements, the four children, the story itself, the ten plagues, and praise.)
 
(4/-- tapestries)



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (VI)
– Mega Interlude: MAGGID, the Telling (The four children)


We fulfill the commandment of telling why and how we left Egypt to our children and in the process to ourselves by recalling, redefining, and reflecting on the story as recorded and retold.
 
(The Maggid tapestries are reshuffled: rather than being shown in the order of the Haggadah, they are organized in five divisions/series according to themes and types of text (questions and statements, the four children, the story itself, the ten plagues, and praise).
 
(4/4 tapestries)



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (VII)
– Mega Interlude: MAGGID, the Telling (The story itself)


We fulfill the commandment of telling why and how we left Egypt to our children and in the process to ourselves by recalling, redefining, and reflecting on the story as recorded and retold.
 
(The Maggid tapestries are reshuffled: rather than being shown in chronological Haggadah-order, they are organized in five small series according to category of text: questions and statements, the story, and praises.)
 
(12/12 tapestries)



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (VIII)
– The Telling (The ten plagues)


We fulfill the commandment of telling why and how we left Egypt to our children and in the process to ourselves by recalling, redefining, and reflecting on the story as recorded and retold.
 
(The Maggid tapestries are reshuffled: rather than being shown in the order of the Haggadah, they are organized in five divisions/series according to themes and types of text (questions and statements, the four children, the story itself, the ten plagues, and praise).
 
(10/10 tapestries)



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (IX)
– Mega Interlude: MAGGID, the Telling (Praises)  


We fulfill the commandment of telling why and how we left Egypt to our children – and in the process to ourselves – by recalling, redefining, and reflecting on the story as recorded and retold.
 
(The Maggid tapestries are reshuffled: rather than being shown in the order of the Haggadah, they are organized in five divisions/series according to themes and types of text (questions and statements, the four children, the story itself, the ten plagues, and praise).

(4/4 tapestries)



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (X)
– Foodlude


We continue with more blessings, and we reenact Rabbi Hillel’s eating of a symbolic sandwich in Temple times. Finally, we eat the meal which we end with the strangest of desserts.
 
(7/7 tapestries)



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (XI)
– Afterlude: Redemption
 

Building on Birkat haMazon’s promise of redemption, we recite or sing with heartfelt reflections: anger, aspiration, hope, gratitude.

(5/5 tapestries)



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (XII)
– A Tiny Pause

 
The fact that we can add our own traditions within the old frame of familiar text arrangements and set rituals allows us to feel a unique ownership on this night of celebrating freedom. I inserted this break of mood, as the beautiful text segment Karev Yom (which appears but drowns in the last step, the conclusion of the seder), has become a known, mystical, and quiet song in its own right.


(1/1 tapestry)



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (XI)
– NIRTZAH / The Seder Windup: More Praise, a Quiz, and One Little Goat


Time to conclude the seder – except we don’t: we sing some more and end it with never-ending cumulative songs.

(6/6 tapestries)
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