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Passover Haggadah: Hebrew and English Text with New Essays and Commentary Hardcover – 3 Feb 2003

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Collins (3 Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007148259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007148257
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,188,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

A global religious leader, philosopher, author and moral voice for our time, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is currently the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at New York University and the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University. He has also been appointed as Professor of Law, Ethics and the Bible at King's College London. Previously, Rabbi Sacks served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth between September 1991 and September 2013, only the sixth incumbent since the role was formalized in 1845.

Described by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales as "a light unto this nation" and by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as "an intellectual giant", Rabbi Sacks is a frequent contributor to radio, television and the press both in Britain and around the world. A visiting professor at several universities in Britain, the United States and Israel, Rabbi Sacks holds 16 honorary degrees, including a Doctor of Divinity conferred to mark his first ten years in office as Chief Rabbi, by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey.

In recognition of his work, Rabbi Sacks has won several international awards, including the Jerusalem Prize in 1995 for his contribution to diaspora Jewish life and The Ladislaus Laszt Ecumenical and Social Concern Award from Ben Gurion University in Israel in 2011. Rabbi Sacks has also recently been named as The Becket Fund's 2014 Canterbury Medallist for his role in the defence of religious liberty in the public square. He was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 2005 and made a Life Peer, taking his seat in the House of Lords in October 2009.
The author of 25 books, Rabbi Sacks has published commentaries to the daily Jewish prayer book (siddur) and has completed commentaries to the Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Pesach festival prayer books (machzorim) to date. His most recent secular book - The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning - was published in July 2011. A number of his books have won literary awards, including the Grawemeyer Prize for Religion in 2004 for The Dignity of Difference, and a National Jewish Book Award in 2000 for A Letter in the Scroll. Covenant & Conversation: Genesis was also awarded a National Jewish Book Award in 2009, and the Koren Sacks Pesach Machzor won the Dorot Foundation National Jewish Book Award for Modern Jewish Thought and Experience for 2013. His Covenant & Conversation commentaries on the weekly Torah portion are read by thousands of people in Jewish communities around the world.

Born in 1948 in London, Rabbi Sacks attended Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, receiving honors in philosophy. He continued his studies at New College, Oxford, and King's College London, where he earned his doctorate in 1981. The same year he was ordained at Jews' College and at Yeshiva Etz Chaim, both in London. He served as the rabbi for Golders Green synagogue and Marble Arch synagogue in London. Before taking the post of chief rabbi, he also was Principal of Jews' College, the world's oldest rabbinical seminary. In 1970, Rabbi Sacks married his wife, Elaine, and they have three children, Joshua, Dina and Gila and several grandchildren.


Tradition in an Untraditional Age (1990)

Persistence of Faith (1991)

Arguments for the Sake of Heaven (1991)

Crisis and Covenant (1992)

One People? (1993)

Will We Have Jewish Grandchildren? (1994)

Community of Faith (1995)

Faith in the Future (1998)

The Politics of Hope (1997)

Morals and Markets (1999)

Celebrating Life (2000)

Radical Then, Radical Now (2001)

The Dignity of Difference (2002)

The Chief Rabbi's Haggadah (2003)

From Optimism to Hope (2004)

To Heal a Fractured World (2005)

The Authorised Daily Prayer Book: new translation and commentary (2006)

The Home We Build Together (2007)

Future Tense (2009)

Covenant and Conversation; Exodus (2010)

The Koren Sacks Rosh Hashana Mahzor (2011)

The Great Partnership: God Science and the Search for Meaning (2011; 2012)

The Koren Sacks Yom Kippur Mahzor (2012)

The Koren Sacks Pesach Mahzor (2013)

Product Description

From the Back Cover


The Chief Rabbi's Haggadah combines the traditional texts for Passover with wide-ranging and extensive essays and commentary by one of today's greatest religious thinkers, the first time this highly respected author and thinker has created a book for active religious use.

The Hebrew text and accompanying English translation are carefully arranged so as to be easy to use at the seder table, and the Chief Rabbi's commentary is positioned with the relevant text. This book makes an ideal companion for use at the Passover meal.

But the significant insights of the commentary – and the far-ranging and at times radical thoughts of many of the essays – open up tremendous potential for thoughtful preparation and further reading. With titles as diverse as 'Pesach, Freud and Jewish Identity' and 'Pesach and the Rebirth of Israel', there are essays looking at the contrasting natures of ancient Egypt and nascent Israel on the one hand or a unique afternoon in modern Jerusalem on the other. The part played by Judaism and Jews in the building of modern civilisation is a recurring theme.

There are also essays springing from particular passages, bringing insights on 'Women and the Exodus' and 'The sages at Bnei Brak' or addressing 'The Unasked Question'. In every instance Jonathan Sacks' sensible, sensitive approach uncovers new meaning in the very areas most written about and discussed, whether within the Haggadah itself or in the impact of its message on the wider world we live in.

About the Author

Jonathan Sacks is Chief Rabbi of the united Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, primarily based in the UK but regularly travelling to other countries in the Commonwealth to support Jews and Jewish practice in those countries. He is widely respected for his intellectual rigour and political good sense, and writes articles for a number of newspapers, magazines etc. on a wide range of themes.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 April 2003
Format: Hardcover
The Chief Rabbi provides a wonderful companion to the seder night with his newly published haggadah. Each year, we sit down and discuss the story of the Exodus and each year, we attempt new answers for the questions that generations of children have been asking. This year's seder was enriched with the Rabbi Sack's pearls of wisdom, touching the lives of every person round the table. Through his thought-provoking essays and commentary snippets, he touches on the vital issues of identity, heritage and destiny through the lens of the Passover story. Bringing old and new ideas together, the Chief Rabbi allows his unique style to penetrate the soul - Yeshar Ko'ach!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Generally well done 2 April 2010
By Michael Lewyn - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book has two parts: a set of essays on the haggadah, and a commentary on same. Both are often at least somewhat interesting. Some points I liked:

*Sacks suggests that maybe the Four Questions is about the broader questions of identity - not just "why do we do X?" but "who am I?" and "who is this people I belong to?" Similarly, Moses' prophetic career begins the same way.

*Sacks has a surprisingly "liberation-minded" (although by no means Marxist) interpretation of the Exodus; he interprets Moses's movement from prince to liberator as evidence that a "child of slaves can be nobler than a prince...To have faith, as Judaism understands it, is to recognize God's image in the weak, the powerless, the afflicted and the suffering".

*Why does the Seder state early on "Let all who are hungry come and eat." Sacks explains that sharing "is the first act through which slaves become free human beings." A slave, or at least someone with a slave mentality, is too afflicted and terrified of the future to risk sharing.

*Why does the Seder refer to God executing "judgment against Egypt's gods."? To some extent, the plagues parody Egyptian idolatry. For example, Egyptians worshipped a sun-god- so the plague of darkness blots out the sun. They worshipped a frog-goddess of childbirth, so they were afflicted with frogs - perhaps because of their attempts to interfere with Jewish childbirth.

*Why does the Haggadah refer to "wise" and "wicked" sons, something not really hinted at in the Torah? The first reference to a wicked child is from sayings attributed to two second-century rabbis. Sacks points out that the authors of this work lived in a terrible time for Jews; Rome crushed a Jewish rebellion in the 130s, and the post-rebellion persecution might have combined with the growth of Christianity to cause quite a few Jews to leave the fold and become "the wicked son."

Occasionally Sacks views Judaism a bit too much through rose-colored glasses, or is a bit too harsh towards pagans: for example, after describing the revelry at Greek symposium, he suggest that "Greek culture rapidly disintegrated after the days of Alexander the Great"- which strikes me as at best a matter of opinion, given that Egypt and Syria were ruled for centuries thereafter by Greek empires, while Romans and Jews seemed to borrow liberally from Greek culture.
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