Mah Nishtanah: What question will you ask?

This is a reworked study sheet based on something I’ve used previously, in time for Pesach.

The Mah Nishtanah is the song that makes four statements about the seder night experience and at many sedarim it is customarily sung by the youngest child. This source sheet has some of the background to the text but also some more recent variations. If this is your kind of thing then get a copy of the “Schechter Haggadah” and “My People’s Haggadah” (both volumes) with commentary, discussion and historical background.

The study sheet is here:

Mah Nishtanah: What Question Will You Ask

Happy singing and Chag Pesach Same’ach!

Text and Time Capsules: Parashat Ki Tavo

Drawing on the writing of Professors Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Moshe Halbertal and David Roskies, and Yehuda Amichai to explore ideas of text, memory and history in Judaism today. Download here.

Deuteronomy 25:5-10

וְעָנִיתָ וְאָמַרְתָּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲרַמִּי אֹבֵד אָבִי וַיֵּרֶד מִצְרַיְמָה וַיָּגָר שָׁם בִּמְתֵי מְעָט וַיְהִי שָׁם לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל עָצוּם וָרָב. וַיָּרֵעוּ אֹתָנוּ הַמִּצְרִים וַיְעַנּוּנוּ וַיִּתְּנוּ עָלֵינוּ עֲבֹדָה קָשָׁה. וַנִּצְעַק אֶל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֵינוּ וַיִּשְׁמַע יְהוָה אֶת קֹלֵנוּ וַיַּרְא אֶת עָנְיֵנוּ וְאֶת עֲמָלֵנוּ וְאֶת לַחֲצֵנוּ. וַיּוֹצִאֵנוּ יְהוָה מִמִּצְרַיִם בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרֹעַ נְטוּיָה וּבְמֹרָא גָּדֹל וּבְאֹתוֹת וּבְמֹפְתִים. וַיְבִאֵנוּ אֶל הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה וַיִּתֶּן לָנוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ. וְעַתָּה הִנֵּה הֵבֵאתִי אֶת רֵאשִׁית פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַתָּה לִּי יְהוָה וְהִנַּחְתּוֹ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוִיתָ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ.

5 And you shall answer and say before the Eternal your God: ‘A wandering Aramean was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there, few in number; and he became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous. 6 And the Egyptians dealt ill with us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage. 7 And we cried unto the Eternal, the God of our ancestors, and the Eternal heard our voice, and saw our affliction, and our toil, and our oppression. 8 And the Eternal brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders. 9 And He has brought us into this place, and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 And now, behold, I have brought the first of the fruit of the land, which You, O Eternal One, has given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Eternal your God, and worship before the Eternal your God.

Parashat Shoftim – commandment from where?

Here’s a little Torah study for this week’s parasha. A study of a short piece in the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 23a. Here’s an extract from the handout:

This text is a powerful testament to a humanistic tendency in religious rites. In the absence of the Divine commanding voice, the sages are still able to allude to it through the transmission of rites from generation to generation.

Click here to download the text study to read more.