Dr. Laurence Lovat of London, England sent in a couple of ideas he is going to try this year to keep the children involved:
- I have bought some little toys and some chocolate money, and will give them as a prize to anyone asking a question. (The money can be eaten or exchanged for hard cash after Yom Tov)
- I have made a glove puppet of a sea animal (it’s very easy) and will see if I can make it pop up at appropriate times to amuse and inform (Don’t quite know how but I am working on it)
A more serious idea, based on the Malbim’s Introduction to the Haggadah, which has just been translated into English is:
- Malbim explains that the order of the Maggid in the Haggadah is in 7 sections and is based on the passuk: Vehigadata Levincha… I plan to make 7 flash cards with the relevant parts of the passuk on them and ask the children to:
- Put the parts of the passuk into the right order
- Tell me when we reach the beginning of the next section of Maggid. For each of these, they get a prize!
He adds that the Malbim’s Overview in English is put out as a Special Edition from Ohr Somayach and is available at http://www.virtual.co.il/orgs/ohr/special/books/feature.htm.
Marcel Berenblut, also of England, offers the following:
- Make them responsible for telling the Ba’al HaBayit when to do various things, eg pouring cups. Obviously, many “children’s haggadot” don’t contain all the information needed, so a bit of work by the parents, to provide a written list may be needed. This is based on the idea that “responsibility is fun”. If the kid really believes that the Seder will go wrong if he doesn’t do his job properly……
- (for older kids) Instead of encouraging the kids to ask questions, prime them with Qs + As and get them to ask the adults the questions. There are few things more enjoyable to kids than feeling like you’ve outsmarted the wrinklies. Also, if the question is specific to a part of the Seder, the child will be alert, waiting for the right moment, to make sure they don’t miss their opportunity.
Tova Taragin of Baltimore, Maryland wrote:
Being a teacher, I naturally looked for ways to involve the children at the seder. When our children were small — in fact, until my oldest got engaged, I assigned “assignments” to all the children(ours and nieces and nephews, and even children of guests). They had to ‘research” and discuss different parts of the Hagaddah, different parts for the two nights (here in galut)…this way they were the “star” for that section of the Hagaddah, we didn’t have arguments of “but my morah, rebbe, teacher, etc. said” , no one read explanations straight out of the Artscroll Hagaddah and they “rested” on erev Pesach — while they did their preparing. It got to a point where in latter years I got phone calls from the nieces and nephews demanding their “assignments” — to add to the excitement I printed a “Schedule” going through the “steps of seder” — and writing all their names and the assignments…starting off with MC = Zaydie…etc….(I’m into desk-top publishing)…it worked real well — and maybe we didn’t stay up a whole night like the rabbonim in Bnai Brak — but none of the kids got bored, left the table etc….they all looked forward to participating — even the youngest ones who got billing for what they could do — even if it was only Ma nishtanah or the “frogs” song from nursery school. Hope this helps those with children at the seder…it made ours very enjoyable…
Amy Davis , at Tulane U. suggested that I mention a problem which faces many college students, as well as people who travel away from home before Pesach. The question that concerned her is, as she is leaving her apartment before Thursday night, which is the proper time to conduct the Search for Chametz, when should the search be conducted, and when should one burn the Chametz? In general, one should conduct the search the night before one is leaving their home/apartment/dorm. For example, I am departing to Chicago Wednesday afternoon. I therefore would check for Chametz Tuesday night. Regarding burning the Chametz, this is done on Friday morning, at the same time that everyone else will be burning the Chametz. You do not have to take Chametz along with you on your trip, and burn it on Friday morning at your final destination. This is especially true if you might misplace that Chametz in the shuffle. One can acquire Chametz (or take some from your parents, children, hosts) and use that to burn at your final destination. You are prohibited from eating Chametz on Friday morning, at what ever time is proper for your locale. I hope this helps.
In the last posting on Maggid, we mentioned a reason for why we say Hallel at the end of Maggid. Neil Parks of Beachwood, Ohio asked: if we say Hallel as part of the Seder, why do we also say it during Ma’ariv before the Seder (as is the custom in many places)?
The Ta’amei HaMinhagim quotes the Chok Ya’akov 487:8 who gives the following reason: Because we do not make a blessing on the Hallel we say at the time of the Hagada, we therefore say Hallel in the synagogue, with a blessing, so that we would not need to make blessing on the Hallel we say later in the evening (during the Seder). In fact, the Ta’amei Ha’Minhagim further quotes the Orchot Chaim 487:6 who says that even in a place where the custom is not to say Hallel, it is a mitzva to change that custom, and to impress upon the congregation that they should say Hallel, and that is what many Rabbis have done.
A question which should have been addressed, and that I unfortunately must answer briefly ( as time is limited), is who compiled the Hagada, when was it composed, and are there different variations of the Hagada. To answer this question, I will quote part of the introduction of the Yeshiva University Hagada. “The actual content of the Hagada has evolved over the centuries. The first known edition to appear in its present form , approximately, was introduced in the Siddur of Rav Amram Gaon (ninth century). The material in his Hagada was collected from a variety of Biblical, Rabbinic, Talmudic, and Medrashic sources…the ritual of the four cups of wine and of Karpas is Mishnaic in origin. The inclusion of the Hallel service in the Hagada is also found in the Mishna. The various sources and traditions regarding the Pesach service have given rise to innumerable commentaries, customs, and interpretations surrounding the Hagada. this, too, has resulted in the plethora of different editions which the centuries have witnessed.”
My family and I wish all of you a Chag Kosher, V’Sameach, a Happy Passover, and L’Shana Ha’ba’ah B’Yerushalayim!!! Next year, may all of our e-mail addresses end in .il !!!