Pre-Pesah Yom Iyyun
Pre-Pesah Yom Iyyun

Pre-Pesah Yom Iyyun

The Light of Discovery: Bringing the Texts of Pesah to Life

Sunday, April 2, 2023 | 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM



The first mishnah in Pesahim tells us to search for hametz by the light of a small, handheld candle. Why use a little flame and not a torch? It forces us to come closer, notice the finer details, and discover what might otherwise be overlooked.

Inspired by the essays in Hadar’s 5783 Pesah reader, “L’Or HaNer - The Light of Discovery,” this Pre-Pesah Yom Iyyun features a day of online learning dedicated to slowing down, looking carefully, and noticing and wondering about the details of Pesah that are easily missed. As we begin to cook, clean, and prepare for the upcoming holiday, join Hadar faculty and make your spiritual preparation for Pesah as well.



10:00 - 11:00 AM

Living Between Memory and Hope: Reading Psalm 126 
Rabbi Shai Held
Psalm 126 may appear familiar as the Psalm that we recite / sing before Birkat HaMazon on Shabbat and Yom Tov. As with other familiar chapters, we tend to understand the psalm’s message as straightforward, but it’s worthwhile to slow down and read it with new eyes. What is the experience (or experiences) the psalm evokes, and what can it teach about living a life of faith? In particular, we'll explore how memory and hope intersect in Jewish thought and in our lives.

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM

Who Benefits from Machine Matzah?
Yitzhak Bronstein
The introduction of machine matzah in the 19th century provoked a great controversy around the integration of technology with Jewish observance. We'll reexamine this controversy, highlighting a debate about the socioeconomic implications of replacing human labor with machines. In doing so, we will apply halakhic lessons from the Industrial Revolution to our digital age.

Gestures of Redemption at the Seder
Jamie Weisbach, Hadar Advanced Kollel
Our tradition has long considered Pesah to be the night when redemption will happen in the future, and during one moment in the Seder we make three gestures to this idea: saying the verses "Pour out your wrath...", Opening the door, and pouring the cup for Elijah.  We will examine the origins of these three customs and interrogate their meanings separately and together.

12:15 - 12:45 PM

Unpacking Maggid: Tools, Tips, and Tricks
Chana Kupetz 
The Maggid section of the Haggadah is the key to a meaningful Seder. But how can you find your way through the texts without getting lost? Hadar's Maggid Map can show you the way! Join us for an online workshop using this new, beautifully illustrated companion to the most important part of the Seder from Hadar's Children and Families Division. We'll show you how to get the most out of the Maggid Map and make your Seder fun and engaging for guests of all ages.

12:45 - 1:45 PM

Miriam’s Journey: An Exploration through Text and Song
Rabbi Aviva Richman and Rabbi Deborah Sacks Mintz
We often picture the prophet Miriam as a vibrant and joyful dancer, tambourine in hand, embodying confidence—even exuberance—in redemption.  Yet reflecting on the arc of her life, Miriam surely experienced much anxiety, doubt, and even bitterness. Through an exploration of Miriam’s journey as brought to life through text and music, we’ll tease out the vibrancy of her fleeting moments of inner clarity—in her youth and old age—and also linger on the decades of doubt and uncertainty that filled most of her life. This session will interweave learning, song, and reflection.

A Night of Many Questions, Or, How to Ask the Right Questions
Rabbi Miriam-Simma Walfish
Questions are one of the central ways we engage with the story of the Exodus at the Seder. After a few years of telling the same story though, some of our questions might feel superficial or ritualistic rather than substantive. In this session, we will explore why questions are a central mode of the evening and workshop how to ask great questions at our own sedarim.

2:00 - 3:00 PM

No More Miracles Or; I Know Nothing But Miracles
Rabbi Avi Strausberg
The period of the Bible was a time brimming with miracles beyond human comprehension.  During the exodus from Egypt, everywhere the Israelites looked, God’s divine hand was discernible.  Moses’ rod miraculously transformed into a snake, the great Nile bled blood, rocks broke forth to bring water, and the sky brought down gifts of sustenance. This is not our world today.  In a world in which God's divine presence is absent in overt gestures, where do we look for God?  And, what sense do we make of this change in the way in which we see and experience miracles in our lives?  From Torah to parshanut to Talmud to modern poetry, we'll find our own way into the language of the miraculous.

The Power of Tactile Experiences at the Seder
Rabbi Elie Kaunfer
The Pesah Seder is full of tactile experiences, perhaps none more meaningful than the physical act of pointing, which draws special attention to the special food items on the table. Why might we point at food on the table? A series of fascinating midrashim reveal a deeper truth in which pointing is a gesture that ties together the various themes of Pesah - and even acts as a roadmap for redemption. Join as we explore these midrashim and develop new insights to bring to this year’s Seder.