Passover

“The creators of the Mishnaic Haggadah structured it as a work of Greco-Roman rhetorical oratory, the most common and effective means of persuasion available in their culture…”

The creators of the Mishnaic Haggadah structured it as a work of Greco-Roman rhetorical oratory, the most common and effective means of persuasion available in their culture, precisely in order to achieve the liturgical goal of a heartfelt Hallel. Through a combination of the three classical modes of persuasion – logos (the telling of the history of the Exodus and the expounding of verses), pathos (feeling the suffering of slavery and the joy of redemption), and ethos (citations from the Bible and from sages like Rabban Gamaliel) – the audience experiences the magnitude of the Exodus at a personal level and so cannot help but break into a song of gratitude.

And so, although the style of this oration and so much of the ceremony of the night appears just like any other Roman drinking party—its content and goal make this symposium very different from all other symposia. More than a drinking party that happened to include fun intellectual discussion, the Rabbinic Passover meal incorporates food, drink, oratory, and song all in the service of a deep appreciation of the freedom we enjoy through God’s mighty hand.

Rabbi Dr. Richard Hidary, “How Is The Passover Seder Different From All Other Symposia?”, TheGemara.com (26 March 2018) [http://thegemara.com/how-is-the-passover-seder-different-from-all-other-symposia/]