Yaakov (Jack) Bieler ● Jewish Book Council
Theologian and Jewish philosopher Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits (1908−92) was the author of many books of Jewish thought, history, and philosophy. For this new haggadah, editor Reuven Mohl has selected passages from these works to comprise the commentary that accompanies the traditional text.
The Passover seder has many components, including rituals, like Kiddush (the sanctification of the holy day being celebrated) and Hallel (psalms commemorating the Exodus experience); reading passages from rabbinic literature; and engaging in long standing traditions — children asking questions, opening the door to welcome the prophet Elijah, and reciting liturgical poems. Mohl has drawn from Rabbi Berkovits’s incredibly broad oeuvre to provide thought-provoking insights pertaining not only to the haggadah but also observations that go beyond the text, including his strong advocacy for living according to halakah — Jewish law.
Interspersed with many of Rabbi Berkovits’s more philosophical and theological statements are stories and comments about the Holocaust, which he experienced first-hand. Seeing the topics playing off one another throughout the haggadah offers a unique insight into Rabbi Berkovits’s experiences and thinking.