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The environmental side of the Haggadah

The traditional Haggadah is also an opportunity to incorporate an environmental thought into the Seder night. We have compiled a number of points and ideas regarding the connection between Passover customs and the contents of the Haggadah to the climate crisis

Passover is particularly full of customs, some of which are common to all of us and some of which are unique to each family or sect: special unleavened foods, trips to Hol HaMoed, the hiding of the Afikoman, the cup of Elijah the prophet, the Mimona, and more. There is no doubt that the Passover Seder is the highlight of the holiday, and that reading the Haggadah (even if not everyone completes it after the meal), is an integral part of it.

Besides the opportunity to sing along with the whole family to the favorite songs and try to finally understand how many blows were inflicted on the Egyptians in Egypt and how many on the sea, the traditional Haggadah is also an opportunity to incorporate an environmental thought into the Seder night. We have collected a number of points and ideas regarding the connection between Passover customs and the contents of the Haggadah to the climate crisis, which can be discussed with the people around the table when we observe the mitzvot "And the Haggadat for your son" (and for your daughter), or just to reflect on them between matzah and moror.


The Passover Seder begins with a festive Kiddush, following which we drink the first of the four glasses of wine that we sipped during the evening. Whether you like it red or white, or are satisfied with a glass of must, you should take into account that in the future, wine is likely to be much less obvious. According to study From the recent period, the climate crisis will lead to the fact that agricultural crops that are common in the Mediterranean basin, including the vine on which we bless, will require more water. In addition, in the coming decades is expected A drop of about two-thirds In the ability to produce quality wine in leading wine regions such as Bordeaux, Tuscany, California, Chile and more, as a result of the climate crisis. Food for thought while we enjoy the drink by turning to the left.


This is the main sign in the Haggadah: in this part of the evening the story of the Exodus is told, in which we read many of the main sections and sing some of the familiar songs.

"What has changed?": The question we have been asking ourselves for so many generations asks us not to take things for granted. Beyond the familiar differences between the Seder night and the other nights, it gives us an opportunity to think about how our lives, today and in the future, are different and will change because of the climate crisis. It is possible to provoke a discussion at the holiday table about the changes we can make in our habits to contribute to the struggle, while referring to the fact that the younger generation, who are usually responsible for singing these four difficulties, are the ones who will have to deal with the consequences of the crisis. BSurvey Conducted on behalf of the Israeli Association for Ecology and Environment, it was found that over 80 percent of Israeli youth are interested in environmental issues - maybe it's time to listen to them?

The four boys: The well-known midrash about the wise, the wicked, the foolish and the one who does not know how to ask can be interpreted as an important analogy for our role in the fight against the climate crisis. The wise man can be seen as someone who is aware of the climate crisis and knows that he must change his habits to deal with it. The wise person understands the seriousness of the situation and works to reduce their influence, they take personal responsibility, and can even influence wider circles: either as an example for the community closest to them, or by taking actions on the public stage. The "evil" can be interpreted as someone who denies the existence of the climate crisis - but it is important to emphasize that this is not "evil" in the simplistic sense of the word, but someone who still thinks it is possible to continue with "business as usual". The prodigal son may be the one who is familiar with the issue of the climate crisis in general, but feels powerless in the face of it and is unaware of the ways in which it can have an impact. According to Rabbi Benyahu Tabila, an ultra-orthodox educator, the great challenge lies in the fact that people do not know how to ask - that is, in people who are not aware of the severity of the crisis, and that it is not on their agenda. "A large part of the problem is based on a lack of knowledge - and beyond that, on a lack of awareness, which creates a situation where the 'son' does not know what to ask at all - or what are the challenges that the climate crisis poses to us, and what issues need to be investigated," he says. "That is why it is written: 'You shall open to him' - that is, our role and challenge is to open and inspire them to ask and discover."

The ten blows: During the recitation of the names of the ten plagues of Egypt, it is customary to pour a little wine. According to tradition, God inflicted the plagues on the Egyptians to free the Israelites - andEnvironmental reading It is easy to recognize that many of them were natural disasters: the contamination of water systems (blood), the invasion of animals into the human living environment (frog and locust), the outbreak of epidemics (tuberculosis and boils) and extreme weather (hail). Nowadays we are dealing with "plagues" with a certain similarity to those that befell Egypt - as a result of the climate crisis. In analogy to the story of the Exodus, where each blow was more severe than the previous one, we must remember that the effects of the climate crisis will continue to worsen if we do not act vigorously.

"discuss": The song's spirit of contentment and gratitude is an opportunity to check where in our life we ​​can be reduced and settle for only what we really need, make informed consumer choices and be thankful for what we have. Maybe we have Enough clothes in the closet? maybe we can Reduce our meat consumption? The time of abundance in which we live has Extensive role In the deterioration of the environmental crisis, each and every one of us can make small-but-impactful changes in our lifestyle.

"In every generation a person must see himself as if he came out of Egypt": This sentence from the Haggadah asks us to look into the past and connect personally to the experience of the Exodus from Egypt - an event whose influence continued to the generations to come. In fact, the Haggadah requires us to look back in order to create a connection and continuity with the time in which we live now. Just as the Exodus from Egypt had, according to tradition, an extensive impact on the people of Israel, the period we live in now also has an important role in shaping the near and distant future. The disturbing predictions that warn of the expected effects of the climate crisis can arouse among us a sense of responsibility for the situation, and give meaning to the actions we take, so that in the future we will look at this period as one in which we fought to make a change for the better.


The concluding part of the reading of the Haggadah and the Seder night includes songs and poems, in which the famous verse appears: "For the coming year in the built Jerusalem". This ending and its optimistic message can encourage us, despite the disturbing forecasts, the uncertainty and the news that warn of natural disasters and damages to man and the environment. Thus, we can choose to believe that our actions have the power to make a difference, believing in a better future.

More of the topic in Hayadan: