“Guided spontaneity” might be a good description for the Seder night. What we usually recite as the first part of Hallel becomes “shirah” at the annual revisiting of the birth of our people. The difference, according to some, is that shirah is a spontaneous eruption from the heart. Yet, the expression of that spontaneity is channeled into the familiar words with which we thank Hashem so many other times of the year. We consciously direct the emotional discharge into a common mold.
We really do the same with the mitzvah of sippur yetzias Mitzrayim – relating the background, events, and significance of the Exodus. While the White House apparently opted for Maxwell House again this year, most of us have access to the insights of hundreds of years of commentaries, besides our own insights. Here as well, all that creativity is coaxed and guided by an outline of superbly efficient organization.
We often overlook the beauty of that organization in our zeal to make another point to those gathered around our table. Understanding the structure of the haggadah can greatly enhance our seder experience. Rabbi Moshe Hauer of Baltimore’s Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion Congregation authored an incisive look at the basic structure of the haggadah, briefly explaining in all of eight pages what each subsection aims to accomplish. It is a valuable contribution to our seder experience, and he makes it available to us as a free download.
Skill such as this is one of the reasons he is a member of the small group that edits Klal Perspectives, soon to release the Spring 2012 issue. Please watch for it.