Pictures Tell: The Passover Haggadah Avadim Hayinu

Created in partnership with Josh Feinberg and Sara Wolkenfeld

מחזיר את הקערה אל השולחן. המצות תִהיינה מגלות בִשעת אמירת ההגדה.

עֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ לְפַרְעֹה בְּמִצְרָיִם, וַיּוֹצִיאֵנוּ ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ מִשָּׁם בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרֹעַ נְטוּיָה. וְאִלּוּ לֹא הוֹצִיא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת אֲבוֹתֵינוּ מִמִּצְרָיִם, הֲרֵי אָנוּ וּבָנֵינוּ וּבְנֵי בָנֵינוּ מְשֻׁעְבָּדִים הָיִינוּ לְפַרְעֹה בְּמִצְרָיִם. וַאֲפִילוּ כֻּלָּנוּ חֲכָמִים כֻּלָּנוּ נְבוֹנִים כֻּלָּנוּ זְקֵנִים כֻּלָּנוּ יוֹדְעִים אֶת הַתּוֹרָה מִצְוָה עָלֵינוּ לְסַפֵּר בִּיצִיאַת מִצְרָיִם. וְכָל הַמַּרְבֶּה לְסַפֵּר בִּיצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח.

He puts the plate back on the table. The matsot should be uncovered during the saying of the Haggadah.

We were slaves to Pharaoh in the land of Egypt. And the Lord, our God, took us out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched forearm. And if the Holy One, blessed be He, had not taken our ancestors from Egypt, behold we and our children and our children's children would [all] be enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt. And even if we were all sages, all discerning, all elders, all knowledgeable about the Torah, it is a commandment upon us to tell the story of the exodus from Egypt. And anyone who adds [and spends extra time] in telling the story of the exodus from Egypt, behold he is praiseworthy.

For Discussion:

  • Look at the expressions of the two figures in this photograph. How would you describe each of them? What do you think they are thinking or feeling?

  • What do you think the relationship is between these two people? Why do you say that?

  • The Haggadah text recalls the journey of the Jewish people from slavery to freedom. How do you connect this photograph to the text?

  • Based on this photograph, what might you say about the journey these two individuals are on? Why might it be an important story to remember and retell?

For Further Reflection:

  • The Haggadah emphasizes the importance of passing on the story of the Exodus and recounting every detail -- even if we feel we have heard it all before. In fact, the very next paragraph in the Haggadah tells the story of famous rabbis who got so wrapped up in the storytelling that they stayed awake all night! But many other stories have meaning and significance in our lives. What stories -- whether in Jewish history or from your own experience -- have meant the most to you? How do you keep the important aspects of these stories alive in your mind even as you go about your daily life?

  • Throughout the Torah, you can find references to the idea that being enslaved in Egypt was a formative experience for the Jewish people. See, for example, here, here, and here; these are just a few of the places in which the Torah tells us to be careful in how we treat the stranger, because we were strangers in the land of Egypt. How might the awareness of having been persecuted many years ago shape our behavior today? How have challenging moments in your own experience helped or influenced you later in life?

Tell Your Own Story:

Take a picture with this question in mind: What journeys or stories of redemption have been important to you or your family? Maybe it is your own story of escaping from a terrible situation, or perhaps it is the history of your family's survival. What do you picture when you consider the significance of these events? After you take your photo, give it a caption. You can find some helpful photography tips here.