Pictures Tell: The Passover Haggadah Hallel and Nature

Created in partnership with Josh Feinberg and Sara Wolkenfeld

Amiaz Plains, Israel, 2002 © Zion Ozeri

בְּצֵאת יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִצְרַיִם, בֵּית יַעֲקֹב מֵעַם לֹעֵז, הָיְתָה יְהוּדָה לְקָדְשׁוֹ, יִשְׂרָאֵל מַמְשְׁלוֹתָיו. הַיָּם רָאָה וַיַּנֹס, הַיַּרְדֵּן יִסֹּב לְאָחוֹר. הֶהָרִים רָקְדוּ כְאֵילִים, גְּבַעוֹת כִּבְנֵי צֹאן. מַה לְּךָ הַיָּם כִּי תָנוּס, הַיַּרְדֵּן – תִּסֹּב לְאָחוֹר, הֶהָרִים – תִּרְקְדוּ כְאֵילִים, גְּבַעוֹת כִּבְנֵי־צֹאן. מִלְּפְנֵי אָדוֹן חוּלִי אָרֶץ, מִלְּפְנֵי אֱלוֹהַ יַעֲקֹב. הַהֹפְכִי הַצּוּר אֲגַם־מָיִם, חַלָּמִיש לְמַעְיְנוֹ־מָיִם.

When Israel went out from Egypt -- the house of Ya'akov from a people of foreign speech -- Yehudah became His holy one; Israel, His dominion. The sea saw and fled, the Jordan turned to the rear. The mountains danced like rams, the hills like young sheep. What is happening to you, O sea, that you are fleeing, O Jordan that you turn to the rear; O mountains that you dance like rams, O hills like young sheep? Before the Master, tremble O earth, before the Lord of Ya'akov -- He who turns the boulder into a pond of water, the flint into a spring of water. (Psalms 114)

For Discussion

  • What adjectives would you use to describe this photograph?

  • The photographer opted to include no people or human-made objects in this picture. Why might he have made this choice? What is the effect of this decision?

  • The Haggadah text speaks of the mountains dancing like rams. Do these mountains look like they might dance? Why or why not?

  • What could it mean for mountains to dance? Looking at this photograph, how do you understand the metaphor of dancing mountains? What might the Psalmist have intended by using this poetic imagery?

For Further Reflection:

Tell Your Own Story:

Take a picture with this question in mind: What aspects of nature do you find most awe inspiring? What encounters with nature feel most spiritually inspiring? After you take your photo, give it a caption. You can find some helpful photography tips here.