Pictures Tell: The Passover Haggadah Songs of Praise

Created in partnership with Josh Feinberg and Sara Wolkenfeld

אִלּוּ פִינוּ מָלֵא שִׁירָה כַיָּם, וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה כֲּהַמוֹן גַּלָּיו, וְשִׂפְתוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁבַח כְּמֶרְחֲבֵי רָקִיעַ, וְעֵינֵינוּ מְאִירוֹת כַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ וְכַיָּרֵחַ, וְיָדֵינוּ פְרוּשׂות כְּנִשְׂרֵי שָׁמַיִם, וְרַגְלֵינוּ קַלּוֹת כָּאַיָּלוֹת – אֵין אֲנַחְנוּ מַסְפִּיקִים לְהוֹדוֹת לְךָ...

Were our mouth as full of song as the sea, and our tongue as full of joyous song as its multitude of waves, and our lips as full of praise as the breadth of the heavens, and our eyes as sparkling as the sun and the moon, and our hands as outspread as the eagles of the sky and our feet as swift as deers - we still could not thank You sufficiently...

For Discussion:

  • For this picture, the photographer chose to position his subjects in an unusual way. Why do you think he might have made this choice? What is the effect of this arrangement?

  • Why do you think the photographer chose to include the little boy in the upper right corner of the picture?

  • How does the composition of the photograph add to the meaning of the image?

  • How does the photograph help to illustrate the text from the Hallel service?

  • Why do you think music is so often associated with praise and celebration?

For Further Reflection:

  • In this prayer, our bodies are the instruments used to create songs of gratitude. Song is an important motif throughout Jewish texts, and there are a number of instances in the Bible in which people use song as a vehicle to appeal to God or express their joy and thanks. You can see an assortment of these instances here. What moments in your life have made you feel like singing?

  • Gratitude is a daily practice in Jewish tradition, and the liturgy is full of opportunities to give thanks, whether it is a prayer of thanks for the gift of a new day, or the practice of acknowledging our appreciation for food before eating it. What are some of the mundane parts of your daily life that you think deserve an expression of thanksgiving? How might you express this gratitude?

Tell Your Own Story:

Take a picture with this question in mind: How do you express joy and gladness? After you take your photo, give it a caption. You can find some helpful photography tips here.