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The seder scene in a Passover Haggadah, with German translation p. 42. (copied by Eliezer Sussman Mezeritsch, decorated by Charlotte von Rothschild · 1842 ) Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B314, e-codices.ch

How Is the Passover Seder Different from All Other Symposia?

The accumulation of liturgical layers, songs, and discussion that adorn the traditional Seder can obscure its original, primary purpose. By closely analyzing the Seder’s artful oration in light of classical rhetoric, a sharper picture emerges of a Roman symposium-like gathering whose aim is to help its members appreciate and celebrate the freedom God granted through the Exodus.1

Dr. Rabbi Richard Hidary

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  1. This article is a reworked excerpt from Richard Hidary, Rabbis and Classical Rhetoric: Sophistic Education and Oratory in the Talmud and Midrash (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 68-73.