Why do we discuss the Passover story?

By Fredric Price on April 5, 2020

From Robert Friedman:

Q: At the Seder on Passover the text we use is called a “Haggadah”. The word means “telling”. Why are we enjoined to tell and discuss the Passover story at the Seder rather than sitting back in a comfortable chair and reading quietly about it?

A: Exodus 10:2 tells us, “And in order that you should tell into the ears of your children and grandchildren… and you will [all] know that I am your G‑d.” Note the inclusionary style, “And you will [all] know.” When one relates a story verbally, it allows the communication to become a two-way street where the themes and messages inherent in the story come to life for both parties – the one who is telling the story and the one who is listening.

The purpose of retelling the Passover story is not meant to be passive or dry. Rather, it is intended for the story to become a part of the individual. Through telling the story and discussing it with family and friends who have gathered to celebrate, each individual is able to experience the exodus in his or her own way. Unlike other mitzvot, like the Shofar on Rosh HaShana or taking the four species on Sukkot, which are monolithic, the mitzvah of telling the story is highly personal. The more effort one puts into the task, the greater the experiential reward.

For many of us, the practice of getting ready for the seder includes not only the preparation of the unique and delicious foods and drink, but also studying the text of the Haggadah in order to derive meaning and insights, which are then conveyed and collegially discussed on this most joyous night of the Jewish calendar.