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The Night That Unites Passover Haggadah

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The Night That Unites Passover Haggadah 
Teachings, Stories and Questions from Rabbi Kook, Rabbi Soloveitchik, and Rabbi Carlebach 

  • By Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider 
  • artwork by Aitana Perlmutter 
  • The Esther Alix Bilski Edition 
  • Hardcover, 300 pages, full color, 8.5" x 10.5" 
  • publication: 2014 

Includes the full traditional Passover Haggadah text in Hebrew with a translation and commentary in English. 

The philosophies of three major Jewish personalities lie at the heart of this Haggadah. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach believed that the Jewish people have a critical role to play in demonstrating and sharing a unique way of life with the world. As Jews, we share in the universal historical experience of mankind and therefore must contribute to the benefit of all humanity. 

The artwork on the cover of this Haggadah depicts three concentric circles of human endeavor as uniquely taught by these spiritual giants, moving outward from the individual to the collective whole. At the center lies the importance of the individual. Each Jew is to forge his or her path and engage in a life dedicated to the ideals and mitzvot of the Torah. Second, beyond our individual concerns, we are also called on to develop and thrive as a nation. Finally, there is a third sphere which takes us beyond our individual and national concerns; we are called upon to take a unique place in inspiring the world, praying for, and working towards the Redemption of all mankind. 

Offering a fresh and original look at the Seder night, this Passover Haggadah is a unique compilation of the teachings of Rav Kook, Rabbi Soloveitchik, and Reb Carlebach. Together with discussion questions and contemporary insights, this Haggadah powerfully engages the reader on the most compelling and memorable night of the year – The Night That Unites. 

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935), the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of pre-State Israel, is recognized as being one of the most important Jewish thinkers of all time. Living at a time when the return of Jews to the Land of Israel was becoming a new reality, Rav Kook made the Land a central point of his life and of his teachings. Rav Kook had a deep and intense love for every Jew as well as for the entire world. As a Talmudic scholar, mystic, poet, original thinker, and saintly person, Rav Kook had a profound impact on the Jewish world. 

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1903–1993) arrived in America at a time when traditional Judaism was seen as passé and antiquated. With his profound teachings, “The Rav,” as he was affectionately known by his many students, succeeded in revealing the nobility, intellectual rigor, and relevance of the Torah, Talmud, and other sacred Jewish texts. He educated not only many rabbis, but also doctors, lawyers, and businessmen to become genuinely learned Jews. His contributions have been vital to the dynamic resurgence of Judaism in America. 

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (1925–1994) emerged on the American scene after the Holocaust, at a time when Judaism felt outdated and heavy for many. Reb Shlomo taught the classic teachings, stories, and customs of the Hassidic world and its great masters, giving them a new language and spirit that touched the modern Jew. Reb Shlomo lovingly saw the holiness in each and every individual, believing that deep within each person is a pure soul that can never be blemished. 

Aaron Goldscheider has served as a synagogue rabbi for 20 years and received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University. 

Praise for The Night That Unites Passover Haggadah: 

Perhaps three of the most iconic and beloved rabbis of our time are Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Each in his own way has given to our faith and people valued insights and teachings that have helped enhance the spiritual quality of our lives for now, and for generations to come. 

Thus, it should not come as a surprise to note the almost complete sellout of a new haggadah that features the work of these three rabbinic greats. 

“The Night That Unites,” edited by Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider with artwork by Aitana Perlmutter and published by Urim Publication, envelops into one volume some of the best teachings that each of these Torah luminaries brought forward in the last century. The choice of teachings, stories, and questions contained in this collective work represents some of the finest Torah learning for presentment at your Seder table. 
- Alan Jay Gerber, The Jewish Star 

The three rabbis — Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazic chief rabbi of Israel; Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, for decades the philosophical leader of the Modern Orthodox movement; and Shlomo Carlebach, the troubadour whose music became the soundtrack for a few generations of Jews — whose thoughts about Passover Rabbi Goldscheider brings together, numbered among the most influential leaders of 20th-century Judaism. All shared an open-minded spirit that transcended denominational labels, though all were Orthodox. 

“The great rabbinic personalities featured in this volume share common cause in their profound desire and great efforts to bring unity to our people,” Rabbi Goldscheider writes in his introduction. Ordained by Yeshiva University, he served as a pulpit rabbi in the U.S. for two decades and now lives in Jerusalem. 

He supplements the rabbis’ teachings with additional readings (“special sections”) on kindness, the Holocaust and Israel, and discussion questions. And illustrative tales from the rabbis’ lives. 

The Haggadah’s layout makes it easy to follow the order of the seder, and Perlmutter’s drawings at the start of each section are spectacular. The book is comprehensive, but may better serve as a study guide before Passover; a collector’s item, it’s another Haggadah you will fear staining. 
-Steve Lipman, NY Jewish Week 

The wise son, and to me, hands down the best new entry of the year, is “The Night that Unites,” published by Urim Publications and assembled by Aaron Goldscheider. At $39.95 per copy, it makes a good case for a downloadable app. But buy one copy for the treasure trove of insights, primarily from Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Rav Kook, and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Like many interpretation-rich Haggadot, this one is not suitable for seat-of-the-pants, read-as-you-go use at the Seder. Rather, it rewards advance preparation; bookmark your favorite parts, and share them on the first night of Passover. 

What “The Night that Unites” misses, interestingly, is the incongruity of its three primary sources. This trio is a motley crew indeed: the rational legalist, the nationalistic mystic and the hippie. Unfortunately, “The Night that Unites” often lapses into hagiography, whitewashing Soloveitchik, Kook and Carlebach into three barely distinguishable exemplars of everything good and righteous. Ironically, “The Night that Unites” unites too much. It would have benefited from exploring the productive tensions between these three luminaries, rather than glossing them over. 

Still, I learned a lot, and considering that I’ve reviewed a dozen Haggadot in each of the last six years, that’s saying something. 
-Jay Michaelson, The Jewish Forward 

How would you like to sit at the seder with three of the giants of the last century -- the Rav, the Rav Harashi and the Reb -- and listen to them exchange insights into the haggadah? This new Haggadah makes it possible for you to do just that. 

The Rav was Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, the leader of Modern Orthodoxy in the United States. The Rav, as he was known to his many disciples, was the inheritor of the Brisker dynasty, which developed a whole new method for analyzing the Talmud, and he came to America with a doctorate in Philosophy that he had earned at a German university. He is the icon of those who believe that it is possible to combine an enormous knowledge of the tradition with an understanding and appreciation for modern culture and philosophy. 

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook was the first Rav Harashi -- the Chief Rabbi of Palestine under the British mandate. He combined an enormous knowledge of the Jewish mystical tradition with a poetic soul and with an understanding of the need to appreciate and not rebuff the pioneers who were building the land of Israel. 

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, 'Reb Shlomo' as he was known to his followers, was a travelling troubadour who crossed the country, reaching the souls of both involved Jews and young people who were on the periphery of Jewish life with his songs and his stories. Few of us realized when we listened to him how great his knowledge of Hassidic literature was, and how serious was his desire to reach out to those whom mainstream Jews had given up on. 

It is hard to imagine these three sitting at the same table, celebrating Pesach together, but this new haggadah: "The Night That Unites" does the next best thing. It chooses some of the very best insights of the three, edits and simplifies them so that the general reader can understand them, and puts them together side by side on each page of the haggadah. 

Every year I try to call attention in this column to the best haggadah of the year. This one wins the prize this year hands down. Most of the new haggadot are based on the premise that in order to have a seder that speaks to our generation, we must make it as brief as possible, and we must spell out the parallels between the Exodus and the freedom stories in the world around us. So the black spiritual: "When Israel Was in Egypt Land-Let My People Go", and the story of Soviet Jewry's liberation in our time, and discussions of America's policy in Vietnam and elsewhere have become staples of the seder. This book is different. It leaves nothing of the traditional haggadah out, for it believes that this is a night for study, and that if we invite our guests to stretch their minds and work hard, they will respond. And this haggadah does not draw any parallels between the Exodus and any of the freedom movements of our time, because it is based on the premise that this is the night for telling our story, and that the parallels to those of others that may be in it, people can find by themselves. 

I love the artwork in this haggadah, starting with the three seder plates on the cover that stand for the three thinkers whose work is found inside. And I love the fact that each unit contains questions that can be asked at the seder in order to make it a participatory experience. I started out marking the pages that I liked the best so that I would be sure to study them at the seder, and I soon found that I had marked almost every page. 

So this is, at least in my opinion, the best new haggadah of the year, and I recommend that you bring it to your table on seder night. It is the next best thing to having three of the giants of Jewish life sitting there with you. 
-Rabbi Jack Riemer, South Florida Jewish Journal

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