I never got around to posting this after Passover, so Pesah Sheni reminded me to get this posted ASAP. All of these are impressions from their use at the table, not in depth studies.
JPS Tabory- he is an expert on the topic and I like his scholarly articles on the Pasover seder but was disappointed with the haggadah. I blame it more on the editor. There are points where the comment on the bottom states “Popular theories are not true” without giving his own opinion. For a popular haggadah just to state that others are false is not good editing. The introduction was more trendy in scholarship than I expected, cutting edge debates around Israel Yuval’s work and whether Christianity is the source of the Haggadah and not visa versa. I would have liked more of the basics from his scholarship. And of course he discusses “Pour out they love upon the gentiles.”
This year, I listened to Jonathan Sacks through someone else reading from its comments. Sacks quotes Primo Levi on the same page as the Hartman’s Haggadah, we have noted in the past his reliance on Hartman’s but the Primo Levi is also quoted in the classic Schoken haggadah by Nachum Glatzer. Sacks was consistently in favor of community at the expense of faithless spirituality and individualism. He even manages to twist a Kotzker statement about letting God into one heart into the need to affirm the future of the community. I was most piqued by his statements about the need for the hope of Jewish history and peoplehood- and the message of the haggadah is not the details of Temple law. Having been acculturated into Brisker appreciation for Temple law- this was unexpected. His language of peoplehood and continuity sounded like a 1950’s Conservative haggadah, I pulled one or two off the shelf, finding the sentiment, but I could not find Sacks exact language
The Carlebach Haggadah was more Holocaust oriented than I remembered.
The MM Kasher Haggadah where everything is explained as messianic and golly gee whiz we can have a return to the Temple does not seem as innocuous anymore.
Marge Piercy’s mix of Jewish renewal, poetry, and foodie recipes is a nice gift for right person.
The Artscroll Vilna Gaon Haggadah remain a gem for conveying the traditional Lithuanian understanding of the Haggadah. “Zekher Yetziat mitzrayim as a chance for unending Talmud Torah.” The Haggadah was not actually written by the Gra. When the Gra died in 1797 – he left behind 10 official books- 8 of them in Kabbalah. There were some early fragments of the Gra on the Haggdah published in 1813 but in the 1850’s there was a full commentary created. Most people knew the Gra only through this accessible entry point of the haggadh. When ordinary rabbis quoted the Gra this was the volume that they could understand. The volume had an effect on the nusach of the haggadah both on Russian printings and on the American Hebrew Publishing company. I could pick issues with the translation but is nice to have some real Torah transalted.
But I wonder why they don’t translate the Nesivos Haggadah? The Haggadah Maaseh Nissim of Rabbi Yaakov Lorberbaum called by his legal commentary Netivot was the major shaper of Eastern European drush on the Haggadah. All these people claiming to wait the view of the mesorah of eastern Europe are not referring to anything spoken at the seder in Europe if they don’t have the Maasah Nissim.
On the other hand, Artscroll did waste their time putting a pile of haggadahs from various contemporary gedolim that are gibberish. I don’t blame the rabbanim and I wont list which ones. But they are quite a few that were sent out as fundraisers by various yeshivas that have vorts that the reader cannot tell if the gadol is telling over the Gra? Differing with the Gra? Offering his own approach to the Gra? Collections of random butchered quotes of Aharonim that only a high pitched tenth grader proving he is stark could love. They should have done the Nesivos instead.