Israel from the Inside with Daniel Gordis
Israel from the Inside with Daniel Gordis
"Because in each generation, they rise up against us to destroy us."

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"Because in each generation, they rise up against us to destroy us."

Some parts of the Haggadah are more obviously relevant this year, others will be harder. Having a Seder conversation that's not just about politics is going to be challenging. Here are some ideas.

Before we get to today’s subject, fashioning a Seder conversation that is not just about politics and that will thus be irrelevant two days later, another glimpse at the unique Israeli humor making its way around Israeli social media on this unique week.

Here’s the background:

And here’s the cartoon; someone other than we substituted the translation for the original Hebrew:

Actually, for those of us suddenly thrust into full time child-care this week, it’s not such a joke. We’ll figure it out. But it’s yet another reason to deeply dislike Iran.

See the people, note the size of the rocket.

And on the less humorous side, here’s one of the Iranian missiles that landed in Iraq. To get a sense of the size of these things, note the people standing in the middle, about one quarter of the way down.

It was a miracle that Israel escaped almost unscathed.

In the audio above, I explain why we’re doing what we’re doing today. It will be almost impossible, if not actually impossible, to have a Seder conversation this year that is not focused on Israel.

That’s ok, as far as it goes, but my own sense is that were it to become just another political conversation, it’s a wasted night. We don’t need the Haggadah for a political conversation we could have any night. We need a different kind of conversation, sparked and inspired by the Haggadah, on Pesach this year.

So today I’m just sharing some thoughts that I’ve been having as I’ve been thinking about our own Seder. They might speak to you, they might not. But with Pesach bearing down and Jewish history unfolding in front of our eyes, it seemed silly not to try to link them.

We are posting a segment for everyone, which you can hear above. At the bottom of this post, below the paywall, we’re posting the full discussion for our paid subscribers as a thanks for your ongoing support of this project.

TUESDAY (04/116):  The Iran fallout. Smotrich on why he refused to watch a new video of soldiers being killed on October 7th, and how his reason disgusted the nation. And Levin had an unbelievable explanation for why the country is so torn. We’ll cover some of those people you haven’t heard about in a while. Plus, why my wife is so happy that I got cancelled. (Yup, there’s a story there, and it speaks volumes.)

WEDNESDAY (04/17): Rabbi David Stav is to many people one of the most venerated religious figures in Israel. Once a candidate for the Chief Rabbinate, he exerts more influence than almost anyone else calling for a more embracing, inclusive, moral and Zionist Orthodox Judaism. We got together to speak about the drafting of the Haredim, a move Rabbi Stav strongly supports.

As rumors are now beginning to leak that Netanyahu and the Haredim have reached a compromise that might call for the drafting of as many as 25% of the Haredi eligible young men, the issue could well take on heightened importance, and we’ll hear Rabbi Stav on why the current situation is one of the Haredim stealing from the country in four different ways. As usual, we’ll post a segment for everyone, and the full discussion along with a transcript for our paid readers.

THURSDAY (04/18): There has been much coverage of women who lost their husbands, fiancés, boyfriends, etc., during this war. But there is of course also the obverse: men who have lost wives, fiancées, girlfriends—yet these men receive much less recognition. We’ll share some coverage of this issue from the Israeli press.


Israelis are facing an unfolding crisis, but also an important opportunity to rebuild. If you would like to share our conversation about what they are feeling and what is happening that the English press can’t cover, please subscribe today.

If you look around the internet, there are lots of photos of pages of Haggadot from early Israel, those youthful years when Jews were still in awe of the fact that they had a state.

You can see the page below produced on a typewriter, with the vocalization added in by hand. Here’s a revised version of Mah Nishtanah from an early kibbutz haggadah, which we thought might be interesting for our readers:

How is this night different from all other nights? 
On all other nights our towns were besieged and we were surrounded by enemies inciting us. 
On this night, we sit secure in our home and our 
towns are flourishing. 

How is this night different from all other nights? 
On all other things we would celebrate our Festival of Freedom when we were controlled by a foreign ruler
Now we are free people in our free land
the State of Israel. 

It brings to mind those famous Simon and Garfunkel lyrics:

A time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, A time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories; They're all that's left you

They’re not all that left us … we have much more.

But it was, indeed, a time of innocence, and time of confidences.

We have photographs, and memories …. and a sacred obligation to restore it all.

Perhaps that’s what we mean by “Next Year in Jerusalem"?

Now, for subscribers, the full conversation about the Seder.

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Israel from the Inside with Daniel Gordis
Israel from the Inside with Daniel Gordis
Israel from the Inside is for people who want to understand Israel with nuance, who believe that Israel is neither hopelessly flawed and illegitimate, nor beyond critique. If thoughtful analysis of Israel and its people interests you, welcome!