2

The paragraph we say on burning the chametz is in Aramaic. What is the reason for that part being in Aramaic, but not most of the Haggada? (The search is part of the prescribed Pesach ritual, as is the Haggada.) Was that part added to the Pesach ritual after the Hagadda was written?

13
  • That paragraph isn't a part of the haggadah?
    – Double AA
    Apr 2, 2023 at 12:41
  • @DoubleAA Is your comment the beginning of an answer or a critique of the wording of my question?
    – Yehuda W
    Apr 2, 2023 at 12:43
  • I don't understand why you are comparing the language of these two texts
    – Double AA
    Apr 2, 2023 at 12:43
  • 1
    So is Shacharit of chol hamoed and the haftorah of the 7th day
    – Double AA
    Apr 2, 2023 at 12:52
  • 1
    Additionally, your title should probably be "Why is the Bittul Chametz in Aramaic?" not "Why is the Biur Chametz in Aramaic?" since "biur chametz" is a thing that is done not said. Also, the paragraph I assume you are referencing isn't something "we say on burning the chametz" like a blessing would be, but something said at any time between disposing of one's remaining chametz and chametz ownership becoming prohibited; it is not a part of the burning process.
    – Double AA
    Apr 2, 2023 at 13:44

2 Answers 2

8

The Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 434:2) writes, that the reason why we say it in Aramaic, is because that was the language that all Jews understood back then, and in order to nullify the Chametz, one must understand what he is saying.

There is another reason, (brought down in Seder Hayom on Biur Chametz) that being that when one destroys food - especially bread - it can cause him to become poor, we say it in a language that the accusing angels won’t understand

2
  • Why is the whole Haggada not written in " the language that all Jews understood back then". Why only focus on people understanding this one paragraph?
    – Yehuda W
    Apr 2, 2023 at 15:55
  • 1
    The Haggadah was mainly written in Israel during the time of the Temple, when people spoke Hebrew. Nowadays, if you don't understand Aramaic, you should say the Bittul in a language you understand.
    – N.T.
    Apr 3, 2023 at 2:59
2

Great question!

I believe that it has to do with how it was added later on to the Haggadah. Let me explain:

There are 3 opinions as to who wrote the Haggadah: 1) In sefer Zechariah Lechaim 4a he mentions that the Haggadah was compiled by Rebbi Akiva and his source is the Yerushalmi Shekalim 5:1. 2) In Sidur HaRashban 29a he writes that Rebbi Elazar ben Hurkanus compiled the Haggadah. 3) Finally in the book Kol Hamevaser Pesach 3 Ot 12 writes that Eliyahu Hanavi compiled it and it was revealed to the sages. Whichever opinion we follow, it was in the times of the Tanaaim and earlier which means they spoke Mishnaic Hebrew (the hebrew/lashon of the Mishnah).

The paragraph we say for Bedikat Chametz is found in a few places: In Mishnaic Hebrew: 1) Yerushalmi Pesachim 2:2, Rambam Hilchot Chametz Umatazah 3:7. However if you look in: Sheiltot Derav Achai Goan Siman 74, Rif, Rosh on Pesachim 6b, Sidur Rashi page 173, Machzor Vitri page 294, and others, it appears in Aramaic.

Therefore I think that even though we had the paragraph of Bedikat Chametz from the Yerushalmi in Hebrew, the reason its in Aramaic is because the Geonim and Rishonim say that many words needed to be included or changed from the Hebrew text into Aramaic, because its meaning only comes out in Aramaic (just like one can’t precisely translate some words or any words from one language to another). There are many examples of this. For example, when we say חמירא it includes all חמץ and all שאור unlike the word חמץ, and thus even if we were to say כל חמץ ושאור וכו, it wouldn't be as clear and concise (and this would also apply with other examples I didn't mention).

3
  • Another suggestion for the haggadah's author is R. Yehuda HaNasi. (R. Naftali b. Avraham Maskil LeAitan at the end of his Maamar Yesod Musad buch-binder.blogspot.com/2015/09/blog-post.html)
    – Joel K
    Apr 3, 2023 at 7:57
  • @Joel K thank you for sharing this, this is good stuff! It seems that after he comes to the conclusion that the Haggadah's author was in the generation of Rebbi Yehudah Hanasi, he merely makes an assumption that since Rebbi Yehudah redacted the Mishnah then he must have also been the author of the Haggadah, and I don't know why/how that is a valid assumption, why does he assume that? The 3 opinions I quoted have valid sources/assumptions Apr 5, 2023 at 13:12
  • Yes, he doesn’t have a ראיה מוכרחת. I think his point is that 1) the Haggadah was written in the generation of Rebbe and 2) we know that Rebbe was the editor of another foundational text of Judaism (the Mishnah), so it makes sense to assume that the Haggadah is also his handiwork.
    – Joel K
    Apr 5, 2023 at 14:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .