Bab. Talmud Pesachim 116a says that during the Seder, one begins with shame / humility and ends with praise. Meaning, that during the Magid section of the Seder, we begin with the "mood" of our humble history as slaves in Egypt, and end with praising G-d for our Exodus and Redemption.

The Mishnah states that we use the section from Deuteronomy 26.5 beginning with the words ארמי אובד אבי


  1. If the mitzvah on Pesach night is just to tell the story of the Exodus, why do we need any "theme" at all? What do the concepts of humility vs. praise have to do with telling the story of the Exodus?

  2. If this theme is important or critical, aren't there other sections in the Torah that might accomplish the same job? (See next question, as an example)

  3. The mitzvah is to tell the story of the Exodus. The section the Mishnah suggests seems like a round-about way to do this. ("Round-about in the method that we do it in the Haggadah. We recite verses then explain this by using proofs from other verses, the majority which are in Exodus. Why not just read those Exodus verses directly?) Why not read selected verses that talk about the 10 plagues (We do a bit of that in Maggid, anyway) from parshat Va'era and Bo, and perhaps some verses about the commandments of matzah and marror (like we recite in the Rabban Gamli'el part) and, maybe end with some verses surrounding the story of the Splitting of the Sea (more than the 1 or 2 verses that we recite related to Rav Akiva's sayings. etc.)?

1: ולפי דעתו של בן אביו מלמדו. מתחיל בגנות ומסיים בשבח. ודורש מ״ארמי אובד אבי״, עד שיגמור כל הפרשה כולה. And according to the intelligence and the ability of the son, his father teaches him about the Exodus. When teaching his son about the Exodus. He begins with the Jewish people’s disgrace and concludes with their glory. And he expounds from the passage: “An Aramean tried to destroy my father” (Deuteronomy 26:5), the declaration one recites when presenting his first fruits at the Temple, until he concludes explaining the entire section.

  • 2
    "we begin with the "mood" of our humble history as slaves in Egypt" you seem to have chosen Shmuel's opinion and ignored Rav's?
    – user6591
    Apr 20, 2016 at 1:38
  • "Roundabout" In what way is it roundabout? It's an authoritative summary of the story.
    – Double AA
    Apr 20, 2016 at 1:50
  • 1
    1 sounds like a completely unrelated question to everything else going on here.
    – Double AA
    Apr 20, 2016 at 1:50
  • @DoubleAA See my edits re "roundabout".
    – DanF
    Apr 20, 2016 at 17:05
  • @DanF Using a base text as a starting point for other references is the most traditional way of holding a discussion. Why do you find this odd here?
    – Double AA
    Apr 20, 2016 at 17:29

5 Answers 5


First we see a similarity between 3 Mishnayot.

  1. The first is in Arvey psachim
  2. quoted in the question.

    Psachim 10, 4

    ‏ ...מַתְחִיל בִּגְנוּת וּמְסַיֵּם בְּשֶׁבַח, וְדוֹרֵשׁ מֵאֲרַמִּי אוֹבֵד אָבִי, עַד שֶׁיִּגְמֹר כֹּל הַפָּרָשָׁה כֻלָּהּ: ‏

    He begins with the Jewish people’s disgrace and concludes with their glory. And he expounds from the passage: “An Aramean tried to destroy my father” (Deuteronomy 26:5), the declaration one recites when presenting his first fruits at the Temple, until he concludes explaining the entire section.

  3. The second is about Mikra Bikurim

    Bikurim 3, 6

    ‏ וְקוֹרֵא מֵאֲרַמִּי אֹבֵד אָבִי עַד שֶׁהוּא גוֹמֵר כָּל הַפָּרָשָׁה, ‏
  4. The third related to an other Regel, Succot, does not remember Laban the Aramean but an offence toward our ancester in the time of the first Beit Hamikdash (not linked to our topic).

    Succa 5, 4

    ‏ הִגִּיעוּ לַשַּׁעַר הַיּוֹצֵא מִמִּזְרָח, הָפְכוּ פְנֵיהֶן לַמַּעֲרָב, וְאָמְרוּ, אֲבוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁהָיוּ בַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה אֲחוֹרֵיהֶם אֶל הֵיכַל ה' וּפְנֵיהֶם קֵדְמָה, וְהֵמָּה מִשְׁתַּחֲוִים קֵדְמָה לַשָּׁמֶשׁ, וְאָנוּ לְיָהּ עֵינֵינוּ. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, הָיוּ שׁוֹנִין וְאוֹמְרִין, אָנוּ לְיָהּ, וּלְיָהּ עֵינֵינוּ:

    When they reached the gate which leads out to the east, they turned their faces from east to west and proclaimed, our fathers who were in this place [stood] with their backs toward the temple of the lord, and their faces toward the east, and they worshipped the sun toward the east, but as for us, our eyes are turned to the lord'. R' Judah stated, they used to repeat [the last words] and say we are the lords and our eyes are turned to the lord.
  • On what principle are these ceremonies built?

    Gemara following the Mishna in Succa above cited explains.

    גמרא דף נ"ג עמוד ב'‏

    תנו רבנן: ממשמע שנאמר (יחזקאל ח) ופניהם קדמה איני יודע שאחוריהם אל היכל ה'? אלא מה תלמוד לומר אחוריהם אל היכל ה' - מלמד שהיו פורעין עצמן, ומתריזין כלפי מטה. אנו ליה וליה עינינו כו'. איני? והאמר רבי זירא: כל האומר שמע שמע כאילו אמר מודים מודים - אלא הכי אמרי: המה משתחוים קדמה, ואנו ליה (אנחנו מודים), ועינינו ליה מיחלות. ‏

    Our Rabbis taught, Since it is said, And their faces toward the east, is it not obvious that their backs were toward the Temple of the Lord? What then is the import of the statement, 'their backs were toward the Temple of the Lord'? It teaches that they uncovered themselves and committed there a nuisance. WE ARE THE LORD'S AND OUR EYES ARE TURNED TO THE LORD etc. But can it be so? Did not R`Zera in fact rule, He who repeats Shema', Shema'(10) is as though he said Modim, Modim [and he is silenced]? - The fact is that it was this that they used to say, "They worshipped the sun toward the east" but as for us we give thanks unto the Lord, and to the Lord do our eyes hope'.
    The last statement of this length quotes shows the principle:
    Devaluating beginning is an introduction to a praise. The Pyut Dayenu is a whole devlopment of this idea. The first step was to know Hashem. When we get the top (see the beautiful picture on the mishna in Succa), we turn around and look behind us (see again the beautiful picture in the mishna in Succa)
    1. The mitsva is not just to tell, but as all occurences of Zechira, has a constructive aim (here Shevach, Hodaya (see the wort of Abrabanel here))
    2. The chronologic and genealogic presentation of the the numerous benefits we have enjoyed, from the first time up to Beith Hamikdash
    3. The story is from the conception to the birth of Am Israel, Yetsiat Mitsraym is the birth. There is no birth without conception. The beginning is a critical factor.
  • A very basic Remark on the verse ARAMI OVED AVI

    An important Gemara-Rashi in massechet Sota (32b). The Gemara says:
    It has been taught: R`Simeon B`Yohai said: A man should recount what is to his discredit in a loud voice.
    ‏ וגנותו. כגון ‏ ‏ ארמי אובד אבי היינו גנותו שמתודין שאביהן לבן הארמי היה רשע ‏ ‏: ‏
    His discredits, as "My father was an Aramean in perdition". Since their father, Laban the Aramean, was miscreant. (See Ibn Ezra on the word oved "מלת אובד מהפעלים שאינם יוצאים")
  • If the Hagada was commenting this verse following the Pshat Hapashut as did Ibn Ezra and Rashbam on the Chumash, this verse was adapted for "Matchil Bignut". But the Gemara finds only two opinions about what is the beginning by disgrace and neither of the two quote the verse Arami Oved Avi.

    מתחיל בגנות ומסיים בשבח. מאי בגנות? רב אמר: ״מתחלה עובדי עבודה זרה היו אבותינו״. [ושמואל] אמר: ״עבדים היינו״.

    It was taught in the mishna that the father begins his answer with disgrace and concludes with glory. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the term: With disgrace? Rav said that one should begin by saying: At first our forefathers were idol worshippers, before concluding with words of glory. And Shmuel said: The disgrace with which one should begin his answer is: We were slaves.


    I'll take a stab at #1. I think it's simple: humility to praise is the same as redemption from a kind of "Exodus" .


    A free person's perspective, looking back once we are able to produce our own crops.

    Furthermore, the author of the Hagada made a point of keeping the focus on God, not man, for the night, hence no mention of Moses is made in the entire text (well the original edition, anyway); the my father was a lost Aramean narrative is one that never uses the term "Moses", and keeps the credit squarely on God.

    • I'm not sure that strictly keeping Moses' name out of the Seder is a strict requirement. As a matter of fact, his name is mentioned once in the Maggid section.
      – DanF
      Apr 20, 2016 at 16:57
    • @DanF the how do we know each plague counted as multiple? was a later addition, and it's not in the Rambam's hagada.
      – Shalom
      Apr 20, 2016 at 17:35

    I heard a vort on this.I'll try to make it short. Inהכרת הטוב there is degrees of hakoras hatov. The more the person understands from how far he came he will be more makir the one who brought him to the situation he his now. Coming back to the hagada in the beginning we were so low that we were idol worshipers and now, ועכשיו קרבנו המקום לעבודתו to such a high level. This is how far we came. With this we thank Hashem more and deeper. Chag kosher vesameach.

    • Good perspective, and I agree with the overall concept. However, in Maggid הכרת הטוב occurs near its end, mainly, starting with the words *Lefichach". We could leave in these parts, yet still recite the story about how we began as slaves by reading from say, beginning of Shmot.
      – DanF
      Apr 20, 2016 at 17:01

    There is an emphasis on the rabbinic style of learning where we expound a verse at length, getting something from every word. So a short section is chosen and each word darshened. Reciting the entire Exodus story would, for the sake of time, likely just be studying the relevant parshiyot without much commentary/expounding upon the verses.

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