Did you know that one of the most popular Jewish books is none other than the Passover Hagadah? It’s true! Every year, more and more editions, with new explanations, pictures and more, are printed. Going back to the year 1932, a famous coffee company, called Maxwell House, decided to give away their Hagadah, called the Maxwell House Hagadah for free (as long as you buy their Kosher for Passover coffee). Since then, over 50 MILLION Maxwell House Hagadahs were printed!
But perhaps you didn’t know that an essential part of the Hagadah comes from the text here in the Chumash regarding the Mitzvah of Bikkurim. See for yourself. Just open any Hagadah and you’ll find it toward the beginning (not only the Maxwell House Hagadah), after the Mah Nishtanah/Four Questions.
It begins with the words Arami Oveid Avi, the very same words that the Jewish farmer says while bringing his Bikkurim. Indeed, these are the exact words chosen by our Sages to form the basis of the Hagadah, which Jews worldwide says on Pesach night.
Why is that?
First of all, the Bikurim declaration is a great little summary of the Out of Egypt story.
Also, the Bikurim procession of the farmers is a great way to teach us how we should conduct our Seder! Really? Really!
Our Sages tell us in the Hagadah, “In every generation, every person must see himself as if he left Egypt.” Really? How can they expect that from us? Could anyone really, actually, truly feel this way?
The answer is YES, YES, YES!
Looking at this Bikkurim episode here in the Chumash, we notice how the farmer feels the exact same way – as if it happened to him, NOW! Not once upon a time, a long, long, time ago. The farmer holding the Bikurim would announce, “The Egyptians treated us cruelly… made us work hard… brought us Out of Egypt…” He also begins by saying, “I have come to the land.”
The fact of the matter is, that the farmer living in Israel holding his Bikkurim was never a slave in Egypt. And it wasn’t he who left Egypt and entered the Land of Israel. This all happened to his ancestors going back many generations. But still, the farmer bringing the Bikkurim makes the “Out of Egypt” story come alive as if he actually left Egypt.
So, once when understand how these Bikkurim farmers were able to feel that way, so can we!
Perhaps, that is why it’s called Hagadah of Pesach. Hagadah is the farmer’s opening declaration, Higadatee (“I have declared”).