The New International Encyclopædia/Haggada
HAGGADA, hăg-gä'dȧ (Heb., narration, from higgid, to narrate). The free rabbinical interpretation of Scripture, chiefly for homiletical purposes. Haggada is thus contrasted to Halacha (q.v.), ‘rule,’ which represents the authoritative interpretation of biblical laws for practical purposes. The Haggada developed side by side with the Halacha, and the two tendencies are found combined in the great compilation of rabbinical theology known as the Talmud (q.v.). But while the Haggadic sections in the Talmud are considerable, the great bulk of the Haggadic interpretation of the Old Testament is to be found in a number of separate compilations known as Midrashim. (See Midrash.) The oldest of these collections, adapted to the order of the biblical books, and in which the interpretations run parallel with the text, are: (1) The Mechilta, a collection of Haggadic interpretations to the Book of Exodus; (2) the Siphra to Leviticus; (3) Siphre to Numbers and Deuteronomy. Far more extensive, however, is the collection known as the Midrash Rabhah, or ‘Great Midrash,’ comprising the Haggada to the entire Pentateuch and to the five scrolls (read on the various festivals of the year), Esther, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. By the side of the compilation (concluded c.900 A.D.) may be mentioned the Pesikta to various sections of the Old Testament and the Tanchuma to the Pentateuch. On the basis of this Midrashic literature, a large number of works were produced through the Middle Ages to our own days, containing selections from the earlier compilations as well as additions and amplifications. Among these may be mentioned the Midrash Hagadol, ‘the Great Midrash,’ a Yemenitic compilation now being published by Dr. S. Schechter for the Cambridge University Press. Haggada shel Pesach is the name of a ritual, partly in Hebrew, partly in Aramaic, used on the first two evenings of the Passover, which contains, besides a brief description of the Exodus, extracts from the Scripture, the Mishna, Tosephta, Mechilta, Siphra, and the two Talmuds, and some liturgical pieces, all bearing more or less directly on the oppression in Egypt and the deliverance. Originally within very small compass, it has been extended to its present larger size by subsequent centuries. Two Piutim, or religious poems, were added in the eleventh century, and four more Hebrew and Aramaic songs (the last originally a German Volkslied) as late as the fourteenth century. Consult: Winter and Wünsche, Die jüdische Litteratur (Trier, 1894); Karpeles, Geschichte der jüdischen Litteratur (Berlin, 1886); Steinschneider, Jewish Literature (Eng. trans. London, 1857); Chenery, “Legends from the Midrash,” in Loewy, Miscellanies of Hebrew Literature (London, 1877); Bacher, Die Aggada der Tannaiten (2 vols., Strassburg, 1884-90).