Saturday, April 08, 2017

The "Four Questions"

PASSOVER IS COMING: How Many Questions in the “Four Questions”? (Prof. Joseph Tabory,
A short history of how the Mah Nishtana changed: From three to four to five questions.
This quick survey has shown how liturgical texts can change over time, and more specifically how the original text of three question was modified, both by addition and subtraction, to reflect the changing realities of the paschal meal. The history of these modifications exemplifies the way Jewish custom struggles to adapt tradition to reality and reality to tradition. It also shows how certain liturgical forms that we feel are fundamental and ancient—such as the four Seder questions—are not as ancient as we might think, and are themselves the result of complex historical developments.