Pour out thy Love Upon the Nations and Miriam at the Seder-Updated

Years ago before the computerized library age, I was asked to check if a certain library in Europe possibly had a copy of a small book “Shefokh Ahavatkha” by Chaim Bloch, the famous Neturei Karta forger. Bloch claimed in another work that he wrote such work and it provided evidence for a medieval tradition of “Pour out thy Love upon the nations.” Since he forged the Anti-Zionist letters and was involved in the Kherson forgeries, it was more of a wild goose chase. What is interesting is that in recent years both the Mekhon Hartman Haggadah and the Midrasha Oranim include the forged version in their haggadot, with a very mild caveat that “scholars debate the issue.” They like the universal sentiment regardless of its source. To see it in the Hartman’s Haggadah see pages 142-143 in A Different Night.

This year I noticed that in 2009 an Israeli paper helped spread the false story as true, So I was gratified to see there is a nice article by Rabbi David Golinkin on the topic. Golinkin also has a nice discussion of the custom of dressing up a Elijah, but his discussion of the forged Maharal Haggadah and the prayer for salvation did not catch that one of prime reasons for the forged Maharal Haggadah was to spread the Kotzker-Izbitz practice of drinking a fifth cup.

In Hatza’ah L’Seder, a new Israeli Haggadah published by the staff of the Midrasha at Oranim Teachers’ College in 2000, the following addition appears after the three traditional Shefokh verses:

A piyyut which exhibits a different attitude to non-Jews (found in a Haggadah manuscript from the early 16th century):

Pour out your love on the nations who know You
And on kingdoms who call Your name.
For the good which they do for the seed of Jacob
And they shield Your people Israel from their enemies.
May they merit to see the good of Your chosen}
And to rejoice in the joy of Your nation.

This prayer was first published by the bibliographer Naftali Ben-Menahem in 1963. It was supposedly discovered by Rabbi Hayyim Bloch (1881-ca. 1970) in a beautiful manuscript on parchment from the estate of Rabbi Shimshon Wertheimer (1658-1724).

The Haggadah was supposed to have been edited in Worms in 1521 by “Yehudah b”r Yekutiel, the grandson of Rashi”, but the manuscript was lost during the Holocaust.

However, a number of scholars have pointed our that this prayer was probably invented by Hayyim Bloch himself, who was born in Galicia and later moved to Vienna (ca. 1917) and New York (1939). He was one of the rabbis who published the Kherson letters attributed to the Besht and his disciples, which later turned out to be forgeries. He also published a letter from the Maharal of Prague, whose authenticity was already disproved by Gershom Scholem.

Finally, from 1959-1965 he published three volumes containing over 300 letters of great rabbis opposed to Zionism, but Rabbi Shemuel Hacohen Weingarten has proved that these “letters” were invented by Rabbi Bloch himself. Therefore, we may assume that “Shefokh Ahavatkha” was not composed in Worms in 1521, but rather by Rabbi Hayyim Bloch ca. 1963.

On the other hand, the traditions of connecting Miriam to the Seder are traditional as are customs connecting Bitya to the Seder. From an article in Ynet in 2006.

The most basic practice was a piece of fish placed on the Seder plate to commemorate Miriam.

We have two cooked foods on the seder table – an egg and a shank bone.The Talmud explains this as reflecting the holiday’s two sacrifices, the special Paschal lamb and the general holiday offering.

It turns out, however, that the number of dishes at the seder wasn’t fixed.

Rabbi Sherira Gaon of 10th-century Babylon noted a custom of putting three foods on the plate.
“Those three cooked foods are fish, meat, and an egg corresponding to the foods that Israel will eat in the Time to Come; fish corresponding to Leviathan, egg to Ziz (an enormous mythic and fabulous bird), meat corresponding to wild bull.” The foods symbolizes the mythic creatures from the realms of sea, air and land that will be eaten in the Meal of the Righteous in the Messianic times.

A second reason offered by R. Sherira , however, is one that resonates more strongly with our generation: “There are those who put an additional cooked food in memory of Miriam, as it says, “And I sent before you Moses, and Aaron, and Miriam” (Micah 6, 4). According to this, Miriam and the role she fulfilled in the redemption from Egypt is represented by the third cooked food on the seder table.

Another rabbi cognizant of the importance of women to the Passover story was Rabbi Abraham Grate of Prague. His 1708 Haggadah commentary explained several seder rituals, including the initial hand washing, as referring to Pharaoh’s daughter Bitya and her rescue of Moses from the Nile.

And if these proto-feminist commentaries are from relatively forgotten sources, how to explain the fact that a basic interpretation of haroset revolves around women – and almost nobody knows it? According to the Talmud, haroset is in memory of the apple tree, and Rashi in his commentary makes reference to the midrash in which, the women would go to their working husbands and would conceive children between the fields. When the women were ready to give birth, they would leave their homes out of fear of the Egyptians. They would lie underneath the apple trees and give birth. Apple haroset, then, is about the fact that the Jewish women did not lose hope in those difficult times.

Update- It turns out that Jonathan Sacks also has the pc version of “pour out your love.” but he puts it below the line as an “there is a manuscript.” The Tabori JPS haggadah places this version in the introduction

The official source is Heichal l’divrei chakhamim upithgameihem (1948) where Bloch adduces this quote, and in the extensive footnote
says he published a reproduction of this page-and the shaar of the manuscript in his fictitious book Der Judenhas. Here is the source Look at both pages 591 and 592.

4 responses to “Pour out thy Love Upon the Nations and Miriam at the Seder-Updated

  1. There’s an article in the latest issue of Milin Havivin about the connections of Miriam to the Seder. It seems to me to be a bit of fishing for sources and emphasizing the tiny minority. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that.

  2. Question: There is a haggadah in what used to be the common set/collection of Maharal’s writings. Some of the material is merely excerpted from G’vurot, and N’tivot, and the Drush for Shabbat Hagadol.

    It also has two commentaries, Divrei N’gidim and Lashon Limudim, which were ‘published by…Y.Y. Rosenberg, rav of Tarla,…copied from a manuscript of…the son in law of [Maharal].

    Are these commentaries the forgery that you are referring to? Or is there another so-called ‘haggadah of the Maharal’?

    Also, I’m sure you know that the fifth cup idea was supported by Rav Kasher and Rav Goren, not relying on the Maharal necessarily. Do you think they were mistaken, or are you and R. Golonkin et al merely saying that the Maharal never said any such thing?

    • Go find the many articles on the topic. The commentaries are entirely Yudel Rosenberg and there are a few choice addition by Rosenberg to the text.
      Shnayer Z. Leiman “Adventure of the Maharal of Prague in London: R. Yudl Rosenberg and the Golem of Prague.” Fourth annual lecture of the Victor J.Selmanowitz Chair of Jewish History. New York: Graduate School of JewishStudies, Touro College, 2000. [reprinted in Tradition]
      Avraham Benedict “Hagadat Maharal o Aggadat Maharal” Moriah 14 3-4 (1985) 102-113

      The idea of a fifth cup goes back to the Rif and has a long genealogy woven between Kos shel Eliyahu and various millennial movements. . My comment was on the “Shefah Ahavatecha”

  3. These feminists must have really big seder plates, to add an orange, and a fish (and a bicycle). Ramaz used to encourage a “Matza of Hope”, on a separate plate from the 3 (or 2), for Soviet Jewry.

    Once or twice when I was a kid I dressed up as Eliyahu (well, a bathrobe – what did we all wear in class plays when playing Biblical figures?) , went out the back door, and came in the front at Shfoch Chamat’cha.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s