The Sages of Bnei Brak
This is a page from a Haggadah that was published in Vienna, Austria in 1929. This colourful Haggadah is written in Hebrew and English.
This picture depicts a story from the Haggadah in which the sages are telling the story of the Exodus throughout the night and don't realise how late it is until their students call them for morning prayers. The Hebrew above the picture is the quote about the story from the Haggadah: "It happened that Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Eleazar son of Azariah, Rabbi Akiva, and Rabbi Tarfon were reclining [at the Pesach Seder] in Bnei Brak. They spoke of the Exodus from Egypt all that night."
The English caption underneath the picture reads "The Sage Rabbis of B'ne Brak and their disciples sitting up during the night of Passover." However, the sages in the picture are not actually the ones mentioned in the Haggadah but are other well-known sages: Maimonides, Rashi, Ba'al HaTurim, Beit Yosef, and Rav Alfasi.
This source could be used in Jewish Studies lessons in preparation for Pesach and also in lessons about the great medieval Jewish philosophers. In Art lessons, students could create similar scenes of scholars or other famous people seated around the Seder table.
Describe the picture.
The picture describes a scene from the Haggadah.
What is the exact moment captured in this picture?
What are the differences between the sages and the students?
What can you see in the background behind the characters?
Why is there a lit Menorah in the background?
What is on the table?
How is the Pesach table in the drawing different to the Pesach table of today?
In the original Haggadah story (based on the Mishna) Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Eleazar son of Azariah, Rabbi Akiva, and Rabbi Tarfon are seated at the Seder table.
Which characters are seated at the table in this picture?
Why did the artist choose to draw these sages instead of the sages mentioned in the original story and why were these specific sages chosen? (Teachers can introduce each sage and his contribution to Jewish life to help students decide).
If you were drawing your own version of this picture, which important figures from Jewish history would you include?