The Haggadah collection at the National Library of Israel is considered the most comprehensive in the world, and includes over 8,500 Haggadahs from all ages and throughout the world. A portion of the Haggadahs are extremely rare and valuable. The collection includes hand-written manuscripts with impressive illustrations and other rare and early printings. The journey of the Haggadahs often reveals fascinating personal and historic stories. We have compiled for you here, a small sample from our vast collection for you to download at home.
Please note, you can enjoy viewing the fascinating and beautiful Haggadahs from your phone, but the download can only be done from a computer and not from your mobile phone.
Title: Passover Haggadah
This Haggadah was acquired by the Library as part of the Valmadonna Trust Library, the largest private collection of thousands of rare Jewish printed books and manuscripts. This Haggadah was published in Prague in 1556. It was preceded by an earlier printing from 1526. The same elements from the 1526 Haggadah are repeated in this copy, printed 30 years later and many of the illustrations and interpretations seen in this early printed Haggadah have influenced other Haggadahs over many hundreds of years. Only two copies of this 1556 Haggdah have survived, one is housed at the British Library in London and the other one is now housed at the National Library of Israel.
This Haggadah was part of the collection of Baron Edmond de Rothschild. The Haggadah has 50 pages of text written in a square Ashkenazi script. It is accompanied by dozens of colorful illustrations. Some of the incredible illustrations relate directly to the text and some represent general motifs connected to the Haggadah and the story of the exodus from Egypt, such as the ten plagues and baking of Matzahs. Some of the illustrations also attest to the place of origin, for example, the cities of Pithom and Ramses, are illustrated in a late gothic architectural style, similar to the fortresses of Northern Italy. Also the attire of the figures recalls the fashion of Northern Italy. The name of the illustrator is not shown, but the style recalls that of the well-known illustrator, Yoel Ben Shalom. Yoel Ben Shimon worked in the second half of the 15th century in the cities of Modena and Carmona, Northern Italy.
The Haggadah content/text is the early Ashkenazi text and is close to the content we use today. In the middle ages, it was debated about whether to include a blessing for Hallel in the Haggadah. In our day, we do not include a blessing. But this scribe does include a Hallel Beracha. This Haggadah does not include the final songs (piyutim) of Echad Mi Yodea (who knows one) and Had Gadya, rather the final and fourth cup of wine is drunk at this point and the Haggadah concludes with the words "salik ma nishtana" – the end of the Ma Nishtana. The Haggadah was often known as ma nishtana, in that period, in honor of that important part of the Haggadah text.
This Haggadah includes many illustrations, some of them quite unusual. The Haggadah includes Isaac Abarbanel's commentary on the Haggadah, entitled Zevah Pesah, as well as a mystical commentary/Kabbalistic commentary.
This Haggadah, with commentary by Abarbanel, is replete with decorative elements and beautiful illustrations. There are several piyuttim (liturgical hymns) at the end of the Haggadah with translation into Yiddish. The writing is square Ashkenazic script.
Title: Passover Haggadah According to the Sephardic Tradition
Year: 14th century
This Haggadah, known as “The Golden Haggadah,” passed through many hands – from Bologna (Italy) in 1599 to a 1627 arrival in Modena (Italy), and finally ending up in the collection of the British Library. The Haggadah contains beautiful illustrations. The writing is square Sephardic script.
Title: Passover Haggadah According to the Sephardic Tradition, Catalonia
Year: 14th century
Origin: Catalonia, Spain
“The Catalonia Haggadah” includes piyuttim (liturgical hymns), instructions, and discussions of halacha (Jewish law). This Haggadah is beautifully illustrated, and at the foot of its pages is commentary in miniature script.
This Haggadah includes the Abarbanel commentary, as well as the Al Pi HaSod commentary. The Haggadah also has Yiddish instructions and translations of some of the piyuttim (liturgical hymns) into Yiddish.