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There is much discussion as to why a blessing is not recited before beginning the Haggadah on the Seder night(s), considering that the mitzvah of reciting the Haggadah (“sippur yetziat mitzrayim”) is one of the two biblical mitzvot of the evening. The other biblical mitzvah of the evening is the eating of matzah, before which a blessing is indeed recited. Most biblical mitzvot, ritual ones at least, have a preliminary blessing that is recited before they are performed. Why, then, is there no similar “asher kideshanu” blessing before the mitzvah of Haggadah?

Most people will be surprised to learn that at one time a blessing was indeed recited before beginning the Haggadah. For some reason, however, the practice was discontinued.1 Nowadays, no one recites a blessing before reciting the Haggadah, and there are a number of reasons why this is so.


Some explain that a blessing is in fact recited before beginning the Haggadah, though it is “hidden.” According to this approach, the Kiddush recited at the start of the Seder also serves as a blessing on the mitzvah of Haggadah. This is because the wording of the Kiddush includes the words “zecher l’yitziat mitzrayim” (“remembering the Exodus from Egypt”), and the mitzvah of Haggadah is entirely about “remembering the Exodus from Egypt.”2

Furthermore, it might even be that merely saying the words “zecher l’yitziat mitzrayim” as part of Kiddush fulfills the mitzvah of remembering the Exodus from Egypt and, therefore, since the mitzvah has been fulfilled, a blessing may no longer be recited before beginning the Haggadah.3 This is because once a mitzvah has been completed, the preliminary blessing may no longer be recited. For example, one who lit the Chanuka candle(s), and then realizes that he did not recite the preliminary blessings, may not recite them now after the candles have been lit (though the mitzvah is still considered to be properly fulfilled).

The Chatam Sofer explains why a blessing is not recited on the Haggadah by comparing the Seder experience to the process of conversion. A convert recites the blessing for his conversion only after immersing in a mikvah, at which point he is then Jewish. The blessing may not be recited before the immersion, as a non-Jew simply cannot recite an “…asher kideshanu” blessing. So too, the Haggadah begins by stating, “In the beginning, our forefathers were idol worshippers but now G-d has brought us to his service.” This statement is somewhat like a “before” and “after” status, similar to this situation for a convert. Reading the story of the Exodus and thanking G-d for all the miracles is our “immersion in a mikvah.” Hence, a blessing may not be recited before beginning the Haggadah because we begin the Haggadah as “idol worshippers.” The blessing of “Ga’al Yisrael,” however, is recited after completing the story of the Exodus, similar to converts reciting a blessing after their conversion.4

The Sfat Emet explains why a blessing is not recited by comparing the mitzvah of Haggadah with mitzvot that are “bein adam l’chavero” (“between man and man”). For example, a blessing is not recited before performing interpersonal mitzvot such as visiting the sick, comforting mourners or giving charity. The reason for this, it is explained, is that such mitzvot are things that any good person would do even if there were no formal commandment to do them. So too, thanking G-d for our deliverance from Egypt is something that we would do even if there was no commandment to do so; every fine person knows to show appreciation for favors rendered.

Another opinion is that we do not say a blessing on the Haggadah because there is no limit to the mitzvah of telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt. One may fulfill the mitzvah of remembering the Exodus from Egypt in a few words, or one may do so by discussing it for several hours (as most of us do). A blessing is generally only recited on mitzvot that have a set measure.5 It is also noted that a blessing is not recited before reciting a blessing of praise; a blessing is not recited before Birkat HaMazon (which is also a Torah requirement). So too, the Haggadah is considered to be one long praise of G-d.6

Some say that the blessing “Ga’al Yisrael” that is recited as part of Maariv also serves as a blessing on the Haggadah. Here too, “Ga’al Yisrael” at Maariv refers to the redemption from Egypt which, again, is what the Haggadah is all about.7 There is also an opinion that reading the Haggadah is a component of the mitzvah of Torah study and that the “Baruch HaMakom” passage recited at the beginning of “Maggid” serves as the blessing on this Torah study.8 Some say that the blessing recited on Hallel at Maariv covers the Haggadah.9 I even heard of an opinion that the blessing on bedikat chametz covers the mitzvah of Haggadah.

There are many more answers as well.



  1. Meiri, Berachot 12b.
  2. Abudraham, Haggada.
  3. Pri Chadash, OC 473.
  4. Chatam Sofer, Vol. 2, Pesach 5580.
  5. Rashba cited in the Abudraham.
  6. Besamim Rosh 197.
  7. Meiri, Berachot 12b; Shibolei Haleket 218.
  8. Harerei Kedem, Vol. 1 p. 215.
  9. Rivevot Ephraim 2:129:40.

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Rabbi Ari Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He teaches halacha, including semicha, one-on-one to people all over the world, online. He is also the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (9 volumes), the rabbinic director of United with Israel, and a rebbe at a number of yeshivot and seminaries. Questions and feedback are welcomed: [email protected].