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Here's everything you ever wanted to know about the Passover haggadah, from multiple perspectives: biblical, historical, theological, legal, rabbinic, mystical, feminist-and then some. The editors don't take anything for granted, even defining basic terms like haggadah itself and discussing the translation of barukh, the first word of every blessing. But this comprehensive two-volume handbook is not for the cursory reader or even for light use at the seder table. It opens with a collection of scholarly essays reflecting all denominations of Judaism, then segues into the text, presented cleverly in Talmudic format (in Hebrew with a new English translation) and surrounded by commentaries. Contributors include Lawrence Kushner, Arthur Green, Carole Balin and Neil Gillman as well as Hoffman (My People's Prayer Book) and Arnow (Creating Lively Passover Seders). The plurality of voices lends richness to the reader's understanding of the familiar text, but it can be confusing to follow the flow of the commentaries, which continue beyond the text and even overshadow it. Still, this illuminating resource provides a myriad of in-depth answers to the "why?" in "why is this night different from all others?" (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.