The prestigious Haggadah collection of Chabad’s Central Library began in December 1924, when the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, acquired the collection of bibliographer Shmuel Wiener, consisting of approximately five thousand rare books. The acquisition included some four hundred printed editions of the Passover Haggadah. Since then, the Library has added many more to its collection.
Today, the Library houses about two thousand editions of the Haggadah published over the past 450 years—approximately half of all Haggadahs published during this time. Among them are many hitherto unknown editions. In 1938, the Library’s then-director, Rabbi Chaim Lieberman, listed thirty-two editions of the Haggadah not mentioned elsewhere.
The earliest bibliography of Haggadahs was compiled by Shmuel Wiener himself, who listed 909 editions. A more complete list—from the invention of the printing press until 1960—catalogued 2,717. Bibliographer Avraham Yaari notes in his introduction that he consulted the Chabad Library, among others (Bibliography of the Passover Haggadah, Jerusalem, 1960). Several years later, Theodore Wiener published an appendix to Yaari’s work (Studies in Bibliography and Booklore, vol. VII, Cincinnati, 1965). After searching through sixteen prestigious libraries worldwide, he discovered 330 more Haggadahs, of which over forty were in the Chabad Library.
In the spring of 1996, the Chabad Library held an exhibition featuring more than two hundred international editions of the Haggadah, including ancient, handwritten scrolls, printed Haggadahs, and bibliographies.
Captions for article main photo:
- The renowned, magnificent “Kittsee Haggadah,” written and illuminated on parchment by the famous calligrapher Chaim ben R. Asher Anshel of Kittsee, near Pressburg, Hungary, 1760. A facsimile edition of the Kittsee Haggadah is available at kehot.com.
- Handwritten Haggadah with commentary and Kabbalistic meditations from the works of Rabbi Isaac Luria.
- The oldest record of musical notation in Jewish literature is in this Haggadah with Latin translation, first published in 1644. The second edition was published in Frankfurt, Germany, 1698.
- Haggadah with commentary by Don Isaac Abarbanel, with woodcuts, Amsterdam, 1712.
- Illustrated Haggadah with maps of the Israelites’ travels in the desert, the land of Israel, and the Temple in Jerusalem, Amsterdam, 1695.
This article appeared in the Lubavitch International Magazine – Spring 2021 issue. To subscribe and gain access to previous magazines please click here.
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