where the writers are
A Word on This...

This is a small excerpt from the introduction to a Haggadah I was commissioned to write. A Haggadah is used on Passover as a text, prayer book, recounting the story of exodus. This introduction illustrates not only the power of that storytelling but the more essential power of words:


A Word on This Haggadah

There is a Twilight Zone episode called Wordplay, (written by Rockne S. O'Bannon) in which a man wakes up one morning and finds out that the whole world now uses the word "dinosaur" to mean "lunch."

His wife tells him that their son forgot to take his dinosaur to school, showing him a paper bag packed with sandwiches. People at work ask him if he ate dinosaur yet, etc.

At first, he took it all as a good-natured joke – a sort of April Fool’s trick his family and friends were playing on him.

But, as the day wore on, more and more normal words in his vocabulary were being replaced with the meanings of others.

By afternoon, the man was frantic, and began to doubt his own sanity. At the end of the day, this man could not understand the world of which he had been a part since the day he was born. He understood no one. No one understood him.

 Then a crisis happened: his child became desperately ill and had to get to a hospital, but the man was unable to speak in a language that the world could understand, because all of his words had somehow become redefined. Fortunately, the doctor figured out the problem and the boy was saved.

 Late that same night, the man picked up a child's grammar book and began to learn new meanings of old words so that he could communicate with the rest of his world.

 This Haggada is a primer of sorts - it attempts to uncover layers of meaning. It was prepared with everyone in mind – those with negligible Passover  experience, those of little Jewish knowledge, those of some curiosity or feeling – and all their counterparts.

Overall, feeling is the essential ingredient. If we feel a spark, (negative or positive) it usually means there is a fire nearby – throwing out fragments of itself in order to illuminate what we most need to see.

2 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Master of all Masters!

Dr. Harrison,

Thank you. I love this!

Many years ago, in the elementary school library, I had a favorite book called, Master of all Masters.  I've forgotten who the author was, and tried many times to find it again.  It's somewhat similar to  " A Word on This..."

Pleasurable 'words' and 'feeling' reminder!

Both my children know the story by heart; as the many times I told it to them. 






Comment Bubble Tip

Lost books...

First of all, thank you for your enthusiastic response - this is a strange Haggadah - it is Orthodox in ritual, prayer and ceremony, but the commentary is modern and its narrative eclectic.

Second - one of the great pleasures in life (at least mine) is finding long lost books. I'm sure you will be able to find Master of all Masters,  given the amount of information on the internet. It was more fun to track them down in antique stores and used book sales, but acquiring the books is a real joy no matter how they are obtained. I wish you luck on this pursuit. ~H