Haggadah (Heb. anecdote, legend), in the Talmud and with the Rabbis the name for traditional stories, legends, etc. used in the interpretation and elucidation of the law and the prophets. Many of the haggadoth in the Talmud are absurd and preposterous, and they are not held by the best Rabbins as authoritative. Maimonides says of them: "Beware that you take not these words of the hachimim (wise) literally, for this would be degrading to the sacred doctrine, and sometimes to contradict it. Seek rather the hidden sense; and if you cannot find the kernel, let the shell alone, and confess 'I cannot understand this'"(Perush Hammishnayoth). — Furst, Kulturgeschichte d. Juden. 1, 74; Etheridge, Introduction to Hebr. Lit. p. 182; Jost, Gesch. d. Juden. 1, 178; 2, 313. The Haggadah frequently refers to the Halachah (rule, norm), the oral law of tradition, brief sentences established by the authority of the Sanhedrim, in which the law was interpreted and applied to individual cases, and which were designated as the "sentences of the elders." SEE MIDRASH. (J. H. W.)

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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