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Ha Lachma Aniah

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Ha Lachma Aniah - Ha Lachma Aniah is an Aramaic chant that opens the Magid portion of the Passover Seder. It  probably dates from the eight century and is not mentioned in the Mishna or Talmud. It is incorporated in the eighth century Seder Haggadah of Rav Amram Hagaon who lived in the Babylonian (apparently Iraq) Galut.

Ha Lachma Aniah is an invitation for all to partake of the Seder meal. It refers to the "poor bread that our forefathers ate in Egypt."  Evidently, it was the custom to invite all poor people to meals. This reference to "poor bread" was an apology to explain that on this night only.  It is also a vow that incorporates the central Zionist themes that have been the anchors of Jewish culture since the dispersion: This year we are slaves here. Next year we shall be a free people in the land of Israel.

The plate of Matzot is uncovered and elevated so that all can see and the opening refers to this plate as "the poor bread." 

The words in Aramaic:

. , . , . , . 

Transliterated as:

Ha hachma 'aniyah, di achalu avahtana beh ar-'ah deh-mits-rah-yim. Kol Dichfin yeytey veh yeychol, kol ditsrich yeytey veh yifsach. Hashatah Hachah, leh shanah haba'ah beh-ar'ah de yisrael. Hashata Avdei, leh shanah ha ba-ah bney chorin.


The poor bread that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Every hungry individual may come and eat. All hungry persons may come and partake of the Passover. This year we are here,  next year we shall be in the land of Israel. This year we are slaves, next year we shall be free people.

Ami Isseroff

October 18, 2008  

Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information: PassoverPassover, Passover, Seder Haggadah,
, Ma Nishtana

Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.

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