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Aggada ( aram. אגדה; In contrast to Halacha, the term “proclamation”, “narration”, “saga”) denotes the non-legal content of ancient rabbinical literature , which - mostly following biblical texts and materials - reflects and illustrates religious thought , but not counted as a binding teaching. Most of the elements of the Aggada are over 2000 years old.

Aggada and Halacha

Halacha (law) and Aggada (story, legend) are two typical terms of Talmudic / rabbinic teachings. They are the two most important basic concepts of the Jewish tradition. The Halacha works with logic and Talmudic dialectics in order to solve its legal-technical tasks, and establishes the particularistic community consciousness of Judaism in all areas of life from religious jurisdiction to ritual dietary regulations . She embodies the "truth" and the norms of a religious community through the interpretation of the law. The Aggada, on the other hand, corresponds to the universalistic tendency in Judaism and the general need of people to be able to accompany every normative, legal or rational order with a relevant narrative of its meaning. Because it is about religious laws and not secular jurisprudence, the Aggada is often a narrative about justice . It legitimizes, explains, justifies and transmits the belief in justice. In addition to the Talmud , Aggadot is found primarily in the Midrashim .

If the Halacha includes the legal provisions derived from the written word of the Pentateuch , which are further elaborated in the Talmudic texts, the Aggada is more freely based on the materials of the Torah and Talmud. It is part of the Oral Torah ( תורה שבעל פה ) and explains it through sagas, legends, parables , glosses as well as ethical and historical remarks and tries to bind Jewish knowledge and experience to people not only through norms and laws, but through narrative . In philosophical or literary terms, the halacha is the "truth" or the legal content of such, while the aggada is the channel of experience in which knowledge is to be linked to the human being through narration and language. The Aggada is therefore not a superfluous, merely entertaining accessory in the process of interpreting the laws, but at least as well as the rational and logical order of the Halacha and the revealed law, guarantees the transferability of historical experiences and memories.

“The term Aggada”, wrote Zacharias Frankel in 1853 , “is a factual, a whole field of literature that encompasses, one might say, more tangible than recognizable.” In addition to its definition as a saga, legend, public lecture, it is also a “Religious and moral declaration of salvation. Scripture and its application to life. ] ... [in its emergence it undoubtedly corresponded to the etymological term 'saga' and in an indefinite sense to 'saga', and presented itself merely as a simple expression of a thought based on religion and morality without claiming validity or standardization. "

Leopold Zunz describes the Aggada as "the product of the free insight of the individual, while the Halacha emanates from the strict authority of the authorities, schools and law teachers." The Aggada, on the other hand, is something that "passed into the people as proverbs."

Aggadah (or Haggadah) should not be confused with the special Haggadah shel Passover , which was and is often simply called Haggadah for short. The Passover Haggadah is also an Aggadah (or Haggadah), but just a special one from the stock of traditional Jewish stories. The Passover Haggadah tells of the Exodus from Egypt and as such is the main part of the Seder evening .

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