I am spending a great deal of time preparing for my seder this year. I really want it to be a stimulating intellectual experience not just for me, but for my guests as well.
To be better prepared, I am posting some additional sources that may be helpful in better understanding sections of the Haggadah. I also am going to post some topics of discussion. If anyone has sources, topics of discussions, or questions to ask at the seder that will lead to good conversation - please comment and share them with us.
The seder in Bnei Brak:
In the Haggadah we are told about 5 sages in the times of the Mishnah that had a seder of their own in a town called Bnei Brak. Many commentators assume that Rabbi Akiva was the host, as the gemeara mentions that he lived in Bnei Brak whereas the others lived elsewhere. I imagine when Rabbi Akiva invited them he said,
"Hey, Rabbi Eliezer, are you doing anything for pesach this year?"
"Then you have got to come to my seder! You do not want to miss it! It is going to be the seder of the millenium! People will be talking about it for years!"
Of all of the sders in history, why do we continue to mention this one in the haggadah? The haggadah does not even mention one time the original seder that happened in Egypt! Why is this seder singled out as the most famous seder ever?
Here is some extra info that may help us understand this seder better. I linked to wikipedia, please click and read as much as you can.
Can we learn something from the people who were there?
Rabbis Eliezer, Yehoshua, Elazar Ben Azariyah, Akiva, Tarfon
Can we learn anything from the people who did not make the guest list?
Notably absent are Rabbis Gamliel, Meir, Shimon Bar Yochai, Yehuda, Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma even though some of them appear elsewhere in our haggadah. Why weren't they at the seder in Bnei Brak?
Is there some extra significance to knowing that the seder was in Bnei Brak?
Rabbi Akiva lived in Bnei Brak but the seder could have been held in Lod, Yavneh, or peki'in?
What were the circumstances around the seder and were they important?
Some commentators contend that the bar kochva revolt was going on at the same time. Others say there is some connection to the firing of Rabbi Gamliel.
Why aren't we told anything that they said at the seder about the story?
Every where we look we hear - "this Rabbi said this, that rabbi said that" why aren't we told anything that was said at that seder? (Did the subsequent statement of Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariyah happen at that seder or some other time?)