(My Jewish Learning) The first (and shortest) summary of the hours-long storytelling session we call the Passover seder is found in the Mishnah Pesachim 10:4: “… a father should teach his son based on the needs and knowledge of the son; he shall begin with disgrace and end with joyful praise; he shall begin with ‘my father was an Aramean slave,’ and then complete the entire story…”
According to the Mishnah, fathers are obliged to tell their sons the story of the Exodus. Yet one direction has to be followed: The story must begin with disgrace and end with praise — that is, the story must start with the hardship of Israelite enslavement in Egypt and conclude with a song of praise and joy.
In our Haggadah , the Mishnah’s instruction is transformed into a ritual script that is read and enacted each year around the seder table. First we tell each other the story of the Exodus (the Maggid section of the Haggadah), which concludes with two joyful psalms (113 and 114). Then we eat the Passover meal, say Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals), and end the night with more psalms (115-118; 136) and other songs of joyful praise. The entire corpus of psalms sung around the seder table makes up the Hallel Hagadol (“The Great Praise”) that the rabbis reserved especially for this occasion.
The arc “from disgrace to praise” seems to be perfectly implemented. The seder begins with a story about disgrace, and ends with praising God.