The old and the new are combined in the rhythm of Judaism. Both instincts are satisfied. The ancient Hallel is indeed also a shirah hadashah. All of life testifies to this meeting of old and new in rhythm. Indeed, there is much that is new in that which is old. Our Torah is an old Torah. Its principles came down to us from Sinai. It is always the same Torah. But only one who has immersed himself totally in Talmud study, at least for a while, can appreciate the combination of old and new in talmud torah.The old and the new are combined? It's not much of a message. And even if you think it is, the instance of the message has no content, no application. What is the new in our Hallel? What is the old? How do you propose to combine them? Why is that meaningful and not trivial? And then there is the irony of the selection. Many people in the general population will be flummoxed by a statement from an Orthodox rabbi that says the new has a positive side to it. They see Orthodoxy as fearful of the new, erecting barriers to keep it out. It's just not a good selection. It doesn't say anything about Pesach or redemption, about the colorful rituals, about the playful texts and songs. There's just so much old and interesting to talk about in the seder....
Here, then, is the lesson of the new song of the ge’ulim, the redeemed. The unredeemed can never understand this. We are always to combine the old and the new — to find new insights in the old, and relate the new to the permanent and unchanging. We must never be satisfied to keep the old without adding to it the dynamics of one's own soul, the life throbbing in our spirits and pulsating in our hearts. We must never forget to sing the old Hallel as if it were truly a shirah hadashah. If we fail to strive for hiddush, for the element of newness — then we are at the mercy of boredom — the horror of that "Same Old Thing" — and that is the death of the spirit. We must keep the old in sight; perceive in it the new through Insight; and as a result learn — to excite our souls and our spirits.
Someone called our attention to a book site for a haggadah by Rabbi Norman Lamm. Why couldn't anyone just tell them that this model excerpt from the book that they use on the site is, well, not the best choice?