Four Children, Four Attitudes
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Four Children, Four Attitudes
Our tradition speaks of four children or four attitudes: the wise child, the wicked child, the simple child, and the one who does not know how to ask. Each child has a different reaction to hearing about slavery. . .
What does the wise child say? “What are the testimonies, the statutes, and the laws that apply to this situation? How are we to discern what God demands of us?” You are to answer this child: “God brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage that we may understand the heart of those suffering in slavery, and use all our powers to redeem them.”
What does the wicked child say? “What does all this work have to do with you?” Notice: “you,” not him or her. The wicked child stays far removed from suffering, and thus has lost the essence of our teachings. You might ask this child: “If you had been in Egypt, would you have been redeemed? And if you do not lift a finger now, who will redeem those who languish in slavery?”
The simple child asks: “What’s this all about?” You should teach this child: God brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand, out of the affliction of slavery. So we must use our strength to abolish slavery around the world. We cannot stop our work until there are no longer any slaves, anywhere.
The child who does not know to ask, you must open his or her eyes to what is going on. For today, there are 27 million people living in slavery, and over 8 million of them are children. Surely this is one reason God took our people out of Egypt long ago – so that we might understand what slavery is like, and help free all those who remain enslaved.
And Egyptians made the Hebrews lives bitter with hard bondage,
in mortar, and in brick... Exodus 1:14
Brick Making in Pakistan: A Vignette
Since the 1960s, an estimated 750,000 landless Muslim peasants have hand molded hundreds of millions of mud bricks each year in Pakistan. The bricks are fired in some 7,000 vast but primitive kilns spread throughout the country.
With no other hope for sustenance, desperate families drift to kilns where they borrow money to buy food and tools from the owners. On a good day, a family will mold about fourteen hundred bricks for which they are paid two dollars. But their debts keep growing because kiln owners undercount the number of bricks produced, inflate the debt, and charge exorbitant prices for food and clothing.
Impoverished families, including young children, work as a unit. Without putting their children to work, these families would sink even deeper in debt. Even so, most families incur debts they will never earn enough to repay. If kiln owners suspect that a family may be planning to run away, they take a child to another location as a hostage.
According to one former kiln owner, "to intimidate brick makers, the owner just comes along and smashes all the freshly made raw bricks, a whole day's work, for no reason. If a young worker lifts his head or causes trouble, they will put his leg in the kiln oven for a second to burn it. This is common and brick makers are forced to watch." When a parent dies, the children inherit their mother's or father's debts, assuring another generation of bonded brick makers.
David Arnow, PhD
Author of Creating Lively Passover Seders www.livelyseders.com
Co-editor My People's Passover Haggadah both published by and available from www.jewishlights.com
This material was originally published by the New Israel Fund www.nif.org in its 2002 Passover Haggadah Supplement.
One element of the story of the exodus that the Roberts' version elides is God's hardening of Pharaoh's heart. Moses Maimonides (ca 1135 - 1204 CE) recognized this element of the story as a significant paradox since it seemed to suggest that God forced Pharaoh to make the wicked decisions that brought about the punishment of the plagues. As Maimonides recognizes, if this were so, then the notion that the plagues were a...
Pack Nothing. Bring only your determination to serve and your willingness to be free.
Don’t wait for the bread to rise.
Take nourishment for the journey, but eat standing, be ready to move at a moment’s notice.
Do not hesitate to leave your old ways behind - fear, silence, submission.
Do not take time to explain to the neighbors.Tell only a few trusted friends and family...
Tonight we gather together to celebrate Passover, our holiday of freedom. We will eat a great meal together, enjoy (at least!) four glasses of wine, and tell the story of our ancestors’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. We welcome our friends and family members from other backgrounds to reflect with us on the meaning of freedom in all our lives and histories. We will consider...
Let us all refill our cups.
[Take turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]
Tonight we drink four cups of the fruit of the vine.
There are many explanations for this custom.
They may be seen as symbols of various things:
the four corners of the earth, for freedom must live everywhere;
the four seasons of the year,...
¿Qué hace diferente a esta noche de todas las [demás] noches? ¿Ma nishtaná haláila hazé micól haleilót?
1) En todas las noches no precisamos sumergir ni siquiera una vez, ¡y en esta noche lo hacemos dos veces? ...shebejól haleilót éin ánu matbilín afílu paám eját, haláila hazé shtéi peamím?
2) En todas las noches comemos jametz o matzá, ¡en esta noche solamente matzá? ...shebejól...
Read and Discuss
The Three Levels of Oppression: Ilan Gur Ze'ev
The First level:
In our opinion, the first level of oppression, primitive oppression, is expressed by inflicting aggressive force (physical violence) in order to force someone to act against their will and interest. Uprising against this kind of oppression is possible...
Every year we sit down for the Passover seder to commemorate our Exodus from Egypt. While we were fortunate to have this opportunity, even if it was after many years, there are still those in the world that have not yet had their exodus from oppression. Many people are underpaid and work under inhumane conditions. As we sit here tonight, let us reflect on how we may provide those in need with their exodus, just as God...
The central imperative of the Seder is to tell the story. The Bible instructs: “ You shall tell your child on that day, saying: ‘This is because of what Adonai did for me when I came out of Egypt.' ” (Exodus 13:8) We relate the story of our ancestors to regain the memories as our own. Elie Weisel writes: God created man because He loves stories. We each have a story to tell — a story of enslavement, struggle,...
As we tell the story, we think about it from all angles. Our tradition speaks of four different types of children who might react differently to the Passover seder. It is our job to make our story accessible to all the members of our community, so we think about how we might best reach each type of child:
What does the wise child say?
The wise child asks, What are the testimonies and...
Pour the Second cup: resistance to oppression [Read:] In every generation, a Pharaoh rises up to enslave us. In every generation, every human being must seek to free the community anew. [All join in singing:] When Israel was in Egypt's land, Let my people go; Oppressed so hard they could not stand, Let my people go! (Chorus:) Go down, Moses, 'Way down in Egypt's land; Tell ol' Pharaoh, Let my people go! Thus...
Tonight we drink four cups of wine. Why four? Some say the cups represent our matriarchs—Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah—whose virtue caused God to liberate us from slavery. Another interpretation is that the cups represent the Four Worlds: physicality, emotions, thought, and essence. Still a third interpretation is that the cups represent the four promises of liberation God makes in the Torah: I will bring you...
More Clips from Truah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Hamotzi thanks God for bringing bread from the earth. This bread results from a partnership between God and humanity: God provides the raw materials and people harvest, grind, and bake. So too must we remember that combating human trafficking requires partnerships: among survivors, allies, lawyers, social workers, law enforcement, diplomats, people of faith…the circles of involvement are...
Our hands were touched by this water earlier during tonight's seder, but this time is different. This is a deeper step than that. This act of washing our hands is accompanied by a blessing, for in this moment we feel our People's story more viscerally, having just retold it during Maggid. Now, having re-experienced the majesty of the Jewish journey from degradation to dignity, we raise our hands in holiness, remembering...
The beauty of Urchatz was revealed to me during a women's seder. Each participant washed the hands of another with care and kavanah (intentionality)—and without words. The sisterhood created in the sacred silence elevates communal consciousness. How will we utilize this state of purity? V'ahavtah l're'echa kamochah - to love the other as ourself.
How will this ancient wisdom propel us...