Four Children? Nope! They're ALL US!
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Four Children? Nope! They're ALL US!
There is something else hidden tonight in addition to the Afikoman.
We generally think of the Four Children as distinct individuals, or personalities, or types.
Each asks (or doesn't ask) a different type of question and in a different tone. (This is the Haggadah's way of explaining why the Torah seems to say we should tell our children about the Exodus from Egypt in different words, and in differing levels of detail. The Book of Proverbs tells us to "teach a child in the way s/he can understand (appropriate to each age, intellectual and interest level), and as s/he grows older that knowledge will remain."
But just flip the list upside down, and a different picture emerges.
Suddenly, we see ourselves at all the stages of our human development from childhood to adulthood and beyond, reflected in this passage.
The one who doesn't know what or how to ask is too young - perhaps a pre-schooler, or simply incapable of asking.
The simple one. Simple questions from a young child just learning about life - just learning how to read and reason - require simple, declarative if not definitive, answers, without equivocation and as factual but unfrightening as we can make them.
The rebellious one - (often erroneously referred to as wicked) - that's us as teenagers, challenging authority, seeking our own answers, trying to make sense of things we now summarily reject out of hand that once we had accepted as revealed truth.
The wise one. Then, IF we survive our teenage rebelliousness, we FINALLY emerge into adult maturity, and hopefully, attain wisdom or something akin to it, that enables us to function in, if not make sense of, the world we inhabit.
If we are lucky, this last stage lasts a lifetime.
(For many, however, the ladder UP eventually becomes the staircase DOWN again, as we pass through the wisdom of adulthood, back to a a cantankerous stubbornness or rebelliousness, to simplicity, and finally, sadly, to the silence of no longer knowing how, or caring what, to ask.)
This song was written to be part of Fiddler on the Roof, but was cut from the show before it made its Broadway debut for being too slow, and comic at a moment in the show when the people of Anatevka are experiencing tragedy. It imagines a world in which the Messiah is coming, but lost, and worried about us.
Words and music by Sheldon Harnick
When Messiah comes he will say to us,
“I apologize that I...
The great sage Hillel provided us with the tradition of constructing the Hillel sandwich, combining the bitterness of the maror with the sweetness of the
charoset between the fortitude of the two pieces of matzah--the symbol of freedom. Through this ritual, we think about mortar and brick. We think of the Israelites traveling through the desert with no homes, no place to land and build up their strong communities,...
Passover is a time for us to reflect on our own freedom and an opportunity to connect our lives with the struggles of others. At AVODAH, we support emerging Jewish leaders as they work to address some of the most pressing issues in the fight against poverty. We study the complex (and often overlapping) systemic issues that impact people in our country, and explore how Jewish tradition calls on us to respond. This year,...
"A Not-So-Serious Passover Play for the Classroom or the Dining Room" by S. Mitchell
CHARACTERS: Slave Narrator, G_d (as a voice offstage), Moses, Aaron, Burning Bush, Pharoah
SLAVE NARRATOR: In Egypt we Hebrews had a difficult life. All day we worked under the whips of the taskmasters, making bricks and stacking them into giant pyramids, using nothing but our bare hands and a mixture of apples, raisins...
The Seder is all about answering questions. But one question remains unanswered, and that’s the most important question – Why? We are taught, “ In every generation, each person must see him/herself as if s/he were redeemed from Egypt.” But why? Why return to Egypt year after year? Why re-taste the bitterness of slavery? Ask the Torah – What difference does this experience...
The seder plate holds the main symbols of a traditional Passover seder-- the shank bone, egg, karpas, charoset, and maror. The Kabbalists of the Middle Ages added hazeret, another kind of bitter lettuce. And in recent years feminists have added an orange on the seder plate to symbolize women's leadership roles and full empowerment in Jewish life.
The artichoke however is a new development. What is an artichoke?...
There is a word in Hebrew — Teshuvah — that means return. It is an acknowledgement that there is always a chance for forgiveness, redemption and change. Our traditions teach that Passover is open to all. Everyone is welcome at this table. There is always room. Because no one is ever turned away, there is always an opportunity for a rebirth of spirit.
As a sign of hospitality to all, we open the door to our...
The Fifth Question: What can we do to help alleviate poverty?
There are numerous charities which aim to get donations to end poverty. It is important to make food and money to these various charities to help others. We must remember that we were once "strangers in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 23:9). This quote appears numerous times in the Torah and explains to us to have sympathy for others because we were once...
by Stanley Kunitz
Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that's late,
it is my song that's flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
A HEBREW LESSON ON THE ROOT-WORD S-D-R
How is the festival meal of Passover different from the meal eaten at other holiday celebrations? For one thing, the Passover repast is consumed in the context of a scripted dramatic arrangement, a (seder), from the Hebrew verb (le-sadder), "to arrange."
There are, to be sure, similar arrangements in Jewish ritual and textual life. The daily prayer book, which...
From COEJL’s “Preparing for Passover: Readings for the Seder Table”
Stewart Vile Tahl, COEJL
One of Passover’s lessons is learned to distinguish between more and enough. Dayenu means “it would have been enough for us.” Often, enjoying more wealth and comfort stimulates our desire for more – more attention, more comforts, more money, more, and more, and more. Passover and the...
More Clips from Gerald Weiss
How long should the ideal Seder last. Everyone is hungry; the kids are squirmy, guests are growing impatient. You're on step 5 of 15 and dinner isn't even in sight.
It might interest you to know that originally, the meal PRECEDED the recitation of the Passover story (Maggid - step 5 of 15) and now it's at step number 11!Why? Because the rabbis were wise enough to know that few would hang around for the...
Eggs are prominent and pervasive on Pesah. In fact, so prevalent are they during the holiday week that one might suspect that the ancient Greek name for Pesah actually may have been Cholesterol!
Let's start with the Seder Plate, where a roasted egg (Beitzah ביצה), said to represent the holiday sacrifice, or Haggigah (חגיגה) finds a prominent place on a plate otherwise filled with symbols of subjugation...