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.)
As you bless the four cups of wine and remember the different ways God protected the Children of Israel during their exodus from Egypt, offer these words of blessing for the ways we can stand in support of today’s refugees as they journey to safety. This is the first of the blessings over the four cups of wine that we say throughout the Passover Seder. You will find the other three blessings interspersed...
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,...
I wasn't one of the six million who died in the Shoah,
I wasn't even among the survivors.
And I wasn't one of the six hundred thousand who went out of Egypt.
I came to the Promised Land by sea.
No, I was not in that number, though I still have the fire and the smoke
within me, pillars of fire and pillars of smoke that guide me
by night and by day. I still have inside me the...
The answers to the first three questions are drawn from Michelle Alexander’s groundbreaking book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010). Excerpts are cited with “NJC” and the page number.
Why does America have the highest incarceration rate of any developed nation in the world?
Many factors have...
After performing most of the central mitzvot of the evening (telling the story of the Exodus eating matza and maror, etc.) and just before we are about to enjoy the festive holiday meal, the haggadah structures a moment in which we symbolically repeat the practice of Hillel the Elder who would “wrap” his portion of the paschal offering with matza and maror and eat it as a type of sandwich, in literal fulfillment of...
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?...
The traditional haggadah speaks of Ten Plagues by which God accomplished our liberation from Egypt. Tonight, we enumerate plagues of psychiatric conditions, which hinder our sense of wholeness, health, and freedom. For each one, our cup of joy is diminished by one drop:
Had G-d upheld us throughout 2,000 years of Dispersion,
But not preserved our hope for return...
Had G-d preserved our hope for return,
But not sent us leaders to make the dream a reality...
Had G-d sent us leaders to make the dream a reality,
But not given us success in the UN vote in 1947...
Had G-d given us success in the UN vote in 1947,
But not defeated our...
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...
At the end of the seder, it is traditional to say or sing " Next Year in Jerusalem". We sometimes think of this as a literal wish, though far fewer of us have actually found ourselves in Jerusalem for seder the following year -- congratulations if you have!
But Jerusalem is more than a place, it is a feeling, it is a hope. At this point in the seder, 1/2 or 1/4 sheets of paper should be passed around...
Passover combines the celebration of an event from Jewish memory with a recognition of the cycles of nature. As we remember the liberation from Egypt, we also recognize the stirrings of spring and rebirth happening in the world around us. The symbols on our table bring together elements of both kinds of celebration.
We now take a vegetable, in this case parsely, to represent our joy at the dawning of spring after...
According to the Book of Exodus, there was a famine in the land of Canaan (later known as Israel). Because of this famine, the Hebrew patriarch Jacob traveled with his extended family of 70 to Egypt to both live inbetter conditions and be with his son Joseph. Joseph’s wisdom had impressed the Pharaoh of Egypt to the point that he was appointed Viceroy of Egypt, which was second in power only to the Pharaoh.
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...