The Four Sons
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The Four Sons
By a fitting answer to the questions of each of the four types of the sons of Israel, does the Torah explain the meaning of this night's celebration.
The wise son eager to learn asks earnestly: "What mean the testimonies and the statutes and the ordinances, which the Lord our God hath commanded us?" To him thou shalt say: "This service is held in order to worship the Lord our God, that it may be well with us all the days of our life".
The wicked son inquires in a mocking spirit: "What mean ye by this service?" As he says ye and not we, he excludes himself from the household of Israel. Therefore thou shouldst turn on him and say: "It is because of that which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt". For me and not for him, for had he been there, he would not have been found worthy of being redeemed.
The simple son indifferently asks: "What is this?" To him thou shalt say: "By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage".
And for the son who is unable to inquire, thou shalt explain the whole story of the Passover; as it is said: "And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying 'It is because of that which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt'".
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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...
This symbolic washing of the hands recalls the story of Miriam's Well. Legend tells us that this well followed Miriam, sister of Moses, through the desert, sustaining the Jews in their wanderings. Filled with mayim chayim, waters of life, the well was a source of strength and renewal to all who drew from it. One drink from its waters was said to alert the heart, mind and soul, and make the meaning of Torah become...
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. . .
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By Maya Kasowky
What follows are short descriptions of Seder customs from around the world. For this lesson each custom can be printed out on a separate card or strip.
Circling the seder plate over the heads of each participant, while saying “In Haste we left Egypt”. The response is “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt”
Where it fits in the seder: The very...
The olive branch is a universal symbol of peace, associated with the dove in the story of Noah's Ark and the Flood.
Olive trees mature slowly, so only when there was an extended time of peace, with agriculture left undisturbed, could the olive tree produce its fruit. In 2008, Jewish Voice for Peace promoted putting an olive on the seder plate as part of its Trees of Reconciliation project, which sought to donate...
Why is there no orange on our Seder plate?
In the early 1980s, while speaking at Oberlin College Hillel, Susannah Heschel was introduced to an early feminist Haggadah that suggested adding a crust of bread on the Seder plate, as a sign of solidarity with Jewish lesbians (there's as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the seder plate). Heschel felt that to...
More Clips from Eileen Levinson
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
For the chief musician, on common instrument: a song of rebellion.
Praise rising up. Praise unlawful assembly.
Praise the road of excess and the palace of wisdom.
Praise glass houses. Praise the hand that cradles the stone.
Praise refusal of obedience. Praise the young on Raamses Street.
Praise Galileo. Praise acceleration.
Praise bombshells and en masse.