5. THE FOUR CHILDREN –
Some consider the four sons – or four children – to be representative of different “child parts” within each of us. These people are scary, and should be kept away from actual children. The four children are, in reality, representative of four typical reactions by young people to their first experience with the story of Passover. Each should be dealt with differently, but it is important that each child understand the meaning and history of the holiday.
ארבהאה בנים דברה תורה: אחד חכם אחד רשע אחד תם ואחד שאינו יודע לשאול
Arba banim di'bra Torah: Echad Chacham, Echad Rasha, Echad Tahm, V'echad Sheh'eino Yodeah Leeshol.
The Torah speaks of four types of children: one is wise, one is wicked, one is simple, and one does not know how to ask.
Chacham, mah hu omer?
The Wise One asks: "What is the meaning of the laws and traditions God has commanded?" You should teach him all the traditions of Passover, even to the last detail (the Afikoman).
Rasha, mah hu omer?
The Wicked One asks: "What does this ritual mean to you?" By using the expression "to you" he excludes himself from his people and denies God. Shake his arrogance and say to him: "It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt." Say, "For me" and not for him – for had he been in Egypt, he would not have been freed.
Tam, mah hu omer?
The Simple One asks: "What is all this?" You should tell him: "It was with a mighty hand that the Lord took us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."
V’Sheeino yodeah lishol?
As for the One Who Does Not Know How To Ask, you should open the discussion for him, as it is written: "And you shall explain to your child on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt’."
THE FOUR CHILDREN: Pirkei Avot
[Although Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) does not deal directly with the same four children from the Passover Haggadah, it does speak a number of times of four types of people.]
There are four types among men:
He who says, "What is mine is mine and what is yours is yours" – this is the common type, though some say that this is the type of Sodom.
He who says, "What is mine is yours and what is yours is mine" – he is an ignorant man.
He who says, "What is mine is yours and what is yours is thine own" – he is a saintly man.
And he who says, "What is yours is mine, and what is mine is mine" – he is a wicked man. (Pirkei Avot 5:13)
There are four temperaments among men:
Easy to provoke and easy to appease – his loss is canceled by his gain.
Hard to provoke and hard to appease – his gain is canceled by his loss.
Hard to provoke and easy to appease – he is a saintly man.
Easy to provoke and hard to appease – he is a wicked man. (Pirkei Avot 5:14)
There are four types of charity-givers:
He who wants to give but does not wish that others should give – he begrudges what belongs to others.
He who wants that others should give but not that he should give – he begrudges what belongs to himself.
He who wants to give and also that others should give – he is a saintly man.
He who does not want to give and does not wish others to give – he is a wicked man. (Pirkei Avot 5:16)
THE FOUR CHILDREN: Your Turn!
Take a minute to draw your own version of the four sons. It can be as funny, as serious, or as just plain ridiculous as you like. Just remember – this is a FAMILY Seder!
שאינו יודע לשאול
(Does Not Know How to Ask)
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