At Passover each year, we read the story of our ancestors’ pursuit of liberation from oppression. When confronting this history, how do we answer our children when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?
What does the activist child ask? -“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”
Empower her always to seek pathways to advocate for the vulnerable. As Proverbs teaches, “Speak up for the mute, for the rights of the unfortunate. Speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy
.” What does the skeptical child ask? - “How can I solve problems of such enormity?
” Encourage him by explaining that he need not solve the problems, he must only do what he is capable of doing. As we read in Pirkei Avot—The Ethics of Our Ancestors, “It is not your responsibility to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”
What does the indifferent child say?- “It’s not my responsibility.”
Persuade her that responsibility cannot be shirked. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, “The opposite of good is not evil; the opposite of good is indifference. In a free society where terrible wrongs exist, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”
THE FOUR CHILDREN Teaching the next generation “On Passover, Jews are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus and to see ourselves as having lived through that story, so that we may better learn how to live our lives today. The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible ... ”
And the uninformed child who does not know how to ask -... Prompt him to see himself as an inheritor of our people’s legacy.
As it says in Deuteronomy, “You must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” At this season of liberation, let us work toward the liberation of all people. Let us respond to our children’s questions with action and justice.
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