Once we were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord our God brought us forth with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. If God had not brought our forebears out of Egypt, then we and our children and our children's children might still be enslaved. Therefore, even if we were all wise, even if we all had understanding and were learned in the Torah, it would still be our duty to tell and retell the story of the Exodus. The more we dwell upon the story of the Exodus, the deeper will be our understanding of what freedom means and the stronger our determination to win it for ourselves and for others.

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. . .

What does the wise child say? “What are the testimonies, the statutes, and the laws that apply to this situation? How are we to discern what God demands of us?” You are to answer this child: “God brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage that we may understand the heart of those suffering in slavery, and use all our powers to redeem them.”. This year we have the opportunity to work with JIAS to rescue a family from war and terrorism.

What does the wicked child say? “What does all this work have to do with you?” Notice: “you,” not him or her. The wicked child stays far removed from suffering, and thus has lost the essence of our teachings. You might ask this child: “If you had been in Egypt, would you have been redeemed? And if you do not lift a finger now, who will redeem those who languish in slavery or refugee camps?”

The simple child asks: “What’s this all about?” You should teach this child: God brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand, out of the affliction of slavery. So we must use our strength to abolish slavery around the world. We cannot stop our work until there are no longer any slaves, anywhere, oppressed people are free, and refugees can go home or resettle.

The child who does not know to ask, you must open his or her eyes to what is going on. For today, there are 27 million people living in slavery of one form or another, and over 8 million of them are children. Surely this is one reason God took our people out of Egypt long ago – so that we might understand what slavery and oppression is like, and help free all those who remain enslaved or oppressed by war, terrorism and tyranny.

haggadah Section: -- Four Children