Traditionally, The Four Children include a wise son, a wicked son, a simple son and one who does not even know enough to ask. The Rabbis created these four prototypes to show us that we must teach a child according to the child's level. These categories are no longer acceptable ways to describe our children or any group of people.
In today's world, Jews may identify themselves in a variety of ways. One may be ritually, culturally, intellectually oriented or unconnected. And yet, however modified one's Judaism may be, there is still some level of concern about the Jewish people and a desire to take part in our Passover sedar.
The ritual Jew asks: "What are the laws that God commanded us? " This Jew defines himself by the rituals, the laws and guidelines of Torah. We call on him to seek the meaning that underlies all of these acts, so that they have relevance for all of us today.
The cultural Jew asks: "What is this all about?" He shows little concern with the details and the rituals of the Exodus, even while embracing this reenactment of our ancestors; flight from Egypt. We call on him to recognize that it was a deep sense of faith that enabled these rituals to transcend the generations. It was belief in a vision of future freedom that caused us to celebrate our first Exodus and hear the echo of the prophets' call: "Let all people go!"
The intellectual Jew refrains from asking direct questions because he doesn't lean in any direction, preferring instead to enjoy the debate without conclusion. We call on him to understand that true freedom can only be obtained when we question authority and challenge power, even if that power be God Himself. And it is our responsibility to question not only the text and the status quo, but also to share this message of freedom with all people everywhere, so that all our lives can be richer.
The unconnected Jew asks: "What does this ritual mean to you?" This Jew feels alienated from the Jewish community and finds it difficult to identify with the rituals. Yet we recognize that he is still interested, if only because he asks these questions, and we call on him to see these rituals as a way of affirming the universal beliefs that gave rise to them.
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