The Four Children - A Marxist Approach
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The Four Children - A Marxist Approach
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 or our contacts when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?
WHAT DOES THE REVOLUTIONARY CHILD ASK?
“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”
Empower him 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.”
Give him readings, invite him to protests and public speeches, and encourage him to learn and to build the revolutionary organization.
WHAT DOES THE SKEPTICAL CHILD ASK?
“How can I solve problems of such enormity?”
Encourage her by explaining that she need not solve the problems, she must only do what she is capable of doing. As we read in Pirke Avot, “It is not your responsibility to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”
Show her the long history of class struggle, the consistency of the working class rising up against the capitalist class and the few examples of success. Let her read about the Russian revolution and see the most backwards capitalist country in its time turn into the most progressive in just a few weeks of socialism. These examples are our guide.
WHAT DOES THE INDIFFERENT CHILD SAY?
“It’s not my responsibility.”
Persuade him that responsibility cannot be shirked. As 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.”
Show how capitalism is destroying the earth so that none of us can live on it. Show how crisis affects people of all classes, not just the most oppressed. Finally, show how the failure to build leadership leads to confusion at best, and bloody reaction at worst.
AND THE UNINFORMED CHILD WHO DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO ASK...
Prompt her to see herself 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.”
Tell her about the infinite possibilities of socialism, the promises of the transitional program, and the joyous future we can build under socialism.
We will wash our hands twice during our seder: now, with no blessing, to get us ready for the rituals to come; and then again later, we’ll wash again with a blessing, preparing us for the meal.
Too often during our daily lives we don’t stop and take the moment to prepare for whatever it is we’re about to do. Let's pause as we wash our hands to consider what we hope to get out of our evening together.
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The four cups of wine we drink this evening are symbols of our freedom and God's presence in our lives. But, as the seder ritual reminds us, freedom is an ongoing journey. True freedom can only be enjoyed when all our sisters, brothers and others are freed of the many burdens that would delay or deny...
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Source 1: Babylonian Talmud
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The Seder is all about answering questions. But one question remains unanswered, and that’s the most important question – Why? We are taught, “ In every generation, each person must see him/herself as if s/he were redeemed from Egypt.” But why? Why return to Egypt year after year? Why re-taste the bitterness of slavery? Ask the Torah – What difference does this experience...
"A Not-So-Serious Passover Play for the Classroom or the Dining Room" by S. Mitchell
CHARACTERS: Slave Narrator, G_d (as a voice offstage), Moses, Aaron, Burning Bush, Pharoah
SLAVE NARRATOR: In Egypt we Hebrews had a difficult life. All day we worked under the whips of the taskmasters, making bricks and stacking them into giant pyramids, using nothing but our bare hands and a mixture of apples, raisins...
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Winter, with its bleak landscape and cold, short days, can lead to gloom and despondency.
In contrast, spring breeds hope. Seeds that have been frozen in the earth haven't died, and in the spring they re-awaken. Even when all is cold and dark,...
Before the blessing over the first cup of wine, say:
We are gathered here tonight to affirm our continuity with the generations of Jews who kept alive the vision of freedom in the Passover story. For thousands of years, Jews have affirmed that by participating in the Passover Seder, we not only remember the Exodus, but actually relive it, bringing its transformative power into our own...
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When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one
But the union makes us strong
Solidarity forever, Solidarity forever, Solidarity forever, for the union makes us strong!
Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
"Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods. The liturgical movement must become a revolutionary movement, seeking to overthrow the forces that continue to destroy the promise, the hope, the vision."
—Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1970