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The Four Children - A Marxist Approach

The Four Children - A Marxist Approach

Clip Featured in Sebastian Greenholtz's

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.