The four children teach us something entirely different. The wise thirsts for knowledge. We are not to shut his mouth, but rather to seek a response worthy of his curiosity. The simple, encapsulates it all into one word: “what?” Here the Haggadah tells us that nothing could be more obvious, pure and simple than to ask. As for ‘the one who knows not how to ask’, we are commanded to “open his world”, to teach him to ask!
But the most important of all, in my opinion, is the son labeled Evil by the Haggadah. He asks: “what is this work to you?” — to you, and not to him, the Haggadah says, as he excludes himself from the family, the tribe, people, the circle of life. The evil son is self-centered and selfish. He puts himself on an island, his sense of identity does not include others. This is considered evil in the Haggadah.
The message of the evil son is God’s way of telling us there is nothing more sacred than human life, and the human solidarity that is needed in order to preserve and protect it. The process of caring is work, as the evil son states “what is this work for you”? It is always much easier to turn your back on the other and care only for yourself. Solidarity, community, sharing and caring: that is hard work.
We must care for each other. We must see each other clearly, truly see each other as equal under God and before him. We must recognize each other’s humanity, aspirations, rights, emotions. On the way to freedom there are many questions to be asked. But at the end of the day, the only way to be saved by God from whatever “Egypt” is enslaving you, is to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
– Achinoam Nini
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