Ma Nishtana

Haggadah Section: -- Four Questions

Q. The entire night is all about questions - From The 4 questions to WHO KNOWS 1? Why all the ?????

The Dubna Magid explains that when someone asks a questions about something it shows their true interest in knowing about it. They always tell you at the end of a job interview to have a question prepared...because it shows your true interest in the job. Questions express your interest in this whole Judaism thing. Let this be a night of questions, and lets hope this kicks off your year for exploration into the millions of other questions you have about Judaism!

Q. Obvious 5th Question: Why 4 cups of wine tonight, instead of usual 1?

Rabbi Yakov Emden suggests that the Mah Nishtana is actually about the mixed messages of the evening: We eat poor person's bread and maror on a night that should be about freedom, we dip twice- once like aristocrats at the beginning of a meal, and the second like people who don't really have a main course and so try to fill up on cheap, raw vegetables. We recline while eating to express luxury, but we are still eating impoverished bread. The 4 cups, on the other hand, send a clear message of redemption and are not part of the internal contradiction. Therefore, they aren't included. The questions thus underscore the significance and the mixed blessing of remembering not only redemption but also our suffering, and likewise the happiness of remembering not only suffering, but salvation as well. (Elana Stein Hain, NYC)

Questions Breed Questions:

Noam Zion makes an important and interesting observation about the importance of questions, and links the Mah Nishtana to the Four Sons. It isn't always important how much you know or what you learned -sometimes the most important part of the pedagogic process is which questions you ask (and which you don't). However, it isn't just important to have a question, but to have someone who will take it seriously and give a thoughtful response. You can only ask a good question if you feel you are respected and taken seriously. Perhaps it's important to encourage children (and adults) to ask all manner of questions at the seder and not just the ones programmed into the evening. Questions breed questions...which will lead to more learning! ASK AWAY!!! (Edie Aviva Molot)


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