ONE FAMILY: THE FOUR CHILDREN AND THE DISPARITY OF WEALTH

Haggadah Section:
 
THE ONE WHO IS CONTENT 
The one who is content asks: “What can I contribute?” This child lives the teaching of Ben Zoma (a 
second-century scholar), who answers the question “Who is rich?” with the response “The one who is 
content with her portion.” This child studies the teachings of tzedakah and understands the blessings 
and responsibilities of her privilege because she is part of an interrelated, interacting system that 
values community. 
 
Table Conversation: In what ways are you satisfied with your portion? How do you 
understand tzedakah as part of justice in an interrelated community? 
 
THE ONE WHO IS GREEDY 
The one who is greedy asks: “That should be mine, shouldn’t it?” already knowing the answer. He 
lives in fear that there will never be enough and that to avoid scarcity he must acquire everything first 
and fastest. His connection to community is only through coveting what others have, which keeps 
him separate from others and unaware of his dynamics with his community. His self-esteem is 
wrapped up in possessions and his understanding of power is material. 
 
Table Conversation: We can all relate to the fear of this child at some point in our lives. How 
do you answer the questions: “How much material wealth is enough?” and “How do you know 
when enough is enough?” 
 
THE ONE WHO IS UNAWARE OF PRIVILEGE 
The one who is unaware of privilege asks herself: “Doesn’t everyone have that?” Often she makes 
assumptions that reveal her unfamiliarity with others’ identities and origins, which are different from 
hers. This child has an unexamined entitlement which—when challenged—can make her feel 
uncomfortable and defensive. Often committed to doing good for others, her contributions are more 
about feeling good about herself than doing what is just. This child cares about community despite 
these blind spots. Thus, with patience and exposure to a gentle teaching presence, this child is open 
to learning about the disparities and depravations of others. With awareness, her unrecognized 
privilege can be transformed into a deep understanding of herself and can spark responsible speech 
and action. 
 
Table Conversation: In what ways does your understanding of privilege inform your 
responsibilities to others? 
 
THE ONE WHO IS IN NEED 
The one who is in need is often silent because he is overwhelmed by what he lacks. When he does 
ask “Can I have some too?” we often do not hear him because we turn away, or he is rendered 
invisible or disposable by our society. Filled with fear or lack of self-worth, this child is often blamed 
for his own need. But if we listen, we hear that this child is truly hungry. 
 
Table Conversation: Passover is the holiday when we proclaim “All who are hungry come 
and eat!” What will you do to live this mandate and ensure that we all have enough? 
 
Developed by Rabbi Joshua Lesser, RRC ’99, and Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, RRC ‘85 
 
©2014 Reconstructionist Rabbinical College 1299 Church Road, Wyncote, PA 19095 
P: 215.576.0800 F: 215.576.6143 [email protected] 
 
Source:  
JewishRecon.org for Pesakh 2014

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