What We Can Learn About Mental Health from Passover Traditions?

Passover, or Pesach, is a spring festival holiday that lasts eight days (some observe it for seven days) and celebrates the Exodus story. It is traditional on this holiday to have a Seder (ritual meal) and to eat matzah, a special cracker-like flat bread, instead of chametz (a variety of foods that rise from leavening). During most Seders, we read from a book called the Haggadah that retells the events of the Exodus so we remember our escape from bondage. Jews around the world perform the mitzvah (commandment) of passing along this tradition, and this story of liberation, to members of the next generation so they can connect with their Jewish heritage.

The Haggadah speaks of four types of children who react differently to the Passover Seder: the “wise” child, the “wicked” child, the “simple” child and the child who “doesn’t know how to ask.” From here it becomes our job to create an inclusive space where we can provide answers to questions raised by all of these children and help them engage in the Passover traditions. Each one is immersed in their own way, and we can learn something about mental wellness and how to create community from all of them.

Reading about these four children, we get to learn more about ourselves and how we can build more holistic, inclusive and affirming Jewish communities. These four archetypes aren’t here to teach us about children; they are here to teach us about our role in passing Judaism and its traditions l’dor va dor (from generation to generation).

haggadah Section: -- Four Children