The Four Representation Questions
The Four Questions famously encourage the younger/newer Seder-goers to think about what's different from all other nights: is it that remarkably flat bread? Is it about intentionally consuming bitterness? Is it some kind of ritual dipping extravaganza? Or is it that we're lounging about on pillows during dinner? Yes, it's all of those. But the first question, "Mah nishtana mikol ha laylot" — the famous "why is this night different from all other nights?" can also be read as an exclamation: "Whoa...this night is sure different from other nights!"
Why do we point out difference, anyway? Maybe it's to train ourselves to identify things that are familiar and things that vary from our own experience; we may feel more comfortable in the former, but may gain more by experiencing the latter.
Different experiences produce different stories. This is the reason that increased, diverse representation on-screen is so important. We contain multiverses: our experiences in different enviroments, speaking with people of varying backgrounds, builds empathy and helps us all understand one another better. Plus, when we can see ourselves on-screen, we feel less alone, and more part of a community.
The Haggadah creates spaces for this kind of difference, as one of the religious texts that has been repeatedly altered and added to as the decades have gone by, in every generation, as every new generation tries to see themselves in the larger Exodus narrative. So perhaps we should think about asking ourselves different questions, inspired by Miles Morales, Echo, Black Panther, Batwoman, Dreamer, Phastos, Valkyrie and others.
Who is represented around the table and who is absent?
What have we learned from our friends this year that has enriched the way we see the world?
What have we learned that saddened us and inspired us to create social change and acceptance?
How have our powers of perception and empathy been strengthened since we were last around the Seder table?
How lucky we are to have different perspectives with us tonight!
[Image Source: GIPHY]
- Maggid - Beginning
- -- Four Questions
- -- Four Children
- -- Exodus Story
- -- Ten Plagues
- -- Cup #2 & Dayenu
- Shulchan Oreich
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