The Wicked Child

Haggadah Section: -- Four Children

The wicked child asks, "What does this service mean to you?" By using the word “you” and not “us,” the child is not including themself in the community. We are told to respond by saying, “This service helps us remember and learn from our people’s journey to freedom.”It’s worth noting that not one of these children is disengaged.

Even the wicked child, who gets a bad reputation, is engaged in the material. A child who genuinely doesn’t care would not say anything. The wicked child pushes back because they are feeling something. Perhaps they are struggling and feeling alone, or maybe they don't see themselves represented in the Passover story. Still, the wicked child doesn't stick their hands in their ears, and they don't text under the table. They push and lash outward, trying to find their place. Perhaps they don’t feel secure. Think about how frequently we say, “Psht, I don’t care” or “whatever, I’m fine” when we are hurting.

And the wicked child has a purpose.

Although they are trying to test our patience, they teach us to examine our own behavior. We can learn through this child how to support our loved ones and become their allies. But first we need to learn to listen, reflect and understand why the wicked child feels this way. When a child feels like they don’t fit into their own community, it’s on us to change it.

To the wicked child, we have to reply to their question with our own. Yes, we can try and show them we identify with the story, but we need to ask them why they don’t. The onus is on us.


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