Contributed By Dov Pianko
Children are an integral part of the Seder. There is a tremendous focus on them, and specifically within the realm of questions. However, as much as we want to pass on to the next generation, and teach them, I think an integral part of the Seder, is to also learn from them. It is a night where we are striving to find our inner child.
Hoshea 11:1 - When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.
There is an aspect of youth which is beloved by God. One of our goals should be to tap into that potential we once had. I think that attitude of youth manifests itself in a few ways.
Kids like to ask questions. They are generally not afraid to, as they aren’t really expected to know that much. They are not embarrassed. However, as they get older, they are not as prone to continue. Adults often discourage the questioning. More often than not, they simply find it annoying. However, when we stop questioning, it is often because we lose interest. We don’t become bored because there aren’t any questions, we became bored because we stopped. We should never discourage children from asking, and we should look to reinvigorate ourselves to question.
Richard Saul Wurman (creator of TED conference/talks) - “In school, we’re rewarded for having the answer, not for asking a good question,” which may explain why kids—who start off asking endless “why” and “what if” questions—gradually ask fewer and fewer of them as they progress through grade school.
A Newsweek story, “The Creativity Crisis,” (June 2010) addresses signs of declining creativity among school children. “Preschool children, on average, ask their parents about 100 questions a day. Why, why, why—sometimes parents just wish it’d stop. Tragically, it does stop. By middle school they’ve pretty much stopped asking. It’s no coincidence that this same time is when student motivation and engagement plummet. They didn’t stop asking questions because they lost interest: it’s the other way around. They lost interest because they stopped asking questions.”
Pesach is a time where we want to find our inner child. So when we focus on the children on Pesach, we should pay attention to what they ask, say, and think. There is a lot to glean from the simplistic world of children, to our complex world.
May we be able this Pesach, to teach our children, learn from our children, and reinforce our own foundations in Torah and faith in God.
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