The Four Sons and the Seder

The Four Sons and the Seder

Passover is a time when most families get together. It is a time of happiness and reminiscing. Reading the Hagadah, drinking four cups of wine and eating delicious Passover food can serve to bring people closer.

Sometimes the Passover Seder can increase family tensions. Grown up children who have gone off to live their lives come for a Seder. Of course some children will be the pride of their parents while others will not be.

This relationship can mirror the attitudes of the four sons and the answers which we give them.

The smart son is the one who is the apple of our eyes. He comes to the seder with the right attitude. He asks all the right questions. He is religious and respectful. In order to build his familial relationship and his relationship to G-d he asks the right question. These questions are not to make fun but to find the truth.

The Bad son is the one who does not care to know and does not care what his parents think. He asks questions with ridiculing snide remarks. He can make the Seder a miserable experience.

Perhaps he will insist on bringing his gentile girlfriend to the festivities. Trying to bring him close to the pleasant ways of the Torah constantly fails. We therefore insult him at the Torah and tell him that if he would have been in Egypt he would not have been saved. This may not get him to dump the gentile but it will clarify the line between good and bad.

The Simple son is one who is open minded to anything. He accepts everything without deep investigation. To him we speak about the wonders of the Exodus from Egypt. This bowls him over until he forgets and someone else tells him another great story.

The fourth son is the most numerous. He is the one who does not care to ask. The Hagadah does speak to him in a nice tone. However, a noticing person will see that we really give this son the same answer as the bad son. We quote the same Pasuk to him as we do to the bad son. It would seem that those who do not care would also not have been rescued from servitude in Egypt.

This son tells us that he is too busy playing tennis and has no time for Judaism or synagogue. He does not know and does not want to know. He does not ridicule but is too caught up in his “life” to be interested.