Thorneyeagle in response to “The Beggar’s Seder” asked:
I ponder; every year when the Seder comes around, we talk of the four children; the wise child, the wicked child, the simpleton, and the one who does not know how to ask a question.
when we bring up the wicked son we talk about how he asks “What does this story mean to you”…I ponder…is that exactly what he asks…in the way its worded it sounds like he is not excluding himself from the story but wants to know what you think.
In answering this question one must look at it from many perspectives:
The wicked child … The second child is wicked and speaks with pride, intending to denigrate the observance. This is the child alluded to in the verse, “When your children say, ‘What is this service to you?’” (Exodus 12:26). He is not asking the reason for the service in order to understand. The Torah does not say that these children will “ask,” but that they will “say.” Rather than asking a question, they are using the Seder as an occasion to make a statement (Zevach Pesach).
He speaks up and says:
“Why are you going through all this bother? Why are you delaying the meal by reciting the Haggadah and performing all these other rituals? I’m tired and hungry. How can I enjoy the holiday if I must be burdened by so many rituals?”
Both the wise child and the wicked one say the word “you,” but in a very different tone of voice. The wise child speaks of “G-d our L-rd,” while the wicked one does not mention G-d at all.
Instead he says:
“What is all this work (avodah) to you? Why are you doing all this and bothering us so much on this night of the holiday?” He also denies the commandments, and implies that they were not given by G-d. He therefore does not speak of the service as being “commanded by G-d,”
His attitude and disrespect embarrasses his parents and family as he continues:
“You are only celebrating Passover for your own enjoyment. You are preparing and eating delicious meat and good foods. You’re having a good time drinking four cups of fine wine. And then you say that it’s something that G-d commanded you. Do you think that G-d cares what you eat and drink?”
By excluding himself from the observance, this child is considered to have denied the essence of Judaism.
You must therefore give this child such a blunt answer as to set his teeth on edge. He is not to be allowed even to taste the Paschal Lamb. Let him watch you eat the fragrant, tasty Iamb, and sit there grinding his teeth.
When he looks hungrily at the offering, tell him, “Because of this-in the merit of this Paschal Lamb-God did wonders and miracles for me when I left Egypt. In the merit of rituals such as these we were freed from Egypt. God gave us these rituals so that we would have the merit to deserve redemption from Egypt, and to escape the plague of the killing of the first-born.
“God did this for me-for me and not for you. If you had been in Egypt, you would not have been delivered. A wicked person like you, who does not believe in the commandments of the holy Torah, would certainly have died during the three days of darkness. During those days, many people like you died. God does not perform miracles for people like you” (Zevach Pesach).
The wicked son has the potential of changing his whole outlook, by noting that rasha (wicked) shares the same letters as sha’are (gateway). A person can find a gateway to G-d at all times, even when he is in the depths of wickedness.
The wicked son has excluded himself from the people at large – The Hebrew atzmo translated as “himself,” can also be rendered as “his essence.” Each Jewish person, regardless of his background or level of observance, possesses a unique Divine essence. His soul is a spark of G-d. However, the wicked son consciously separates himself from that essence and, in doing so, cuts himself off from the totality of the Jewish people.
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