Saturday, April 23, 2016

Deep Thoughts, the Pessach Edition

Every year Raphaela asks more advanced questions at the Seder, as her worldview widens.  Here are the top four issues addressed this weekend:

1. " I see they have the four boys, when do they address the four girls?"

Mommy thinks to herself:  I see I have a budding feminist in the house, though I can't say I am surprised.  I copped out on this one, simply saying that the language of the text addresses the subject in masculine, but the four sons really represent four different kind of children, boys and girls.

2.  "How does the evil son come about, if he was raised in a good family?"

What followed was a discussion about personal choice, and about how eventually a person makes their own path outside their family, and then has to take responsibility for their actions.  "A good person come out of a troubled family, and a bad person can come out of a perfectly beautiful childhood.  Not every Egyptian was bad to the Jews when they were slaves, just like not every Arab wants to hurt us because we are Israelis.  That's why we take away some of the wine when we recite the plagues, because all human beings are God's creations."

3.  "The animals, like the cows and sheep and goats, and the horses at the splitting of the Sea, why did they have to get punished when it was Pharaoh who was not letting the Jews leave?"  Asked Raphaela, the vegetarian.

My daughter had asked this question several years ago, and I admit that I didn't have a great answer then, nor did I have one last night.  Her current food choices only made this more concerning to her.  Someone else at the table explained to Raphaela that animals "exist to serve man and God" and that they were doing God's work by participating in the miracle of the ten plagues.  Secretly, I didn't buy that explanation.

4.  "How does the Prophet Elijah get all around the world in one night?  Does he actually visit everyone who is doing a Seder with their family, like even in France and America?"

I briefly explained the miraculous circumstances of the Elijah's non-death, and that God has given him the job of doing special assigments.  In a fun twist, my cousin (with whom we celebrated the Seder) had left a note from the Prophet Elijah at the doorway, so when Raphaela opened the door to invite him in, she received a pleasant and unexpected surprise. 

To me, the Seder should be about transmitting personal and communal values to the next generation, and I appreciated that all the adults at the table made the night a dramatic and almost magical adventure, geared toward the children.

No comments: