web analytics
March 31, 2015 / 11 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


The Four Sons: A Lesson for Parents and Teachers

Front-Page-041114

With a simple command, God makes clear that teaching is fundamental to our observance of Passover. Fundamental and obligatory. I must teach my son, my children, of the great miracle God performed in delivering me from slavery. Not only must I teach but my teaching must be personal – to me and to my student.

That we should teach children about Pesach makes sense. It is a holiday of children, from the time Pharaoh commanded the midwives, “…look at the birth-stool [of the Hebrew women]; if it is a boy, kill him!”

Pharaoh demanded that each son be cast into the river, and yet the children of Israel multiplied – in numbers and in strength. As did the suffering of the children. The youngest were not shielded from the horrors of slavery, nor were they denied when redemption was at hand. Moshe was clear when he spoke to Pharaoh, seeking the freedom of the people: “We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters.”

It is no accident that we are commanded to “Tell your son on that day…”

But what does it mean to “tell your son”? What does it mean to teach? Too often, as parents and teachers, we think it means talking at our children, delivering to them good and worthy content that they should simply hear and assimilate into their minds and hearts.

Would that it were so. But it is not always so easy to teach our children, as we learn when we gather at the Seder table and read about the four sons; as we find ourselves confronting the daunting challenge that keneged arbaah banim dibrah Torah, not unfairly translated to mean “The words of the Torah are in opposition to four sons.”

It is useful to consider this understanding because it presupposes conflict and discord between Torah and each of the four sons. This presumption of discord tells us less about four sons than about four “postures” toward Judaism, each with its unique challenges and rewards for parents and teachers alike. Each of these postures falls short of full conformity to genuine Torah commitment, each suggests a disconnect between generations, and each demands that we find a way to successfully teach if the beautiful chain of our tradition is to continue.

We associate honor with the chacham, but looking more closely, even the chacham poses a challenge that must be met. Think of the father of these four sons. He is a Jew from the old world. No title. He belongs to no “party.” He identifies with no particular ideological or philo­sophical movement. He is, simply, a Jew. He adheres to nothing other than avodat Hashem and yirat Shamayim. He raises a son, a chacham. His son is wise, and smart, and with eyes to see the brilliance of God’s creation. The son is Orthodox, for sure, but for him simple emunah is not enough. The world is glorious, miraculous. But it also has an intrinsic order and logic, aspects that intrigue and compel him. He is logical and orderly. He has a need to organize mitzvot into divisions and sub-divisions; edot, chukim and mishpatim.

Yes, yes. Of course he believes and observes, but until he understands and digests the content of his belief on an intellectual level, he remains dissatisfied and unfulfilled. “What is the meaning which our God has commanded you?”

Even though we might want to temper the chacham’s need to intellectualize, we recognize his overall positive traits and are only too happy to teach him all of Torah, from the beginning up to and including the very last law of Pesach – afikoman. Moreover, we are assured that as long as the taste of matzah and the flavor of Jewish observance and commitment remain with him, the chacham will continue his search for greater meaning.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at e1948s@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Four Sons: A Lesson for Parents and Teachers”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Talks between Iran and the P5+1 at Lausanne are likely to be extended beyond Obama's self-imposed deadline.
Iran Likely to Force Obama to Back Down on ‘Deadline Threat’
Latest Indepth Stories
hurva

The rededication of the Hurva caused international hysteria.Arabs called the action a “provocation”

Photo from President Barack Obama's past visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

{Originally posted to author’s website, FirstOne Through} TRUST Trust is the bedrock of a functional relationship. It enables one party to rely on the other. A trust that includes both intention and capability permits a sharing of responsibility and workload. The relationship between US President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu started off badly and further […]

jabotinsky with sword

Jabotinsky said “Go To Hell” was a good retort to opponents of the Jewish people; fitting for Obama.

Obama Racine

Obama pulled off one of US history’s greatest cons,twice fooling a gullible electorate and most Jews

While in Auschwitz I felt a tangible intensity. I could sense that I was in a place of sheer evil.

Obama needs to wake up. The real enemy is not Netanyahu but Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad,IS

My beliefs & actions have led to numerous death threats against me; my excommunication by my church

In November 2014, Islamic Relief Worldwide was classified as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Erica Pelman is a spiritually-driven woman. She is founder and director of “In Shifra’s Arms” (ISA), an organization that offers aid to pregnant Jewish women of all religious backgrounds practically, financially and emotionally. Its arms are open to any pregnant woman in need whether single, divorced, separated, or from a financially-strapped family. “Presently, we are […]

Many so-called “humanitarian NGOs” frequently abuse Israel by applying false moral equivalencies

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Safran-032715

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Safran-021315

Jews cover the head not as ID but because wearing it makes concrete to ourselves our devotion to God

It’s easier to take Jews out of galus than to take galus out of Jews – Chassidic master

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

It is difficult to remain faithful in galut, the ultimate Rorschach test for all Jewish generations

Racheli Frankel: “I didn’t think they were thrown just anywhere. The tears of Hebron embraced them”

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-four-sons-a-lesson-for-parents-and-teachers/2014/04/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: