web analytics
October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Miniature Torah at the women's section of the Western Wall Friday morning.
Women of the Wall Smuggle Tiny Torah Scroll to Western Wall
Latest Indepth Stories
Bills to restore the balance of power in Israel will be fought by the not-so-judicial left.

Widespread agreement in Israel opposing Palestinian diplomatic warfare, commonly called “lawfare.”

Chaye Zisel Braun

Arab terrorism against Jews and the State of Israel is not something we should be “calm” about.

Peace Now Chairman Yariv Oppenheimer

The Israeli left, led by tenured academics, endorses pretty much anything harmful to its own country

Grave site of terror victim Leon Klinghoffer.

We were devastated: The exploitation of our father’s murder as a vehicle for political commentary.

Judea and Samaria (Yesha) have been governed by the IDF and not officially under Israeli sovereignty

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

n past decades, Oman has struck a diplomatic balance between Saudi Arabia, the West, and Iran.

The Torah scroll which my family donated will ride aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier

The Jewish Press endorses the reelection of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. His record as governor these past four years offers eloquent testimony to the experience and vision he has to lead the Empire State for the next four years.

I think Seth Lipsky is amazing, but it just drives home the point that newspapers have a lot of moving parts.

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.

Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.

Turkey and Iran the 2 regional powers surrounding the ISIS conflict gain from a partial ISIS victory

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Jonah and the Whale (2012) 23 x 23, bronze relief by Lynda Caspe.

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

Eisenstock-082914

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

What defines kana’ut these days? Throwing rocks at passing cars on Shabbos? Burning an Israeli flag on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?

One who may leave his wife an agunah is not included in the general rule that we may not imprison on Shabbos.

“Fulfill my requests for good, grant my request, be mindful of us for deliverance and compassion…remember us for a good, long life…give us bread to eat, clothes to wear…”

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.

I was singing, dancing, jumping and, sweating. Just joy and happiness. One child on my shoulders after another. What happiness! And then, the little boy on my shoulders – he could not have been older than six – began to cry.

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: