web analytics
May 24, 2015 / 6 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


The Four Sons: A Lesson for Parents and Teachers

Front-Page-041114

But still…there are times when a starting point appears impossible to find, when it seems a vain undertaking to effectively communicate Torah values and ideals to the uninitiated, to the cynical, simple, negative youngster and even to the extremely bright student who believes he “knows it all.”

Perhaps part of the trouble is the desire to find a single starting point. Each of the four sons asks profoundly different questions; each is unique in his difference from the others. Doesn’t each deserve an equally individualized response? Yet more and more we provide a cookie cutter one-size-fits-all Torah education, discarding those for whom it does not seem to work.

The Rambam instructs us that each son be taught according to his own understanding and abilities. Yet I would argue that the problem is not just with the student but with the teacher as well. How to motivate the parent or teacher to engage the child who is simple or rebellious?

We are taught there were a total of four zechuyot, four merits, which together added up to the Israelites’ ultimate redemption and exodus from Egypt.

First, there was Zechut Avot, the Merit of the Fathers; “The God of your Fathers appeared to me…” followed by the covenant established with the Fathers – “and God recalled His cove­nant.”

Then there was the zechut of kabbalat haTorah, the merit of the giving of the Torah. “When you take the nation out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”

Finally, they merited redemption on account of the Paschal sacrifice and on account of circum­cision – “and I shall see the blood and pass over their houses.”

Rather than judge the posture and presentation of the four sons when they arrive at the Seder table, it would be better to recognize that each arrives with his own zechut and an inherent right to be taught. No Jew is to be shut out of Jewish education. Each son comes to the Seder table with a rightful claim to his share of Sinai.

The simple son leans on his having been equally present and part of Kabbalat haTorah even as the “one who knows not even how to ask” relies on his Zechut Avot. We are so quick to judge the rasha but while it is true that the wicked son may very well have strayed, his claim to the covenant established by God with his fathers is undeniable.

The wise son calls upon all four merits, even if these merits are not as yet perfected in him. It seems then that the challenge of Sipur Yetzitat Mitzrayim is not simply teaching individual sons based on their differences in attitudes, experiences and knowledge.

Yes, such a response goes without saying; the maggid experience requires sensitive, discerning and caring fathers and educators. But the greater challenge is the one that redeems all four sons. The greater challenge is in finding a way to bring each into the greater fold rather than callously discarding them. The greater challenge is in seeking and finding each individual child’s merit, opening avenues of communication with each and every type of student and raising all of them with the love of Torah.

Such an education demands the creativity of the heart, not just the mind. It demands more than “classroom management skills” – it asks us to love and recognize, in those whose behavior and attitude are not what we would want, the nefesh and humanity they possess.

Discovering a child’s abilities is a challenge. Discovering a child’s merits is an accomplishment. But it is our task. “On that day, you shall teach your son…”

* * * * *

In the Haggadah, each of the four sons poses a question. Yet we find only three responses. The wicked son and the one who “knows not how to ask” are given the same answer.

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
Tzipi Hotovely, new Deputy Foreign Minister.
Foreign Minister Hotovely: Tell the World ‘God Gave Israel to the Jews’
Latest Indepth Stories
Harris-052215

We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.

Shalev and Rabbi Levinger

During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai

MK Moshe-Feiglin

20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse

Sprecher-052215

Connecting Bamidbar&Shavuot is simple-A world without Torah is midbar; with Torah a blessed paradise

Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting

She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes

Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times

Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program

“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me

Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.

The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.

The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.

“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”

The gap isn’t between Israeli and American Jews-it’s between American Jews and the rest of the world

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

Lag B’Omer became the “Scholar’s Festival” reminding all that derech eretz kadmah l’Torah-

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

The only way to become humble is honesty about our experiences; it’s the only path to true humility

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

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”

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: