web analytics
February 28, 2015 / 9 Adar , 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
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prays at the Western Wall ahead of his speech next week at the US Congress.
Netanyahu Visits Western Wall before Leaving for US
Latest Indepth Stories
Netanyahu in a previous address to Congress-

Bibi’s speech to Congress will bring respect and honor to the Jewish Nation from the US & the world

Korenblit-022715

Obama & Putin have handwriting/signature clues indicating differences between public & private life

Councilman David Greenfield

It’s time for a new Jewish policy regarding Ramallah, NOT just because of the yarmulke incident

Levmore-022715

“GETT’s” being screened for Israeli Rabbinical Court judges at their annual convention.

If Jackson were alive he’d denounce Democratic party’s silence towards virulent anti-Semitism

Victim of Palestinian Arab terrorism, a victor in NY federal court, after years of being ignored by Justice Dept.

March 2013: Arabs hurled stones hitting the Biton’s car; Adele’s mother swerved the car-into a truck

The real issue is that in many respects the president has sought to recalibrate American values and our system of government.

Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, provided one of the clearest and most compelling analyses we’ve seen of the importance of the prime minister’s speech.

A central concept in any discussion about happiness is achieving clarity. “Ain simcha ela k’hataras hasefeikos” – there is no joy as that experienced with the removal of doubt.

“Je Suis..,” like its famous origin 400 years ago, implies the ability & freedom to think & question

Many anti-Israel demonstrations at universities have a not-so-latent anti-Semitic agenda as well

Believing a few “extremists” hijacked Islam is myopic in history and geography, numbers and scope

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Safran-021315

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

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

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: