web analytics
March 27, 2015 / 7 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Beware The Fourth Son

Kupfer-032913

Shortly after we begin reciting the story of Pesach at the Seder as written in the Haggadah, we are introduced to the “Four Sons.” These individuals represent four very different types of Jews. First showcased is the wise son – he is the child every parent and teacher prays to be blessed with. He is smart, respectful, has a thirst for knowledge and has stayed on the derech of his people. He is curious and asks questions in order to satisfy his quest for knowledge of his heritage. He is called the “good” son.

The second son mentioned happens to also be intelligent, but he is off the derech, and has distanced himself from his family and religious traditions. His arrogant, chutzpadik tone highlights the deep distain he has for the rituals and mores of the Jewish people – a nation that he has deliberately disconnected from. He asks, “What is all this to you?” – his language indicating that he does not include himself. He is referred to as the rasha – the evil one.

The third son gives the impression of being good-natured but is either very young or simple-minded. He is curious about his current environment – the myriad of Pesach preparations – and is curious and asks about it. The Torah states that one should teach each child according to his level, and so the answer to his question is likewise simple and easy to understand. Though he does not necessarily absorb the greater picture and the nuances of Yiddishkeit, he accepts it and identifies with it. He is known as the “simple” son.

The fourth child seems to be oblivious to his surroundings and is described in the Haggadah as not even knowing how to ask. I find that depiction of him rather hard to accept at face value. How is it possible that a person of seemingly normal intelligence (nowhere does it say he is simple) not have the ability to ask a question- to not react and enquire as to the why of the hustle and bustle around him?

I think this “inability” to ask –“she’aino yodea lishol” has nothing to do with intellect and everything to do with extreme narcissism.

There is something very disturbing and peculiar about his total lack of awareness, or what I feel is his all-encompassing aloofness. How is it that he shows zero interest in his surroundings – a complete unmindfulness to the point that he can’t stir himself to even say, “What’s up?” He is pathologically self-absorbed and detached from what is happening.

This behavior is not so uncommon. For example, an elderly, very frail woman is standing on a crowded bus barely able to maintain her balance and not fall. A young, healthy man sits comfortably in front of her. But he does not “know” how to ask, “Excuse me, Ma’am, would you like to sit down?” because he is egocentric and uncaring. The lady is practically in his face – he can’t miss seeing her and her precarious predicament, but he is oblivious and unconcerned.

As I see it, this apathetic, detached individual is much more problematic and disconcerting than his “off the derech” brother. One can reach out to the lost son and possibly bring him back to the fold. With the patience and perseverance of caring individuals, many kids who have fallen off the path have changed their ways and done teshuvah.

The rebellious, disenfranchised child is still emotionally connected – albeit in a negative way. His question may be derogatory in nature, but it is still dialogue. But the fourth son is what I call totally parve – he has no association, no involvement, no relationship with his surroundings.

I imagine the only person this narcissist is interested in is himself. Any activity or event that does not revolve around him does not concern him in the least. That includes Pesach. Despite the tumult that is part and parcel of the holiday, he expresses no curiosity in what is going on. The house has been turned upside-down and inside-out; an elaborate Seder has been prepared with special foods served in an atypical manner, and he doesn’t make the effort to inquire about any of it. He does not know to ask - she’aino yodea lishol – because he is emotionally not there, nor does he care to be, since the holiday is not about him. If the Seder was a celebration of him – if he were the honoree – I am quite confident that he would ask a lot of questions and be on top of every detail.

About the Author:


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 “Beware The Fourth Son”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Iran's nuclear enrichment facility at Fordow is in an underground bunker.
Congressmembers: No More Money for Talks With Iran
Latest Sections Stories
Baim-032015

First, sit down with your helpers and a pen and paper and break the jobs down into small parts.

Food-Talk---Eller-logo

Kitchen surfing is a unique concept that brings professional chefs to your home to prepare a meal in your own kitchen.

A lot of people have heard about dyslexia, a learning disability that concerns reading.

I believe that Hashem will only bring Moshiach when we finally achieve achdus.

He always impressed me with his brilliance and erudition. But it was his warm remarks and his sincere concern that made me want to please him.

Often I open Haggadot and find depictions of the Makos or slavery that I find troubling for a young audience.

Because birth order can affect most children in similar fashion, there are things you can do to help your children overcome weaknesses that birth order has thrown their way.

There’s so much he could do
Resources are not few
He refuses to end all
His SILENCE.

Playing a musical instrument can help build faith in yourself as you observe yourself do something splendidly.

The task of studying Latin may not be a worthy endeavor to most of the population, but for those who plan on going into medicine or law it may not be such a bad idea.

More Articles from Cheryl Kupfer
Kupfer-112114

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

Kupfer-092614-Books

Not knowing any better, I assumed that Molly and her mother must be voracious readers.

Unpleasant happenings are quickly discarded if they do not affect us directly.

I have always insisted that everything that happens to anyone or anything is min Shamayim.

It is so hurtful to heighten people’s sense of inadequacy and guilt in a matzav that is already horrendous and difficult to bear.

Make no mistake: in the wrong hands cars are weapons of mass destruction.

Where once divorce in heimische communities was relatively uncommon, nowadays every family has a son, daughter, sibling cousin who is divorced – sometimes twice or even three times!

Many go about the business of living frum, observant lives, but they are only going through the motions.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/on-our-own/beware-the-fourth-son/2013/03/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: