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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Four Sons’

Four Cups for the Four Types of Sons

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Every year families all over the world unite to enjoy the seder. While calling all members of the family together may feel like the ingathering of the exiles, it is the laughter and discussion held around the table that all will remember for years to come.

Many households are made up of a range of personalities reminiscent of the four sons we discuss during the seder, whose placation may at times feel like a balancing act. This Passover, the Golan Heights Winery presents fun recommendations for wines to fit each type, so that the differing personalities do not create a havoc worse than the ten plagues.

Gilgal Brut

Gilgal Brut

Type 1- The Firecracker-the Evil Son This boisterous personality is not always the “evil son”, rather the family member who enjoys being the antagonist, often leaving us in fits of laughter. The rebel rouser has a tendency of taking things too far, and often can turn an evening into the unexpected. Appease this “evil” one with a glass of an excellent sparkling wine such as the Gilgal Brut a method champagne, the perfect match for such a bubbly personality. The Gilgal Brut raises spirits and offers the perfect opportunity to make a toast to the evening’s celebrations. The wine opens with a pop and will begin the seder with an energetic fizz, fitting to placate this guests’ malevolent (albeit loveable) demeanor.

Yarden 2T

Yarden 2T

Type 2- The Favorite- the Wise Son The “wise son” may at times be too smart for his own good and it is usually a treat for the rest of the family to find those rare moments he gets surprised or stumped. While sometimes the favorite and other times the antagonist himself, the fellow siblings especially relish putting this son in his place. Test this know-it-all’s wine knowledge with the Yarden 2T, a Portuguese style dry red wine made up of two less familiar varieties, the Touriga Nacional and the Tinta Cao, exhibiting a rich, fruity and complex body. The Yarden 2T will reward all guests both as a perfect accompaniment to the meaty dishes of the seder and with precious few moments of silence as this “wise son” tries to ascertain the appropriate varieties within.

 

Galil Mountain Meron

Galil Mountain Meron

Type 3- The Quiet One – the Simple Son We all know this personality, who seems to repeat his contributions year to year (is this night really different than all other nights?) Though his observations may seem, well, obvious, we can try and add some points to this son’s IQ by giving him a wine that is anything but simple: the Galil Mountain Meron. The Meron evolves during the meal as new flavors are expressed with every sip and is the ideal engagement to begin wine discussion. This strong and well-balanced wine exhibits a silky texture and a long velvety finish which fills the palate with its rich tastes and is the perfect companion to the seder plate’s lamb. Not only will the this wine greatly aid the “simple” son’s wisdom, after a cup or two of the Meron, you may find the brilliance of all the guests gathered round the table enhanced.

Yarden Heightswine

Yarden Heightswine

Type 4-the Youngsters- the Ones Who Do Not Know How to Ask While this guest may usually give a “deer in the headlights” look when asked a question, the seder is ultimately about engaging all of our company, thus securing the links in our tradition. Studies have shown that the glazed over look can be recharged with a good glass of fine, sweet wine. For “the one who does not know how to ask”, choose the Yarden Heightswine. This award winning wine is truly a dessert wine with a difference, compelling your guests to ask “why can’t all other wines be like this one?” The Yarden Heightswine is a delightful and rich vino comprised of an aromatic mix of tropical fruit flavors layered with honeysuckle, jasmine and a hint of spice, truly described as the ‘taste of Gan Eden’. Keep the all your guests awake and alert by the end of the seder without engaging in the search for the afikomen but simply by filling their glasses with this delectable choice.

The Evil ‘Fourth Son’

Monday, March 29th, 2010

The Haggadah brings to our attention the “Four Sons,” each of whom has a distinct nature that essentially represents the main types of Jews who cross our path.

The one we most admire is the “wise” son. He is the kind of young man every parent, prospective in-law and teacher dreams of having come into their life. He is intelligent, sincere and inquisitive and has a thirst for knowledge. He knows where he comes from and embraces his Yiddishkeit.

The second son is also bright, but has rejected his heritage and disassociated himself from Klal Yisrael. In today’s terms he would be called a self-hating Jew.

The third son is not as sharp as the other two; perhaps he is a baal-teshuva or did not have a yeshiva upbringing, yet he considers himself part of the klal and wants to learn more. He iscurious about the activity taking place around him and makes the effort to understand it by asking someone in the know, “What is this?”

The forth son seemingly is oblivious and indifferent to what is going on around him and doesn’t make the effort to find out about the change in the status quo. Of him it is said that he doesn’t know to ask.

At first glance, it would seem that of the four, the second son is the one who is the most problematic and the one to avoid, reject and shun. He is even referred to as the rasha, the “evil son.” He is the one viewed as being dangerous to the community’s well-being. He is chuzpadik and arrogant and has cut himself off from the klal, for he says,” What is this service to you,” blatantly excluding himself.

However, to me he is not the most worrisome of the bunch. As distressful as his attitude is, he is at least “involved’ enough to be aware that it is Chag HaPesach even though his comment is mocking and cynical. Even a negative connection is still a connection. Like all persons off thederech, there is still a chance of redemption; there is still an opportunity for teshuva. This “son” may one day see the error of his ways and repent.

However, I am convinced it is the fourth son who represents the real threat to the community. Though some depict him as being very young, I feel that he actually is a peer of the other three “sons”, because the very young, such as toddlers, are typically interested in the comings and goings around them. Of him, the Haggadah says, “sheh’eino yode’a lish’ol” – “he doesn’t know to ask.” The Haggadah does not say, “she’eino yode’a mah lishol – he doesn’t know WHAT to ask. The house is turned upside down and inside out, an elaborate seder has been prepared, yet this individual can’t bother to exert the energy to inquire as to what is going on. He is so removed from everything that he doesn’t even know to put on a good act and show some interest and connection with what is going on.

My take on this fellow is that he is totally self-absorbed. He is so self-centered that nothing else interests him. He’s the kind of person who doesn’t know to thank someone, like a spouse who prepared a good meal, because as far as he’s concerned, it’s coming to him, like a king who doesn’t think to thank a servant for helping him get dressed. Because of his all-encompassing kimt mir life-view, the fourth son isn’t even aware that his behavior is obnoxious. Thus when it comes to Pesach, he “doesn’t know how to ask” since he sees no reason to – there is nothing in it for him.

Though this kind of person is not evil in the traditional sense of the word, his apathy and blatant indifference is the antithesis of what Yiddishkeit is all about. This “son” does not care about any cause or any situation that might require his support. It’s not his problem. If there is a Jew who needs money or help to alleviate a serious situation; if there simply is a petition to sign, a rally to attend, a need for volunteers for achesed program – he doesn’t “know” to ask. He is deliberately oblivious as to what is going on – he works at having his head in the sand – because he only cares about himself. He is the center of the universe and nothing else exists.

The Rasha may have rejected his community – but rejection ironically is still a kind of connection -albeit a negative one. He is still aware it is Pesach and has approached his family and the community he says he no longer is a part of. Perhaps his being there is a subconscious call for help – otherwise why did he show up and ask, “What is this to you?” Maybe he wants to be talked out of his apikorsut.

As long as there is life there is the potential for the Rasha to do teshuva, to return. The narcissist is unlikely to see past the mirror he is constantly looking into to notice the world beyond his reflection. This Jew is unlikely to lift his finger to help anyone, to ever contribute to anyone’s well-being.

There is a saying in Yiddish – mach nish vissen – which means, “make it that you don’t know.” This describes the fourth son. Unlike the off the derech son he hasn’t rejected the community because of misguided ideology; rather in terms of what is happening in the Jewish world, he just doesn’t care.

The Fourth Son

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

As we recite the Haggadah during the seder, we are introduced to the “Four Sons.” These represent four types of people. There is the wise son – the kind every parent and teacher prays to have. He is smart, respectful and has stayed on the derech of his people. He is curious and asks questions in order to satisfy his quest for knowledge. The second son is also smart, but he is off the derech, and has distanced himself from his family and his heritage. The third son is a good-natured boy but is either very young or simple. He is curious about his current environment – the pre-Pesach cleaning and the seder – and asks about it. The Torah states that one should teach each child according to his level, and so the answers to his questions are likewise simple and easy to understand.


The fourth child – the one who seemingly is oblivious to his surroundings and does not even know to ask about the hustle and bustle around him – is the most problematic of the bunch. He is so self-absorbed and so detached from what is happening he may very likely have a personality disorder that can negatively affect those around him.


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


You can be sure the fourth son was not among those caring individuals. The only person this narcissist is interested in is himself. His needs and wants are paramount. Any activity or event that does not revolve around him is of no interest at all to him. That includes Pesach. With all the tumult that is part and parcel of the holiday – the cleaning, the cooking, the sitting down at the seder – he expresses no curiosity in what is going on. The house has been turned upside-down – inside-out, an elaborate seder prepared with foods served in an atypical manner, and he doesn’t make the effort to inquire about it all. 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 abouthim. If the seder was a celebration of him – if he were the honoree – you could be sure that he would ask a lot of questions and be on top of every detail.


Unfortunately many of these self-declared “masters of the universe” have families. But since they are so self-absorbed they take – rarely give. Their attitude is that the world revolves around them and “kimt mir alles” (everything is coming to me). They are the husbands who enjoy laundered clothes and delicious meals – but do not thank their wives or offer tokens of appreciation. But if anything isn’t perfect, they are quick to criticize and insult. They are the parents, who can’t be bothered asking their children how their day in school was – they come home, eat supper and either watch TV, read, or attend to their hobbies. They are the people who monopolize the precious time or finances of their siblings, co-workers, friends, parents, etc. constantly asking for favors – but they never reciprocate.


Sadly, as a community we are at risk of exhibiting self-absorbed behavior and detachment from issues that don’t affect us personally. It is imperative that we collectively not fall in the tragic category of one ” who does not know to ask” – where we are witness to extraordinary events and situations befalling less fortunate members of the community – be they the poor, agunot, older singles, Israeli citizens victimized by misguided government policies – but remain ignorant or uninvolved, unable to even ask – as the simple son does – mah zeh – what is this?


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/the-fourth-son/2006/04/12/

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