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It Takes All Sorts

By Rabbi K Mahiach Kelaty
March 27, 2018

I always find the month of Nissan a very frantic time. Have you ever experienced this? Or is it just me?

I kid you not. There’s a lot flying around [for once, I’m not referring to drones]. Pesach is a time of furious work. It’s almost like we are still enslaved in Egypt – what with all that forced labour, in the house and in the car. Especially the car.

But during all the tussles and skirmishes, we can find comfort in the fact that for every drop of sweat we put into cleaning for Pesach, we will get a tremendous reward. Every drop!

Maybe go easy on the Lynx and the Sure this year – its perspiration we want!!!

But on a serious note, we may find bad habits coming to the fore in Nissan. This is because Hashem is showing us that these bad habits need correction. Nissan – the month where Pesach falls – is the beginning of the year. It is the month that crowns all the other months. There is a tremendous energy which accompanies this month. It is the energy that was prevalent when we left Egypt almost 3300 years ago. It is the energy of freedom. Hashem is stretching out to us with this energy, and it will help us in many ways. We must grasp this freedom energy and use it to do teshuva.

Hashem comes to our seder with His angels. Not just two or three. I’m talking billions. More even. They are called the Pamalia Shel Ma’alah. They bear witness when we talk about the Hagadah at our Seder. Hashem can then say to these billions of witnesses “I was right in taking this people out of Egypt and forming them into My Nation. I was right”. These angels will then submit in conformity. They ratify Hashem’s decision in liberating the slave nation. But if, at our Seder, we are talking about sports, politics, Come Dancing or Twitter, then Hashem cannot ‘claim’ that He was right, as it were. This will cause Hashem ’embarrassment’, as it were.

So let’s give the Pamalia Shel Ma’alah some proof that G-d was in fact right. We deserve to serve Him.

Well, if you’re in the mood, I have a few questions for you. About the four sons. Follow with me.

The Chacham. Why is he not called The Tzaddik? That would surely be more appropriate – to call him the Righteous Son instead of the Smart Son. The answer is that he is the son who makes rationalizations for everything. Whatever the question, the Wise Son has to have an answer. Now, this is not always a bad thing. But we tell this son, don’t be such a wise Alec. Not every question has an answer. At least, not that we know of (see the concept of the Red Cow). We tell the Wise Son ‘do not eat after afikoman’. Once we eat it, we are done. There’s nothing left. No dessert. No baklava or nana tea. We are at the end of our tether. Mr Wise Son – you don’t know it all. You don’t need, or are even able, to have all the answers. Don’t try and add anything.

The Rasha. Now this guy is something else. He is the one who does not ‘agree’ with certain things in Judaism. He takes himself out of the picture. Judaism? Ha. Lol. That’s for frummers. Not me. No way. Not now. Not ever. What shall we do with this guy? Well, we start by blunting his teeth. Taking the sting out of his tail. But wait – is that kiruv? He asks a few questions, and we smash his face in?? No of course not. We are passing on a message in a form of a very excellent hint. Because the thing about teeth, is that teeth all work together, for the benefit of the body. Ever heard of a tooth going on strike? “I’m out here – the other 31 of you can carry on, I’m going to the Bahamas”. Nah. They all work in unison. So we are hinting to the Rasha – you need us. And what’s more – we need you. We’re all in this together.

The Tam. He’s the Simple Minded Son. He gets stuck on one question, and he can’t seem to see past it. Whether its ‘Where was G-d in the Holocaust?’ or ‘Why do we have to wipe out Amalek, men women and children?’ ‘Burning sheitels?’ Yes, he gets stuck alright. He says ‘If only I had the answer to that question, I would believe’. So we say to this Son – ‘Hey, hold on. Do you know everything? No. Then why does your belief in Hashem hinge on that one question? There’s lots you don’t know!’ And we tell him that the things you don’t know – and even the things you do know – it’s all Hashem. And you know what? Feel free to ask questions, but be prepared for the answer. And it doesn’t have to make sense. It really doesn’t.

And what about the Eino yodeah lishol? The Son who just can’t manage to put his hand up. Maybe he is shy. Maybe he doesn’t have anything useful to say.  Or perhaps he’s apathetic. Too lazy to ask. But the worst thing is, even if he does ask a question, he’s not interested in an answer. After the achievement of finally piping up, he looks blankly at you, or his eyes wander around the room. This is the lowest category. What do we say to this fellow? ‘At petach lo’ – we make an opening for him. We draw him in to the conversation. The word ‘at’ contains the first and last letters of the aleph bet. We reel him in with every means at our disposal. But we never let go.

Surprisingly, the four sons all have something in common. Apart from being Jewish. The four sons are all blessed because at least they all came to the Seder. But wait. We have forgotten someone. There is one more – a fifth son. “What? That’s not in my Hagaddah!” – I can almost hear you say…”Who is he?” Well, let’s just call him ‘The Disaffected Son’. His clarion call is “…whatever…” Dsepondent, disinterested – he is the son who didn’t even turn up. He seems to be on an even lower level than the ‘eyno yodeya lishol’. How are his needs addressed?

I would humbly like to suggest that he is in fact addressed before any of the four other sons. We say in ha lachma anya: ‘Kol ditzrich yeytei veyeichol, dol dichfin yeytei veyifsach’. This is addressing the fifth son. Don’t stay outside! Come in! Be a part of it!

Yes indeed. It takes all sorts to make a Seder!

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