The Four Children
This passage is condemning the child for not appreciating his good fortune. To be wicked or rebellious is to be ungrateful of what we have. Often, even when times are bad, we are fortunate compared to many others in the world.
Sammy L., Los Angeles
A wise person is someone who recognizes that she does not know everything. She also recognizes that other people do not know everything. But she does recognize that other people may know things she does not, and that when everyone comes together, there is more wisdom.
What makes someone wicked (or rebellious)?
When are labels helpful or hurtful?
If you were to categorize parents into four categories, what would they be?
Where do you see the four children reflected in yourself? Your family? Your community? The world?
The Torah speaks of four children: One is wise, one is wicked/rebellious, one is simple and one does not know how to ask.
The wise one, what does he say? "What are the testimonies, the statutes and the laws which the Lord, our God, has commanded you?" You, in turn, shall instruct him in the laws of Passover, [up to] `one is not to eat any dessert after the Passover-lamb.'
The wicked/rebellious one, what does (s)he say? "What is this service to you?!" He says `to you,' but not to him! By thus excluding himself from the community he has denied that which is fundamental. You, therefore, blunt his teeth and say to him: "It is because of this that the Lord did for me when I left Egypt"; `for me' - but not for him! If he had been there, he would not have been redeemed!"
The simpleton, what does he say? "What is this?" Thus you shall say to him: "With a strong hand the Lord took us out of Egypt, from the house of slaves."
As for the one who does not know how to ask, you must initiate him, as it is said: "You shall tell your child on that day, `It is because of this that the Lord did for me when I left Egypt.'
כְּנֶגֶד אַרְבָּעָה בָנִים דִּבְּרָה תּוֹרָה. אֶחָד חָכָם, וְאֶחָד רָשָׁע, וְאֶחָד תָּם, וְאֶחָד שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לִשְׁאוֹל.
חָכָם מָה הוּא אוֹמֵר? מַה הָעֵדוֹת וְהַחֻקִּים וְהַמִשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ אֶתְכֶם? וְאַף אַתָּה אֱמָר לוֹ כְּהִלְכוֹת הַפֶּסַח: אֵין מַפְטִירִין אַחַר הַפֶּסַח אֲפִיקוֹמָן.
רָשָׁע מָה הוּא אוֹמֵר? מָה הָעֲבֹדָה הַזֹּאת לָכֶם? לָכֶם - וְלֹא לוֹ. וּלְפִי שֶׁהוֹצִיא אֶת עַצְמוֹ מִן הַכְּלָל כָּפַר בְּעִקָּר. וְאַף אַתָּה הַקְהֵה אֶת שִנָּיו וֶאֱמֹר לוֹ: בַּעֲבוּר זֶה עָשָׂה יְיָ לִי בְּצֵאתִי מִמִּצְרָיִם. לִי - וְלֹא לוֹ. אִילּוּ הָיָה שָׁם, לֹא הָיָה נִגְאָל.
תָּם מָה הוּא אוֹמֵר? מַה זֹּאת? וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו: בְּחֹזֶק יָד הוֹצִיאָנוּ יְיָ מִמִּצְרָיִם, מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים.
וְשֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לִשְׁאוֹל - אַתְּ פְּתַח לוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְהִגַּדְתָּ לְבִנְךָ בַּיוֹם הַהוּא לֵאמֹר, בַּעֲבוּר זֶה עָשָׂה יְיָ לִי בְּצֵאתִי מִמִּצְרָיִם.
Deivid K, Vilnius, Lithuania
The Four Children
I think a wicked person is a person who holds his or her own self-interest over morality.
The wicked son asks for someone else’s point of view because it’s easier to listen to someone else than to make his own opinion. He wouldn’t have stood up for himself in Egypt, and therefore wouldn’t have deserved to be redeemed.