Shabbat starts 4.05pm: ends 5.14pm
Parshat Bo introduces the laws of Passover, including telling children the story of the exodus – “we were slaves and now we are free” . This idea is so important that three times this week’s portion speaks of a father telling it to his son. (The Torah uses male language.) The Torah even mentions the law a fourth time in Devarim/Deuteronomy. Why does the Torah need to repeat that parents should tell the story to their children four times ! ?
The haggadah gives an answer. The Torah repeats it four times because there are four kinds of children. Some children are wise and want to learn it all. Some children are rebellious and do not want to be there at all. Some children are simple and can only ask the most basic questions. Some children cannot ask any questions at all. And some children are each of these at some point in their lives.
What is the responsibility of a parent at the Passover seder ? The haggadah states (lefi dato aviv m’lamdo) – “according to his mind, his father teaches him” . This teaches a powerful idea that most parents do not appreciate. Teaching is not generic. There is not one way to teach children (or adults!). Every child is different and every child learns differently. To quote the Bible (again using male language), “Teach a child according to his way, even when he grows up he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Rabbi Paul Arberman