Shabbat Commentary

6/ 7 Apr: Shabbat  and Pesach (Day 8) comes in 7:28 pm,  ends  8:32 pm

The Rebbe of Ger once pointed out that the ‘four sons’ of the Haggadah can be understood as representing four generations.  The wise son is the immigrant generation who still lives the traditions of the ‘home’. The rebellious son is the second generation, forsaking Judaism for social integration. The ‘simple’ son is the third generation, confused by the mixed messages of religious grandparents and irreligious parents.  But the child who cannot even ask the question is the fourth generation. For the child of the fourth generation no longer has memories of Jewish life in its full intensity.

At first I liked the creative idea that the four sons can represent generations of Jewish people.  But then I thought,  this interpretation is missing something.   I would add one more generation — let’s call her, the fifth daughter.   The fifth daughter rebels against her parents’ Judaism that had lost all intensity.   She seeks the spiritual meaning,  the intellectual challenge and attachment to community that Judaism offers.   Jewish generations have always worked in cycles of deep Jewish attachment and detachment.   Some leave Judaism, but others return.  The four (or five!) children, for me, represent the fact that all types of Jews sit together at the seder table.   All are welcome and all are needed.

Written by Rabbi Paul Arberman.

April 5, 2018