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January 12, 2016 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Bo

I just got back to Pittsburgh after a week of shiva, but I have time to write a little.

This week’s Torah portion contains God’s instructions to Moses about the Exodus, and in particular includes three of the four “sons” of the Pesach seder:

*One question,  “What does this ceremony mean to you?” (12:26) is designated by the Haggadah as the wicked son’s question.

*Another, “what is this?” (13:14) is designated as the question of the simple son.

*In addition, 13:8 (“tell your son on that day, saying, ‘Because of this, the Lord did [this] for me when I went out of Egypt.'”) is the response to the son who does not know how to ask.   (The Haggadah also contains the response to the wise son,. whose question is at Deut. 6:20).

Arama tries to explain the “four sons” with an analogy.  Suppose someone asks you to explain the nature of a brick house.  One’s explanation would depend on the sophistication of the questioner.

To a simple minded person, says Arama, it is enough to explain that the house is a dwelling “because it consists of bricks and lumber.”  To a slightly smarter person, you add that it was designed by an architect.  And to the most inquisitive minds, one might explain the purpose of the structure, and why the house suits that purpose.

Similarly, according to Arama, the wise son gets to hear all aspects of the laws of Passover. The “wicked son is reminded of the overall purpose of the legislation”- that is, that God intervenes on behalf of the Jewish people, but only if they have accumulated merit (take that, wicked son!).  The simple son hears about the architect (God).  The son who does not know how to ask hears only about the materials used (Passover lamb, matzah, and bitter herbs).


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