Torah Blog


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Entries in simplicity (1)


The Seder's Wise Child - Missing the Point?

Of the four children at the seder, the answer to the wise child is the only one not taken from the biblical verses. Instead, we teach this child a law, that

one does not eat anything after the Pesach sacrifice (afikoman).


While we hold the oral law in high esteem, the fact remains that for whatever reason (and many reasons are offered for this anomaly), this child is set apart from the other three, in that the educational words explicitly laid out by the Torah itself are not given over to this child. The child is willy-nilly “poresh min hatzibbur”, separated out from the community of children and deprived of the original words of the Torah.

Could this in some subtle fashion result from the fact that this child is not whole-hearted (is not tam)? is too involved with his or her own intellect, the minutaie or casuistry, to be listening to the other children’s questions with any interest, due to undervaluing the place of fresh and innocent questions? Does this child perhaps not want to be lumped with the others, and is trying very hard to talk on an adult level – and has therefore forefeited a place with the children, the central feature of the seder, and the biblical verses given to them as a gift?

Ultimately, the child is included in the four children, of course, but we cannot but notice this fact setting him or her apart.

My advice would be, do not let the wise child grow up too quickly. Help these children stay connected to their genuine childish nature and educate them not to look down on the other children for fear of missing Gd’s revelation in the verses, that comes marked with a big sign marked “CHILDREN ONLY”.