Happy Passover From the Wicked Son
For the past 2000 years, my question on Seder night has been misunderstood.
And rather than answer me, you tell me that if I had been in Egypt I wouldn’t have been redeemed.
But you are missing the point.
See, I don’t believe that the Exodus story in the Bible is literal history. I don’t care if I hypothetically wouldn’t have been redeemed in a narrative that I know to be fiction.
But I could have been doing anything else tonight instead of coming to the Seder. I could have spent the night at a party, watching a movie, or on a weekend camping trip. But I decided to show up unlike the hordes of other absent sons that the Haggadah doesn’t mention.
Blunt my teeth and you can be assured that I will not attend the coming year.
So, why am I here?
Well, as the Wicked Son, I am skeptical regarding the inherent meaning of many of the Seder rituals. Just like my question in the Haggadah reflects, I want to ask the other Seder guests what this service means to them.
How is an ancient religious ritual, one based on a faulty history and out of date theology, meaningful for anyone in the modern world?
My question isn’t one rooted in mockery, rather curiosity. I am not purposely “excluding myself from the community”, rather I am interested in learning more about the community. If anything my presence tonight underscores that I want nothing more than to be a part of this community.
However, unlike the other sons in the Haggadah, I am not ignorant. For all the “wisdom” of the Wise Son, he doesn’t even seem to have any knowledge of the various laws surrounding the Passover offering, let alone any understanding of the world at large. Ditto, and even more so, for the last two.
My question doesn’t arise from a dearth of knowledge about what is going on tonight. I know all of the laws of the Passover offering. I know the verses about the Exodus and the germane rabbinic commentary inside out. I do not need to sit at the Seder and have these things explained to me in an overly simplified manner like my “haggadic” brothers.
What my question is about, and what I am interested in learning about, is the meaning that individuals find in their stories and communities. Clearly, there is something buried within the context of the Seder night, past all of the superficial, archaic and dull details of the Passover offering, that is captivating enough for Jews of all types around the world to gather round and discuss.
Perhaps, if my question is answered in a civil and thoughtful way, I will one day take the role of the parent, answering the next generation of Wicked Sons.
So please, without “blunting my teeth” and telling me that I “would not have been redeemed,” try to answer my question.
“What does this service mean to you?”
How much of the pre-Passover madness is really necessary? See answers from Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis here.
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