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  • Rav Moshe Weiss

Nahar U'Pashtei Pesach 2

There is Always Hope

The Haggadah famously speaks of the four types of children, and the manners in which they speak to their father, and how he must answer them. The wicked son asks, What is this service to you? He has excluded himself from the Pesach and its service, and demonstrated that he wants no part in becoming Hashem’s nation or the commitment that comes with it. The Haggadah famously teaches us that the father is to blunt his teeth (with words), saying to him, “If you had been there, you would not have been redeemed!” It sounds from the Haggadah that the answer we give the wicked son is clear: we must say to him that his wicked ways have led him down the wrong path, and he must work to change his ways. A close look at the pesukim, though, would lead one to believe otherwise. In Shemos 12:24-25, after relating to Klal Yisroel the various mitzvos of the Korban Pesach, Moshe Rabbeinu commanded that this ritual be carried out annually. He instructed them to carry out this service when they will arrive in Eretz Yisroel. Then, in this setting, in posuk 26, Moshe Rabbeinu tells Klal Yisroel that there will be children who will ask, ma ha’avodah hazos lachem, what is this service to you? Now, in the Haggadah, these are the words that describe the wicked son’s question. [The query of the wise son is found in Parshas Va’eschanan, and the query of the simple son is from Shemos 13:14. For the concept of the “son who does not know to ask” , see Shemos Chapter 13.] It would follow, then, that the reply written in the passage here should reflect what we say to the wicked son in the Haggadah, to blunt his teeth. Now, posuk 27 continues, And you shall say, this is a Pesach sacrifice to Hashem, for He skipped over the houses of Bnei Yisroel in Mitzrayim when he smote the Egyptians, and our homes he saved. However, as we know, this is not at all what we tell the wicked son. What is the explanation of this discrepancy? The truth is that the question of the wicked son is actually very depressing. We are talking about a situation where Klal Yisroel is living with Hashem, during a time where His Presence is felt throughout Eretz Yisroel and the entire world, and we have the Mishkan or the Bais HaMikdash. In that situation, it is certainly going to be all the more heartbreaking for a father to hear in the derisive and exclusionary question of “What is this service to you?” from his son! The father might think to himself, this child is so evil that there is no hope for him at all! In that moment, what is the father to say to himself? He must remember that the Korban Pesach itself commemorates Hashem skipping over the houses of the children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, and smiting the homes of the Egyptians. This was at a time, soon before the splitting of the Yam Suf, at which the angels exclaimed to Hashem, These (Egyptians) serve idols and these (Jews) serve idols! We must remember that Hashem looked past our evils at the time of the Exodus and saw in our essence that we were different because we were Klal Yisroel, the descendants of the Avos, and we had in our core the attributes of our forefathers. Even when a Jew is evil, he is not the same as an evil idolater. The answer found in the pasuk is a message for the father, to tell himself; “Look past your disappointment and see the potential in the wicked child, as Hashem saw the potential in Klal Yisroel at the time of the Exodus! There is hope for him; it just needs love and teaching to bring it out.” This explains why the response we give the wicked son in the Haggadah is different from the reaction described by the posuk — precisely because the posuk is telling the father what to say to himself, while the Haggadah instructs the father as to what to say to his son. A Gut Yom Tov! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss



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