In the section called the “Four Questions,” the Passover seder very wisely recognizes that different children learn differently, depending on their disposition, level of knowledge, age, etc. Here’s how I got my kids to care about the Four Children at our seder last night:
Obi-Wan Kenobi as the Wise Child: The wise child almost always follows the rules. He wants nothing more than to learn from his teachers and to use his learning for the good of others. A lifelong learner, he embodies the spirit of tradition, and uses his skills to live those traditions and pass them on.
Anakin Skywalker as the Wicked Child: Why is this child wicked? Not because he is not learned; he knows enough to ask questions! And not because he doesn’t care; he is sitting at the seder table (or the Jedi council, as the case may be). His problem is that he separates himself from those around him, and in so doing, he becomes increasingly self-centered. The wicked child’s choices are about what is best for him and him alone. If others have to suffer to accomplish this, so be it.
Jar Jar Binks as the Simple Child: The simple child is not the cleverest or most knowledgeable, but his heart is in the right place. He asks unsophisticated questions, but he cares deeply about what is right. If we explain simply, and encourage him to participate as an equal, he will grow in his understanding and skill and can make a real contribution.
Luke Skywalker as the Child Who Does Not Know How to Ask: The fourth child has not had the benefit of having been taught. Either because he is too young, or because he simply had no access to the proper education (or because he was being hidden from his Sith Lord father in an effort to save him and the galaxy from destruction). He is not simple, and he is not wicked, but he lacks the knowledge that he needs and does not even know where to begin asking questions. He can be taught, and he can become a great leader, but he needs guidance.
Rabbi Micah Streiffer is the rabbi of Temple Kol Ami in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, where he lives with his wife and three sons. He was ordained at the Cincinnati campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2007.
Originally published at Chutz Mizeh - Otherwise...