EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN
In the Haggadah it is written that the wicked son asks, "What is this
service to you?"
We answer reciting the verse, "For the sake of this (matzoh, maror and
all His mitzvot to do them) G-d did for me when He took me out of
Egypt" (Exodus 13:8). Then the author of the Haggadah stipulates,
"...Me, and not him. If he had been there, he would not have been
Since this is an answer to the wicked son, why is it not directed to
him? Why does the author of the Haggadah suddenly speak in the third
person? Would it not have been more appropriate to say, "...Me, and not
`you'. If `you' had been there, `you' would not have been redeemed"?
Some commentators explain this quandary with the following parable.
Firefighters are called to put out a fire burning in a house. When they
arrive, they begin spraying water upon the surrounding houses without
paying any attention to the one that is burning. The people who were
there complain that the firefighters were not called to spray water on
the houses that were not burning, but to extinguish the fire in the
house that is being consumed.
The firefighters answer, "Fools! Do you not see that the situation of
the burning house is critical? It is doubtful that we will be able to
do anything to save it. However, as long as the fire has not spread to
the other houses, it is possible to protect them, and that is why we
are spraying water upon them."
It is the same with regards to the answer given to the wicked son. If
a child arises and begins to speak heresy, before we try to straighten
his views, we must take care of all the other children, to spray water
upon them. Water is Torah. First, we must strengthen the other children
and innoculate them in order that they should also not be burned by the
fire of heresy.
Moreover, the verse used to answer the wicked son is the same verse
used to answer the simple son who does not know what to ask. Indeed, in
the Torah this verse is used explicitly in reference to the simple one.
The reason is that when the wicked son asks his question the fire of
heresy has already taken hold of him, and we must first address
ourselves to the children who have not been infected as yet. We teach
them the foundations of the liberation from Egypt, and say to them
about the infected one, "If he had been there, then he would not have