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Asking the Four Questions for the First Time

Asking the Four Questions for the First Time

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A few days before the roving rabbis depart to their assignments around the world, a training session is held in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Typically, there are two seminars, one providing a comprehensive tutorial on all the laws that pertainWe had an impressive 80 people at the Seder to Passover, and the other offering tips and suggestions for leading the Seder effectively. Afterwards, a variety of materials are distributed, including a 100- page handbook which includes everything from shopping lists to Passover recipes to talking points for the Seder. Personally, I found it to be a lifesaver and perused it countless times while arranging the pubic Seder in beautiful resort town of Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Fast forward to the Seder night. It had been a whirlwind getting there—travelling, shopping, schlepping, making numerous phone calls and house visits. Thank G‑d, it seemed like our hard work had paid off, and we had an impressive turnout of more than 80 people. The first part of the Seder had proceeded uneventfully, and our guests were enjoying the festive meal we had prepared.

I had brought my trusty handbook along with me to the hall, and since everyone loves a story, I decided to share one. Our crowd consisted of mostly elderly people, so I selected the following story.

The Fifth and Sixth Question

In April 1943, in the Warsaw ghetto, a Jewish family was conducting a Seder in a bunker.

It was the first night of Passover when the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising broke out.

A child in the family asked the four questions. And then he continued, “Father, may I ask you a fifth question?”

“Of course,” said the father.

So the boy continued with his fifth question:

"Why is our nation different than all other nations? Why have we been targeted for

abuse and annihilation?"

His father answered, “The Jewish nation began before any other nation had, and it will survive long after the Third Reich is dead. One cannot understand a story if one does not first know the entire story, from beginning to end, and our story is not over yet..."

"Daddy, I have a sixth question. Next year will I be here to ask you these four questions? Will you be here to answer them?"

And the father said, “I’ll be honest with you, my son. I hope yes, but I am not sure. Yet, this, I want you to know: Every Shabbat after reciting the haftarah we say these words: 'You have taken an oath that Israel's flame will never be extinguished.’ So I can promise you that somewhere in the world there will be a Moshele or a Dovid’l, a Chana’le or a Ruchel’e , asking these four questions to their father and mother."

My dear friends, that little boy and his father perished, may the Almighty avenge their blood. But last Passover, at the Seder table, three million Jewish"Next year will I be here to ask you these four questions?" children turned to their fathers and said, “Daddy, I want to ask you the four questions."

My friends, this is why we are all here today. “You have taken an oath that Israel's flame will never be extinguished."

I closed the book and looked around. Everyone was overcome with emotion, but there was one woman who was sobbing quietly. We all waited for her to compose herself, and then she asked if she could share a few words.

“My father was a Holocaust survivor,” she began. “He lost his entire family and suffered unspeakable atrocities. He settled in Spain after the War and didn’t practice his religion at all. In fact, we never even had a Passover Seder, and I never had the opportunity to ask him the four questions. He passed away a few months ago and I am confident that he’s watching me from Heaven right now with tears of joy rolling down his cheeks that his daughter is celebrating Passover and proudly singing the Ma Nishtana together with so many Jews at the Chabad Seder in Palma de Mallorca.”


Daniel Libersohn & Moshe Richler
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