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A Fifth Son

A Fifth Son

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When one thinks of Passover, images of the traditional Passover meal, the Seder, immediately enter the mind. A seder is truly the time of togetherness for the Jewish family. Together, we recount the miraculous birth of the Jewish people. We revisit G‑d's redeeming His people from the depths of despair and His transforming a nation of slaves into the beneficiaries of the Sinai experience and the recipients of His Torah.

The seder is more than just another retelling of the early history of the Jews. It is a vibrant learning experience in which all of the senses are utilized. This enables us to literally "digest" the message of Judaism. Most of us are fortunate to have fond memories of past seders.

In the course of the seder we discuss the "Four Sons" and the questions they pose, from the "Wise Son" who wants to know all of the particulars of Passover observances, to the "Wicked Son" who challenges and mocks them. There is a "Simple Son" who simply asks "What's this?" There is even a son whose only form of participation is simply being there. With everything happening around him, not a single question occupies his mind.

Modern society has had an impact upon the Jewish people: today we have yet another son. The son who does not even attend a seder.

Yes, it is true. There are many Jews out there who are not going to attend a seder this Passover. They can be put into three basic categories: 1) They have no place to attend. 2) They do not care to attend. 3) They do not know of Passover or its seder.

Just as there are answers for the Four Sons, there must be answers for this fifth son as well.

For those who have nowhere to attend, we must aggressively advertise the invitation found within the Haggadah, "All those who are hungry, let them come and eat! Whoever is in need, let him come and partake of the Passover!"

For those who do not care to attend, we must positively reinforce their Jewish identity and expose them to the beauty of Torah observance, in general, and of the seder in particular. Most importantly, we must communicate with them in a language they can understand and identify with.

Those who do not know that it is Passover or that there is such a thing as a seder are perhaps the most worrisome of the groups. Most likely, they do not have the fond memories of Passovers past. They are, in fact, in danger of losing their Jewish identity altogether, G‑d forbid. As Jews, we are all responsible for the welfare of one another. We must therefore endeavor to introduce these people to their great inheritance, the Torah, the grandeur of their Judaism. If we should happen to see a person drowning, we would dive in to save him/her without thinking twice. We must, without delay, "pull out all of the stops" to rescue those who need us most!

Let us aggressively seek out the Fifth Son, wherever or whoever she or he might be. Every lost Jew we bring back into the family may be compared to the discovery of a lost treasure of incalculable value.

It is not enough to just set an extra place at the seder table. Not any more. We must fill the extra place with a warm body. We can then fill that warm body with the warmth that is Judaism.

Based on a call issued by by the Lubavitcher Rebbe shortly before Passover of 1957

Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort is director of Chabad at La Costa, California, and welcomes readers' comments and questions.
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Sasha Alabama May 5, 2016

I know!! The Libero are a very cool family who often go out of their way to help people and they know everyone. They are in Colorado Springs and the nicest family I have ever known. Contact them. And even Rabbi Bruk in Bozeman Mt. We have the same Hebrew birthday!! Lol. He is a major Jewish advocate. Remember these 2 rabbis in a time of need, whenever you are in need. Your sister Sasha Reply

Sasha Alabama May 5, 2016

I just read this forum for the first time to my husband. We wanted to know what the fifth son was. It was so beautiful. All 5 sons. I am here Mrs Cohen and Douglas in response to your comments. If I had been around more observently I would have invited him to Rabbi Weg's seder. Or asked the Conservative Rabbi and the Reform Rabbi Rabbi Sherman to please help. I am so sad to think there are really Jews who need help and don't always find it. Please..the wold is against us please let's stand with each other in solidarity and love and help and guide our sisters and brothers. Much love Sasha Reply

Frances Cohen Miami, Florida April 1, 2004

The added catagory I just saw Doug's comment of yesterday'; it is saddening. I would have thought that by today there would have been many queries to Doug as to whether he has not been invited to a Seder. Is Doug just one of many who may be seeking to attend a seder but not know whom to approach? HELLO, IS SOMEBODY THERE? Reply

doug hippchen Ojai, CA US March 31, 2004

The Fifth Son A fourth basic category:
They may have no means to attend.
Reply

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