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What’s So Wise About the Wise Child?

What’s So Wise About the Wise Child?

A skit in four parts, with four siblings and four questions.

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Characters:

Abbie:

Trendy lady in her mid-twenties. Heavily into new-age spirituality, saving the ecosystem and exotic travel.

Sheldon:

Sheldon plays tough, but there’s a soft spot inside for his family.

Tom:

Soft-spoken. Hangs out a lot in nature, thinking deeply.

Shaina:

Big sister personality. Rather conservative and insistent on tradition.

Intro

This is the story of four siblings, Abbie, Sheldon, Tom and Shaina, who sat up the entire night of Passover probing a great mystery: What on earth is so wise about the question of the wise child: “What are the testimonies, the decrees and the legislation that G‑d, our G‑d, has commanded to you” (Deuteronomy 6:20)? What does it have to do with Passover? And what is the answer to this mysterious question?

Along the winding path of that stormy journey of discovery, they uncovered one, then another, then yet a third way of understanding this wise child’s question—each more radical and profound than the one before. Finally, through a fourth version, they were enlightened with the ultimate conception of wisdom.

Abbie’s Version

Abbie:

“The Wise Child, what does she ask?”

Sheldon:

That’s the stupidest question I ever heard.

Tom:

It’s deep, very deep. Let her ask it.

Shaina:

Sheldon, it’s not her fault that she’s the youngest, so Mom and Dad always made her go first. And she’s just reading what it says in the Haggadah!

Sheldon:

No, she’s not reading what it says in the Haggadah. She purposely changed son to child and he to she. They call that affirmative action. I call it gender discrimination. Why must the wise child be a she?

Tom:

Abbie, say it in your own words. Be who you are.

Abbie:

Oh wow, that’s so kewel. I’ll switch to second person: “If you were a wise child, Sheldon, and not a wicked one, and you were sitting here with Mom and Dad absent for the first time, but still with your three very diverse siblings who nevertheless came together on the night of Passover despite the fact that they always quibble about everything, how would you open yourself to the experience of leaving Egypt and transcending the bounds of ego and self-definition again this year?”

Tom:

Deep, very deep.

Abbie:

You would say, “What are the testimonies, the decrees and the legislation that the Eternal, our G‑d, has commanded you?”

Sheldon:

Why? Why would a wise person be interested in such things?

Shaina:

Because that’s what it says in the Haggadah!

Sheldon:

The same dumb question, year after year!

Tom:

You also ask the same thing every year.

Sheldon:

What can I do? They make me ask! But I never get an answer. I get my “teeth dulled.” Abbie gets all the attention and plenty of answers. Which just reinforces her habit of repeating the same dumb question each year, expecting the same response.

Abbie:

Sheldon, I’m really sorry you feel that way. I’m not trying to get attention. I’m not even trying to be wise. They just gave me that label. I really hate being labeled.

Sheldon:

“The Wise Child.” How on earth do you get that label? You openly admit you don’t know anything. You don’t even know what mitzvahs are. Torah is about mitzvahs. So how can someone be called the epitome of Torah wisdom when they don’t know the first thing about Torah?

Tom:

It’s the way she asks it. The analytical deconstruction of the mitzvah-paradigm into three distinct categories of testimonies, decrees, legislation . . .

Sheldon:

Intellectual sophistry doesn’t make wisdom. In this case, it’s nothing more than pretentious egocentrism. We were taken out of slavery in Egypt, therefore we do all this stuff. Simple, right? But no, wise, cute little Abbie here wants to know, “What’s in it for me? What’s the payback?”

Abbie:

Where do you get that from?

Sheldon:

[yelling] You come right out with it. You say, “that our G‑d commanded you.” “You, not us!”

Shaina:

You say the same thing. Every year. “Why do you guys go through all this bother every year?” That’s what you say.

Sheldon:

And what do I get for it? I’m labeled—three thousand years of labeling. I’m called “wicked.” I’m told I’m a heretic. I’m shunned and dismissed. Like I’m not even part of the story. And what does cute little wise sister get? For exactly the same words? “Oh, such a wise child! Oh, so clever, so sophisticated! She can say le-jiss-lay-shun!”

Abbie:

Sheldon, I really appreciate you coming here year after year. I really do. But I would also like you to appreciate the question they make me ask.

Tom:

It’s deep. It’s profound.

Abbie:

It’s about spirituality. That’s my life quest. I come here year after year seeking it. Seeking wisdom, enlightenment, spiritual ecstasy.

Shaina:

Where? In the horseradish?

Abbie:

That’s just the point! I say I want to transcend my ego and attain true freedom from any spiritual bondage. So they tell me that first I have to buy food with special labels at double the price, matzahs at ten times the price of bread, spend a month removing any trace of leavened ingredients from my home, sell the stuff online, search the house for it and burn the remnants in a fire. I know, I know—I’m supposed to focus on this as a practice of eradication of ego.

So after all this, I come to the Seder and I want to share that experience of the ego incinerated in flames, the transcendence of self. I want to chant together, sing entrancing melodies together, light pomegranate-scented candles, sit on memory-foam cushions on the floor and meditate on cosmic oneness. We could hold hands, and together, we will transcend our bodily selves and attain enlightenment . . .

Shaina:

But, Abbie, we have to say the rest of the Haggadah. And eat the matzah. And drink the four cups of wine.

Abbie:

There it goes. Every time I try to bring in a few minutes of wisdom, someone says, “We have to get on with the Seder.” “It’s time to eat the onion dipped in saltwater.” “We can get to the words of wisdom at the meal, after the chicken soup.”

Shaina:

We have to eat the matzah before midnight. And we can’t start until it’s dark.

Abbie:

And then, after the chicken soup, Dad would always push me to hurry the deep wisdom teachings I have collected because “We have to eat the afikoman before midnight!”

Shaina:

Abbie, this is not some new-age spirituality trip. It’s Judaism. It’s pragmatic, down-to-earth, just-do-it.

Hey, get this: Let’s say someone gets stuck in Reykjavik for Passover. No matzah, no kosher wine, no haggadah. But let’s say this guy has memorized all the Kabbalistic meanings of the Passover Seder, including the eating of matzah. So he meditates on that, all night, real deep. Has he done a Seder? Has he eaten matzah? No. No mitzvah.

But let’s say some other guy decides he’s not interested in a Passover Seder. Let’s say he collects all sorts of bread and sandwiches, and he’s decided to eat all those on Passover night. So some fanatic yeshivah boys find out about this, barge into his house, tie him up and force him to eat matzah! Did he do a mitzvah? Yes! Because he ate matzah!

Abbie:

Who says that’s Judaism? We are the children of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Rachel and Leah. That’s how we began—shepherd-people who sat in the tranquility of the Negev, gazing at the stars all night, meditating upon the oneness of all things, opening our minds to the cosmic oneness and the infinite light that transcends all things. What are we doing spending the most identifying moment of our year obsessing over rote and ritual, gulping down wine and stuffing ourselves with tasteless flat bread that isn’t even gluten-free?

Sheldon:

So what’s the answer?

Tom:

You need to dwell on the question. It’s deep.

Abbie:

The answer? The answer is the ultimate paradigm shift. The answer is when I realize that this is the ultimate transcendence of the ego-self, of all material bounds. The answer is that the Infinite Light, if truly infinite, must be found in our material world as well. If we have to ascend from this world to a spiritual realm to reach it, then it’s not infinite. If we can reach it through our own meditation, it’s not the ultimate. We need to find the Infinite and Unbounded here, in the realm of physical sensation, of doing, eating and arguing with siblings.

In the Seder, I discover the true infinite, that reaches even as far down as you, Sheldon.

Sheldon:

Cute, but nothing to do with the Exodus. You’re way off.

Shaina:

Okay, Sheldon, now you get to ask your Question of the Wicked Son. I mean, Wicked Child. I mean, um, Morally Challenged Human . . .

Sheldon:

I’m not morally challenged! I’m here at the Seder, for goodness sakes!

Shaina:

Okay, the Question of the Chilled-Out Child. Can you read it now?

Tom:

But he asks good questions. The challenge is good.

Sheldon:

Yeah, like here’s another thing I never got: Why are we thanking G‑d for liberating us from Egypt? Who put us there in the first place?

Shaina:

How about you just add that as part of your question? I mean, we have to keep moving along . . .

Tom:

Sheldon, it’s deep, very deep. All that bondage in Egypt was meant to shatter the darkness that humanity had created in this world, the ugliness that was not allowing the inner delight of the divine to enter. That’s why we entered Egypt in the first place—to face that darkness in its lair, struggle with it and break its suffocating hold on the divine spark within the human soul. And those open miracles—that was the Infinite Light entering directly into our world.

Abbie:

Wow, this is so cool. We had to struggle with the oppressive darkness of the material world in order that this world can become a divine place. And then, after the Torah is given, we can bring G‑d into the everyday world by doing everyday sorts of things. What a high! A whole paradigm shift! The Infinite Light is everywhere, but it’s up to us to draw that light into the sensations of everyday life. Kewel.

Sheldon:

You got it all wrong. Doesn’t make any sense. And I have four proofs that you’re wrong.

The Sheldon Version

Abbie:

Four?

Sheldon:

Four. First of all, you haven’t explained what’s the deal with excluding yourself from everyone else by saying “G‑d has commanded you.”

Abbie:

Because we’re talking post-Sinai—after the Ten Commandments and all the mitzvahs!

Sheldon:

[shouting again] Then say “that G‑d has commanded us!” Or just “that G‑d has commanded, period.” What’s the “you” about?

Abbie:

But . . .

Sheldon:

Secondly, if your whole question is about rote and ritual just-do-it, so say that. Say, “What’s up with these just-do-it rituals?” But no, you say “testimonies, decrees and legislation”—clearly dividing the mitzvahs by their meanings, not their actions.

Shaina:

That’s just how wise people speak, Sheldon.

Sheldon:

Wisdom, shmisdom. She can’t even get the order right. That’s number three: Decrees mean laws that you just do—as in G‑d says so and that’s it. Testimonies at least have some reason to them—we do them to relive some collective experience of the past.

Shaina:

Yes, like matzah to remember the Exodus. Shabbat to remember the Exodus. Sukkot to remember Divine protection after the Exodus. Usually, it’s an Exodus thing.

Sheldon:

And then legislation is what they call “natural law”—things we would have figured out even if we were never commanded. Like “Don’t steal.” “Don’t murder.” “Honor your mother and father.” “Don’t let your ox—or your Lexus—go gore other people’s oxens or Lexuses.”

Shaina:

How about “Don’t gore your little sister with insults and derision.”

Sheldon:

So little wise sibling here, what has she done? First, she uses terms that clearly indicate she has no problem with rote ritual. Her whole problem is with spirituality—with what you have to have in mind when doing each of these different kinds of mitzvahs. And even then, she gets the order all wrong! Either put them in order of most reasonable to least reasonable, or the other way around. Her order makes no sense!

Tom:

That’s a good question. The order must have some deep meaning.

Abbie:

That’s three. What’s your fourth problem?

Sheldon:

Proof that you are totally into materialism comes directly from the answer given to you.

Shaina:

All it says here is that Dad is supposed to teach Abbie . . .

Sheldon:

Not that answer. The answer in the original source, as it’s written in the Torah.

Shaina:

Whoa!

Sheldon:

There, it says you answer this wise kid saying that “G‑d commanded us to keep all these decrees so that we will learn to be in awe of Him.”

Shaina:

Hey, Sheldon, you know your stuff!

Sheldon:

Hey, you gotta be informed to be a heretic! So if that’s what you have to be answered, it means that’s something you don’t know. And you especially don’t know about decrees, which means you can’t imagine anything beyond the gray matter in your own skull. And why? Because you’re so stuck in your self-centered world! Admit it! It’s spiritual hedonism, that’s all. Your yoga is all about body worship. Meditation is cool because that’s what cool people do today. You’re just another bobo, spiritual-coolness junkie! But inside, there’s nothing spiritual or transcendental about you!

Abbie:

It’s not true.

Sheldon:

And that’s what’s hiding subliminally inside your question. You make it sound like it’s about “Why the just-do-it? Let’s get spiritual!” Really, without even realizing, you’re asking, “Who needs the spirituality?”

Shaina:

Sheldon, she’s your kid sister. You can’t lay into her like that. Take it easy.

Sheldon:

I’m not laying into her. She’s right. Her question is 100% spot-on. She’s saying, “Hey, it’s post-Sinai. We’re no longer seeking out the divine in spirituality. We’re no longer making an absurd attempt to grasp the Creator of the Universe with the two and a half pounds of meat up in our skull. We’ve been handed G‑d Himself, right here in this matzah, and in this lettuce, and this horseradish, too! So just read the Haggadah, eat the stuff and get on with life!”

Shaina:

What on earth are you talking about?

Sheldon:

That’s the wise child’s question: If we are post-Sinai, we are post-spirituality! Who cares why we’re doing it? Who cares if it’s self-serving or not? Who cares if it’s an irrational decree or if it makes sense? It’s G‑d talking—why should we even bother trying to understand a thing? Do it for ulterior motives. Do it because it you did it yesterday. Do it uninspired, just because you have to. If it’s about your spiritual feeling, it’s about you. The only way for it not to be about you, and to be about G‑d, is for it not to be about your feelings. What’s the big deal? G‑d says so, so just do it!

Tom:

So what’s the answer?

Sheldon:

There isn’t one. There’s no spiritual point in spirituality. If it turns you on, cool. But make no mistake about it: It’s just another substance that turns people on. As for mitzvahs, we just do them because G‑d decided He gets a kick out of them and told us to do them.

Shaina:

Doesn’t sound very wise to me.

Abbie:

Sounds mean.

Tom:

Actually, Shaina, Sheldon has a point over here.

Abbie:

You too?

Tom:

He’s just pointed in the wrong direction.

Abbie:

Yeah, Sheldon. Maybe point in someone else’s direction a little.

Tom’s Very Deep Version

Sheldon:

Abbie, I’m not insulting you. I was just, just trying to explain your . . .

Shaina:

I think Abbie is sincere about her spiritual trippiness. Look, it’s not for everyone, but . . .

Tom:

Besides which, Sheldon, you asked four questions and you didn’t answer a single one.

Sheldon:

Hey, tonight is about asking questions. I asked. How many questions have you asked?

Shaina:

So maybe, Tom, you can answer.

Tom:

So Abbie says her question is why the whole just-do-it trip if the point is spirituality.

Abbie:

Right.

Tom:

And Sheldon says that Abbie doesn’t realize her question is really the opposite: What’s the point of spirituality when we’re dealing with something so totally beyond us.

Sheldon:

Right. Totally beyond anything you can experience.

Tom:

And I say, you’re both right. Abbie wants to have it all.

Abbie:

Now everyone’s against me.

Shaina:

Abbie, that’s just the way guys talk.

Tom:

No, but it’s true! Abbie has clear evidence that she can have it all!

Abbie:

I can have it all? Yes! I can have it all!

Tom:

Eating this matzah here, she can engage the ultimate, most super-transcendental Essence of Being—way beyond even what Sheldon is talking about, beyond anything spiritual, or anything the highest angel could engage. But also, she can eventually come to experience that.

Sheldon:

Ridiculous! If you can experience it, it can’t be the real thing. Like that Groucho line—“Any club that would take me as a member is not worth joining.”

Tom:

Generally it’s true. The thing itself and your subjective experience of it can’t be the same. They’re infinitely apart. Because you’re two separate beings.

Sheldon:

Right, like having a cake and experiencing eating that cake.

Shaina:

Sheldon! It’s Passover! Don’t mention cake!

Tom:

But that limitation doesn’t apply to the Creator of all things. There is nothing outside of the His Oneness. And the Creator is not just interested in us engaging His core-essence here in our world of action; He wants it to be experiential as well.

Sheldon:

Where’s the proof?

Tom:

Why else would there be different mindsets for different mitzvahs?

Sheldon:

There’s only one mindset: G‑d says. We gotta do it.

Tom:

Then why the whole “testimonies, decrees and legislation” thing?

Sheldon:

Listen, Tom: You and I learned in the same yeshivah. We learned: “You shouldn’t say, ‘I can’t stand pork. I think it stinks.’ Rather, you should say, ‘I would like to eat pork, but what can I do? My heavenly Father has decreed I can’t eat the stuff.’” And the same with saying that you don’t want to wear a fancy Italian suit made of wool and linen because wool and linen is itchy. I can even tell you where it is—Sifra, end of Parshat Kedoshim. Heh—and I’m labeled the Wicked Child.

Tom:

So, tell me, you’re supposed to say, “I would love to steal and kill, but what can I do? My heavenly Father has decreed it’s not nice?”

Shaina:

That’s ridiculous.

Tom:

Or let’s say you’re visiting someone in the hospital, and they’re so excited to see you. So you say, “Really, I don’t care the slightest about you, but what can I do? G‑d says I have to visit you?”

Sheldon:

Well, that wouldn’t be nice.

Tom:

So you see, different mitzvahs require different mental focus. There are mitzvahs that require a sense of something transcendent of my own understanding—like not eating bacon, or forgetting about that Italian suit. And there are mitzvahs that require me to understand and feel in my heart—even to feel love and awe.

Abbie:

Love, awesomeness, beauty, total oneness . . .

Tom:

And that’s Abbie’s wise question: If all the mitzvahs are expressions of a totally transcendent and infinite will, then how is it possible that we can possibly understand or have a sensitivity for any of them at all? We shouldn’t understand a thing.

Shaina:

Hold on. You mean, “Thou shalt not steal” shouldn’t make sense?

Tom:

If it’s truly infinite wisdom, then how is it possible that it makes sense?

Shaina:

But it makes sense to me.

Tom:

The wonder is that anything makes sense at all. We’re just little critters in a vast universe created by an infinite, unbounded Creator. And these mitzvahs—the matzah, the four cups of wine, the Haggadah—along with don’t steal, honor your parents, love your neighbor—along with don’t eat pork and don’t mix wool with linen—they are the innermost will of the Infinite. So how is it that they make any sense to us?

So it must be that G‑d doesn’t want us to just do. He wants us to experience as well. So He took His infinite will and packaged it in ways that we can relate to. And that’s Abbie’s question. She gets that G‑d is here now in the words of the Haggadah, the eating of the matzah, drinking the four cups of wine. What she wonders is how it’s possible that we can experience something so totally beyond ourselves.

Abbie:

The Seder is totally experiential. It’s a multisensory experience of infinite light. So kewel.

Sheldon:

You’re also not answering any of my questions. What’s with the weird order she put them in? Testimonies, then decrees, then legislation?

Tom:

Simple. That order of testimonies, decrees and legislation—that’s actually the order by which divine energy enters into the cosmos.

Abbie:

Super kewel!

Sheldon:

Here we go. Wake me up when the Kabbalah is over.

Tom:

Don’t need Kabbalah. It’s simple reasoning. Legislation—those are the rules that make sense, right?

Sheldon:

Right.

Tom:

What makes sense about them?

Sheldon:

That they have some sort of utility. Utilitarian law.

Tom:

They create a healthy society, a sustainable world.

Sheldon:

Where are you going with this?

Tom:

So when society is healthy and we’re living in a harmonious world, that’s when the Creator of this world becomes apparent—in that harmony.

Sheldon:

Well, in a very limited sense. We’re not pantheists.

Tom:

Right. We want to tap into something transcendent of nature. So that’s why we have decrees. Those provide a higher context. They say, “Your puny mind is not the measure of all things, and your little world is not all that could ever be. There is something totally beyond all of that, something you could never conceive.”

Abbie:

Transcendental. Surrendering the ego to the supernal oneness.

Sheldon:

So what are testimonies about, then?

Tom:

You need testimony only on something that is hidden. Something you couldn’t ever know about on your own.

Sheldon:

Which is?

Tom:

Not finite. Not infinite. The Absolute.

Shaina:

We don’t drink that on Passover.

Abbie:

Is that like “to infinity and beyond”?

Tom:

Look, when you talk about the Infinite Light and the Unbounded Cosmic Energy, and all those Kabbalistic terms—all of them are relative terms. All you’re saying is that there’s something that doesn’t have any of our limitations. But that’s not the ultimate.

Abbie:

What’s the ultimate?

Tom:

The ultimate is not relative to anything. Just is. Absolute reality. And the only way you can know it is if you are it.

Sheldon:

What on earth does anything you’re talking about have to do with testimonial rituals?

Tom:

Because they are beyond decrees.

Sheldon:

That makes no sense.

Abbie:

No, decrees make no sense.

Tom:

Decrees are G‑d saying, “I’m too wise to be understood.” Well, that’s a very relative and compromising stance. You wouldn’t say about an idea that it’s too deep to be touched.

Abbie:

Ideas are spiritual.

Tom:

G‑d is beyond spiritual—He created spiritual and physical, the tangible and the ethereal, ideas and physicality. They’re all the same to Him. So you can’t say about Him that He’s too wise to be understood.

Shaina:

Tom, you should be able to make at least something of what you’re saying understood.

Tom:

So testimonies present G‑d as He is beyond finite and infinite, immanence and transcendence, higher and lower. Testimonies say, “Here’s how I want you to remember leaving Egypt!”

Sheldon:

Eat this super-expensive poor-man’s bread that tastes like cardboard . . .

Tom:

We would never have come up with it ourselves. But once we’re told, it sort of makes sense. And that’s way beyond decrees. It’s the Unknowable becoming known. That’s why it’s something we don’t do with our minds. We do it just by being. Our very souls are the breath of G‑d here now.

Abbie:

“The Unknowable becoming known.” I’m into that. It’s not something you do with your mind. It’s just by being who you are. Our souls are testimony to the Unknowable.

Shaina:

But nobody sees that until we’re eating matzah, or some other mitzvah.

Sheldon:

Which we do because we are supposed to do it. Not as some kinda trip.

Tom:

And that’s the order: First the Unknowable enters the universe—through a soul that is testimony to the Unknowable. But then the Unknowable has to become experienced. The first stage of experience is as a transcendent force—as decrees. And then as the very life-force of this world, as legislation that keeps the world going. But inside all that it remains an experience of the Unknowable.

Abbie:

Like a super-spiritual experience?

Tom:

An experience here, now, with your physical eyeballs and your haptic-kinetic-tactile hands. That’s where we do mitzvahs. Why can’t G‑d be experienced in the world of physical sensation—He’s everywhere, isn’t He?

Abbie:

But Tom, I never experienced any of that at a Passover Seder!

Tom:

We’ve got to get to the final step of Exodus to really experience it. Until then, we can only get just a taste.

Shaina:

I think that’s the real question.

Tom:

What’s the real question?

Shaina’s Short & Sweet Version

Sheldon:

She’s gonna say, “When do eat the matzah?” That’s her question.

Shaina:

That we’re not there yet. That’s why she keeps repeating the question year after year.

Abbie:

Well, it says right here in the Haggadah, “In every generation, you have to see yourself as though you left Egypt.” So here I am again, leaving Egypt.

Shaina:

So of course she has the same question all over again. She’s like a newborn child. She just left Egypt and she hasn’t even yet arrived at Mount Sinai. She’s expecting something amazing there. Like all the stuff you guys were talking about.

Sheldon:

So you’re telling me that’s the real reason she says “you” and not “us”? Because she hasn’t gotten there yet?

Tom:

Shaina, how did you come up with that? Brilliant.

Shaina:

When there’s a will, there’s a way. We gotta get on with the Seder.

Abbie:

But when do we get the ultimate experience?

Sheldon:

Tonight, Abbie, tonight.

Abbie:

That’s what Dad always used to say.

Shaina:

But Mom and Dad aren’t here now.

Sheldon:

Look, I never talked with Tom this much in my life. And we’re still sitting here together. If that can happen, Elijah the Prophet can walk in the door any minute.

Abbie:

Hey, that was a totally kewel discussion!

Shaina:

Let’s get on.

Tom:

On to the final Exodus.

Abbie:

The ultimate experience.

Based on Maamar Ki Yishalcha Bincha 5738.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Bob Australia July 3, 2016

G-d ... G-d moves in a mysterious way Her wonders to perform, She plants her footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm ... Reply

Eli ben Pinchas Manchester, UK June 1, 2016

Wise Child is not Talmud Chocham A yeshivah student is called a Talmud Chocham - a student of a wise man. This is in contrast to the wise child - a know it all? - who has much to learn as he/she grows up. What about the others - the troublesome teenager that excludes himself? All the children have much to learn and parents must nurture and support them. Reply

Randi Freedman US April 22, 2016

wise Child To be the wise child means that sometimes were stupid? The wise child will ask what he or she doesn't know. Otherwise becoming the child who doesn't know how to ask? Told instead or waiting for someone to read his mind? Or the simple son who may see things simply when they can get complicated. In the end? I think it is wise if we all employ the wise child approach. Reply

Lamont Myers Hallendale Fl. April 21, 2016

The wise child The whole essence is maintain our obedience to Torah, and cling to Hashem with love and fear. Train early to maintain observers though out life, so at some point in our lives we are the wise child. Reply

Randi Freedman US April 20, 2016

Pesach Oy! Ay yay yay yay. I love what you did and it dovetails very nicely from your talk on depression. The who's what's and wherefores of diverse opinions which can get? Heady. My uncle says growing up in Brooklyn Seders were 4 hours. Oy! I have to say that isolated and alone for 30 yrs Pesach is no picnic starting with the first one I had no way to get home for. How does one even crack open the Haggadah when surrounded by bigotry, oppression and hate. I'll tell you I can't. It hurts too much. I wishyou a blessed Pesach with your family. Reply

Tzvi Freeman April 20, 2016

Re: Mekoros Yes, as you recognized, it's mostly from the maamar the Rebbe said on his birthday in 1978 and edited in 1990. Maybe I should add that at the end.

But every line of the Rebbe's maamar has to be taken apart carefully—the text is very dense.

Recently, that maamar was published with notes from the lectures of Reb Yoel Kahan in a volume titled (in Hebrew) "L'havin Ul'haskil." That helped, especially in grasping the order of the questions and answers. Looking up the sources given in the maamar always helps in making the ideas more concrete. Reply

Zushi Rivkin April 19, 2016

Mekoros Hey Rabbi Freeman, thanks so much for always being if chassidus down in such a funky way and for making some if the deepest concepts understood in such a down to earth way. It's always exciting to take a trip through a maamar or sicha through your eyes.
I'm just curious if this is one maamar or a combination of a few? I recognized many themes here from כי ישאלך - תשל״ז especially as I learned it recently With Reb Yoels Biurim.

Just curious if you mixed in any other Maamarim or Sichos (besides for just general Yedios of chassidus) that you would be able to refer me to? I'd love to learn more about this. Reply

Anonymous Mesa, AZ April 19, 2016

Wonderful discussion! I am trying to understand the whole wisdom of this analisis of the Passover Seder. It all makes sense to me. Thank you Rabbi Freeman, although I am spendin this holy day alone. Reply

J. Toronto April 19, 2016

i'm a fan of spelt matza myself ... Very meaningful.
the experiential seder; the experiential exodus story/practise and ultimate life journey awaits ... discovery in every generation: as you have said; "testimonies present G-d as He is, beyond finite and infinite, Here's how i want to remember leaving Egypt ..." (as above)

Thank you, thank you!! have to breathe new life into the seder every year;

Happy Passover! Reply

Anonymous toronto April 19, 2016

labors A person who labors a lot in Torah learning has a personal investment in it. That is why he or she will go to great lengths to fulfill its commands. Reply

Anonymous toronto April 19, 2016

wise child The wise child sits back and waits. The blessings of the Torah is for those who were predestined to get it. Reply