Monday, April 6, 2020 -
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The Four Sons: Which are you?

The Four Sons, as depicted by Arthur Szyk (Wikimedia Commons)

The Four Sons, as depicted by Arthur Szyk (Wikimedia Commons)

“Of the four sons mentioned in the Haggadah — the wicked son, the simple son, the wise son and the son who doesn’t know enough to ask — which do you consider yourself to be, and why?”

It’s the question put to various Denverites this past week, for a feature in the IJN’s Passover edition. While there were some intrepid souls who answered, for some reason, many shied away from answering this question. Perhaps they feared coming off as arrogant if they answered ‘wise son’, and who wants to admit to being evil? Yet if we’re honest with ourselves, who hasn’t asked themselves this very question, or wondered it about those around the seder table?

So we open the question up again here — where you can answer in anonymity.

To jog your brain as you contemplate this trying question, below is the translated text from the Haggadah describing the Four Sons:

The Torah refers to four sons: One wise, one wicked, one simple and one who does not know how to ask a question. What does the wise son say? “What are the testimonials, statutes and laws Hashem our G-d commanded you.” You should tell him about the laws of Pesach, that one may eat no dessert after eating the Pesach offering.

What does the wicked son say? “What does this drudgery mean to you?” To you and not to him. Since he excludes himself from the community, he has denied a basic principle of Judaism. You should blunt his teeth by saying to him: “It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt. For me and not for him. If he was there he would not have been redeemed.”

What does the simple son say? “What’s this?” You should say to him “With a strong hand Hashem took me out of Egypt, from the house of servitude.”

And the one who does not know how to ask, you start for him, as the Torah says: “And you should tell your son on that day, saying ‘It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt.’”

Answer away!

One thought on “The Four Sons: Which are you?

  1. Nancy Cronk

    We are all “the wicked son” in 2019. Although each of us spend an evening every year — for many of us, two — recalling our own slavery and vow never to allow it to happen again, we sit by as Jews and let Trump and his henchmen persecute, imprison, and torture another entire people — Mexican immigrants, who, like our own ancestors, have merely come to the United States for a better life. Shame on us. Shame on all of us, for our hypocricy and evil that we allow this to happen.


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Rabbi Hillel Goldberg
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Shana R. Goldberg
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