For Passover: “Of Four Children” Revised

[Intro by Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor:]  In the traditional Haggadah, the Four Children are presented as One Wise, One Wicked, One Simple and One who Does Not Know How to Ask. 

Growing up, it didn’t really feel like four choices.  I knew which one I wanted. 

And I daresay, for those of us who did not feel we could attain to a “Wise child,” we may have sometimes felt discouraged and asked, “Why bother being Jewish?”

In Reb Zalman’s seferYishmiru Da-at, he has given a text which can be substituted for the traditional one.  It presents a four-dimensional kind of enneagram which is both universal and useful for teaching children. 

The original Hebrew is at the end of this post for inclusion in your Passover Seders.  Here’s my translation:

The Torah speaks of Four Children, (to be sung to the same nusach used for reading of the Passover Haggadah): 

One a lamden Sharp Student, one a chossid / high Emotional Quotient, one a tamim / Good One and one she-ayn lo shum s’fekut u’b’eyot Without Doubts or Problems.

The Sharp Student, [what does s/he say?]: (Deut 6:20) “[What are the testimonies, the statutes and the laws] which havaya our God has commanded you” and so you shall answer hir according to the capacity of hir sharpness of wit.

The High EQ one, [what does s/he say?]: (Exodus 12: 26) “[What is] this service to you?”  So you will make an effort to reign in hir longings,  for s/he also wants to be a part of the integrity and perfection that comes with meaningful rituals.  If you are loving, then s/he will understand devekut / cleaving, and s/he will get a taste of what it means to feel close to God.

The Good one, [what does s/he say?]:  (Exodus 13:14) “What is this?” and so you shall bear witness to hir from your own experience, that hashem yitbarach is assisting you with ‘a strong hand’, to take you out and to take hir out of Mitzrayim.

The One who is carefree, you will feed hir some maror / horse radish, so s/he will feel hir friends’ troubles and so that compassion will be instilled in hir heart.


5 Responses to “For Passover: “Of Four Children” Revised”

  1. marc Says:

    The links for #1 and #3 both bring you to “Of Four Children”. #3 does not give the information on the afikomen and cup of Elijah as promised.

  2. Gabbai Seth Fishman (Blog Editor) Says:

    Marc: My apologies. Here’s the link for the afikoman piece:

  3. Roz Lacks Says:

    o well, maybe because I was a she-child growing up in a he-tradition, I always wanted to play the wicked child – more dramatic, more pzzazz.
    Is there no room for the rebel?

  4. Sarah Says:

    Of the four children who grows up to become adult, I think the she-ayn lo shum s’fekut u’b’eyot, the carefree, will find peace. I think, more than all the others, the carefree knows how to bend and become like the wind; he/she possesses a little of the qualities of the others to understand better how life really works. I’m just sharing my opinion as an outsider. But I find this piece gives good parenting advice, and I am eager to apply it in the morning, when the three kids wake up.

  5. Lucille Brothers Says:

    Roz, I have been trying to reach you and know you were writing a book. You were a student once!

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