Friday, April 6, 2012

Four Children, Five Rabbis



Okay, so
Four Children sitting around a table, talking
At a seder
And they have to ask,
Why is this night different from all other nights?
Why on this night do we ask so many questions?
And who gets to answer?
And who must  listen?

The first child, 
Book smart.
The wise child
Knows all the rules.
He's direct,
No messin' around,
This is what you do on Pesach:
Tell the story, dip the herbs
Recline, drink four cups
Ask the questions, Know the answers .
It's obvious. Duh.

The second child,
A smart ass, smart and an ass.
Doesn't care about the rules
Unless she knows what they're for,
She wants meaning
And is kind of obnoxious about it
Because sometimes it's hard to ask the next logical question
Without annoying someone.
What does this story mean to you? she asks.
And it comes off as a challenge, but it's not.
She really wants to know:
What does it mean?
So you tell her,
Freedom!
To be who you are,
To make choices,
to seek God whether you find God or not,
To become a person and then a people,
To ask questions.

The third child,
A beginner,
Doesn't know what to do
Doesn't know why we're doing it,
A baby!
So you say to him,
We tell a really good story
With a beginning middle and end
And a hero
And a villian
And miracles and dancing and bugs and dead cows and blood,
You'll love it!
And this is why we tell the story:
So we don't forget we were slaves,
So we don't forget what God did for us,
So we don't forget Torah,
And the seder is what we do to remember.
And because we remember
We don't enslave others.
We bask in God's presence.
We study Torah
And we tell stories.

And then there's the fourth kid
 The child who doesn't even know
 that she can ask a question.
Is it because she doesn't care?
Or is it, that she doesn't have a context?
Doen't know that she doesn't know?
So she doesn’t know how interesting it all is?
Or perhaps it’s because no one will let her talk
So she doesn't even try?
Sitting in the back of the bus,
Not allowed to study Torah,
Married at 17, popping out babies at 18.
So let's not wait for either of them to say something
Let's hold out our hands and say,
We were slaves
And now we're not.
And there is so much to know and do
And you can know and do it
And we will help you.
You are inspired,
You just don't know it yet.

Okay.
So
Five Rabbis sitting around a table, talking
At a seder.
They don’t have to ask
Why is this night different from all other nights,
And if they did
None of them would listen.

Each of them knows the direct meaning.
All of them plumb the depths of the hidden and symbolic.
Any one of them can tell a tale that bridges a gap.
Five out of five are inspired by God's revelations.
They know the rules and the meaning and the stories and oh my God, are they empowered to talk.
They stay up all night
And talk and talk and talk!
Each one smarter than the other
But in the morning when their students come in,
They still haven’t got an answer.

Hey you guys, say the students,
SHEMA!
Why is this night different from all other nights?
Listen.





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