Pesach: A Time For Making Friends With Kids Who Have Special Needs

Another Pesach means Yom Tov, and for young children, that means “playdates.” That catch-all topic of discussion, as we exit Shul after davening, and arrange our children’s afternoons.

However, for some, the playdates simply don’t occur. For the children with special needs, their afternoons are solely spent with their parents, devoted siblings and selfless volunteers.

The episode of the four sons provides a display of inclusion during the Pesach Seder. We are instructed to both respond and how to respond to each son.

But what of the fourth son; the one who “does not know how to ask.” How do we even formulate a response to one who did not even ask a question? For him, the Bal HaGadah states, “You must open up for him.”

The Rashbatz (1361–1444) explains the phrase to mean “begin for him.” In other words, because he is not asking any questions, we must begin to relate the story to him, even though he has not asked about it. Others, such as the Shibolei Haleket (1210 – 1280), hold that, “you must open for him” means to create an opening for him through captivating rituals and by telling him about the story of Pesach, so that he asks questions. Simply put, we must begin to open up for him and for her.

A child with special needs will have challenges in making friends with children of the same age. That is why we must “open up for him” avenues for these vital relationships. Being a child in today’s post–millennial world is difficult. It is a big ask for any child to make one play date with a child with special needs. But, I guarantee you that one playdate, just one, even for just one half-hour, will change your world forever.

Please make one playdate for your child with a child with special needs.

Let this Pesach be the moment we “open up” for them.

About the Author
Zevi Fischer is an attorney who practices in the area of real estate litigation. He was born and raised in Forest Hills, New York. He now lives in Teaneck, New Jersey.
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