Welcoming the Four Children to the Seder Table

In the traditional Haggadah, there are Four Sons who are welcomed to the seder table. Welcomed and at the same time not truly accepted.

Some of them are there to be educated, fixed, held up as an example of how not to be.

The “wicked child” is seen as separating himself from the community by challenging others at the table with the question, what does this mean to you?

I’ve never understood the problem with this question.

I’ve never understood why it’s assumed that the child who doesn’t know how to ask a question is problematic.

And I’ve never understood why the child who asks, what does this mean, is simple.

I’d like the adults at the table to ask ourselves, why do I feel uncomfortable with this question?

What does this night mean to you?

When a child asks me, what is this to you, what prevents me from appreciating the inquiry, to receive it as a request for connection and authenticity, and an opportunity for me to deepen my self awareness, develop an authentic connection to the child and learn from the questions children ask?

What does this mean to me? As a grandparent, I long for shared experiences with the generations in my family. I long for ritual that has meaning to all of us. Ritual that reinforces values that are important to me- freedom, awareness, closeness, creativity, justice, learning and discovery, connection.

As a Jew, I long for practices in my own ancestral tradition that reinforce values of inclusivity, respect for all life, for the planet, and awareness of what is holding us back from living in peace with all life.

In my personhood, I long for designated times for family and friends to sit together , to plan together, to dream together. For a meal uninterrupted by texts and other plans. I long for presence.

I long for opportunities to be nourished by the stories and dreams of friends and loved ones. To acknowledge challenges, to speak openly of where we are stuck and where we long to be free.

What does all of this mean to you?

About the Author
Roberta Wall offers trainings inspired by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, founder of Nonviolent Communication and by the teachings of Mindfulness. She is a lawyer, mediator, trainer, parent, activist, mindfulness practitioner and coach. She shares her time between Israel and the beautiful Hudson River Valley of Upstate New York and travels the world coaching couples, individuals and organizations and facilitating workshops and retreats inspired by Nonviolent (Compassionate) Communication (NVC) as developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg and Buddhist teachers Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama, and teachers and rabbis from her root Jewish tradition.
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