Hard Questions – For Adults (& Kids as well if they’re ready for a real challenge)
The Wicked Child??
The second of the four children in the Haggadah is the “wicked” child. Rabbi Isaac Luria (a great 16th century mystic from Safed) noticed something very unusual about this wicked child. Rabbi Luria pointed out that, although the wicked child is condemned very strongly in the Haggadah, he is not placed last among the children. In fact, the wicked child is placed second among the children before the more appealing simpler children. Luria even said that if you imagine a correspondence between the four children and the four cups of wine, you discover some thing even more important. Most of the Haggadah is recited as a buildup toward the second cup which could be called the cup of the wicked child.
Why should this be? Why honor the wicked child by allotting so much of the Haggadah to his cup of wine?
What do you and the people at your Seder think? Is the wicked child really so wicked? Is there something positive about his/her wickedness? Is it possible that the wicked child actually adds something positive to the Seder - and to life in general?
Where is God??
Every Spring marks the arrival of Yom Hashoah/Holocaust Memorial Day. Although many Jews may have wondered about God’s existence and the nature of God before the Holocaust, there is no doubt that the Holocaust forced many Jews to confront God in the most extreme circumstances possible.
Our Haggadah talks about God a great deal. Three quotes about God follow here. Which of these quotes could fit into your Seder? Copy this page, bring them to your Seder, and ask your participants which quote(s) capture their feelings? (You could introduce this question just before the Story of our slavery is told or perhaps before singing Dayenu.)
If God lived on earth, people would break the windows of God’s house. (Yiddish Proverb)
When I say we live in the time of the death of God, I mean that the thread uniting God and Man, heaven and earth, has been broken. We stand in a cold, silent, unfeeling cosmos, unaided by any purposeful power beyond our own resources. After Auschwitz what else can a Jew say about God?...The time of the death of God does not mean the end of all gods. It means the demise of the God who was the ultimate actor in history...In a world devoid of God we need Torah, tradition, and the religious community far more than in a world where God’s presence was meaningfully experienced. (Rabbi Richard Rubenstein)
If a person who cynically refused to believe in God could observe everything a congregation said and did whenever its members gathered for prayer, study, and communal meetings, by the end of a year or two he would know a lot about what God does, even if God never showed up. For, while God does not have hands, we do. Our hands are God’s. And when people behave as if their hands were the hands of God, then God “acts” in history. (Rabbi Lawrence Kushner)