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Xiphias Gladius

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The Four Sons [Apr. 21st, 2014|03:48 pm]
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This just popped into my head. Would have been nice if I'd thought of it last week in time for the Seder, but I'll put it down now so I don't forget it....

The Haggadah speaks of four children:

The detail-oriented rules-lawyer geek: what does she ask? Wow! There are a lot of rules here, a lot of traditions, a lot of history! Can we talk about some of them? What's the exact definition of "se'or"? What makes something chametz or not? What's the history behind kitnyot? Why do Ashkenazic Jews use horseradish for maror, even though it's hot, not bitter? Where do THOSE rules come from?

You shall say to her: Yeah, there's a lot of cool stuff, isn't there? And, if you're a detail-oriented rules lawyer type, you'll go digging into this with her yourself, or you'll pair her up with another friend who's also a rules-grognard type, because that sort of intellectual digging is one way to connect with stuff, and, for some of us, it's deeply satisfying.

The holistic experiential type: what does he ask? How does this feel, what is the experience of the seder, what is the spiritual experience I connect with?

You shall approach the seder with guided meditations, and songs, and prayer, and find ways to feel what we connect to -- find ways to experience the journey to slavery to freedom, because that sort of spiritual and emotional experience is one way to connect with stuff, and, for some of us, it's deeply satisfying.

The disengaged, even possibly hostile to this person: what does she ask? Why are you doing this -- what's the point of it all?

You shall startle her sharply by acknowledging that that is not only a valid question, but a vital one, and you shall answer by explaining what it means to you, on a personal level. You shall talk about your own experience, and encourage her to be open to the idea that she may someday find her own personal connection to this.

And for the one who doesn't know how he interacts to this -- the one to whom this is all new, you shall do some of all of the above. You'll talk about the rules and the physical actions, you'll talk about the spiritual sense and the feeling, you'll talk about your own experiences, so that he may see in what way or ways this is meaningful to him.
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[User Picture]From: navrins
2014-04-21 08:38 pm (UTC)

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My kindergarten-age nephew literally asked, as we were sitting down to the seder, "What is this?" (I replied, "That's exactly what you're supposed to say!" Sadly, our seder pretty much completely failed to answer that question in words that made any sense to someone who didn't already know.)

I like your take on the "rebellious" child, though. "What does this mean to you?" is a perfectly valid question, and the wise child might be missing something if he doesn't ask it. She knows what it means to her, but she is open to the possibility that it means something different to you. (And perhaps she'll become a psychologist when she grows up, la la la...)
[User Picture]From: tigerbright
2014-04-21 09:02 pm (UTC)

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I like it.
[User Picture]From: tylik
2014-04-21 10:08 pm (UTC)

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May I share this with YoungestLabmate? (Apropos of a discussion with him earlier today.)
[User Picture]From: tylik
2014-04-21 10:09 pm (UTC)

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May I share this with YoungestLabmate?
[User Picture]From: xiphias
2014-04-21 10:10 pm (UTC)

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Absolutely. If it's not friendslocked, it's to be shared.
[User Picture]From: rymrytr
2014-04-22 02:09 am (UTC)

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My old Granny wouldn't eat Horseradish. She said it was "bitterly hot".

Grandpa smeared it on his fish. Like the Japanese, who say that Wasabi kills bacteria, Grandpa (born in 1889), said the "Pepperrot" kept him from getting sick when he ate things that were just a bit "off". This from a man that loved Limburger! :o)



[User Picture]From: thnidu
2014-04-22 03:34 am (UTC)

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I love this.

My father-in-law ate the horseradish straight, by the forkful.

[User Picture]From: badmagic
2014-04-22 06:43 pm (UTC)

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One year, a guy (Jewish, but his religious instruction had been scant) asked "Why are we doing this?" about part of the Seder. He was told "It's not time for that" and was very befuddled.
[User Picture]From: xiphias
2014-04-22 07:52 pm (UTC)

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Is this autobiographical? (I don't know your background, but your personality is congruent with that backstory...)
[User Picture]From: badmagic
2014-04-23 01:55 pm (UTC)

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Nah, I'm usually pretty good about identifying when stuff happened to me. It's a side effect of having no shame.

Some stuff that has happened to me at seders:

The drunk 13 year old spilled a full glass of red wine on my tan jacket. You want a Passover miracle? Dry cleaning.

I was the only non-Jew at the table, and also the only one who knew the tune to "Dayenu," although the dog sang along.

And, of course, many theological discussions that went to weird places.
[User Picture]From: xiphias
2014-04-23 04:38 pm (UTC)

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A family we know has a magic tablecloth that sheds wine stains. It wasn't BOUGHT as a magic tablecloth -- it was just bought as a normal tablecloth. However, no matter how much wine is spilled on it, one trip through the washing machine and it is as clean as new.

That is clearly a Passover miracle.