How is this question like those other four questions?
April 21, 2016 10:00 PM   Subscribe

So my contribution to the seder tomorrow is a reading/poem/spoken word piece/joke/interpretive dance/whatever about The Four Questions. What should I contribute?

We're going to your classic potluck, queer, athiest-inclusive, goy-inclusive, mish-mash, hodge-podge, yet Rabbi-led seder tomorrow.

The tradition with this group is that along with reading through the (queer, lefty) haggadah, each guest contributes some kind of reading or thought or conversation starter on various portions of the ritual. I'd love some ideas for quotes, thoughts, poems, etc about questions, questioning, the Jewish tradition of questioning, or alternately, on the Four Questions themselves.

Extra busy this week and haven't had time to pour through the bookshelves/google on this. Would love some ideas... Thanks!
posted by latkes to Religion & Philosophy (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Toast had a beautiful piece about the Four Questions/the Four Children yesterday. It's probably too long, but there's likely something in there you could use.
posted by damayanti at 3:53 AM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Does it have to be about the four questions, or can it include the four children?

I love Lemony Snicket's commentary on them from the New American Haggadah
Some scholars believe there are four kinds of parents as well.

The Wise Parent is an utter bore. “Listen closely, because you are younger than I am,” says the Wise Parent, “and I will go on and on about Jewish history, based on some foggy memories of my own religious upbringing, as well as an article in a Jewish journal I have recently skimmed.” The Wise Parent must be faced with a small smile of dim interest.

The Wicked Parent tries to cram the story of our liberation into a set of narrow opinions about the world. “The Lord let us out of Egypt,” the Wicked Parent says, “which is why I support a bloodthirsty foreign policy and I’m tired of certain types of people causing problems.” The Wicked Parent should be told with a firm voice: “With a strong hand God rescued the Jews from bondage, but it was my own clumsy hand that spilled hot soup in your lap.”

The Simple Parent does not grasp the concept of freedom. “There will be no macaroons until you eat all of your brisket,” says the Simple Parent at a dinner honoring the liberation of oppressed peoples. “Also, stop slouching at the table.” In answer to such statements, the Wise Child will roll his eyes in the direction of the ceiling and declare: “Let my people go.”

The Parent Who Is Unable to Inquire has had too much wine and should be excused from the table.

Another favorite is that when you look at the Hebrew text of what you say to the four children, when it comes to the one who can not ask, the fourth "you should tell him", says, “at pitach lo,” which is the feminine form of the verb. The traditional interpretation of this is that the fourth child is a baby who can't speak yet, and so it is the mother who needs to teach at that level, because a mother has an understanding with her child that transcends conversation. But another way to look at it for today is that maybe the other three are mansplaining, and the fourth is saying, okay, now let's take a moment and let women speak to women and those others whose voices aren't able to be heard because they can't get a word in. Yet another way to let marginalized voices in.

My only note about the 4 questions themselves is that if you look at the text, no one ever actually answers any of them. Why do we dip twice tonight? Because we were slaves. Wait, what? Sometimes your questions won't get answered. Sometimes the answers suck. You still have to keep asking, keep pushing, keep trying to learn more. Why do Jews always answer a question with a question? Why not? How else do you learn?

My grandfather-in-law always used bananas for karpas (the vegetable you dip in salt water), because he knew it would make people ask about it, it was so weird. And it was a way to teach / remind kids that the bracha for bananas was the same as for vegetables, ha'adama, and not the one for fruits.
posted by Mchelly at 8:06 AM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

There are lots of existing suggestions for a fifth question/fifth child on, an amazing resource. What fifth question or child would make sense for your group?
posted by nonane at 9:24 AM on April 22, 2016

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