Hello from the first day of Passover! There will be no Spelling Bee post tonight because I won’t be at my computer again until tomorrow night. I’ve started writing this post in advance. It’s actually the evening of March 1 right now.
Each Passover means something different to me, and each part is a reminder of how the core of the holiday is to remember to challenge what you’re told.
That’s not to say that all that you’re told is wrong.
It’s important to try to figure out if it makes sense.
The rules of Passover (e.g. no leavened bread) are unusual. That there’s tons of cleaning involved in order to avoid even the chance of consuming leavening is extreme. And crazy.
But that’s the point.
We’re supposed to ask why we’re doing weird stuff.
It’s easy to fall into a rut. it’s easy for every day to look the same. If you’re numb to everything going on around you, it’s easy to become complacent. This holiday is a real shakeup.
But for those who still just follow along, the Seder has many points where it reminds just to ask.
Why is this night different from all other nights? is the most famous of them.
There’s a section with the Four Sons. There’s a wise son, a wicked son, a simple son, and a son who doesn’t even know to ask.
The wise son and wicked son ask very similar questions:
Wise son essentially asks: “What are these things that the almighty has commanded you to do?”
Wicked son essentially asks: “Of what purpose is this work to you?”
Every year I’ve wondered what the difference is because the explanation to each is different.
The wise son is told some cool stuff about the holiday while the wicked son is told to scram.
Neither the wicked son nor the wise son necessarily comes with prior knowledge or belief. Neither son necessarily leaves agreeing with what’s said to him.
I realized only this year that a difference is the willingness to discuss openly. The wise son is willing to have a conversation. The wise son is challenging in order to hear something. The wicked son is challenging to, you know, be a dick.
But you can’t learn anything simply by being a dick.