A Bisl Torah

The Fifth Child

Many of us are familiar with the four children in the Haggadah. The wise, rebellious, innocent ,and voiceless children sit at the table. Adults are tasked to teach the story of our people according to each child’s learning style and ability.

Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn analogizes the passage of the four children as four different generations of Jews within America. Rabbi Shlomo Riskin further expounds this interpretation.

Paraphrased: “The wise child represents the European roots…those with a love for learning and profound knowledge of Jewish tradition. The wicked child, brought up within the American ‘melting pot’ rejected his parents’ customs and ways of thought. The third generation, the Simple Child, is confused. He watched his grandfather making Kiddush on Friday night and his father standing silently, perhaps resentfully, impatient to prepare for business Saturday morning. The fourth generation, the Child Who Does Not Know How to Ask…He was born after his great-grandparents had died. We are now being challenged to open our great heritage to this generation which lost it without ever knowing what it had possessed.”

But perhaps, since October 7th, a fifth generation has surfaced. Young Jews determining how (not if) Jewish tradition and beliefs will play a role in their own identity and the future identities of their children. This year, very few people asked how the story of Passover relates to their lives. Quite the opposite. Jews spoke about Israel with an anxiousness for return, knowing that their generation will play a significant role in Israel’s physical and spiritual rebuilding.

This generation will determine the trajectory for the Jewish people. While it may feel unclear what the coming days will bring, one thing is certain: this generation is vocal, loud, strong and unwilling to succumb to the slavery experienced by our ancestors.

And who knows? Maybe next year we will read about a fifth child. The one who knows it is upon him to continue telling and living our story.

Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom

In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.

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