Asking Questions is Not Only for the Seder Night

 Sponsored in Memory of Rabbi Dr. Moshe Carmilly


In Parshat Vaetchanan we come across pesukim that we are very familiar with from the Pesach seder.


The first quote is from Devarim 6:20: “What are the testimonies (edot) and the statutes (chukim) and the laws (mishpatim) that the Lord your God has commanded you?


In the Passover Hagada, it is one of the four children, the “chacham”, the smart child that asks this question.


The Torah’s answer (6:21) is “Avadim Hayinu- We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and God took us out of Egypt with a strong hand.”


The Torah’s answer, “Avadim Hayinu” has already been used in the Hagada after the Ma Nishtana so the Hagada has a different answer.


The Hagada’s answer comes from the Mishna in Pesachim, Chapter 10: “You must tell this child some of the laws of Pesach from the Mishna: ‘We do not proceed to any afikoman (dessert or after dinner celebrations) after eating the Pesach lamb.’”


Abarbanel wonders if this “chacham” may be more of a “Smart Alec” since he shows off that he knows that there are different types of mitzvoth- “edot”, “chukim” and “mishpatim”.


Israel Eldad (the street that I live on is named after him!) says that the “chacham” is a truly wise child as he knows when to ask genuine questions, not mockingly like the “rasha”, rebellious child, and not superficially like the “tam”, the simple child.


Questioning, if done with proper respect, is a good thing. It is often those who were not allowed to question anything when they were children who end up getting frustrated with religion.


The questions that children ask must be acknowledged all year long not only on the Seder night.


Asking a shailah- a question about Jewish law to a Halachic authority is not just for children, it is a practice that we must continue throughout our lives as different contemporary questions in Halacha arise.