Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What happened to the tzaddik?

Pesah - Haggada

Maggid - 4 sons

We list 4 sons, each with his style of discussion about Pesah. The wise son, the wicked son, the simple son and the son who can't even ask a question.

Out of all these kids, one style seems to be missing. The righteous son. The tzaddik.

The wise son and the wicked son are not opposites. The wise son is an intellectual. Nothing to do with his level of piety.

We even see further that the wise son is not necessarily a tzaddik, as he asks, "What are these rules that Hashem commanded you" - similar to the wicked son, he asks about you rather than including himself. There is some sense of dissociation. It is more of an intellectual pursuit for him.

I have heard from rebbeim a number of times that a person can learn Torah all day long and not think once about Hashem. We do things by rote. We learn because we are supposed to, or even because we love to, but we do not necessrily relate to Hashem on a daily basis.

The opposite of the wicked son would be the tzaddik son, the righteous son. Why is such a child not listed among the other sons? Where is the "אחד צדיק"?

A Tzaddik is not bothered by the questions, even if he has any. He lives by his faith. We know the passuk tells us צדיק באמונתו יחיה - a tzaddik lives by his faith. He has emuna, faith, in Hashem and that he is doing the right thing. the rest does not matter.

That is why we answer the wise son with a very technical answer. he asked about the rules and we explain the rules to him. An answer based on emuna would not move him. He is technical and intellectual in nature and he is looking for that type of answer.

חנוך לנער על פי דרכו - educate each child in the way that is fitting for him.

The wise son asks detailed questions, give him detailed answers. The tzaddik son has no questions, or is not looking for answers. So he does not need to be mentioned.


socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Ooooh I like that one a lot I never even thought of that excellent question and answer.

Rafi G said...


shaya g said...

I thought about this for a while. At first I liked the answer, BUT.....

the more I thought about it the more I realized it's not right. A tzaddik may have emunah, but he still wants to learn. The tzaddik would ask "what are the reasons for the laws WE are doing". slightly different from the chacham. So I disagree.

The answer I thought of (see I'm not just a criticizer.. :)), is simpler. the 4 sons should be taken at pashut pshat, 4 sons in the manner of Vi'heegadta livincha tonight. $ different children. at this level, there is no tzaddik yet. The sons are still learning and developing and asking. A tzaddik is for later years. right now there CAN'T be a tzaddik son yet, it's too early in their development. That's why there's no tzaddik. So the closest description would be a chacham, who does the avodah but wants to know why.

Side note: If veheegadta includes girls/women, why are there 4 sons and not 4 "children" to include girls?

Rafi G said...

shaya - I considered that before I wrote it, that the children are too young to include a tzaddik, but then considered that these children do not have to be 10 years or younger. They can be older children too and that could include a tzaddik.

Also, a tzaddik does have questions as well. I did not say he does not have them. I wrote he is not bother by them, if he has them. He might have questions, but he does not spend his time pursuing the answers. He lives by his faith.

good question about the girls. do you have an answer?
I would suggest offhand that whenever the Torah talks about children, even if girls are included, it uses to male vernacular. The term "banim" would include girls. So it us who have read the haggada as 4 sons rather than 4 children.
The same statements in the hagadda could apply to girls as well. Though I might also suggest that because until recent generations it was uncommon for girls to study Torah, maybe these questions or issues were not directed at girls, because they just were not involved in these discussions. I do not know..

shaya g said...

I disagree with your decription of a tzaddik. A tzaddik mat not get hung up on the answer but he still wants one. The hagadah doesn't say these kids are hung up on the answers. I still think it's because a tzaddik is not applicable here.

As well, if the baal hagadah meant (as pashut pshat) any age children, he would have used the term arbah anashim, because banim is irrelevant. The fact he chose banim indicates it means young(er) children.

Rafi G said...

maybe, but if what you say is true, as much as a tzaddik is irrelevant by a ten year old son, a rasha is almost as irrelevant. Why would it include the rasha if it is so rare for a young child to be a rasha. Young children are rarely reshoim just like they are rarely tzaddikim.

shaya g said...

no - ben sorer u'moreh is only a 12.5 year old. rasha is possible.

shaya g said...

the torah mentions a possibility of a young rasha - never mentions a young tzaddik. it's more likely a person becomes a rasha than a tzaddik.

Rafi G said...

actually a ben sorer u moreh is not a rasha, but one who has potential to become one. Rashi there (I think iirc) says we kill him before he becomes a rasha...

shaya g said...

you're right, my mistake. nonetheless, we see it's easier to become a rasha (all the various issurim to be over) than to be a tzaddik.

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