When the Month of Adar Arrives, Happiness increases. When the Month of Nissan Arrives, Freedom increases
You can’t get into the spirit of Pesach without thinking about the holiday’s central theme—the journey from slavery to freedom.
My grandson, Maor, asked me immediately after Purim “What does it mean to be a slave?” Each one of us must contemplate this question in our preparations for Pesach.
We can each define freedom in different ways. It is important to mention that we are speaking about free men and women not only in the physical sense, but also about the emotional sense including any circumstances which prevent a person from making decisions about his fate.
I want to use the characters of the four children in order to discuss this topic, but let’s begin in the opposite order from the Hagaddah.
1. The child who does not know how to ask.
This characterizes people who are caught in all sorts of traps and are sunk so deeply in their situations they lost all ability to question their situations that they can’t even question their lives. They are already reconciled to their situations and already don’t know how to question their situation.
2. The simple child.
Characterizes people who ask their environment how to deal with their situation and take their answers from all sorts of people who have a vested interest in keeping them stuck in the same position. They hear answers like “you couldn’t hack it in a different situation” and “I am watching out for you here” or “you shouldn’t”, and so on and so forth.
3. The wicked child.
Lives freely but enjoys seeing other people who can’t escape from their own cycles of entrapment.
4. The wise child.
Lives freely but also cares to see that every person knows their rights, and aids all people in order that the message of Pesach will not remain a story.
Finally, I would also add another child to this list—the kind which is most dangerous in our age, and in our society, which is the apathetic child who closes his eyes to his environment and doesn’t care about others and only lives for himself.
We are starting to actively clean and prepare for Pesach, but let’s not forget to be active in our society, and to strive for personal and collective freedom.
Rabbi Mauricio Balter
Executive Director, Masorti Olami and MERCAZ Olami