“As A Jew” Jews, The Seder’s Wicked Son

For many years during the Passover seder I have struggled with how to handle “the wicked son.” We are told that there are four sons: wise, wicked, simple and one who doesn’t know how to ask. Says the hagaddah: “What does the wicked son say? ‘What does this ritual mean to you?’ To you and not to him. Since he excludes himself from the community, he has denied a basic principle of Judaism. You should blunt his teeth by saying to him: ‘It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt.’ For me and not for him. If he was there he would not have been redeemed.”

This exchange always felt so harsh. Sure, a kid can be rebellious, but must we respond so sharply? Do we just cut this wicked son out of our nation? I have worked with Jews who have been hurt in the Jewish community before, who rightly feel burned by the system (and their family for failing them) but when push comes to shove, they are here with their people, recognizing that their destiny and the Jewish people are intertwined, one in the same.

Unfortunately, there is a kind of Jew we are hearing from more often since October 7 – the “as a Jew” Jews, the JVP Jews. The Jews who only invoke their Jewishness in order to condemn their people. They offer themselves up to the world as the “good Jew,” the Jew worth saving, as they throw the rest of the Jewish world under the bus.

As I read about the wicked son at this year’s Seder, I finally understood the sad reality of not engaging with this kind of Jew. “Blunt his teeth” or “block and delete” in social media terms. A Jew like this will only rejoin the community when he has decided to take an honest look at his people and their values and actual history. And until or unless he does, he is cut off. He would not have been redeemed in Egypt and he will not merit to be part of the Jewish’s people’s final redemption.

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  • Avatar photo Betty kaiman says on April 25, 2024

    To me they are like the kappos of the camps my father used to talk about

  • Avatar photo Rashi Rosenzweig says on April 26, 2024

    They’re much worse than Kapos. They should’ve learned their lesson from 80 years ago and here they are repeating the same vile behaviors. Need to throw in that they have absolutely zero respect for themselves.

  • Avatar photo Simone Shapiro says on April 26, 2024

    An unfortunate truth about some Jews, that, as you said, goes all the way, back from Egypt to today’s news! Heart-breaking, upsetting, and incomprehensible.

  • Avatar photo Gary Schwartz says on April 27, 2024

    May I suggest ” The Wicked Son” by David Mamet(2006). A brilliant and provocative look at an insidious predilection among some Jews to seek truth and meaning anywhere (other religions,political movements,mindless entertainment) – but in Judaism itself.
    And how we still remain the Wicked Son in the eyes of the world.


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