Responding to the Progressive Son
The Torah not only anticipated the innocent, wondering and inquiring children, but also the fourth son. Not only the children who would harmoniously stand side by side with their parents in devoted observance, but another son, the “wicked son,” who would no longer fulfill, much less celebrate, the mitzvot. This progressive son sits at, or passes by, the table with derisive mockery, and interjects his taunt: What does this service mean to you? Why do you trouble yourselves each year with these burdensome customs?
How do we respond to the progressive son, who views the loyal elder generation as backward? We do not directly respond. The Torah instructs us to respond to the other sons directly: Tell him, open up for him, but to the progressive son, we are instructed to “say,” not to “say to him.” For his progressiveness has made him immune to your teachings — he has “advanced” to the point of instructing his father! His mission — to move his narrow father beyond his stale views and into the freshness of modernity — will not be derailed by any instruction from that father, however loving, brilliant and complete.
Instead, say to yourself. Continue to devote your own life to Divine mitzvot. The sway over the progressive son may well have been lost; the key to his heart rests in
You must pit your determination and conviction against their doubt and wavering. And you must say: It is a Pesach offering of devotion to
- Sources: Collected Writings, Vol. 1, Nissan III, pp. 60-65