The “Four Sons” of Passover and the Middle East conflict

The “Four Sons” of Passover and the Middle East conflict

Otto Geismar (Germany, 1927)
Both Passover and Earth Day arrive next week.  So, in the spirit of, “Reduce, Reuse, Recyle,” I thought I’d reissue my take on how the “Four Children” of the Passover Haggadah might relate to the Middle East conflict, and what we might say to each of them.

Hag Sam’each!

The “Chacham” – the Wise, Inquisitive Child: What does she ask?   “The Israeli-Arab conflict seems to be a complex, dynamic, multi-dimensional issue, filled with political, religious, cultural, historic and military aspects, both local/regional and global in nature.  How can I possibly learn enough to know everything there is to know?”

To this child we would say: Realize first that, as in any conflict, different participants tell different stories.  Historical narratives agree on some points, but vary widely on others.  So please do read, and go to lectures and discussion groups, and seek out individuals involved in the conflict to collect their oral histories.

But don’t forget that a true understanding of the conflict stems not from amassing a series of “facts”, but from the art of weaving: Integrating and synthesizing all the different, often contradictory, perspectives into a reasonable understanding of “the situation”. 

And accept the fact that this task of weaving is an ongoing one, that there will always be new information and points-of-view to synthesize.  And be humble, because you will never know “everything”.

The “Rasha” – The Wicked (or, perhaps, Alienated) Child: What does he ask?  “The Israeli-Arab conflict seems way too complicated and way too many miles away for me to care. Besides, those people over there seem hopeless.  All they do is fight.  Why do you bother?”


By | 2011-04-15T17:15:00-04:00 April 15th, 2011|Blog|0 Comments

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