Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Whys of the Wise

The Haggadah refers to "the 4 sons" about whom Torah speaks to. The wise son's mention is followed by mention of the wicked son.

Why this juxtaposition? Why aren't the 4 sons ordered from good to bad, so that better sons appear before the worst of them (such as the "simple one" or the "one that can't ask")?

Placing the wicked son next to the wise one comes to teach us, by way of hint, the great value there is in performing Torah's commandments in a simple, humble and unpretentious manner, in performing them without questioning. After all, Torah enjoins us, "Be faithfully simple with Your G-d" (Deut.18:13).

Even though the wise son asks questions - to dig deeper all the time to reach a more profound level of understanding, from which no harm can come, nevertheless, occasionally, like a double-edged knife that can turn on you, a multitude of questions can demonstrate the lack of a simple attitude, a lack of submission to the yoke of Torah. Questioning can on occasion become a slippery slope to slide off the good path, a means to justify wickedness, G-d forbid.

This juxtaposition, therefore, comes to suggest a warning. As the Previous Rebbe once overheard from elder chassidim, "The asking of WHY can sometimes arise from an impure instinct!" There can be a fine line between the whys of the wise and the whys of the Rasha.

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