3/13/05 - Haggadah class
The wicked son (rasha)
The main lesson here is free choice. The rasha teaches us that we have the option even to reject G-d. Free choice comes from the inner truth of who you are which is what choice is about.
The Haggadah talks about the evil son with a value judgement, the smart son is neither good nor bad, he's just smart. The child who is simple, it's again, just a statement of his level of understanding, not his value.
For this child, he's evil, he might be smart or simple, we don't know.
This child is evil. Why does the Haggadah set up this dichotomy? Why not speak about the righteous child, the evil child, and the in-the-middle child?
Then the Haggadah provides instructions in how to behave. The other children get words, for this child, you knock out his teeth, you take action, rather than simply explaining, and only afterwards do you explain that this is what G-d did for me, and that he would have been left behind.
But didn't the evil child leave Egypt? Based on the idea that the four children leaving Egypt is discussed in the exodus (tell your children four times). If he didn't go out of Egypt, who would the parents have told? He had to be there. He had to have gone out with the children of Israel.
When we see our children doing what we think what we think is evil, we behave harshly, and maybe overreact to scare the child, to prevent the bad thing from happening. Like hurricane survivors will board up their windows at the first sign of high winds, we react and take precautions to protect ourselves and our family.
Rashi says not in the commentary on the evil child's verse, "he would not have been redeemed" but rather "he would not have been worthy of being redeemed."
There are two related Midrashim that speak of the evil child.
Midrash1: During the plague of darkness, the Israelites buried their dead; the transgressors of Israel who were unwilling to leave, without being seen by the Egyptian.
If the Egyptians saw G-d killing the Israelites, they would not associate the punishment with their own deeds, rather they would say that G-d was unjust and harsh even to his followers.
Midrash2: In spite of all the miracles with which G-d blessed the Jews, they carried the idol of Micah through the sea. They were leaving Egypt with their idols in tow. There is clearly evil within the Jewish community. There are people who didn't want to believe. The people who didn't want to leave, didn't want to believe in the miracle, thought it was a hoax, died in the darkness, but the people who wanted to leave, sorta believed in G-d, but lugged their idols with them, did escape.
What makes this child wicked enough to not go out, when obviously some people believed even in idols, denying a basic tenant of monotheism, and did go out.
The people who stayed in Egypt worshiped themselves above G-d. The people who carried their idols, at least respected G-d.
Shibolei Haleket points out the importance of Miday/Kneged/Miday, (measure for measure) since this child doesn't understand the importance of redemptions, he isn't redeemed.
But the wickedness of the idolater was not the same as the wickedness that was cut down in Egypt, where the evil was denying the redemption.
The Talmud speaking about Yom Kippur says: Yom Kippur atones for all sins, even if he doesn't repent of them, if he stands with the community. The day itself is an act of cleansing.
But Rebbi goes on to say, if he desecrate the holiness of Yom Kippur, he is not forgiven (he eats, disclaims Yom Kippur, or works).
So for these people who didn't repent of their idolatry, G-d can forgive them, but if they deny the miracle (like denying the day of Yom Kippur), the Exodus cannot redeem them.
Rashi denies that this evil child necessary didn't make it out Egypt, he might have been like the idol carrying Israelites, not worthy maybe, but they went out.
The "original commentary" (unknown author, but used by many reliable sources like Rashi and Nachmanedes) If this evil son would have been Egypt, he would not be going out. Of similar nature, just like he wouldn't have gone out of Egypt, he will not be part of any future redemptions.
R. Avaham of Slomin (Slonimer Rebbe) There in Egypt the wicked son would not have been redeemed, however such a plague will never come on us again,
and therefore no Jew can ever be entirely lost. There is no longer such a thing as an unredeemable Jew. This paragraph isn't a negative thing: You are saying to the child, even though you don't want to be redeemed, and even though you seem deviant. The evil son says there is no exodus, there is no messiah, there is no redemption, but then Chasssidus teaches that although exclusion from redemption seems appropriate, it isn't because in a post-Torah era, there is redemption, whether the evil son wants it or not. Why? Because the Jewish people have changed between this redemption and any subsequent redemptions. This is evident in the language of Torah.
How does G-d view the children of Israel:
Before the giving of the Torah - Moses goes to Pharaoh and his instructions are to say to him, "This is my son, my first-born son, Israel" and this is supposed to convince Pharaoh to get them go. According to Rashi - "first-born" is an expression of greatness. He doesn't dispute the language of "son." That makes sense to Rashi. It was easy and acceptable to communicate the Jewish people's relationship to G-d was a child to parent. Moses added another term, just to emphasize how strong and how great the relationship is.
Post-giving of Torah in the laws of slavery, the Torah didn't want to the Jews slipping back into pattern of slavery, so it set up limits of 6 years. If he wants to continue to be slave, puncture his ear, and he can be a slave for 49 years, but after that, he can't be a slave anymore.
Rashi asks "why the ear" and brings The Tanna "this ear that heard at Mt. Sinai that they were G-d's slaves and he went and picked for himself a new master or thieving ways (where one could be assigned to work off a debt of theft)."
Now we have moved from children to slaves.
A child is not responsible for his actions, but a slave is responsible.
What happened to change our relationship from parent/child to master/slave.
The Shuchan Aruch says that the giving of the Torah and all the things we should remember, including the Shabbos, should be remembered near the Shema, therefore we say these blessings before the Shema "U'vanu Vacharta" you've chosen us, alludes to the giving of the Torah.
The Alte Rebbe says that what defines the giving of the Torah is that G-d chose us, and that single action changed our status. He chose us and changed our status. The choice is to keep us in his house, not just because we are his children, but because we have become his chosen people..
In Egypt a sign of mourning was to rip their hair and scar themselves after a loss. Therefore in Deuteronomy, Moses says, this is something you shouldn't do any more. Rashi says in commentary, this is because you are a holy people inherently, as a gift from your forefathers, and G-d chose you, certifying the holiness and adding to it.
The act of G-d choosing the Jewish people is not what created holiness, the Jews were naturally holy already from the patriarchs, however, with that holiness already invested, G-d then chooses us.
So what's the choice for G-d? Isn't it logical to choose the people who are already holy, because they provide the most holiness to work with? Is this a real choice? What happened at Mt. Sinai had nothing to do with the inherent holiness, it has to do with Hashem's choice. When you get the Torah, the parent/child relationship which is immutable bond takes a backseat to the master/slave bond which is voluntary on the both of master and slave.
It's exclusive of the natural connection between the Jewish people and G-d until that time.
With the giving the Torah, G-d declared that he didn't want to maintain the inherited relationship to the Jewish people, He wanted to choose to move behind that natural relationship to a more voluntary relationship. The parent/child relationship is limited. As great as the relationship is, it's not a marriage. The moment the child is born, you have a natural bond and relationship. We are bound by that. A marriage is a relationship of choice that requires work to maintain and support. A parent who walks around in a state of ecstasy of the child is a bit excessive, but a marriage must include love and intimacy. Two strangers out of choice enter into this relationship, which is unnatural or non-obligatory on its face but it opens up a new level of choice and intimacy that could not be achieved in a natural parent child relationship.
The only way to get there is to accept this relationship by choice. It must be a voluntary embracing of G-d. It must go beyond the natural tendency of parent/child.
The natural relationship between parent and child can have rocky roads, and even not talk for 30 years, because we can block the relationship, but a marriage can't survive that. The choice to bond is beyond that limitation. If you have true intimacy, you can't break that connection. By choice, we have reached the essence of G-d, and that's where our connection is, and even if we rebel, that relationship can't be broken. That's why the wicked son now will ultimately be redeemed because the relationship has moved beyond that limited parent/child relationship to that limitless master/slave relationship.
Bobbi recommend J.D. Robb's Survivor in Death best Nora Roberts in awhile.
Luna this month has Compass Rose romantic, but still too scifi to be real romance, but the relationships did drive the story and it was enjoyable.
Maryjanice Davidson - 11 book erotica; Undead Unwed. etc.
Black authors: Brenda Jackson etc.
Cassie brought Charming the Highlander by Janet Chapman; time traveler, sent forward by a mage who was supposed to just send him, but sent more people. Grace's sister dies in childbirth, and she insists that Grace returns the baby to the baby's father, who was a time traveler. She and he get into a plane crash on her way to deliver the baby.
Cute and adorable. A modern romance, spiced with a little history.
Bobbi brought Out of the Dark by Sharon Sala (Dinah McCall) Starts in 1960s, she's married to a rich man and has a beautiful daughter, and she runs off with the flower children, and the father chases her. Then 2000 the mother is on the run and she's taken in by a child abuser and she runs away with her best friend and she supports him with her artist. They are selling their art, and the father is still looking for them. Father's friend buys the portrait the girl did of her mother, but portrait has her thumbprint and he realizes it's his daughter. She ends up in New Orleans. Father goes to SF to catch her, and sees her on the TV. Her friend is dying. Very well handled. Reunion, Sweet Baby are also her books that touch on child abuse topics. She manages to give you enough description to know what happened, but not so much that you're repelled by the book.
By contrast, Harlequin has a book, Emma and Me on the seller list. The abuse in the present tense and there is no rescue for the heroine. All the adults are bad and unredeemed. Give it a miss.
"Missing" is another good book by Sharon Sala.
Jo Beverly An Unsuitable Man Georian romance. a wonderful book.
Bunny brought Somebody Wonderful by Kate Rothwell - sweet, charming, 1880s Irish cop in NYC living in one room shack. Helps people in his building, does first aid, helps lost animals. He rescues a small boy who turns out to be a woman who is being beaten by a bunch of toughs. He takes her home thinking she's a down on her luck prostitute. She's actually a wealthy girl on the run, and this is how their relationship develops.
Sandy Blaire has some excellent medieval knights.
And The Chase Lynsay Sands medieval, Scottish warrior, straight romance, nothing quirky. Nicely drawn characters, well developed. She has been trained a warrior. Bethrothed to an Englishman, "The Angel" and he's never shown up to claim his bride. She decides to go to a convent to avoid when he's finally ordered to get him. The mother superior is so sick of her, that she permits the guys to steal her back.
Janice brought Conflict of Honours. Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (2nd book in a series); Scifi series, but this book is the one romance in the series. Pricilla is being kicked off her home world at the beginning of the book. 10 years later, she's on a ship, but then dumped with nothing, locked in a room. Shan's ship is the only one there, and tries to sign on. They have different upbringings and so they conflict on many of their basic ideals. The details are well handled.
Lori King's Sherlock Holmes series "the Beekeepers Apprentice" the third one comes second chronologically.
I brought The Husband Test by Bettina Krahn. There's also The Marriage Test and The Wife Test This features a nun at an Abbe known for virtuous brides. The nun is a "fixer" type who irritates everyone with her incessant management. She is sent off with a man to determine the bride he's worthy of. Hilarity incuses as she tries to fix him and everything around him, and he tries to reign her in. The marriage test is apparently also very funny it's about the cook at the Abby: Julie of Childs.
Nina Burham Royally Jacked YA romance. Father is Chief Protocol officer at the white house. His wife announces she's gay and moves out to live with her gf. The PO needs to clear out so the pres can run on his antigay platform.
He goes to an Austrian Alps Barony until after the election. He gives the daughter a choice of whether she wants to come or not. Mom and the gf live in a different school district so neither choice leaves her where she is. She decides to go with dad and meets a prince.
Susan Donavan - Public Displays of Affection very very funny, nar. by dog
Daughter has come to live in best friend's (heroine)'s house. Hero is MD police, specializing in being hired out as a killer to bust them up.He's very cynical. But this stooge for him, bookie was killed, and was found with a dog in a sailor suit. Hero takes the dog home. The dog is loony, and he ends up taking the dog to the heroine, who's a dog psychiatrist. Every few pages you get the dog's perspective.
Iris Renier Dart When I Fall In Love: luminously beautiful story. (same author as Beaches).
And I think that's all the housekeeping I'm required to do.
I played Texas Hold-em with anjillmarie and some friends last night. I lost about 12 bucks, but hoppie won it, so it's okay. Especially since I was playing with his money. I'm starting to get the hang of it, though, so next time, I might do better. It was fun to play with everyone.