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Pesach and the four sons

Pesach 5783

To compel al the nations

Moses was commanded to teach the nations about the 7 Noahide commandments. This commandment also applies to Noahides. It is a commandment to pass on the message of the 7 Noahide commandment because this falls under the commandment of establishing dinim (establishing a judicial system). One shoud point out to others how they should or should not live. The duty is to ensure that others do not sin. However, one need not do this at the risk of one’s own life or when one knows the warning will have no effect.

We can link with the above to the 4 sons asking questions at the seider meal. They are:
The wise son, the wicked son, the simple son, and the son who doesn’t know how to ask.

We can think of this as 4 types of people, each with their own character and openness to the message you want to start telling about the 7 Noahides Laws

The Wise Son

This is the person who is genuinely curious. Who wants to know why you do or fail to do certain things. Who wants to know how he can improve his life, enrich it by immersing himself in the 7 Noahides Laws and the details, so that he can observe them to the best of his ability. Someone who wants a sincere relationship with Hashem.

This person should give you as much explanation as possible, at length and in detail.

The Wicked Son

Is the person asking “why do you…?” It is someone who has a negative view of the Noahides’ lifestyle. Someone who knows that he wants nothing to do with it and therefore not only denies Hashem’s Torah but also Hashem Himself, who gave the 7 Noahides commandments.

It is useless to try to answer his questions. The text says, “blunt his teeth”, in short, make him keep his mouth shut. Only give him the answer that you are doing the 7 Noahides Laws because Hashem wants you to, but do not enter into any further discussion with this person.

However, what you can do is examine why this person is negative and does not want to follow the 7 Noahides Laws – Hashem’s will. What reason is behind it?

“You should blunt his teeth” has a gematria of 366. This is exactly the difference between a tzaddik – 204 and a rasha 570. If we try to figure out how to remove that 366, we can bring someone – Be’Ezrat Hashem – back to Hashem.

The number 366 made me curious, what could I learn from it. I discovered that it has the same numerical value as the Hebrew word ערומים (those who are naked) means.

Wicked people are people who are naked. A soul clothes itself with the mitzvot it does, and these choose not to. It then reminded me of a the following story of rabbi Nachman:

Once a dead person was brought there completely naked. He had no clothes whatsoever. The verdict was that he should be cast into the hollow sling and destroyed, God forbid, because he was completely naked. However, a certain tzaddik came and took one of his own garments and threw it over this person.

The court asked him, “Why are you giving him one of your own garments?” The court took exception to this, because why should the dead man be given a garment and be saved with clothing that was not his? The tzaddik answered, “I have to send this man on a mission for my own purposes, and for this reason I am entitled to dress him in my own garment. Surely you are aware that on occasion a nobleman may send his servant to another nobleman and the servant delays carrying out his bidding. His master asks him, ‘Why have you not left yet, as I ordered?’ The servant replies, ‘Because I don’t have the right clothes for going to the nobleman in question. He is very great and it is impossible to go there in clothes that are not respectable.’ The master answers, ‘Quick, take one of my garments and put it on and run quickly to the nobleman to do my bidding.’ Similarly, I need to send this dead person on a mission of my own. For that reason I am giving him one of my garments.” This is how the tzaddik saved the dead man from the bitter penalty of the hollow sling.

The Rebbe told this story to show the tremendous power of the true tzaddik to save his followers in the World of Truth.*

Let us try in this life to give these people the mitzvot of our attention and see if we can discover how we could help them.

The Simple Son

These are people with no prior knowledge, but often people who already naturally follow many of the 7 Noahide Laws because they make sense. They give charity, have a good heart, don’t lie and cheat, etc. But that these are Divine commandments, they did not know. But now that they have heard about it they get curious, they who are curious and amazed at your way of life. People who did not know there was such a thing as Noahides or the 7 Noahide Laws.

Him you should not overwhelm with too much information or difficult details. Tell him the basics.

The basis of faith is knowing that there is one G-d who sees all and hears all. Who is involved in His creation and wants a relationship with man.

The Son who doesn’t Know how to ask

On the one hand, this could be someone who has simply never thought about faith and has really thought about values and norms. It is someone who lives by his own habit of what is right and wrong – often especially in relation to himself.

You can tell him simple things about Hashem or morality.

But it could also be that this person is indifferent. He does not care whether there is a God and what is or is not good. He doesn’t want to think about it. When that is the situation, we should approach it in the same way as with the rasha.

By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources: The Wicked Son, Four Sons and Four Questions, Hagada Shel Pesach – NIK

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