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Hebrew Language/The wicked son's question


Why does the Haggadah attribute to the wicked so the question "what mean you by this service?" When it is the wisest of questions and indeed should be the question we all ask and continually re-ask about our form of spirituality.  Indeed it is the quintessential question. Is there perhaps something linguistically in the Torah or in the midrash that helps us to come to a better understanding of this? Thank you kindly in advance


Great question, but this is probably not the proper forum for the long, complex answer such a question deserves. The short answer is that unlike Christianity, where a believer has to continuously re-affirm his belief in the Christian doctrine in order to remain one, in Judaism you are born a Jew (unless you are a convert) and you remain one, even if you declare yourself to be an atheist. By being a Jew you are not just a participant in the Jewish religion, but you are also a member of a distinct ethnic group.

The Wicked Son, with the way he phrases his question, clearly positions himself outside the group. Members of a tribal religion don't look kindly at those who set themselves apart.

Hope it makes sense.


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I am a columnist for a Hebrew-language newspaper, and a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

D.Med MBA BA in the US, Grade school and high school in Israel

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