A Passover Message from Rabbi Larry Sernovitz

A Passover Message from Rabbi Larry Sernovitz

Read community insights, advice and perspectives during Passover.

Rabbi Larry Sernovitz
Rabbi Larry Sernovitz

The Questions Not Asked

?תולילה לכמ הזה הלילה הנתשנ המ
Why is this night different from all other nights?

One of the highlights of the Passover seder is the recitation of what is commonly known as the Four Questions. Upon careful analysis, and a study of this section of the seder, one would realize that there aren’t really four questions. There is only one: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” What, then, are the others? These are called the “Arba Kushiyot,” the four difficulties. One of the goals of the Passover seder is to create an environment where our children are encouraged to ask questions.

In Tractate Pesachim 115b, the Talmud reads in regards to the Passover meal, “Why does one remove the table? The school of Rabbi Yannai says: So that the children will notice that something is unusual and they will ask: Why is this night different from all other nights?” The Talmud is making an important point: We are obligated to encourage our children to ask insightful questions. In fact, the Talmud emphasizes this by teaching us that if the child is wise and knows how to inquire, let the child ask their own questions. In Judaism, asking questions is more important than finding the answers. Asking questions is essential to what it means to be human and to confront the challenges that we encounter each and every day. These questions push us to be active participants in our world and be the change that we want to see.

This has been a difficult year with lots of questions that continue to remain unasked and unanswered. This Passover season, ask your questions and encourage your children to do so as well. You never know what a simple question might bring for you and our world.

Rabbi Larry Sernovitz is the spiritual leader of Temple Kol Emeth.

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