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Weekly Chizuk


Even The Wicked Son Sits at Our Seder

Adapted from the Haggadah of Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, zt"l.

The Torah refers to four sons: One wise, one wicked, one simple and one who does not know how to ask a question….

What does the wicked son say? "What is this service to you?" To you and not to him. Since he excludes himself from the community, he has denied a basic principle of Judaism. You should blunt his teeth by saying to him: "It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt. For me and not for him. If he was there he would not have been redeemed."

"And it will come to pass if your children say to you, What is this service to you? You shall say, It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord, for He passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, and He saved our houses. And the people kneeled and prostrated themselves." (Shmos 12:26-27)

Rashi: And the people kneeled and prostrated themselves: [in thanksgiving] for the tidings of the redemption, the entry into the land [of Israel], and the tidings of the children that they would have. - [from Mechilta]

Moshe Rabbeinu stood in Mitzrayim and described all the laws of the Korban Pesach to the Bnei Yisroel. He concluded his shiur by explaining to them that if their children should ask them the meaning of this avodah, how they should answer. Upon hearing this the entire congregation kneeled and prostrated themselves.

What was so extraordinary in Moshe Rabbeinu's statement that they were moved to bow down? Rashi explains that he had informed them that when they entered the land they would have children.

According to the Haggadah recitation of the 4 sons, this statement of Rashi is astounding. What sort of children was Moshe Rabbeinu foretelling? The Haggadah tells us that this question "What is this service to you," is the question of the wicked son. Moreover, the Haggadah tells us that "If he were there, he would not have been redeemed." That being the case, why were they so overjoyed by the tidings that they would have wicked sons who would question and reject the avodah of Pesach?

We have to reflect upon the deeper significance of the Exodus from Mitzrayim. This was not a mere departure of slaves. It was the birth of the Jewish People. With Yetzias Mitzrayim the Am Yisroel came into existence and Hashem was their G-d.

"I am the Lord, your G-d, Who took you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the Lord, your G d" (Bamidbar 15:41). Why does the possuk repeat the statement "I am the Lord, your G-d"?

Rashi explains: Why is this repeated? So that the Israelites should not say, "Why did the Omnipresent say this? Was it not so that we should perform [the commandments] and receive reward? We will not perform [them] and not receive reward!" [Therefore, God says,] "I am your King, even against your will."

Then Rashi quotes a possuk in Yechezkel: But what enters your mind shall not come about, what you say, 'Let us be like the nations, like the families of the lands, to serve wood and stone.' As I live, says the Lord God, surely with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm and with poured out fury, will I reign over you" (20:32-33).

We find in the prophecy of Yechezkel that the wicked among the Jews argued that Hashem had cast them away and was no longer interested in them. "A servant whose master has released him, a woman whose husband has divorced her, do they have anything more to do with their former master and husband?" These wicked people were excusing their actions by claiming that the Am Yisroel were no longer obligated to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Hashem's answer to them was, "As I live, says the Lord God, surely with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm and with poured out fury, will I reign over you."

Hashem was proclaiming that if we are wicked, He would not cast us away. He will chastise us. We are like His children and when we are disobedient must be punished to correct our ways. But He will not cast us away. He wants us to do teshuva.

After the Exodus from Mitzrayim as Klal Yisroel settled down to a more normal life, there was the possibility of sin, and with it teshuvah. However, at the time of that first Pesach, there was no teshuva for the Rosha. "If he was there he would not have been redeemed." Only after the the Am Yisroel were born and became a nation and their faith was solidified was there hope even for the rosha. Even though you are forced to "blunt his teeth," nevertheless he is still part of Klal Yisroel.

This announcement was a tremendous joy for them. Even a wicked son who asks questions full of apikorsus, still he has a place in the Pesach Haggadah. He can join us and sit at our seder and we still hope he will return. Therefore we blunt the wicked son's teeth. We don't follow the doctrine of, "Do not answer a fool according to his folly lest even you become like him" (Mishlei 26:3). On this holy night we must relate to him as our son and answer his questions until he finally learns to fulfill the instructions of our Holy Torah.

* * *

Blunt His Teeth

Rav Pincus related that he was once traveling in a taxi service from Tel Aviv. There was one seat still empty and two men arrived and started arguing over who came first and should get this seat. Then for the first time in my life I heard how the secular Jews relate to a Ben Torah.

"Ask him," he said pointing at me. "He's religious, he won't lie."

I answered that I had not noticed whom came first so I couldn't adjudicate their dispute for them.

Finally somehow or other they settled their argument. One of them got in the taxi and took the seat next to me.

During our trip I asked him, "Are you religious?"


"Is it good to lie?"


"So why don't you choose to become religious?"

I never received an answer.

I'll give you another example.

Many years ago the religious elementary school in Yerucham didn't have a building. The students studied in an apartment in a residential neighborhood. In the excitement of their learning, the children raised their voices to a scream which bothered one of the women in the building. She burst into the classroom cursing and ranting against the religious in general and the Chareidim in particular.

I asked her, "I want you to imagine that you are driving one night on a dark road between Dimona and Yerucham (two towns in southern Israel), and suddenly your car starts sputtering and comes to a halt. It's very late at night and you're stranded alone at the side of the road. Who would you prefer at that time of night? Two young secular teenagers with earrings dangling from their ears? Or a Chareidi like me? From whom would you be more frightened?"

"From them."

"So why now do you think we are all that bad?"

Wishing everyone a Gut Yom Tov and
a Chag Kosher and Same'ach!


Emunah and Science

Adapted from the Haggadah of Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, zt"l.

At Krias Yam Suf (the splitting of the Sea) Klal Yisroel pointed their fingers and proclaimed, "This is my G-d and I will glorify Him!"

One of the problems of our generation is that we lack "simple emunah" (emunah peshutah) in the existence of Hashem.

Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, zt"l, related that he once devoted an entire drasha on this topic. He asked the audience, why is there such a widespread impression that science contradicts faith? This is so ingrained in the modern psyche that when one sees a frum scientist he is looked upon as some sort of anomaly. Perhaps today it is less, but there is a prevailing belief that religion and science are contradictory. Why? How is it possible that specifically scientists can view all the wonders of the Creation, and yet can't recognize the existence of a Creator?

Scientists are capable of investigating and discovering information only through the means of the various tools at their disposal, like the microscope, the telescope, radar, x ray machines, etc. Hashem Yisborach, however, cannot be detected through the means of any of these tools. Therefore, from the standpoint of science it's as if He simply doesn't exist!

I'll give you an example. Imagine a scientist performing a scientific study to reveal the existence of a certain type of fish that is less than 1 millimeter long. He takes nets and trawls all the oceans and rivers in the world hunting for this fish, but he doesn't find it. He still hasn't proven that this fish doesn't exist because maybe he didn't hunt enough. If only he would search some more he would find it.

But imagine he met another scientist who told him that after analyzing the nature of fish nets for many years, at the end of his study he concluded that it was impossible to produce a net with holes smaller than 1 millimeter. If so, it is impossible to find this miniscule fish. This would cause the first scientist to cease his search.

Has he now proven that such a fish doesn't exist? Certainly not! He has merely proven that science does not have the proper tools for a proper exploration. Another example. You go into a room hunting for your friend. You search everywhere, on the table, under the table, every possible nook and cranny.

Afterwards you decide with certainty, your friend is not here. What is the basis for this conclusion? It is based on what you saw with your eyes. Your eyes are the tools by which you determine millions upon millions of facts because naturally that's what you have become used to doing. Whatever your eyes see, exists. And what you can't see, doesn't exist.

But that's a mistake. There are many things in Creation that you can't see and yet they exist: sound waves, radio waves, etc. If you judged everything by its ability to be seen, whenever you saw someone talking on a cellphone, you'd have to conclude he's mentally disturbed, He isn't talking to anyone! By your criteria that it has to be visible, radio waves don't exist. You have "scientific proof" that they don't exist because they are not visible!

The same is true about Hashem Yisborach. The only tools available to the scientists are the microscope and the telescope, etc. But these tools cannot detect anything spiritual.

The way to detect Hashem is only through the tool called Human intellect. One has to view things with a realistic outlook at all the marvels and miraculous phenomena all around. Just look at the human body. The eye is made up of four billion tiny parts, and the brain is made up of three hundred billion! And they all have to be synchronized together in order to work. And then the scientists conclude that this all came about by itself. How wonderful is random choice! How ridiculous.

No! How wonderful and marvelous is the Creator. There must be a Creator Who designed all these marvelous inventions. It's impossible that they just came about by themselves. There has to have been a designer. Reason is the tool by which we come to see Hashem Yisborach with a remarkable clarity. It's as clear as 2+2=4.

It is so clear to one who wishes to see it, feels that Hashem is actually speaking to him, and he can hear Him, and he comes to love the Ribono Shel Olam!

* * *

Absolute Emunah With Mesiras Nefesh When the Bnei Yisroel came to Yam Suf they were surrounded on all sides. The Egyptians were chasing them from behind, the sea was in front of them, and wild animals from the desert were running towards them from all sides. Suddenly Hakadosh Baruch Hu instructed Moshe, "Why do you cry out to Me? Speak to the Children of Israel and they should go!" (Shmos 14:15).

Nachshon ben Aminadav was the first to follow Hashem's directive. He jumped into the water and when the water was about to drown him he cried out, "Save me, O G-d, for water has come up to my soul" (Tehillim 69:2). Suddenly the water split.

Why, when Moshe was davening, Hashem told him why are you standing there davening? Yet afterwards they needed the tefilla of Nachshon ben Aminadav to split the Yam?

Once there was the concept called reisen himlen (rip open the Heavens). When, chas v'shalom, a family was faced with a calamity, the entire family would rush into the shul, open the aron hakodesh and with tears pouring down their cheeks they would scream out in tefilla from the depths of their hearts. Rav Pincus relates that one of his rebbes told over how in the Mir in Europe, once a bochur fell ill and his mother opened up the Holy Ark and cried her heart out. You don't see this today. But at least when tragedy strikes we gather together and say tehillim.

And yet Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu, why are you crying out to Me! What does this mean?

The holy Zohar tells us that when Klal Yisroel were standing before the Yam they needed an extraordinary amount of chesed. Even the most fervent tefilla was not sufficient to rescue them from the pending disaster. The only possibility to be rescued at that moment was to act with total mesiras nefesh. "Speak to the children of Israel and they should go!" They had to literally jump into the sea prepared to give their lives. Tefilla alone didn't have the power to save them. They had to ACT!

The essence of Krias Yam Suf was a situation of no other choice, no way out. It was clear to everyone that they had to cry out to Hashem. But in addition they needed mesiras nefesh. Only with the brute force of pure emunah could they be saved. Thus, only after Nachshon ben Aminadav jumped into the sea with absolute bitachon that Hashem would save them, only then was their tefilla answered and the sea split. Wishing everyone a Gut Yom Tov and
a Chag Kosher and Same'ach!

© Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel
Tel: 732-858-1257
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood).
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