The great joy of an 'evil son'

Verse used when Moshe promises the Jews that they will have children born in Israel is same used in Haggada in context of the evil son.

Tags: Exodus
Rabbi Shlomo Sobol ,

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
INN: Daniel Malichi

The place is Egypt, the time is a few hours before the plague of the firstborn. And now is the time that Moshe reminds the nation of Israel the purpose of all of the miracles which occurred for them and why they are making their preparations to depart from Egypt. They must not forget that the ultimate goal of the Exodus from Egypt is to enter the Land of Israel.

As Moshe says to the nation "And it will come to pass, when you will come to the land which the L-rd has given you and you will perform His service and your children will say to you, ‘What is this service for you?’ and you will say to them ‘It is the Pesach offering to G-d who skipped over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt. When he smote Egypt, he saved our house’. And the nation bowed down (in thanks to G-d).”

In these verses Moshe announces to the nation of Israel that after they leave Egypt they will enter the Land of Israel and there they will bear children. In response, the people of Israel thanked G-d for this and bowed to Him. And in the words of Rashi: " ‘And the people bowed’ – because of the news of the redemption and the coming to the land and also the news of the children that will be born to them.”

But there is something confusing here. In the above verses the Torah quotes what the children who will be born in the Land of Israel will say: "מה העבודה הזאת לכם - What is this service for you?". This question is well known to us from the Passover Haggadah, and it is precisely the question of the evil son! If so, what is the good news that the people of Israel are thanking God for? For the birth of wicked children, Heaven forbid?

But it may be said that there are two kinds of evil people. There are “small” evildoers and there are “great” evildoers. A “small” evil person lives his life far from the Torah way because a Torah life requires mental effort and overcoming temptations, whereas the evil one seeks material hedonism and pursuit of the pleasures of this world. But there is the “great” evildoer who understands that there is a spiritual purpose to life beyond the pleasures of the body, but he personally does not connect to the life of Torah and mitzvot for ideological reasons. The Torah and the mitzvot seem to him obsolete, chauvinistic or irrelevant and therefore he rejects it.

This “evil son” is an ideologist, willing to turn the world upside down for something he believes in, but he does not believe in the relevance of the Torah to our generation. That is why these children ask their parents "מה העבודה הזאת לכם? - Why are you preoccupied with a Torah that is not relevant? We want to fix the world, we are looking for truth, and we do not find the truth in the Torah of our parents.”

Such children are great souls who need great answers. They have excellent existential questions, and they are unwilling to settle for shallow and superficial faith. To these children we need to show and give over the greatness of the Torah and its commandments. We need to help them experience the happiness and sweetness that is in the Torah. We need to show them how the Torah corrects the world and mankind and how it is always relevant to every generation.

Once they discover the great light that is in the Torah they will connect to it with all their might, for they are seekers of truth and of life with meaning. Upon hearing the news that such wonderful children will be born to them, surely the response of the people, "to bow (in thanks) to G-d” is the correct one.

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol is the head of the Barkai Rabbinical Organization and the rabbi of the Shaarei Yonah community of Menachem Modi'in



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