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    The wise son in the Bible

    The wise and wicked sons, as depicted in the Szyk Haggadah

    Though the Haggadah claims that “The Torah speaks of four sons”, in fact it is not the sons but their questions that the Torah records (actually, the fourth son’s question is not there, but the answer is, allowing us to imply that there is a son who does not or can not ask, and we have to take the initiative and tell him the story).

    The wise son’s question comes in Deut. 6:20-24, the wicked son’s in Ex. 12:26, the simple son’s in Ex. 13:14, and the hint of the fourth son is Ex. 13:8. Does the Bible ever use the names that the Haggadah gives the sons?

    For the present let us concentrate on the wise son. He appears in the Book of Proverbs (Prov. 10:1) – Ben chacham yesamach av – “a wise son makes a father happy”. Those who enjoy g’matria – the numerical value of Hebrew words and letters – will find that ben chacham is 2+50+8+20+40=120, the traditional age for a full life.

    Devoting himself to the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, the chacham deserves the blessing of long life.

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