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    Why he is wicked

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

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

    There are many explanations as to what makes the rasha a “wicked” son. Most focus on his words, “What does this service mean to you?”

    People think he is mocking old-fashioned rituals that have long since lost their point. What the interpreters often fail to recognise, however, is that the wicked son is not a hundred per cent wicked. When he mocks the traditional ritual, he is not necessarily saying that it never had a point. His view can be taken as saying, “I can see that it had meaning in the past, but surely we have outgrown such things”.

    He is also saying, “Some people can’t manage without rituals, but aren’t we more advanced intellectually these days, perfectly capable of handling ideas without tokens, totems and traditions?”

    The Haggadah’s response is a verse that says the Pesach ritual was ordained by God, not just for the post-Exodus generation, but as a permanent feature of Judaism.

    The implication? Not only is the ritual the word of God, but it answers a permanent need in human psychology, to have symbols of abstract concept and not to imagine that man can live on ideas without analogies and active reminders.

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