D’var Torah: The Blessing of Diversity
When we sit at our seder tables tomorrow night, we will once again be reminded that the Torah alludes to four types of children; one wise, one rebellious/wicked, one simple and one who does not know how to ask. We are instructed on how to teach each of these children about the heart of our Pesach story, the Exodus from Egypt. As an educator and parent, I love this part of the Haggadah. We are FINALLY being given an instruction manual for our children; if they ask this question, we should respond that way. The guesswork has been taken out of our job! However, the assumption that our Haggadah attaches varying levels of virtue to each of these types of children has never sat well with me. Does the Torah really mean to teach that some children are “better” than others? To answer this troubling question, we only have to look as far as the opening words of this section:
בָּרוּךְ הַמָּקוֹם, בָּרוּךְ הוּא, בָּרוּךְ שֶׁנָּתַן תּוֹרָה לְעַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל, בָּרוּךְ הוּא
Blessed is the place of all, Blessed is God, Blessed is the one who gave the Torah to the People Israel,
Blessed is God.
The word בָּרוּךְ (blessed) appears four times. One time for each of the Four Children because every child (or every adult for that matter) is blessed and brings blessings to the world. There can be no hierarchy. The artist and calligrapher David Moss takes this interpretation one step further in his illustrated haggadah. He explains that every child is unique and the Torah embraces them all. He chose to depict each child as a playing card. As in a game of chance, we have no control over the children we are dealt. It is our job as parents, grandparents and educators to embrace the children we have been given and make sure they feel loved and accepted for who they are.
This basic tenant is the cornerstone of Ramah New England. Whether at one of the day camps or the overnight camp, each summer our tzevet (staff) works diligently to create an environment in which every chanich/a (camper) feels safe and valued. We strive to meet each child where they are, recognizing that every one of the chanichim (campers) comes to us with their own set of skills, talents, and needs. This is the most basic understanding and very meaning of רמה לכולם (Ramah for All).
Chag kasher v’sameach.