Sunday, August 17, 2008

Delicacies From Yechezkel's Shabbos Table - Solving Tomorrow's Issues Today

One of my recent posts spelled out how we can learn so much from words or terms that are surreptitiously added or mysteriously omitted. This applies to the language of the Torah in a theological sense and to the slanted expressiveness of Human beings in a socio-political sense.

In last week's Parsha, Rav Zalman Sorotzkin, ZT"L, one of the sharpest scriptural sleuths of the modern era, presents an example that may be applicable to both of the above mentioned realms. Rav Sorotzkin, ZT"L, passed away 42 years ago, but it seems like this observation was meant for today.

In Parshas V'Eschanan, the Torah recounts the dialogue that the Haggada attributes to the wise son, the Chacham. Hence the Torah (Devarim 6:20) says:

כ כי ישאלך בנך מחר לאמר מה העדת והחקים והמשפטים אשר צוה יהוה אלהינו אתכם

Here, the Torah tells us that the wise son will ask this question מחר - tomorrow. Rashi explains that the term "tomorrow" is not meant to indicate the very next day but rather a more distant "tomorrow" implying a future generation. A generation after the one that personally experienced the Exodus from Egypt.

The Oznayim L'Torah notes that this is not the first time that the Torah employs the term מחר when discussing the father-son dialogue concerning the Korban Pesach. The Torah already used this language in Parshat Bo (Shmos 13:14) in the verse that is attributed to the simple son (the Tam):

יד והיה כי ישאלך בנך מחר לאמר מה זאת ואמרת אליו בחזק יד הוציאנו יהוה ממצרים מבית עבדים

There, as well, Rashi makes the same comment concerning the term "machar". He (Oznayim L'Torah) further notes that there are 2 more verses that the Haggadah attributes to the wicked son (Rasha) and the ignorant son (Eino Yodeah Lish'ol) in Parshas Bo (Shmos 12:26 and 13:8) that do not employ the term מחר .

Why by the wise and simple sons does the Torah say מחר and by the wicked and ignorant sons the Torah does not say מחר ?

He explains that there is an intrinsic distinction between the wise and simple sons on one hand and the wicked and ignorant sons on the other. The wise and simple sons are looking to participate, they want "in". The wicked and ignorant sons are looking to distance themselves, they want "out".

In today's terms we would categorize the sons as follows:

Wise Son = FFB

- He was brought up in a religious environment and wants to observe mitzvos to their fullest extent. He wants to know all the Halachos and kavanos to the mitzvos that he has been doing all his life.

Simple Son = BT

- He is a disciple of the wise son. He was not raised in a religious environment and he has never truly observed the mitzvos. Yet, he feels he is missing out on something and is genuinely interested and asks "what is this all about?"

Wicked Son = OTD

- He was brought up in a religious environment and was trained to do mitzvos. Yet, he never felt that they were meaningful to him. They do not apply to him. So he removes himself from the Klal. "This burden (avoda) is for you, not for me."

Ignorant Son = Chiloni (Secular)

- He is a disciple of the wicked son. He was not brought up in a religious environment. He knows very little about it and is not interested in knowing more. All he knows is that the religious exist but he takes his cue from the wicked son to write them off as meaningless and "irrelevant" in today's world.

The Oznayim L'Torah goes on to say that the generation of Moshe Rabbenu was complete in its observance. Those who were "looking in" could see the whole picture. It is only in future generations when we begin to lose some of our mesora that we must endeavor to preserve the basic tenets for those who get pulled away and do not wish to get lost. As such, the wise and simple sons of the Torah will not yet exist in Moshe's generation. They will only be here מחר - tomorrow.

Conversely, those who want out – those who are looking to get lost – can do so even in the greatest of generations. As such, there is no need to employ the term מחר because such people can exist even in the generation of Moshe Rabbenu.

1 comment:

Baruch said...

I'll assume you didn't mean that the Wise Son is de facto an FFB and I'll assume you didn't mean that a baal teshuva is necessarily a simple son. You probably meant a "new baal teshuva" and an FFB who is truly interested in the Torah for the sake of improving his yiras shamayim...and you probably meant these only as examples and not to say that the Wise Son can ONLY be an FFB and Baalei Teshuvah can ONLY be simpletons.

See R' Weinbach's comments at
"The challenge of the wise son who wishes to know more and more about the deeper meanings of the guidelines given by G-d to His chosen people is answered not only on Pesach eve but every day of the year in the yeshivot and day schools throughout the world where Torah is taught...

The simpleton, who is not necessarily lacking in intelligence but rather in knowledge, represents so many young Jews today whose familiarity with Jewish tradition is sparse but whose curiosity about it has already been aroused."