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Looking For Additions to The Seder?

Every year, many of us seek new elements to incorporate into the seder. We search for rituals, readings, prayers, activities, foods, and more, aiming to make the ancient teachings and messages relevant to our contemporary lives.


This year, one thing weighing heavily on my mind is the captives in Gaza. For six months, they have been languishing, separated from their loved ones and friends. What will Passover be like for them? What will Pesach be like for their families?


One of the symbols of the Pesach seder is the section known as the Four Children. We read about the wise child, the wicked child, the simple child, and the child too young to know how to ask questions. I have often pondered a fifth child, as Rabbi Shlomo Risken mentions in his Haggadah. He suggests that even more troubling than the wicked child is the one who doesn’t bother to attend the seder. This child has distanced themselves so much from the family, Judaism, and the community that they cannot even muster the effort to join the Seder. At least the wicked child, Risken suggests, is present at the table, allowing for dialogue. We cannot engage in conversation with those who refuse to come to the table.


But this year, I am contemplating a different fifth child. This child, too, is absent from the Seder. This year, I am thinking about the hostages who yearn to be with their families, and whose families anxiously await their safe return.


There is a beautiful poem written by Adina Roth, a fourth-year rabbinical student at Yeshivat Maharat and Director of Jewish Life at Emanuel School in Sydney, Australia. You may consider incorporating it into your seder this year.


"The Fifth Child"

Tonight is Pesach night

And some Jews are not free

As we wash our hands, will they have water to wash theirs?

When the ‘master of the house’  breaks the middle matzah-

Will they invite in their captor to split the bread of affliction?

Their charoset- the tunnels

The marror - their bitter tears

There will be no meal,  no Afikoman

Though we seek them constantly, they are hidden

But when it comes to the telling- I hope they tell.

Like Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Elazar Ben Azarayah

Let them tell the story all night long

And be disturbed by a student in the morning saying

‘It is time for the Shema-come, with us’

Except for them there will be no night

And there will be no day

And there is not yet a student coming with the Shema

But still, how I hope they tell the story


 Let us pray that the hostages may be returned safely to their families in time for Pesach and if not, may they be returned as soon as possible. 


Shabbat Shalom



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