Pictures Tell: A Passover Haggadah Four Children

Created in partnership with Josh Feinberg and Sara Wolkenfeld

Nursery School, Santiago, Chile ©Zion Ozeri

כְּנֶגֶד אַרְבָּעָה בָנִים דִּבְּרָה תוֹרָה: אֶחָד חָכָם, וְאֶחָד רָשָׁע, וְאֶחָד תָּם, וְאֶחָד שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לִשְׁאוֹל.

חָכָם מָה הוּא אוֹמֵר? מָה הָעֵדוֹת וְהַחֻקִּים וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ אֶתְכֶם. וְאַף אַתָּה אֱמוֹר לוֹ כְּהִלְכוֹת הַפֶּסַח: אֵין מַפְטִירִין אַחַר הַפֶּסַח אֲפִיקוֹמָן:

רָשָׁע מָה הוּא אוֹמֵר? מָה הָעֲבוֹדָה הַזּאֹת לָכֶם. לָכֶם - וְלֹא לוֹ. וּלְפִי שֶׁהוֹצִיא אֶת עַצְמוֹ מִן הַכְּלָל כָּפַר בְּעִקָּר. וְאַף אַתָּה הַקְהֵה אֶת שִׁנָּיו וֶאֱמוֹר לוֹ: "בַּעֲבוּר זֶה עָשָׂה ה' לִי בְּצֵאתִי מִמִּצְרָיִם". לִי וְלֹא-לוֹ. אִלּוּ הָיָה שָׁם, לֹא הָיָה נִגְאָל:

תָּם מָה הוּא אוֹמֵר? מַה זּאֹת? וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו "בְּחוֹזֶק יָד הוֹצִיאָנוּ ה' מִמִּצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים".

וְשֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לִשְׁאוֹל - אַתְּ פְּתַח לוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְהִגַּדְתָּ לְבִנְךָ בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא לֵאמֹר, בַּעֲבוּר זֶה עָשָׂה ה' לִי בְּצֵאתִי מִמִּצְרָיִם.

Corresponding to four children did the Torah speak; one [who is] wise, one [who is] evil, one who is innocent and one who doesn't know to ask.

What does the wise [child] say? "What are these testimonies, statutes and judgments that the Lord our God commanded you?" And accordingly you will say to them, as per the laws of the Pesach sacrifice, "We may not eat an afikoman [a dessert or other foods eaten after the meal] after [we are finished eating] the Pesach sacrifice. (Mishnah Pesachim 10:8)"

What does the evil [child] say? "What is this worship to you?" 'To you' and not 'to me.' And since they excluded himself from the collective, they denied a principle [of the Jewish faith]. And accordingly, you will blunt his teeth and say to him, "'For the sake of this, did the Lord do [this] for me in my going out of Egypt' (Exodus 13:8)." 'For me' and not 'for them.' If they had been there, they would not have been saved.

What does the simple [child] say? "What is this?" And you will say to them, "'With the strength of [God's] hand did the Lord take us out from Egypt, from the house of slaves' (Exodus 13:14).'"

And [regarding] the one who doesn't know to ask, you will open [the conversation] for them. As it is stated (Exodus 13:8), "And you will speak to your child on that day saying, for the sake of this, did the Lord do [this] for me in my going out of Egypt."

  • For Discussion:

  • How does this photograph connect with the text for you?

  • How would you describe each of the children in this photo? What adjective or trait would you ascribe to each one? Do you think it’s possible to describe each of these children – or any child – with just one adjective, as the Haggadah does?

  • Which figure in the photograph best reflects how you might have posed for a picture like this when you were a child?

  • The Haggadah describes four types of children, or learners. Do you think it’s possible to represent all learners using just four types of children? Are there particular types of learners missing from this conversation? Which ones?

For Further Reflection:

  • It makes sense that different questions (or statements) by the four children receive different responses. The book of Proverbs says that it is important to educate learners according to the way they learn best. Read the text and consider: How do you learn best? What are some of the ways that teachers or mentors have helped you to learn new things? Do you think a person learns in the same way throughout his or her life?

  • The idea of passing on stories to the next generation is core to the Passover haggadah. These verses, which are quoted in some of the answers to the four children, reflect that idea. But as this section of the Haggadah also makes clear, different people take in wisdom differently. What are some creative and interesting ways we might tell the Passover story to ensure that all kinds of "children" will hear and understand?

Tell Your Own Story:

Take a picture with this question in mind: What characteristics do you hope to embody as a learner or student? After you take your photo, give it a caption. You can find some helpful photography tips here.