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אַרְבָּעָה בָּנִים | The Four Children — an alternative take by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

https://opensiddur.org/?p=55309 אַרְבָּעָה בָּנִים | The Four Children — an alternative take by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer 2024-04-10 12:25:07 This variation on the discourse of the four children in the Haggadah was (barring minor edits) first composed for my family's experimental small-scale seder in 2019, my second time ever leading a seder. I had come to the conclusion that for a text whose entire <em>ikkar</em> is for the children to learn, the Four Children narrative shows some shockingly bad pedagogy. So I decided to write a subversive take on it, where I applied its framework to some of the most serious problems facing the Jewish community today, and the mainline Jewish community's failings in dealing with them. Text the Open Siddur Project Isaac Gantwerk Mayer Isaac Gantwerk Mayer https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Isaac Gantwerk Mayer https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ Magid satire Four Children paraliturgical children 21st century C.E. 58th century A.M. haggadah supplements pedagogy disagreement
The following English text was (barring minor edits) first composed for my family’s experimental small-scale seder in 2019, my second time ever leading a seder. I had come to the conclusion that for a text whose entire ikkar is for the children to learn, the Four Children narrative shows some shockingly bad pedagogy. So I decided to write a subversive take on it, where I applied its framework to some of the most serious problems facing the Jewish community today, and the mainline Jewish community’s failings in dealing with them.

This was originally written to be recited as a call and response, with the service leader reading the narration and four guests reading the parts of the four children. (In the 2019 framework, the entire maggid was written out as a play, and the guests were assigned to different rabbis in Bene Brak — the Bad Parent being Tarfon, the wise one/smartass being Akiva, the wicked/freethinker being Eliezer, the simple/new learner being Yehoshua, and the one who does not know/minority language speaker being El’azar. That’s been removed from the text hear because when taken out of context it distracts from the gist of the reading.)

The Hebrew text is new — along with the Amharic. In order to make the text work bilingually I actually had to make a few changes to the English — originally the Bad Parent’s response was “Do… you… speak… English?” but that obviously doesn’t work in Hebrew!


TABLE HELP

Source (Hebrew, Amharic)Source (English, Spanish)
כְּנֶֽגֶד אַרְבָּעָה בָּנִים בְּתוֹכֵֽנוּ דִּבְּרָה תּוֹרָה,
וּכְנֶֽגֶד כׇּל־בֵּן יֵשׁ שְׁנֵי בָנִים,
וּכְנֶֽגֶד כׇּל־תְּשׁוּבָה שְׁתֵּי תְּשׁוּבוֹת.
אֲנַֽחְנוּ יוֹדְעִים אֶת־הָרִאשׁוֹנִים,
וְהָאַחֲרוֹנִים כָּאן נִגְלִים.
There are four children in each of us,
and each child is two children,
and each answer is two answers.
We know the former,
but the latter are here revealed.
מָה הֵם הַבָּנִים?
 
• אֶחָד חָכָם — אוֹ חׇכְמוֹלוֹג!
• אֶחָד רָשָׁע — אוֹ בַּֽעַל מַחְשָׁבָה חׇפְשִׁית!
• אֶחָד תָּם — אוֹ לוֹמֵד חָדָשׁ!
• וְאֶחָד שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵֽעַ לִשְׁאוֹל.
What are the children?
 
• A wise one — or a smart-ass!
• A wicked one — or a free-thinker!
• A simple one — or a new learner!
• And the one who does not know how to ask.
חָכָם, מָה הוּא אוֹמֵר?
”מָ֣ה הָעֵדֹ֗ת וְהַֽחֻקִּים֙ וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוָּ֛ה יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ אֶתְכֶֽם?“
בְּמִלִּים אֲחֵרוֹת?
”בְּדִיּוּק חָזַֽרְתִּי מֵהָאוּנִיבֶרְסִיטָה וַאֲנִי רוֹצֶה לְהִשְׁתַּבֵּֽחַ!“
וְאַף אֲנִי אֹמַר לוֹ בַּהֲלָכָה מְעֻרְפֶּֽלֶת
שֶׁהוּא יָבִיךְ אֶת־עַצְמוֹ מִמֶּֽנָּה.
”נוּ, תַּסְבִּיר לִי לָֽמָּה אִי אֶפְשָׁר לֶאֱכֹל קִנּֽוּחַ אַחֲרֵי חֲצוֹת?“
What does the wise one say?
“What are the testimonies and laws and rulings that the Cause our God commanded?”
In other words?
“I just got back from college and I want to show off!”
And I will respond with an obscure law
for him to embarrass himself with.
“So, explain to me why we can’t eat dessert after midnight?”
רָשָׁע, מָה הוּא אוֹמֵר?
”מָ֛ה הָעֲבֹדָ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את לָכֶֽם?“
בְּמִלִּים אֲחֵרוֹת?
”אֲנִי מַרְגִּישׁ מְנֻתָּק מִכְּלַל יִשְׂרָאֵל.“
וְאַף אֲנִי אֹמַר לוֹ בְּעֶלְבּוֹן בִּלְתִּי תּוֹעֶֽלֶת.
”אַתָּה לֹא יְהוּדִי אֲמִתִּי!
בַּחֲדָשׁוֹת אֲחֵרוֹת, הַנּוֹכְחוּת בְּבָתֵּי כְּנֶֽסֶת הִיא יוֹרֶֽדֶת בִּלְתִּי הֶסְבֵּר.“
What does the wicked one say?
“What is this work to you?”
In other words?
“I feel disconnected from the Jewish community.”
And I will respond with an unhelpful insult.
“You’re not a real Jew!
In other news, synagogue attendance is inexplicably dropping.”
תָּם, מָה הוּא אוֹמֵר?
”מַה־זֹּ֑את?“
בְּמִלִּים אֲחֵרוֹת?
”אַף פַּֽעַם לֹא הָיְתָה לִי גִּישָׁה לְחִנּוּךְ יְהוּדִי,
וַאֲנִי מְנַסֶּה לִלְמֹד אֶת הַיְּסוֹדוֹת מְאֻחָר יוֹתֵר בַּחַיִּים.“
וְאַף אֲנִי אֹמַר לוֹ בְּהֶסְבֵּר מִתְנַשֵּׂא וּמְפֻשָּׁט מִדַּי.
”הָיֹה הָיָה אִישׁ צַר וְאוֹיֵב,
וּשְׁמוֹ פַּרְעֹה!
אַתָּה יָכוֹל לוֹמַר ’פַּרְעֹה?‘“
What does the simple one say?
“What’s this?”
In other words?
“I never had access to a Jewish education,
and I’m trying to learn the basics later in life!”
And I will respond with a condescending, oversimplified explanation.
“Well once there was this wicked wicked man,
and his name was Pharaoh!
Can you say ‘Pharaoh?’”
וְשֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לִשְׁאוֹל, מָה הוּא אוֹמֵר?
שורה זו נותרה ריקה בכוונה
 
בְּמִלִּים אֲחֵרוֹת?
‎“እኔ የቋንቋው ተወላጅ አይደለሁም፣
ስለዚህ ፍላጎቴን የሚያሟላ የአይሁድ ማህበረሰብ ማግኘት አልቻልኩም።”
[1] תעתיק באותיות עבריות — ”אֶֽנֵי יַקְוָנְֽקְוָו תַּֽוַלַג׳ אַידַּלַהֽוּם, סֶלַזִֽה פְלַגוֹתֵּֽן יַמִיָמְוָֽלָה יַאַיְהֽוּד מָהֶבַּרַסַֽב מָגְּנְיַֽת אַלְצָֽ׳לְכּוּם“‏ 
וְאַף אֲנִי אֹמַר לוֹ וְלֹא אֶעֱזֹר.
”הַאִם… אַתָּה… מֵבִין… אוֹתִי?“
What does the one who does not know how to ask say?
this line intentionally left blank
 
In other words?
“No soy hablante nativo del idioma,
“por lo que no puedo encontrar una comunidad judía que satisfaga mis necesidades.”[2] Translation: “I am not a native speaker of the language, so I cannot find a Jewish community that meets my needs.” 
And I will respond without helping.
Do… you… understand… me?

 

Notes

Notes
1תעתיק באותיות עבריות — ”אֶֽנֵי יַקְוָנְֽקְוָו תַּֽוַלַג׳ אַידַּלַהֽוּם, סֶלַזִֽה פְלַגוֹתֵּֽן יַמִיָמְוָֽלָה יַאַיְהֽוּד מָהֶבַּרַסַֽב מָגְּנְיַֽת אַלְצָֽ׳לְכּוּם“‏
2Translation: “I am not a native speaker of the language, so I cannot find a Jewish community that meets my needs.”

 

 

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