Four Special Children

Four Special Children
by Rabbi Goldie Milgram and Barry Bub, MD

What does it mean when a child
is described as being wise?

Is she filled with wisdom based on life experience?
Not simply the first to raise her hand in response to a question,
But also imbued with awareness of when to answer first,
and when to hold back
When to respect others, those gifted with other forms of intelligence
that she may not have
such as the ability
to be

What does it mean when a child
is described as wicked?

Can a child be wicked?
Or is that child the product of a dysfunctional home, 
acting out his own distress?
Or bored and being mischievous to keep himself entertained?
 Or suffering from attention deficit disorder?
Or intelligent, and the victim of teaching
that does not challenge?
 What does it mean for a child to be wicked?

What does it mean when a child
is described as simple?

Is this a child that is stupid or worse?
Or does she perhaps have a learning disability;
unable to cope with how she is being taught?
Though she does not satisfy
the aspirations of some,
do her hugs and laughter
bring others happiness and joy?
 And does her art reflect the world back
in surprising and moving ways?
 What does it mean for a child to be simple?

And what does it mean when
a child does not formulate a question?

Perhaps he has a question – locked deeply inside his mind
Perhaps he has, all too well,
learned the danger
of opening his mouth to speak
Or that questions are not to be valued as much
as answers
 What does it mean when a child does not question?

Come my child, join us at the seder table
here all your questions and your silence 
welcome and holy
Can you hum this with us?
mah nishtana ha-layla ha-zeh....*

Source: *"EpikomionEpi means "after" (as in epilogue), and komos means "banquet, merrymaking" (and is the root of the word "comedy")...'Normally this would involve going off to someone else's house, whether or not you have been invited, and indulging in another party.'…by the time of the Rishonim (Rashi, Rashbam and others), it was emphasized that the last piece of matza eaten should come from the broken and hidden piece. This is the origin of the siman (step) tzafun צפון- meaning "hidden"…Then, starting in the time of the Rishonim (Machzor Vitri, Sefer Rokeach, and others), the afikoman began to refer to the piece of matza eaten during tzafun…So the meaning of  afikoman changed from a forbidden act of revelry, to a dessert, to a required piece of matza during the meal. "