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Tzvi Schectman
BY Tzvi Schectman

Why Should We Engage the Child that Doesn’t Know How To Ask?

At the Passover Seder the Haggadah speaks about the four types of sons mentioned in the Torah

  • The wise child
  • The wicked child
  • The simple Child
  • The child who does not ask

The wise child gets attention and the fawning adoration of adults for the smart things they say.
The wicked child gets attention as everybody tries to pull him back on track.

But what about the child that doesn’t even know how to ask?
Who pays attention to him or her?
What resources are offered?
Or are people just content that as long as they are not asking, we’re not telling?

The answer to the silent one

The Torah tells us there are four children. Each one has a place at the Seder. Each one is necessary for retelling the story of our freedom. We answer each one of them. Even the one who doesn’t ask us a question.

What does the Haggadah tell us about the one who does not know how to ask?

In Hebrew

As for The One Who Knows Not How To Ask—you must open up [the conversation] for him.

As it is written: You shall tell your child on that day: “It is because of this that G‑d acted for me when I left Egypt”(Exodus 13:8).

The Hebrew word P’SACH is used. It means open up. There are two ways to read it. One way is you have to open the conversation. You have to be the one to start it off. He doesn’t know how to ask, so you have to initiate. You have to draw him into it. Engage him.

The second explanation of the word means you open him up. Open him up and you’ll find what he has within him. If you would just ignore him and leave him alone you would never realize the connection that he has to the seder and to the story of our freedom. The child that doesn’t know how to ask has an equal connection to the story of passover as the other children at the seder.

A Profound Lesson: Engaging individuals with special needs

The story of the four sons that are mentioned in the Haggadah have a clear message for us on how to relate to individuals with special needs. Countless children with special needs “don’t know how to ask”, they do not know how to engage with others, they do not know how to include themselves.

Just like at the seder, these individuals have a seat at the table….. a fully equal seat.
Just like at the seder, a child with special needs has a role to play and a mission to fulfil in this world.
Just like at the seder, we have an obligation to help and engage individuals with special needs so that they can be included.
Just like at the seder, we need to “open up” individuals with special needs and strive to meet them at their soul level and understand the special and amazing qualities that they have.

By following these lessons we can make this world an inclusive place, truly free from evils of isolation and exclusion.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and Inclusive Passover!


Tzvi Schectman

Written on April 1, 2015 by:

Tzvi Schectman is the Family Coordinator for the Friendship Circle of Michigan and the Editor of the the Friendship Circle Blog. You can connect with Tzvi on LinkedIn and Google+