More Questions to Ask at the Seder
The Seder is famous for its effort to include everyone in the ritual. Everyone gets to read out loud from the Haggadah, and there’s the special place for the youngest reader at the table to ask the famous Four Questions.
I have yet to meet a Jewish family that didn’t have a lot to talk about at a meal, but since the Seder is an organized meal (in fact, the word “seder” means “order”) it could be helpful to have some thought-provoking kid-friendly topics for those two nights. Perhaps ask four questions of the children.
This Passover, Ask the Kids Some Questions
Younger children are still figuring out a lot about what’s going on at Passover. Even those who have “aged out” of the Four Questions probably have some questions that they hesitate to ask. Think about how you can ask them questions to stimulate a conversation to link the Passover celebration to modern life.
One good idea is to tie in what they’re learning at school in their social studies and history classes to the historic events around the holiday. Here are some Passover questions you can pose to them:
- What’s the worst plague (after the death of the firstborn)? Why?
- Why do you think Pharaoh was so stubborn?
- Who do you think is the biggest hero of the Passover story (aside from Moses)?
- Do the wrong people sometimes get punished? Did the Egyptians deserve to suffer so much when it was Pharaoh who was the main bad guy?
It can also be a good to discuss the sizable, if understated, role that women played in the Exodus:
- Moses’ own mother, Jochebed, wove his basket in the hopes that if she helped him disappear, someone would take pity on him
- Pharaoh’s daughter saved the baby Moses and guessed that the Hebrew woman she hired to care for him was probably his mother
- Moses’ sister Miriam watched his basket so be sure someone rescued him and later became the leader of the women leaving Egypt
- Shiprah and Puah were midwives who disobeyed Pharaoh’s order to kill firstborn boys; were they the first to disobey Pharaoh and put the idea of an Exodus in motion?
Historic Issues to Consider About the Exodus
If your Seder table has older children or teens, you can bump up the level to discuss some interesting conversation about the Exodus.
There’s not a heck of a lot of evidence that the Exodus ever happened. This hardly means that it didn’t but it is possible to consider that the Hebrews were just one of many slaves in Egypt and were not quite as numerous as we may believe. The first reference to Exodus is in the Song of Miriam, as the theologian Richard Elliott Friedman points out, and there is no census data in that piece.
It’s pretty clear that the Hebrews weren’t in Egypt at the time that the Pyramids were built. The Torah certainly doesn’t mention the Pyramids; if anything, they were almost certainly built by workers who were in fact well-cared for in order to have the energy to do the back-breaking work, according to archaeologists.
Exodus is certainly part of the Jewish legacy and if anything, it forecasted the Jews’ ability to survive, recover, and thrive. You can consider it the first example of this ability.