Monday, July 4th | 5 Tammuz 5782

April 13, 2022 11:49 am

Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s Passover Message

avatar by Ronn Torossian


Staff members of the Metropolitan Council’s program assisting victims of domestic abuse are seen organizing a Passover food distribution in New York City. Photo: Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty..

With Passover approaching, it is timely to revisit Zionist ideologue Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s Passover message. Jabotinsky wrote about Passover in an article titled, “Four Sons,” which speaks of his deep understanding of the meaning of the four sons’ story traditionally read on Passover.

Jabotinsky wrote:

The first is clever, the second is impudent, the third a simpleton, and the fourth “such that he doesn’t even know how to ask” …

The Clever: The clever boy wrinkles his high forehead, gazes searchingly with his big eyes and wants to know what really the matter was. Why did they first love his forefathers in Egypt, welcome them with open arms, and then begin persecuting and tormenting them, and, so queerly they kept on persecuting and tormenting them and throwing the baby boys into the rivers, but wouldn’t for anything let them go. What was the explanation, …  asks the clever boy.

The Impudent: The second boy is “impudent” — there he sits — lolling back in his chair, crossing his feet and grinning ironically — and asks — “what are all these funny customs and memories of YOURS? All this silly old nonsense should have been forgotten long ago!”

“Blunt his teeth” says the ritual of the Passover concerning this son. But I doubt if his teeth can be blunted … for nothing is more unvanquishable than indifference. Nothing can touch him. Once he says of his own people, “you” — you can give him up … He will go on grinning at you with all his teeth, and nothing that you can do will blunt them. And, indeed, you should not blunt the teeth of this son. Let him go on his way with strong teeth. Poor fellow, he will need them in the encampment of the triumphant whither he is drawn. He will have to crack hard nuts there, and the hardest will be the nut of contempt.

The Simpleton: The third boy is the simpleton. His eyes are honest, clear and direct. He is not of those who inquire, discover and excavate contradictions. For him the world is simple and indisputable. He loves to believe and worship with the simple faith of the primitive man … an artless, single-minded trustfulness.

“Daddy” he says, and planting his elbows and pressing his chest on the table, he stretches out his neck and turns to you … believing already everything you will tell him, for he wants to believe.  … Tell him how in a thousand different places, the newly scattered temple of the undying people is being raised by a thousand hands. Tell him how gradually the hitherto scattered national will is being unified before our eyes, how again a real people is being created … like all healthy nations … Tell him how everywhere, with every day ,the pride and respect for our own individuality grows … Tell him what wonderful poets are now writing in our tongue, and how beautiful … this tongue is.

The One Who Doesn’t Know How to Ask:  The fourth boy does not know how to ask. He sits at the table sedately, does everything properly and it does not even enter his head to ask what it is all about and why. According to the ritual, you should not wait for his questions but tell him of your own accord.

I disagree …there is sometimes a higher wisdom … in that a man takes something from the past without question, without curiosity as to causes or effects … According to the ritual, you should tell this son about everything that he does not ask. But I think, let the father too be silent and … kiss this son on his brow, the surest keeper of the sacrament.

This Passover, Israel remains the center of Jewish life. Am Yisrael Chai — the Jewish people live.

Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur and author.  

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