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Tradition & Innovation

The Four Children

four children are playing in a field surrounded by trees. The one on the far left is wearing a blue shirt and white shorts and is getting ready to jump. The one in the middle back is wearing a green shirt and blue shorts and is jumping in the air with both hands overhead. The one in the middle front is wearing a red shirt and dark blue shorts and is squatting with both hands in the air, elbows bent. The fourth one on the far right is wearing a blue shirt and red pants and is jumping in the air.
The Torah refers to four kinds of children and four stages of spiritual evolution:
 
What does the wise child say? "What are the statutes, the testimonies, and the laws that God has commanded you to do?"  This is the one who is so wrapped up the details of the laws, in being right, and in being the favorite, that this person cannot be happy without being an authority. The person is asking for attention, which we can give lovingly.
 
What does the wicked child say? "What does this service mean to you?" This person wants to know if there is still meaning in the ancient rituals and the retelling of the story. To this person we must respond with any truth in our own understanding, with patience, and with the conviction that we are all still searching.
 
What does the simple child say? "What is this?"  This person sees all the inequalities of the world, its inconsistencies, and injustices. One can say to this person that compassion is a precious thing, and that it must never stop us from acting to make the world a better place.
 
And the one who does not ask, is perhaps the one most spiritually evolved, who does not even need to ask a question. This person accepts the wholeness of the world in its entirety, enjoying the company of family and friends, and the great blessings of being alive.

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