Hurry and clean the bread out of your homes! Quick! Those bagels are about to become the very link to your own personal disconnect with Hashem. What? No bagels? That’s fine, a breakfast burrito or some pancakes will do. Yeah, right! Welcome to Passover! Carbohydrates in some of their best forms become sinful thoughts for eight days.
For two nights (the two seders), we find ourselves surrounded by family and friends. For some, it’s a joy. For many, it’s a challenge. For few, it may be the only Jewish experience we have all year. The way we handle our Judaism can also be compared to the four sons mentioned in the Haggadah. The four sons are: the wise (“Chacham” in Hebrew) , the simple (or lazy, “Tam” in Hebrew), the wicked (“Rasha” in Hebrew) and the silent (“She’aino Yodea Lishol” in Hebrew, meaning “The Son who Doesn’t Know Enough to Ask”).
Many people focus on the one who does not know how to ask. Ironically, however, many of us at the table are actually the wicked son. I mean, if you’re at the table, you probably have the idea you’re Jewish right? It is exactly this that keeps sites like our very own Punktorah.com alive. For many Jews, you have sat year after year at a shabbos table or a Passover seder and thought “Why am I here?” You know at least the most basic of laws and you might even attend young adult events or have hit a Hillel in college or a BBYO event in your teen years of punk rock rebellion.
What is crucial to understand about all these sons (or daughters… I mean, I am a YENTApunker… not a MENCHEpunker) is that each has a place at the table. What Jewish person wouldn’t have enough food for one more extra person anyway? Yet, it is the wicked son that seems to be embraced by many of us though. The wicked thinks the laws apply to other Jews, but not themselves.
Situation: It’s a Monday morning and after a long night of punk rock craziness you ignored your alarm. You’re now totally screwed and cannot make it to work on time. You throw on a shirt that is only moderately wrinkled, hop in your economy vehicle, and speed to work.
Now, it is highly possible that a police officer never catches you on the way to work. However, Hashem sees everything. He knows that you’re aware you’re breaking laws and putting yourself or others at risk. If you continue to speed, knowing the legal limit, you too fit in the wicked category.
Why would I want to label many of my loved ones as wicked and not the wise or the simple? Well… it seems so much nicer to realize we all have an ability to grow. The wise son almost implies we have nothing left to learn. However, our neshamas have much to learn and can always learn more. Many of us are not simple. We are not lazy, we are functioning in the secular and the Jewish community. The long hours of Tikkun Olam have to count for something right? But wicked, many of us proudly are, despite the connotation.
Wicked sounds so unpleasant, but I implore you challenge the connotation and see its beauty. Embrace the idea that you might learn something at the table or that you might have it in you to learn something this year. Being wicked doesn’t have to be looked upon as bad. Acknowledge and embrace your wickedness. Enjoy it, but use it to identify where you can grow spiritually.
Overall, the laws do apply to us all. This Pesach try and find one law to learn. Hell, pick up some Leviticus and read. It won’t hurt you anymore than those commercials for Viagra do. I mean, if it’s from Hashem it’s perfect right? So nourish your spiritual roots in four glasses of wine and remember, it’s punk rock to be wicked.
L’Chaim and Chag Sameach!
You’ll never find a better sparring partner than adversity.