Rory Oren, Animated Haggadah,
Israel, ©1985 Jonathan Lubell, Scopus Films
Four Children as Four Books:
The Haggadah in Memory of the Holocaust, ©1988
The four children in The Haggadah in Memory of the Holocaust reflect
different attitudes towards Jewish tradition as symbolized by a
book for we are "the people of the book," in the phrase
coined by the Muslims. For the wise child, Judaism is an open book
with letters to be read and studied. For the wicked child, the tradition
burns up as it is destroyed. The association with Nazi book burning
is chilling. For the simple child the book is open since he asks
questions, but the child himself is still blank, still unlearned.
Finally, for the fourth child, Judaism is a closed book. This child
awaits someone to "open" the book and the pupil to one
another as the Haggadah advises "You will open up" the
Exodus story for the child who does not even know how to ask. TOP
Blessing of Diversity:
David Moss, The Moss Haggadah, ©1996
The artist and calligrapher David Moss explains his depiction
of the Four Children:
Every child is unique and the Torah embraces
them all. The iconography that I've chosen here is based on playing
cards. As in a game of chance, we have no control over the children
dealt us. It is our task as parents, as educators, to play our hand
based on the attributes of the children we are given. It is the
child, not the parent, who must direct the process. This, I believe,
is the intent of the midrash of the four children.
Each child's question appears on his card, and
the Haggadah's answer appears below the card. The gold object in
each picture denotes the suit of the card. The staves, swords, cups
and coins used in Southern Europe developed parallel to the more
familiar hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades of Northern Europe.
The figures are likewise taken from archaic systems of playing cards
which included king, knight, page, and joker or fool. The king image
here represents the wise child wearing the crown of Torah. The knight
represents the wicked child. In almost all old haggadot the wicked
child is shown as a soldier, sometimes mounted, sometimes on foot.
The page is the simple child, and the joker or fool is the child
who is not even capable of asking.
I got the idea of representing the children as
cards, by the way, from the tradition dating from the Middle Ages
of depicting the simple child, or the child who doesn't know how
to ask, as a jester or fool. I drew a book in each picture and positioned
it to reflect each child's attitude to the tradition.
The text of the Haggadah introduces the four children
with a short passage in which the word baruch (blessed) appears
four times. I have designed these two pages to correlate each of
these four "blessings" with one of the four children: every child
is a blessing.
Diversity, how we deal with it, and how we can
discover the blessing within it, is perhaps the theme of the midrash
of the Four Children.
(David Moss, 20th C. artist, U.S.A. and Israel)
Teen Looks at Israeli Society:
2 Views from Tanya Zion (1994
Tanya Zion, an Israeli teenager from a religious Zionist family
(and daughter of Noam Zion, author of A Different Night) offers
two portraits of Israeli society using Four Children. In 1994 she
looked at both choices and no choices. Most provocative is her view
of the Child Who Does Not Know How To Ask ultra-orthodox
youth, who are taught NOT to ask critical questions about his relation
to Zionism, to Western culture or to Torah. In 1996 she looked at
choices for girls as role models change. TOP