Wednesday, April 6, 2016

V'higadeta L'bincha (Shemos 13:8): The Haggadah as a Tool for Educating Our Children?

I was discussing the mitzva of chinuch (education) on Shabbos. The statement was made that Pesach is the epitome of the process of chinuch where we are required to perpetuate the Mesorah regarding the redemption from Egypt. Everyone agreed that the verse of  V'higadeta L'bincha is a command to teach your children about the events of Egypt. That is why there is the discussion in the Hagadda about four sons - each of whom needs to be taught in a unique way with a sensitivity to his ability to grasp and digest what is being told him. Right?

However this is clearly not true according to my understanding of the Sefer Chinuch. 

Please look at the Chinuch  and explain how his explanation about the mitzva reflects that it is a concern with the father passing the mesora on to his children i.e. that the focus is on influencing the children.

ספר החינוך - מצוה כא
מצות סיפור יציאת מצרים:
לספר בענין יציאת מצרים בליל חמשה עשר בניסן כל אחד כפי צחות לשונו, ולהלל ולשבח השם יתברך על כל הנסים שעשה לנו שם, שנאמר [שמות י"ג, ח'] והגדת לבנך וגו'. וכבר פירשו הכמים דמצות הגדה זו היא בליל חמשה עשר בניסן בשעת אכילת מצה, ומה שאמר הכתרב לבנך, דלאו דוקא בנו, אלא אפילו עם כל בריה:

וענין המצוה, שיזכור הניסים והענינים שאירעו לאבותינו ביציאת מצרים, ואיך לקח האל יתברך נקמתינו מהן. ואפילו בינו לבין עצמו, אם אין שם אהרים, חייב להוציא הדברים בפיו כדי שיתעורר לבו בדבר, כי בדבור יתעורר הלב:
משרשי מצוה זו, מה שכתוב בקרבן הפסח. ואין מן התימה אם באו לנו מצוות רבות על זה, מצוות עשה ומצוות לא תעשה, כי הוא יסוד גדול ועמוד חזק בתורתנו ובאמונתנו. ועל כן אנו אומרים לעולם בברכותינו ובתפלותינו זכר ליציאת מצרים, לפי שהוא לנו אות ומופת גמור בחידוש העולם, וכי יש אלוה קדמון הפץ ויכול, פועל כל הנמצאות אל היש שהם עליו, ובידו לשנותם אל היש שיחפוץ בכל זמן מן הזמנים, כמו שעשה במצרים ששינה טבעי העולם בשבילנו, ועשה לנו אותות מחודשים גדולים ועצומים, הלא זה משתק כל כופר בחידוש העולם, ומקיים האמונה בידיעת השם יתברך, וכי השגהתו ויכלתו בכללים ובפרטים כולם:


  1. You write 'Clearly not true'.

    You are being far too black and white. Al pi halocho we all know that bincho is lav davka. It includes a spouse and indeed ones self. That is was the Chinuch is saying.

    But the very fact that the example that the torah gives is 'son' rather than just 'Vehigadato' full stop is the source that pesach is the 'epitome of chinuch'. 'Can haben shoel' is the lechitchilo, spouses, fellow rabbonim and indeed oneself are the next best.

    But the phrase 'epitome of chinuch' is far to vague to analyse in any meaningful way. And none of the sources you bring write that pesach is the epitome of chinuch anyway or mention the word mesora.

  2. But Pesach has great bearing on dealing with "Gadolim", a frequent subject on this blog.

    A kid is taught to challenge even his father, whom he must respect the utmost. He is taught to ask: "What is going on here? I want answers, and I want them now!"

  3. Even if Sefer HaChinuch doesn't stress it, many other sources do. You find the stress on passing on to children in Torah, Chazal, Rishonim and Acharonim.
    Just one example I recently saw where this concept leads to an important point: See Aruch HaShulchan end of 473.

  4. I think Rabbi Eidenson's understanding of The Chinuch is the correct one. The question is what is the goal that The Torah intends with this mitzva. Is it to disseminate the information to other(s), or is it to strengthen and reinforce the information within our own selves by the means of speaking it out? From the words of The Chinuch it is clearly mashma that he held the latter.

  5. "What is going on here? I want answers, and I want them now!" ? Why the sharpness and chutzpa? How about

    "What is going on here? Please answer me clearly so that I can understand"

  6. Did I say he misunderstood the chinuch? Of course he held the latter. But that is no contradiction.

  7. “That is why there is the discussion in the Hagadda about four sons - each of whom needs to be taught in a unique way with a sensitivity to his ability to grasp and digest what is being told him. Right?”

    The Sefer Chinuch says it differently from Rabbi Wiilig and from the Hamodia, far better, in my view. The mitzvah of telling of exodus from Egypt. Each to the purity of his language…must express orally so that the matter awakens in his heart.

    Of course I try to express orally so that my children and others sitting with me will follow, each to his/her level and temperament and such. I talk of how God changed nature laws for our benefit. Actually, my theory is that much of the miracles was to try to convince the wicked Pharaoh so that no one would die. Moses wanted to take the erev rav, hoping they would convert.

  8. R' Aharon Feldman also said that the primary Mitzva is Hallel.

  9. RY, please be more specific about your other sources. Is this something where there is a divide, as in certain other areas, between the rishonim and the achronim? Thank you very much.

  10. I always sensed urgency. Four questions. Quick succession. Bang bang bang!

  11. the chinuch is focusing on the story telling - that it should be learning that touches the heart. Now a good story teller knows how to get his audience involved and participate in the process. It is good to remember what the renowned American educator Deborah Meier said - that learning is essentially speaking , telling etc and teaching is listening, so that the seider leader should not be doing all the talking , if so he will be the only one learning


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