Before Passover arrives in Jewish homes around the world, many are hard at work preparing for the holiday. Lots of preparation is needed for the Seder.

The Seder is much more than just a holiday meal. On Passover night, G-d wants us to feel as if we ourselves are going out of Egypt. To help us capture this feeling, our Sages gave us instructions for what to say and what to do. We follow them step by step. That’s why we call this the Seder, which means “order.”

But at one point during the Seder, when we read about the four sons from the Haggadah, things don’t seem to be in order. We mention the wise son first, then the wicked son, then the simple son, and finally, the son who does not even know how to ask questions.

Shouldn’t the wicked son come last? After all, he is not interested in G-d’s mitzvos. The simple son and the one who does not know how to ask may not be as wise, but they want to do what G-d wants, and that is most important. Why does the wicked son deserve to be second in line, next to the wise son?

No son is really wicked. His actions may be wrong, or his deeds may be lacking, but his soul is still a part of G-d. The wicked son is next to the wise son because he has the power to become just as learned, and his behavior can be just as good. He is just one step away from him; all he needs to do is to correct his behavior.

But what about the wise son? What can he learn from being next to the wicked son?

The wise son is reminded how easily he could slip into the place next to him. He shouldn’t be too confident and sure of himself. He must always be on the alert and check his deeds. The wicked son next to him is a constant reminder that he must always continue to improve himself.

But the wicked son was put next to the wise son to be more than just a reminder. The wise son is responsible for looking sideways and seeing who is placed next to him. He should do everything possible to help the wicked son mend his ways. He should also be a shining example for him and show him how a Jew should behave. The wicked son should also look sideways. This will remind him that he can change.

Though the wicked son has his lessons to learn, at least he shows up at the Seder! There is a fifth son who hasn’t even made it to the Passover Seder. We mustn’t forget about him. We must do our best to reach out to all the fifth sons, wherever they may be, and bring them to the Seder table.

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. I, Chag HaPassover, p. 247ff)

To join the Jewish Community Passover Seder here in the Vail area, send an email to

Kosher and Happy Passover!

Rabbi Shemtov, ordained at the Rabbinical College of American in Morristown, New Jersey, has served as a student rabbi in communities across the world. Including in Bulgaria, Wyoming, South Dakota and California where he has led educational and holiday programs. He has taught children through Torah Tutors, an online Jewish studies platform.

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