2 Posted by - April 6, 2014 - Chagim




The Kotsker

was quoted saying the following: We say in the Haggadah – “חכם מה הוא אומר “ the wise son, what does he say?… Why doesn’t the Haggadah just say,” חכם אומר , the wise son says…”? The Kotsker answered, “You know that a person is a חכם , wise, by the things he says. I would like to tweak that a bit. You know that a person is wise by the questions he asks. All of the four sons were asking questions, not just talking.

People walk around all day asking themselves questions. Questions that they do not know they are asking. This sounds very strange, but it is more true than strange. People are in one of two states, the thinking state or the “thoughts” state. When someone is thinking, he is answering a question. As long as a person has questions in his head, he is still thinking. All thinking is – is answering questions. The better the question he has in his head, the more effectively that person will be thinking. This is the greatest tool that G-d gave humans. They have the intellectual ability to ask a question. Pablo Picasso once said, “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”
How does this make sense? (That itself is a question that makes you think.) A smart athlete asks himself, “Where will the ball be in the next five seconds?” The not thinking athlete doesn’t ask; he just runs after the ball, wherever it is at the moment. The smart businessman asks, “How can I best serve my customers?” The smart Torah scholar asks, “What is the most efficient plan to accomplish the most learning, quality and quantity?”

Although everyone is asking questions of themselves, not everyone is asking good questions. What is a good question? This is hidden in the Haggadah as well. The difference between the simple son and the smart son is the way he asks the question. What is the difference between the two? The smart son asks מה העדות והחוקים והמשפטים אשר צוה ה’ אלוקינו אתכם.. What are the testimonies (the reasons behind the symbols that testify to the Exodus. Matza, marror and korban Pesach), of both the laws that we understand and the laws that we do not understand. The simple son asks מה זאת – What is this? What is the difference between the two questions, and why does that difference make one of them smart and one of them simple?

The difference is that the smart son sees at the Seder table a lot of detail, so he asks a question in a way that requires a lot of detail to answer it. The simple son just points to one thing that he does not understand and says, “What’s that?” He saw a lot of things going on, and he asks for a question that can be answered by saying that G-d took us out of Egypt with an outstretched hand… The way the person asks determines the type of answer they are going to get.

When a person asks himself, “okay, do I have everything I need for the Seder night ?” he will get a general answer. When he asks a question like “How can I read and explain the whole account of the Haggadah in such a way that each child will want to hear it?” That is a more detailed question than the first, and it will bring the focus to something more specific and precise. It will invite a more informative answer.

People constantly come up with questions. The smarter the questions, the smarter the person.

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