We say at the Seder:

רָשָׁע מָה הוּא אוֹמֵר? מָה הָעֲבוֹדָה הַזּאֹת לָכֶם. לָכֶם – וְלֹא לוֹ. וּלְפִי שֶׁהוֹצִיא אֶת עַצְמוֹ מִן הַכְּלָל כָּפַר בְּעִקָּר. וְאַף אַתָּה הַקְהֵה אֶת שִׁנָּיו וֶאֱמוֹר לוֹ: "בַּעֲבוּר זֶה עָשָׂה ה' לִי בְּצֵאתִי מִמִּצְרָיִם". לִי וְלֹא־לוֹ. אִלּוּ הָיָה שָׁם, לֹא הָיָה נִגְאָל:

The wicked son - what does he say? “What is this work for you?” For you, and not for him. Since he removed himself from the community, he has rejected the foundation. And also you, blunt his teeth and say to him: “Because of this did Hashem do for me when I left Mitzraim.” For me, and not for him; if he was there, he would not have been redeemed.

What if the son didn’t know any better? If he was brought up this way, rather than him making a conscious decision to reject Judaism, would he have been redeemed from Mitzraim? Put differently: did Hashem only redeem those deserving, or did He simply not redeem those who were undeserving?

  • Doesn't הוציא את עצמו מן הכלל itself imply a deliberate and conscious decision?
    – Meir
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 19:17
  • @Meir A Tinok Shenishbah does it deliberately and consciously as well; the difference is that he doesn’t know any better.
    – DonielF
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 19:20
  • He does whatever he does (breaking Shabbos, say) deliberately and consciously, sure, but not in order להוציא את עצמו מן הכלל, because he doesn't know he's part of the כלל.
    – Meir
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 19:23

1 Answer 1

  1. I think once we ask this question about the Catastrophe the answer becomes apparent - we can't even justify it aposteriori, saying "Oh, seemingly everyone saved was a Tzadik and everyone perished was definitely a Rashah."

  2. It appears that the labels the sages put here are completely arbitrary, the Torah mentions no evil by that verse (Ex 12):

    וְהָיָה כִּי־יֹאמְרוּ אֲלֵיכֶם בְּנֵיכֶם מָה הָעֲבֹדָה הַזֹּאת לָכֶם׃

    וַאֲמַרְתֶּם זֶבַח־פֶּסַח הוּא לה' אֲשֶׁר פָּסַח עַל־בָּתֵּי בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּמִצְרַיִם
    בְּנָגְפּוֹ אֶת־מִצְרַיִם וְאֶת־בָּתֵּינוּ הִצִּיל וַיִּקֹּד הָעָם וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲוּוּ׃

    If your kid was asking you "Dad, what's for you in this?" would you kill him?

  3. What if the boy was brought up on critical thinking?

  4. As I always claim - we have to distinguish G-d's justice from our perception. Because the later is extremely limited it makes no sense to judge G-d by our senses. This thinking makes your question "did Hashem only redeem those deserving?" meaningless, because either you define "deserving" by the very fact of their survival, or you have no tools of defining "deserving" in Hashem's eyes.

  • 2. They’re not arbitrary. Based on the questions, Chazal infer what kind of a person asks them. The wicked son is the one who says that he wants no part of Mitzvos, and so he asks “what is this to you?” Certainly asking such a question doesn’t make one liable to the death penalty, but that doesn’t mean he’s on a level worthy of leaving Mitzraim. 3. Critical thinking doesn’t give one license to ask insulting questions. Note that the wicked son and the wise son ask fundamentally the same question; the former excludes himself, while the latter is actually interested in the answer.
    – DonielF
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 23:13
  • 2. Where do you see that from the Pasuk? I see it the other way around - they came up with the idea of the 4 sons and had to find one wicked, so they enwicked that Posuk. See Kli Yakar: ומקשים על זה למה לא זכר תשובתו בצדו שנאמר בתורה (פסוק כז) ואמרתם זבח פסח הוא לה' וגו'. ולקח לו תשובה מן פסוק שאינו סמוך לו בתורה, ועוד שכבר נדרש פסוק זה על מי שאינו יודע לשאול ואצלו לא דייק לי ולא לו, ואיך ידרוש מן פסוק אחד ב' תשובות הפכיות,
    – Al Berko
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 23:19
  • Another point of mine - differentiate motivational from informational/factual. Sages said a lot of motivational stuff that is totally wrong factually.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 23:21
  • 2. What do you mean, where do I see that from the passuk? It says מה העבודה הזאת לכם, which is the kind of question the wicked son would ask. Like I said. 2b. I could have sworn the Kli Yakar’s question was already dealt with on this site, but I can’t find the thread at the moment. 2c. They didn’t “have” to pick those four. Other versions of the four sons have טפש instead of תם, for instance. That there’s four sons is indisputable - there’s four Pesukim to be dealt with.
    – DonielF
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 23:27
  • Here we go, the question is indeed on here: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/27489
    – DonielF
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 23:34

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