Sara said that these parshiot are hard to teach (she teaches 2-year-olds) because you have to teach the same thing all over again next month, as we prepare for Pesach. I think it’s much easier; just do the same thing twice. Maybe her students pay more attention.
So I’m going to talk about the Haggadah.
I assume we all read the words, and realize that “דברה תורה” means that there are four places in the Torah where we are commanded to tell the story of יציאת מצרים to future generations. Three of them are in our parsha:
The fourth is in ספר דברים:
(I don’t know why the haggadah is out of text order)
And we all know how the Haggadah presents these four, as four archetypes of “children who need edification”:
The חכם notably is not given a pasuk as an answer, but instead the last Mishna of מסכת פסחים (actually the penultimate Mishna):
Lots of things have been said about this ((פסחים קטו,ב) לחם עוני: לחם שעונין עליו דברים הרבה). The mitzvah is repeated four times because there isn’t one right way to do it.
I want to focus on the fact that in the Haggadah, the
חכם and the רשע are not given the answers that are given in the Torah.
The Kli Yakar addresses this with respect to the רשע. I understand him to imply that the key is the word ואף: ואף אתה הקהה את שניו. In addition to what the Torah says, the בעל הגדה (who is a Tanna, and therefore his words have some halachic significance), tells you to do more.
ואמרתם זבח פסח הוא לה׳ is said to the community, not the רשע. When there is a climate of cynicism, you need to say it explicitly.
But the בעל הגדה is telling us that there is a mitzvah of והגדת לבנך ביום ההוא לאמר: בעבור זה עשה ה׳ לי בצאתי ממצרים. This applies to all our children, whether they ask or not, even if they are rolling their eyes and muttering cynically (not our children, obviously. But it could happen). The רשע is not excluded from the community. If they want to exclude themselves, הוציא את עצמו מן הכלל, then we tell him the consequences of that, לי, ולא לו.
So what about the the חכם? I’m going to give my own thought on this. Look carefully at the חכם's question and the answer given in the Torah. He asks “what are the laws”, and we tell him our history; why are the laws. The Torah tells us that the mitzvah of סיפור יציאת מצרים is the סיפור.
There are two models for the seder, for עונין עליו דברים הרבה.
Do we spend the night telling the story, or do we spend the night in halachic pilpul about the laws of the night? It’s clear which model the בעל הגדה chose.
The mitzvah of הגדה is not to learn the halachot; it is to tell the story.
So when the בעל הגדה says ואף אתה אמור לו כהלכות הפסח, the בעל הגדה is giving us a התר, that we may spend our night עוסקין בהלכות הפסח. Once you’ve fulfilled the mitzvah of והגדת לבנך…בעבור זה עשה ה׳ לי בצאתי ממצרים and (as the Torah explicitly says) ואמרת לבנך עבדים היינו לפרעה במצרים; ויציאנו ה׳ ממצרים ביד חזקה, then you can indulge his intellectual fervor for the halacha. But it’s not ideal.
It’s a different perspective on the חכם. We look at him as the perfect child in the Haggadah. But
the truth is (present company excepted), our children are not perfect, even the חכם.
But there is one child who is called perfect. The word תם literally means “perfect”. It is used as a synonym for “righteous”, and as a verb for “complete”. In תנ״ך it never implies a lack of intellectual ability. The reason we translate it here as “simple” is because of the parallel in the Yerushalmi:
But by using the word תם, the בעל הגדה is telling us what the real mitzvah of the evening is.
ואמרת אליו בחזק יד הוציאנו ה׳ ממצרים מבית עבדים. The goal is to retell and relive the story.