Known as the Mah Nishtanah in Hebrew, the Four Questions are traditionally posed by the youngest child at a Pesach seder, the ritual holiday meal. The answers to these questions bring the conversation around to the story of the Exodus, when the ancient Israelites fled Egypt and left their days of slavery behind. Whether you sing them or speak them, in English or Hebrew, alone or with a partner— the Four Questions are a highlight of the seder.
You can also think of the Four Questions as prompts. Nothing says you have to stop there; at a seder, we are all free to ask any questions we like. And any night is a good night for a lively dialogue. Judaism is not afraid of a few questions! As Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks put it, “To ask is to believe that somewhere there is an answer.” Jewish tradition regards curiosity as a healthy human trait. Go ahead, ask away. You may not always get the answer, but simply asking questions can lead to knowledge and insight— and that’s a good thing, at Pesach and all year long.
Here are 10 Pesach inspired-questions to discuss with your children:
- During Pesach we are asked to imagine we ourselves are Israelite slaves. What do you think that would be like?
- If you were an Israelite slave, what would you miss most about being free?
- When the Israelites were getting ready to leave Egypt, they probably felt rushed, nervous, and excited. When have you felt that way?
- Have you ever had dreams that helped you think about something in a new way?
- How would you stay hopeful on a long journey like the one the Israelites took?
- How can a single person make a big change in the world?
- How would you feel if you had to work every day, without ever having a break?
- What kinds of things can your family do to make Pesach different from the rest of the year?
- How do you help your family get ready for Pesach?
- What are you afraid of? What helps you get over that fear?
Visit the PJ Library Pesach Page
March 5, 2019