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The Torah taught us (Shemot 13:8) 'And you shall tell your son on that day saying...' So, around 3,500 years ago, every Pesach, the parents started telling their children the story of the Jews leaving Egypt. A great movie was made, and they kept on telling their children the story. It got to a point where they even had Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston perform a song, just to get their kids to listen to the story, but they still had to tell the story every Pesach. The only issue is that the kids didn't understand any of it, because it was in Hebrew. Nonetheless, the parents still told the story.
For many years, they asked why it only said 'boys,' until a brilliant rabbi said 'boys means children.' And the feminist movement began with girls staying up for the Seder. That's a historical side note. We will speak about how many women were bothered by this act of feminism, as they wanted to head to sleep. To this day, many women are anti the feminist movement, due to the extra work they've caused.
Many parents started telling their kids about the story of the Exodus right after Purim, to get their kids to help them clean the house of leavened bread, Chametz. And the kids started asking, how cleaning windows had anything to do with Chametz. So, parents had to make up another story about how windows in Egypt where very clean, and how they also cut their grass and took out the garbage for their parents in Egypt.
The original Seders were about telling the children stuff, as that was the commandment. Very quickly, the parents realized that kids have questions, and that ruined the Seder. The only questions the adults had was, 'How many questions do kids ask?' They wanted to ask Moshe, but they were afraid he would hit another rock. (Which is how the theory of the Pesach Seder being a punishment to parents, who would've been bothering Moshe with annoying questions, came about. Now, at the Seder, the parents have to answer questions. Not many support this theory, but there is no doubt that most of the congregants in my shul would've bothered Moshe; Moshe would be stuck answering questions about rent going up, and that is not fair to Mosher.)
Then, this new idea of what they call 'education' started up in the year 1296 BCE. This was where parents decided that they should not have to teach their children. So, they gave over that job to other people, called teachers, that they can yell at and blame for their children being dumb.
This new way of teaching marked a paradigm shift in parenting. Within three months, all Jewish parents took to this new way of teaching their children. Parents were so happy to not have to see their kids in the house, they were even willing to spend thirty thousand dollars a year. In those days, it was 6,000 deben, or 8,000,000 shekels. The parents were fine with it, as long as their children were out of the house. And that's how private schools began.
They made the teachers answer the questions. Kids asked questions and then the teachers answered the questions. The new wave of teaching, through education, had the children testing the teacher. The parents were fine with it, as long as they could blame the teachers and scream at them.
On the Seder night, the teachers had off. They called it vacation, even though they didn't go anywhere. They couldn't afford to vacation. The teacher's salary was so low back then, that when all the other families were vacationing, the teachers had to stay at home to celebrate. Even so, the teachers had a respite from teaching. The parents had no idea what to do. The parents were still stuck telling the story of the Jews leaving Egypt, as the commandment was to tell it on that night.
For many years, they tried telling the story, but they kept on getting interrupted by their children. This whole idea of education started killing the evening of decent adult conversation about how to purchase slaves.
After many years of trying to silence the children, and trying to put them to sleep with songs like 'Avadim HaYinu' sung to a monotone, they realized there was no way out of it. The kids weren't going to bed, and they now had questions.
The parents couldn't control the questions. And the more the parents supported education, the more questions the kids had. The most asked question was, 'Why do I have to go to school?'
Even when the parents made the Seder more fun and friendly, the kids asked. That's how the tradition of kids asking came about. The rabbis realized they couldn't stop the kids, so they made it a tradition. The community said, 'Let the kids ask the questions.' At this point, many kids stopped asking questions. That lasted for a week, before they realized that this wasn't a reverse psychology ploy. Then, they started asking more questions.
When the Seder came, the questions didn't stop. The kids were happy to finally spend time with their parents, and the parents were mad. 'Why is there a Seder?' 'How many Jews were in Egypt?' 'Why are we going to Miami for Pesach and not Egypt?' Even questions about why there is a Seder were asked by the kids who were learning about existentialism. That was when philosophy was banned in Yeshivas and Jewish day schools.
Everything was a question. They saw ten plagues that made no sense. So, they asked, 'How are puppets, Styrofoam balls and plastic jumping animals plagues? They seem so fun.' And the kids killed a good time with their questions.
Then masks came out and they thought the ten plagues were extra fun. So they started asking how Styrofoam balls can hurt anybody when they have a mask on.
So, the parents decided, along with the rabbis that they'll ask the questions for the kids. To quote Rav Mendel, 'That will shut them up.' So they came up with the Mah Nishtana.
None of the kids cared about the salt water. They didn't even taste it, as they skipped the dunking in salt water. To quote my niece, 'The children made a decision to not eat anything that was not sweet.' So, the salt water dunking question made no sense to them. Now the kids ask questions on the questions.
Even worse, the kids now give Divrei Torah on the questions. They ask questions on the questions, and answer their questions with more questions. This tradition was developed in 1988, around the time that parents started asking themselves if sending their kids to Yeshiva was a good idea
The Mah Nishtana is a beautiful tradition to this day, and the kids have no idea what it means. The children get up there and sing the song. The parents see how poorly their kids read, and how they don't even know all four verses, and they scream at the teachers for not doing their job.
To punish the teachers for not being around for Pesach, the schools have to now host a pre-Pesach Model Seder, where kids are discouraged from asking questions.
And now, every year, when it is time for the Seder, the parents relive the pain of Egypt.
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My kids take after me. Due to Kibud Av vEim, they always let me take first.
You get it? ‘Take after me' means to be like their dad. Instead, they let their dad fill his plate first, as per the Mitzvah to honor parents. Very good kids. If we can have a positive influence on the next generation with our puns, that is the blessing.
Giving Tzedakah, I like to know where the charity is going. That charity box in the front is for kids who need help with their artwork.