This Passover, explore the text of the Four Children through contemporary movies and pop culture. Help your older children (grades four and up) learn about the meaning of the text of the Four Children.
To adapt this activity for younger children, simply choose a movie or show your child knows well, and plan how you would lead your child through the “further discussion” questions using the its characters and story line.
- computer or mobile device
The Four Children in the haggadah are categorized as follows: chacham (wise), rasha (wicked), ta'am (pure or simple), and ahe'ayno yodeah lishol (the one who doesn't know how to ask). One way to look at the text is very literally; in our life, there are people that we know who embody each of these four attributes, or display them with some regularity.
Another explanation of the text is that the Four Children could be perceived as four personalities within one person. One could be “wicked” at a time when he or she gossips, one could be “simple” in the presence of someone more accomplished, and one could find it difficult to know where to begin when the topic he or she is listening to is foreign to him or her. Finally, one could be “wise” when he or she is being a good student and doing mitzvot (commandments).
- Read the text of the Four Children (traditionally, the Four Sons) in the haggadah with your child.
- Discuss both interpretations above, without using names.
- Use the movie Inside Out as an illustration of the text. Watch the trailer for the movie. Explain that this movie comes from scientific research which supports the theory that each of us has part of each of the Four Children inside of us. Ask your child to connect each of the movie characters to each of the Four Children, for example: Anger could be the wicked child, and Joy could be the simple child.
- Ask your child to think about situations in which they behaved like each of the Four Children. Once they have the situation in mind, ask what emotion motivated them to behave in this way. Show them the clip from the end of the movie and tell them that, according to the movie, one needs sadness and joy to be complete and become a wise child. Ask if they agree. Ask what they might do to take on the role of the wise child at the seder. Ask what emotions motivate them to do so.
For Further Discussion
- Ask your child to think of a favorite children's movie. It can be animated or live action, contemporary or classic. The movies should have at least 4-6 characters with identifiable traits. Ideas for movies include: Star Wars, Inside Out, Harry Potter, Frozen, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, The Wizard of Oz, The Karate Kid, Mary Poppins, etc.
- Have your child identify the four characters who they think match the Four Children. For example, in Star Wars, Luke could be the simple one and Darth Vader the wicked one.
- Ask your child to focus on one character from a movie and explore his or her personality traits as they correspond to the different traits exemplified by the Four Children in the haggadah.
Find more resources like this on JTeach.org, an online Jewish teacher resource center, launched in 2014 by the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago to help teachers across the nation gain digital access to our high quality, innovative resources, and projects.
Learn more about this topic by watching this video from BimBam.