The Fifth Son

Friday, 19 April, 2024 - 9:02 am

The Midrash tells how, one day, a lamb ran away from the flock under Moshe’s care. Moshe chased after it, until it came to a spring and began to drink. When Moses reached the lamb, he cried: "Oh, I did not know that you were thirsty!" He cradled the runaway lamb in his arms and carried it to the flock. Said the Almighty: "You are merciful in tending a lost sheep - you will tend My flock, the people of Israel."

This was indeed the defining mark of leadership. Although Moses was a great prophet and the conveyor of Torah to the Jewish people, his greatest moment may have been his refusal to abandon the Jewish people after the sin of the Golden Calf.  Most leaders would have been disgusted with such a severe act of betrayal. But Moses could see only the good potential in his people. He refused to give up on them.

In a few days we will sit down to our Seder tables, reflecting on the redemption from Egypt. With wine, matzah and maror, we’ll retell the tale to our children.  The Torah enjoins us to answer the questions of the ‘Four Sons’ sitting at the table – the Wise Son, the Wicked Son, the Simple Son and the Son That Does Not Know How to Ask.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe often pointed out that the common denominator of all the Four Sons is that they are sitting at the Seder table.  In some form or another – one with his deep interest and one with his resistance and complaints – they are all engaged in the holiday.  They clearly belong to the same people.

In today’s generation, however, a fifth son has emerged.  This child is not even present at the Seder. He is the Jew that does not know it is Passover.  She is the Jewess that does not even show up to argue.

The call of our times is to ensure that even such ‘lost’ Jews are not lost.  Every Jew deserves to sit at the Seder table and participate.  Whether with smug naiveté, combative debate, or deep scrutiny, every Jew has a seat at the table.

The Rebbe looked upon every Jew as his brother and sister.  The Rebbe saw through the blemishes and focused only on the sacred essence, the soul that longs to sit at the Seder table, cleave to his people and celebrate his faith.

To this end, the Rebbe took it upon himself to reach out with unconditional love to millions of Jews across the globe – from Billings to Bangkok.  The Rebbe cared deeply about the individual Jew and, subsequently, an entire people.

Today, the eleventh of Nissan, 122 years ago, the Rebbe was born.

In his honor, let us recommit to reach out to our fellows with absolute loving kindness. Let’s do another mitzvah in his merit.

And, let us guarantee that every ‘Fifth Son’ becomes part of the Four Sons.

P.S. If you know of a ‘Fifth Son’ who does not have plans for the Seder, please invite them to yours, or let us know so we can invite them to ours.

With warm wishes for a Happy & Kosher Pesach!

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