Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Adventures in Wicked Son Portrayals

A Guest Post By E. Fink

Excerpted from my home blog: Finkorswim

In many haggados, there are illustrations that portray these 4 different sons. There is a lot to learn about what these sons looked like historically in older haggados. (One haggada portrays the wicked son as a boxer. An older haggada portrays him as a cigar smoking, monocle wearing cosmopolitan. Yet another has him as knight.) DovBear wrote a post about this phenomena here: The Four Sons

This post will focus on some contemporary illustrations of the wicked son. No, DovBear, none of them portray the wicked son hunched over his laptop reading and writing blogs. Not yet at least...

First, we have the classic. This is the haggada I grew up with. The Artscroll Youth Haggadah. Here the wicked son is scowling, wears no head covering, dons the dreaded no-collar T-Shirt and has red hair.

This next one is from a very confusing haggada by Malchut Judaica. Its pictures are all digitally generated but some are representative of recent times, some represent the shtetl and others, like the picture of the four sons represents a time where wicked Jews were in the military. Interestingly, this NEVER occurred. If one was not saintly, they could not serve in the Jewish army. Maybe this guy was in some other army. Who knows? Either way, how is it that someone in these clothes represents evil? I don;t know. Oh, and the son who doesn't know how to ask is off to the left playing with rocks. (The photo cuts him off.)

This next one is hard to figure. It comes from the "Little Medrash Says Haggadah". Apparently, the wicked son wears his newsboy cap off to the side, whistles and carries a lasso on one side and is packing heat on the other side. This kid is definitely trouble. It's not the weapons as much as his headgear and highly suspect whistling. It could be this haggadah holds that whistling brings demons and the wicked son is summoning demons, but I thought we were not concerned with demons anymore. Hmm...

Finally, we have my favorite. Rabbi Wein's Artrscroll Haggadah (I'm sure he had nothing to do with the illustrations) has this hilarious portrayal of the wicked son. He has no head covering, spiked hair, a ridiculous wrap around headphones for listening to his discman, a watch, a bracelet and a very suspicious look on his face. Worst of all, he has a DOG! A teeth gnashing dog to boot. (Why is this evil? See: Dogs in Judaism and an Apology to Bill Simmons) This kid is all kinds of trouble.

Honestly, these are just portrayals and have little real meaning in my opinion. But there is value is reevaluating how we make snap judgments based on the appearances of others.

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