Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Pesach Message from a friend

In a deliberate parody of the Haggadah, a friend from elsewhere writes:

"What is the meaning of the Seder to you? Isn't is all one lie, one lesson of falsehoods? There's no mention of any of the Exodus in any of the contemporary sources, no proof of any sort that God exists or that he looks after us. Isn't it a fact that you hoodwink your children only to ensure that they confirm their faith when they are adults? And if it is built on such lies, your faith ought to go extinct."

Who hoodwinks children? I understand why you think I am lying to my kids when I tell them God took us out of Egypt with a strong arm, but I think you are being narrow-minded. Sure, the Seder, like all of education, is a form of indoctrination, and it may, strictly speaking, be built on lies, but might it also be true?

Unlike, say, the letter-perfect bible, there's no satisfactory, unambiguous evidence that the strong-armed God is a fantasy. No way to be certain that He didn't carry our ancestors out of Egypt exactly as the Torah says He did. And so long as at least a smidgen of doubt remains, why shouldn't I introduce my child to the culture of his father and his grandfather? Why shouldn't I raise a child who understands me, a child sees me as something more than a relic and a representative of an old and mistaken way? If I don't give my son a Seder, in a sence I rob him of our books, our ideas and our history. His understanding of the world in which he lives will be so much the poorer. I stress that I do not think I am lying to my children but if God-forbid I am, those lies are an on-ramp to very great riches, and they are, therefore noble lies.

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