The wicked son, what does he say? “What is this work to you?” “To you” but not to him, and because he excludes himself from the community, he denies the essence. So you should blunt his teeth and say to him, “Because of this HASHEM did for me with my exiting from Egypt.” “For me”, but not for him, because if he would have been there, he would not have been redeemed! (Shemos 13:8) (From the Four Sons at the Pesach Seder)
Why are we so tough on this son at the Pesach Seder? What does it mean that we should blunt his teeth? Surely the Haggada is not recommending striking him physically at the Seder! How then are we blunting his teeth? How are we addressing any of our concerns about his attitude problem by telling him that this is what HASHEM did for me when I went out of Egypt? Because of what did HASHEM do for me? What are we specifically that we are referring to? How is this conversation helpful at all?
All the cleaning and gritty preparation for the Pesach is comparable to surgeon and his team scrubbing and sanitizing for a serious operation. The Pesach Seder is a heart surgery and although it is routine, anytime we open up the heart there is great risk. What are we trying to accomplish with this procedure?
Rabbi Avigdor Miller ztl. had said, based on the Mishne in Sanhedrin, that crowns each chapter of Pirke Avos, “All Israel have a portion in the world to come…” It should have stated that all Israel have portions, plural in the world to come. “All Israel have a portion”, he states, “is only if they are a part of ‘All Israel!'” We want to be a part of “All Israel”, we and our children, want to be powerfully connected and to identify with the mission of the entirety of the Jewish People from Avraham Avinu until Moshiach.
We want to bask in the glory of the blessings promised to Avraham that have carried us thus far. The risks of feeling or being detached are too great.
The wicked son comes with his dismissive attitude deluded by the notion he’s not a part of it. So we blunt his teeth. How so? We’ve all been there in the dentist chair wincing and squirming with the sound of the drill. The tooth has this tough enamel exterior. It looks rugged and invincible until the drill enters the mouth and it goes a millimeter below the surface. There is a sensitive nerve not excited to have been discovered. That’s the delicate point we want to penetrate within the tough exterior of the wicked son.
So we tell’m, “because of this HASHEM did for me when I went out of Egypt.”Rashi explains, “because of this” that “because I will fulfill His Mitzvos”. HASHEM took us out of Egypt 3325 years ago now, so I will be sitting here in Monsey in the 21st century eating Matzos. Like the one who plants a tree, he has in mind that hundreds of seasons later there will be new generation of luscious ripe that were all included in his intent and that single seed. It’s a remarkable perspective and everyone who honors the Seder by happily doing Mitzvos was part of that original plan. By excluding himself, the wicked son, therefore, not only opts out of the here and now but he has scripted himself out of the deep past. He was not one of the ones that HASHEM had in mind back then- and we tell him so. That’s the shock treatment, the blunt(ing) talk.
By pushing against the Western Wall one does not move it away. He can only alienate and distance himself from it. This tough talk is meant to arouse the wicked son to declare, “Whatya mean, I’m not a part of history!?” Now he is ready to be a part of “All Israel”. DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.