Introduction

"Each of us contains all aspects of all four children"  

– Rabbi Yisrael Salanter

One of the most dynamic and engaging sections in the Haggadah is the Arba’a Banim (ארבעה בנים, "Four Sons"), in which we meet a wise son, a wicked son, a simple son and a son who does not know how to ask. Many families engage in animated play-acting when they reach this section and speculate humorously on the similarities (or lack of) between the readers of these four passages and the analysis and interpretations for each of the Four Sons’ characters. Throughout history Israeli artists and writers were moved to reflect on the characters of the Four Sons and use them as metaphors for their own view of history and society. Use these resources to introduce your learners to Israeli artists across time and style, and to enrich their Pesach Seders at the same time. Enjoy, and Happy Pesach!

The Four Brothers

Naomi Shemer's song "The Four Brothers" introduces the four sons as brothers coming out of the Haggadah for a short walk in the world and then returning. It is a very popular song among Israeli children and is often sung during the Seder after reading the midrash about the four sons.

 

Keneged Arba’a Banim

Poem cycle by Leah Goldberg

Leah Goldberg was not known for writing war poems or poems in response to the Shoah. On the contrary: with the outbreak of World War II, Goldberg provoked a major literary controversy with her declaration in an essay published in Hashomer Hatsa 'ir that she had no intention of writing war poems. One of the few cycles she wrote in response to the catastrophe of World War II is "Keneged arba'a banim" (1950). Using the motif of the Four Sons of the Haggadah, Goldberg's cycle simultaneously reinvigorates and undermines liturgical language, offering a provocative reconsideration of what it means to be wise, wicked, simple, or unquestioning in the post-Holocaust era.

Visual Arts

An array of visual depictions by Israeli artists:

  • The 22 Best Modern Art Haggadot for Passover, including:
    • The Bronfman Haggadah
    • The New American Haggadah by Jonathan Safran Foer with typography design by Oded Ezer
    • The Yaakov Agam Haggadah
    • The Leonard Baskin Haggadah
    • The Matthew Berkowitz Haggadah
    • The Asher Kalderon Haggadah
    • The Offenbacher (Fritz Kredel) Haggadah
    • The Victor Majzner Haggadah
    • The Tamar Messer (Exodus) Haggadah
    • The Raymond Moretti Haggadah
    • The Avner Moriah Haggadah
    • The David Moss Haggadah
    • The Ben Shahn Haggadah
    • The Eliyahu Sidi Haggadah
    • The Arthur Szyk Haggadah
    • The Archie Granot Papercut Haggadah
    • The Gérard Garouste Haggadah 
    • The Marc Chagall Haggadah
    • and the Ultimate Digital Haggadah
  • Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem
  • Zoya Chekassky, Zeev Engelmayer, Motti Kimchi

Alternative Haggadah: Four daughters worth mentioning at Pesach

These four were artists who sought freedom and refused to accept the place tradition accorded them.

An Article by Rachel Elior (The article is also available in Hebrew)