Friday, April 10, 2009

The Problem of Evil

So here's the thing about a seder. If you read any of the haggadah, the traditional prayer-story-guide book for the seder, you read about the ten plagues. And unless you make it into a huge play and then your kids forget about them except for the fun part, it's hard to make sense of the ten plagues. Our own seder was a bit of fiasco, but the plagues were discussed and this morning my son asked to hear about "the bad stuff" that was in the haggadah. After some very dramatic reading of the ten plagues -- a reading, I would add, that left off any mention of God hardening Pharoh's heart after each plague (I dare you to explain that to a four-year-old), my daughter turned to me and said, "Why is God so mean?"

What could I say but "Oy!" On the inside, out loud I think I just stammered. And when I came up with something about how hard it is to be free and how mean the Pharoh was, Helen said, "No, mommy, I have to understand it for myself." At least I didn't have to answer the question.


mamele said...

wow, smart smart helen.

adults are STILL struggling with this -- what's free will? why is old testament god such a douche sometimes? -- i think it's commendable that helen's trying to make sense of it.

and why was your seder a fiasco? i'm sorry to hear that...

Robin Aronson said...

Yes. It's wonderful that Helen noticed how mean God is and it's not like I could say, "But if you read the Midrash on this I'm sure it'll be better -- or at least weirder or funnier"Who among us has solved the problem of evil? For some reason I'm thinking of Arthur Cohen's amazing book The Tremendum, which I read in grad school.....I'd have to re-read it to remind myself why.

The seder wasn't exactly a fiasco -- it was Jovial--except for Elliot and our friend Alfred, just a few months older, really going at it for the first hour before they settled down to some excellent playmobil time. After #3 on my checklist, the kiddos had No interest in anything (although EVeryone loved the moaning and crying of bitter tears AND Carol Ingall's excellent seder song--my family has a version too, but it's five times as long)...If my expectations had been a little lower, I probably would have thought it a half success..and the food was good, which was a relief..I say vainly. I hope yours was great?