W e now live in the "Age of Informa-tion," a time of unsurpassed telecommunications. We have the technological ability to communicate all around the world, anywhere at anytime to anyone, using the right equipment. We can choose between using our human voice or electronic sginals, fax or sending e-mail, via home computer, modem or mobile Palm Pilot, by cable or wireless.
Just look around; see and hear the cacophony of the varied modes of communication. It's absolutely mind boggling, if not downright disturbing.
With all these varied ways and mediums we surely have become much smarter! No? Then how about....happier? Hmmm... Certainly, this major inundation of data should make us more informed. Perhaps we are. But even with all this communication, many of us are still yearning for someone to relate to us.
For basic communication, one only needs to have a mouth and ears. But to relate, we must also use our mind and heart. These are highly important personal qualities for which modern technology has no gizmos to offer.
When relating, we must take the person on the receiving end into consideration. Otherwise, we speak on different wavelengths. We have to take into account who they are, and what is meaningful to them. (How much of contemporary communication does that exclude?)
The real meaning and purpose of the Passover Haggadah is to relate.
It is not enough to just repeat and tell over the story, to get it off our chest and out of our system. That does not fulfill our obligation. We must truly relate to the listener. The Hebrew language has many words used for "speaking." But when enjoining us to communicate the story of the Exodus to our children the Torah chooses the word "LeHagid" -- to related.
The Torah asks us to do this four times. This, of course is how we got the famous Four Children of the Hagga-dah: the Wise, the Wicked, the Simple, and the one who knows not to ask. It does not matter what type of child we have. It is incumbent upon us to personally relate to him or her. We must first figure out who they are, their personality, what their interests and aspirations are, and then relate the story in a way that is meaningful to them! This is the central Mitzvah of Passover.
Actually, the first child referred to in the Torah is the "wicked" son, or shall I say: "spiritually challenged"? This immediately cancels any excuses we may have for non-communication. No matter how far and distanced this child may be, we should try to relate to him, to engage him/ her in the conversation of the Exodus.
First, however, we must make sure that every child shows up. As a wise man once said: "90% of life is showing up."
It is the Chabad custom that not only the youngest asks the questions. Of course, we start with the youngest; it is cute and adorable for the kindergartner to show off what they were taught in school. In addition to entertaining, it is certainly educational. But eventually, everyone present, all the older children (who think they have all the answers), and also the know-it-all adults, recite the Four Questions.
Why? The reason for this could be so that we should take the time to relate to our own self, before we start answering the questions of others. Then the process of "Haggadah" becomes a joint venture. If we are only engaged in answering their questions, we may just become "Talking Heads."
We must also try to find the child inside of us that is open to questions and growth. When we relate to our own quest and seeking, it will help us bring out this quality in others as well.