Who Is Really Talking?: The Simple Child
We explained in “Who Is Really Talking?: The Wicked Child” and “The Child Who Doesn’t Care to Ask,” that the children’s questions are making a statement about the way they perceive their parents; “What does the Simple Son ask?”
What is the Torah context of the Simple Child’s question? “It shall come to pass, when God will bring you to the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your forefathers, and He will have given it to you; then you shall set apart every first issue of the womb to God, and of every first issue that is dropped by livestock that belong to you, the males are God’s. Every first issue donkey you shall redeem with a lamb or kid; if you do not redeem it, you shall axe he back of its neck. And you shall redeem every human firstborn among your sons (Exodus 11-13).”
The child watches as his father either, spends more on redeeming a first born animal than he does on redeeming a first born son, or, kills the animal rather than redeem it! It is not that the father doesn’t obey the law; he kills the animal if he doesn’t redeem it, as required by the Torah! The father loses a fortune of money to not observe the Mitzvah of redemption! So why observe the law of killing the animal?
What does the Kohen say when the father approaches with his child? “Which do you prefer: to give away your firstborn son, who is the first issue of his mother’s womb, or do you prefer to redeem him for five shekels as you are required to do by the Torah?” What kind of question is that? Imagine a father responding, “Take the kid!” What about, “Let me think about it!”
The Kohen is asking the father whether he is aware of the challenge of raising a son the way a Kohen will raise the child, with values, ethics, and spirituality? “Are you prepared? Are you willing to pay for the privilege of educating your child?”
Most of us are so focused on the joy of having our first child that we don’t even think about the challenges of raising a child in our environment. The Kohen challenges us, who are taking the “Simple” approach to consider the real challenges of parenting.
The “Simple” child is responding to his father’s strange behavior with, “Whaaaa?” He is telling his father that the home environment is simplistic. He is at a total loss to understand his parents’ behavior.