Remember the Fifth Child
One was wise and one was wicked,
One was simple and a bore.
And the fourth was sweet and winsome,
he was young and he was small.
While his brothers asked the questions
he could scarcely speak at all.
But what about the fifth child?
At our recent model seder, as the rabbi was exploring possible reasons for the four cups of wine we drink at the seder, a student began to wave frantically, jumping out of her seat with agitation. Typical behaviour for her. For “Z” has Asperger’s Syndrome, a developmental disorder that is on the autistim spectrum. Among other cognitive and social difficulties, “Z” struggles to follow the most basic of social rules such as “raise your hand and wait for the teacher to call on you.”
What was bothering “Z” was this: the rabbi kept talking about four cups of wine. But, as she pointed out, more than four people come to the seder at her cousins’ house. So that makes way more than four cups of wine.
The rabbi came to a complete stop, thought a moment, and thanked “Z” for always looking at things through fresh eyes.
“Z” was right. We talk about the four cups of wine without stopping to think that the words we choose are unclear. The table is not restricted to four cups. Nor is each seder participant given four separate cups. We would remove the confusion by referring to the first drink of wine, second drink, etc.
The wise child.
The wicked child.
The simple child.
The child who is too young to ask.
The child who experiences the world differently than his (or her) peers and asks questions based on this unique perspective.
He is the fifth child.