The Four Questions - ארבע הקושיות


From the Teachings of Nechama Leibovitz

Edited by Itshak Reiner and Shmuel Pearless
Excerpts with permission from Urim Publications


Nechama liked to refer to the four questions to demonstrate the difference between a קושיה and a שאלה. The four questions, she pointed out, are referred to as the ארבע קושיות rather than the ארבע שאלות. This is based on the way in which the questions are framed. Each of the four questions follows the same format:

On all other nights we _________ , but tonight we ___________ .

According to Nechama, this format represents a קושיה, as opposed to the simple שאלה format which would be:

Why on this night do we __________________ ?

The שאלה is a simple informational question. The קושיה, on the other hand, takes note of something that deviates from the norm, reflecting a contrast or seeming contradiction to what we know and would expect based on previous knowledge or experience. It is, thus, a sharper question that requires a more specific answer. The קושיה is the fundamental pedagogic instrument of both the Pesach seder and of Biblical exegesis. Nechama’s insight turns what many think of as the child’s part of the seder ritual, into a sophisticated paradigm for Torah learning.

What makes this night different from all [other] nights?
On all nights we eat chametz or matzah, and on this night only matzah.
On all nights we eat any kind of vegetables, and on this night maror.
On all nights we need not dip even once, on this night we do so twice!
On all nights we eat sitting upright or reclining, and on this night we all recline.


 

 

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06 Jul 2005 / 29 Sivan 5765 0