‫אני ולא שליח‬ Myself and Not Through a Messenger Judaism has always deemed a differentiated an approach a desideratum

, long before the modern pedagogical establishment, however belatedly, recognized its indispensability. The Proverbist's dicta, 'educate the child according to his own path'1 has served as a clarion call to Jewish educators for some three millennia. Thus, the emphasis placed on a differentiated approach in the Haggadah is best understood not as a strategic departure from the conventional modus operandi, but an intensification of the generally advocated approach, given the heightened stakes of the Passover experience. Maimonides, following in the wake of the Mishnah's mandate, 'according to the intellectual capacity of the child, the father must teach'2 prescribes a substantially different message for children of differing capacities. Perhaps most notably, Maimonides, in his instructions for communicating with a child of limited capacity, omits any mention of the role which Moses played during the Exodus, or its immediate aftermath. In contradistinction, Maimonides mandates the father, in teaching the mature child, to 'inform what happened to us in Egypt, and the miracles which were wrought on our behalf through Moses our teacher.'3 Maimonides does not specify which miracles, performed through Moses' agency, ought to be communicated. The Rav argued that what Maimonides had in mind was actually a series of miracles which happened subsequent to the Exodus itself, in the context surrounding the covenantal moment at Sinai. Given that the question posed by the cognitively advanced child pertained to the normative content of mitzvot, it would stand to reason, the Rav argued, that part of the father's educational responsibility on Seder night would be to mention the source of the covenantal norm in Sinaitic revelation, and the role which Moses played in that context.4 For a number of reasons, it seems to me that this interpretation is not correct. First, if what Maimonides had in mind was the giving of the Torah at Sinai, he ought to have stated in plainly. Moreover, even if Maimonides is referencing Sinai in an oblique fashion, one would have hardly have described that experience through referencing 'miracles' wrought through Moses' agency.' Finally, the plain reading of the passage from Maimonides indicates that the miracles being referenced indeed took place in Egypt itself, in as much as it is attached to the previous clause, 'what happened to us in Egypt'. What, then, did Maimonides have in mind, and why did he restrict its communication to the cognitively developed child, the chacham? Perhaps the answer is quite simple. The miracles which Maimonides had in mind are precisely what one would have expected, those performed in the context of the Exodus itself. However, the reason that Maimonides directs the father to mention the agency of Moses only to the intellectually mature child, and not to the simple child, has to do with confusion of the ultimate source of power, Almighty God, and his earthly agent, Moses. Only a developed child can appreciate that what meets the eye, a human being with staff in hand seemingly directing supernatural events, is profoundly misleading. The potential theological cost of confusing a child with the idea that Moses was acting independently, through his own power, at his own behest, is far too steep a price to pay on the night when we try to communicate, first to ourselves, and subsequently, to our children, the intimacy and the direct nature of the sacred bond we share with Almighty.5 For the sake of this message, the single most important educational theme of Passover, we are prepared to sacrifice another cherished Jewish ideal, gratitude and attribution of the heroic acts of human beings in service of God. Knowing Moses, humblest of all
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men to ever walk the face of the Earth,6 had on another occasion requested demanded the erasure of his own name,7 we are confident that we would have had it no other way.

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1. Proverbs 22:6. The celebrated passage stresses the long term benefits of the approach, 'even as he ages, he shall not stray from it.' This is in keeping with the Jewish ideal of lifetime study. The primary goal of early education is to help the student identify a methodology which will enable him to learn into and through adulthood. 2. Mishnah, Pesahim, Chapter 10 3. Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Hametz U'Matzah, Chapter 7. It is striking that Maimonides repeats the mandate of educating according to the capacity of the child twice within the same passage. The emphasis on the point is unmistakable. 4. See Haggadah shel Pesah Siah Ha-Grid, ed. Lichtenstein, Y., p. 54. 5. The fact that it was precisely this confusion regarding Moses role as Divine agent, rather than primary mover, that was at the root of the sin of the Golden Calf, is more than ample proof that concern regarding this point is far from theological alarmism. See Exodus 32:1, 'for this Moses, the man who brought us up from Egypt, we know not what happened to him.' 6. See Numbers 12:3 7. Exodus 32:32

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