Those Four Dreaded Questions

Pretty much every Jewish kid has had to face them at some point and, under duress, recited the stupid things in front of a bunch of ogling old people. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, the Four Questions are a vital part of a Passover Seder. They are traditionally sung by the youngest person present and since everyone ends up being the youngest person at a Seder at some point you end up getting stuck doing it until you can convince a pair of adults to produce a younger sibling or cousin or something.

I thought I would be able to get out of it by the time I was around 8 or so since I’m an older sibling.  But NOOOOO, my younger brother would wuss out every year so now I’m 27 and still doing it.  I remember as a kid getting this sick feeling in my stomach (and Dayenu stuck in my head) as springtime rolled around because I knew what was coming.  A few days before Passover I’d sit by my bookcase with my children’s haggadah, practicing with shaking hands and dreading the moment when all eyes would be on me.

It’s not so bad these days as our Seder is usually pretty small so I don’t mind it so much.  Many years ago however, when I was probably around 11-12ish, I found myself in a Four Questions Worst Case Scenario that I was wholly unprepared for.

We had been invited to a seder held by some people my mom knew from Temple.  They had a grandson who was my brother’s age so it was decided we it would be a good idea to go.  I say “we” but really I had no input on this decision. I figured I’d at least get out of the Four Questions that year since a) we were not hosting the Seder and b) there were going to be multiple other kids there younger than me.  My suspicions were confirmed when we got to the house.  There was a whole plan set out for dealing with the Four Questions which involved splitting the younger kids up into groups with 2-3 kids per question.  Even my stupid brother agreed to participate! I was asked if I felt left out to which I quickly and vehemently responded that I certainly didn’t.  They asked if I would help the kids out if they got stuck or something and I agreed.  I was in the clear. It was a good thing too since there were about 50 people, most of them strangers, in attendance.

About 5 minutes before we started that section of the Seder everything feel apart.  The kids were gone.  All of them. They just ran off and were happily playing in other rooms of the house.  Not a single one of them was around to do the Four Questions and I HAD ALREADY AGREED TO BE THE BACK UP.  The host came over and told me I would have to do them myself.  I wasn’t really given an option to say no.  I was supposed to be too mature for that. I couldn’t let EVERYONE down.

I remember standing up from my spot at the now empty kids table.  I remember seeing the whole room of expectant adults looking at me. I remember turning away from their oppressive gaze and down to the book and….and.  I wish I could say at this point that I sung it beautifully and without mistakes. It would even be kind of fun to say that I made a fool of myself and it’s a funny story now.  I can’t say any of those things though, because I have no idea what happened. I remember looking down at the book and then the memory stops.  After that point I have absolutely zero recollection of what happened in that room. Sometimes I wonder what it could have been.  Other times, I think maybe I was never meant to know.  Whatever it was that happened there, I may have forgotten it for a reason.



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