IDF Passover Haggadah depicts ‘evil son’ as secular, other three boys as religious


A Passover Haggadah distributed by the IDF to its officers in the General Staff Operations Division sparked outrage and accusations of religious coercion on the eve of the holiday on Wednesday.

In the religious book, which is used to guide Passover participants through a retelling of the Exodus story, there is a section called “The Four Sons,” or “Four Children,” in which each child represents a different type.

The IDF version depicted the “bad son” as a secular-looking boy who wears a baseball hat instead of a yarmulke, has pierced ears and keeps a dog on a leash.

The “wise son,” the “simple son” and the “son who doesn’t know how to ask” are portrayed more positively as religious boys wearing yarmulkes.

The Haggadah is for children but was distributed to officials regardless of their family status.

The commentary in a later part of the IDF Hagaddah tells readers, “The Holy One sometimes allows our enemies to attack us and harm us in order to encourage us to repent and draw closer to Him.”

Another commentary reads, “Just as God brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt… so we can… rescue ourselves with the help of the Torah and its commandments from the slavery that dominates our lives. We will achieve our true freedom only by walking the path of the Torah.”

Pictures of the most controversial pages of the Haggadah posted on social media drew some outrage, with one Twitter user hilariously branding the IDF “God’s army,” another writing, “Did someone say religious coercion?” and a third said, “Who asked for brainwashing and did not get it?”

But some have pushed back on the criticism, noting that the text itself portrays the “wicked son” as uninterested in Jewish law. Others pointed out that the IDF has historically distributed religious texts to soldiers at their swearing-in ceremony and that this has been widely accepted.

The controversy comes as Israeli society grapples with deep and widening divisions, with the right-wing and religious government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushing controversial judicial legislation and other policies that have set off a major protests from opponents of the government. The protesters believe that the legislation will fundamentally change the democratic character of Israel and that basic personal rights are at risk.

Opposition to the coalition has spread into the military, with some high-level reservists refusing to train in protest, and Netanyahu decided to fire Defense Minister Yoav Gallant last week after Gallant warned of security implications. the judicial reform. Gallant has not been formally removed from his post and remains defense minister.

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