The Wicked Son – In Memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren (Menachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z’L)
“And it shall be when your children will ask you, ‘What is this service for yourselves that you are doing?’ And you shall answer, ‘It is the Passover offering that God passed over all Jewish households when he smote Egypt.’” (Exodus 12:26-27)
Rashi (1040-1105) notes that the child referenced here is the “wicked son” of the four sons mentioned in the Passover Haggadah. The “wicked son” removed himself from God's service when asking, “What is this service for you?” By separating himself, the wicked son is saying that he does not want a part of this religion.
The Kli Yakar (Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim Luntschitz, Prague; 1550 - 1619) was asks why the Passover Haggadah responds harshly to the wicked son. In the aforementioned passage, the Torah simply tells us to answer “It is the Passover offering that God passed over all Jewish households when he smote Egypt.” However, the Haggadah tells us - Blunt his teeth and say “Because of this, God did wonders for us in Egypt (Exodus 13:8)”, for us and not for him. If he (the wicked son) would have been there, he would not have been redeemed.”
The Kli Yakar explains that, in the Haggadah, there is only one wicked son. In the Torah, there is a group of wicked children. As the verse says, “And it shall be when your children will ask you...” These children are a reference to a movement that refuses to steadfastly follow the traditions of the Torah. Their questioning is for the purpose of mocking our ideals, turning us astray, and influencing more people to come to their side.
When there is one rebellious son, as in the Haggadah, we respond by “blunting his teeth” and isolating him from everyone else. But when it’s a large part of the population the Torah's answer is, “And you shall say it is a Passover offering...” The Torah does not mean you shall answer to the “wicked”, rather, it means you shall strengthen your own understanding of the reasons you are performing the Passover service. The Torah is instructing us to stand firm in our beliefs because the lure of influence toward false progressive ideas are very powerful.