Significance of the Number Four

Question: The Passover Hagadah speaks of four cups of wine, four sons, the four questions, and so on. What is the number four so significant in the Passover Seder?  I would also like to know about the specific origin of the famous Four Questions during Seder.

Answer: Good question. In the interest of time, let me be succinct. The idea of “four questions,” the “four types of children” draws heavily on the symbolism of the number four. The number four represents a totality e.g.,  world’s four cardinal directions, the cosmic ordering of time as seen in the four seasons, the four elements, and the four temperaments of classical thought. Basically, the number four conveys how reality is experienced in this world.

This is certainly evident with respect to the “Four types of Children” which covers every kind of conceivable child. The wise, the contrarian, the simple, and the silent serves as a spiritual diagnostic for the healthiness of the traditional Jewish family. Our Sages used the number four to stress the importance of having each child present at the Seder.

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