Each brings a particular wisdom, as I’ve explored in previous parts to this series.
These children are archetypes: we can map them to levels of learning, the seasons, stages of growth, or types of people. We have all four of them in any community.
The Missing Fifth Child
Many commentators note that although the Haggadah speaks of four children, there are actually five children.
According to the commentators, the fifth child is not at the Seder table because they have been lost to Judaism.
Embracing my inner “Wicked” one, the rebel, I respectfully disagree.
The fifth child is there, but we are unable to see it until we’ve done the work of liberating ourselves from our shadows.
The Parts in Shadow
Each of us has the four named archetypes within us, but we might have one or more of them in shadow.
“Shadow” is a term coined by psychologist Carl Jung to describe the parts of ourselves that we reject or deny. Shadow includes everything outside the light of consciousness and may be positive or negative.
What is in our shadow controls us. The parts we push away become the forces of self-sabotage that destroy our dreams.
The path to liberation and individuation requires bringing our shadow parts into the light of consciousness so they cannot run the show.
Passover is the holiday of freedom, or, more accurately, liberation.
And this is the role of the “missing” fifth child.
Liberating the Fifth Child
The fifth child is there, but not visible to us until we do the work of integration.
When we acknowledge and accept all these parts, when we create space for all of these children at the table of our conscious awareness, when no child is sitting in shadow, and when each is allowed to flourish within us in its healthiest and highest expression, the fifth child emerges.
The Wisdom of Synthesis
The fifth child brings the wisdom of synthesis: combining the parts into the whole.
This integrated being values learning and also recognizes that knowledge is not the same as wisdom.
When I paused to contemplate the wisdom of synthesis that the fifth child imparts, the first thing that came to mind was The Gambler famously described by Kenny Rogers:
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
This is the wisdom of the integrated fifth child.
Wisdom knows that there are times to be silent and practice deep listening, and times to use your voice to challenge the status quo.
Wisdom tells us when we should approach others using a common language or tell people what they want to hear, and when to maintain our position as outsiders to create awareness and effect change; after all, the value of coaches and consultants is that they bring an outside perspective.
Wisdom helps us distill complex ideas into their simple elements so that we can communicate more effectively and free ourselves from the web of thoughts, and it also reminds us that things aren’t always as simple as they seem.
The integrated child embraces, honors, and synthesizes all four archetypes within themselves and knows when to call on each one.
The Freedom of Synthesis
They enjoy the freedom that ensues when energy isn’t spent repressing one part of themselves in order to fit into a certain expectation of who they believe they must be.
The fifth child is whole and complete with all their parts, and in all aspects of their expression.
The Fifth child transcends the four children through integration and enjoys the freedom of being as they are.