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Posing Questions

Listening to Speaking of Faith’s podcast–“Exodus, Cargo of Hidden Stories”–the other night, I loved a particular segment on the issue of asking questions.  Certainly, the Passover Seder encourages questions.  Younger children ask about the roasted egg…the bitter herbs…the chopped apples and nuts–why are they there?  As the children mature, they ask different…and harder questions.

Here, Krista Tippett talks to Avivah Zornberg, a scholar of Torah and rabbinic literature, and the author of The Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on Exodus.

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Ms. Tippett: Does this tradition of posing questions — I know that it makes perfect sense in the Jewish religious sensibility — but is there something about the Passover story itself that lends itself to taking that approach to retelling it and remembering it every year?

Dr. Zornberg: Well, I think, you can say the question is an expression of desire. If there is a question, then there is a possibility of movement onwards. And when it comes to the themes of liberty and freedom, then I think questioning is really what motivates, what gets things moving. The strong sense that I don’t know everything, you know, that there are things here that I need to know and don’t know. And even if one doesn’t get a good answer, as you said, simply the activity of framing the question, that already moves one away from a kind of consensus situation.

Ms. Tippett: Plants a longing, doesn’t it?

Dr. Zornberg: Yes. It’s a longing. It’s the individual again. The individual who expresses himself in that form, herself. And it’s a sense, also, of the relationship between the generations. And in a sense, there is always that gap between the generations. The parents, as it were, stand for something. They seem to know it all. And the children are the ones who ask the questions. And the children have their problems, they have their criticisms. And this is the moment of freedom.

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I like that.  Questions are an expression of desire…and ultimately, they bring about freedom.

And who doesn’t want that?

Happy Middle-of-the-Week!  May the sun shine brightly in your heart today…

[Post image: Passover Seder Plate]

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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