"We are closer to G-d when we are asking the questions, than when we think we have the answers" Heschel

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why are we so scared of questions?

I am the first to admit that the world we live in presents profound challenges to Jews and Judaism.   The approach of many Orthodox Jews is to run or hide from  these challenges and not address the difficult questions the world is asking us.  While those who ascribe to this approach may consider themselves defenders of the faith, I consider this approach to be a terrible chilul Hashem.  Judaism has never feared a good question and the great Rabbis have always sought out answers to even the most difficult questions.  Asking the tough questions is a tradition that goes all the way back to Moshe Rabeinu when he asked G-d perhaps the most difficult question of all: Why do bad things happen to good people? We ask questions because we are not afraid.When we are afraid to ask we show our weakness.

As Moshe Rabeinu, we may not always get satisfactory answers due to the limits of this world. Yet, our commitment to Torah does not waver in the face of questions and challenges.  In fact, I believe that only through asking difficult questions can we expect that we may one day merit their answers and true yediyat Hashem.

What do you think?

Binyamin - Always looking for a good question


  1. A talmid once came up to me with a huge smile on his face. He said that he had been struggling with many questions, difficult questions. When I asked him why he was smiling, he replied, "I just heard a shiur where the Rabbi said that to have blind faith is to be on the highest level of Judaism. So I don't need to answer my questions anymore - I can just believe and everything will be fine."

    I was mortified. As the above post says, our goal in life is knowledge of HKB"H. When we learn Torah, we learn about Hashem. כל התורה כולה שמותיו של הקב"ה הוא. I pray that this blog will help people answer their questions instead of run from them.

  2. I have a different approach.

    If people are scared of questions, it's because they are approaching the debate willing to be convinced. They are acting honestly, and do not have the time, energy, or social capital to deal with the consequences.

    If you, however, *know* before you even ask the question that there are certain answers that are heretical and will be dismissed out of hand, then, well, that is blind faith. That faith protects you from fear. Everyone should be afraid of questions; ahhh, but to have the courage to face them bravely, despite all the havoc the answers can wreak!

    But I see that you define "tough questions" differently. Moshe Rabbenu's question was not tough at all, the way I defined it above. He saw God face to face - what harm could there be in asking? Whatever answer he got, his faith, sense of self, and social and/or political position would be unchanged. Nothing could shake him to his very core. But since you think it is the paradigmatic Tough Question, you must be working with a different idea. The conclusions you have are foregone - only the details must be worked out.

    I wonder who you are responding to by starting this blog?