Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “Even a small child must be encouraged to ask questions.”

Someone once remarked that in order to attain the proper fear of heaven, one must study Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed from the end to the beginning, so as to begin with the answers and end with the questions.

The meaning of this strange statement is that sometimes people begin with the questions and do not have the strength to continue to the answers, so they remain with the questions and never emerge from them.

Everyone must ask questions in order to learn.

Even a small child must be encouraged to ask questions, for this is the only way he will understand.

However, the distinction is in the type of questions one may ask. Some people can ask only very simple questions, and one must accordingly supply them with simple explanations.

Other people can take apart deeper matters.

The ordinary person’s problem is not that he is unable to take the Tabernacle apart and break it down, but that he cannot always reassemble it.

What happens later, when one wants to relocate the holy?

How does the new location suddenly become holy?

How does this place become the Holy of Holies?

How can one be exposed to all the questions and contradictions, and after all that, still relate to the subject with the proper awe and fear?

This level of spirituality is not easy to attain.

It is a problem that is inherent in Torah study, in faith, and in Judaism:

How can one question, take apart, demolish, and rebuild, and at the same time preserve the sense that one is in the realm of holiness?

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz