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Are you curious?

Wednesday, 9 April, 2008 - 7:47 pm

Did you ever wonder why little kids ask so many questions?

Why is the sky blue? Who is that man standing on the corner? How does fire heat our food?

It’s a kid thing.

Maybe it should also be an ‘adult thing’.

After all, a question is simply a tool of discovery.

When I’m interested in something, I should explore it; as I explore, questions are my spade, my flashlight.

But genuine interest is the launching pad. If I’m not really curious, my question can’t be authentic.

That’s why a child’s question is pure. Children don’t ask mechanical, perfunctory or ‘socially necessary’ questions; they haven’t yet fallen into mindless patterns.

Their interest is genuine so their questions are genuine.

Why should adults be any different? Where does the sense of wonder and curiosity go? Are we trapped in a world without wonder? Do we lose interest in life’s mystery?

It’s interesting that the Passover Seder revolves around the ‘question’ tool. And that the questions – even for the adults – are portrayed as the CHILD’S question. That seems to be the model.

Perhaps this is teaching us an important path to freedom from life’s narrow straits a.k.a our personal ‘Egypt’s: We need to rediscover the ‘childish’ curiosity within us. Maybe Passover is a time to ask ourselves whether we still have the fire of exploration flickering inside: Do we still wonder about the mystery of Creation or the beauty of our relationships? Are we in pursuit of life or our own tails?

So here are three question-exercises which flow from the Seder and its lessons:

  1. Stop every once in a while to notice the awesome wonder of your world (people, things etc). Just like a kid.
  2. If you have no questions, see step 1.
  3. Watch your questions (especially to your loved ones) to see if they’re truly tools of interested inquiry. If not, see step 1.
  4. Care enough about the world to ask. Don’t be afraid; the kids seem to do okay.

 

Comments on: Are you curious?
4/10/2008

Mendy wrote...

The Torah describes the Seder exercise as being "when your child will ask...."
So questions are clearly a primary part of the exercise. Aside from what was written in the Torah thought, here are some other angles on the question idea:
1. Our Rabbis clearly understood that a proper ambience helps a learner to reach potential, and induces questions.
So the Seder has several mechanisms built in to pique a child's curiosity. It's an atmosphere which supports queries.
2. In the learning process, we need to create a safe atmosphere, an atmosphere where the learner feels that a question is welcome, and that questions are valued because exploration is valued.
As adults, we have the same goal: We should be at a place where we're not ashamed to ask a question, and bring ourselves to a place of interest in the topic, because interest breeds questions.
If you think about it, questions are a sign of interest.
When a loved comes home at night, and you are not stimulated to sincerely ask about their day, what does it tell you?
Questions are good for the soul, for relationships and for expansion of the mind.
They're a part of freedom.