I am going to attempt to explain why I ask so many religious questions, and sometimes may seem like a renegade, when that is totally not who I am.
I went to a religious day school which taught us Judaism in a very dogmatic way. This is the way we Jews do things, and that’s it. No ifs ands or buts. Questioning the Rabbis was frowned upon. I was sent out of many a class for perceived chutzpah when in fact I just wanted to understand better.
I have been an orthodox Jew for all of my life, yet I feel there are huge gaps in my knowledge because we were not taught everything in school. The last 14 years I have been busy raising my kids and so many questions arose that I had no time to look into.
Now I have the time and the opportunity to seek answers to these questions. Many things I thought were halacha are minhag, and vice versa. I want to understand why we do what we do, what the reasons are for these customs and laws, how certain customs evolved. I do not seek, chas veshalom, to pour scorn on our esteemed rabbis and teachers, I seek to understand in order to improve my Avodat Hashem.
I do not aim to stir up dissent and disharmony amongst our people. On the contrary. However, being a sheep has never worked for me. I want to know why I have a mezuzah on my door, why my friend cannot obtain a Get, why my sons didn’t put tefillin on 9th Av shacharit. There is nothing wrong with asking why. There is nothing wrong with healthy discussion. I have learned so much from these discussions and I hope I helped others learn too. It doesn’t stop me from keeping all the mitzvoth, even if I do not yet understand each one. It just spurs me on to understand more.
Not a day goes by that I don’t partake in a religious discussion on Twitter with my “Jew Crew” (they objected to being called the G-d Squad). This week we discussed Chalitzah, not eating meat during the nine days and a whole host of other things. My education in my own religion is growing by leaps and bounds, because I DO ask the questions. I am not afraid to say “I don’t know something. Teach me, please.”
I am not a kofer (koferet?) by any stretch of the imagination. I have a profound thirst for knowledge and a deep and abiding hate of hypocrisy. That is why I question and sometimes criticize. But only because I want to be a better person and a better Jew.