Why I question

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.

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11 responses to “Why I question

  1. If you’re not asking questions, you’re not doing it right. Have a great shabbos.

  2. I view Judaism as a religion of questioning. Much of Jewish religious literature consists of questions (and answers). The Gemara is full of back and forth questioning. There is a whole class of seforim called “Responsa” consisting solely of questions and answers. We teach out children via questions and answers. So I think you are doing exactly the correct thing per Judaism.

    Shabbat Shalom everyone!

  3. This is the way we learn and grow in Judaism. And you have the guts to do it. Lo Habayshan Lomed.

  4. Beautiful post. When I became frum as a teenager I naively felt that my questions must have been asked and answered long ago, and it was just my lack of education that prevented me from knowing the answers. 28 years later I have more questions than I did back then.

  5. This is great!

    Perhaps you should consider posting your “findings” once in a while.

  6. Hadassah, as you know, I went to the same school as you and also rebelled against the narrow minded view they presented.

    That said, I have managed to remain frum despite their best efforts to turn me off the religion.

    We are people who ask questions because we care enough to do so and in doing so, we are only continuing the tradition of ages.

  7. Lady Lock and Load

    I have the deepest respect for those who went through the Yeshiva system and remained frum despite it! Sometimes I wonder how I would have ended up had I been in that situation.

  8. Reminds of a cute cute joke:

    A person who believes in Christ is a Christian.
    A person who believes in Islam is Muslim.
    A person who believes in Buddah is a Buddist.

    A person who belives in the Torah is Jew’ish’.

  9. I am not a religious Jew, but I can’t imagine how asking questions is anything but wonderful. How can one be an active observer without questioning? That is at the root of learning.

  10. Over the Tisha b’Av I’ve met a person who is ger. His story is wonderful and unbelievable, but one thing that he shared was that it’s actually in Judaism where you can ask and get a complimentary answer.
    As a baal tshuva I can say similar thing – if you ask a question you would get the answer in the form you want it. Sometimes you just need to find a right person to ask. Or even right community.

    ps. I tagged you in the meme

  11. That was a great post!
    I actually just wrote a post at Ilana-Davita, where I mentioned that we should allow our children to ask questions, and you are allowed to ask why. I loved learning the reasons for why we do certain mitzvos. I actually think I’m gonna start again learning about the 613 mitzvos, and maybe I’ll blog about it.

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