What are your BIG Questions for 5774?
One can see a relic of the past in many synagogue libraries, and many homes: encyclopedias. These valuable books that hold all the knowledge that we would need about various subjects, A - Z (or Alef to Taf) can be found on anyone’s computer or smart phone through the internet. All the answers are out there, for free, and anyone can access them. The information revolution might be the most significant revolution in mankind's history; a true game changer. But with all this information at our fingertips, why does it feel like something is still missing? Why do we still seem to be without all the answers that we need?
There is a famous scene that I shared with you from the movie A Few Good Men staring Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise. The famous line, “I want answers!” resonates with us because answers are what we seek, especially during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. But you cannot get to answers without BIG questions. One of the names for Rosh Hashanah is Yom Harat HaOlam, the anniversary of the creation of the world. I went back to the book of Genesis to see the first question that God asks humanity. It’s a BIG question, but it is only one word, “אַיֶּכָּה” “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). How could God not know where Adam and Eve were in the garden? It seems like a preposterous question! But Rashi explains it further, “God knew where he was, but he asked the question in order to enter into conversation with him.” Adam and Eve had just disobeyed God’s instructions, but God did not want to scare them off, rather, God wanted to engage them in conversation.
The word Elul is an acronym for the term, Ani L’Dodi, V’Dodi Li, I am my beloved’s and my beloved’s is mine. In this month, we are God’s spouse, and God is our spouse. Now is the time to answer God’s questions, and come up with our own BIG questions to ask ourselves. We cannot parachute into the Days of Awe; we must be prepared. With this intention in mind, I ask you all to ask your own BIG questions for the year 5774 and share them with me. You can do this anonymously or with your name, but I want you to come up with some BIG questions. A BIG question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no, rather, it has to help us think of deep answers.
I hope that you take part in this holy endeavor during this month of Elul. We hope that we can use these questions in the coming year for our adult, teen, and family education endeavors, and to engage in them as a kehillah kedoshah, a holy community. Remember, Rosh Hashanah is not the end...it's just the beginning.