Ask and Don’t Tell: Questions, The First Step to Freedom

It’s déjà vu all over again.

I put my clown costume away and I’m starting to think matzah! We move from one calendar milestone to the next. Thirty days before it begins we immerse in all that the upcoming holiday commemorates. So I’m thinking matzah. 

Where to begin?

There is an ancient custom practiced during the commemoration of the Jewish people’s step into nationhood; the custom is to gather around the Passover seder and ask questions.

The purpose of the questions is to stroke curiosity and to inspire awareness. It is to draw interest and tempt further questions. Its ultimate purpose is for there to be new insights, greater sensitivities and heightened understanding. Therefore even if you are commemorating the holiday alone you must still ask the questions.

Questions, even those unanswerable, yield self-knowledge and awareness.

Solutions and answers are insightful yet questions are liberating and life building.

“…Why? Why should this be? How do all of the components connect? How does this make me feel? What was the thinker’s intent? How can I reconcile these conflicting proofs? What are the historical perspectives that may have shaped this opinion? What are the meta messages…?”

Ask, ask, and then ask some more – even if you are certain there is no answer. Encourage those in your life to ask as well. Listen carefully to their questions. Listen to the words used and to their meta-messages – the intent behind their words.

Don’t rush to answer. Think, pause and consider; dwell on the question. Let the asker know that you value the question. If there is a suitable answer, provide one. If not, leave it open.

To question is to exercise freedom, and to plant the seeds for future growth and forward movement. For those questions to which there is no answer – but there is a feeling of sadness or confusion, or a feeling of joyfulness and warmth – the feeling is a hint to the answer.

As you review your day before closing your eyes at night, do the “Ask and Don’t Tell” exercise. Recount how many questions you asked that day. Keep a running weekly total. (Once you get this going, begin to think about how many questions you heard your child ask). Consider, how many of your questions were the expressions of your mind working more rigorously, and more astutely than in the past.

Get a sense of how many of those questions have been left without answers. The number of questions asked should increase each week. The questions left unanswered will provide you the greatest growth.

The extent of a human being’s freedom is directly related to the extent and depth of his/her questions. Begin the process to reclaim freedom. Think matzah and ask questions!


“The great question…which I have not been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul is: “What does a woman want?”

(Ernest Jones; Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, 1955)


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