Thursday, April 28, 2016

Knowing what, and how, to ask

היום חמשה ימים בעמר
Today is five days of the omer
הוד שבחסד
A day of humility in a week of loving kindness

An integral text in the seder is the mention of the how to deal with the four "sons" - the wise, the wicked, the simple, and the one who does not know what to ask. Discussing and interpreting what these children and the answers we give them mean to us today is incorporated into most seders. You can do a search and find much commentary from a plethora of sources--and should, if you're interested, because I'm not going to discuss that here :)

I bring them up because when I saw this post from a 2008 count, the child who does not know how to ask popped into my head. I've come to see this as the need to teach our children, but we shouldn't forget that it's also about communication. Being on the same page; speaking the same language. Overused phrases, perhaps, but in our cultural lexicon for a reason.

During a discussion with the producer of the editing project that has taken so much of my energy this week, I was taken to task about parts of the work I did. It wasn't that the work was bad, it just didn't conform with some decisions that were made by the production crew--decisions that I knew nothing about. Peter, the producer, asked me why didn't I call him with questions on what to do. My answer was that I didn't realize the questions needed to be asked. It comes down to a breakdown in communication.

There are many times in both our work and personal lives when communication between two people or within a group becomes stalled. We seem to focus on our individual answers when a better path would be to look for the questions--those to be asked and those not asked. Peter couldn't understand why I didn't ask certain questions--it was clear to him the questions needed to be asked. My response was that without certain information, I had no reason to know what questions to ask.

Peter and I are good friends and have worked together for many years. At this point we know how to get through these difficult "discussions" and resolve any conflicts to the benefit of our project and our relationship. But this reminded me of the questions I ask each morning at the start of minyan:
"What are we? What is our life? What is our piety? What is our righteousness? What is our attainment, our power, our might? What can we say, Adonai, before You?"
These are questions that we don't always know to ask, and we may not have any answers. But I believe that by continuing to ask these questions we can open the communication lines within us, to our souls.

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