Eliezer Shemtov
Trying to make a difference

Ask Your Question and I’ll Tell You Who You Are

Each year, new teachings, questions and observations are expressed at the Seder.

I would like to invite those who read this to share any interesting and original insights that have been generated at their Seder.

Here is an idea that crystallized in my mind this year.

I was asked to share my understanding of the four sons: the wise, the rebellious, the simple and the one who does not know how to ask.

This was my answer:

There are four different types of questions:

1) constructive questions;

2) destructive questions;

3) informative questions;

4) Wrong questions.

In other words:

  1. There are those who ask because they want to understand;

2. There are those who ask because they DO NOT want to understand;

3. There are those who ask because they want to know;

4. There are those who ask without knowing exactly what it is that they want to know or understand.

An example of a conversation with one who “does not know how to ask”:

– “What color is two plus two?”

– “You cannot ask that question.”

– “I can ask any question I want! I live in a democracy, I am a pluralist! Who has the right to tell what to ask and what not to ask?”

It happens to me every other day …

The message here is that it more important than answering questions is answering people. And for that you have to understand the person who is asking the question in order to understand what is the purpose of his or her question.

Chag Kasher Vesameach!

About the Author
Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov, born in in Brooklyn, NY in 1961. Received Smicha From Tomchei Temimim in 1984 and shortly after was sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, may his merit shield us, together with his wife Rachel to establish the first Beit Chabad in Montevideo, Uruguay and direct Chabad activities in that country. He has authored many articles on Judaism that have been published internationally. Since publishing his popular book on intermarriage, "Dear Rabbi, Why Can't I Marry Her?" he has authored several books in Spanish, English and Hebrew dealing with the challenges that the contemporary Jew has to deal with.