Sunday, June 12, 2005

A Jewish Child's Thinking

Although I'm very creative, I must admit that I'm a rather linear thinker -- black and white oftentimes supercedes any gray possibilities.

That is exactly how I was as a child: I took things literally...as would many a child.

I recall standing in the schoolyard when I was about age 9, looking at the sky and thinking, "How could G-d be overlooking me...at this very moment...in the schoolyard and at the same time be overlooking my parents at their home a 2o-minute drive south of this area?"

When I was even younger than that, I used to look at the sky on a very cloud-filled sunny day, searching among the clouds, looking for G-d's throne. I pictured him up there, sitting on a throne, watching every move we made. As hard as I'd try, I couldn't find the throne.

When it came time of the "Yamim Noraim" I used to mentally picture the scales of justice; if I ever used a curse word or bad language, which I was counted as a sin, I pictured the scale weighing down a bit on one side. And the book of Life... I wanted to edit that on behalf of my family and friends. I wanted to get a peek at it, so that I could correct any errors. But of course, we were taught that G-d did not make errors.

I remember being very afraid at every Pesach seder when it was time to open the door for Eliyahu; again I thought, if he's here, how could he be at my friends' houses or cousins' houses. Okay, maybe he was expected to be there at a different time, but my home and family were now keeping him occupied.

Most of all I was AFRAID to ask these questions aloud. I was afraid that if I did, or sometimes if I even THOUGHT THEM, that my doubts would be evident; a sign perhaps that I was not a good Jew.

I understand now that it is good to ask questions, to seek out answers, to look at the gray areas. But try telling that to the child that I once was....

3 comments:

Stacey said...

This was very interesting, Pearl. But at least you know now that it is good to question.

For some reason (perhaps because my grandfather was a rabbi) some of my earliest memories are of being encouraged to question. And question I did. And I still do. That is one of the beautiful aspects of our religion.

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

I highly recommend you read a piece by Sarah Shapiro in her book A Gift Passed Along called Circles in the Sand: A Question of Questioning. It relates to your post. In case the suspense is killing you I'll tell you she's pro questioning. She writes about it very beautifully. One of the pivots of the story is her daughter getting in trouble in school for asking faith related questions in class.

Gella said...

Children asked the best questions. How can God see all of us? at once? I once heard this great response (given to a child: You know how when you draw a picture, you know where everything is, where you drew the trees, where you stuck the house, and the little girl... Well the world is God's picture, s/he drew it and even when God closes god's eyes, s/he know where everything is. Think about it!