Rabbi Michael Strassfeld (The Jewish Holidays: A Guide & Commentary)

Why is this night different from all other nights? Most of all because it provokes us to question.

We are to question our cherished notions and beliefs to discover if somehow slavery and oppression have crept in…The importance of questioning explains the central role of children at the seder. Young and naïve, they ask the basic questions, the ones we thought long settled or the ones so challenging to fundamentals that we could never risk asking them…We should locate each of [the four] questioning children in ourselves. As Maimonides states, “If he has no child, then let his wife ask him [the Four Questions]; if he has no wife, then let one person ask the other even if they are all sages. If he is alone, then he asks himself, “Why is this night different?”

  • Why would Maimonides suggest that we ask questions even if we are alone? What are the questions that we only ask ourselves? How does a question change when it is spoken aloud to another?

  • How do you decide which questions to ask? Are there questions that you might ask but you choose not to? If so, why?

Rainer Maria Rilke

I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

  • How does the Rilke text inform your discussion? What is the relationship between questions and knowing/ not knowing? Between questions and liberation/ freedom?

  • What might it mean to “live the questions”?

  • How does questioning relate to creativity and imagination? What is the relationship (or difference) between questioning and setting an intention (as we do in creative process)?