The beauty of a child is their curiosity. The innocent ability to always want to know why. Some ask in defiance, but most ask to really know, to understand. They want to make the connections in their minds, to see the unity that exists.
Us too, “the grown ups”, have the curiosity to find meaning. To explore.
Some of us still ask in defiance – we ask why in order to dispute the foundations, to be rebellious, to show that we wont conform, no matter the answer. Those who are driven by the pursuit of truth and are open to asking questions in order to find answers will often find themselves in ‘a system of truth’. They surround themselves with people and processes that they believe help them discover the truth. This is what the baal teshuva sees when they start being more observant. They see a movement of people searching, discovering, institutions built for people to ask questions, a multitude of sources and learned guides (Rabbis) to speak to. A movement towards being a clan of self-asserted free-thinkers, within a system of strict observance to a code of conduct.
And once you are part of the movement, the code, do you stop asking? Do you stop letting yourself search? Do you confine your search to the ‘permitted’ texts or to the ‘permitted’ people? At what point does your open search turn into ‘I have found’? Can you ever really ‘find’?
I find that the search for truth and questioning stops being about external truth. Judaism pushes us to look inwards at all times and in all circumstances. Through the baal teshuva journey we move from looking for external truth to looking for internal truth. Who am I? Who do I want to be? Why? When? We move from looking for Hashem and the unity in the world to building a relationship with Him, and ultimately a stronger one with ourselves and those around us. We move from searching to find, to searching to be. We go from truth seekers to truth builders. We no longer try to find something we don’t have; the internal truth just becomes clearer and clearer.
May we all be strong enough to continue building: to ask and discover, to follow and see the truth, to be authentic in what we practice and who we are, a holy soul.