Questioning and interpreting are lifelong ventures


Kids’ picture books present variations on the Torah tales, inviting each young scholar to test his/her imagination and let their innocent interpretive skills go to work while they play.

Parashah Noah is read on Oct. 21, which surely leads to questions. Did Noah have to protect the mice, or even the rats? Did you let the mosquitoes bite you during the journey aboard the ark?

How about Columbus Day? Was the great explorer a good guy or a bad ’un?

What if it rains on the last day of Sukkot? Do you still have to dine outdoors under a sukkah roof that lets the raindrops hit you?

A youngster has to develop good judgment about how to understand, and accept, the meanings of all the holy days.

It is the job of our lifetimes to believe both in the actuality of history and the freedom of metaphorical musings about how best to view the highest value of the tale, as well as the rule.

I believe that the tower of Babel is best and highest if you study other languages with respect for their variety and their evolution, rather than seeing it as a punishment and isolation.

The job of each among us might be to pore over our lore in quest of questions that goad us into a life of creative searching.

MIKE FINK ( is a professor emeritus at the Rhode Island School of Design.