What are Big Questions?
Big Questions are human questions.
They're not Jewish questions or Christian questions, or Muslim questions or atheist questions. They're not Democratic or Republican questions. They're not young people questions or old people questions.
Big Questions are human questions. They're questions that matter to all of us, and they're questions all of us can answer.
So why is Hillel, the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, sponsoring Ask Big Questions?
First, precisely because Big Questions matter to all of us, by definition they matter to Jews. Where do you feel at home? For whom are we responsible? What are you thankful for? These are questions at the heart of Jewish life. They are questions that have animated Jewish thought and tradition for thousands of years. Jewish life is an exploration of these questions. So these questions matter to Jews, just as they matter to all of us.
Second, Hillel the Elder, the first-century sage for whom Hillel the organization is named, earned his reputation as an asker of Big Questions. Hillel's most famous saying was actually three questions: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? When I am for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?" (Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Sages 1:14) The legends about Hillel tell us that he was a great listener, that he was patient and open, and that he modeled what genuine learning looks like. The virtues of Ask Big Questions are the virtues of Hillel.
So is Ask Big Questions a Jewish project?
Ask Big Questions is a human project and a Jewish project. We create conversation environments that invite people of all backgrounds to talk and reflect together. Depending on who is in the conversation and what Interpretive Things (text, image, song, or other item) are used to center the conversation, an Ask Big Questions conversation can take on more or less of a distinctive flavor- Jewish, Buddhist, literary, philosophical, humanist, etc.
Ask Big Questions aims to help people go deeper within their own traditions and identity, and at the same time build richer communities based on understanding one another's stories and exploring what we have in common. We aim to live out our slogan: Understand Others, Understand Yourself.