The Positive Effects of Curiosity

Amira Soleimani February 5, 2023

I often contemplate the age old question: if you could pursue any career in life, what would it be?

Though my heart would never let me leave the world of Judaic Studies, in another lifetime, I would want to be a taxi driver (preferably in Israel).

Before you begin telling me about careers at Uber, allow me to explain.  While I enjoy driving, it is actually the environment of a taxi that motivates me. Within a taxi, two human beings can connect on the most authentic levels, even if only for a brief moment. Taxis give us the unspoken blessing to transcend social norms, skipping the formalities of small talk and moving directly into genuine life conversation. As a person, I am forever curious about other individuals - not about their opinions on the weather or thoughts on politics - but about who they are: the experiences that shaped them, their unrefined hopes, and how they express their own unique godliness in this world. In the space of a taxi, my curiosity is allowed to flow freely.  

As an educator, I believe that the most important quality we can foster in ourselves and our children is curiosity. Curiosity is the bridge between the world as we know it and our hopes and aspirations. As the grand propeller beneath every profound question, curiosity allows us to uncover life’s next pathway.  

All wisdom starts in the Torah and the topic of curiosity is no different. When we first encounter Moshe in his adulthood, he lives his life as a shepherd. It is the quality of curiosity that sets him in a completely new direction: 

​​Ex. 3:1 Now Moses, tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, drove the flock into the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 

Ex. 3:2 An angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire out of a bush. He gazed, and there was a bush all aflame, yet the bush was not consumed. 

Ex. 3:3 Moses said, “I must turn aside to look at this marvelous sight; why doesn’t the bush burn up?” 

Moshe’s curiosity becomes evident when he gazes at the bush. There is an undeniable interconnectedness between his desire to understand the burning bush and the articulation of his question. Consider all of the events contingent upon this singular moment: the exodus, splitting of the Red Sea, receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and eventual conquest of the Land of Israel. The entire course of Jewish history would have looked different without Moshe’s curiosity.  

Another important lesson emerges from this scene which is that, at times, curiosity must be evoked. Had God not deliberately placed the bush in that spot, the trajectory of Moshe’s life would have looked quite different. As parents and adults, it is our responsibility to foster and promote curiosity within our children.  

So how do we live more curious lives - not only for our sake but for the sake of our families?  The answer is that we must strive to be like Moshe: we must tune in.  We must try to remain present and open to the world around us.  We must also cultivate the inner vulnerability necessary to ask a question. I deeply believe that, like Moshe, when we aim to live in alignment with the world around us, the clues through which we find opportunities to connect with others and hear our own calling emerge, like little signs sent to evoke our curiosity. This is, of course, easier said than done - but the potential reward for all of this is immeasurable.  

To connect and discuss further, my email is asoleimani@hillelday.org.

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Amira Soleimani

Amira Soleimani is the Director of Judaic Studies Curriculum and Instruction at Hillel Day School.