Doug Taylor and Rabbi Morton Moskowitz

"But does all this rational thinking stuff apply to the Bible too?"
I had waited a long time before asking him this question since religion is a touchy subject with some people. But the King of Rational Thought and I were having a good discussion over lunch, so I took the plunge, got the words out, and then took a big bite from my sandwich just in case I encountered a long silence. To my surprise, he answered without hesitating.
"Of course," he replied. "Here. I'll give you an example from the book of Proverbs. 'He who hides hatred is lying lips, and he who utters slander is a fool.'"
"Well, that's easy," I said, all prepared to demonstrate that I knew how to think rationally just as much as he did. "It means--"
"Wait a minute," he interrupted. "First tell me what the questions are."
"The what?" I had no idea what he was talking about.
"The questions," he said. "You want to jump right into interpretation without asking questions."
I stuck my toe in the water. "What kind of questions?" I asked.
He responded matter-of-factly, graciously avoiding making me feel like an idiot.
"Questions that guide you to the true meaning of the proverb," he said. "For example, why is someone who utters slander called 'a fool?' And why is someone who hides hatred called 'lying lips'?"
I bit into my sandwich again, hoping he wouldn't notice I was stalling.
"Asking good questions," he continued, "is one of the keys to gaining knowledge. It's part of the practice of rational thought. Asking good questions is often more important than struggling for answers, because good questions will guide you to the answers."
I could only fake looking contemplative so long. Besides, I was running out of lunch. "So what does the proverb mean?" I asked.
"Well, let's take the questions one at a time," he said. "Why would someone who utters slander be called 'a fool'?"
He paused, waiting for an answer.
"Uh, because I'll sue them?" I offered.
"Sort of," he replied. "If someone is angry at you and slanders you, you know to be careful of that person. You can take steps to protect yourself."
"So now let's look at the second question," he continued. "Why is someone who hides hatred called 'lying lips'?"
"Well," I said, "they really hate me, but they're pretending to be nice to me. Isn't that lying?"
"Right," he said. "But why would they do that?"
"Because they want to hurt me in some way?" I tried.
"Exactly," he said. "When someone is angry at you and wants revenge, they'll do one of two things. If they're foolish, they'll slander you publicly. That's foolish because now you know to protect yourself. But the more cunning person will pretend to be nice to you while secretly plotting against you."
"So," he concluded, "the proverb is about protecting yourself from hatred."
I took all this in and reached for my sandwich, unaware that I'd finished it.
"Do you see how asking the right questions leads you to the answer?" he added.
"I see it," I said. "But I'm not sure I could have gotten there on my own."
"Asking good questions takes practice," he replied. "Just like any skill."
He was right, and I was eager to do more. But when I suggested questioning my boss about why he doesn't give me a raise, the King of Rational Thought, having observed how deeply I appear to think while eating, had a better idea.
He recommended I have another sandwich.