So many times I will learn a life-transforming idea, and I will be unbelievably fascinated with its depth. But by the next day, I can’t remember it at all. How can this be? How can we be inspired and driven one moment, and then give up completely before the day is through?

In the work Derech Eitz Chaim, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (known as Ramchal) wrote about this phenomenon. He spoke about how what we learn needs to be “set on fire” in order for us to keep it alive: “The mind of man is similar to Torah, in that it needs to be inflamed in order for it to work.”

Ramchal outlines a way to integrate the ideas that become absorbed into our subconscious reality back into our daily conscious thoughts. The method outlined is a form of contemplation, in which a person asks himself questions about the idea or goals that he is trying to revitalize in his mind.

Questions are gifts in our lives

In the March/April 2010 issue of Scientific American Mind, a recent study on learning methods was presented that showed that the most effective way to learn anything is by asking your own questions about it first. It also helps to try and find answers, even if you fail at first. This primes the mind to absorb the answers before they are found.

Think about how different things would be if we began the day by taking five minutes to ask ourselves questions like these: Who am I? Why am I alive? What are my goals today? The questions can be general, or can focus on a specific issue that we have been grappling with, or a goal that is still in the abstract realm of our consciousness.

Questions are gifts in our lives. People who are passionate about life usually share a crucial characteristic: curiosity. This is something that children have in abundance that we must all rediscover. Why is the sky blue? Why do we die? Why do we live? How do ants carry objects twice their weight? What can we learn from them? What can we learn from each other? What can learn from today? Be alive. Be awake. Wonder and grapple with every idea that you learn.

On Lag BaOmer, we are given a special gift of fire. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai told us that on this day of his death, his ideas would be especially alive and accessible to us. And what did Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai bring to the world? He brought us the Zohar, a work that contains ideas about the world that most of us cannot grasp.

But he also gave us something else.

He gave us the ability to see the fire behind the letters. He left the world with a burning desire to know the depths of Creation. Why we are here, and what lies beneath the surface of every word and creation.

Twelve years ago on Lag BaOmer, the day in history set aside for reigniting life itself, my husband-to-be and I stood beneath a white canopy on the edge of the water. Before the wedding, we were two separate beings trying to find our place in this world. After we stepped out of that chuppah laced with white roses and dreams, we had become different beings altogether, still with individual hopes and goals, but no longer separate.

He gave us the ability to see the fire behind the letters

Marriage is an act of re-creation. It transforms not only the bride and the groom; it also changes the fabric of the universe. It breathes life into the belief in beginnings and in love. We say forever, and we mean it. Those who aren’t sure about eternity begin to believe. There is a way to keep the fire within us alive.

But fire has another side to it.

It can burn us if we are not careful. That is why we learn that the fire between a husband and his wife will radiate warmth and peace only if they recognize the One who created them and brought them together. And like anything else in our lives, we need to be proactive and passionate about our marriages too. Ask yourself: Why did we get married? What our goals? Are we achieving them? What else can we do to make the fire stronger?

Ask, and ask more.

See every moment in your home as an opportunity to learn as well. One of the most fascinating traits of scientists or artists, or really, experts in any field, is how enthralled they are with their subject. Look at the angle of light in this sunset. Can I paint that? Look at the movement of that particle? Does it fit into this formula? Look at how people react in this situation? Why do they act that way? And when you are so curious about the world around you, you cannot possibly be bored. Ever. There is always more to learn and discover. In strong, vibrant marriages, this is true as well. A person’s soul has infinite layers. It takes a lifetime to synchronize and fulfill the potential of two souls coming together . . .

This year, we stand beside the bonfire in the mountains of Jerusalem. We are surrounded by our children, who stare into the dancing flames with eyes full of their own special light. Why is the fire blue on the inside? How does the fire stay lit? Where do the sparks go when they fly into the sky? Do they become part of the stars? Their questions weave around us like a million tiny bonfires, giving light to each other and to the darkness around us. Ask and learn and ask again. Let your mind always be on fire. Let your heart always be alive. Never stop wondering why. And that is the secret. That is how the fire stays lit.