Amechad (I love that Handle) asked me a poignant question in the very first comment to this second foray into the blog world. Namely, how I would be able to make a living as a Rabbi in
For the first 20 years of my life (I guess it’s less then that because until your 7 or so, what do you really know anyway about your future...) I also worried a lot about Parnasa, being able to make a living. This is why it should be no surprise to anyone that I’m a political science major and legal studies minor. Like a typical good non-observant Jew, as a child I knew I was going to be a lawyer all the way (after all, the site of other people under the needle or bleeding is something I just can’t deal with, so doctor was out), and why not, the pay was good, and I was good at it. (I was captain of my mock trial team since middle school, and led my team to victory more times then not.)
During high school when I began my T’Shuva process, slowly taking on more and more mitzvot into my personal realm of observance, I still kept that mission of being an attorney at the forefront. My family had been poor, and largely uneducated, and I was going to change that, and after living through my parent’s messy divorce I had had plenty of opportunity to be exposed to many bad attorneys. It was now my mission to not just be an attorney, but a good one, a responsible one who actually cared for his clients and for justice.
College started not much differently. However, I started working as an NCSY (Jewish Youth Group) advisor (I’d actually started the year before, but…), and began working for a special needs integration camp during the summers (also started the year before). I’d always loved working with kids. I’d coached Pee-Wee wrestling in High School, and done the CIT (Counselor in Training) thing at the local JCC. But, until now, I had never done it formally, or in a Torah observant setting. I soon realized that it was one of my true loves. I also started to realize just how much the Jewish Education system, in
In my sophomore year of college I started to become increasingly disillusioned with myself and the path I was on. I decided that I needed to finally spend a year in
Back at college my disaffection continued to grow with American and with the prospect of being an attorney. It also continued to grow towards the system of Jewish Education. I’d now been working for NCSY and for that summer camp for an extended period of time and had the wonderful blessing of being able to see the many kids that I’d been working with for years grow and develop into young men and women. The mark that I’d made on there lives also was becoming clearer and more evident. It’s the most satisfying feeling I’ve ever experienced. I’d found my path. A little late considering I’d already completed my major and minor, but that wasn’t going to hold me back. Rabbinic school though was still another year or two out. At this point I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I just knew three things. First, whatever happened, I wanted to end up back in
It’s only in this past year that Smicha became a real viable option for me. I realized, that while I never want to do pulpit Rabinics which is what I’d always associated smicha with, I would need it if I were ever going to qualify myself to transmit the traditions and beauty of Torah Judaism to the next generation. So… To answer Amechad’s question, I plan on making a living out of sheer determination and passion for what I love. I want to love what I do, I want to have that feeling, knowing I’m making a difference, even if that means sacrificing a little of the extra material wants. (But none of the needs, and even some wants are still important…) So, I can’t necessarily answer your question of how, I can only say that my priorities are different. I want to be a Jewish Educator, and I want to live in
Anyway, I don’t know if that helps at all. But, Shabbat is coming, and I’ve got a lot to do still to prepare for my Shabbos Bride and Queen. (Not to mention all the NCSY’ers that I’m spending it with.) I wish everyone a good Shabbos, a Shabbat Shalom. And pray that it brings comfort and rest to us all.