Tag Archives: smicha

Rabbis are guides not dictators!!

I respect my rabbi. I respect the KoD’s rabbi. Until we move, we have two separate rabbis. My rabbi has been my spiritual leader for most of the past 13 years. If I have questions he is the competent local orthodox rabbi that I consult. I don’t believe in rabbi shopping. I ask all my questions to one rabbi. I don’t seek out the rabbi that will be the laxest.  I don’t believe in that. However, when it is KoD that will be doing the asking, he will ask his own rabbi. When we move, the KoD’s rav will be mine.

What I really don’t believe in is running to the rabbi or spiritual leader to ask about every single thing in your life. I live a religious life. I keep as many mitzvoth as I can. I know what it means to live as an Orthodox Jew. Occasionally questions come up – and when I am not sure about halacha I will consult the rabbi. I will not ask him whether the time is right for me to buy a new house, or if my son should be allowed to check his email, or if I should blog about how my husband loves my hair. I will not ask him when I am sick if I should take the medication or pray instead to get better. I won’t ask him if I can go to the movies Saturday night or if it’s ok for me to talk to my friend’s husband on the phone.

Why not? Firstly – because I don’t need rabbinical approval for every single thing I do in this life. I have my own moral compass. I have a brain. I can think things through, discuss with others, and am ok with the majority of my decisions. Not everything we do in life has to have the seal of rabbinical authority. Secondly, do I really think the rabbi wants to be bothered with the minutiae of all of his congregants’ lives? Does he care what brand of Kleenex you use, or whether your laundry detergent sat in a shopping cart where ham sat before? So much of what I hear people have asked their rabbi is narishkeit – nothingness, silliness.

A rabbi is there to teach us, to help us learn and grow. He is not there to control our lives. He is there to celebrate and commemorate with us – hatches, matches and dispatches (births, marriages and deaths); to visit the sick; to pay shiva visits; to help lift us up when we need it; to provide advice and counsel when warranted; to inspire us to be better servants of God. As far as I know, when a man is studying for his smicha, there isn’t a class on “how to control your congregants 101”. Being a rabbi is about encouraging the community to be better people, to be better Jews and to help them get there.

We can think for ourselves. I don’t need a rabbi thinking for me. And I highly doubt he wants to be the one to decide on everything in a congregant’s life.

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