02 July 2012

Why I Decided to Go to Rabbinical School [Redux]

Having graduated rabbinical school three summers ago,* I felt it was appropriate to discuss why I decided to go to rabbinical school.  Although I initially posted about this topic over five and a half years ago, I wanted to more fully list out the reasons as to why I decided to go into rabbinical school.
        The first reason actually occurred to me in my second summer of staffing BBYO summer programs (in 2003).  I saw the rabbis as being not only very knowledgeable about Judaism, but also seemed to me to be quintessentially Jewish leaders.  It wasn't simply that I saw them as possessing so much knowledge of our people's traditions, customs, practices, etc., but I saw rabbis as serving as architects of Jewish life.
Spending years learning furthered my knowledge
     The second reason was because I did not come from such a Jewishly-learned background and I sought to deepen and broaden my Jewish learning.  In order to ensure that that occurred seriously for a number of years, rabbinical school was definitely the sustainable path for me to travel.**
     The third reason was that I liked being involved with Jewish leadership activities and roles (e.g. BBYO) and I wanted to further the opportunities for being involved in such situations.
     The fourth reason was that I enjoyed being a part of large gatherings of Jews (such as a conventions and conferences) and thought that becoming a rabbi would certainly enable me to attend such events.
With Rabbi Berel Wein at Ohr Somayach (Spring 2004)
      The fifth reason was that I wanted to share the Jewish way of doing things (i.e. halakhah) with other Jews who might not know how to live Jewishly and I wanted to help them on the path of properly living according to their birthright.
       The sixth reason was that I was inexplicably drawn to the need to serve my people.  Two instances stick out to me where the need for good Jewish leaders was articulated and I felt that I had the opportunity to serve: 1) When I visited YCT in December 2003 and heard Rabbi Avi Weiss address us perspective students on the need for good Jewish spiritual leaders across the North American landscape; 2) One day in between classes at Ohr Somayach in the spring of 2004, hearing Rabbi Berel Wein speaking about a few things that could help American Jewry and one of them being good rabbis.  Although I don't want to claim in any way that I thought I would be a good rabbi (or even currently am),  I did feel that I owed it to my people to at least try to serve them.
*And being asked many times why I wanted to become a rabbi (especially here at ILTC).
**Although I know other people who spent 2-3 (or more) years studying in yeshivos in Israel post-college, I felt that I needed to move on with my life.  (Although, looking back, I think that I probably didn't have to necessarily just move on at that time, yielding me with more time for personal development, Jewish learning, and social networking in Israel.  Ah, well, that's hindsight....)

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