Monday, November 17, 2008

Make For Yourself a Rabbi

The B train to Flatbush on Friday afternoons is quite a Jewish experience, with all the Brooklyn Jews returning home for Shabbos. I was sitting on the B on Friday, reviewing the Torah portion on my way to Shabbos by my cousins. An ultra-Orthodox man sat down next to me and we spent most of the ride learning our respective seforim (Jewish books). After a while he asked me what I was learning. When I told him "Kli Yakar," he asked me for a Dvar Torah.

This could only happen in Brooklyn!

As we began talking, he asked me who my Rav was. I told him that I went to many synagogues on the Upper West Side and didn't have one Rabbi who I considered my personal Rav. He responded with words of mussar: "You need to get a Rav, someone whom you can ask questions and with whom discuss big life issues. It'll change your life." He reminded me of the phrase in Pirkei Avot: "Make for yourself a Rabbi" (עשה לך רב). I nodded politely and smiled. We soon arrived at the Kings Highway stop, and dozens of Jews filed out of the train.

I thought about what the man said. Yes, it would be nice to have a Rav. But could I find an Orthodox Rabbi who shares my hashkafa (religious outlook) on all issues, including homosexuality? I could not have a Rav who told me to marry a woman. Nor could I have a non-Orthodox Rav who does not view the Torah as fully binding. So for now I am without a Rav. Yet paradoxically, I feel that it is especially important for gay Jews to have a Rav, someone to help them navigate the uncharted waters of homosexuality and Judaism.

I don't have an answer to this conflict. Just food for thought...

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does the same thing apply if you are a Rabbi?

Anonymous said...

My partner and I (we are both frum women) struggle with this, too. We have a rabbi we can ask kashrus or yuntif related questions to. But we do not have one rav who we trust fully on all issues, mostly though not exclusively because of our relationship. It is frustrating, for sure.

Steve said...

I could not have a Rav who told me to marry a woman or live a life of celibate solitude. Nor could I have a non-Orthodox Rav who does not view the Torah as fully binding. So for now I am without a Rav.

Same exact situation here. I'm an Orthodox gay jew with no Rav. I agree that it is very important for people like us to have a Rabbi to guide us through such uncharted waters. I can just hope one day we will.

Audrey B said...

What, no love for Steve Greenberg?

FagJew said...

"Nor could I have a non-Orthodox Rav who does not view the Torah as fully binding."

-Isn't that a bit harsh? Why do you throw all Non-Orthodox Rabbis into the "not viewing Torah as binding" category?

I wonder if you have been talking to Non-Orthodox rabbis about what they belive or not. Or Did you just come to this conclusion based on their afiliation?

MatzahBall said...

I personally got tired of Orthodox Rabbis.

I tried and tried of being part of the Orthodox world to be just rejected many times.

I'm still fully observant, but I learned that I needed to get out of that circle. Now , my Rav is a woman who studied at Drisha and is very kwnoledgable on Halacha, but still understands my deal. I usually go to independent Minyanim like Hadar or DarcheNoah, but I will never pay anything to an Orthodox organization that rejects Gay people.

Anonymous said...

U should call Rabbi Avi Weiss.

An Orthodox Rabbi who will listen and care for you.

rabi lars said...

well tihs is a sweet post

Victor said...

Just because a rabbi is labeled as "non-Orthodox" you automatically will not consider him? That smacks of the same non-acceptance that the majority of the Orthodox community shows to gays and lesbians who want to be a part of it or consider themselves a part of it already.