Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Rabbi Hunt

Moonlight. Park. Bench. Third Date.

"So, do you have a Rav? Like, someone to ask?"
(OK, that's the guy asking. Not my style question.)

"Um, well. I ask Y. when I have questions. He's got Semicha. He looks it up for me if he doesn't know." (Nothing like illustrious relatives. The whole learning in Kollel thing comes in useful sometimes.)

"I mean real questions, you know, life questions. Not Halachic questions".

"Oh."
(Long silence.)
"No, not really. I used to ask a couple of Rabbis stuff sometimes, in seminary. But I never get round to phoning them nowadays."

If I like him I may bother trying to explain more. Usually I don't.

I do feel faintly guilty about it. "Not having a Rav", that is. I had to memorize Mesilat Yesharim in High school. That whole paragraph with the Rabbi being up on a hill, able to guide lost and clueless lil' you through the maze of life. So Rabbis are the kind of thing one needs, right?

Yet somehow they never seem to work for me. Take dating episode #1,804,346 (that would be last week's)

I decide I wanna "Hear Daas Torah".
I spent three days trying to get hold of Rabbi X.
I begin to despair of ever talking to Rabbi X, except perhaps if I take up stalking as a hobby.
I ask all and sundry if they know of any other Rabbi with a slightly open mind, plus common sense. Apparently no, they are a rare breed in the Charedi world.
I keep trying. Eventually I get through.

"That's your decision"

"Yeah, but what does the Torah say?"

"Look, no Rabbi is going to tell you what to do."

"I wanted to hear the Torah perspective."

"There isn't one."

"Oh. Well do you have experience with other people going through this?"

"No."

"But it's pretty common."

"I tell them all it's their decision."

I give up. Make the same decision I was going to. (Since I'm sitll single, we all know what that was.)

But seriously, I'm puzzled, what's the deal with this talking to Rabbis business?

Is it for reassurance, for a listening ear? Fill-ins for shrinks, who no-one can go to for fear of besmirching their shidduch reputation forever? Is "I need to talk to a Rav" really the codename for Therapy 101?

Or is it for a stamp of approval? The excuse you can present to the outside world?
"I spoke to my Rav and he said.." = "This is what I want to do".

Because next time I want to hear what the Torah has to say, I think I'll stick with pulling out a book from the shelf.