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Jewish Journal

A Rabbi is Just a Man

by Ilana Angel

August 2, 2012 | 6:43 pm

I love a good Rabbi.  Truth be told, when I started my spiritual journey to find my own level of Judaism, I loved all Rabbis.  I was in awe of men who could quote Torah, and guide me through my faith.  I have always thought Rabbis were special, often thought they were sexy, and fancied myself as a Rebbetzin.  Being a Rabbi’s wife seemed like perfection to me.

I dated a Rabbi once and thought he was magical.  He was a lovely man and though our relationship did not last long, it was very nice.  Years after we stopped dating he did my Get for me.  He is married with children now and works at a temple here in Los Angeles.  We don’t really cross paths but we know people in common and it’s nice to know he is happy and doing well.

I am a bit of a temple hopper and have been looking for a Rabbi who speaks to me.  The Rabbi who did my son’s Bar Mitzvah is great.  He is funny, smart and a calming force.  He was supportive and kind to the needs of a single mother and my son loves him.  I never really thought of him as my Rabbi though.  He was and continues to be my son’s spiritual leader.

A Rabbi is just a man like anyone else so I’m not sure why I value them in a different way.  They are just people whose job it is to lead people in faith, but it does not make them any closer to God or goodness.  If you are an idiot and you become a Rabbi, you are simply an idiot who also happens to be a Rabbi. That said, it is sad to me when a Rabbi is an idiot.

There is a certain level of God like power in being a Rabbi.  A Rabbi can save a life and in my case I feel one did.  When I was lost in terms of my faith I was guided back to God by a Rabbi.  I’m not sure he knows the impact he had on me, but it was significant.  I did not realize I was lost until I heard him speak and it was through his words that I found my way.

The combination of the bible and his worldview gave me a perspective I was missing.  I am a Jew but this Rabbi taught me what it meant to be Jewish, and I will be forever grateful.  It turns out being a Rabbi does not make you a great man, but being a great man makes you a great Rabbi.  It’s a tough lesson to learn and disappointing when a Rabbi is a putz.

I have a friend who is getting divorced from her Rabbi husband and he is not handling the situation like a mensch, as much as a douchelord.  I have another friend who was in a relationship with a Rabbi and his treatment of her is painful.  Many revere him, yet in terms of my friend he has been a hurtful human being.  How can a man of faith be so unkind?

Does being a good Rabbi to many get you off the hook for being an asshole to one?  How can one man lead a congregation to enlightenment while crapping all over someone?  Watching a Rabbi treat someone so thoughtlessly is shocking and I struggle with how to separate him from his job and title.  Must I respect him just because he is a Rabbi?

Being a good man is harder than being a good Rabbi, and while people love and adore this man, to me he is just a pig who will have a lot of explaining to do when he comes face to face with God.  It is unbelievable that a man who has spent his life being a leader of faith is able to give no value to the heart and soul of someone he once professed to love.

I have lost respect for a man I thought was a great leader. A Rabbi is just a man and sometimes a man can be a douchelord.  I am in awe of men of faith. Today one showed his true self and that revelation would be shocking to those who lean on him.  I will continue my search for a wonderful Rabbi with one crossed off the list.  I am searching and keeping the faith.

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