Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ten Signs of an ex-Shul Rabbi

[This week's Toronto Torah is here!]

Almost five months in, I'm finding some benefits in retirement. I still miss some aspects of the shul rabbinate, but I am finding time to work on WebShas, I am able to drive carpool in the mornings, and I'm able to devote serious time to creating shiurim that are deeper as well as broader than ever before.

Here's an interesting find: I've come to believe that, in some sense, I will always be a shul rabbi. Many aspects of the rabbinate have just stuck with me. All of the following have happened to me in my months since leaving the shul rabbinate; I think of them as Ten Signs that you are an ex-Shul Rabbi:

10. You feel bad about stepping out to talk to someone during the rabbi's dvar torah between minchah and maariv [but at least you step out...];

9. You naturally assume that people want your advice on matters public and personal;

8. Months before Purim, you start thinking about what costume to wear (see here and here);

7. The sight of Thursday on the calendar strikes unspeakable terror into your heart;

6. You shush the people around you when the rabbi starts his derashah;

5. You unconsciously refer to the president of the shul in which you daven as My president;

4. You blurt "Kaddish!" at the end of Aleinu before you can restrain yourself;

3. You feel a natural obligation to send Mishloach Manot to everyone in the shul;

2. You instinctively look around to make sure that everyone has a seat and food at shul dinners;

1. You walk into your kitchen, see a pot of eggs boiling on the stove, and automatically ask, "Who died?" [Community rabbi/rebbetzins often prepare the seudat havraah - post-funeral meal - of bread and eggs for mourners.]

If you scored more than 7 out of 10, you, too, were once a shul rabbi, whether in this life or another...


  1. Maybe in small towns #1 is true; many people ask what needs to be done for the havraah, but I don't know of any rabbis or rebbetzins who boil eggs for the havraah.

  2. Blast From the PastJanuary 7, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    With a little tweaking, a few of these could be "Signs of a Former NCSY Advisor," especially the THURSDAY one. :)
    Great post.
    Leora Hecht

  3. Talmid-
    I always saw it as a chance for chesed, something that would apply in small and large communities alike.

    Great to hear from you! Regards to Elisha, please. I miss the old days.

  4. Do the Mishloach Manot in #3 still include a can of flip-top tuna? Imagine how much easier Purim in the 'old days'(we miss them, too) would have been for you with modern day GPS! Regards to the Rebbetzin as well.

  5. Wow, I had almost forgotten about that, Leora. That was incredible fun; I should try to re-create that in Toronto.
    The Rebbetzin says Hi back; please email and let us know if you ever head north!

  6. Great post!
    Double Blast from the past!
    We still have people sleep on the floor on shabbosos...
    Send our regards too, those were great days

    maybe it's getting time for a reunion...

    Reuven Boshnack