Every once in a while I get the urge to go back to school, generally either for a law degree or a doctorate in history, philosophy, English literature, that sort of field.
I generally sit quietly until the silly ambition goes away.
I have a few reasons for my occasional desire to go in these directions:
• Solid advice from Rabbi Dr. Twerski many years back, that rabbis should find a hobby or another pursuit in which they can find satisfaction. He especially recommended that the pursuit have some potential financial remuneration, so that the rabbi not feel trapped in his job for lack of other options;
• The knowledge that I have other talents that I’m not using, which could help round me out;
• Envy of my colleagues who have gone this route, and seem to be enjoying it;
• The desire to spend some of my time in a completely different environment.
No, it’s not about the title of “Rabbi Dr.” I could never see using that, even if I had it. It’s more about the pursuit, the experience, than anything else.
But it’s not going to happen. The realities of how I parcel out my time, and the pressures I create upon myself and my family every time I add another duty, keep me from going that route. My job has so many open-ended elements that I could easily spend every waking moment on it and still feel like it’s un-done; add in another academic career, and I’ll be קרח מכאן ומכאן (“bald from both directions,” a talmudic description of a man who has a young wife who plucks his white hairs and an older wife who plucks his black hairs).
Of course, if I stopped blogging that would free up a solid 20 minutes each day… not enough for a PhD, though.