[This week's Haveil Havalim is here]
Spent Succos with my wife’s family, and enjoyed it very much. A beautiful Yom Tov in a beautiful community. Time with the Rebbetzin, time with family, good food and good company, and - most relevant for this post - a good antidote for my most recent bout of “I should go back into the pulpit” misgivings.
What did I enjoy about not-rabbi-ing over Yom Tov, 14 months after leaving the pulpit?
A simple pleasure, but still. To daven, to dance, to sing, to lein, to listen to a shiur, without the fishbowl of being the Rabbi, community employee and community role model. To offer a thought to someone who gave a shiur, without it being the Rabbi’s comment. To step out of hakafos for a minute to talk with a friend, without having people note the Rabbi’s absence. You get the point.
Learning Torah lishmah
Another simple pleasure – To be able to learn during Yom Tov lishmah (for the sake of learning Torah), from any sefer I chose, instead of preparing the next derashah in the marathon of derashot required by the Tishrei schedule.
Succos was always filled with stress for me. Concern that I might have approved an esrog incorrectly. Concern that we might not have enough hoshanos to go around. Concern that we were starting davening too early on Hoshana Rabbah, or that we were davening too fast. Concern for what hakafos would be like. Concern about the last-minute shailah that came in right before Yom Tov and that I might have mishandled in the rush, and this right after I klopped al cheit on Yom Kippur for incorrect halachic rulings. Concern for the erev yom tov funeral. And so on – but not this year.
Davening with my kids. Learning with my kids. Dancing with my kids. Amazing.
Getting a chance to shul-hop and so to hear divrei torah from other rabbis, and to schmooze with them as well. As opposed to the all-Torczyner-all-the-time monotony of being the sole speaker in a smaller setting.
This isn’t really a product of leaving the rabbinate; it’s a product of becoming a rosh kollel: Scouting the YU Torah Tours talent to see who might be coming down the pike as a potential avrech in a couple of years. The signs are encouraging.
Yes, I enjoyed this Yom Tov. And so, at least for a little longer, I can appreciate the positives of my career change.