Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Rabbis!

Several years back I kept an anonyblog for a while, and every once in a while I enjoy looking at those old articles. Here's a fun one from mid-2007, mildly edited. Keep in mind that I wrote it with Pesach's stress fresh in my mind:

I know it's hard to believe, but the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago says it, and they have a long name with catchy initials and lots of researchers researching the opinions of lots of centers, so they must be right.

So stop the presses, print banner headlines, notify the long-lost Renegade Rebbetzin and shout it from the rooftops: The happiest profession is CLERGY!

I feel like emailing Dave Barry, the idea is so ridiculous.

Maybe they polled a bunch of rabbis, asking "How do you feel," and the rabbis all said "Thank G-d," which the researchers took to mean they were actually happy.

Happy? As in waking up smiling in the morning, nodding in a friendly way at joggers, drinking the morning coffee with a grin? As in whistling a peppy tune while waiting for the elevator, throwing caution to the wind and going for a walk without a coat, feeling generally satisfied with the way life is going?

What rabbi planet do you live on?

I suppose it could be the priests are really happy, and they just outnumbered the rabbis in the survey... cuz I'm pretty sure it's not the imams saying "I rate my personal happiness, on the scale of 1 to 10, as an 11!"

Roofers, apparently, are not happy at all; they're the absolute bottom of the list. This is interesting; there must be a connection between the dissatisfaction of workers who sit on rooves, and the satisfaction of rabbis who feel like jumping off rooves. Is jumping off a high structure the key to happiness? Or just dreaming of it? Or is it that roofers have the same dream, and are frustrated by living so close to the fantasy and not fulfilling it?

One final note: You know who was Number 2? Firefighters. This actually made a lot of sense to me. Because the next-happiest people, after rabbis, are totally people who run into burning buildings for a living.


  1. plural of roof is roofs

  2. perhaps satisfied in playing their role in destiny?r' nissan alpert zt"l had a derasha along these lines on :יד יִשָּׂשכָר, חֲמֹר גָּרֶם--רֹבֵץ, בֵּין הַמִּשְׁפְּתָיִם. טו וַיַּרְא מְנֻחָה כִּי טוֹב, וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ כִּי נָעֵמָה; וַיֵּט שִׁכְמוֹ לִסְבֹּל, וַיְהִי לְמַס-עֹבֵד. {ס}

    15 For he saw a resting-place that it was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant under task-work.

    why did he work? that is our definition of good and pleasant (not watching tv on the couch)

    Joel Rich

  3. If we should all be b'simcha, why not rabbis?

  4. Transportation Ticket Agents are number 3 ???!!!

    Tell that to my Travel Agent friend!

  5. What rabbi planet do you live on?

    I can't stop laughing at that line.

  6. Anonymous 5:17 AM-
    It may be archaic, but rooves is still okay for me.

    Yes; if we are to take the report seriously, then that's a logical explanation.

    Oh, great. Rabbis are happy because they are required to be happy. Figures.

    Didn't notice engineers on the list...


  7. I have never been a rabbi, nor am i remotely qualified to be one --in terms of learning or personal midos. But I have been around rabbis who truly view their profession as a calling and are not unhappy or frustrated. My local rabbi regularly returns phone calls until all hours (a friend of mine was a medical resident who had to be up all night and left the rabbi a message that he could call him anytime, and sure enough at 4 am he got a call at the hospital from the rabbi asking how he could help him. i usually tell the rabbi he can call until 11 and he usually doesn't get to me til the next day), and I've told the rabbi that I need to discuss something urgent with him and he asks how late I can do it and then sets that as the time. So his life is very demanding, and I assume that he sees the worst of human behavior at times (though he probably also sees the best) but I have never once seen him look overwhelmed or frustrated or unhappy. Of course I don't know what is his head, but I get the impression he feels that this is his way of serving klal yisrael and he is happy that he has the opportunity to serve. I admit that he is an above average rabbi in the sense that a significant number of people have moved to his community specifically to be around him, and I don't think that's true of most rabbis.

  8. "Bob-
    Oh, great. Rabbis are happy because they are required to be happy. Figures."

    If it's a mitzvah, does that take the fun out of it? Sounds strange so soon after Simchas Torah.

  9. Anonymous 11:03 PM-
    Wonderful! Please take good care of him; we need to keep the great ones.

    מצוות לאו ליהנות ניתנו...

  10. There, there. Deep breath. Better now? (Yes, I know it's a re-post from years ago...)

    As to the roofers: up there it's windy and either too hot or too cold, and then there's the whole falling-off thing... wouldn't be my idea of a happy-making job either.

    What I see clergy and firefighters having in common is tangible evidence of having made a positive difference in someone's life. Rescuing someone from a burning building, or a kitty stuck up a tree, has to be a great boost to the soul. So, I imagine, is officiating at a wedding or bar mitzvah, or bringing solace to someone who is grieving.

    Don't ask me how wrestling with shul politics fits in to the above, though.

  11. Bratschegirl-
    Funny; someone just commented to me the other day that one reason rabbinics is a frustrating field is that it's hard to see quantifiable progress!

    I tend to think both of you are right.