Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gifts to give your Rabbi

Like many bloggers, I occasionally skim through the keywords that bring people to this blog; they can be amusing.

Looking at Google Analytics, I find that in the past month, three people came to my blog by searching for "best ever rosh hashanah 2010 ecard", and another three by searching for "parshat shoftim 2010 elena kagan". One person was looking for "tefillin talmud shabbat fly" and another for "yosef albo bps director of marketing". Huh? And another for "Can a rabbi drive a honda". Weird, but the answer to that is yes, I think. Then there was "yoda in judaism" and "science update about radiation 2010" - hope you found what you were looking for, whatever that was.

Of course, at this time of year I tend to get quite a bit of rabbinic traffic, via searches like Rosh haShanah derashah, Yom Kippur derashah, sermon. Feel free to use my writing, folks. כל האומר דבר בשם אומרו מביא גאולה לעולם.

My favorite recent search was this: Gifts to give a rabbi.

I like that idea, so let me help you out. Please excuse me if this list is somewhat depressing and cynical, though; I’m in the middle of a campaign to remind myself of why I don’t want to leap back into the shul rabbinate. (As though Elul wasn’t enough.)

Here goes, with a month-by-month list of appropriate gifts for rabbis:

Tishrei – Anxiety pills. Or throat lozenges. Or throat lozenges laced with anxiety medication. Or a prescription for medical marijuana.

Cheshvan – Babysitting and a gift certificate for two to a restaurant, so the rebbetzin can get out one night and bring a friend. The rabbi won't be available due to the crush of post-Succos meetings and shiurim, but that's all right; she deserves it more, anyway, and so does the person kind enough to be her friend while she's tearing her covered hair out managing the family throughout Tishrei.

Kislev – A life-sized mannequin to use at minyan when he can’t find a 10th man because everyone is either away on vacation or snowbound at home. And antibiotics, because his lack of sleep and poor diet make him vulnerable to every bug and bacterium perched on the banisters of the hospital stairwells.

Teves – A set of Comedy CD's. Statistics show that January sees a spike in deaths, and the rabbi will need something to pick up his spirits after each funeral.

Shevat – A wall mural of the Kotel, or a sandy beach, or Paris, so he can feel as though he’s going on vacation like all of his congregants.

Adar – Book of 101 Purim Costume ideas, so he can use his mind for more important things, like censoring the Purim Shpiel of lines that will upset people.

Adar II – More anxiety medication, for the moment he realizes that even a Leap Year can’t postpone Pesach forever.

Nisan – Before Pesach: A new set of elbow-length rubber gloves to protect him when he kashers your sink.

Nisan - After Pesach: See Cheshvan.

Iyyar – A punching bag, for ridding himself of his frustrations in the guise of engaging in vigorous physical exercise. The one you got him last year is already toast.

Sivan – No-Doz – Because he doesn’t have the Shavuos-night option of going home at 1 AM, or of dozing during one of his shiurim. Even the one you’ve heard once before, which he’s heard many more times than you have.

Tammuz – A gift-certificate to a good seforim store, so he can get to work on preparing for Elul/Rosh haShanah/Shabbos Shuvah/Yom Kippur/Succos/Hoshana Rabbah/Shmini Atzeres/Simchas Torah. Not that he will actually get to work on it, but having a pile of sefarim that look like they could harbor good material will set his mind at ease during his family's annual four-day summer getaway.

Av –Ties (after Tisha b’Av, of course). It’s the only way his daf yomi will be spared staring at the same scenery, day after day, and it will spare him from missing a couple of hours of work to purchase something new for himself for Yom Tov.

Elul – A book of derashos, or a CD of shiurim from www.torontotorah.com, because by now it’s too late for him to start reading those sefarim he bought in Tammuz...


  1. so perfectly accurate.
    better stock up on those lozenges now, three days straight is not easy!

  2. What? No chocolate? Also, depending on how many extra guests the rabbi is 'supposed' to have, no grocery gift cards?

  3. Anonymous 11:39 AM-
    Yes, this is definitely a year not to be a shul rabbi.

    Anonymous 1:09 PM-
    Definitely chocolate. And grocery cards wouldn't hurt.

  4. Hi, we'd like to purchase the rabbi's gift of the month club subscription for ourselves (JLIC @Brooklyn College) and for our colleagues across the country.