Between undergrad and rabbinical school I spent two years working at the Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale. I thought it wise to spend some time working in the Jewish community after college and before embarking on the path to officially becoming a rabbi. Every aspect of those two years was a blessing.
One day I was having doubts about becoming a rabbi. Particularly, I was wondering if my ideas about Judaism as well as my personal Jewish practice were too unorthodox for me to call myself a rabbi. I was wondering if I could authentically pursue the path I had set out for myself. Fortunately, I found myself walking through New Haven’s “grad ghetto” on my way home with a wise friend, Rabbi Daniel Smokler. I shared my doubts with him and he listened compassionately. After listening he asked me a single question, “Do you have a Torah to teach? If the answer is yes then you should become a rabbi and teach your Torah.”
Shavuot is approaching. A holiday that celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. The Torah that I have to teach isn’t identical to the Torah that Moses carried down the mountain, but it is a Torah nonetheless. I’m glad that my doubts then and my doubts now didn’t get between me and the mountain and, more than a decade later, I’m grateful to a wise friend for a great question and a listening ear.