I snuck into Hebrew College’s prospective student weekend a few days ago. There were rabbinical students, rabbinical teachers, people considering going to rabbinical school, and then there was me. I’m not going to be a rabbi. I’m not even thinking about being a rabbi. I’m just Suzie’s wife.
So I was a layperson and a spy for Hebrew College’s Ta Sh’ma weekend. It was an interesting and somewhat bizarre experience… As someone who has been married to a rabbinical student for only a few months, it was a little overwhelming to be surrounded by so many rabbi types. There was learning and singing everywhere, constantly, for days on end. Going from services to brunch to lunch to dinner at all the different rabbi teachers’ homes felt a little bit like a spiritual pub crawl—“hey! I know your face from the last place! We’re old friends now! Okay, let’s have another cup of holiness and wisdom.”
Is this what Suzie does all day? Seriously?
There were earnest questions from would-be rabbinical students, and I had some good conversations with people about what it’s like to date a rabbinical student. We talked about spiritual journeys, we talked about learning Hebrew, and we talked about who knows whom from where and what a very small world it is sometimes.
One thing I noticed: prospective rabbinical students have some great socks. There were a few homes where shoes were discouraged, and I was impressed by the footwear of the Ta-Shmanians. Patterns, knits, bright colors—it was like a covert fashion show going on underneath everything. There was only one boring sock with a hole in it, and even that one seemed somehow beautiful in its honesty.
I don’t know what it means that prospective rabbinical students have good socks, but for some reason I think I have a little bit more faith in the rabbinate now.
Another thing I noticed: rabbis are awesome. At the end of Shabbat, one of the Hebrew College teachers shared a beautiful story about Moses’s life. The story was one of those brilliant rabbi stories where it weaves in and out of Torah and Midrash and contemporary life and you think you know the basic content but then all of a sudden there’s a twist that connects everything and your head kind of explodes. I couldn’t possibly retell the story, but the moral deserves to be shared. From what I could understand, the message of the story was something along the lines of, “You don’t get called to be a rabbi. You take on a position of responsibility. Life is still confusing.”
“Life is still confusing.”
I like it. I especially like it as a message to people considering becoming rabbis. In hanging out with a rabbinical school over the weekend, I learned that life is still confusing, even for the rabbis.