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Prayer on Becoming a Rabbi

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Creator of the universe, divine energy that flows through all things, source of love, wisdom and compassion... Hi, it's me. Back again.

In a few days, I will be ordained as a rabbi.

It's been a journey over many years. Four in YCT Rabbinical School. Thirty in this world. Not even a blip to you, but a big deal to me.

You've granted me countless blessings along this path: encouraging and understanding family, a wise, talented and loving wife, a fantastic rabbinic education, teachers who opened up worlds for me, friends who I can be real with, colleagues who support and challenge me, health, financial security (though hey, I could always feel a little more secure), a brain that works and a heart that can open... Funny, I didn't really do anything to deserve these blessings. Please help me use them well.

I have also struggled along this path. Struggled in my own growth. Struggled to live up to the ideals I set out for myself, to integrate my lofty visions with this messy reality. I've let my ego get in the way (turns out religious leaders have egos -- who knew?), hurt others -- sometimes unintentionally, sometimes intentionally. When I started this journey I thought becoming a rabbi would mean reaching some kind of brand new personal, spiritual vista. Turns out a lot of the same old baggage is there and there are no quick fixes to the spiritual work I need to do. Help me to keep doing it.

Help me to wield the wisdom of our tradition in constructive ways. I've spent countless hours poring over your Torah, because I have faith that it holds divine wisdom that can be applied to make our world a better, holier one. Help make that faith real.

Bless the work of my hands that I do everyday, the holy handiwork work of giving and receiving, hugging and wrestling. Give me the strength to join others in their suffering and pain, and in their celebrations and joy. Shield me from the temptation to always have all the answers.

As I fully enter this sacred role, help me to live up to the words of Rav Chaim of Brisk, who claimed that the role of the rabbi is "to restore the honor of the forlorn and the forsaken, to protect the dignity of the poor, and to save the oppressed from the hands of his oppressor."

Give me the strength to live in my doubt, even to embrace it, as Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, a 20th giant in American Orthodoxy, put it: "doubt is good for the human soul, its humility, and consequently its greater potential to intimately discover its creator."

Keep me honest. Don't let me fall into the temptation of distancing myself from the people I serve and the people I love. Guard me from trials I cannot pass. Push me towards the ones that I can.

Shield my hope.
Strengthen my faith.
Bless and keep my family, people, and world with peace.

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