I grew up with a misguided belief. I grew up thinking that Rabbi’s know everything. I grew up thinking that Rabbi’s practice what they preach. Then I really grew up and realised how wrong I was.
I want to set the record straight and clearly state that Rabbi’s are human beings. Rabbi’s make mistakes-some bigger than others. Rabbi’s are not experts in all areas.
With the current sexual abuse cover-ups in ultra orthodox communities being exposed. I feel that I must say Rabbi’s can make decisions that are wrong on so many levels. We are taught to listen to Rabbi’s. We are taught that they know the answers to everything. Well I can tell you for a fact that they don’t.
Firstly not all Rabbi’s practise what they preach. There are well known rabbi’s who teach the laws of marriage whilst they have extra marital affairs. There are well known rabbi’s who teach the laws of kashrut and shabbat while they abuse their wife and kids. It’s important to realise that just like in general society there are the bad ones, so too with rabbi’s there are the bad ones. It’s important to not fall into the common trap of thinking that just because they are knowledgeable in the Torah’s laws that rabbi’s are free of sin. Rabbi’s should not be worshipped and they should not be the be all and end all.
Lets look at what qualifies a person to become a Rabbi. They must be knowledgeable in the laws of Kashrut, Shabbat and other jewish laws. So if you are not sure if your oven is kosher then ask a rabbi. If your house has been robbed do not ask a rabbi. If your child has been abused do not ask a rabbi. If you want to know the laws of shabbat ask a rabbi- but also use your own common sense. If you want to know the laws of jewish intimacy ask a rabbi and also use your own common sense and dignity. If you are questioning your sexuality do not ask a rabbi go to a psychologist who is qualified to deal with this issue.
Rabbi’s are not Doctors, psychologists, police, lawyers, or mediators. They only are qualified in the jewish laws. They are not perfect and they do not know everything. If you have a life changing decision do not ask a rabbi and do not depend on a Rabbi. Seek advice from someone who is qualified to deal with your issue.
I have also mentioned in my previous posts about using common sense and about private matters. Just like if you have a medical issue and you seek a Doctor’s advice, if what you are told doesn’t feel right you would seek another opinion or just not follow the advice. The same should be with a rabbi’s advice. If a rabbi says something which doesn’t ring true or doesn’t sit right with you- then seek another opinion or don’t do what they say.
I also strongly believe that some matters are private. I believe that a rabbi does not need to see your underwear or give advice on whether or not you can use birth control.
I believe that every person has an inner voice. Whether you call it your intuition, thoughts or common sense. You know what is right for you. If you feel like you want to use a contraceptive go ahead. Its not for a rabbi to make that decision for you. If you feel that it is right to use your phone on shabbat go ahead.
We must remember that the laws which are being kept today are not what they kept thousands of years ago. Technology has advanced and the world has advanced. Maybe rabbi’s should question all the laws which they have added on over the years and re-evaluate. They should go back to the original law see if all the laws added on over the years are actually helping ultra orthodox Jews in any way.
Are the laws actually bringing people together or pulling humanity apart? Are the laws removing people from the purpose of this world? Why are there ultra orthodox jews who are being advised by Rabbi’s for being abused? Why are there ultra orthodox jews having more babies than they can cope with? Why are there ultra orthodox jews in loveless marriages? Why are there ultra orthodox jews who will throw stones at people who desicrate the sabbath?
What gives a Rabbi any right to tell a person that they can not go to the police? What qualifies a Rabbi to give legal advice? What qualifies a Rabbi to give psychological advice? I look forward to the day that a Rabbi will say “I am not qualified in this area please go see someone who is”. Unfortunately in the ultra orthodox world this day may never come.