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Unread 05-15-2016, 11:02 AM   #1
carter
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Note A dream

Hey everybody,

What if I told you I wanted to be a rabbi, and I was serious about becoming one? What advice would you give to a gentile who wants to pursue this dream? I'm in it for the long run, no matter how long it takes - six years, 10 years, anything. The inner conviction I feel is something I cannot explain with words. It is not something I can explain with logic or reason; it's something the inner works of my soul feels and aches for. I hope you can help me.

The journey I'm embarking on will take years, no doubt, but to make a long story short, I feel far behind... way behind. I'm not Jewish. I'm attending a secular college that does not offer a specific Judaic Studies major. I have no formal Jewish education under my belt. I do not understand Hebrew, biblical or modern. My biggest question is: where do I start?

What type of school should I be attending? Should I transfer to Yeshiva University? Rabbinical College of America? Why should they accept me if I do not understand Hebrew?

What is the pre-rabbinical educational route I should be taking at this time? I'm moving to Houston and plan to convert there, which should take 2 years. But I'm in the last 2 years of my undergraduate education! Do I hold off from school while converting and then transfer/seek out a yeshiva? What happens afterwards? Where do I go from there? I feel so lost, like there's vast Jewish ocean in front of me but I have no compass.

Can any of you help me with some direction? I desperately need it.
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Unread 05-17-2016, 03:29 PM   #2
Farbrengen
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Hi Carter,
Do you have anybody Jewish in your family?
If someone's mother is Jewish, then they are Jewish.
I've met people who were Jewish and didn't know it.
Assuming that you are not Jewish:
Have you looked into the 7 Noahide Laws yet?
http://asknoah.org/

Why are you interested in being a Rabbi?

Do you have any contact with an orthodox rabbi?

The progression would have to start with an orthodox conversion. You asked why they should accept you if you don't speak Hebrew. The real hurdle is that you aren't Jewish.

Perhaps what you are looking for is your connection to the Creator. You can find that by keeping the 7 Noahide Laws, for a non-Jewish person you should be able to find meaning and purpose in life with keeping those laws.

You acknowledged that it is a long journey. It may not have to be so long, if you get started in the right place.

The best of luck to you.
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Unread 05-22-2016, 09:57 AM   #3
carter
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Hi Farbrengen,

Unfortunately my mother is not Jewish, although we are thinking about submitting DNA for Jewish Ancestry but I'm not sure how valid that test would be in determining if one is Jewish. For example, sometimes the results will come out with "3% Jewish - Ashkenazic, Sephardi, etc" , and frankly I don't know if a "percentage" like that really means anything to an orthodox Rabbi.


Everybody has their dream "job" (although being a Rabbi is more of a life commitment). Why am I interested in becoming a Rabbi? For everything a Rabbi does. I really do want to be a "Master of the Area". I want to foster Judaism in areas and communities that need it. I want I want to know the torah inside and out, talmud, everything. I can't give you a logical answer. It truly is a pull and calling I just "feel" - a strong one at that.

I do have contact with an orthodox rabbi here in Singapore, although he says all conversions are done in Sydney and I can't afford to fly myself over there for a year +.

I have looked up the Noachide laws, if youre wondering, but I can only follow these laws inwardly with my heart, mind, and soul. Although I can consciously not steal, murder, and not eat of a live animal, and although in these seven laws I can find G-d, without Halacha, the action, doing the mitzvahs, adhering to all the laws relating to charity, slander, revenge, deceit, work, wages, treatment of animals, justice, and doing the acts of kindness and justice, the inwardness loses its substance. As the book To Be a Jew puts it: By inwardness alone we do not come close to G-d. The purest intentions, the finest of devotion, the noblest spiritual aspirations are fatuous when not realized in action.
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Unread 05-23-2016, 02:19 AM   #4
olensky
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Although the Seven Commandments of Noah are written as "negative" prohibition, one can also view them as positive actions as well.

Prohibition of Idolatry
Belief in One G-d

Every person should believe in the existence of the one and only Creator of the world. He creates the world and every person, and knows all our actions and thoughts. He observes them and judges each person according to his deeds. He is the one and only G-d whom we must worship and to whom we should pray.
The practical meaning of this commandment is: a complete prohibition to bow down or worship idols of any kind or to believe in another god or any other created entity or force.


Prohibition of Blasphemy
Respect G-d

Each person has to give respect to the Creator of the world, who granted him life and the world to live in. The practical meaning of this commandment is the prohibition to curse G-d or call Him any derogatory or disrespectful name.


Prohibition of Murder
Respect Life

Man is created in the image of G-d. Mans life is a holy gift, which no one has the permission to take away from him. One should respect and encourage the continuation of mankind. One who kills a soul it is considered as though he has murdered the entire world and harmed the Creator in whose image he was created. The practical meaning of the commandment is a complete prohibition to kill any human being, including a fetus in its mothers womb.

Prohibition of Theft
Respect Human Property

G-d has granted each person the ownership over his money and possessions, and no one is permitted to take them away from him. This includes also the prohibition to holdover payment, the prohibition to kidnap a person, young or old. The practical meaning of this commandment is a strict prohibition of stealing or robbery or any kind of taking a possession away from ones disposal by force or by fraud or in any other illegal way. Sensitivity to another persons money or property inspires us also to do acts of charity and kindness.



Prohibition of Adultery
Respect Marriage

G-d created firstly the man and the woman as one unit, and then divided them to two separate entities, which are in need of each other in order to reach completeness. Married life and its laws are, therefore, the basis for the existence of mankind and the completeness of the family and community. This comes into expression also in keeping values of modesty and discreetness in matters of marital relationship.
The practical meaning of this commandment is the prohibition of incest and adultery. This includes the prohibition of sexual relationship between relatives of first degree, between a married woman and another man, between two males or with animals.


Prohibition to Eat Part Cut From a Living Creature
Respect Animals

G-d created living creatures in the world, and we must respect their existence. As opposed to the flora, which is renewed continuously, harm to animals is irreversible. Although the Torah is not negating the eating of meat, it sets strict limits to the ability of a person to use animals for his needs. This commandment, which obliges us not to be indifferent even to the suffering of an animal, enhances also our obligation to be aware of another persons sorrow, not to hurt him and to help him come out of his stress. The practical meaning of this commandment is prohibition to eat a limb or tear out a limb taken from an animal while it is still alive.


Appointment of Judges
Establishing a Court System

In order that all the above laws will be properly observed, courts of justice should be established in every city (or zone), with judges, who will make decisions with regard these commandments and have the authority to punish those who transgress them. Every person who has an argument will be able to go to these appointed judges and obey their judgment.
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Unread 05-23-2016, 02:24 AM   #5
olensky
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DNA will mean nothing. Only 2 ways to be Jewish are 1) your mother is Jewish or 2) Orthodox conversion. Contact your local Orthodox Rabbi / Chabad Rabbi & ask him for guidance.
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Unread 05-23-2016, 12:51 PM   #6
Farbrengen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carter View Post
Hi Farbrengen,

Everybody has their dream "job" (although being a Rabbi is more of a life commitment). Why am I interested in becoming a Rabbi? For everything a Rabbi does. I really do want to be a "Master of the Area". I want to foster Judaism in areas and communities that need it. I want I want to know the torah inside and out, talmud, everything. I can't give you a logical answer. It truly is a pull and calling I just "feel" - a strong one at that.


I have looked up the Noachide laws, if youre wondering, but I can only follow these laws inwardly with my heart, mind, and soul. Although I can consciously not steal, murder, and not eat of a live animal, and although in these seven laws I can find G-d, without Halacha, the action, doing the mitzvahs, adhering to all the laws relating to charity, slander, revenge, deceit, work, wages, treatment of animals, justice, and doing the acts of kindness and justice, the inwardness loses its substance. As the book To Be a Jew puts it: By inwardness alone we do not come close to G-d. The purest intentions, the finest of devotion, the noblest spiritual aspirations are fatuous when not realized in action.
The world needs observant Bnei Noah, Non-Jews who adhere to the 7 Laws.
The Rebbe promoted this many times. You could have a very important shlichus by reaching out to other Non-Jews and being their teacher, a "Master in your area". Check this out: http://asknoah.org/about-us/academy
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Unread 05-24-2016, 04:13 AM   #7
carter
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I want more than the 7 laws - I want to be following ALL the commandments. Is there something inherently wrong for desiring such a thing? I still want to be a Rabbi.
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Unread 06-05-2016, 03:14 PM   #8
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Nothing inherently wrong in desiring it. However, it takes a lot of work.

You may find that after you convert, you realize that it's not really feasible to be a rabbi. You're talking about high levels of Talmudic and halachic learning, most of which are tough to attain if you have zero background in the material and the Hebrew. But you can always try.
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Unread 06-06-2016, 02:21 AM   #9
carter
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Originally Posted by Majorthinker View Post
Nothing inherently wrong in desiring it. However, it takes a lot of work.

You may find that after you convert, you realize that it's not really feasible to be a rabbi. You're talking about high levels of Talmudic and halachic learning, most of which are tough to attain if you have zero background in the material and the Hebrew. But you can always try.
When the Rabbi asked if I was in it for the long run, he was asking if I was in it to become a Rabbi. I replied, "Yes, I am!" This is most likely going to be the toughest journey I could possibly embark upon. It will be a joyful experience to come back and show all of you that I accomplished my dream, years from from now. I'm sure you all would appreciate my determination and the undying resolve it took to do such a thing as becoming a Rabbi. For me it is much more a matter of when and how than why. Would you recommend I start learning Hebrew as soon as possible? If you were me at this point in time, would you prioritize Modern Hebrew or Biblical Hebrew? I really want to read and understand scripture in its original format.
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Unread 06-06-2016, 08:37 AM   #10
Majorthinker
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Are you sure he wasn't referring to being Jewish in general?

I would definitely say prioritize Bibilical Hebrew. Afterwards you will pick up Modern Hebrew if that's what you're interested in. But to be a rabbi you MUST know both Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic. And yes, as soon as you're done learning what you need in order to convert, start learning Bibilical Hebrew.

There is a site called JNet that can help set you up with a learning partner. Free.
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Unread 06-07-2016, 09:59 AM   #11
carter
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Originally Posted by Majorthinker View Post
Are you sure he wasn't referring to being Jewish in general?

I would definitely say prioritize Bibilical Hebrew. Afterwards you will pick up Modern Hebrew if that's what you're interested in. But to be a rabbi you MUST know both Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic. And yes, as soon as you're done learning what you need in order to convert, start learning Bibilical Hebrew.

There is a site called JNet that can help set you up with a learning partner. Free.
I couldn't be more positive we were speaking about becoming a Rabbi.

Thank you for for the valuable information. Before I believed I only needed to learn Biblical Hebrew - looks like I'll be adding Aramaic to the list.

I don't expect this journey to be easy; I don't expect it to be convenient. There are many obstacles that I will have to overcome to achieve my dream and the first step is converting, which I think is one of the biggest, if not the largest, step in this process. However, as I said before, I'm in it for the long run, no matter how long it takes. Wish me luck! The coolest part about this is that as I progress into eventually (and joyfully) becoming a Jew, my posts here will become more specifics driven, hopefully into deeper questions pertaining to Halacha and Yiddishkeit.

Side question. Have you heard of any convert, orthodox Rabbis? I know it's a general rule to not speak of a Jew's past, specifically their conversion, because they are a full-fledged Jew in the eyes of the Jewish world, but I'd like some inspiration. I've heard of people converting and becoming Reform, Conservative Rabbis, etc, but that's different. I'm wondering if you've heard of, or met, orthodox Rabbis that took upon themselves the same journey I intend on undertaking.

Again, Majorthinker, thanks so much for your help.
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Unread 06-07-2016, 03:05 PM   #12
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Life isn't easy or convenient, for the most part. If you are looking into becoming a rabbi, I am sure you will understand why some people on this thread are looking to discourage you and make you realize that it's harder than you think.

Onkelos, for one. He's the first who comes to mind, and probably the most famous.
I don't really know too many rabbis who converted. It happens every once in a while. There are two major reasons why it's uncommon:
1. It's rare that a convert makes it to the level where he is capable of becoming a rav.
2. We don't usually take either a convert or the child of a [female] convert as a rav, unless there is no one else, and he is truly, genuinely competent. (It's called "sha'as hadchak" - when pressing circumstances - then we would take him.) It's discouraged for two reasons - first, we want the rav's mother to be Jewish; second, we don't want people converting on the surface but coming to missionize.

However, today, becoming a rabbi is something that technically you could do. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of ordained rabbis who are not actually serving as communal or court rabbis (i.e., a job with executive authority over ____ - even if people come to ask you questions, or you work as a teacher, you would not have a problem, technically speaking).

So being ordained as a rabbi is still something to aim for.

But yes, it happens. Can't give you names, though.
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