What Qualities Should a Rabbi Have?

In a post that is already buried on the page I made the following remarks:

In fact I suspect that if you conducted a survey of traits required to become a rabbi piety and devotion might not even make the top of the list. Right up there at the top would be stories and story telling. Just for kicks I’ll address that question to several of the blogging rabbis:

Rav Fleischmann, RWAC, Fly Fishing Rabbi, Rabbi Sedley and any other rav who wishes to answer. I look forward to your replies.

(I’ll have some remarks about what qualities I think are most important at the bottom of the post.)

I am pleased to say that there are a number of responses that are worth looking at, or should I say all of them are. This is the kind of interaction that I appreciate about the blogging world. As I have mentioned before every now and then I have an interest/urge to go get smicha. I haven’t spent as much time exploring it as I probably should. I suppose that you could say that it is because I am not really interested or because I am and am afraid of it.

Really it doesn’t have to be an answer that is relegated to the either/or pile. There are shades of gray. I suspect that one of the reasons is that I find davening to be so darn challenging. Some days I am completely engrossed and others it is the furthest thing in my mind.

I know for certain that part of it is because the title brings a lot of expectations along with it and I am not sure that I am willing to wear that mantle. This is why I consider the qualities a rav should have because it helps to define what sort I would want to be.

I have experience working at several shuls. I know the politics. I hear the stories that my friends tell me (did I mention that I know many rabbis) and it doesn’t excite me. I don’t care what denomination you are, we all share certain things in common and politics is right up there.

As a result of all this I have kind of placed getting smicha on the back burner…for now. I am still young. I don’t see a need to rush. I know myself well enough to know that if I want to do it, I will.

If I were to become a rabbi I think that this is the kind of rabbi I’d want to be. A good listener. A great storyteller. Worldly and knowledgeable about life and Judaism so that I could provide solid, well thought out answers. Warm and friendly, so that people would feel comfortable sharing their thoughts/problems with me.

That is the rough outline and obviously it is subject to modification. More on this at a later date.

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  1. rabbi neil fleischmann June 25, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    Your posing of the question has prompted me to think about this. I’m going to post about it, please G-d.

    Some time ago you asked me about this (http://rabbifleischmann.blogspot.com/2005/07/today.html)

    and I shared some thoughts


    More to come, please G-d.

    Thanks for the nice post and the good work.

  2. Jack's Shack June 25, 2007 at 4:31 am

    Rabbi Sedley,

    You put together a good post. I very much enjoyed reading it. Shavua Tov to you too.


    Nice to see you. I hope that things are well with you.

  3. BarbaraFromCalifornia June 24, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    I agree. Having an ability to listen and understand, coupled with a good, caring heart are great qualities for a Rabbi to have. Of course, knowledge of the Torah does not hurt either, but one must, as you have pointed out keep perspective.

    Sorry I have been aware from blogsville, but wanted to pop by and say hello.

  4. rabbi sedley June 24, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Thank you for your great posts. You have inspired me to write more about what it takes to be a Rabbi. I managed to limit myself to 2 pages (just) – though I think it is all summed up in RWAC’s comment on your previous post.

    I think with the qualities you mention you’d make a great Rabbi. For my 10 cents on the subject have a look at So you wanna be a Rabbi??

    Have a great week.

    Rabbi Sedley

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