Appoint a Teacher, Acquire a Friend
I am surrounded by people. My days are filled with talking, listening, challenging, teaching, discussing, and being present for others. And yet, without question, being a rabbi can be a very lonely calling.
The Rav wrote most eloquently about this particular type of solitude in The Lonely Man of Faith and the need to find a group of friends with whom one can seek God’s Presence. Though there is a loneliness inherent in the faithful individual, it is possible to cultivate meaningful relationships within the bounds of the Covenantal community.
For the rabbi, these types of relationships are essential for spiritual and emotional health. For the rabbi, sadly, these types of relationships can be rare.
And so I cherish those whom the Rav would certainly acknowledge to be the type of people who are able to bring me closer to the Divine while being my most authentic version of self. These women challenge me theologically, spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. Over time, they have loved me just as I am…while showing me how to soften my rougher edges.
As part of my birthday surprise, PC invited these dear friends to spend the day with me. A girls’ day. A spa day. It was extravagant. Pampering, nourishing, and restorative. Three of the five were able to make the trip, giving me one of the greatest surprises of my life. My three friends are from different time periods of my life and did not know one another before last week. I so enjoyed watching them get to know one another and coalesce so quickly.
Among the covered topics: mothering, husbands, Debbie Friedman, books, food, mikvah, modesty, ritual observance, Torah, fears, family, death, and Shabbat. We shared the ordinary and the extraordinary, the sacred and the not-yet-sacred.
It was the first time, in a very long time, that I was with the type of companions with whom I could let down my guard.
PC knew how much I needed that. How generous of spirit was he to give me that time and space with my friends. To be comfortable with pulling himself out of my 40th birthday and enable me to move into this new phase of my life with these remarkable women.
Dayeinu. If this had been the only surprise, it surely would have been enough.
(Stay tuned for “the rest of the story.”)
And a HUGE kippah-tip to The Rebbetzin’s Husband for putting together a really terrific edition of Haveil Havalim.