Yesterday I became a Rabbi.
Okay, that’s totally not true. I actually became a Rabbi nearly 6 months ago. But I haven’t felt like a Rabbi. Not for even one minute.
“Didn’t you start feeling like a Rabbi while you were teaching Bnei-Mitzvah students?” you may ask.
“What about all those times you led Shabbat?”
Not then either.
“Well, what about when people called you Rabbi?”
That made it worse.
I’m an excellent student, but I find that much of the information I learned in Rabbinical school flowed into my brain and then back out at an alarming speed. I know my Jewish knowledge isn’t as deep as I would like. I know I stumble over my Hebrew sometimes. I know there are a million facts I don’t easily recall. I’m hard on myself. My inner dialogue says, “Some Rabbi YOU are.”
I felt like a fake…until yesterday.
I became a Rabbi yesterday because yesterday was the first time that I spent most of the day in the waiting room of a hospital with a member (a very special member I should add!) of my community who didn’t want to worry alone. And in spite of having plenty of things to do, I was surprised to discover there was nowhere else I wanted to be and nothing else I wanted to do.
The call to be a clergy person, of any faith, is a call to be present for others. True, it’s a call to share in joyous births and weddings and rites of passage, but it’s also long hours in a waiting room doing little but schmoozing, saying a healing prayer (sometimes out loud, sometimes only in my head), and holding someone’s hand. It means being hopeful for the best but being prepared for the worst. It’s means saying YES. YES to the moment, YES to the situation, YES to the truth. YES to just being there.
So… YES, I spent most of yesterday waiting. And while I waited, I found myself, for the first time, saying YES to being a Rabbi, because for the first time, I truly knew what that word meant to me. No grand service was needed. No adoring congregation. No students. No one wanting advice. Just YES to being present. YES to being support. YES to being a friend. This is being a Rabbi to me.
I think we all feel like fakes sometimes. We withhold information or remain silent out of fear someone will figure out what we don’t know. We don’t feel ready for the roles we have taken on either professionally or personally. And no matter how many years of schooling we have, or how much experience we have, or how much love we have, or how many people call us by a title, we can’t truly own those roles until we internally find that knowing… until we look inside and say YES to ourselves.
The opportunity of Shabbat is the opportunity to shut out the noise of the world (just like in a waiting room), and for a brief moment admire our own perfect imperfections. As the stars emerge in the sky tonight and our Shabbat/July 4th weekend begins, we are invited to say YES to our complete selves… our gifts, our flaws, our achievements, our goals, and our short comings. We are invited to say YES to our passions and our fears and YES to the unknown. We are invited to say YES to our private challenges and YES to the many challenges of this world. We are invited to say YES to whatever tomorrow may bring. We are invited to say YES to the truth and YES to knowing who we truly are.
This Shabbat, the only title I am probably going to hear is the title of “Mom,” but that’s okay. For as the sun comes down tonight, I am going to say YES to the mom in me and the Rabbi in me, and YES to everything I was, everything I am, and everything I could be. YES to my positives and to my negatives and the amazing opportunity to grow. YES to my life.
What will you say YES to? Comment to this post with your own YES!