Nissan 5761 – Finding a Rav

15 Nissan 5761

Dear Chana,

In your last letter you suggested to the baalat tshuva that she consult her Rav on the issue of what type of person she should marry. Although I think that this is wonderful advice, it raised an issue that I and many other women my age feel. I’ve discussed this with others and the general concensus is that it is very hard for women to find a Rav. Yes, we have a Rav to ask halachic questions and call for a quick sheilah but we lack a Rav as a confidant, someone we can tell our problems to and seek guidance from. As a student in Stern, I find that although I am around many respected Rabbaim it is difficult and awkward for me to seek out a relationship with them. I am not shy but I dont want to impose myself on anyone. In Israel it was easier to build a kesher, how can I do that in America? What can we do to address this problem?

Thank you,

Name withheld upon request
Midreshet Moriah 5759

You have zeroed in on a very important question. We are always saying to consult with your Rabbi about this and that. For many out there like yourself – it certainly can be a difficult thing to find someone.

There are two angles from which to approach it.

The first is to look high and low – ask many people if they know anyone who you can make a kesher with. You’ll have to put in some effort, really look around and search – but it will be well worth your while. You need to think about what type of Rabbi you would feel more comfortable with. Perhaps an older Rabbi – you know the Hadras Panim type who is very aidel and has a long grey beard. Or maybe you’ll be able to relate better to a Rabbi who is 30 something – yet has a lot of very good aitzos.

The concept that we are talking about is not just for your average garden variety sheilah – rather you’d be asking him more about life issues – getting real aitza. Don’t worry about imposing yourself on him – that’s what they’re there for. The concept of getting Da’as Torah has been around for a very long time – and is not only a nice idea – but is strongly recommended. Many people who have worked hard delving into the depths of Torah – at the same time develop the ability to see into situations with an uncanny clarity. they can hone in on the crux of an issue and give insightful advice

You’re right that in seminary it is easier to find Rabbis – because all the people who are teaching you are there to help and guide you. It is harder in the chutz la’aretz – but doable.

The second angle is to of course have your halacha sheilah Rabbi – but for your aitza person or people you’ll use a couple or family that you’re close to or perhaps a female teacher or role model of yours. In other words, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a ‘Rabbi’ that you turn to for this. But, it should be someone older than you whose opinion you respect and value. If you’ll expand this idea a bit and be creative, perhaps you’ll be able to come up with several people who fit the bill and who you’ll feel comfortable talking to.

Every situation is workable on some level – sometimes you have to think of things in a bit more of an unconventional way – and of course approach it in with a positive attitude.

Happy Searching!!