I see that I have been discovered. R. Harry Maryles has been kind enough to broadcast my presence to his readership and in so doing allows me to clarify a few items.
First, as to his question – am I a hoax? I can answer unequivocally, I am not a hoax. I am who I am. But, I do want to clarify that as I am sure one can understand, various items have and will be changed to protect the innocent.
Second, I did not become an atheist for any of the reasons identified by R. Maryles. My “conversion” was brought about through a deep study of Judaism and religion. I spent about five years in kollel, have gone through shas, read as much as I can of Jewish literature and seriously thought about it and religion in general. My conclusion was that god does not exist and thus religion and belief don’t work for me. I did not become an atheist to be a ba’al taviah (to lust after base desires), the common trope. One doesn’t need to be an atheist to do so, nor does one have to abandon religion. One can also imagine that in my position it would be hard to pull off being a ba’al taviah, eating cheeseburgers and the like.
R. Maryles asserts that I am guilty of “deception and dishonesty” because “being a rabbi is more than about making speeches – even heartfelt ones. It’s more than a job. It’s based on the desire to serve God and one’s community. How does an atheist enhance spirituality?”
Obviously, R. Maryles, in coming to his conclusion relies (much like many believers) on multiple assumptions. His definition of a rabbi’s position – “based on a desire to serve God and one’s community” says who? My congregants and the board never told me that, nor did it appear in the job description. Moreover, he assumes that I can’t (or won’t) “enhance spirituality” – I can attest that to the contrary, as I mentioned in my first post, my congregants are very happy with me hence the contract renewal. They are spiritually uplifted and no one has ever complained that I wasn’t inspiring enough. Moreover, I agree with R. Maryles that a rabbis job is more than speeches. Speeches make up a small fraction of my job, I teach, I counsel, I volunteer, tend to the sick and needy. All of these things I have done well enough for me to stay on.
If I was cynical, I would note that if we examined the rabbinate to determine what is required for the position, we would find that the requirements are pretty low. In fact, for many years (and in some instances even today) the position was not based on being an uplifting preacher or inspiring or even competent. There are authorities who hold that the rabbinate can be freely given to one’s kids whether or not they are the most qualified. According to those opinions, what qualification other than being born to a specific person are required?
Additionally, R. Maryles accuses me of lying in almost everything I do. Why? Nothing I say in my speeches, lectures, counseling etc. are rings untrue to my listeners. The listeners, those who I am responsible to and pay my salary, don’t find falsehood, how does R. Maryles? Because my internal beliefs? Again, referring to my first post, we don’t require people who are in the word business, lawyers, politicians, lobbyists, and the like to believe in their clients their job is to speak to or for others. Why is the rabbinate position different?
R. Maryles attempts to compare me to the Monsey butcher, which is a false comparison. I don’t sell something that really is one thing as another, otherwise known as fraud. I do my job completely. Can a non-Jew sell Kosher meat, R. Maryles? Do we require that a meat purveyor believe in the laws of Kosher? All those food products we eat that carry a hechsher, do we ask if the company beliefs in the torah and kosher? Is the president of Coke Cola ortho? At the risk of beating a long dead horse, the answer is no. My job, and it is a job, is no different.
Anyways, I need to return to my job, so that’s all for now.