Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D.
Didi and I were in New Orleans earlier this week (along with Rabbi Amy) participating in the annual Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association Convention. As always, it was a source of inspiration to see all those men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving the Jewish people in so many different ways.
Some, like Amy and me, are spending their careers serving congregations of all sizes throughout North America and Israel; others are working with college students in Hillels or as campus rabbis and teachers. Some work in senior-living settings or serve in hospitals as chaplains to bring comfort and spiritual support to those struggling with physical pain and crisis. Other rabbis work in a wide variety of agencies, both Jewish and secular, advocating for social justice or providing support for communal organizations such as Jewish Family Service, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and Jewish community centers and federations across the country.
Being a rabbi is a unique spiritual calling and to be with other colleagues who have taken on similar challenges and found similar fulfillment in their life’s work, as I have, is always a source of spiritual nourishment and inspiration to me. Most people don’t usually think of being a rabbi as “a calling.” That phrase more often conjures up images of the Christian ministry and evangelical preachers. But I, for one, have felt for most of my adult life that serving the Jewish people is not only a privilege and a tremendous gift, but a calling that I heard deep within my soul.
No, it’s not that I heard a divine voice speaking to me out of a burning bush, but I have felt a calling that has resonated with that part of me that feels most authentic, most alive, most profoundly real at every moment when I connect deeply with any other human being in the pursuit of their own sense of meaning and purpose in life. The yearnings of their souls to touch something deeply meaningful calls to that part of me that has been engaged in my own life-long spiritual journey.
Throughout this week’s rabbinical convention, I thought a lot about this profound sense of being connected to other human beings as they undertake their own spiritual journeys. And I believe it isn’t merely coincidence that this week’s Torah portion is called “Vayikra,” “And God Called” – because struggling with the important questions of life, wrestling with the challenge of hearing the still, small voice of God in the midst of the clashing and clanging of modern society, is the very work that is the essence of being a rabbi or being anyone who reaches out to another in pursuit of the sacred. I believe all of us are “called” by the divine, within our hearts, to search for the holy, to discover that which inspires us to become the best version of ourselves that we can be, and to share the gifts of our own hearts with the world.
“Vayikra,” “And God Called” – may the divine voice that calls to each of us in our own unique way echo through the searching of our souls every day of our lives.
(Check out www.rebreuben.com , www.becomingjewishbook.com and www.interfaithrabbi.com for more commentaries, articles and books by Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben).
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