Start a blog

Blogs Zion's Corner

Desert Crossroads

By Rabbi Lazer Brody
8/15/2010, 12:00 AM

Dear Rabbi Lazer,

As a new baal teshuva, I really appreciate your post from last Thursday, First Steps to Teshuva - it's ideal for a newcomer like me to observant Judaism. My question is about point #2, where you say, "Find a rabbi you like and trust, and appoint him to be your family spiritual guide. This will save you untold headaches in life." To be honest, I'm a university graduate with an MBA, and I don't particularly relish the idea of a rabbi telling me what to do. Can't I succeed on my own via your suggested reading list? Best wishes, Arthur from USA

Dear Arthur,

I'm sure that you're an extremely bright and qualified individual. Your MBA is impressive, but the fact that you have the intellectual capacity to decide that Teshuva is the right path in life is what really impresses me.

This world is like a spiritual desert - if you know where to look, you can find the oases of the soul; if not, then you're in danger. The media and peer pressure, like snakes in the desert, divert naive people from the true oasis (Torah), and send them on a path of cheap thrills, substance usage, and conformism. None of the latter will get you safely through the desert. You need an experienced guide.

Look at the above photo: You're smack in the middle of the desert - one path will take you to Ashkelon, and the other to Beer Sheva. Which do you take? If you don't know your current position, then not even a map or a compass will help you. Despite your best intentions, you could die of thirst, G-d forbid. A local guide knows his way around. In like manner, an experienced rabbi can help you arrive safely at your destination of spiritual fulfillment and happiness - without him, you could suffer spiritual vertigo. All the books in the world won't help you unless you have a guide to help you.

Meanwhile, beware of snakes crossing your path - don't let them divert you. Warmest regards, Lazer Brody

A snake and a roadrunner cross paths in the Great Dunes south of Ashdod. Beware of snakes crossing your spiritual path.