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Can a Rabbi Get Married?

Can a Rabbi Get Married?

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Question:

I was wondering whether rabbis are allowed to get married. In my religion, the priests do not marry; is it the same in Judaism?

Answer:

I once had this exact conversation with a taxi driver. He was Catholic, and asked me if rabbis marry. I told him that not only are rabbis allowed to marry, they are obligated to marry. “Be fruitful and multiply” is a command to all, regardless of career or position in the community.

The taxi driver shook his head and said, “You Jews have got it good. In my community, when someone is dating and confused, or is going through a rough patch in his marriage, or needs guidance on how to discipline their kids, who should we turn to? Our celibate priest? He wouldn’t have a clue what it means to argue with your wife, he’s never been dumped, and certainly doesn’t have a kid that pokes other kids’ eyes out. If I have a question in theology, or need to know which prayers to say, then sure, I’ll go to him. But real-life issues—he can’t help me!”

This taxi driver’s comments brought home for me an important truth. Judaism does not differentiate between “clergy” and “laymen.” Whether you are a rabbi or a taxi driver, you are expected to live a “normal” life, to be involved with the struggles and pleasures of the mundane world.

But it works the other way as well. Whether you are a taxi driver or a rabbi, you are expected to make your everyday mundane world a home for G‑d. The Torah’s ideal is to create a society of holy people. Sanctity and morality are not the domain of rabbis alone: every individual must live to the same standard, and each one of us can engage in direct dialogue with G‑d and Torah.

The rabbi is there just to help others bridge the needs of the spirit with the realities of life. But he has to do the same in his own life.

Perhaps that cab was a microcosm of an ideal world. What could be more beautiful than a society in which taxi drivers share spiritual wisdom, and rabbis change diapers?

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Discussion (33)
May 21, 2014
good decision BUT
thanks a lot for a clear stand on this subject
osei moshe
Ghana
February 10, 2014
to Bobbi
I can't resist sharing a reference from Fiddler on the Roof.
If I were a matchmaker...I would definitely match you to a super cool rabbi.
louise leon
PA USA
February 10, 2014
All of the above:
Comments such as these on celibacy, marriage, or (Christians and Jews ) make me want to get down on my knees in prayer and gratitude that I was born and raised as a Jew. (My parents were "Reform" Jews, I lived as a Conservative tending toward Orthodoxy and my two sons I sent to the Solomon Shechter day school and Akiba in Philadelphia (blessings on both schools!!)
rmm
Boca Raton, fl.
February 9, 2014
Marriage
I would marry a rabbi. If one would have me. :-)
Bobbi Ysmael
Nebraska
January 23, 2013
addendum
I would, however, go to a respected rabbi for spiritual guidance/support his preferences notwithstanding.
Anonymous
USA
January 22, 2013
Many years ago I knew a wonderful guy who was a great rabbi. He was also homosexual. He was the assistant rabbi in a great conservative congregation in a large East coast city and later went on to become the head rabbi in another congregation. his sexual preference had no bearing on his ability to serve as rabbi for all of us. He was hugely liked and admired.
Richard
Boca Raton Fll
January 22, 2013
To Leyzer...
I personally would have more confidence in going to my religious leader for marital counseling if the leader had some marital experience. I would also have more confidence in going to my religious leader in my search to beome a better parent knowing that he/she had parenting experience. This doesn't hold true for all types of experiences ie. I wouldn't expect my criminology professor to have been a criminal.
Anonymous
USA
January 18, 2013
Celibate or Married for your Spiritual Leader?
This conversation makes me glad. Like we are doing something positive in a messed-up world.

The idea of celibacy for holy reasons bothers me. We are by nature sexual and social beings. Do we not honor G-d and our selves by accepting this and learning to live as we ought within the constraints of who/how we are?

It may not be true for all persons, but for me to choose celibacy solely for "religious reasons" would be somehow perverse--an inappropriate response to the Great Giver of (sometimes strange, but always) Amazing Gifts.
306wencir
greenville, sc usa
January 18, 2013
orthodox christianity and other issues discussed above
Dear orthodox person: you are wrong. Priests do NOT HAVE to get married and infact once a man is ordained he is no longer allowed to marry; however, married men can become parish priests but not bishops. Get your facts straight.

Married clergy can perhaps do marriage counseling - A very real advantage, however, of celibate clergy is that they are (or at least can be) totally devoted to their congregations, because they don't have family issues. So they don't pave the way for their sons to take over their positions, and they always have time for their congregants. It is also much less expensive for a congregation to support a single person than to support a whole family.

"Choosing to be single" is looked down upon in orthodox Judaism. While a man can be ordained as a rabbi (ordination really is nothing more than passing some exams. it does not impart any magical or mystical powers to the rabbinical ordainee) it is unlikely that a congregation would hire a man who chose to be single.
Leyzer
NYC
January 17, 2013
Single rabbis, female rabbis, and gay rabbis
My turn to ask a question: Does the law about rabbis being required to marry apply to all of the above? Please answer.
Barbara
USA
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