----- Original Message -----

To: Elisha Greenbaum
Sent: Wednesday, December 6, 2013 7:10 PM
Subject: Should I be a teacher?

Dear Rabbi,

Can I pick your brains for some advice?

I got my final exam results last week, and I did well. Maybe too well.

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to become a teacher, and I’ve been hoping to do well enough to qualify for an education program. By some miracle, I did My family started nudging me to switch to a more lucrative courseso well that my family started nudging me to switch to a more lucrative course, maybe something in finance.

On the one hand, I can see their point. Education is never going to be the best-paid profession. On the other hand, I’ve always been excited at the thought of helping people to reach their potential, and I can’t believe I’d ever get satisfaction from selling derivatives (whatever they are).

Any advice?

----- Reply -----

From: Elisha Greenbaum
Sent: Friday, December 8, 2013 2:17 PM
Subject: Re: Should I be a teacher


It’s a tough one, and I’m honored that you’re asking my advice.

Of course ultimately you’ll have to make up your own mind, but I’m happy to meet with you for a coffee and we can discuss your options together.

Some questions you might want to consider:

Could the satisfaction you anticipate from teaching be replicated in a more lucrative field?

On the flip side, how positive are you that you would “make it” in the financial industry? I’m sure there are indigent derivatives traders out there (and no, I don’t know what derivatives are either).

A How positive are you that you would “make it” in the financial industry?comfortable salary is nice, and trust me, it’s no fun to continually struggle to support your family. But it’s also important to feel fulfilled at the end of a tough day. There is no greater pleasure than finding purpose and satisfaction from your work and knowing that your efforts make a difference in the lives of others.

Actually, this week’s Torah reading has a lesson that speaks to your dilemma. In the beginning of the book of Exodus we read about the Hebrew midwives who risked their lives to save male babies despite Pharaoh’s decree that they be exterminated. Of them it is written (Exodus 1:20): “G‑d was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied and became very strong.”

But the Torah never describes how exactly G‑d was “good to the midwives.” Were they rewarded with wealth? Long life? Annual beach holidays? What did they get for their efforts?

However, if we look at the verse in full, perhaps we can explain that that midwives’ reward was seeing the success of their labor. When they saw the people they had sacrificed for growing strong and multiplying, they knew that all their work was justified.

If you can find that type of reward from the profession you ultimately commit to, then you’ll be truly wealthy.

When do you want to meet for that coffee?