Dear Rachel,

I have always had a passion for art but never pursued it because it wasn't the practical thing to do. Rather, I went and got my law degree and have been a practicing lawyer for a number of years now. However, I hate my job and would love to do something creative. I know that in this economy leaving a well-paying job would be ridiculous, but should I stay in something I can't stand just for the money?


Dear Miserable,

Firstly, as I am sure you know, you are quite fortunate to even have this dilemma. There are many people who would do anything right now to have a job they hated! There are so many people out of any kind of work, as well as others who are settling for things that do not interest them just for a paycheck. So, I would definitely say that now is not the time to jump ship on your job. However, that also doesn't mean that you need to remain miserable.

You have a wonderful opportunity Regarding your work as a lawyer, you have a wonderful opportunity to use it not only as a paycheck but as a means for helping others. Especially in this economy, if you could volunteer your services or do some kind of program for the disadvantaged then you would be doing something both beneficial and creative with your abilities. You can even use your artistic skills which have been sitting on the back burner to create some kind of flier or brochure and advertise that you are willing to help those in need. You can dedicate a set amount of hours for pro-bono work, or work with a certain amount of pro-bono clients per month. You could also try using your law skills to teach others and inform them of their rights or the legal process. Perhaps you will discover you have a passion for teaching or public speaking that you were not aware you had—and you will definitely be helping those less fortunate.

There is no question that when we give to others in need, we receive an incredible amount of satisfaction and reward in return. Now, more than ever, our generosity is needed, and it does not just need to be in terms of donating money (though that is always appreciated). I have a feeling that if you can use your law background as a means to easing the lives of others then it will turn from a job that you hate into a way of bettering both your life and theirs.

Regarding art, there is no question that it is something you should be pursuing. And being a lawyer in no way negates your ability to focus on developing your artistic talents. Perhaps you could even find an art teacher who would want to barter with you where you learn art in exchange for some legal advice or help. Alternatively, find out what kind of art classes are in your area and sign up for Sunday or evening classes. Possibly more than hating your job you are feeling that you have this creative ability that has not been used or accessed. And there is a reason you are feeling stuck because we were created to be creative and when we are not, it is a depressing feeling.

Each one of our souls is a unique creation There is a beautiful explanation for the commandment not to use G‑d's name in vain. On a very simple level this means that we are not allowed to just say G‑d's name inappropriately or unnecessarily. However, Chassidic philosophy teaches us something much deeper. The Talmud explains that each and every one of our souls is a unique creation, and, just like an original piece of artwork, signed by the Creator. We were all given specific talents and abilities that we are not only able to use but obligated to use. And when we don't, when we are not using the potential that our soul has, then we are "using G‑d's name in vain" as we are not doing what we were created to do. If you love art, if you have a passion for art, you must explore this talent and use it to enrich your life and the lives of others. That does not mean that art needs to be the focus of your life, but rather it should be a part of you that enhances everything else you do, including your work as a lawyer.

So I hope you are able to both explore your artistic abilities and also explore the various ways you can use your professional life to help others. Much luck in all that you do and I look forward to hearing of your amazing creations in all aspects of your life.