Vayeira’s message to former Kiruv Professionals

This was originally posted as a comment I made on Rabbi Without A Cause’s blog, here.

My shul’s Rav based his second day Rosh Hashana on something taught by the Rav Soloveitchik, who asks what happened to Avraham after the Akeidah?

All we know is that he went to Ber Sheva and settled there. After Akedas Yitzchak, the Torah doesn’t record that Hashem speaks again with Avraham. What was he doing? Rav Soloveitchik answered this question as follows. After a lifetime of serving Hashem, teaching Torah, and converting hundreds to monotheism, it seems that the Torah tells us that Avraham ends up he living in Ber Shevah among is his family, his nephews/ nieces and their children. Avraham mostly spent time with his family and helping to strengthen their yiddishkeit.

For me this really hit home. I spent 12 yrs involved in kiruv and communal work. Like many of my former friends and former colleagues, eventually I chose to leave that velt for the ‘private sector’. The people I’ve known who have left outreach are amazing people. The kind of people that organizations really can’t replace. I think that what Rav Soloveitchik is telling us is that while working for klal Yisrael and for a kehillah is very important, when you stop, life goes on. Family is what matters. You can be a shiach for Hashem and m’karev tens if not hundreds of individuals, but if you are not successful with your own family, then how successful are you?

To take 15 minutes and sit and bentch word by word with an unaffiliated teenager is a great thing to do. To take time and do Chumash homework with your own kids is just as chashuv. Gut Shabbos Kodesh.

This d’var Torah is being given over Zecher Nishmas Dan Haleiv ben Aharon.

5 thoughts on “Vayeira’s message to former Kiruv Professionals

  1. Anonymous

    It’s true. I know people who went into insurance, law, accounting, PR, fundraising after their ‘career’ in kiruv ended. They are the kind of balabatim who made a difference in their communities and shuls. They are all the kind of ‘family men’ that others admire.

  2. Neil Harris

    I know my house is not as full as yours, Rafi, but I hear ya.

    I’ve know plenty of kiruv types who are great parents. The message I got from the drasha was “what happens when the kiruv career is over?”

    Family should always come first. I admit, I felt a certain degree or ‘withdrawal’ after leaving k’lai kodesh work. This blog was one way I’ve dealt with it.

    There really isn’t much that tops going over my kids homework/parsha questions or seeing them excited about yiddishkeit. Of course that excitement is really a combination of things like: homelife, school, what they see (or are shown) within the community, seeing what excites parents, etc.

    Rav Soloveitchik’s observation about Avraham says a lot base on the Rav’s public life.


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