To whom this may concern:
I do not like the term rabbi, particularly not for me. One of the reasons is that I do not have smicha (rabbinic ordination). About ten years ago, in chavruta with a chaver who is an authority in rabbinic kashrut laws, I learned through the body of learning one learns to get smicha, namely melika, tairuvot, and basar v’chalav – removing blood from meat, doubtful mixtures, and the laws of meat and milk.
Our intent was to learn for smicha, but after about six weeks of daily learning, I decided that I would continue the learning, but not for smicha. I had come to the conclusion that what is called smicha today is a bogus smicha and I wanted no part of it, for it has no connection with receiving the tradition from Moshe at Sinai, which is the true smicha.
Smicha today is based on a certain body of rabbinic teachings that have wisdom, but no source in the Torah from Sinai, only the Torah from Babylon.
So my chavruta and I learned through the seder, primarily Shulchan Arukh with commentaries and a few Gemoras. But we did not learn for smicha. We learned for the mitzvah of learning.
For those who are interested in the subject of smicha, the Baal HaTurim, who is the author of the Tur Shulchan Arukh which is actually the most authoritative Shulchan Arukh, says that the true smicha is the knowledge of maaseh merkava, a principle teaching of Kabbalah. And the true bestowal of smicha must come from someone who received it from someone who received it from Moshe himself. And yes, there are several people who can confer smicha. One is Eliyahu HaNavi and another is Achiya HaShiloni, who gave smicha to Eliyahu HaNavi. Any other smicha, is borrowed terminology and should be called faux smicha.
That being said, one can understand why I – as a Levite – felt uncomfortable with the title of rabbi, and I believe that the Rabbono Shel Olam does not approve of the title of rabbi for me either.
When I was in Texas, visiting the folks at Anita Jones’ house, I met Mike Mattlage and he called me rabbi. And I said, “Call me Chaim.” And he insisted on calling me rabbi, almost as if he needed to call me rabbi.” So I said, “Okay, so call me rabbi.”
I will tell you another title that I do not like for me. When I flew from Israel to Texas three years ago, it was on a United Airlines flight. And while waiting for the flight, I signed up with one of those special privilege airlines clubs that gets me nothing but membership in a club that I have no interest in. When I filled out the information, it asked me for a title, and for some reason it would not accept the title of mister, and there was no category of rabbi. So I looked down the list and saw reverend. Now, my grandfather, Wolf Brin, alav hashalom, whose yohrzeit is the 24th of Tammuz, bore the title reverend. He was a shochet and a mohel and a baal tefillah, and he called himself Reverend Brin.
Reverend Wolf Brin was the Orthodox mohel for the city of Chicago until the mid 1940’s. And if you think G-d does not have a sense of humor, He gave my grandfather, a mohel, six daughters and no sons. I am his only Torah observant grandson. But he has Torah observant great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. Baruch Hashem.
Anyway, back to United Airlines. So with my grandfather being a reverend, I decided to choose reverend as my title on United Airlines. I went to click on reverend, but my hand slipped, and I clicked on the title below reverend – sister. So I became Sister Chaim Clorfene. Another title I completely reject.
It seems to me that a suitable title is Saba, which means grandfather. It is more haimish and less pretentious than rabbi and certainly more appropriate than sister. I would suggest that other Jewish or Ger elders consider adopting the title Saba. I think it would help steer the ship in a better direction. Rabbi means din, strict judgment. Saba means mercy, the fewer rules the better. And from the saba’s perspective, he can go home after the visit. And you can also go home after you visit him. It is a relationship of freedom. A saba has arrived at the age where he is interested in G-d Himself rather than due process of law. Rabbis are judges, and can be dehumanizing. Judges often turn their flock into paranoid sociopaths. It is a Galutian mindset.
Saba is a title for Geulah. Saba is spelled samech – beit – alef which is gematria 63 – Shem Sag – the milui of Shem Havaye in Binah of Atzilut. Meditating on this raises one to the source of judgment, which is mercy, as King David wrote (Psalms 145:9), “Hashem is good to all, His mercies are above all His works.”
The question is: How do you get there?
And the answer is that you learn the design and meaning of the Third Temple. Scroll down and click on the image of the cover of The Messianic Temple. It will take you to amazon.com and you can buy the book and start your path in Geulah. And if you can get there before Tisha B’Av, mourning the Second Temple is a thing of the past, as it says (Zachariah 8:19), “So said the Lord of Hosts: the fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth month and the fast of the seventh month and the fast of the tenth month shall be for the House Judah for joy and happiness and for happy holidays, only love truth and peace.” Learn the Third Temple and make a l’chaim on Tisha B’Av. Rav Papa’s Papa is a Saba.