Rav Hayim Leiter
A Pocket Full of Miracles
This past Friday was a first for me. I’ve had two Britot in one day before, but since then, I’ve begun officiating weddings here in Israel. Last Friday was my first day with a Bris followed by a wedding. As it turned out, I performed the wedding with the foreskin in my pocket. Don’t judge me just yet. As a matter of rote, I always put the foreskin in my pocket wrapped in gauze so it doesn’t get lost. Since the events were back to back, I hadn’t had a chance to bury it. The truth is I’d be happy to always have such issues.
The day was also an all Russian affair. The morning began with a Bris in Jerusalem for a couple who had just immigrated from Ukraine. It was quite the balancing act considering I couldn’t communicate with the mother at all. Both my English and my Hebrew were not enough. The only other time I’ve ever experienced this was, oddly enough, when I actually did a Bris in Ukraine a few years back. Thankfully, Friday’s Bris went off without a hitch and it ended with just enough time to make it to Netanya for the wedding of the children of Russian immigrants.
The couple, like many others, wanted nothing to do with the Rabbinut and found their way to the office of Huppot, where I and other rabbis are employed. Hashgacha Pratit, the umbrella organization, began as the first organization to offer a Kashrut certification outside of the Rabbinut. Last year, due to the program’s success, Tzhor took over the project.
Having achieved the goal of subverting the Rabbinut in one area, the organization moved on to do the same in another– weddings. Huppot serves over 100 couples a year from all over Israel. Some of these couples feel oppressed by the Rabbinut and desire something within a Halachic framework, offered in an open mindset. Still others come from the former Soviet Union where all religious documentation was lost. These people can prove their Judaism to an acceptable Halachic level, but not to the level the Rabbinut requires. Huppot is here for these individuals and more.
What was amazing about last Friday is that I’m totally spoiled. I live the life of the luckiest type of rabbi there is. Pulpit rabbis are saddled with a daunting challenge. They have to provide comfort, guidance, and inspiration in all of life’s high points and low points. My work, on the other hand, is only with smachot (happy occasions). I am truly blessed to go from Britot to weddings and help people find meaning at only their happy milestones.
On top of that, I am at a very manageable time in my career in both realms. I’m averaging 1-2 Britot a week and around 1 wedding a month. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t turn down more work. But at this point, you could say I’m the Jerry McGuire of my field. Sure, you could use the ‘Bob Sugar’ mohel in town who does five a day. He is certainly competent. But if you go with me, I’ll stand there as you ‘air dry’, if you will. I’m rarely pressed for time at a Bris. I am able to wait until all of your guests have arrived and I usually don’t need to run out a the end. My present level of demand allows me to give each family the real quality attention they deserve.
I hesitate to fear that one day this luxury will be gone. While I hope my business thrives, I pray I’ll be able to balance the harried schedule while providing ample time for each and every family. But for now, with this ease of opportunity, I guess my only question is: “Who’s comin’ with me…?”
This first appeared in the Times of Israel