Rabbis who don’t believe in God

black hat godA couple of years ago, a blog surfaced that was written anonymously by an Orthodox Rabbi who didn’t believe in God. It was called the Orthoprax Rabbi and created an interesting conundrum, since your job as a Rabbi is intertwined in faith, did one need to have full faith in order to be a Rabbi? Many of us would probably have the same reaction that it was impossible to be a Rabbi or Rav without having the proper faith, but who says so? The Rabbi from the blog and apparently a slew of others are closeted non-believers while they do their job as Rabbi. Y-net has a great piece about this probabloy not so new phenomena.

I think it would be terribly hard to do a good job basically selling something you don’t believe in, but I’m sure that many Rabbis who came to be non-believers didn’t start at that way and so they probably know how to be a good Rabbi without having the faith. I myself know personally of two rabbis who are not believers, yet are in the closet for one reason or another. Of course, the lying factor is a whole different story. Just as the gay person who comes out of the closet can finally be free from their lie, yet face a whole new set of social problems the non-believing Rabbi has financial, communal, social, and familiar issues to think about. It’s not so easy to just point our fingers and tell them to leave their positions, especially if they’re doing a good job in the act.

For instance, if the rabbi of my shul came out as a non-believer I would be excited at the turmoil and machlokes it would create, but I wouldn’t think he couldn’t be the Rav of a shul. He does a fine job leading the community, inspiring people, and answering halachic issues and none of these things really depends on the Rabbis personal beliefs that he has locked up in his mind.

Yes, I’m being a bit of a progressive, but I honestly think that it’s a more complex issue than just coming out, leaving your lifelong career and admitting the truth. I also think that there are tons of non-believers in the frum community, but in the end as the Ynet article points out, the community is sometimes (most of the time according to me) more important than actual faith. Have you noticed that communities are much more social based than belief, you don’t get asked fundamental faith questions when finding a shidduch, getting called up for an aliyah, or joining a shul. Yeshivas rarely ask the kids if they believe, belief seems to take a back seat to the community and social standards. In many places, it’s more important that the women cover their hair and the men wear hats, than if they take Rambams 13 principles to heart.

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