Features Archive

"Career Night" at MMY~ Optional Sichot Expand Our Horizons


The learning that takes place in MMY on a daily basis can most definitely be categorized as both intellectually and spiritually stimulating—but sometimes it is that "little bit extra" that makes all the difference in each girl’s overall experience. Optional sichot, late night informal conversations regarding specific topics on the minds of the girls here, a common occurrence in MMY, certainly do the trick.

Students are all different. Many come to study in Israel with a clear vision of their ultimate career path. It is not uncommon, however, for some students to arrive clueless regarding their future. On a recent Tuesday night, Rabbi Katz gave an optional sicha, in which a great majority of the girls participated, on the fundamental topic of how spirituality and a Jewish lifestyle must not be tolerated by, but serve as an essential part of, our careers.  
Beginning with one of his favorite methods of starting any conversation, Rabbi Katz gave a personal example. He told of his own struggle when starting his career, and how he ultimately ended up where he is now.

“I never would have thought I would have ended up in chinuch,” he told us.

Through many personal stories and words of Torah, Rabbi Katz explained that life changes, and so do we. His introductory story brought up relevant and thought provoking questions that we may not have asked ourselves: What am I good at? How can I use those traits to serve G-d? Is going into chinuch actually the only "religiously acceptable" path?

He explained that we should find meaning in whatever career path we chose, and emphasized that we should always make sure it is to serve G-d in some way—for that is our purpose in this world.

Quoting sources from the Gemara and Midrash, as well as focusing specifically on the writings and philosophy of Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, Rabbi Katz shaped a hashkafa which views hard work and tikun olam as a religious imperative. Why is it that we are given the mitzvah of brit mila when G-d could have just made it so that man would be born naturally circumcised?

The answer that Rabbi Katz developed is that Hashem wanted us to take the initiative and be proactive. He then shared with us Rav Lichtenstein's multi-layered way of understanding the Biblical charge of l'ovda u le'shomra, to work and to guard the world, given in Gan Eden. One layer of understanding the world is that it was created perfect, and it is our job to maintain its perfection. A second layer of understanding that phrase, however, is that G-d crafted this world as perfectly imperfect, in that He intentionally created it imperfect so that we could improve it through our actions and hard work.

But, where do we begin? The first step, explained Rabbi Katz, is to first get to know ourselves. We must each recognize our strengths and weaknesses, understand our personality, and channel all that G-d gave us to use it for a higher purpose. We must each develop our talents and employ them in all that we do.

When choosing a career, we must guarantee that we are doing what we love and are using our talents. We each need to work in this world, and not fall into the trap of believing that our career is merely a "day job" and not an integral part of serving Hashem. By working, we can develop and build this world. Through selecting a career that inspires us to grow and help the world around us, we can each bring those around us one step closer to this universal goal of perfection. Hashem created the world like this because He wants us to be His partners in creation. It is our obligation to take those steps towards a better world, all aligned with His proper path.

The conversations post-sicha continued way into the night as the students continued to develop their own personal hashkafa. Optional sichot in general, and this one in particular, are a highlight of our week and add so much to our overall learning and growth. We are all looking forward to the next installment!