I don’t know who you are or where you live, but I really need your guidance and inspiration at this stage in my life. Please get back to me ASAP.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Shmuel (I’m called Steve at work), and I am a junior partner in a prominent law firm in New York City. I’m happily married, and we have 3 lovely children, Baruch Hashem.
So why am I writing to you? Because as I have grown professionally and personally, I find myself faced with a set of nisyonos far different than those I had a few short years ago when I was a bachur in yeshiva. My nekudas habechirah has shifted dramatically, and I need someone who can regularly touch my neshama in a way that will enable me to maintain my spiritual compass. My soul needs to be uplifted, as there are so many temptations that beckon.
A few short years ago, my wife and I were living hand-to-mouth. Now, I am invited to dinner meetings in $150-a-plate restaurants and all I do is rearrange the salad and sip soda while my business associates dine on $70- steaks and drink from $100 bottles of wine.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am certainly not complaining. Quite to the contrary, I am humbled by my financial success and I hope that it will last. But sometimes I find myself worrying that things are moving too quickly. I almost feel like I am being propelled along a super-speed moving sidewalk, like the ones that they have in the airports. My friends who entered the workforce recently and did not (yet, hopefully) enjoy the level of success that I do, have different challenges. But their neshomos are also reeling – in other ways.
As I see it, there are three basic sets of nisyonos that we, twenty-and-thirty-something’s face these days. Maintaining our level of spirituality (davening and learning), conducting our business affairs with integrity (creating a kiddush Hashem), and maintaining the moral standards of a frum Jew (our commitments our marriages) in a very challenging environment.
The more that I think about it, the more I am coming to realize that I need two spiritual anchors nowadays – a rebbi and a mentor. My ideal mentor would be a frum businessman, someone in his forties or fifties, who has managed to accomplish success in these three areas despite the challenges. Why a mentor? Because I need someone who understands – really understands – my current life and the challenges that I face.
Years ago, I remember hearing a beautiful vort from my rebbi that I think about often these days. Rebbi asked why Yaakov Avinu needed to spend fourteen years in the Beis Midrash of Shem (and Ever) after spending the first sixty-three years of his life learning Torah from his father Yitzchak. My Rebbi pointed out that the two rebbeim of Yaakov, Yitzchak and Shem, had very diverse backgrounds. Yitzchak had the luxury of growing up in the protective environment of his father Avraham. He never left the land of Cannan and was not exposed to the immorality of the broader world to the extent that his father and son were. Shem, on the other hand, was raised during the generation of the Flood, where he was witness to the depravity of that era – and the Divine punishment that was administered as a result of that decadence. As Yaakov was leaving the shelter of his father’s house, he felt that he needed ‘The Torah of Shem’ – lessons on how to retain his spiritual compass – while living in the company of Lavan.
Well, that really describes me these days. I loved my years in yeshiva and I was fortunate to have developed a close relationship with my rebbi. I spend two hours each Sunday morning in the local Yeshiva just to maintain my ties to the world of Torah lishmah that I respect so much. I even make it my business to spend Yom Kippur in the out-of-town Beis Midrash that I once attended to give me a spiritual boost. But I feel that I need another – and different – layer of protection these days. I need to spend some time with you, my mentor, my Shem ben Noach. I would like to find our how you were able to pull it off – success in the secular business world, time for your family, and all the while maintaining the moral compass that make you a walking kiddush Hashem, respected by all those you come in contact with.
I know how busy you are, but, please get back to me.