Would You Pay For a Long Distance Rabbi/Torah Teacher?

The traditional means of supporting a Rabbi is through a Shul. Members pays fees and make donations and the Rabbi either owns and operates the Shul or gets a salary.

Nowadays there a lot of BTs and FFBs who live in areas where they have not found a Rabbi or Torah Teacher to fill their needs. There are Rebbeim throughout the country who might be able to teach, answer questions and give advice to these people, but they would need a financial structure to support these activities.

Do you think people would be willing to pay a long distance Rabbi to learn, posken and give advice?

How much do you think people would be willing pay to have access to and talk to a Rabbi for 30 minutes – 1 hour per month. $360, $500, $1,000 per year?

How much do you currently pay to belong to your shul?

How much time per month do you currently talk to your Rabbi?

19 comments on “Would You Pay For a Long Distance Rabbi/Torah Teacher?

  1. Where and what should a Goyi pay to find conversion to Judaism? Before my husband died we were converting to Judaism and after a year of mourning his death I wish to continue my conversion. We were paying $250 a month but I cannot afford this now. I lost everything when my husband died, including all my books (Tanakh, prayer books, brochos, everything), but my desire to convert is stronger than ever.

    Tammy Gill

  2. I have my own mentorship program teaching and guiding converts on the path to conversion, post conversion…etc.

    I also have been learning with people one-on-one through Partners and Torah, Oorah and Aish HaTorah.

    People who live in far off communities or even in mainstream communities but have difficulty finding a rav to speak to or get time, is a real issue.

    With my classes, availability on Skype, gmail…I have successfully been able to speak to people, guide them and give the service they need.

    I think the money numbers are a little bit exaggerated here as I have seen over the years, that many either don’t have that kind of money or wouldn’t spend that much for such a thing.

    Even the classes I give to my converts, I have a set fee but if someone can’t pay or pay something minimal, I don’t send them away because of money. The main reason is because that there are very few people that do what I can do and help people in the way they need.

    This would apply to Jews as well as non-Jews. Since I have been part of both worlds and been around the world on three continents as well, my life experience and Torah knowledge may be inspiring to people who feel they want a connection to a Rabbi that can inspire them.

    Chaim Coffman

  3. It might be a catch 22 situation. I wouldn’t want to take someone’s time without paying them, but I wouldn’t want to spend my money unless it was someone who I felt understood and cared about my situation.

    If after a number of calls I feel that he’s not so interested, like when you ask someone a question and he rolls his eyes, or answers abruptly and tries to end the conversation, or it just seems like a professional conversation and nothing more, then I would regret paying him. I would first want to feel that he cares and is sensitive and speaks in a way that you feel very comfortable with him. Then the money is an appreciation of this.

    But again, how can you start off not paying someone? Is this the same as paying money for a few dates, knowing the shidduch may not go? It’s harder to feel the necessity of investing the money in this situation.

  4. “How about if you had numerous phone conversations with the person?”

    I’d have to manage my time in view of all responsibilities and commitments.

  5. If I were an out of town BT with little contact in the frum world, I would want to be very careful about not being taken advantage of by anyone taking my money.

  6. If I were a rabbi, I’d probably have real reservations about providing in-depth advice to someone I never met. But I could be a useful resource person.

  7. I think there’s a big difference between asking questions to a 900 number or a Rav that’s serving on a first-come first-serve and developing a relationship with a Rav who is giving you guidance and advice on your spiritual growth and other areas of life.

  8. Since we are by our very nature think outside the box people – otherwise we would not have dared to change ourselves as we did – how about this gonzo idea. Find a willing, qualified and available Rav and set up a 900 or pay-per-minute phone number service. The Rav or his recognized religious organization keeps the profits earned over the expenses of maintaining the 900 number. Setting up a 900 number is not difficult and billing is handled by the phone company. If there is more than one Rav then it does not become as burdensome. This might be a good “third job” for a Rav who already has a first job as mora d’asra of a small shul and a second job as a rebbe at a yeshiva.

  9. To Ross #3: Try sending an email to Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro of the Bais Medrash of Bayswater (Far Rockaway, Queens, New York) saying just what you’ve told us: that you’d like a Rav who could talk to you and give you time, in return for a financial contribution to his website or to the shul.

    Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro is my own mora d’asra (full disclosure): he has a tremendous intellect, gives speeches and shiurim all the time, deals frequently with Baalei-Teshuva and Gairim, is available by phone to answer shaalos, and is always looking for ways to raise funds to keep our shul and his website going.

    His email is rabbishapiro@yahoo.com.

  10. I suppose rabbis could allocate consultation time to non-members based on a fee structure (more $ = more priority), but that goes too far.

    Some rabbis have fixed phone-in hours, and it’s first come – first serve.

  11. “But many shul rabbis do have such web-based Q&A services.”

    It’s a great service, but the rav is swamped, so sometimes by time you get an answer, it’s too late.

  12. No – to the first question; only as urgent things came up in their areas of expertise.

    Don’t know – to the second question. But many shul rabbis do have such web-based Q&A services.

  13. Bob, do/did you phone or email these Rabbi on a regular basis?
    For how many people where the Rabbis regularly handling questions?

  14. We’ve never had problems phoning or emailing rabbis we’ve met along the way, after we’ve moved elsewhere. Free of charge!

  15. This is one of the best questions you’ve ever had! I dream about having a Rav who is willing to talk to me and give me time…an hour a month is a luxury! Yes, I would gladly give $1000 a year for this service.

  16. When I was working in New Hampshire in the mid-1990’s, I often spent Shabbos in Lowell, MA as a house guest of Rabbi Chaim Goldberger of the Montefiore Synagogue there. The shul had an “ask the rabbi” feature on its website, and questions often came to the rabbi from distant places. Once, he was contacted from a very unlikely place, a Satmar summer camp in the Catskills (I don’t know the topic). A series of communications resulted in a visit by a whole group of Satmar camp counselors to spend Shabbos in Lowell. Their zemiros at the Shabbos table, complete with harmony, were inspiring. That Sunday, I met them again while food shopping at Beacon Kosher in Brookline, MA. At first, I didn’t recognize them “out of uniform”; they were wearing normal camp clothing.

  17. One solution might be for a long-distance BT to join a shul with an agreeable rabbi and a congenial congregation, and pay membership dues, even if he’s not local and only attends a few times a year.

    Not only would he have access to the rabbi, but he’d feel that he’s part of a community, even if it’s to a small degree.

    Kind of an “adopt an out of town BT” program.

Comments are closed.