The word Rabbit means “great one” in the teachings of Judaism. But for all practical purposes, a good way to describe the educational makeup of a Rabbi is one who has studied Jewish law, as well as education and social work.
But most importantly, he is one who has made his primary life goal the study of Torah and rulings of the law in order to pass it down to future generations. Not only that, through their many years of research and experience they have developed the wisdom to analyze events in an unbiased way and so bring a wholesome and loving solution to all those involved in various challenging situations. He is a teacher and one who lives in the Truth. In a Jewish community, a rabbi is often sought in times of crises, emotional needs or spiritual hunger.
Regarding academics, rabbis are expected to be well-studied in the areas of medicine, astrology, astronomy, and mathematics and also familiar with pagan practices. Also, he needs to be astute with the ability to judge complicated cases regarding the religious law. Additionally, they must have humility, wisdom and the fear of God as well as detachment from worldly goods. Well, that’s a pretty tall order. But, with the help of their God, he will be equipped to maintain peace within the walls of his people.
Often people will look for a teacher or guide and not know where to turn. They question whether people who are termed “Rabbi” are truly legitimate teachers or just hoaky posers; can anyone be labeled a Rabbi?
If one looks for a teacher, they shouldn’t blindly trust the first person they encounter. One should inquire with sincerity the various teachers and get recommendations, noting their credentials to see if he has wisdom and is involved in, and respected by an active community. One should try and meet his disciples to see if their dispositions are real and genuine. These are a few things to look for when searching out a respectable Rabbi. Be sure to do your research and test for authenticity.
Rabbi or Priest?
The two offices are different. Rabbi’s worked in the local synagogue with no pay. They commonly held a side job to support themselves and didn’t belong to any particular tribe or family, nor were they even required to hold the position. Priests, however, were from the line of Aaron (as noted in the Hebrew bible) and were paid to work in the Temple located in Jerusalem. There were many in the time of Jesus, and often they worked only parts of the year.
Not only in some practical ways are there differences, but also in their theological beliefs. Priests were often members of an aristocratic party called the Sadducees. They tended not to believe in the afterlife, angels or spirits. The Rabbis were usually the Pharisees, however, and believed in just the opposite. These were big issues in the day, and as a result, there was often hostility between the two groups.
All this to say, though times have changed, today if you are looking for a guide, you’d be better attended by a Rabbi. He was considered a teacher in the synagogue back in the day, and remains a teacher now, fulfilling the same duty; seeing to the well-being of his community.