My Rabbi: The Ex-Convict


By Ben Spielberg

I hate my rabbi. He makes me clean my room. He yells at me when I’m being disrespectful, and he always calls me out when I’m lying! I hate that my Rabbi makes me a better person—I mean, after all, who does he think he is? Some sort of religious authority?

The first time I had ever heard of Rabbi Mark Borovitz was a couple years ago when I read his autobiography, The Holy Thief. It was a quick read, a good story, and well written. After coming to Beit T’Shuvah for about four months for therapy once a week, I eventually set up a meeting with him. I complimented his book; we chatted a little bit, and set up another meeting for the next week. I don’t think I had ever even talked to a Rabbi before.

The next meeting didn’t go over so well. I was loaded, and he knew that I was loaded. Without so much as completing a sentence, he called me out on my manipulation. He knew I was lying to everybody around me and he knew I was in trouble. “You have a week to tell your family that you’re getting loaded, or I will.” Needless to say, I was furious. This guy I don’t even know was trying to ruin my life!

My Rabbi is a man who cares. My Rabbi has been through it all—he’s been to prison, he’s been confused, frustrated, angry, sad, and lonely just like me. And that’s why he cares so much about everyone here. He has been through exactly what all the residents are going through, and after making T’Shuvah, he has figured out that the greatest thing he could possibly do would be to help out others in positions he was in, and bring them to making their own T’Shuvah. I hate my Rabbi for making me clean my room, but I love him for it, too.

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Filed under 12-Steps, addiction, Beit T'Shuvah, Gratitude, Incarceration, Judaism, Mark Borovitz, Sobriety, Torah

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