It is frightening to think that this Shabbos (and Sunday) is Rosh Chodesh Elul. Having gone through a trial of my own (law school), I wanted to share my experience with you, the reader.
Jury selection is supposed to consist of a cross-section of the community. How much more so is the need to have representatives of our people in the workforce. Whatever field you go into, or whomever you hire, there should be members of our community who are willing to embark on varied career paths. One cannot practice law or medicine without a license, of course. Once you are in the practice, you can use your education and skills in assisting all members of society with their unique needs.
If a legal or medical issue arises that affects the Jewish community, you can be the one who speaks up. In New York State, the legislature wants to pass a Right to Die act. This is abhorrent and totally against our values. In the legal field, lawyers are sometimes served with a summons minutes before they are leaving their offices on Friday. If you don’t speak up and advocate, who will?
With G-d’s help, I was able to make it through,
and so can you.
As a law student, I learned a whole variety of law, and made friends with a diverse student body. While law school is intense, we need law students who can be the bridge between attorneys and those young men and women who may have the potential for law school. Mentorships are key. Without guidance, someone who is a good fit for law school might not fathom embarking on the legal path. It really does not take one specific skill set or “type” to be a law student. I was honored to have gone to school with students of varied ages, experiences, and backgrounds. It is with the above in mind that I hope to help readers or their family members who might consider going to law school (whichever law school that might be).
Parshas R’ei talks about sacrifices. I know I had to make some sacrifices on my own in going to law school: I cut down on outside employment, spent less time with family, and studied hard. However, I learned to find a balance. Of course, I tried to make a kiddush Hashem, never compromising on my religion. Further, Parshas R’ei talks about tz’dakah (charity). What better way to give back to the community than assisting someone in embarking on a career path that could have great returns later on. In addition, through your legal work, you can help fight for justice and find equity for people who have nowhere else to turn. Whomever you represent, know you are representing klal Yisrael.
As busy as we may be with work or school, Shabbos is a day of rest. Like the Sabbatical year, sh’nas ha’shmitah, we take a leap of faith and take a rest, knowing that by taking a step back, G-d will help us move forward the following week. As we are still in Pirkei Avos mode, it is important to point out that the ethics of our fathers guide us from morning till night. In the outside world, one who sleeps all day doesn’t necessarily owe a duty to the world. However, when entering the legal field, you owe a duty to act ethically from morning till night (in all your endeavors). We, of course, know that this has always applied to us (the Jewish people) and will always apply to us. Therefore, as Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur approach, we ask Hashem to bless us as he does in this week’s parshah.
While summer has only begun for me (as I recently took the Bar), I realize the awe and seriousness one must have in avodas ha’kodesh, regardless of the time of year. During vacation time, it is easy to fall into the false trappings and materialism of the outside world. Nevertheless, one can vacation with Jewish values: Don’t go to places that’ll lead you to sin, daven every day, and research any kashrus issues that may arise. Like the false prophet we are warned of in this week’s Torah portion, bad friends can take you far down. Good friends can help you rise above. I am grateful for my friends and family for being there for me even though I wasn’t always there for them while engaged in my studies. With G-d’s help, I was able to make it through, and so can you.
I, therefore, would like to invite any readers to email me with questions and concerns that they may have about the law school experience. Hopefully, I can allay your fears. I hope that I can help you “see” the blessings of a legal education. Take your education seriously, but take your religion more seriously. In this way, we will merit going up to our final pilgrimage to Eretz Yisrael with the coming of Mashiach, quickly and speedily in our days.
The author, Chaim Yehuda Meyer (firstname.lastname@example.org), graduated from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law this past spring.