Over the past several years here in Canada we have seen several rabbis retire from synagogue positions and become ‘rabbis emeritus ‘.
Though the sense is quite clear, it has always struck me as somewhat odd to have a pairing of the title ‘Rabbi ‘ with a secondary title derived from a Latin word that, depending on the dictionary one uses, can derive from a root meaning ‘merit ‘ or even ‘to earn a living ‘.
I frequently joke that I feel that a ‘Rabbi Emeritus’ should be in charge of an Emirate!
All the rabbis that I have met have been drawn to this profession from a love of Torah learning and teaching. Livelihood is of a secondary consideration.
It is a pity that The Israeli Academy of Sciences or some other august body can not come up with a Hebrew word that expresses the sentiments contained in ’emeritus.’
I thought that perhaps ‘voluntary exile’ or ‘Galut MeiRatzon’ might come close. Or perhaps the opposite of ‘aliyah’?
To become an effectively used title it would be preferable if any two words could be contracted into one which that would in turn lead to post nominal initials i.e., RG.
In any event, rabbis emeritus (plural emeriti?) are with us for the foreseeable future though one can’t help but wonder what Rabbis Shammai or Hillel would make of this!