From Yeshivah to University
Yesterday was my graduation ceremony at Bar-Ilan University, in which I received my doctorate in Jewish History, with a dissertation on "Rabbinic and Maskilic Encounters with Zoology in the Nineteenth Century." As I described in my post "Zoo Rabbi Doctor", this was the culmination of a change in my life's direction that I not only did not foresee, but would have positively feared and hated. Twenty-one years ago, when I was twenty years old, I successfully fought against my parents, who were urging me to leave yeshivah and attend university. At the time, even if I would have attended university, it would certainly would not have been to study Jewish subjects. I looked at academics in the field of Jewish studies with deep suspicion, especially if they were also rabbis!
As I mentioned several years ago in my post "From Yeshivah to Academia", Rav Hirsch writes that one of the reasons why the Torah disapproves of vows is that a person should never make absolute decisions about their future plans; life is a process of growth, and plans change as a result. I am very, very grateful that various circumstances and people influenced me to move in a different direction!
(Mazel tov too to Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Brodt, who also received his doctorate!)