So do you want to be a rabbi, I asked. I met him at his office at the school. Listening and acknowledging, not fixing. It was both an intoxicatingly joyous family occasion and a profoundly religious one, the rabbi an extrovert combination of paterfamilias and teacher. There are now estimated to be around 1. Only give advice when asked. The act of study is a supreme religious obligation, as much for the layman as the rabbi, and the talmid hakham - the student of the Talmud, the compendious volumes of rabbinical discussions pertaining to Jewish law and custom - is venerated above all others. A doctor, a lawyer, an accountant, I would say second-rate. In recent years, the enthusiasm for study has become more, not less, intense. And back in the former Soviet Union, it was and still is sold by weight. They actually put it on a scale in front of you. On an impulse, I crossed to a building on the other side of the road and pulled open the door. So why should I expose my children and my grandchildren to this lifestyle which I regard, and my religion regards, as absolutely abhorrent. You could be an authority in halacha [Jewish law] - why would you want a PhD in physics?