Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld: I think a rabbi who feels burnt out shouldn’t have been a rabbi in the first place. You have to go into this profession, if you can call it a profession, with a spirit of dedication to Torah, to chinuch, to Klal Yisrael. If you do, you don’t get burnt out. I’ve seen rabbis who are burnt out. They get tired of meetings and with fighting with the congregation, with the shul president. But you have to feel the aish da’as, the fire of Torah, within you—independent of age, independent of circumstances. If you don’t have that, you shouldn’t be a rabbi.
Rabbi Dr. Gilbert Klaperman: We have to examine why a rabbi’s burnt out. Is it because he’s working too hard? Or because the challenge is too much for him? Or because he was never meant to be a rabbi? I had a non-Jewish friend [who was] a minister. He used to speak about his colleagues and say, “He was defrocked. He was unsuited.” There are young men who went into the rabbinate out of commitment, out of desire, but they’re not meant to be rabbis. They get burnt out very quickly, because the rabbinate is a challenging profession. It’s hard work. It’s demanding work. It’s intellectually challenging. The rabbis I see here [around this table] don’t look burnt out to me. Why? Because they were suited to be rabbis.
“Fifty Years in the Pulpit: Seven Veteran Rabbis Tell It Like It Was,” Jewish Action 69, No. 1 (Fall 5769/2008), 33.