909 Prospect Street #210, La Jolla
Rabbi: Baruch Shalom Ezagui
Born: Montreal, Canada
Formation: Rabbinical College of Montreal, Canada; Yeshiva Geloda Lubavitch, London, England; Educational Institute Oholei Torah, Brooklyn, NY; Yeshiva Gedola of New Haven, Conn., Rabbinical College of Detroit, Mich., and Rabbinical Institute of Melbourne, Australia
Years Ordained: 13
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
RB: The Torah’s message, which becomes mine, boils down to understanding where we are today and how we can make a much better tomorrow. Individuals must understand their uniqueness in the world and the world’s uniqueness in them. Everyone, everything, and every moment must be embraced in its absolute potential, to be utilized with their true intention of creation and acting in full contributive capacity.
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
RB: That people sometimes fail to recognize their importance and responsibility, that society needs everyone, and that there is no king without a people. Clergy can preach and teach, but it’s the people that really make all the difference. We see a lot in these challenging times that the haves are holding onto what they have been blessed with and fear to lose what they have, and the have-nots are falling into despair, failing to hold onto the faith that believes the cycle of life will turn and better days are yet to be. We must each live in this moment and become leaders in our own right for those who have the wherewithal. Now is the time for those that do not embrace the experience and utilize these challenging moments to regroup, refocus, and crystallize your true worth and life’s value.
SDR: Why did you become a rabbi?
RB: My grandfather left Morocco in the early 50s and moved to Canada because of the similarity of language and culture. Being the most knowable in Judaic practices and Torah reading, he became the figurehead for the Middle Eastern Sephardic Jewish community there and took the responsibility very seriously. After he passed on, my father, who also was never officially ordained as a rabbi but saw the need to fill this position, took over where his father left off so as not to leave a void in community leadership. So, I grew up in that environment, being taught that service of others is the best service of self. The feeling of what we need was never an issue growing up because what we are needed for was always being highlighted. So, my father put me in a yeshiva, that is, a Jewish school, which shared the same values and also instilled in me that same sense of service to others and the community at large. I would say that was my greatest gift.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
RB: Well, let’s hope we’re not dying so fast. Who’s rushing? The point of discussing an afterlife is to inspire us to do something now. In the eyes of Torah, heaven and hell begins right here. Heaven and hell really only exist as a result of the moment we’re living in right now and glorify it. Any such discussion should be based on our present actions, which we should be most concerned about and most busy with right now. Wherever we will go after this life depends on wherever we put ourselves right now.