by Tom Swift

Sitting across from one another in a bar …

Professor Petrovsky: Michael, do you mind if I tell you a story?

Mike McDermott (nodding): Please.

Petrovsky: For generations, the men of my family have been rabbis in Israel, before that in Europe. This was to be my calling. I was quite a prodigy. I was the “pride” of my Yeshiva. The elders said I had a 40-year-old’s understanding of the Midrash by the time I was 12. Yet by the time I was thirteen I knew I could never be a rabbi.

Mike: Why not?

Petrovsky: Because for all I understood of the Talmud, I never saw God there.

Mike: You have a very respectable profession …

Petrovsky: Not to my family. My parents were devastated; they were destroyed by my decision — my father sent me away to New York to live with distant cousins. … I eventually found my place, my life’s work.

Mike: What then?

Petrovsky: I immersed myself fully. I studied everything I could about the law. I felt deeply inside that it was what I was born to do.

Mike: Did your parents ever get over it?

Petrovsky: No, I always hoped that I would find some way to change their minds, but they were inconsolable. My father never spoke to me again.

Mike: If you had to do it all over again, would you make the same choices?

Petrovsky: What choice? … The last thing I took away from the Yeshivas is this: we cannot run from who we are. … Our destiny chooses us.

Rounders (1998)