_(excerpted from original article)_
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is 5’4″, with a head of curly dark hair and a wiry salt-and-pepper beard that is tamed somewhat by a bobby pin tacking the excess length under his chin. When I first interviewed him, he was a few weeks shy of 40—the age at which a person obtains wisdom, according to the Mishnah—and he said he felt troubled that he was not yet wise.
Boteach (pronounced bo-TAY-akh) may not be a wise man, but he plays one on TV. He counsels families in trouble on his television show, _Shalom in the Home_, a reality show now in its second season on TLC, and in his occasional guest spots on _Oprah_. He is the first Orthodox rabbi to host a prime-time television show, in part because he is one of the only rabbis who would ever consider such a stunt. But Boteach is best known for logging a couple years as Michael Jackson’s mentor (the two no longer speak) and for writing _Kosher Sex_, a paean to passionate monogamy that was excerpted in _Playboy_—he has built a career and public image around doing things most rabbis would never do.
As a result, he has become one of the best-known rabbis in America; it is hard to imagine anyone who enjoys greater name recognition. At a time when most other rabbis and Jewish institutions are obsessed with bringing half-hearted Jews into the full-throated fold, Boteach takes a far more ecumenical approach to outreach. Most of the families he counsels on _Shalom in the Home_ are not Jewish. He’s not out to convert; he just wants as many people as possible to listen to his unorthodoxly Orthodox take on life. He yearns to be universally relevant, a self-help guru in a skullcap.