Honour to Rabonim

One of the things that has struck me between the generation of holocaust survivors, most of whom are in עולם האמת and the generation today is the distinct lack of כבוד for a Rav.

Now, I can hear you saying, ah, but the Rabonim of today are not the Rabonim of yesteryear. I agree. It is also true of the generation before that and the generation before that. This is amplified to the extent that Babylonian Scholars of Talmudic academies were not referred to as Rabbi XYZ but Rav XYZ. Why? there was no Semicha in Bavel/Babylonia.

Yet, we are also asked to make for ourselves a Rav. Even though someone become a Rav, he should still have his own Rav Hamuvhak (mentor Rabbi). There are many stories. Even someone as great as Rav Lichtenstein ז’’ל and Rav Nevenzahl used to look up to Rav Shlomo Zalman as their decisor on matters on the razor’s edge. There is a cute story that Rav Lichtenstein’s daughter wanted one more piercing than her father was comfortable with. Of course, they learned the relevant halachos, and then it was proposed that they will go to Rav Shlomo Zalman, and let him decide. They both agreed to be bound by his Psak. Rav Shlomo Zalman, being more than a Posek par excellence, also had the “feel of the nation” at his fingertips. He turned to Rav Aharon, and basically told him to leave his daughter alone. There was ample precedent for it, and much more important issues to worry about. Rav Lichtenstein was worried about Chabolo.

In our day, there is certainly a mix of good, great, not so good and downright embarrassing clergy. Some can learn, some can’t. Some can speak, other cannot. Some have sensitivity to politics and diplomacy and others hide behind it or don’t realise how their words can be interpreted and hurt. The Torah doesn’t have a concept called “Daas Torah”. That’s a new term post holocaust, largely invented by Hungarians who politically infiltrated the Yishuv in Israel, and then subsequently spread to the States.

One should have a Rav HaMuvhak, a special mentor. Some Chassidic types may call it the spiritual mentor without the halachic clout. Whatever. There are people who have both.

I’ve complained about this elsewhere, but I think one of the biggest Chillulei Hashem is when one chooses to daven at a particular shule AND partake of the Kiddush and then chatter incessantly throughout the Rav’s few words. Maybe what he is saying isn’t startling. Maybe he’s not even your Rav, but you can’t explain why you daven and eat there. It matters not. When someone knows much more than you, you should shut your mouth and listen for the ten minutes so that the “speech” isn’t a shouting match of the wild and wooly versus versus those without Kavod Rabonim and Kavod Habriyos.

I watched for decades as holocaust survivors, who had driven to shule would hide their driving from the Rabbi. They had Kavod, they had a sense of חרפה because this is the mimetic tradition they received from their own fathers. They had reason not to believe. I don’t know what they believed. These are the types of people who, if they saw a Rabbi in the distance on shabbos while smoking, would quickly hide around the corner and butt it out. Hypocritical? I will leave that to God. Lurking underneath though was a sense of Kavod. Don’t like your Shule or your Rabbi? There are many alternatives. You can even lie on a bean bag and pay nothing in some meditative Orthodox minyanim.

Find who and what jives with you, but please, do not come to the Kiddush each week and fail to wait for the Rabbi to make Kiddush first? Why? I don’t eat cake before breakfast (as per halacha) and I’m quite comfortable waiting 5 minutes till the Rabbi has finished dealing with congregants on his way out of Shule. I find it offensive to watch people who are not paupers or hunger stricken by any stretch, shovelling food down their mouths well before the Rabbi arrives. It makes no sense to me. The words Zolel V’Sova come to mind.

Each of the Holocaust survivors who had lots of reasons not to believe, climbed wearily up the stairs (and it was often not easy) just to shake the Rov’s hand and say Good Shabbos. Their kids would have seen this. I saw it. Alas, our generation doesn’t see much of this. They see little. We are creating a new sick tradition of

I am for me, and I couldn’t care about any hierarchy, God ordained or otherwise, because the world is imperfect.

When did you last see someone stand up for an older man in Shule as they passed? That happens to be a Din D’Orayso.

Are we full of Am Horatzim or is it just selfish Davkaniks with an overinflated ego of their less than fulsome achievements. I forgive Am Horatzim. I don’t understand inflated egos that over-ride Kavod HaTorah, even if the Rav isn’t your favourite. Again, no one forces you to come, do they?

Why do I write about it? Because it bothers me. If we don’t set any example, what will our children and grandchildren see and do. Yes, brothers and sisters, the future is in our hands. Can you overcome your need to chatter or to eat 5 minutes earlier? Is it that hard?

Can you also shut up at a Simcha during a speech, or do you contribute to the constant murmuring so that the speaker has to yell? It’s a sick malady. I see it when the speaker talks for 5 minutes, so don’t tell me “it’s because he’s been rambling for 20”. These are unholy excuses. Given Neshamos come down for the Simcha, who are you to disturb a Simcha while they are there?

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

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