“I Love My Rabbi”


[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Shelach 5773 – translated by R. Blumberg]

 

I love my Rabbi. Why? I don’t know. But since I love him, and since he gives meaning to my life, I don’t ask myself questions.

The truth is, when I think about him, I can’t think of anything special about him, anything outstanding, anything particularly brilliant. He’s a regular Rabbi. Sometimes I meet a Rabbi who speaks well, who writes well, who makes an impression, and I am charmed by him, but it’s only for a moment, and very quickly I return to my Rabbi, because he is mine, and precisely because he is just regular.

More than the blessing he has brought me through his speech and writing, I am influenced by his personality, by his being a good, upright man, a G-d-fearing man, a holy man. True, it’s been explained to me that “holiness” is a level held by the elite few, something described at the end of Mesilat Yesharim, so let me correct myself. I won’t say that he is holy, but that to me he seems holy.

He has no novel or brilliant ideas. He is totally old-fashioned. He goes over old ideas, but I am happy with those ideas.

I’m not saying he’s not wise. He is truly very wise, but not the kind of wise man who foments revolutions. He just knows how to transmit to me what he received from his teacher, and his teacher from his teacher, back to what Moshe received from G-d. And that’s all I need.

You see, my Rabbi has a marvelous personality. Obviously, I don’t know how to penetrate the depths of his soul, but you can’t fool me. I’ve seen my Rabbi in all sorts of situations: in business – how honest and reliable he is! With family – what a gentle husband and father he is! At the dinner table – what simple food he eats, and in what small quantities!

So I’m happy hearing his Torah lectures, because I know that what he teaches is really him. I see that my Rabbi does not just learn Torah, but he himself is Torah. His mind is Torah. His emotions are Torah. His soul is Torah.

He warms up my heart. He lights up my mind. He provides both warmth and light.

Thank you dear G-d for giving me this Rabbi, to me and to my dear wife and to my dear children.

I’ll tell you the truth. It took me a long time to understand this. It’s not my fault, but like everybody else, I’m captive to the media, to public opinion, so I used to be more appreciative of media-star Rabbis. But thank G-d, I’ve succeeded, especially with my wife’s help, in salvaging my thinking from its subjugation to the media, and then I began to appreciate my Rabbi, to appreciate him and to love him.

Still I must confess, not everybody loves him, or more precisely, not everyone is totally satisfied with what he says. Yet how is it his fault? He says what G-d says. Should he distort the Torah to please them? I, too, am sometimes aggravated by the things that he says, but I get over it quickly, especially thanks to my wife. I understand that if I experience dissonance, it’s not because there’s something wrong with the Torah, but because there’s something wrong with me. And then my equilibrium is restored.

Make no mistake, however. He does not issue commands. He is not patronizing. He is not arrogant. He just transmits the word of G-d innocently. Yes, that’s the word I was looking for – innocence! My Rabbi is innocent! Not innocent in the sense of naïve. After all, I said he’s wise. Rather, he is innocent in the sense of having perfect faith.

No, he’s not haughty. Quite the contrary, he is a slave, a slave who has been sold to the community. In fact I once read that Ha-Rav Kook used to sign his letters: "Servant to the Holy Nation on the Holy Land”. When I need my Rabbi, day or night, for anything big or small – he’s there.

My Rabbi is not a success in the socio-economic sense. People don’t clap for him.  They don’t shout “Hurrah!” when they see him. He’s not in the headlines. He doesn’t have TV photo-ops. Quite the contrary, very often he is snubbed. Yet he carries on without fear or trepidation. He speaks candidly. Oh how I love him!

I therefore decided to write him a letter. My wife helped me word it:

Dear Rabbi X,

My deepest thanks to you for all the spiritual bounty we are privileged to receive from you. Every word that the Rabbi writes, every talk, every lecture that the Rabbi transmits, we read with great appetite and listen to it with the pleasure of learning.

We try to improve ourselves in light of your words which influence us, and especially in light of your personality, which shines and illuminates, so full of goodness and the fear of G-d.

Your personality, drenched in so much modesty and humility, wisdom and common sense, teaches us a chapter of morality, of faith, of integrity and goodness. The words you write are so pure and pristine and so directly aimed at the Divine truth, that sometimes it’s alarming to read them, so powerfully ensconced are they in deep proximity to the Master-of-the-Universe.

How fortunate I am that I and my family and the people of my town, my country and of everywhere, have been privileged to know a righteous saint. Thank you for your infinite devotion.

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