Thursday, July 31, 2008

Infallible 3

To sum up my understanding of this matter:

A Chossid accepts the words of his Rebbe fully and unconditionally with pure emunas Tzadikimas as emes laamitoi (the absolute truth). If he is indeed a Chossid, he has not the slightest shadow of doubt that what he is told by his Rebbe is Shechina medaberes mi’toch grono (the Shechinah speaking from the throat) of the Rebbe. Does he understand what his Rebbe says? Not necessarily. But his approach is not predicated upon intellect, but upon emunah. 

Thus it is out of the question for him to “second-guess” his Rebbe, G-d forbid, and decide that he knows better in some case. Not that he can’t try to understand why his Rebbe would have told him as he did; on the contrary, he can and he should. But even if he doesn’t understand, he accepts and obeys regardless because of his pure emunah that Hashem is speaking to him through his Rebbe. 

This is also an approach that according to various non-Chabad chassidishe stories I’ve heard is found in all Chasidic groups, and it’s one of the main differences between the way that a Chossid looks at his Rebbe and the way a non-Chossid looks at his gadol.


  1. Milhouse said...
    Unfortunately this traditional chassidishe attitude is not found in some very significant chassidic groups today. For instance, in Bobov this attitude to a rebbe is completely alien and unheard-of. It seems that they have lost not just real rebbeim, but even the concept of what it is that they are missing.

    The essence of the attitude you describe is summed up in the story the Rebbe told about the AriZal, that one day he told his talmidim to come to Yerushalayim with him, but when they delayed in order to get permission from their wives, as is required by halocho, he told them it was too late, and had they come with him immediately they would have brought Moshiach. The lesson the Rebbe drew from this story is that one must obey the Rebbe without question, even when it seems to contradict the halocho. The Rebbe surely knows the halocho at least as well as one does oneself, and if he said to do something it must surely be permitted.

    In Bobov they tell a similar story about R Naftoli, the father of R Shloime, but with the exact opposite lesson. The lesson they draw is that one must apply ones own sechel to the rebbe's instructions, and if it seems to be against halocho one must not obey. Yeridas hodoros indeed!
    Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver said...
    -I really can't comment on the actual beliefs of members of other groups. My statement concerning the idea that other groups have this attitude to their Rebbes is based on the sippurei Chasidim and sippurei Tzadikim that I heard of past generations, which all pointed to the idea that this approach is something inherent to the derech of Chassidus in general, not just the specific derech of Chabad.

    -Thanks for the reference to the story of the Arizal. Iy"H I'll get a chance to post that whole story, with the Rebbe's explanation of it.
    Milhouse said...
    It was certainly so among all chassidim in past generations, but as a certain famous rebbe wrote, "nishtakcho toras habaal shem tov", and they no longer have such rabbeyim. More than that, they've forgotten that such rabbeyim can exist. And they're certainly convinced that if such people once existed, they surely don't exist any longer. The concept that such a rebbe could exist in the 58th century seems bizarre to them.

    And this is why the hostility that used to exist among certain people to all chassidim, is today concentrated on Lubavitch. Because Lubavitch still has the concept of a rebbe like in the old days; Lubavitch is still a chassidus like the ones that existed 200 years ago; so the hisnagdus now concentrates on Lubavitch.

    This also explains why so many chassidishe groups have a surplus of claimants to the rebbsiteve, and why they can't understand why Lubavitch hasn't appointed a new rebbe. If a rebbe is merely a figurehead, or a CEO of the corporation, then what difference does it make whom you appoint, so long as it's someone a bit higher than you. If Lubavitch were looking for such a rebbe as the two claimants for Bobov, or for Satmar, they could have found twenty such; but that's not what Lubavitch considers a rebbe, and that's what these outsiders can't understand.

    Consider Reb Hillel Paritcher. Outside Lubavitch, a figure like that would have set up shop for himself as a rebbe; even in Lubavitch he was considered "half a rebbe", but he would never have dreamed of becoming a rebbe, and no Lubavitcher would have dreamed of going to him instead of to the Tzemach Tzedek. One chossid, explaining the difference between Reb Hillel and the Rebbe, said "compared to Reb Hillel, I and the cat are the same; compared to the Rebbe, Reb Hillel, I, and the cat, are all the same". And that's an attitude that few chassidusen today, outside Lubavitch, still understand.
    Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver said...
    Yup, I couldn't agree more.

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