Thursday, February 02, 2012

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For His Fellow Jew

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

"His brilliance in Torah was matched by his concern for his fellow Jews", a quote from a hesped for a rav and rebbe from the previous generation.

I miss that.  There were few gedolim of the past generation that wouldn’t fit that statement.  What gadol could you name who didn’t have a burning desire to help his fellow Jew, to improve the situation for ALL of Klal Yisroel?  Oh, they may have differed on approach and focus, even completely disagreed with each other.  Whether the approach was through Torah learning, yeshiva building, building up communities and chesed organizations, strengthening observance of various mitzvot and breeches in practice, the burning goal was clear.

Today it seems much harder to say the same.  Even if it can be said about the gedolim, their organizations act otherwise as well as various people acting in their name (and thereby destroying their kavod and often their goals).

I don’t know how to explain this to my children.  But I know this: if it can’t be said “his Torah was matched by his concern for his fellow Jews”, then it is not someone to follow.

1 comments:

Yishai said...

Just because someone is called a gadol doesn't mean they're a gadol. In Rebbe Nachman's work it is a given that it can be a struggle to identify the true tzaddikim of each generation, and every person should pray that they find and correctly identify who these true tzaddikim are, so that they can learn from them. He also discusses the problem of unworthy leaders. I find some of these passages very powerful and potentially relevant to today.

From Likutei Eitzot:

"Today publicity and fame go to false figures...There are false leaders, and when people follow their guidance
they absorb false ideologies and mistaken beliefs."

"There are people who impose themselves as leaders and rulers over our poor, bereft nation not because they have been appointed by Heaven but purely through their own arrogance and
assertiveness.... They can attain so much power that they can even exact penalties from those who do not wish to bow to their rule. But the correct phrase for this is not `exacting penalties' but `causing damage,' because ultimately they are a destructive force in the
world."

"There are leaders who go by the name of rabbi but whose learning has been picked up from the `superficialities' and `waste' of Torah. They are unable to control even themselves, let alone
other people. But they still have pretensions to greatness and seek to lead and guide the whole world. You should be very careful to accord them no recognition whatsoever so as not to add in any way to their power or authority. They themselves can be forgiven for what they do: they are
no more than the victims of a strong lust for power. It is the people who give them credibility and power and who are prepared to accord them the title of rabbi who will have a heavy penalty to pay."

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