by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths
[ The title is from a chassidic story, where a chossid of a Rebbe is sent as a messenger to another chassidic Rebbe. The chossid delivered his message and stayed for a while, learning from the other Rebbe. After a time the other Rebbe asked him to stay and become his chossid, switching to his chassidus. The chossid replied, ‘the Rebbe is a Rebbe, but not mine, this chossid is a chossid, but not thine’. ]
HaRav Shteinman, one of the gedolim of our generation in his late 90’s, visited Ramat Beit Shemesh (Alef) this week, to advocate for a full Torah (no secular studies) education institution in town (which is now having to complete with a new 75% Torah, 25% secular studies institution).
Much is being made about some strong statements he made, which Life in Israel translated here. I will not comment on those statements except to say we’re seeing transition and cultural upheaval in front of us when a 90 year old gadol has to be dragged around to support the older way.
But there is a spiritual statement that Rav Shteinman made that is worth my discussion here…
“…how much one must do for the everlasting (the torah)! A person does not need to live just 100 years.. he can live for eternity! The life of a person is not here in this world... in order to live everlasting life a person has to work his entire life to create the everlasting life, and what is the everlasting life? torah and mitzvos, and nothing else. From learning math and from geography one does not achieve everlasting life, only from torah and chessed.
…to be a talmid chacham bitachon is irrelevant. One cannot just have bitachon and become a talmid chacham. If he does not learn torah, he will not be a talmid chacham. One who does not learn torah, will not do the mitzvos… Also chessed must be done, but torah is the main thing.”
On Rosh Hashanah we pray that Hashem judge us as His children. (For what father will not have compassion on his children?) And then, after that, we pray that if Hashem will not judge us as His children, THEN (and only then) we pray that He will judge us has His servants.
The rav is of course correct. Learning Torah, doing mitzvot and chessed literally build one’s place in the World to Come. Yet the question is WHETHER our goal is to build our place in the World to Come OR to build a relationship with our Father in Heaven.
Will we be servants working for our (afterlife) payday? Or children trying to make our Father proud? Will we learn Torah because each minute gets us a little better seat in Heaven? Or because by doing so we being to understand a little better, relate a little better, and connect a little more to our Father in Heaven?
And while we’re here, will we express that by doing chessed, mitzvot and helping our brothers? Will we take steps to make this world a little more heavenly?
I for one follow the path of the Chabad Rebbes. My goal is to connect to our Father in Heaven, and bring a bit of heaven down here to earth.
This gadol’s path does not even interest me. May he have a long life to complete it. But it’s my belief bringing more people to it will do NOTHING for this world, nor for Klal Yisroel.