by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths
There are many Jews who reject the teachings of the Rabbis. I am not referring to the irrational screamers who are so wrapped up in their own egos that they cannot see the wisdom of others. I am referring to a number of religious Jews who have become disheartened with their religious lives. They attribute their frustration to the rabbinical tradition that they have always followed. These Jews are not at all vocal opponents of the rabbis, actually they hide their objections because they do not want to upset their families or, even worse, make it more difficult to marry off their children. It is with these Jews in mind that I write this article.
This subject could indeed take an entire volume to deal with, but most briefly:
The argument goes, “G-d did not command us to do those things! It was the rabbis. I am not going to do their added commandments. I will only follow what is written in the Torah.”
The standard answer is, “G-d commanded us to listen to the Judges in our day, and the rabbis fill that role for us today, so it is G-d Who has told us to listen to them.”
This answer is not working for everyone, so here are some other points to think about:
Question: The rabbis taught us to say a blessing that G-d commanded us to light Shabbos candles, but lighting candles is merely a rabbinical law. So it is a “lie” to say that blessing.
Answer: G-d commanded us to bring in the spiritual light of Shabbos. The rabbis have simply given us a beautiful tool to initiate the celebration. Although we make the blessing on the physical light of the candles we do so to usher in the spiritual light of the Holy day. So the blessing is quite appropriate.
Question: The rabbis have made so many fences that G-d did not tell us to obey. For instance, having money in your pocket on Shabbos is not forbidden by Hashem. It is merely one of those many rabbinical rules!
Answer: Hashem’s laws of Shabbos include not writing. The rabbis saw that handling money led to doing business, and doing business led to writing. So the rabbinical rule not to handle money is a fence that keeps us away from transgressing a Torah prohibition. If you feel frustration over this law you argue and fight with the rabbis but not Hashem and His Torah. If the fence were not there, when you were frustrated you could very easily complain against Hashem’s rule.
Historically, Jews who have moved away from the rabbinical statutes keep on moving away until they move on to intermarriage. Today, there are “rabbis” who put on tefillin every day, yet they officiate at marriages between Jews and non-Jews, and even between men and men! Once you open the door and reject the ancient teachings of the sages you can go on and on until there will not even be a Written Torah.
These arguments and explanations can go on for a long time, but here is my personal take on the problem. I have no source for what I am telling you other than my personal experience and observation.
There is a teaching, “A Jerusalemite cannot be a Chassid.” A Chassid is a great person who has a Rebbe whom he loves and follows. But here in Jerusalem the Presence of Hashem is so strong that the knowing, religious Jews look straight up without even a holy Rebbe in between.
I believe that Jews who live in even the most secular communities can also look straight up. If you will put G-d first in your life, and search for Him in you every deed then you will welcome the sages’ expert advice, but you will not put them between you and the Goal. This does not mean that we discard the rabbis, G-d forbid. It means that we seek their sage advice, but we follow Hashem directly.
Torah learning and the performance of mitzvahs has for many become automatic, routine, even boring, or burdensome. Dear readers who are experiencing these problems, if you stop and think just what a mitzvah is when you do it you will never be burdened by it. A mitzvah is a spiritual opportunity that brings holiness into our lives. A mitzvah elevates the physical and reveals its spiritual nature.
Paying attention when we say a blessing brings to mind that G-d is Most Holy. When we think about His holiness we take on some of that holiness ourselves. But sadly, Hashem and His holiness have been put to the side, and intellectual accomplishment has tried to replace Him.
When we spend our time looking up, and we are thankful for the spiritual opportunities that being in this world gives us, we do not discard any wise teachings. We want any information or techniques that could help us to accomplish our spiritual desires. I would not put these wise men between myself and the Goal, but surely it is smart to ask the ones who have succeeded, “How did you do it?”