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Friday
Mar252011

ONE WHO HAS NO REBBE HAS NO CONNECTION WITH G-D  

Translated by Boruch Merkur

There are those who question why it is necessary to have an intermediary interceding on our behalf before G-d. The person with this question is a learned man, a Torah scholar, etc. He is great enough – he claims – to negotiate his relationship with G-d without an intermediary. He doesn’t need a Rebbe! * Nadav and Avihu, of course, were extremely great, having attained the loftiest spiritual heights, but since “they taught Torah law in the presence of Moshe, their master,” they were severely punished –on account of their lack of proper deference to their master.

WHY DO I NEED AN INTERMEDIARY?!

Immediately at the beginning of the Torah portion, Shmini, Rashi focuses on the words, “And a fire emerged from before G-d,” citing the commentary of Rebbi Eliezer: “The children of Aharon did not die accept for the fact that they taught Torah law in the presence of Moshe, their master.” […]

There is a well-known letter of the Rebbe [Rashab], whose soul is in Gan Eden, that is relevant to this topic. The Rebbe writes that there are those who question why it is necessary to have an intermediary interceding on our behalf before G-d. The person with this question is a learned man, a Torah scholar, etc. He is great enough – he claims – to negotiate his relationship with G-d without an intermediary. He doesn’t need a Rebbe!

If he has a question on a law in the Torah, he has a Gemara with which to consult. If the Gemara is too lengthy on the topic, he has the Shulchan Aruch, with its clearly stated rulings, [including for example] the concise, practical commentary of Be’er Heitev, etc. Regarding difficulties in fear of Heaven (how he can attain it) – for that he has the Rambam, [Rabbeinu Bachaye’s] Chovas HaLevavos, among many other works. Why must he have a Rebbe? A Rebbe is not at all something that he is lacking!

JUST ME AND G-D; NOTHING ELSE

The entire world – he reasons – is G-d and himself; there is nothing else. G-d, the true existence, and himself, the created existence – nothing in between. Besides these two [G-d and himself] there is nothing else in existence!

He continues to argue that it is true that prior to the Giving of the Torah, up until the time when the Sanctuary was assembled, they needed to approach Moshe [for assistance], for only Moshe was able to receive the Torah at Sinai – as it is said, “Moshe received the Torah at Sinai” – and only he was able to erect the Sanctuary and draw down the Divine Presence to the earth, “I will dwell among them.”

(It is explained at length in the maamer of the Rebbe Rayatz’s passing [i.e., Basi L’Gani] that (after the Divine Presence withdrew to the Seventh Firmament, on account of sin), six righteous individuals [succeeded in reversing that process and they] drew the Divine Presence down, all the way to the First Firmament. But only Moshe Rabbeinu (who was the seventh) accomplished the “I will dwell among them,” drawing the Divine Presence down from the heavens to the earth.)

However – the man proceeds to argue – after the Giving of the Torah, he has the entire Torah independently and he doesn’t need anybody. He has “the Torah and G-d” and he himself comprises “the Jewish people,” and “The Jewish people, the Torah, and G-d are all one” (Zohar III 73a). Apart from this, there is nothing else.

CONTRADICTING THE OPINION OF ONE’S TEACHER IS LIKE OPPOSING G-D HIMSELF!

In response to this assertion, there is an explicit lesson in Rashi: Rebbi Eliezer comes and says that, given the lesson to be learned from the story of Nadav and Avihu, this line of reasoning is ruled out from the onset.

Nadav and Avihu, of course, were extremely great, having attained the loftiest spiritual heights – to the extent that Moshe told Aharon that “they are greater than me and you,” and G-d referred to them as “‘with those who are close to Me (I will be sanctified)’ – with My chosen ones’ (Rashi).” But since “they taught Torah law in the presence of Moshe, their master,” they were severely punished. That is, on account of their lack of proper deference (bittul) to their master.

Thus, [to underscore the latter point] Rashi cites the name of the Talmudic statement’s author, Rebbi Eliezer:

Rebbi Eliezer was praised [by his contemporaries] in the most complementary and fantastic terms, lauding his wisdom and outstanding prowess in Torah knowledge. Nevertheless, it is Rebbi Eliezer who said, “One who articulates words of Torah that he had not heard from his teacher causes the Divine presence to depart from the Jewish people.”

I STAND BETWEEN G-D, YOUR L-RD, AND YOU

The Gemara tells about Rebbi Eliezer that when they came to ask his opinion about a certain law, notwithstanding the fact that he was extremely revered, “as the Torah when it was given at Mount Sinai” – to the extent that a rock that he sat upon was referred to as “Mount Sinai” – nevertheless Rebbi Eliezer said that he could not respond, “because he never says something that he had not heard from his teacher.” Indeed, “contradicting the opinion of one’s teacher is like opposing the Divine presence.”

That is, even after the Giving of the Torah, it “is like opposing the Divine presence,” for one still needs [a Rebbe, a Moshe Rabbeinu, as described in the verse] “I stand between G-d, your L-rd, and you to tell you the word of G-d.” Connecting with G-d must be through an intermediary, a Rebbe. If not, it “is like opposing the Divine presence.” To be precise with the wording: It is not that he is “lacking (the Divine presence)” but “contradicting/opposing” – he is separated from the Divine presence, separated from G-d Himself!

If so, how is it possible that one could have Torah but no Rebbe?!

Who among the Jewish people is as great as Nadav and Avihu? Their only sin was (as expressed in the saying), “The children of Aharon did not die accept for the fact that they taught Torah law in the presence of Moshe their master.” Yet the devastating effect of this shortcoming impacted not only them; it caused the opposite of the revelation of the Divine presence among the Jewish people!

So too in every generation, every year, and every day – “One who articulates words of Torah that he had not heard from his teacher causes the Divine presence to…” If one has no Rebbe it is impossible for him to have the Divine presence!

(From the address of Shabbos Parshas Shmini 5726, bilti muga)

 

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