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Tuesday
Oct152019

Can the Rebbe Make a Mistake? 

The one-word answer to this question is: NO!

Now I know that may sound unreasonable to some, especially as it suggests that a Rebbe has a quality that arguably should be attributed to no one other than Hashem Alone, and that’s why this short and true answer deserves elaboration and a presentation of sources.

Let us begin with a few stories which will help us understand the different details involved:

1. In Likkutei Dibburim the Frierdiker Rebbe records an amazing vort in the name of Reb Aizik Homiler: “Adam HaRishon was not a Rebbe, and the proof being - that he was able to make a mistake [by the chet eitz hadaas].”

Now obviously the question is: How can you say that Adam HaRishon wasn’t a Rebbe?! A Rebbe means someone who has a Neshama Klalis – a communal and general neshama that includes all the neshamos of his generation. Adam HarRishon was the most Klalusdike Neshama (all-inclusive soul) that ever existed – within his neshama, was included all neshamos of all generations, until the times of Moshiach!

And the answer is simple. Yes, his neshama was great, but he didn’t have the “shesh meos elef ragli ha’am” - he didn’t have a flock, and the koach a Rebbe has, is received from his Chassidim. (Watch the full video for some stories illustrating this point).

2. There is another story that occurred with the Mitteler Rebbe and the Tzemach Tzedek: When the Mitteler Rebbe became Rebbe and moved to Lubavitch, the Tzemach Tzedek - who was very close to the Alter Rebbe - moved away to Kremenchuk so that he would not be distracted by all the happenings at the new Rebbe’s court and would be able to fully devote himself to his davening and studies.

The Mitteler Rebbe wrote a letter to the Tzemach Tzedek requesting him to come to Lubavitch, promising him that he will not “bother him” with any “jobs”. And so it was. But the Mitteler Rebbe gave one task to the Tzemach Tzedek - to answer the nigleh teshuvos (Halachic responsa). Being that the Mitteler Rebbe had no time and his entire koch, cheishek and geshmak (passion and interest) was Chassidus, he therefore directed the Tzemach Tzedek, along with his Chavrusah - the great Gaon and famous Chassid - Reb Nechemia Dubrovna, with that task.

The protocol was that they would do the research to answer the question, prepare the letter and give it over to the Mitteler Rebbe for approval. In all their experience the Rebbe never made a correction. One day, a very urgent letter arrived and the Mitteler Rebbe wasn’t available. The Tzemach Tzedek made a simple calculation and decided to send off the answer to the emergency question. A day or two later when the Rebbe became available again, the Tzemach Tzedek showed him the answer, to which the Mitteler Rebbe, commented “du host fargesen a tosfos”. - You missed a clear commentary of the Tosafos which renders your answer as wrong!

After the Tzemach Tzedek located that Tosfos and understood his mistake, he was dismayed at his error and the Mitteler Rebbe consoled him, saying: “zorgt zich nisht, du bist noch nisht kein rebbe” – don’t worry, you are still not a Rebbe.

Implying that once a Rebbe becomes a Rebbe, Chassidim “hold him up” and he will not make a mistake.

The Tzemach Tzedek was obviously a very great person, but at that point, he was still, after all, a person. And a person is prone to err. Once he became a Rebbe however, it is impossible to make a mistake. Being a Rebbe, he has koach from the Chassidim which endows him with a divine power and divinity is flawless. G-dliness is perfect. It doesn’t make mistakes. [Just as a Navi speaks the words of Hashem and doesn’t make mistakes.]

***

So, if the Rebbe is infallible, why would he ever erase anything? A very common thing by the Rebbe, and all the Rebbeim is that they would all write and re-write.

Someone once asked the Rebbe, if a Rebbe doesn’t make mistakes, why then does he have an eraser on the back of his pencil? The Rebbe answered: “It’s not a question about a mistake, rather a matter of growth. There is always room to grow. No matter what level a person is on - he can always rise higher.”

When we discuss the “mistakes” that Moshe Rabbeinu and the Avos made, it’s not like the mistakes that you and I make, because our mistakes are errors, based on a fault or flaw. We didn’t want to do it, and it was wrong even while it was done, and it was only done in error.

By a Tzaddik, the concept of mistakes is that there is a higher truth, and there is no limit to a higher truth. On this basis there is always room for growth.

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