web analytics
April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Who Is Your Rebbe?


Orthodox man praying

Orthodox man praying
Photo Credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90

Question: Do older Jews have a rebbe?

Answer: Recently I met with one of the gedolei yisrael in Yerushalayim to discuss a halachic issue. In the course of our conversation he asked me, “Who is your rebbe?” The question seemed out of place. I am a great-grandfather who has served as a rav for 50 years in some of the most prestigious rabbinical positions in the United States and Australia. I have also written seven sefarim on halacha. Should someone at my age and with my experience have a rebbe?

When this gadol b’yisrael posed his question, I must say I looked at this octogenarian rav and tried to imagine whether he had a rebbe. But I felt that was not a proper thought to voice and so instead responded, “I have no rebbe today.”

In fact, though, my response was not quite accurate. I have three rebbeim: my father, my father-in-law, and my rosh yeshiva. All are in shamayim. My father, HaRav Meyer Cohen, z”l, was the menahel of the Agudat HaRabonim for over 20 years. He decorated our home with sefarim and devoted his life to Torah and klal Yisrael, setting the tone for my life as well. My father-in-law, HaRav Yaakov Nayman, z”l, lived to over 100 and was always available to respond with a Brisker approach to halachic issues of both a personal and communal nature. (He was a talmid muvhak and ben bayit of the Brisker Rav.) Finally, my rosh yeshiva, HaGoan HaRav Yitzchok Hutner, z”l, the brilliant head of Metivta Rabainu Chaim Berlin, helped mold my approach to Torah. Even though these rabbanim are no longer alive, they still impact my life.

Many years ago I met with Rav Waldman, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Nir in Kiryat Arba. At that time I asked him who his rebbe was. He responded, “Reb Simcha, are you not aware that people like us in their forties no longer have a living rebbe? My rebbe is not alive; he resides in shamayim.”

The truth is that I’ve come to realize that as we grow older the role of a rebbe in our life changes. The Gemara states that Rabbi Eliezer contended that he never said any words of Torah that he did not hear from his rebbe (Sukkah 28a). Yet, from a pragmatic point of view, this statement cannot possibly be meant literally. Perhaps what he meant was that whenever he had a halachic or hashkafic problem, he always asked himself how his rebbe would have responded. “What would my rebbe have thought? What would he have done?” In this manner, his rebbe constantly permeated his life.

I still recall asking my father-in-law, HaRav Nayman why he always wore his hat, kapoteh and tie even in the privacy of his own home. He responded, “This is the custom of my rebbe, the Brisker Rav. I am simply following his minhag.” When asked a halachic question, he thought about what his rebbe would have said. As such, throughout his life, Rav Nayman lived with the guidance of the Brisker Rav.

I suggest that’s the way to have a rebbe even at an advanced age. I should not have been startled by the gadol b’yisrael’s question about whether I had a rebbe. I should have said, “Yes, I have a rebbe.”

Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, is the author of several books on Jewish law. His latest work, Jewish Prayer The Right Way (Urim Publications), will be published in the winter.

About the Author: Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, is the author of eight sefarim on Jewish law. His latest, “Jewish Prayer the Right Way” (Urim Publications), is available at Amazon.com and select Judaica stores.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Who Is Your Rebbe?”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
ISIS affiliates murdering Christian Africans in Libya
African Christians Slaughtered by ISIS-Affiliates
Latest Judaism Stories
Hertzberg-041715

Lincoln was not a perfect man. But he rose above his imperfections to do what he thought was right not matter the obstacles.

Arch of Titus

Adon Olam: An Erev Shabbat Musical Interlude Courtesy of David Herman

Daf-Yomi-logo

Oh My, It’s Copper!
‘…And One Who Is A Coppersmith’
(Kethubboth 77a)

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

The omer sacrifice of loose barley flour was more fitting for animal consumption than human consumption and symbolizes the depths to which the Jewish slaves had sunk.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

When Chazal call not eating treif food a chok, that refers to how it functions.

His mother called “Yoni, Yoni!” Her eyes, a moment earlier dark with pain, shone with joy and hope

Kashrut reminds us that in the end, God is the arbiter of right and wrong.

In a cab with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach & Rav Elayshiv discussing if/when to say tefillas haderech

The successful student listens more than speaks out; wants his ideas critiqued, not just appreciated

Why would it not be sufficient to simply state lehoros from which we derive that in such a state one may not issue any psak?

What do we learn about overcoming loss from the argument between Moses and Aaron’s remaining 2 sons?

Each of the unique roles attributed to Moshe share the common theme that they require of and grant higher sanctity to the individual filling the role.

Because of the way the piece of my finger had been severed, the doctors at the hospital were not able to reattach it. They told me I’d have to see a specialist.

“The problem is that the sum total is listed is $17,000. However, when you add the sums mentioned, it is clear that the total of $17,000 is an error. Thus, Mr. Broyer owes me $18,000, not $17,000.”

More Articles from Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen
Cohen-Rabbi-J-Simcha-NEW

Once this took place, no Beit Din could annul its practice but for an entirely different reason. A minhag accepted by klal Yisrael becomes an obligation that must be practiced.

Cohen-080814-Sign

Is God apologizing for taking away my Father? Is God telling me that He is sorry?

Question: At Birkat Kohanim, who says the phrase, “Am k’doshecha ka’amur”?

Question: How can one determine whether someone is a true disciple of a rav, Rebbe, or rosh yeshiva?

Question: Does halacha agree with the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade permitting women to have abortions?

Question: When someone puts on a talit to lead services, should he recite a berachah?

Question: A number of synagogues feature bar mitzvah celebrations for elderly Jews. Is this proper?

Hashem understood their complaint and therefore selected the ritual mitzvah of sukkah to test them.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/who-is-your-rebbe/2012/02/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: