web analytics
July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Shimon Peres meets with the family of fallen IDF soldier Max Steinberg.
Four Notes on The Situation
Latest Judaism Stories
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

We are all entrusted with the mission of protecting our fellow Jews

The Yabok River

Today, we remain Hashem’s nachal.

Lenny1

Will Your brothers go to war, while you sit (in peace) here? (Bamidbar 32:6)

PTI-071814

Perhaps, just perhaps, we can relate to this: whenever we feel distant from Hashem, that is the Churban.

Over the next 2 weeks covering portion Matot and Maasei, Rabbi Fohrman will bring order to confusion.

Our home is in the center of the Holy Land, surrounded by (what else?) green hills and valleys.

“Sound fine,” said Mrs. Schwartz. “In the middle, paint their names, Shoshana and Yehonasan. He spells his name Yehonasan with a hei and is very particular about it!”

Question: I recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to say HaGomel. When I mentioned this to the officers of my synagogue, however, they told me – as per the instructions of the synagogue’s rabbi – that I would have to wait until Shabbos to do so. I was not given any reason for this and did not wish to display my ignorance, so I quietly acquiesced. Can you please explain why I had to wait?

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

We may not recognize the adverse affect of eating forbidden foods, but they leave an indelible imprint.

There are several rules that one must adhere to when making a neder.

Important message for Jews in the Diaspora: In times of need run to Israel rather than from Israel.

The negotiation between Moses and the tribes of Reuven and Gad is a model of conflict resolution.

Once again we find ourselves alone – a little lamb among wolves.

When we return to our routines, things don’t have to go back to exactly the way they were.

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

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

Cohen-Rabbi-J-Simcha-NEW

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.

Question: Why is Shavuot celebrated as a two-day Yom Tov?

Question: Can one fulfill the mitzvah of Sefirat HaOmer via shome’a k’oneh (listening to someone else say the necessary words without saying anything oneself)?

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

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: