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May 23, 2015 / 5 Sivan, 5775
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Authority In Israel

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A Voice

         Rabbi Eliezer now faced the rabbanim and said:

         If all these proofs are not enough for you let Heaven itself prove my position.”

         No sooner had he finished speaking than a voice from Heaven cried out:

         “Do not differ with Rabi Eliezer, for the law is as he says.”

         But not even this could help Rabi Eliezer. Once again Rabi Yehoshua rose and looking to Heaven said:

       “We cannot listen to a voice from Heaven. The Torah is not in Heaven. It was given to us at Sinai and in it was declared: ‘After the majority shall you go.’”

         “We cannot allow a minority to defy the rule of the many. This would doom the Torah.”

         And so it was decided, for the unity of the Torah, that Rabbi Eliezer who refused to obey the will of the majority would be placed under the ban.

The Storm

As Rabi Eliezer was under the ban, Rabban Gamliel boarded a ship for a voyage on the sea. Swiftly, the sky darkened and the waves lashed at the tiny craft. It appeared certain that the ship was doomed and that in only a matter of minutes she would go under with all aboard.

         Rabban Gamliel, seeking the danger said to himself: “It must be that all this is because of Rabi Eliezer.

         Raising his eyes to Heaven he spoke:

        “Sovereign of the Universe! It is known to You that all that I have done is not because of personal honor or for the honor of my father’s house. Rather it was done only for Your honor – that there not be multiply differences and divisions in Israel.”

         Hearing this, the Almighty commanded the sea to calm its wrath. Such is the importance of proper authority in Israel.

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The great giant of his time, the Vilna Gaon, once said that the Shaagas Aryeh had the entire Talmud and its commentators at his fingertips and that he could relate the gist of all of them and their sources in one hour.

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As for myself, I can only answer that the yetzer hara has persuaded me to take the position because of the honor.

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