27 Kislev 5782 / Wednesday, December 01, 2021 | Torah Reading: Mikeitz
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Want to grow spiritually? Stay close to your Rav even if his predecessor was “better”! Each Rav is equipped to help his generation live a Tora-oriented life.


Go to the Son  

R’ Eliezer Meizlish, the Av Beis Din of the town Ihel, once told me a story that he had heard from his father, the Binyan Dovid, who heard it directly from the chassid in their town whom this happened to.  

This chassid was distinguished and well respected and deeply connected to his Rebbe, R’ Yaakov from Komarna, zt”l. He would travel often to Komarna to be near his Rebbe, to learn Torah and chassidut, and to receive guidance on how to live a pure Torah-oriented life.  

When the Rebbe passed away, his son, a contemporary of this chassid, was appointed to be the Rebbe. This chassid no longer felt the same need to travel Komarna. The connection was lost; the chassid simply thought that the new Rebbe could not enhance his life in the same way his father had. This man remained a chassid without a Rebbe to learn from and to guide him.  

One night shortly after his passing, the Rebbe, R’ Yaakov, appeared to his chassid in a dream. “I have a son, and you refuse to travel to him!?” the Rebbe rebuked.  

The chassid was startled awake but thought this was just a silly dream. However, the following night the Rebbe appeared to him again in a dream. Still, the chassid remained unmoved. Finally, on the third night the Rebbe appeared again and, with the utmost sincerity and care in his voice, asked: “Why don’t you go to my only son whom I left behind?”  

This time, the chassid decided to make the journey to Komarna and visit the new Rebbe, the only son of his Rebbe, for the High Holidays. The chassid entered the Rebbe’s room, and immediately the new Rebbe asked him: “Until my father came to you three times in your dreams and commanded you to come here, you couldn’t come?”  

While this story is in incredible, it is not an isolated incident. We have many stories of tzadikim who, after their passing, would visit their followers in their dreams urging them to become devout followers of their successors.  


Foolish Logic  

Sometimes, when a Rebbe or Rav leave this world, some of their followers mistakenly choose to live in the past. They foolishly think that guidance and lessons of their late Rav can carry them forward; that they have learned enough to keep them on a straight and just path in life. They choose not to accept or seek out a new Rav. They think that the teachings of their late Rebbe would be able to sustain them.  

However, this way of thinking is deeply flawed. The new Rav, the new leader, has help from Hashem to be the new conduit for the teachings of their father. Their knowledge of Torah carries forward because it is empowered by the followers who believe in them. However, those who remain distant, who fail to choose a spiritual guide for their own lives, eventually may deviate from the straight path, a life of Torah and mitzvot.  


Each Leader for Each Generation  

There are even those who make the grave error of comparing the new Rebbes to the older ones who are no longer with us. With judgement, they assess that the new Rebbes are not as righteous or wise as those in the previous generations. They have nothing to offer. You cannot learn anything from them. This is completely contrary to the core principles of Yiddishkeit.  

Chazal teaches in Avoda Zarah (5a) that, “Hashem showed Adam, the first man, every generation and its expounders, every generation and its Sages, and every generation and its leaders.”  

Every generation is unique, with its own social and economic factors defined by its own struggles and challenges. Every generational shift presents opportunities and new spiritual risks in your avodat Hashem. However, Hashem generously provides each generation with the appropriate leaders and Rabbis who can help guide that generation, help the yidden navigate these trials and tribulations. He provides each generation with spiritual leaders whose wisdom and spirituality are appropriate for those times and who can help each person of that generation stay connected to Torah and Mitzvot.  

Every generation has the rabbonim – rabbis – that it needs to not only survive but to thrive.  


The Wise Learn from All …Always  

However, connecting to a Rebbe or Rav requires humility. Being humble allows space for you to connect to a Rebbe. Humility enables you to develop a relationship with someone who can guide you and help you expand your understanding of the Torah and adhere to the mitzvot.  

Haughtiness, on the other hand, pushes you further away from this connection. Do you think you know more than the Rebbe, that you have lived longer and have more life experiences, that you are wiser? Nonsense! That is pure ego and the yetzer hara trying to pull you away from the path of truth, a path that you can only remain steadfast on if you have a Rav. When someone has ill-placed pride, an unhealthy haughtiness, they refuse to listen to anyone else, to open their hearts to the minds of others.  

It teaches in Pirkei Avot (4:1), “Who is a wise man? He who learns from every person.” Interestingly, Chazal chooses to define a wise person as someone who “learns” in present tense as opposed to someone who “learned” from everyone, in the past tense. A wise person controls their ego. They remain humble and eager to constantly be learning from those around them.  

The sin of disrespecting teachers is detrimental to Yiddishkeit. The ability for any Jewish community to grow, to remain committed to our traditions, to Torah and mitzvot is dependent on that community having and respecting a Rabbi. Throughout the generations, we have seen communities who made a mockery of their rabbinic leaders, who failed to accept the next generation of leaders, who disrespected their rabbis. These communities, over time, spiritually deteriorate to the point that their children abandon Torah and mitzvot completely.  

Therefore, Rambam explains the Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (1:6) that teaches: "Make for yourself a Rav". Every single yid, regardless of whether they think they are smarter than the Rav, whether they think they are his equal, they must accept that person as a Rav in their life.  


Avraham Warns Eliezer  

Our parsha teaches us the story of Eliezer, the faithful servant and student of Avraham. However, what happened to Eliezer in the end? What was his eventual fate?  

Chazal teaches us (Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer Chapter 16 and Tractate Sofrim Chapter 21) that Eliezer oversaw every detail in Avraham’s household. This was the individual who Avraham entrusted with the critical job of finding an appropriate spouse for Yitzchak. Eventually, Avraham released Eliezer from his servitude. Hashem rewarded Eliezer by making him the King of Habashan. He became King Og. From servant to king in a lifetime.  

However, once he was king, he chose not to be close to Yitzchak. He felt that he had reached such heights through his relationship with Avraham, what more could he learn from the young successor, Yitzchak? He felt that he had reached a level in his own life that was beyond any guidance that Yitzchak, the son of his Rebbe, could offer. This haughtiness led him astray and eventually he lost all his faith. He became wicked, waged war against Moshe, was killed, and lost everything.  

This is what Avraham was alluding to when he said: "To my land and to my birthplace you shall go and take a wife (woman) for my son Yitzchak” (Bereishit 24:2).  

We can interpret these words on a deeper level:  

“To my land and to my birth” – can be interpreted as Avraham instructing Eliezer to follow in his ways after he was gone and to become a follower of his son, Yitzchak.  

Take” - that Eliezer should take himself to be as - “a woman" - throughout the kabbalistic seforim (books) a woman refers to someone or something that is a receptacle, who is open to receiving - "for my son Yitzchak".  

This deeper interpretation of this sentence teaches us, that Avraham was trying to save Eliezer from his own demise, by urging him to be a follower of Yitzchak and to continue receiving guidance from him, his Rebbe’s son and successor. Avraham was instructing him to remain true to his household, to accept Yitzchak as his new Rebbe eventually, and to always be a receptacle, to receive as much Torah knowledge, guidance, and influence from the new Rebbe as he could.  

May you internalize this lesson, remain humble and open to learning from everyone around you, especially your local Rabbi. Build a relationship and create space to accept their teaching and guidance. As generations shift and a new layer of Rabbanim arise, remain as faithful and loyal to that Da’at Torah, as you were to the predecessor. Know that Hashem provides each of you with the Rebbe and Rav that you and your generation needs to spiritually succeed.  

By doing so, may you and your family be blessed to only see success and growth in your Yiddishkeit. Amen. 



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