Wise Guy

Who needs a rabbi? We all do.

Comments (14)

(14) ruth housman, July 24, 2008 5:15 PM

finding one's way to wisdom

I understand that some rabbis are very wise, and others, not so wise, and some, not wise at all. Like most people. I have pesonally found that I have yet to be heard, truly heard, at the deepest levels, by any rabbi. I have found an abundance of the need to tell and not the listening.

Any rabbi who truly listens, and then speaks from the heart, as if he or she has understood me, then there is dialogue. So far I fear I have encountered much arrogance and the need to hear their own voice. In terms of the ethics of life, and life presents ethical dilemmas on a constant basis, I have learned to listen to the voice within and I have also learned to study on my own and to spend time in nature, the greatest teacher of all.

I look at language and there is one word in English that contains rabbi and that is the word "rabbit". I can say that rabbits are known for the sensitive ears and their very sensitive skin, because this is why there is so much unconscionable testing of cosmetics on rabbits. I am saying that rabbis need to learn something and that is, LISTEN and RESPECT, because knowing one doesn't have all the answers opens up the entire world.

(13) Chaya, July 24, 2008 4:51 AM

Once again you said the right thing at the right time. We made a big decision tonight and then I watched this video and it validated our decision based. We were fighting what our Rabbi was saying but he was right.

(12) Michele, July 23, 2008 7:39 AM

Our Rabbi's personal mitzvah this week ...

Thank you once again Rebbetzin for your insightful comments. Just this week, our congregational Rabbi left for Israel on a vacation as he does 3 or 4 times per year. Before he leaves for his trip, he offers the congregation a chance to give him private notes to be placed in the Kotel or dollars (in any amount) to be given to Israelis in financial need. For the first time, I watched my 18-year old daughter get excited at the thought of giving our Rabbi a note -- in essence -- for Hashem to read. You see, my daughter is getting ready to move to college and even though the college is here in town, it is not a Kosher college and she plans on continuing her "kosher-ness" while studying there. She told me that she needs Hashem to give her the strength and wisdom to carry on these tasks in a world that may not be accommodating to her and our Jewish ways. My daughter felt comfortable and proud to give her small and very private handwritten note to our Rabbi to place in to one of the nooks and crevises of the Israeli Wall. When I watched your video this week, it so reminded me of how wonderful a "bridge" a dedicated Rabbi can be.

If you ever are in Baltimore, I would love to have a Kosher lunch with you! Thank you again for your special weekly message.

(11) Judy, July 22, 2008 6:19 PM

This was really beautiful. Thank you!

(10) Shmuel Shultz, July 22, 2008 5:43 PM

glad I found my Rabbi

At the beginning of the Year on my late sister's birthday I decided to become Religious. The Rabbi I happened to find has been a great help to me. I am glad I found the real religion because I have been attending a conservative synagogue but before that a Seventh-day Adventist Church. I was raised first in a secular /Reform household. I am happy I found the Rabbi and community I did. I was depressed and haven't been since.

(9) Harold Lackman, July 22, 2008 3:55 PM

General Comments

When I open my emails daily, the first item that I always look for are your comments.

My wife and I gather around the computer and listen often times more than once. We find that most are great and some are absolutely fantastic. Those we save to play when we have company.

Keep up the good work. We are looking forward to many years of listening to your insight on everyday life situations.

(8) shells, July 22, 2008 10:18 AM

thanks Lori

thanks ... for your message... and also the link to share you with my Friends in Facebook! x hugs x

(7) R, July 22, 2008 9:28 AM


> Accept that a top Rav is the closest thing we have on Earth to the Almighty. If you disobey your Rav, it is like disobeying Hashem himself.

Such a comment is utter heresy and in no way supported by Torah, which does not suggest the existence of infallible humans. We must all assume responsibility for our own decisions even if we seek the advice of wiser people than ourselves.

(6) cherrybim, July 22, 2008 9:05 AM

Just let a Rav in you life.

I think the point of Lori's address is to acquire a Rav who is well renowned for his expertise in Torah knowledge and his ability to use this expertise to: (1) guide you and your family along the path of spiritual growth, (2) understand and evaluate the underlying concerns that you bring to him and (3) relay to you his judgment as to your best course of action to follow.
A Rav has been mandated by G-d to administer chesed – altruistic kindness to those in need. A Rav is not just a spiritual Guru or adviser. Your Rav is someone you trust absolutely and have chosen to the exclusion of everyone else, to hold fast to his conclusions and counsel. If in response to your problem he directs you to seek the opinion of another named Rav, that's the only time when you go to another Rav.
Don't be embarrassed to tell all, there is very little your Rav has not seen or heard before.
Also, do not be concerned that his time is too valuable for your concerns. Speak to him often. Lean on him, that's what he's there for.
If you find that you are not receiving the attention you need from your Rav, then this particular Rav is not the one for you.
You will find by having your own Rav, a good deal of the burden has been lifted

(5) Yisroel Pollack, July 22, 2008 8:29 AM

Shopping Around

If I shop around for and interview rabbis and decide which one is for me based on their responses to my questions, am I not (once again) injecting my own subjective perspective into the process? If so, how can I ever hope to attain objectivity? If my approval of someone as a rabbi was based on my agreement with what he said, then why did I need to consult him in the first place? As an alternative, wouldn't it make more sense for me to submit to him and surrender my allegiance to his opinions and teachings, irrespective of whether they support my independently arrived at views or not? Isn't THAT the true meaning of MAKING a rabbi for oneself? On an unrelated matter, Mrs Palatnik tch"y, it's good (refreshing) to hear you consistently using the male gender personal pronoun when speaking of a rabbi. Too many people have lately been falling into the error of thinking that being a rabbi is a gender-neutral affair. Best wishes.

(4) Anonymous, July 21, 2008 8:41 PM

Wish I would have listened to my rabbi

Right on, Lori. For some reason, I did not listen to my Rav and several other Rabbis who told me not to marry my first wife. They saw serious problems ahead. Why didn't I listen? Because they didn't stamp their foot and say, "Are you crazy to marry this person? I'm not letting you out of the room, until you call it off!!!"

My own Rav gave me logical reasons that there would be serious problems and he refused to marry us. Other Ravs tried to give me hints in the presence of my fiance that flew past me. Finally, we found a Rav to marry us and we he shortly after divorced us. It was a very bad mistake.

What did I learn? Choose your Rav carefully. Make sure that his counsel and standing is widely accepted in the community. Stay away from any Rav that does not have this standing, especially if upright people question his decisions and actions.

Accept that a top Rav is the closest thing we have on Earth to the Almighty. If you disobey your Rav, it is like disobeying Hashem himself. In the current parshiyot, remember the disastrous consequences that came about every time the Bnai Yisrael disobeyed Hashem.

On important issues like marriage, be very aware that it is very easy not to follow his instructions completely and be swayed by emotion.

If you are a Baal Teshuvah like myself, be aware that you do not have the observant family structure to guide you. You may be more susceptible to making mistakes.

Very likely, a respected Rav knows things from counseling countless others in your situation that you do not know.

Certainly in choosing a spouse, if they don't feel you are a match and refuse to marry you, take it very seriously. Remember, you probably are not the first couple they have counseled not to get married. If they know you, rest assured they have your best interests at heart.

Also, be aware that people have different ways of telling you things depending on their personality and the situation. Look for nuances when people are talking.

On important issues like marriage, private counsel in confidentiality may lead to the most direct advice.

You should strive to have a relationship with one or several Rabbeim that know you very well. Ideally, they should be guiding you in learning, halachah, and other areas.

It is very hard to sit before a Rav with your fiance for the first time and ask him if you are right for each other. If you go to a Rav that does not know you well, it may mean that you are not taking very seriously what may be the most important decision you will ever make.

In the observant community, the relationship people have with their Rav is a tremendous asset in avoiding mistakes and living a fulfilling life. There is no correlation with this relationship in the secular world. It is a sign of the superior way of doing things in our religion.

One more thing, since I am not a Rav, check with your own Rav about everything I just said.

(3) Jenn, July 20, 2008 9:53 PM

Which One?

Right when I heard you talking about this i felt like it was a custom-made message from G-d!!!I have thought about this concept a lot, and I have come to the conclusion that I really need a spiritual adviser, but I was too nervous to open myself up to someone else. So I was left with my doubts... then when i heard your beautiful, sweet-spoken message, I felt like G-d was telling me, "come on! what are you waiting for!?" So, now it's time to eliminate those doubts and take the plunge!! I have a few teachers whom I have a close relationship with, but I just don't know if it's better to confide in a married person, because they're older and more experienced, or to choose a single person because I can relate to them more, and would feel more comfortable talking to them. Any suggestions??? Thanks Lori, for the great wake- up call!!!

(2) SusanE, July 20, 2008 8:35 PM

Rabbi? Aish has Been Wonderful.

Lori, Thank you for a wonderful and timely and much needed subject this week.
It would be so good to have a Rabbi to speak with once or twice a year about making a decision based on Torah.

I have been in contact with the Aish Rabbis (ask the rabbi) about a few things I didn't understand in the past several years.
They have been so kind and so generous and so very very wise in their answers. They have given me information to digest on my own and also helped me to find answers to complicated questions.

One of my comments and questions was to a Rabbi who authored an article on Aish recently. I didn't agree with him and sent off an email. I was not so nice as I should have been. I didn't copy my email so don't remember just what I said to him. I shudder to think.

That Rabbi answered me back and was absolutely kind and so generous to me. I knew immediately I was wrong, in fact I knew the second I hit the send button and wished my words were never typed.
He never embarrassed me or caused me to feel guilty for my words. He was kind and wonderful and answered me perfectly. This is a Rabbi who would be wonderful in anybodys search.
I think it is time for a Rabbi search for me.
Thanks to you again Lori, for a great insight.

(1) Rosen, July 20, 2008 6:22 AM

spiritual advising

Thanks again, Lori! It's important to have spiritual advisors including a Rabbi, family members, and learning partners to guide you. Plus, Aish.com is another great way to help with spiritual advice.


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