Who is a Gadol, and How To Choose a Rabbi

(Pictured: Rabbi Meir Kahane z"tl h"yd)

Who is a Gadol, and How To Choose a Rabbi

by Rav Binyamin Zev Kahane, z"tl


One of the questions we are often asked is, "If you are so right, why don't the great rabbis agree with you?" Rabbi Kahane himself was approached with questions of this sort for years, as he stood alone proclaiming what he knew to be the Torah truth.

Many of our ideological opponents who use the argument that "the rabbis don't agree with you", (and therefore, we must be wrong.) often base themselves on the verse in our parsha, "and you shall observe to do according to all that they inform thee; ..thou shalt not deviate from the sentence which they shall tell thee, to the right hand, or to the left". From this, they claim, one must listen to the "gedole HaDor" -- the great rabbis of the generation.

No More Sanhedrin

First of all, certain concepts must be made clear so that the confusion surrounding this subject doesn't confuse us, too. The above verse is, unfortunately, no longer relevant for today, because it is talking about the Sanhedrin. This is explicitly pointed out a few verses beforehand, where it says, "you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord thy God shall choose.." -- that is, to the place where the Sanhedrin sat. This means that the moment a Sanhedrin is established (may it happen speedily in our days), there is an obligation upon each and every one of us to obey their halachic decisions. All those who differ, whether it be a famous Rosh Yeshiva or Admoor, will be forced to accept the decision of the Sanhedrin.

But until that time comes, the verse, "you shall observe to do according to all that they inform thee" has no practical halachic application for us.

There are No "Gedolim" If this is so, the crucial question is: Who do we listen to? Is there no da'at Torah (Torah view) today? Of course there is! But it is the task of every God-fearing Jew to seek out what the Torah view is, and find a rabbi who goes on the path of Torah truth, clinging to him as long as his rabbi remains on that path. What about the "gedolim"? We ask you: Who are the "gedolim"? Is it Rav X or Rabbi Y? Is it the known Torah genius, or perhaps his rival, no less the Torah genius, who so vastly differs with him?

Let's be honest. No one just accepts the opinion of the "gedolim". In reality, one fellow sees this particular rabbi as a Torah "gadol", and follows him; another fellow holds by another rabbi, and even if a hundred great rabbis line up against his rav, he will follow his rav through thick and thin.

Don't Forget The Fear Factor

Rabbi Kahane was endowed with the trait of emet - - truth. He was a Torah scholar who clung to truth without allowing emotions or other subjective factors affect his thinking. This is why we continue in his path - - whether it is accepted by the "gedolim" or not. The truth is, that privately, behind closed doors, many rabbis agreed with him, encouraging him to continue, but were afraid to admit so in public.

Rebbe? Gadol? The key ingredient must be: truth, with no fear. And this was the dominant characteristic of Rabbi Meir Kahane, z"tl.

(written by Rav Binyamin Kahane in 1991, shortly after the murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane)

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