Monday, March 3, 2008

Where Does a Rebbe's Special Status Come From?

Translated from the Sefer Sipurei Chassidim, by Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin.

"וְיִקְחוּ-לִי תְּרוּמָה" - "And your shall take, to Me, Teruma." - Shmos 25:2

The Tzadik, Rav Avraham from Slonim, z"l, before he was accepted as Rebbe to fill the place of the Tzadik of Rav Moshele Kabriner, z"l, was a Rosh Yeshiva in Slonim. After Rav Moshele Kabriner z"l's Petira, practically all of the Chassidim and Talmidim of Kabrin came and took cover in the shade of his (R' Avraham's) wings. And they accepted him as their Rebbe and sheppard. At the same time, there was an Av Beis Din in Slonim, the well known genius, Rav Yehoshua Isaac from Slonim, z"l, the author of the Emek Yehoshua and the Noam Yerushalayim. And this Rov was among the Misnagdim, opponents of the path of Chassidus. One time, the two of them met at a Simcha. The Rav turned to the Tzadik with the following quesiton:

"What is the meaning of this, Rav Avraham? Just the other day, we knew you as a man like all other men. How is it that suddenly, you have become a 'Tzadik,' and they call you "Holy! Holy!"?

the Tzadik answered him, "What's so unbelievable? Don't we find in the same thing in the Torah? When a Jew comes and separates a measure or two of pile of simple wheat for the sake of Teruma, it becomes holy Teruma! It is forbidden to Non-Kohanim and those in a state of Tuma, and it must be eaten in a state of holiness and purity. So too it is with a simple person. When a whole congregation of Jews separate him out for the sake of holiness and they call him "Rebbe," through this act its self, true holiness actually descends into the person.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture of Rav Avraham Weinberg of Slonim, the [I believe] grandson of the Rav Avraham of Slonim quoted in this story, courtesy of wikipedia)

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Izbitza said...

you forgot the end where the rov says- but the halacha is that if a shoiteh makes something trumah- his trumah isn't trumah

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Thanks Reb Reuven. I was trying to keep it positive.

(Dixie Yid rolls his eyes)


-Dixie Yid

Izbitza said...

They asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe about what to write in the yohrtzei book for the town he was from about his brothers (one was mentally ill and the other wasn't frum)and he answered- the truth. (heard from my Rebbe)

Gandalin said...


Very good story. It explains a lot, and it is true.


Chaim B. said...

The implication of the story is a tzadik is no different than anyone else except for the fact that he has been elected as leader by followers. This is contrary to the Ba'al haTanya, who writes that the tzadik's neshoma is a gift bestowed by G-d (Tanya ch 14) and is inhererently different than a normal person's.
Nafka minah: neicha according to the Ba'al haTanya there could be a person hidden away somewhere who Hashem's grants the status of tzadik to by virute of his avodah, but according to the Slonimer, how can there ever be a tzadik nistar without followers if the 'shem tzadik' is s fucntion of group election?

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...




Actually, I already answered your question by titling the post "Where Does a *Rebbe's* Special Status come from." By using the word "Rebbe" and not "Tzadik," I implied that my answer to your question is that there is a difference between how I read what the purupose of the story and the idea of Tzadik. Of course a person is a tzadik or not independant of others' recognition of him or accepptance of him as Tzadik. The story was actuall about, according to my reading, where the special "Rebbe" status comes from, not Tzadik status.

-Dixie Yid

Chaim B. said...

However, to quote the story - "What is the meaning of this, Rav Avraham? Just the other day, we knew you as a man like all other men. How is it that suddenly, you have become a ***'Tzadik,'*** and they call you "Holy! Holy!"?

If by Rebbe you mean a well known and followed tzadik, then the story is no more than a tautology, isn't it?

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

By Rebbe, I mean one who is traditionally recognized as a Baal Eitza, a wonder-worker, one with the extra perception people associate with Rebbes.

Perhaps you have never been in a position as the Rav of a community, but I think that when someone is the rabbi of a community or Shul, people assume more of you than you personally feel capable of. It feels wrong in a way for people to look up to you as a person greater than you feel you actually are. Therefore, this story comes to tell you that you get an extra level of hashgacha pratis and Hashem sees to it that things work out as if you really were the kind of person your people take you to be.

-Dixie Yid