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.
(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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