Wednesday, April 13, 2005

They Taught Me Well

A number of years ago in Israel there was a bit of a turf war going on between the Supreme Court and the Rabbanut. It blew up into a really big issue and as is typical in Israel, there was a big demonstration planned to show support for the chareidi position. Naturally, all the "Gedolim" were encouraging everyone to turn out to show their support, protest, etc. I didn't particularly disagree with their position (actually, I didn't really have an informed opinion on the issue at all. Like most of these sort of things, I just went along with the popular consensus on stuff like this.), but I did feel a certain empathy for a small opposition group that had set up an "anti-the issue" camp not far from the main demonstrators. I mentioned to a friend that I was thinking of showing up to their protest also and somehow it got back to my rebbe who felt he had to speak to me about it. So, he starts telling me how wrong it would be for me to go to this opposition group, it would be a chillul Hashem, etc. and I innocently tell him that I really don't understand the issue very well and don't see why I should have to go along with what everyone else is doing. (Ok, it wasn't so innocent. I pretty much knew how he'd react.) And he answers me, in the strongest possible terms, "Because the gedolim say you should go! Whether you understand it or not!"

And right then, I think I had a sort of epiphany. Looking back, it seems kind of strange, because I had heard the chant of "Because the gedolim say so" hundreds of times prior, and never before did I react like I felt just then. But when he said it to me that instant, all of a sudden I had a feeling of how wrong such an attitude was. To demand from me such an unswerving allegiance to an objective that I knew nothing about, all because someone else had deemed it important? I mean, I understand that they want me to value what they value. But if I don't, then I'm supposed to just act as if I do, even when I don't?!

But of course. That was exactly what I was supposed to do. Because "The Gedolim" speak the truth and know what's right, and any person with good sense will do what's right even if they don't necessarily understand why it is so.

I ended up not visiting the small opposition group and dutifully attending the massive chareidi protest like my rebbe had told me to do. I didn't enjoy it very much. I actually felt uncomfortable being there because I realized that I didn't really identify with the cause. But at least I knew that I was doing the right thing. Because the gedolim were for it. And they always know what's right. Even if I didn't understand why. Even if I thought otherwise. I knew and understood without a doubt that I could never be right when the gedolim were saying that I was wrong.


The Rabbi's Kid said...

I had big arguments in my (supposedly) modern Yeshiva, and ended up being one of the few people not to go to the political show of force.


as you can well imagine you are now in CHEREM

The Hedyot said...

Really? What was it this time that got me there?

Sinbad said...

A parrot or a machine can repeat what others say - thinking for yourself requires independance of mind and of spirit - and courage. "Live free or die!"

Question Authority - before Authority questions you.

Millard Boos said...

I''ll be back. Later :)

The back of the hill said...

"Because the gedolim say you should go! Whether you understand it or not!"

That's a classic!

Sounds less than an iota separate from the Catholics.