Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Question & Answer With Long Beach Chasid - In The Presence Of A Rebbe

A Simple Jew asks:

Although a rebbe is the center of a chassid's life, do you find it ironic that many chassidim candidly express a feeling of being somewhat uncomfortable standing face to face alone with their rebbe? Could you describe your feelings when you have been in the presence of a tzaddik? What is it about the experience that you find disconcerting?

I think that different types of Jews have different connections and experiences with their rebbe and other tzaddikim. A Jew that grew up his whole life seeing his rebbe and other holy tzaddikim may react differently than someone who became religious later in life and meets these same holy tzaddikim. I can only speak for myself and my experiences. If anyone disagrees with what I say, its not that you disagree with me, its just you have different feelings for the same experience. I have met a few rebbes and each one was a different experience. I wouldn't call this experience uncomfortable, but instead a mixture of respect, awe, and inspiration. My meetings with these tzaddikim always end with me searching inside myself to try to raise my commitment to HaKodesh Baruch Hu and His Torah. I can't personally see what's uncomfortable about receiving advice on how to become a better husband, and a better Jew. I view my interaction with these tzaddikim on almost a Pardes level. I'm not sure if that is appropriate but that's how I feel about these experiences.

The Peshat is when you see the rebbe, shake his hand, and wish him a Good Shabbos. The Remez in meeting a rebbe is hearing him give over Torah, and Derash is having yechidus with a rebbe and asking him for advice and blessing. The Sod is something special, its a level of relationship that you can only have with your own rebbe, and this is something I search for whenever I am in the presence of a tzaddik. I couldn't imagine that is an awkward feeling, but the greatest feeling of all. To be in the presence of someone so pure of heart and mind that will help guide you to a closer relationship with Hashem. There are so many Chassidic stories of Chassidim and even rebbes who would travel to tzaddikim. Dangerous trips that would take many days just so be with their rebbe for a Shabbos or a Yom Tov. How could they do this if it made them uncomfortable? When the Sfas Emes was Rebbe the government built a railroad track from Warsaw to Ger exclusively to bring Chassidim to see him. Maybe times have changed now, but I think that if the Chassidim of old could travel to their rebbe with such excitement and anticipation then we should have no problem. From the way I see it, an outside who is coming to meet a rebbe should be much more uncomfortable than someone who grew up with the rebbe. When you come from the outside it feels like the rebbe is scanning your every thought, motion, action, and word to figure out what you are about. I could feel the Nikolsburger Rebbe's gaze pierce right through me. I was so careful with every word. Then I thought to myself, how I'm not as careful when speaking to Hashem, but to a man even if he is a tzaddik I'm careful. I can see how the exact opposite holds just as true. When the rebbe knows you, you have to live up to a certain expectations. It seems that different people respond differently around holy people and although discomfort could be one reaction, I believe it is a minority one.

I still don't have a rebbe yet, and I'm not entirely sure how one makes a rebbe for himself. When I met with the Nikolsburg Rebbe, there was an amazing connection between the rebbe, my wife and I. Was I supposed to tell him you are my rebbe? I'm sure when the time is right, and the rebbe is right I wont be asking myself these questions. The only discomfort I feel around rebbes is discomfort in where I hold and what I do. Anytime I'm around a rebbe I feel during and after the meeting this dissatisfaction in the way I am living my life and how I can being to grow again. Its almost as if the meeting is a shock to the routine treatment of Jewish life.


At March 18, 2009 at 5:55:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I often find different Rebbes have a different approach (obviously), some are much more stern and with a real sense of *power*. One glance into your eyes makes you feel as though they just looked all the way back to Sianai and saw you were the guy at the back of the crowd chatting up the girls.

Other Rebbes come with such a feeling of love and compassion you almost feel they are your father or Zadie and could run to them with any problems.

This was a really nice post, thank you so much.

At March 18, 2009 at 8:29:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first interaction with my rebbe was simple astonishment. It was our first meeting - he asked a question and I burst out crying. Somehow, he opened the gates of my heart as I blubbered about wanting to come closer to Hashem. He didn't say anything profound, but I felt such a warmth, as if he was a ziede who had known me his whole life. We corresponded by letter and phone a few times a year, interspersed with one or two visits a year, but in time, I developed (to this day I don't know why) a pachad. I am afraid to speak with the rebbe. When I call, I often hope that he's not available! I spoke to my rav and mashpiah about this, and he said, "this is the way you're supposed to feel. You should have a pachad."

At March 18, 2009 at 8:46:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 8:29: Would you reveal which rebbe it is? Sounds like a real great man.

At March 19, 2009 at 12:15:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the uncomfortable feeling in the original question refers to this pachad or fear. It's almost a fear of exposure but an exposure only to ourselves. The Rebbe sees through all of our nonsense, he might say one word or sentence that will show us so clearly how far "off" we are. But isn't this why we came to him in the first place? ;)

At March 19, 2009 at 12:53:00 PM EDT, Blogger Long Beach Chasid said...

The last anonymous said it perfect.

I didnt take the uncomfort as fear; fear of being exposed because that is why I would go to a Tzaddik so he could give me the right advice to rise to a higher level than whatever I am doing that I wouldnt want exposed.

I believe my teshuva is sincere and do not fear that Hashem has seen my short comings so I do not fear a man, no matter how holy because none are holier than HaKodesh Baruch Hu

At April 20, 2009 at 5:14:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to bz this is the Holy nikolsburg rebbe from Monsey N.Y


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