Make for yourself a Rabbi … Aseh l’cha Rav

It says in Pirkei Avot that one should make for yourself a Rabbi. There are slightly different variations on how this is understood. However, there is consensus that a person can spend time with and learn from as many rabbis as they like, but should have A rabbi that gives them halachic rulings and advice. We are not supposed to shop around for opinions on each matter until we get the one we like. Or go to our “makel rav” (lenient rabbi) when we want a lenient answer and our “mahmir rav” (strict rabbi) when we don’t.

I am frequently amazed at how many frum Jews I meet who tell me that they don’t have a rabbi. They may live near a rabbi, or know several, but they don’t have one Rabbi that they trust completely, see eye to eye with on Torah, and not only are prepared to live by what he says, but feel elevated and stronger as a Jew through their psak (rulings.)

The common response I hear is that “I don’t know someone like that” or “I can’t find one” or “I like the Rabbi in my town/city/shul/yishuv I just don’t feel that we are 100% on the same page but it’s what I’ve got.”

This is so very sad to me.  I wonder why the Rabbinic leadership doesn’t encourage people to seek this out, especially in our digital day. The Rabbi of our community is my friend, teacher, role model. He is an amazing person from whom I learn all of the time. But my posek, my Rav is many many miles away, and most of my communication with him is “cyber-psak”.

We have the most wonderful Rav. I met him through my husband. I often feel through my questions and conversations with him closer to Torah, closer to Hashem. I just believe that is how it is supposed to be. I don’t know that his answers would elicit the same feelings in other people; that’s why we each have to make for OURSELVES a Rabbi.

His answers make sense to me, and make me feel supported. Even when they are not what I want to hear. They make me want to grow in Torah in mitzvot.  There are times when my husband and I just cannot agree on what is the right thing to do. And there is no worry, because he can give us direction when we reach an impasse.

I don’t understand why this process of finding one Rav both spouses really relate to isn’t a requirement or pushed part of the process of getting married.

There has been much concern from my non-religious and non-Jewish relatives and friends that I let my Rabbi do my thinking for me. That is absolutely not the case, but I do ask him to elucidate halacha and to clarify the role of minhagim (traditions) in our lives. (Not growing up with any religious family members on either side of the family means very few minhagim.)

Pesach time of year is one where I, like most, spend more time checking with the Rav.  And I never stop feeling tremendous hakarat hatov – appreciation – that we have him.

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