Ha’azinu

By Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz, October 6, 2008
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"My lesson shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, as rains upon the grass, and as showers upon herbs" Deuteronomy 32:2

The midrashic anthology, the Yalkut Shimoni, commenting on the above verse, says that one should gather the words of Torah just as rain is gathered into a pit. In order to teach Torah to others, it is not sufficient to posses a partial knowledge or sparse understanding of Torah.

Rather one must be filled to the brim with Torah knowledge and understanding, for it is only then that the Torah one teaches is truly from the source.

Indeed, we are taught in Pirkei Avot (the Ethics of the Fathers) that war comes to the world on account of those who teach inappropriate Torah law. (5:9) Rashi associates this dire consequence with the perversion of justice. For if Torah is misunderstood and not taught correctly, those in authority will inevitably behave wrongly.

Rav Aharon Soloveitchik, the 20th-century American scholar, commenting on the talmudic statement that "a rav should be like a messenger of the Lord of hosts" writes that there are three prerequisites for a person to be considered a rav and guide of the law.

He must be consistent in his conduct and teaching in reflecting "the voice of Sinai". He must see himself as a messenger of God - "ana avdah Lekudsha Brich Hu" ("I am the servant of the Holy One, Blessed be He"). And thirdly, the rav, or moreh hora'ah, teacher of law, must communicate unlimited love for people and specifically for fellow Jews.

Sadly, all too often there are those who are simply ill-equipped and lack the correct training to decipher or rule on Jewish law. These often well- meaning individuals bring disaster on our people. It is our task to appoint and consult qualified, well-trained rabbis who are capable of deciding Jewish law and teaching it in the appropriate way.

    Last updated: 11:49am, October 6 2008