Thursday, 24 April 2008

How to Choose a Rabbi and a Mentor

One of the toughest challenges in our current generation is in being able to identify the right Rebbe (Torah teacher) for ourselves. There are many rabbis available to choose from, and we are confronted daily with the very real and difficult decision of knowing who to choose as our mentor.

We all need a mentor! Someone to advise us and suggest to us the correct paths to take - especially when we're simply lost! But we're very much an orphaned generation, apparently lacking true leadership. Who can we choose to help us through life, guiding us correctly so that we can actually merit to fulfill our duties and tasks in this world. Who do we turn to for help?!

There are a plethora of different "divisions" within Yiddishkeit. We know of varied groups, ranging from Reform and Conservative Judaism, to the more traditional Orthodox varieties. Within Orthodox, we find another multitude of divisions existing. We can find ourselves amongst the group of Jews from Lithuania - Litvish Jews or Jews from Spain and North Africa - Sefardi Jews. We may also feel comfortable following the ways of the Baal Shem Tov and becoming a Chassid. Then again there are another multitude of Chassidim, ranging from the more well known groups such as Lubavitch and Breslov to the lesser known groups (although certainly widely known in Eretz Yisrael) such as Rachmistrivka, Bobov, Boston, Kaliver, Sanz etc.

It can become rather confusing - especially when all we're really after is TRUTH! It seemed easier in the old days. There was simply Moses who lead the Jewish people out of Egypt and taught them right from wrong. Then came Joshua, faithful to his mentor's mission. Slowly the Judges came, then the Prophets, the Men of the Great Assembly, and before long there were truly leaders of 10's, of 100's and of 1000's. In our generation we see this clearly, and all we want is to find the right teacher who will guide us correctly. We need that special someone who can simply understand who we are! Torah is infinite! It can certainly be a daunting task even for the advanced student, let alone the novice, in deciding what parts to learn first and how to cope with the two sides of the person tugging away to obtain control of the body all at once. One moment we're in awe of the abundance of Torah we crave - be it Chumash (the Bible) or the Prophets and Writings. Whether it be a sudden inspiration to work through the entire Oral Law by completing the learning of the Talmud (a gigantic task!) It may be a desire to actually learn the roots of Halacha as discussed in the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch - works filled with THOUSANDS of chapters! Or it may be the sudden urge to want to delve into the mysteries of Torah - from the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the Chabad Rebbes - to the depths of the deepest secrets of Torah included in the writings of the Zohar (by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) and the writings of the holy Ari (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria.)

Then of course, within moments after all the excitement has warn off, our other side gets the better of us and we get carried away with a day of shopping for the latest fashions! Or it may be just enjoying a few days out, eating the finest foods. It may be our excitement at being successful in business and being able to purchase a beautiful and spacious home - or a brand new zippy car!

We get stuck and lost not knowing just what to do and when. It can become frightening. We need a teacher who can aid us and help us grow correctly so that we keep our feet on the ground and our heads in the heavens! We need to live in this physical world AND be constantly attached to G-d at the same time! So who do we rely upon for good advice?

In this video, the Lubavitcher Rebbe speaks about the various things to take into account in choosing the right mentor for one. It's a must for anyone serious enough to realise the importance of balancing one's physical life with one's holy spiritual life!

For more information see these truly meaningful and sincere articles (part 1 and part 2) written by Rabbi Shimon Jacobson from at:

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