Thursday, May 7, 2009
What is a Rebbe- A Story
About 140 years ago, The fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel (the Rebbe Maharash), had a Chassid who was a successful businessman.
Before undertaking any significant deal, he always consulted the Rebbe, and followed his instructions.
One time, the Chassid was offered a fabulous opportunity. If successful--and most certainly it would be--he would make millions.
The deal, however, required, that he invest almost his entire fortune. Before the Chassid would make such a major move, he set off to the city of Lubavitch, to seek the Rebbe's advice.
After hearing the details of the proposition, the Rebbe Maharash told him, that he should not go through with the deal.
The Chassid was stunned. He tried to convince the Rebbe, that this was a sound proposal; he described all of the great profits to be made, but to no avail. The Rebbe's answer was final:
A few days later, the would-be business partners came to the Chassid. When they heard that he was not interested, based upon the Rebbe's answer, they began to laugh at him.
"Certainly you didn't understand the Rebbe's words," they told him. "And anyway, maybe there were some important details you left out, that would solicit a different answer.
After all," they said, "isn't there a saying, that 'according to how you ask, that is how you're answered'?
Go back to the Rebbe and make sure to tell him all the details. You'll see, the answer will be different this time."
Back to Lubavitch the Chassid went. "Rebbe," he pleaded, "obviously I did not explain myself well enough last time. We're talking about tremendous sums of money. I can become rich overnight and give much Tzedakah [charity] as well..."
The Rebbe listened patiently once again. But at the end of the presentation his answer was simple and direct: "No, it's not worthwhile."
The Chassid made his way home, thinking about all the money he could have made, if only the Rebbe would have agreed. "The Rebbe doesn't even explain his reasons," thought the Chassid.
But his friends and family wouldn't let up. "It's forbidden to lose such an opportunity," they cried. "Go back to the Rebbe again and certainly the answer will be different."
In his third attempt, the Chassid tried everything, even begging the Rebbe to let him make the deal, but the Rebbe answered once again: "No."
When the Chassid came home, he couldn't stand up to the pressure of family and friends, and contrary to the Rebbe's advice, he signed the deal. He quieted his conscience by telling himself, that he would really give a lot of Tzedakah.
Unfortunately, things did not go well. In a short while, the Chassid lost all his money.
The Chassid realized how wrong it was to not follow the Rebbe's instruction. Full of regret, he made his way back a fourth time to see the Rebbe.
The Chassid spent a long time in private with the Rebbe. When he came out, he revealed only one thing that the Rebbe had told him.
"There are people," said the Rebbe, "big businessmen among them, who come to ask my advice concerning important matters.
Sometimes the issues are quite complex; matters which I have never engaged in, nor did my ancestors. So then why do they ask me my advice, and follow my instructions and counsel?
"There are three answers, each one matching a different type of Jew who comes to me.
1. "One person thinks, 'It's very simple. The Rebbe has Ruach HaKodesh--Divine Inspiration! The Rebbe is a G-dly man, a prophet.
It is G-d's words coming from his mouth, and therefore, we must follow him, no questions asked!'
2. "Another type," continued the Rebbe, "is a person, who operates on a different level, somewhat more down to earth.
'The Rebbe studies Torah all the time, and serves G-d with his entire being. His intellect is totally nullified to G-d's Will. Therefore, everything he says stems from Torah, and certainly his words will be fulfilled.'
3. "The third type," explained the Rebbe, "says, 'The Rebbe meets so many people, from all over the world and from all walks of life. He has acquired an incredibly broad knowledge of worldly matters.
With this knowledge and his ability to see things from many different angles, the Rebbe sees what others cannot. Therefore, we must listen to him.'
"Whichever group you might belong to," the Rebbe Maharash concluded, "you should never have gone through with the deal, after hearing from me not once, not twice, but three times clearly saying 'No!'"