A Rebbe And His Talmid

By Editor - Sephardic.com Jun 28, 2022 06:00 AM

The Gemorah in Chulin brings down the following Midrash. Hashem first made the sun and the moon of equal size. The moon said to Hashem “Is it possible for two kings to wear the same crown?” Hashem said, “Go make yourself smaller!” The moon complained, ”Why should I make myself smaller just because I had a legitimate suggestion?” Hashem said, “Then rule by day and night.” The moon answered ”My light will be dwarfed by the sun.” Hashem consoled the moon, ”Be satisfied that Yisroel will count according to you.” The moon said they also count by the sun.” Hashem said, ‘The righteous will be will be named THE SMALL after you: YAAKOV THE KATAN, DOVID THE KATAN.” 

Seeing that the moon was not placated Hashem said “Bnei Yisroel will bring an atonement for me on Rosh Chodesh because I made the moon small, as the Possuk says CHATAS LAHASHEM” The Rashbah says that this conversation is allegorical to teach us moral lessons. At first glance it seems that the moon is acting like a petulant child, always wanting to be on top. It has similarities to the Midrash that says that Hashem grabbed Yerovam Ben Navat by the coat and said ”Do Teshuva and then you and Ben Yishai will walk in front of me in Gan Eden.” Yeravam asked” Who will walk in front?” Hashem answered “Ben Yishai” Yerovam answered, ”Then in that case I do not want.” Why was Hashem constantly trying to appease the moon? However the greatest difficulty in the Midrash appears to be the fact that because Hashem did not appease the moon then Hashem KIBIYOCHUL seems to blame Himself for doing the right thing and KEBIYACHUL needs an atonement. 

There is a famous story of two Talmidei Chachamim, one older and one younger who had a question about whom should become the new Rosh Yeshiva after the old one died. The younger one said that he should be Rosh Yeshiva because he could relate to the Talmidim better because he was younger. The older one believed that he should be the Rosh Yeshiva because he had more experience and stature. They decided to ask the Chazon Eish. When the Chazon Eish heard what they had to say he said that I do not want to deal with this. He said that he thought that each one was coming to him to explain why the other one would be a better Rosh Yeshiva and not praising themselves. 

There can only be one sun. The sun had pluses and the moon had pluses. That was obvious. However, when the moon said that my pluses outweighed the sun’s pluses, even if he was right, his GAAVAH disqualified him. All attributes and qualities only have an inherent success and goodness based on the Middos that are behind them. Moshe Rabbeinu had amazing qualities. However, these qualities only allowed him to achieve greatness because of his great humbleness. That humbleness was the cause of greatness for all his qualities. Rebbe Yisroel Salanter said that it is easier to learn all of Shas BEEYUN than to change one middah. This means that to uproot the middah, to put it under total control is a lifetime process that takes tremendous effort to fulfill. The only way it could happen is to follow what is says in Pirkei Avos, ASEH LECHAH RAV. Why does is use the word ASEH? The hardest thing for a person is to hear that they are wrong. A person can look in the mirror and list off some faults that they have. However, if a few moments later a person repeats those very same faults to his face he becomes angry and defensive. Make for yourself a Rebbe means to force yourself to accept a Rebbe who will guide you and tell you how to improve your life. However, that is only the start of the process. It will take much time and effort to improve. It will progress in slow gradual increments. It is like going to an orthodontist to straighten one’s teeth. If the doctor takes a pliers and tries to move the teeth he will break it. What does he do? He puts on braces ad over a period of years periodically makes small adjustments until after time the teeth become straight. That is the way it works with a Rebbe and a Talmid, The Rebbe knows the strengths and weaknesses of his Talmid. He slowly works on the bad middos of the Talmid so he will not snap. He slowly works to improve his good Middos so they will not get out of hand and create haughtiness which would do more harm than good. 

This is the story of the moon. The moon had great potential. However it’s potential was over shadowed by it’s haughtiness to become number one. Hashem did not lessen the moon. Hashem told the moon to lessen itself. However, this process was devastating to the moon. It developed a low self esteem and started questioning its’ exisistance. Hashem then went through the process to make it understand that its’ inherent greatness can only be achieved through humility. Hashem first offered it to also shine in the day. The moon realized the futility of the additional greatness. Not every greatness satisfies a persons’ unbridled desires. Then Hashem said that Bnei Yisroel will count by you. Bnei Yisroel are unique and you will be unique. However, that was not a complete consolation because the sun also was needed in many calculations so the moon was not SO unique. 

Hashem said the Tzaddikkim will be named after you , meaning that the greatest people in the world only achieved their greatness through their humility. The moon felt that it was APPLES AND ORANGES. After all was not the moon one of the MAZALOS, one of the spiritual servants of Hashem. Then Hashem KEBIYACHOL taught the moon the most powerful lesson of them all. Even Hashem, the ultimate Creator was ready to express KABIYACHUL humility because of an appearance of causing a form of suffering to one of His creations. Then the moon got the picture. If Hashem, the Master of the universe can embody the essence of humbleness and greatness simultaneously, then how much more so itself, who was only a creation of Hashem. We see from this Midrash the extent that we need guidance to work on ourselves to nullify the bad middos within us and work to improve the good. It is a long arduous process that can be done if we have the will and desire to succeed through the guidance of a Rebbe.