16 of the Sixth Month 5768
When anyone starts trying to talk to me about what "The" Rebbe said, or what "The" Rebbe did, I love to start in with him.
BY (Me): "Oh, which rebbe would that be?"
CN: "You know. The REBBE."
BY: "Um,...well, there are lots of 'rebbes.' Are you talking about the Toldos Avraham Yitzhaq Rebbe?"
BY: "The Belzer Rebbe?"
CN: "No! THE Rebbe."
BY: "The Karliner Rebbe?"
CN: "No! THE REBBE."
BY: "Oh. You live in Givath Sha'ul. I'm sorry. You must mean the Stropkover Rebbe."
CN: "No! No! No! The REBBE!"
BY: "The Bostoner Rebbe? He's in Har-Nof."
CN: "NOOOOOOOOOOO! In America!"
BY: "The late Bobover Rebbe? I heard he was a big tzadiq."
CN: "NOOOOOOOOOOO! HE'S DEAD!"
BY: "Hmmm... In America. Still alive. The Biale Rebbe?"
CN: (By now turning red and apparently experiencing chest pains, while he crouches over...)
"NOOOOOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOOO! The Lubavitcher Rebbe...." (out of breath)
Such arrogance! On the rare occasion that I'm in a Chabad schul, one of the few non-messianic places, fine. I should assume that you're talking about the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Otherwise, expect the response from me, recounted above. Can't you at least say "My Rebbe?"
I'm not going to let other communities off the hook either. When you talk about "The Rav," don't expect me to assume you're talking about Rabbi Soleveichik ZTZ"L, unless we're in a specific place or at a specific event related to a specific community. The same goes Rabbi Kahane hy"d, who is also referred to as "The Rav."
I cannot tell you how many times I have listened to someone go on about something that "The Rav" said, then asking him, "Did Rav Kahane say THAT? I don't remember him saying anything like THAT." It was very embarrassing,...not for me, but for the YU grad or NCSY madrich or the whomever. Once I wasn't really paying attention, and thought the other guy was quoting a sugiyah in the Talmud. (Did you get that?)
Why can't everyone just be a little bit more specific when referring to Rebbes, like...
Rav Naftali Tzvi (Bobov), Rav Kook, Rabbeinu Tzvi Yehudah (Kook), Rabbi Nahman (Breslov)....?
Yet, once I also heard someone talking about his rebbe, "Reb Hayim." I did a double-take, thinking he was talking about Rabbi Hayim of Vologin ZTZ"L. After coming back to Earth, I realized that he was obviously was not talking about Rabbi Hayim of Vologin ZTZ"L.
So, next time you meet me on the street, and you want to tell me about your "Rebbe," do me a favor, and be VERY specific. Also don't assume that everyone not on your same wavelength is wrong. You could end up having a rather rude awakening someday. Or worse, you could end up being subjected to the torture I describe above.