Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The "Rebbe"

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?"

CN: "No!."

BY: "The Belzer Rebbe?"

CN: "No! THE Rebbe."

BY: "The Karliner 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."


BY: "The late Bobover Rebbe? I heard he was a big tzadiq."


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.


Avi said...


Leora said...

You remind me of when people talk about "the city". I know they are talking about New York, but I sometimes say, "which city?"

To me, the Rav is Rav Soleveitchik, but I can understand how someone else brought up in a different place and time would not know or feel that way.

JIDF said...

The Rebbe would totally agree with you here. So would the Rav. ;)

Esser Agaroth said...

Leora, I never heard the term "The City" in Los Angeles nor San Diego. Only when I moved north, I was told it meant San Fran (only tourists say "Frisco").

If I'm visiting YU, I think it would behoove me to assume they're talking about Rav Soleveichik.

In the Shomron, I probably would not.

JIDF, yuck, yuck, yuck...

Miriam Woelke said...


Unfortunately, the vast majority of Chabadnikim seems to think that the whole chassidic world only consists of their Rebbe Schneerson z"l.
No wonder because Chabadnikim constantly learn and deal with themselves instead of looking into other Chassiduyiot.

I still prefer having a great overview over all chassidic groups and I have been deal with them a lot.
And if it comes to Rebbe Schneerson z"l and another Rebbe, I very much prefer the Toldot Aharon Rebbe David Kahn !

Esser Agaroth said...

Miriam, I think your right.

BTW, I was at the Toldos Aharon's tish this Shabbath. :-}

My friend was invited to sit down at the tish, but we didn't want to stay long.

I like hanging with the insiders.

If you were there, I was the one who looked like the "settler."

Though, with payoth and a big black kippah, albeit crocheted, I can "pass" when I'm with my friend who lives in Meah Shaarim.

Miriam Woelke said...


There were more looking like settlers.:-))))
Or at least "Machon Meir".

Have you ever been invited to the Rebbe's Shabbat meal. I need to call up the Rebbitzen and I am curious participating.

Esser Agaroth said...

Now, Miriam, which "rebbe" would that be? ;-}

The TA's nighttime tish shiraim? I was given the honor of drinking soda water as my friend can't drink soda.

No, never been during the day.

I used to go annually to the Toldos AY Rebbe for a brachah on Rosh HaShannah. That's the extent of my Rebbe experience. Although once I got a bracha from the Karliner Rebbe, a very nice man, and like to go there for Simchas Beis HaShoevah.

I met the Stropkover Rebbe when he gave a small tish in Meah Shaarim for his grandson's bar mitzvah and the Belzer Rebbe was mesader kiddushin at my friend's wedding.

Friar Yid (not Shlita) said...


Of course! The Clevelander rebbe!

Very nice post.

Esser Agaroth said...



I'm afraid I'll have to tell you that the Clevelander Rebbe lives in Israel, Ra'anana, of all places.

Ben-Shmuel said...

I just stumbled upon this old post of yours. Great stuff. Really funny and right on target. Reminds me of that other oft mentioned expression, "daas Torah" that use when talking about their Rebbe.I used to teach English in Mir Yeshiva (more of a glorified zookeeper) and the guys used to also use this expression. I would really give it to them. I wonder why I wasn't rehired the following year?

Esser Agaroth said...

Don't EVEN get me started on "Da'as Toirah."

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