Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Gedolim and Ketanim

A few years ago I was sitting next to a father and son learning Bava Metziah. The discussion was about a fight over a bathhouse. The son asked the father, "I thought that way back then everyone was at a much higher level. Why were they fighting over a bathhouse?"
The father answered, "Zeh l'umas zeh asah Elokim. The Gedolim of those days were greater, but the hamon am was worse."
I think that a perusal of Shas and Teshuvos would seem to validate the father's point. There has never been such an era of universal Jewish education for religious Orthodox Jews since the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash. On the other hand, it seems accepted that the Gedolim of our day are not nearly at the level of the Gedolim of yesteryear. (Not, of course, that I am able to evaluate or rank the Gedolim!)
This reminds me of the pasuk at the beginning of Rus: "It happened in the days that the Judges judged..." Chazal understood the pasuk as saying that it was in the days that the Judges were judged by the general population.
This kind of behavior is a natural outcome of a nation that doesn't respect its leaders. In our day, too, as the level of Gadlus declines and the level of the Hamon Am rises, we should understand that we are in danger of imitating this behavior. Some would point to the proliferation of Gadol-bashing blogs as an indication that we are there already.
The good news is that Chazal said that in the days before Moshiach there will be a surge in Chutzpa. This is very understandable, considering that Gadlus is on a downward trajectory, and that the standard religious Jew has more education than ever before, leading to situations where the "Judges are judged". It certainly looks like we are closer than ever to the Ge'ula She'leima, Amen.

P.S. Let's not forget, that notwithstading today's Gedolim's status compared to, say, Moshe Rabbeinu, we still should relate to them with the greatest respect and humility. Yiftoch b'doro k'Shmuel b'doro.


Blogger defen said...

אם ראשונים בני מלאכים אנו בני אנשים
ואם ראשונים בני אנשים אנו כחמורים

If we perceive our Gedolim like the sons of men, how are we perceived...

16/6/06 1:04 PM  
Blogger Josh Weinberg said...

You mean how are those that treat them like gedolim percieved. Yeah I guess it would be important to such people to think of the gedolim as more than men. Hey, Mr. Gluck how did the tznius chizuk meeting go?

12/7/06 11:18 PM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...

I wasn't there, but I heard it went well.

13/7/06 2:50 AM  
Blogger Meshulum said...

I wonder why you refer to the book of Ruth as Rus. I agree that we Ashkenazim pronounce the name of the protagonist of the book of Ruth as Rus, however we do not always pronounce and spell names identically. I find it jarring to see the name written that way.

Thus a google search shows some one else using your spelling at and shemayisrael doing this, but it appears to be outside the norm of educated discourse. Thus Artscroll refers to the book of Ruth as do all other writers that I am aware of.

I mean this only as a way of improving this quality of our writing. Unfortunately, there is very little editorial oversight of internet blogging. :)

30/7/06 11:31 AM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

30/7/06 12:09 PM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...

Artscroll's policy is to use Ashkenazi consonants and Sephardi vowels, unless the name is well known, e.g. Ruth instead of Rus, Abraham instead of Avraham. I am not bound by Artscroll's conventions nor by those of "educated discourse". Neither are you. Indeed, if you hang out on the Jewish blogosphere long enough you'll find that there are quite a few transliteration schemes extant.

I apologize for jarring you.

30/7/06 12:14 PM  

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