I thought it would be so easy – you get a question, you ask, you know, you act. I’ve found that this isn’t the case. The bigger the Rabbi, and I guess the more respect you have for him, the harder it is to ask the questions.
I don’t think it’s intimidation – these great Rabbis are gentle and kind to everyone they encounter. There’s really nothing to be scared about. Maybe it’s the fact that they know so much and therefore your questions seem so petty – why waste their time? And yet, they beg of you to keep asking, keep enquiring, keep learning. They tell you that if you don’t ask because you think you know, you’re probably mixing something up. And yet, despite all their best efforts to reassure us that they don’t bite, there is a very real fear. Is it that their advice you know you can’t avoid?
It’s like a parent saying ‘put your coat on’ when it’s freezing outside and you’re standing in only a shirt; You know they’re right but there’s something very uncomfortable about following someone else’s decision – there’s no ownership – there’s no free will decision. And so, in a similar fashion, you find asking the Rabbi a little bit foreign – like you are handing over your free will, your ability to make decisions. But this is just a feeling. The reality is that you are merely informing yourself of what is right and true in the world – what you act upon thereafter is the choice you make. All a person can do to build truth is to know as much as possible about any given scenario. Once the information is there it is your choice.
Happy Elul – may we all grow in our connection with ourselves, each other and the eternal.