Higher Standards

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kids-boys-yeshivaBy S. Friedman

Our culture and values puts a very strong emphasis on mesorah and those whom represent it.  We are all familiar with the concept that the closer one is to Har Sinai, the more respected they are.  Rabbeim can be put on a pedestal because they learned by their rabbeim, etc… one rung up the ladder closer to the Vilna Gaon.

Some rabbonim, whether Rosh Yeshivas, Admorim, or a Morah D’Asrah inspire a sense of awe, and their small actions carry great lessons.  Others are seemingly more “down to earth,” yet they play just as an important a role in the fabric of our society.  A Rosh Chaburah, an elementary school rebbi, or even the head of a small intimate type of yeshiva.  These people can be tremendous talmidei chachomim, surely more Torah imbued than the average layman.  However, peers of these people may view them as “one of the chevra” who happened to get a shteller, but the reality doesn’t allow for non differentiation, even if therein lies a shred of truth.

The concept of “Yiftach b’doroi is akin to Shmuel b’doroi” is a refrain we hear often.  The notion is easier to grasp when one can point to someone like R’ Ahron Leib Shteinman, shlita, and say that for this dor, he is comparable to what R’ Moshe Feinstein was in his.  What is more difficult to accept is when one’s contemporaries, their former chavrusas from Yeshiva, or a mechanechas that you split carpool with, is someone in a position to be looked up to.

It’s a cynical world, and it’s expected that people are affected by that atmosphere.  Hence, many times, without malicious intent, we don’t give proper honor and respect to those in the positions of chinuch and hadracha.  We might make an off-the-cuff remark as to a rebbi’s driving skills, or express how a certain Morah doesn’t know as much as you do, etc…  It’s a challenge, but we have to keep the perspective that even if you don’t look up to a particular person, the position they hold and what they represent, warrants, no, demands, our respect.  If not for own sake of keeping the proper chain of kovod in tact, at least for our children’s sake.

There’s another side to the coin as well.  A Kollel yungerman who becomes a rebbi may not think of himself as special from most other people.  After all, maybe he was lucky and got a shteller, or perhaps he’s just very modest and doesn’t see himself as any better.  The problem is- he is indeed.

Like it or not, there are no “days off” for someone who serves as a role model for youngsters.  I’m not chas v’sholom talking about acting inappropriately, but the more subtle things that become magnified due to the position one holds.  For instance, growing up, no matter what Yeshiva I went to, I never saw one of my rabbeim in a “minyan factory.”  I know people that when circumstances make it that they have to daven late, they’ll either travel very far (away from where they are recognized as someone in a chinuch role), or daven biyichidus rather than appearing at a 9:00am minyan or later.  Ask a Rov; I think you’ll be hard pressed to find one who would rule against this practice versus the potential Chillul Hash-m the alternative may cause.

A Morah may have to be more conscientious what she does recreationally Chol Hamoed when put through the litmus test of “what if one of my students see me here?  What does that show them?”  What did you see your Morah do when not in school?

Should people be “dan l’kaf z’chus” that a rebbe or Morah have good and justifiable reasons for doing things?  Absolutely.  But no one is supposed to put themselves in a compromising position that relies on others’ benevolent thinking.  Moreover, as I said, the position puts you on a pedestal, and just as everyone should treat any “run of the mill” rebbe or Morah with utmost respect, the rebbe must realize he is being watched and held to a higher standard.  If people should be looking up to someone, that person should most definitely be “above” the rest.

{S. Friedman-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. This author speaks a lot but doesn’t say much. What i have gathered from this is that chitzonyus rules

    Chitzonyus chitzonyus chitzonyus. Appearances appearances are what count and matter more than anything else

  2. people need to know that “do as I say, not as I do” is a terrible thing. But Boruch Hash-m I believe the vast majority of rebbes, morahs, etc… are wonderful role models for our children.
    If only our society would pay them the big bucks and give them the importance they deserve!

  3. Nice, but different communities – and even different groups within the same communities and schools – have different standards as to what will be looked “down” at and what is completely okay.

  4. So we’re supposed to teach our children that you can’t ever get extra sleep, and daven late (and still make zmanim)? Just another imagined issur this author is coming up with.
    Don’t make yiddishkeit harder than it is for kids

  5. While I understand what the writer is saying, I would like to take up with him hisactual point that this does not apply just to Rabbeim/Moros, why does this not apply to everyone of us, no matter what he/she does for a living or what color/size his yalkulka is. If someone davens at 9:00, there is nothing wrong if he is davening the way he is supposed to be, if he sees his rebbe (father or whoever) at 9:00 and he is schmoozing instead of davening, then maybe there is a good point. I have seen some of my rebbeiem at these so called “factories” and my impression of him has never changed. This applies to outings as well. As long as its the right venue and he is acting the way he/she is supposed to, then I see no difference who it is, and if a child sees his rebbe there and sees him acting the way he preaches, then why should that change anything

  6. This is an article in search of an editor. Whom are you addressing? What are you trying to say? I agree with #1–Chitzoniyus rules, and this article is a prime example. It talks about having higher standards but it lacks focus and substance.

  7. You make the writer’s point! You’re being cynical, when even if the person isn’t “Yiftach,” his position is still one that requires respect and admiration in every generation.


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