Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Think for yourself(if you can)

Rav Avigdor HaLevi Nebenzahl, in his most excellent book Thoughts for the Month of Elul(Ani L'Dodi ve Dodi Le), writes about a very important issue for me. To papraphrase:

He addresses the conception that observant pilots drop out of fighter pilot training because they are trained from childhood to follow orders, and a pilot must improvise.

" .. there is no doubt that this situation is forbidden. We must not nullify our independaent intellectual capabilities even when seeking the direction of others, great as they may be. We must always bear in mind that it is our own intellectual capacity which guides us to seek out these great men, and to believe in the Geatest Guide of All, HaShem. Man may think that he fulfills his obligation in this world by adhering to the specific advice of our Sages to "Accept a teacher upon yourself"(pirkei Avot). In reality, however, if one considers this a permanent state of affairs, to a certain extent he is not fully discharging his obligation to submit to the yoke of Heaven; for we are obliged to accept only God, and no other , as the Supreme Being. We must realize that it is only because we have not yet reached perfection that we seek the aid of the more advanced knowledge of our Sages.
It is forbidden to accept such a perverse situation as permanent. On the contrary, we must strive to minimize our dependence on others by becoming great scholars ourselves, so that we will be able to rule on halachic issues through our own wisdom. .....we must also recognize that our ultimate aspiration is independent thought.

R. Nebenzahl is the chief Rabbi of the old city of Yerushalayim and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat ha Kotel(for those that didn't know)

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