My friends tell me "You have to pick a Rabbi, and then listen to everything he tells you."
I reply" Ok, what if I think he's wrong?"
Friend A responds with "It says in (I dont remember where it was, sorry) that if a Rabbi says your right hand is your left hand and that your left hand is that your right hand, you still have to listen to him, because when a Rabbi is wrong it says in (ofcourse I forgot cause I don't particularly care) That if the rabbi is wrong, Hashem will change the nature and make the rabbi right."
Friend B adds with "Also, if you understand that the rebbeim have your best interest in mind, and are not out too hurt you, you'll realize that if they seem to be wrong, they really aren't."
I've had many debates over this issue way too many times too count. So here I would like to recap some of the arguments I usually tend to use.
I usually respond to friends A & B with something like "You're both wack"...after they realize that YES I had directly slightly offended them, I continue:
"What separates Judaism from Christianity?" (aside from stuff like Jesus and the concept of trinity) They usually respond with something along the lines of " Jews do not believe in blind faith, Jews are supposed to use intellect and are able to ask questions, and aren't deemed heretics if they do so. Jews also have a one-on-one relationship to hashem, they do not need a priest or a pope as an inbetween."
I reply "If we're supposed to blindly follow rebbeim because of the sources that were originally qouted or because we somehow assume they have our best interests in mind, where is the room for questions?"
Their reply to me is usually something along the lines of "1st you follow THEN you ask."
For that particular reply I had friend C (was just listening but mostly remains neutral) do the work for me. She said "What if he tells you to jump off a bridge and then Moshiach will come, when will you have time to ask aside from after death of terrible injury?"
Both A & B reply "Rebbeim wouldn't do that!"
And with that, the conversation gets really interesting:
"Really?" I reply "the Chofetz Chaim (as well as many other rebbeim) did just that. Don't you remember in HS when we learned about assimiliation that the Chofetz Chaim was specifically asked by the Jews if they can move to the US (programs and pre-ww2) and he said no. He justified himself by saying that it is better to die as Jews and remain that way through life, than assimilate and die spiritually"
A & B "But it says in the Torah death is better than assimilation"
"Right" I say "but what you forget to realize, is that assimilation is not something that occurs because Jews are not in Europe. It is something that occurs because Jews are away from each other. I would understand his fear if one family left at a time, but at the time the Jews approached him, it was fairly easy to leave for the US, which meant that MANY Jews would have gone, and ended up in the same neighborhoods. Not only that, but there WERE frum Jews in the US already in the Bronx, UWS, UES etc., would they really have assimilated more than they would've had they just led normal lives and moved to a smaller less-populated Jewish town somewhere else in Europe? The rebbeim basically did just that, they told us to jump off a bridge and no one cared to ask, we just agreed, and blindly jumped off the bridge like lemmings would if their leader happend to lead them off a cliff. Countless numbers of Jews could have been saved from the tortures the Nazi's brought upon them."
They usually reply with something like "but the Jews that didn't listen and did go to the US DID end up assimiliating."
And to that I tell them "You are right. I'm not denying that. But what you forget to consider is what I said about community, and the fact that more Jews would have gone, and therefore the community would have been more than 2-3 families, but rather an entire community, similar to what we see today. We would've had a butcher or 2, a Rabbi or 2, a merchant or 2, and so on. If majority of each community left, and ended up in the same places (and usually immigrants of the same ethnicity end up in the same areas), then they would not have assimilated."
Then, at that point. The convo stops, and my friends say something like "lets talk about the Purim story"
And I hate the Purim story,for many reasons. There is no way anyone can get me to beleive that ONLY Mordechai understood that the reason to not go to Haman's party superceded the kashrus of the wine?
But thats for another post. But generally, my friends usually recommend a rabbi that they know that basically "specializes" in the Purim story, because they cannot answer me themselves.