Make a teacher for yourself

“I suggested and requested, with a “request of the soul” (and beyond, but at the moment I don't have a more suitable expression) that this should be publicized everywhere - that it would be worthwhile and very proper for every Jewish man and woman and child to fulfill the instruction of the Mishna, “asei lecha rav,” “make a teacher for yourself” - and go to him from time to time in order to ascertain where you stand with regard to your avodas Hashem.”

20.09.2006 2734 (2)
From the Rebbe's sicha of D'varim 5746
Make a teacher for yourself
Make a teacher for yourself

The chachamim say in the Mishna, “asei lecha rav” (make a teacher for yourself), i.e., it is a mitzva for every single Jew (man and woman) – young and old – to accept and make a teacher for himself.

In other words, in addition to the instruction of the Mishna, “Who is wise? He who learns from everyone,” i.e., even someone who is a very wise man can learn from others, and can learn from every single person. (In fact, doing so proves that he is wise, as we see in the wording, “who is wise, he who learns from everyone.”) There also has to be a “rav,” “asei lecha rav,” i.e., “accept a rav over yourself,” to rely on what he says.

The reason is that since “a person is subjective,” therefore he cannot rely on himself, and he needs to have a rav, someone he considers greater than himself, whose word he fulfills.

In addition, even someone great in Torah and fear of Heaven, etc., for whom it is difficult to find someone greater, even if he won’t find someone more wise than him, let him take someone beneath him. A person simply cannot determine the advice he needs for his own situation as someone else can, and this is ‘asei lecha rav.’ Even if he [the rav] is undeserving, and in such situations there’s a need to “make him” – “asei lecha rav.” Indeed, the word “asei” refers to something that requires effort. “Asei” can also mean “forcing” (as it says, “maasin – we force, when it comes to tz’daka”).

It would be very good and proper for each and every Jew – men and women, including little boys and girls – to fulfill the instruction of the Mishna “asei lecha rav” (as far as women and girls: “mashpios”). From time to time, you should go to one who is greater (“rav”) in order to ascertain where you are holding in Torah study, in giving tz’daka, and in your general avodas Hashem. This includes non-obligatory matters, “all your deeds should be for the sake of Heaven” (and “know Him in all your ways,” for by doing so you will accept the proper instruction and guidance (without the bribery of your own subjectivity)).

The very fact that you know that you will periodically have to give an accounting to another person will cause you to improve your behavior and to add in all matters of good and holiness.

Recognition of the great importance and need in this matter should be given increasing emphasis, also throughout the year, constantly, every day.

Therefore, my suggestion and request – a request of the soul (and even beyond that, but at the moment I cannot find a more suitable expression) – is that this be publicized everywhere – in my name or not in my name, depending on whether it is useful in making it happen – that it would be worthwhile and very proper for every Jew, men, women, and children, to fulfill the instruction of the Mishna “asei lecha rav,” and from time to time go to him in order to ascertain where you stand in your avodas Hashem.

This will certainly increase all matters of good and holiness for every Jew, continually adding light.

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