What’s so special about great rabbis that I should respect or listen to them?
Shalom Yitz, We Jews are naturally skeptical (“stiff-necked”), so that when you do find someone who is genuinely respected in learning and ethics by those who know them personally, it is extremely well-deserved. In the yeshiva world, there is no room, nor tolerance, for fakers. Scholars scorn and simply won’t attend the lessons of somebody unqualified, who received a position through “protekzia” or Public Relations. Everybody in your yeshiva knows you up close for years, and slowly but surely, only those “naturally selected”, are asked to teach, the more capable eventually rising to become the prominent and historical figures. Their every lecture, action, and responsa are constantly scrutinized and questioned by tens, then hundreds, and then thousands, and only the truly great “make it”. How much more so this was the case in previous generations, when all of the Jewish Einsteins were not Nobel Prize laureates and chessmasters, but rather directed to the yeshiva and dedicated their genius to Torah, which was the true dream among Jews. Generally, they would be wed to the daughters of other great rabbis, and the greatness inevitably “multiplied”. Many in recent generations, like Rav Kook, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rav Aryeh Levin, we know were easily accessible and their righteousness transparent to all, as seen in their documented biographies. Others, like the Rambam, Rabbenu Tam and Ramchal, their virtues are clear to anyone who learns their works in depth. In short, check out the real g’dolim for yourself and you’ll see. With Love of Israel, Rav Ari Shvat