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More on heeding the words of Chassidim rebbeim


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Shevat 15, 5778
On the Gemara in Pesachim 42a, Rabbi Yisroel Salanter asks why did the Gemara bring the story about those ignoramuses who came to the door with empty pails of water (mistakenly thinking that “mayim shelanu” means “our water” and not “water that rested overnight”). He explains that it’s to teach us to believe what the rabbi says even though it does not make any sense. Doesn’t this sounds like the Chassidic approach, to heed whether it makes sense or not?
Midrashim and stories in the Talmud are usually open to many various interpretations, and it’s difficult to prove a position based upon only one possible explanation. The explanation which you offered to that story is similar to the Avnei Nezer’s (a Chassidic rebbe!), but there are many other explanations, as well. For example, the Sfat Emet (even himself a rebbe!) learns from there simply the importance of a rabbi’s wording his teaching so clearly, so that he shouldn’t be misunderstood. R. Eliezer of Metz alternatively suggest that the story is in the Talmud to teach us an halacha, that b’dieved, if one didn’t use “mayim shelanu” (like those ignoramuses, who came in the morning when it was already too late to have the water rest overnight), the matza is still kosher (Beit Yosef, Or. Ch. 445).
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