5 Sivan 5763
Showing Respect to Rabbis
In Judaism, does one have to respect every rabbi, even those who have hurt you and your family, and never apologized? Someone told me that since Moshe showed respect to Pharaoh who was the king, we must respect all rabbis who are considered like kings, despite our personal feelings towards them. But isn’t it true that that the position doesn’t honour the person but the person who adds honour to the position?
The Torah requires us to respect not only rabbis but all people. There is a special respect that must be shown talmidei chachamim- Torah scholars- because of the Torah that they know and personify. If someone has studied Torah but deliberately violates its precepts- for example: not keeping Shabbat, stealing etc.- his knowledge doesn't award him greater respect.
That said there is a point that must be made perfectly clear: If there is a personal dispute between you and another Jew- rabbi or layman, you are forbidden to bear him hatred in your heart. You must turn to him politely and explain why you feel his actions were incorrect. He may apologize or he may explain to you why his actions were justified. If you believe you suffered damage as a result of his actions- you can turn to a beit din. This in the event that the damage you suffered was not as a result of his fulfilling his rabbinical duties, e.g.a rabbi who denies a kashrut certificate to a restaurant in his community that does not meet his kashrut standards. After the matter is decided in beit din or after you have made your points clear, in most cases it is forbidden to continue to bear a grudge.
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