Monday, November 25, 2013

What Is A Good Rabbi?

So many thoughts, limited amount of time.

One of the highlights of being in West Hempstead for Shabbos was hearing a few words- ever so briefly, yet effectively - getting to see and experience Rabbi Yehuda Kelemer.  I have met many people over the years for whom he was/is rabbi and who speak with incredible respect, genuine affection, and deep appreciation of Rabbi Kelemer. Some of these people had him as their schul's rabbi in the Young Israel of Brookline, Massachusetts, and to this day are appreciative of when he was their local Rav- and still consider him their Rav and rely on him as their Rav. The thing I hear most about him is his caring and being there at hard time, appearing at funeral even though he was too far away to possibly make it (they thought, though he did the seemingly impossible, whatever it took to be there and got there).

Time and again regarding rabbis it seems to me that people really want, perhaps most of all, someone who will be present for them in hard times.  Rav Chaim Brisker was once asked how he views the role of being a rabbi.  He replied that he saw it as a position from which great amounts of chesed could be provided, and that was a rabbi's job- to do chesed. I've long thought that chesed does not get its due credit as being one of three pillars the world stands on, Torah and avodah see to be considered more important (though Chazal billed them all equally). This is true for all of us.  Perhaps it it is particularly true for a rabbi where you'd think the litmus test would obviously be his Torah along with his prayer.  But Rav Chaim said that if any of the three are up top it's chesed, and the people agree. Rabbi Kelemer is not only renowned as being learned and the other things of that ilk that you expect from a rabbi, but he is know for caring and being there.

It's amazing that he's been there over 30 years, time flies.  Here's his instillation from January 1983.


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