Rating Gedolim

Home Forums Tzadikim Stories & Yartzheits Rating Gedolim

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Author
  • #600115

    There seems to be a common misconception that we are unable to comparatively assess the level of various Gedolim. This sometimes leads to comments, like, well my group has their own Gedolim so we are equal.

    We can compare “levels” – in fact, we need to in order to judge who is an authority in the first place! If you can’t comapre levels then how are you to know that someoe is a godol? The fact that he is “accepted” as a godol only means that many people have judged his “level” to be that of a godol. But if you cannot compare levels, then these people have no right to accept him as a godol in the first place.

    And the same common sense that tells you so-and-so stands out among his peers making him an authority, tells you that certain so-and-so’s stand out even more.

    Or less.

    Part of knowing who to follow is to know who is greater. Godol mimenu b’chochma ubaminyan is an assessment that it legitimately made. And as Rav Shach writes – if you dont know who to follow, follow whoever is greater – and, he adds, you can of course tell who is greater.

    If you yourself dont know, then thats fine – not everyone can know the answer to all questions they encounter – but why in the world would you say nobody else can know?

    And it’s an error in logic, too, because they themselves compared “levels” of other people! i.e.: “Rav Ovadia Yosef shlita is the leading Sefardi posek of our times.” And how would they know this if you cannot compare him to other sefardi poskim?

    And how can one know whether “any of us are on the madreiga of assessing the ‘levels’ of other people” unless you assessed the levels of all those other people who said arent “on the “madgreigah” to do that?

    If i were to ask you who is greater – Rav Ovadiah or Rabi Avika — would you say you cannot compare people? Rav Ovadiah or the Rambam? Avraham Avinu?

    So clearly, we can compare “levels”, its just that to some, certain comparisons are “obvious” and others are not. Well, to other people, perhaps who are more knowledgable and skilled in assessing these kinds of values, other comparisons are also obvious.


    A great way to measure is “who wrote the most/best written sefarim on hte subject I need advice on.”


    I would say that comparing Rav Ovadia to R’ Akiva is silliness. We don’t compare ourselves to previous generations at all. We know that we don’t rate. “Im harishonim kemalachim etc”

    So as far as comparing levels, one would rate people by their very own standards. I hope that even if we are unable to determine ourselves who is the greatest among the great ones, we should at least be able to tell who is great. To borrow an expression, who would at least be in the team photo.

    Once you determine that, observe them and see who defers to whom. Because even if we can’t tell at our low level who is greatest, those who are in that sphere might have a better idea. So to follow through on your analogy of the sephardic gedolim, do you ever see someone like Rav Ovoadia consulting Rabbi Shlomo Amar? Not very often. But the reverse is a regular occurrence. The sephardic leaders are always consulting with Rav Ovadia.

    Likewise, we may not be able to tell among the local rabbis who’s the heaviest hitter. But watch them. You’ll see they recognize among themselves who is on a higher madreiga. and who they consult with, when something need to be brought to a higher authority.

    Lo almon Yisroel. Hashem guarantees us that he will put in the hearts of the people the wisdom to at least choose who their leaders should be. Can anyone of us know for sure? Maybe not. But HKBH loves his children, and he will guide them in a general way to find the right leaders.


    Just because one Rav is greater than another doesnt mean you have to follow them.

    One can say the Satmar Rebbe was one of the greatest gedolim of his time, but it doesnt mean you are required to follow his shitas.

    You can say the Satmar Rebbe was a Godol and be a zionist

    mos yumos

    “If i were to ask you who is greater – Rav Ovadiah or Rabi Avika — would you say you cannot compare people? Rav Ovadiah or the Rambam? Avraham Avinu?”

    We have this concept of niskatnu hadoros, so any comparisons to previous generations are of course going to be quite unbalanced in favor of the older ones.


    Avraham Avinu and Rambam were just an illustration of the larger point. The same principle applies between two contemporary rabbonim.


    Why are we rating gedolim? Are you looking to start a new fantasy league? How do you score points if your team of gedolim has more talmidim? says more shiurim? gets their pictures into more newspapers?

    If there was a rating for topics, this would rate at or near the bottom.


    It’s pretty logical. If you can’t rate, you wouldn’t know Rav Elyashev is the godol hador. If you couldn’t rate, you wouldn’t even be able to say Rav Elyashev is greater than your corner rabbi. Even that is judging levels.


    You need to judge to know who is greater and whom to follow.

    Bar Shattya

    mos yumos

    You might just be right; this guy is nuts in the head.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • The topic ‘Rating Gedolim’ is closed to new replies.