Acquiring Torah 26: Having One Rebbi
Raba expounded in the name of Rabbi Sehora who had it from Rabbi Huna: What is the purport of the text: “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished, but he that gathers little by little shall increase?” If a man studies much at a time his learning decreases, and if he does not do so but ‘gathers little by little’ he ‘shall increase’.
Raba remarked: The Rabbis are well aware of this advice and yet disregard it.
Rabbi Nachman b. Isaac said: I acted on this advice and my study remained with me. (Eiruvin 54b)
The Maharsha explains this as the debate over whether a person should learn from many teachers, or only one: Rabbi Huna taught that a person who goes from teacher to teacher will gather little learning. Raba describes the Rabbis as disregarding this approach and learning from as many teachers as possible.
I had the privilege of learning from many great teachers, each with different strengths and philosophical approaches that often contradicted the Hashkafa of other master scholars. I was able to learn from all without confusion because I had the one Rebbi, my father zt”l, who constantly guided me in putting it all together, and finding my own path combining and using what I gained from many different sources.
My father was my guide in “little by little,” helping me to study much, from many masters, without “his learning decreases.”
Torah is infinite. We will find numerous systems of thought and study. We have the ability to gather great wealth, but it cannot be “with vanity,” of just having a lot. It cannot be with the vanity that there is not the single authority and guide who helps us find consistency and our own, unique path.