Awe of God Toolbox: XIII
The Gemara says that a Talmid Chacham who does not allow a student to serve him prevents the student from developing Yira’at Shamayim. This idea is played out in a Gemara
in the Talmud Yerushalmi. Rabbi Akiva was traveling and in the middle of nowhere he came upon a dead body. This is a case of a Met Mitzva. He carried the body for four miles to the nearest Jewish cemetery, and buried it there. He then went to his rebbe and told him what happened. His rebbe said, “Don’t you know that when you find a dead body, you have to bury it where you found it?” This is Rabbi Akiva we’re talking about! Not just any Tom, Dick, or Harry! At that moment, Rabbi Akiva made a commitment to spend the next year serving his teacher as a way of developing his Awe of Heaven and acquire an awareness from him that he wouldn’t have otherwise.
At a wedding someone who was close with my grandfather came over to talk with me. He said that one of the most powerful moments that he remembers about my grandfather is when he picked him up at home for Selichot one early morning at 5:30 to walk him to shul. They started walking out the door, and all of a sudden, my grandfather stopped, turned around, ran into the house (actually, he didn’t run too well) and pulled out a placemat. He then took out a glass, filled the glass with orange juice, and then put the OJ back into the fridge. My grandfather then turned to him and said, “If you can’t remember to do this for your wife, then Selichot aren’t worth anything.”
This is something that you can only get by spending time with a Talmid Chacham. I spent a long time doing some of these things. I can tell you hundreds of stories. I did this once at Aish Hatorah. I gave a two-and-a-half hour talk on what it was like growing up with great Rabbanim. I told story after story. As I did, I realized they had no idea what it was like. Living it made all the difference in the world.