Midot Hayom: Day 23: Gevurah in Netzach
Rabbi Meir used to say: To whom can one compare a person who learns Torah with only one teacher? To a man who had a single field, raising wheat on one part of it, barley on another part of it, olive trees on a third part of it and other tree on the last part of it. That man is richly blessed with good fortune. But one who learns with two or three teachers is like a man who has many fields, raising wheat on one, barley on the second, olive trees on the third and other trees on the fourth. That man must pay attention to many scattered fields, leaving him without good fortune and blessing. Avot of Rabbi Nathan 8:2
Rabbi Meir could not possibly advocate learning from only one teacher. Different teachers have different gifts to offer. Rabbi Meir is speaking of one’s Rebbi, and he insists that a person who has many Rabbeim will not have good fortune. He will lose consistency in his service of God, and eventually feel spiritually scattered all over the place. A good Rebbi will help his student focus all of his learning, prayers and Mitzvot. He will have a sense of how all the different pieces fit together. Some people feel that if they have many Rabbeim they will have a more expansive approach to their growth. Rabbi Meir reminds us that in order to have a sense of the eternal, a person must feel that all his efforts are focused in the proper direction. Even people who have a Rebbi often pick and choose what to discuss with him. Rabbi Meir is teaching us that we cannot pick and choose at will.