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To whom do rabbis report?

To whom do rabbis report?


I assume that your question comes from the understanding that living in this world, most jobs or responsibilities require us to report to someone in one way or another. The banker reports to his bank manager, the mailman reports to the postmaster, a soldier to his general, etc. This is the way the world runs so as to ensure quality control in all that we do.

But what about those responsibilities that we have to ourselves or to our families? Who ensures that we do a good job there? Are these responsibilities less important and therefore do not require quality control? Yes, there are government agencies that oversee these issues as well, but how much do they know of what is going on in my home or yours?

This is where religion and G‑d come into play. G‑d is the eye that sees all and the ear that hears all. He has instituted certain guidelines of morals and ethics that He requires us all to follow. Ultimately, we report to Him in this regard. When we say the Shema (lit. "hear"; the daily declaration of faith, recited in the morning and evening prayers and before retiring for the night) in the evening before retiring to bed we are giving Him a report of the day's events; what went well and what we will improve upon tomorrow. Ultimately, it is our faith in G‑d as the creator of the world and the Bestower of all good that keeps us in line.

So, as a response to your question: Yes there are junior rabbis who report to senior rabbis. In many cases there are regional directors within a given organization to whom local rabbis must answer. Ultimately, however, we all – rabbis and laymen alike, the people who administer faith and those who practice faith – report to the same place—the one G‑d who created the heavens and the earth.

All the best,

Rabbi Shmuel Kogan,

Rabbi Shmuel Kogan of Brooklyn, NY, is a responder for's Ask the Rabbi feature.
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Anonymous NY, NY May 16, 2008

To whom do rabbis report? Reporting to G-d has an escapist element to it. anyone can say that and it is not observable. i would say that in effect, if rabbis would only acknowledge it, rabbis report to the people. to honestly and sincerely report to the people is the method of confirming that one is in fact reporting to G-d. Reply

Yisroel Brooklyn, NY April 29, 2008

To whom do rabbis report? The crux of the question may be restated more or less as follows:

If there is no single, worldwide "top Rabbi" - how do Rabbis, and individuals in their communities, ensure that a given Rabbi is "doing the right thing"?

If that is the question then consider that Judaism has a very tangible and uniquely powerful “boss”. A single, fixed point of reference against which all of right and wrong are measured. The Torah.

Where interpretation is required it is the Torah itself that grants Rabbis the right to interpret, most often via some form of Rabbinical consensus, and sets forth fixed guidelines within which the Rabbis must operate.

It is the existence (and the blessing) of this unchanging point of reference in Judaism that is the ultimate checkpoint for even the most powerful of Rabbis.

And like any absolute truth (of which there are few), the Torah is eternal. It never changes across time, space or circumstance. Reply

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