Kabbalistic Concepts Master Kabbalists

Choosing Your Own Way

There is a story about the Rav’s teacher, Rav Brandwein, a Kabbalist and Chief Rabbi of the Histradut.

One day he was walking down the street on Shabbat and he passed a man smoking a cigarette.

Kindly, Rav Brandwein turned to this man and greeted him as he passed saying, “Shabbat Shalom.”

The man looked shocked and turned back at Rav Brandwein as if to say, “Are you sure you’re telling me Shabbat Shalom? Don’t you see the cigarette?” (Because Rav Brandwein was a religious authority, the man did not expect to be greeted so kindly and without judgment while he openly broke the Shabbat).

But Rav Brandwein turned and said, “It’s still Shabbat Shalom. What I do is my business – what you do is yours.”

That statement was so characteristic of Rav Brandwein. And for us it’s a powerful message: no matter what we believe to be our way, it’s only somebody else’s way if they choose that. And we have no right to decide for someone else.”

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