basics: chazal

[i'm going to do a short series called 'basics' on ideas that others have found novel, but i've always taken for granted. just some brief discussions about the basics of judaism]

We call the many generations of Torah scholars who came before us collectively Chazal, it's an acronym that is short for "Our sages, may their memory be a blessing."

People within the Jewish world, especially Israelis who have grown up their whole lives in religious environments, have asked me how it is that the secular public can treat Chazal and their collected works so lightly?

It doesn't surprise me. If you grow up in a world where your most revered academic scholars are men and women with impressive knowledge, but equally impressive egos, you naturally assume the ancient (and even present day) Torah scholars are the same.

The only way for someone to correct their perspective of Chazal is to meet one of the true Talmidei Hachamim alive today. Only through seeing a living example of something completely other than what we are used to, can we begin to understand who Chazal were.

When you speak and interact face to face with someone who has no regard for themselves whatsoever, someone who has so totally destroyed his ego, so as to exhibit true concern for his or her fellow person, only then can you begin to glimpse Chazal.

May we all merit to meet true tzaddikim and hachamim in the flesh, so that our eyes may be opened to worlds we never knew existed.


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