Rav Avigdor Miller on Getting Stuck On A Ladder

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Q: 
Why are the Satmerer chassidim fighting with the Lubavitcher chassidim? And do you approve of it? 

A:
Now if you’re chassidim then you’re going to have to bear with me for a moment because I’m going to have to hurt your feelings.

There is a basic weakness in all chassidim, and that basic weakness is “My Rebbe!” Now, “My Rebbe” is a wonderful thing and it accomplishes a lot of good things – but it causes a lot of trouble too.

Before chassidim, all Jews said “My Hakodosh Boruch Hu!” and that’s all. However when the Ba’al Shem Tov saw that a lot of Jews had stopped saying that, so he said that it’s better to say “My Rebbe” than to not say anything at all. If you say “My Rebbe” long enough, than in the course of time you’ll say “My Hakodosh Boruch Hu” too.

But there have been very many plain people who never graduated past the “My Rebbe” stage. And therefore it becomes “My Rebbe” versus “Your Rebbe,” and they scratch out the eyes of each other. That’s a weakness.

Look, if you advance beyond that stage, then all Rebbes become “My Rebbe.” All Rebbes! The Satmerer Rebbe! Ahh! Zol ehr lang leiben!  He’s a wonderful man. A big warrior; and he accomplished for us so much. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, zol ehr lang leiben!  He accomplished so much and he is accomplishing. They should both be our Rebbes.

But when someone says “only this one,” and the other person says “only this one,” then trouble comes. And that’s the basic weakness. It doesn’t have to be that way because people are supposed to graduate. Your Rebbe is only a ladder. You climb up on your ladder to Hakodosh Boruch Hu. The Rebbe is only there to make it easier to climb up to Hakodosh Boruch Hu. But if a man just stands on the ladder and never reaches the shelf, then we tell him,  “What are you standing there for?!” There are a lot of people standing on ladders, and they’re all yelling at each other. This one says, “My ladder is better,” and this one says, “My ladder is better than yours.” So we tell them, “Get going already. Go higher!” But they’re busy with the ladders. And that causes trouble.
TAPE # 165 (April 1976)