How are we to recognize who the gedolim are? Who are the leaders of the Jewish people?
The most reliable way is if other gedolim point to him as a gadol, then you can rely on that. But if only a group of people say he’s a gadol, then who knows if he really is one? Let’s say a man, his father was a Rebbi, a Chassidishe Rebbi, and now his father died, and he became Rebbi. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s a gadol. It’s a minhag to immediately call him a tzadik – a young boy at the age of eighteen or nineteen is a tzadik. Now, it could be that in the course of time, since so many people rely on him, it could be that he’s going to mechanech himself in the ways of his father, that could be. I’m not going to criticise him, no, I won’t do that. But he can’t be called a gadol hador. He’s a gadol, maybe in his own place.
A gadol hador is one of the leaders that that the other gedolim are מסכים to, they agree about him – that’s all. When other leaders point to him as a gadol, then that’s the easiest way to know. So if this rosh yeshiva and that rosh yeshiva all together say that he’s a gadol, then more or less you can rely on that.
TAPE # 901 (February 1993)