Gadol, Rebbe, and the Difference Between Them

Watch: In honor of Gimmel Tammuz, Illuminate presents an episode crystallizing what sets a Rebbe apart from other great Torah giants. Whether you know the answer or not, tap into the opportunity to connect to the Rebbe for the next three minutes.

If you had to pinpoint the primary quality of a Rebbe, what would it be? What factors turn a Rabbi into a Rebbe, and set a Rebbe apart from other great Torah giants and community leaders? 


Another title used to describe a “Rebbe” is “Nasi.” In the Torah, the term Nasi is used for royal monarchy. Like the connection between a Rebbe and his people, the relationship between a king and his subjects is not limited to any one aspect of life. A king’s reign extends to all areas of the lives of his people. 

Moshe Rabbeinu was the first “Rebbe” of the Jewish nation. Our Sages taught that aside from Moshe’s spiritual role, the Jewish people received the mann in his merit, which sustained them physically in the desert during their forty-year sojourn. His influence reached even the most physical aspects of their lives. 

The word Nasi is an acronym for Nitzutzo Shel Yaakov Avinu” – the spark of Yaakov our Patriarch. Yaakov had a unique quality in comparison to our other forefathers. Yaakov was the first father whose children all followed in his pious path. 

This was because Yaakov had a unique, all-encompassing soul which was essentially connected with each of his children, guiding them to become the Twelve Tribes of Israel. In each generation, there is a Nasi who possesses this uniquely powerful soul. The Nasi is connected to and cares for every single Jew, regardless of his level of observance or knowledge. 

A Rebbe is more than a teacher or spiritual mentor. The Rebbe is the medium through which G-d channels life and vitality to every individual in the generation. The relationship between a Rebbe and a Jew is not limited to holy matters or Torah study. His soul is one with ours. Bring the Rebbe into your life. Act on this soul connection.

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