Off the Pulpit

The True Disciple

There is an old story about two students who studied with the same great Rabbi. After the Rabbi died, they separated and did not see each other for many years. One of them meticulously followed all he had learned from his teacher. The other developed his own interpretations as well, and in many matters diverged from what they had learned.

After many years the two met. The first said to his former friend, “I don’t understand. We had such a magnificent mentor. Why didn’t you live as I have, and remain faithful to the teachings of our Master?” The second answered, “I did. Indeed, I followed his way more scrupulously than you. You see, he grew up and left his Rabbi. I grew up and left mine.”

If we are fortunate enough to have figures in private or public life whom we admire, we will naturally share many of their teachings and inclinations. Yet in the end we must each forge our own path in this world. No one else can live our lives for us. We learn what we can from our teachers, and then leave them to become ourselves.