I was chozer beteshuva 2 years ago and I really needed a rabbi to help me go on the right path and learn Torah. Finally a year ago I met a rabbi and it seemed to click, I started coming to his shiurim everyday and coming to eat at his house on Shabbat. I’m now his main talmid and we go together to all the shiurim he gives during the week and on Shabbat, and I’ve learned a lot of Torah. He’s helped me so much throughout the past year and I owe him a lot. The problem is that I’m starting to see some not so good middot in my Rav. Yelling at the people in the shiurim (although they do talk a lot, but other Rabbanim that I see with the same people have patience and don’t raise their voice), as well seeing how he treats his children at home (which I for sure don’t want to copy for my kids), and also speaking badly to me and making me feel low. The problem I’m having is that I know the Baal Shem Tov taught that whatever you see in other people, Hashem is really trying to show you what you have inside yourself. So I guess on some level my Rav is helping me see things in myself that I need to fix. Maybe Hashem wants me to be better in thinking and seeing the good in people no matter how they behave. But on the other hand the Gemara teaches us to take a Rav with the face of an angel, meaning to say a Rav with good middot that you look up to him and want to copy his ways. I am really confused and not sure what to do in this situation. On one hand I have a personal Rav to learn Torah with a few hours a day everyday and can ask any questions I have, and on the other hand I don’t want to be influence by some of his middot and also don’t look up to him so much because of it. If there is any way to help me with this situation I would much appreciate it.
I hear your predicament. Being that I don’t know you or the rov you are talking about, I can’t tell you something definitive, however here are a few thoughts on such a situation, and you can take what you feel applies to you most.
On one hand you are learning and growing from this Rov. The fact that he gets agitated during the shiur, on one hand can be understood, because the people are talking. The fact that other rabbanim don’t get upset or react differently, doesn’t mean it isn’t frustrating. Besides, different people have different temperaments, and there is a lot of room to be dan l’kav zechus. The way he deals with his children, might also be only because of different pressures that he has, (possibly because you are looking and it frustrates him when his children act up, and it embarrasses him). Again I am not saying that this is the fact, I am only suggesting another way to look at it, if you feel that it might be the case.
On the other hand, if the way he is acting disturbs you to the degree that it hampers you ability to accept from him, or because it is actually causing you to copy negative things that you see, then you might want to look for a different person.
There is another idea also that it is possible for a person to have different rabbeim for different areas of life. This rov can be your rov for actual learning, and you can find someone else that you respect more for his middos, and grow in that area from the other person. No one is prefect in all areas, but you can choose what you want to learn from whom. We have to learn and take the positive from each person.
It is interesting, there are a few understandings of what chazal say ( Chagiga 15b) that a person should learn from a rov that is like an angel. One understanding is the simple meaning, ( see maharsha ibid.) that by his actions, he is like an angel in your eyes and you have tremendous respect for him then learn from him- otherwise not. However another explanation, (Introduction to Sefer Hamakneh 43) that we knew people have the capability to grow, (they are called mehalchim), whereas a malach is called an omeid- he is stationary, and he doesn’t “grow”. If the rov is willing to sacrifice his own growth and time for the talmid, then learn torah from him. It sounds like your situation is like the latter understanding.
Again it really depends on how you feel. If you would like to talk about it in person, let me know and we can discuss it.
May Hashem help you overcome all your difficulties and help you continue to grow.