Warren Buffet, the third richest man in the world, is renowned as the “Oracle of Omaha” for his legendary investing acumen. In 2013, the Wall Street Journal interviewed a team of industry leaders to capsulate what everyday investors can learn from his investment strategy and history. The highlights included:

1) Don’t Rent. Don’t sell. Invest in things; don’t rent them for speculative returns.

2) Don’t try to be fancy. Keep it real. Focus on the business aspects of any investment. Research thoroughly. Trust few. Avoid leverage, and be patient and willing to invest forever. 

3) Exercise patience, learn from mistakes, and invest only in what you understand.

4) Don’t get swept up by the crowd. For example, be willing to sit on a mountain of cash, even though interest rates are extremely low. Most financial advisers would scoff at that, but Mr. Buffett will wait in cash if there aren’t compelling values available elsewhere.

5) “We (must) simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.” Be a patient, long-term value investor by seeing the big picture.

6) The most important part of being a self-made man is being a “mensch,” a decent man. Mr. Buffett enjoys the utilitarian benefits of money, providing well for himself and his family, and he enjoys the expressive and emotional benefits of money by giving it away.

Most people follow would follow Mr. Buffet’s advice as long as it seems the “right” decision for their portfolio.

Comes along Parshas Shoftim that teaches Judaism’s approach to Jewish legislation and adjudication runs counter to a strictly pragmatic attitude to following advice – rabbis’ directives are respected even when their teachings and rulings are seemingly counter-intuitive:

You must act in accordance with the ruling that they tell you from the place that God shall choose; you must take care to follow their every instruction. You must follow the directives that they teach you; you must proceed according to the rules that they tell you. Do not stray right or left from whatever they tell you. (Devarim 17:11)

The responsibility to listen to Jewish courts, sages and rabbis is for all generations. Rabbi Avraham Edelstein, in his book The Oral Law (pp. 69-70) explains,

The Ramban (Commentary on Sefer HaMitzvot, Shoresh 1) stresses that there is no difference between laws determined by our Sages and those which were received by Moshe (Moses) at Har Sinai (Mount Sinai), for the Torah was given in such a way that it required the Sages to interpret it. In fact, most of the laws in the Torah cannot be understood from the words of the Torah alone. Without this mandate, the Torah would be a mysterious document for us. Thus, the interpretation of the Sages of any generation becomes the Torah which God commanded us to keep at Mount Sinai (Drashot HaRan 11). Even if by the highest standards of our own human logic they appear to be wrong, as wrong as confusing left with right, God testifies through this mitzvah that this is not so (Devarim/Deuteronomy 17-11). For, if we were all left to make our own interpretations of the Torah, a thousand individual religions would bloom, and none would be Judaism.

Newcomers to Judaism commonly question the authority and reliability of the sages and rabbis to adjudicate laws, especially since they have the most defining consequences for Jewish life. The NLE Morasha shiur on Rabbinic Authority addresses the role, authority, and reliability of the rabbis who have carried the halachic tradition throughout the generations.

The Sages of Israel throughout Jewish history assumed three parallel responsibilities. They were at once 1) the carriers of the explanations of Torah laws, 2) interpreters of the Torah, and 3) legislators of rabbinical law. The Torah authorizes the Sages with a mandate to assume these roles.

This class will address the following questions:

  • How reliable were the Sages in transmitting the Oral Torah accurately? What were their qualifications?
  • What empowered the Sages to interpret and apply the laws of the Torah the way they did?
  • By what right did the Sages create new legislation? Why are rabbinical laws binding?

Click here to download the NLE Morasha Syllabus Shiur on Rabbinic Authority.  

See the entire series on the System of Halacha.



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