January 17, 2022


1) I deal with the tzibbur and sometimes people have very complex issues and questions, such as questions about shidduchim or medical issues and other serious issues, which needs to be asked to a Gadol. When sending in a question to a Gadol, does every detail of the question need to be described? Or is it enough to send in the question in general, without writing all the details, or is it not necessary to write down all the details of the question, because people will say to me, “Why do all of the details of the question need to be written, since he has Ruach HaKodesh?”


1) To give a very general description, there are two kinds of Ruach HaKodesh.
There is one kind of Ruach HaKodesh where the tzaddik understands all of the details of an issue, through the enlightened understanding of Ruach HaKodesh that he has attained. There is another kind of Ruach HaKodesh which does not make the tzaddik aware of all the details, but merely gives him the answer, in any of the following ways. Either the words come out of the tzaddik’s mouth, as the Gemara in Tractate Berachos says, that a possuk (verse) can fall into one’s mouth [when one wakes up in the morning] and this is a small level of prophecy. In the same way, words can come out of a tzaddik’s mouth [through Ruach HaKodesh] which answers the person’s question or he becomes aware of the answer mentally in his thoughts, or he hears a voice telling it to him, or he will see the answer in the form of writing. In this kind of Ruach HaKodesh, the tzaddik is not aware of the reason for the answer.
Another phenomenon that is close to this is when the tzaddik gets a muskal rishon (initial perspective) about the issue, which is Ruach HaKodesh, and this is coming from a “spiritual illumination” that comes from the “intellect of the neshamah” [as opposed to his second thoughts, which are already mixed with human logic and which are not in the category of Ruach HaKodesh]. Sometimes he can even sense this with the spiritual sensitivity of his soul.
In the second kind of Ruach HaKodesh, there is no necessity for him to know every last detail of the issue. But in the first kind of Ruach HaKodesh, there are varying levels. If the tzaddik is on a completely righteous level, the tzaddik can see the questioner’s soul at its source in the soul of Adam HaRishon, and even more so, he can see the soul root of the person as it was before Creation. But only rare individuals throughout the generations had this ability. Any person who possessed Ruach HaKodesh saw things within the limitations of his understanding, just as no Torah scholar sees exactly what another Torah scholar sees in the Torah.
Therefore, the answer that the tzaddik saw in his Ruach HaKodesh is modified to the spiritual level of the tzaddik, and accordingly, the tzaddik will understand the general issue and the details of the issue, based on his particular level. When this happens, the tzaddik will sometimes become aware of details even by employing the use of his human logic, to understand what he sees in the spiritual spheres.
It resembles what happens with prophecy, where the prophet saw a certain vision and he needed to interpret what he saw, as the Ramchal describes, in sefer Kelach Pischei Chochmah. It was also similar to what happened when asking questions to the Urim V’Tumim, where the Kohen needed to use his daas in order to combine the letters properly and understand the answer. The answer that the navi or Kohen found did not come to him as a clear understanding, it had to be discerned. He had to analyze the information and combine it properly. With this kind of understanding, he was made aware of all the details.
Even more so, there were Sages who were able to answer questions based on wisdom and cleverness, combined with siyata d’shmaya (assistance from Heaven) and prayer to be guided to the truth. This also entailed knowing all the details of the issue or question at hand.
2) When a Gadol or tzaddik writes a response to a question, is it to be regarded as “advice”, or do we need to look at it as a decision coming from Hashem, since a tzaddik is called an extension of Hashem [because Hashem communicates to us through the words of tzaddikim]?
2) It depends on what goal the questioner has in mind. If the questioner wants advice, then the Gadol’s answer is “advice” to him. If the questioner is seeking a psak (a halachic ruling), this will depend. If he is going to the sage because he wants an answer based on the Ruach HaKodesh of the sage, then this alone does not obligate him to listen to the sage’s answer. But if he asks the sage a question because he wants to hear the “word of Hashem” from him, and he believes that the word of Hashem is revealed through the sage who is worthy of hearing it, then that obligates him to listen to the sage. Similarly, if the sage tells him that “this is the word of Hashem”, the questioner is obligated to listen. But this barely ever happens.
3) What if the person asking the question has a certain subconscious motivation that he wants to get a certain answer from the Gadol? Will his ulterior motives cause the Gadol to give him an answer that’s not accurate?
3) Yes – בדרך שאדם רוצה לילך מוליכין אותו, “In the way that a person goes, he is led in.” For this reason, many times the answer that one receives is not accurate.
4) How should a question to a tzaddik be asked? Is this something that depends on which tzaddik one is asking and does it also depend on each questioner?
It depends on the level of the sage and on the question being asked. In cases where the answer depends on the understanding of the sage, one should indeed suspect that the answer is being manipulated by the motivations of the questioner.
6) Are there are any ways for a person to decide upon the answers to his questions? If yes, how can a person know which way is appropriate for him to use, in order to answer his questions? Are there several approaches which a person needs to use, in order to decide upon an answer to his questions or issues?
6) Yes. One way is if he removes himself from any subconscious ulterior motivations (negios), which allows the initial understanding to be true. Similar to this, the Ramban says that when one learns Torah lishmah, he can then decide the answer to his question based on the first thought that comes to him, because learning Torah lishmah removes all obstacles from him and allows him to receive spiritual illumination from the source of understanding. Alternatively, by having emunah that only Hashem manages everything (except for one’s free will), the answer to one’s question is also coming from the Creator, because here is one is allowing the Creator to decide for him. But in order to do this, one needs to have very clear emunah.
All of these ways are true, and it is a matter which depends on each person’s soul root (shoresh neshamah) as well as his current spiritual level (madreigah). The better a person recognizes himself, to that extent will he know when and how to go about this, and which approach to take.