How can we tell who is the greatest righteous leader of the generation, the nasi?
I remember in my litvishe school, where I was hounded as the odd man out, the weird lubab, we would childishly argue:
“Reb Ahron Kotler (or just switch this any other Litvish gadol) was the greatest! He knew so much more Torah than your Rebbe!” I would hear all the time.
Of course, being in 5th grade, I would shoot back, “My Rebbe is so much greater than your Rosh Yeshivas!”
If only because there is literally no way to base this opinion on any facts. Its pure conjecture. I say this, you say that. We hit the wall.
But as far as I know, there is only one man who undertook the obligation of taking care of all Jews, whether they be Litvish, Chasseeeedish, Lubavitch, Modern Orthodox, Reform, Conservative etc…whether they were black, yellow, red or white.
One man who lost sleep because some soldier on an army base in Greenland wrote to him that he didn’t have a shofar for Rosh Hashana, one man who sent messengers to some far-flung town in Australia in the middle of the night because he had just received a letter from a teenage girl that she doesn’t know how to light Shabbat candles, one man who spent money funding the magazines of groups opposed to him, one man who felt personally responsible for the spiritual and physical wellbeing of every single Jew.
I think we should honor the astonishing fact that the Rebbe took responsibility on his shoulders for the Jewish nation as a whole.
Does that mean he was the greatest tzaddik? No. Does it even matter whether he was the greatest? No. Is he still my Rebbe even if he wasn’t the greatest leader? Yes.
But he was willing to put himself on the line for every single Jew, no matter their level of religiosity or affiliation. To my knowledge no other leader has done that for quite some time. Let’s honor that.