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Section: Daas Torah   Category: Rav Shimshon
Parshas Shoftim: Rav Shimshon Pincus - When The Vilna Gaon Is Prepared To Eat Treif
Uvasa... V'El HaShofet Sher Yihiyeh Bayamim Haheim", and you will come... to the leader in those days.  Rashi says that we see from here that the posek of your generation is the final word.  Even if he is not as great as the Chachomim of previous generations, his psak must be heeded.

Rav Shimshon Pincus tells an incredible story illustrating this point.  One Friday afternoon in Vilna in the house of the tailor who was a neighbor of the Vilna Gaon, a question arose regarding the kashrus of a chicken.  The tailor immediately sent his young son to the Gra who paskened that it is treif.  Unknowingly,, at the same time the tailor's wife sent someone to the Rov of Vilna, Rav Shmuel b"r Avigdor who paskened that it is Kosher.  When both sides realized that they received a conflicting psak din they faced a great dilemma.

The went back to the Rov's house and told him about the psak of the Gra.  Immediately the Rov went to the Gra and told him that while he concedes that the Gra is ten times greater than he is in Torah, nevertheless he is the Rov and if his word is not heeded his authority and psak will be severely weakened.  The only choice said the Rov was for the two of them to go together to the tailors house and for both of them to partake in the Seudah and eat from the chicken.  The Gra agreed.  I repeat, the Gra agreed to eat chicken that he knew was considered a treifa!!!  

Why are we so quick to judge out gedolim when our Torah knowledge and understanding of the world is not one hundredth of theirs?  Let's say they are not as smart as the gedolim we know from previous generations, that is still not acceptable.  Besides, just like we don't understand these gedolim, why do we claim that we know what the previous gedolim would say?  It would make more sense that they would agree with today's gedolim who received the mesora from them, and not with us whose understanding is shaped by the secular world and the media more than anything else.  

What makes Am Yisroel unique is that all its wisdom is derived from one source, the torah.  To that end our leaders are old men who have spend close to century toiling over nothing but the torah.  Fo some odd reason we hold that against them today, rather than subjugate our polluted thoughts to their clear vision.  Ein Licha Kohein Ela Shofet ShebiYamecha!

PS.  As an irrelevant postscript to the above story, when the Gra and the Rav Shmuel ben Avigdor arrived for their chicken meal the the oil lamp over the table fell spilling fat into the chicken and thus rendering the chicken inedible.