I've been in some unique situations where I've met someone who claims to be a rabbi but doesn't speak Lashon HaKodesh well or at all (not that I'm 'all that and a bag of chips' either). If I recall correctly, one time I thought to ask who his rav is. The answer was vague. My other concerns in past have been missionaries. Ah, those beautiful gut feelings...

As always, please source if possible. Apologize in advance if question has been asked already or there are similar ones in existence.

  • I'm somewhat unclear on something, here. Are you learning directly from the rav and want to know who HIS rav is? Why do you suspect that the rav or his rav is a missionary? Is your investigation solely for the purpose of wondering if you should learn from him, or are there other factors warranting this investigation? – DanF Dec 10 '15 at 17:03
  • DanF - 2 reasons for the investigation. 1) As you suggested, wondering if I should learn from him, 2) I have indeed encountered fakes who, in my opinion, are missionaries of sort and prey on the ignorant. In an effort to not become a skeptic about everyone, I want to become educated to avoid wasted time. Or worse, my kids going off the derech. I don't know if my most recent situation would be appropriate to drop names for more accuracy (and to respect site policy on personal questions), so I'm asking generally. – Re'eh Dec 10 '15 at 17:13
  • "What should one know (about the person) before accepting an offer to learn? Is it important to know who is his rav/affiliations are? Why? If you find out he got smicha from a 'rogue rav' (i.e. leaves 'religion' altogether, becomes Christian or Messianic), what should you do?" and the title, "Is it proper to investigate the validity of a rav?", sound like five different (though related) questions. I suspect you won't get good answers to all of them. I strongly recommend therefore that you pin down which one(s) you want answers to and ask only them -- and [continued] – msh210 Dec 10 '15 at 21:45
  • [continued] if there are more than, say, two, then ask them in separate posts. Consider this also my nonbinding vote to close this question as unclear pending such edits. (If I actually vote to close, that vote is binding immediately.) – msh210 Dec 10 '15 at 21:45
  • See Mo'ed Kattan 17a and Chagiga 15b: "If the rav is like an angel of HaShem, seek Torah from his mouth. If not, do not seek Torah from his mouth." See also Rashi on Shabbos 127b, s.v. "שאינו בדוק לרבי," who implies that students of a rav should know his character enough to be able to trust him implicitly. – Fred Dec 10 '15 at 22:32

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