Yosie, the son of Yoezer from Zeredah, said:
“Let your house be a meeting place for the wise; cover yourself with the dust of their feet, and drink in their words with thirst.”
The idea of being covered with someone’s dust has many implications. It reveals a close proximity and suggests following closely; or sitting at their feet, as in learning. But there is another connotation that hints at submitting to their discipline (shaking the dust from their feet).
In a previous post I brought up the picture of being covered in the rabbi’s dust. The picture entails such a close walk with the rabbi that you would literally be covered in his dust as you followed him through life. The rabbis suggest an additional inference.
In Middle East culture, shaking the dust from your feet was a sign of judgment or discipline. When someone showed displeasure or disagreement, he would shake out his sandals as a way to announce wrongdoing. We see a version of that still today with the shoe being removed to strike something offensive. If one was to willingly cover himself with the dust of their rabbi’s feet then he is receiving that chastening and submitting to the rabbi’s authority and discipline.
Our Rabbi knows us intimately. Are we following Him closely? So closely we know when He is displeased and are willing to humbly submit to His correction?