Most people can understand the layout and basic measurements of a building from its blueprint. But it takes an expert–an architect or an engineer–to use those blueprints to build a house.

The Torah is frequently referred to as the blueprint for life. The Torah can be read and understood by all people. But the more one studies, the more expert one becomes in understanding the intricacies of the Torah’s guidelines. Torah experts are the rabbis and judges about whom God commands the Jewish people: “And you shall come to the Levite-priests and to the judge who will be in those days, and you shall inquire, and they will tell you the words of the judgment…According to the law they instruct you and according to the judgment they say to you, you shall do” (Deuteronomy 17:9,11).

We all know people who insist that they don’t need help with directions, even when dealing with complicated issues that are far from their fields of expertise. God recognized this aspect of human nature and, therefore, gave His people implicit instructions to seek advice from those who truly know Torah law.

The sages, however, noted that the law limits the judges to those “who will be in those days.” Of course one would seek judgment from a living judge… “Can we possibly imagine that a man should go to a judge who is not in his days? This shows that you must respect the judges who serve in your time.” [Even if they would seem to be inferior to the judges of previous times.] (Rosh Hashana 25b).

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