It is said that before Rav Chaim Volozhin sent a yungerman off to a position in rabbanus, he would call him into his office. Likely assuming that Rav Chaim would share great mysteries of the trade with them, treasured advice and collective wisdom, the young man no doubt felt a mixture of dread and anticipation as he made his way to the meeting.
And he was likely surprised when Rav Chaim opened his drawer and handed the young musmach a luach.
He would explain that a rav’s role is multifaceted. But he must also keep in mind what balebatim assume his role to be. A talmid chacham may recognize that it is possible for a very learned person to be well-versed in the laws of Choshen Mishpat and yet be unsure when Av Harachamim is recited on Shabbos morning—but a congregant may very well be shocked that the rav needs to check into this.
A rav must know the calendar thoroughly, explained Rav Chaim, and never hesitate about the schedule for davening because it is something that balebatim, rightfully, take very seriously.
A number of families in my shul have sons who recently received smichah from Yeshiva University. Last Shabbos they sponsored a kiddush, and the newly minted musmachim delivered a number of divrei Torah and shiurim. In honor of the simchah, I thought I would tell this story about Rav Chaim Volozhin and give each young man a luach.