Our Gemara records that the rabbis were unhappy with Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah who did not rebuke his neighbor for allowing his cow to wear a strap between its horns on Shabbos, as they considered it forbidden. The Chiddushei Chasam Sofer Chulin 142a uses this Gemara to explain another Gemara in Chagigah 3a:
The sages asked whose turn it was this Shabbos to teach halakha to the masses. When they heard it was Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah’s turn, and they heard his elaborate derashos, they said, “It can never be stated that this generation is orphaned, since they had Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah as their teacher.”
It is an odd phrase, to state that they CANNOT be called an orphan generation. What was the pressure to consider them an orphan generation? Chasam Sofer explained, that originally Rabbi Yehoshua assumed that since Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah’s neighbor was violating Shabbos, he must not giving adequate rebuke. This would make the generation an orphan generation as they have no father willing to guide them. However, once Rabbi Yehoshua heard a sample of Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah’s eruditeness in his derashos, he realized that he indeed did rebuke. Thus, the generation was not to be called an orphan generation but a rebellious son, ben sorer umoreh.
I will share a dark private conversation my father had years ago with an odom godol who preferred to remain nameless. At one particularly frustrating point in the discussion, the godol declared, “This is not a dor yasom, it is a dor mamzer!” Oy, vey. Sometimes it is important to hear mussar and take it on the chin. We can’t blame all our problems on the rabbis. Maybe we just don’t stop and listen.
Translations Courtesy of Sefaria, (except when, sometimes, I disagree with the translation .)