Rabbinic Authority and Personal Autonomy
There is no question about it: The more one moves to the right, the more authority that is given to the rabbinic figure. And I do not mean on the personal level – of course each relationship and personality has its own dynamic - but I mean on the philosophically and ideologically. To various degrees, the rabbi, or rebbe, or Rosh Yeshiva, or tzadik, possesses the knowledge, wisdom and authority to decide what people should do in their lives, well beyond the purview of halacha, such as medical courses to choose, career paths, choices in shidduchim, etc. etc. Very little autonomy is left for the regular person to make his or her own decisions, especially in the areas of life surrounding religion. The name given for the expanded wisdom of the rabbi is “daas Torah”, that describes the nearly superhuman wisdom that the torah grants the Talmid Chacham that transcends the knowledge of Torah itself. I speculate that concept was really expanded based on the influence of Chasidism that significantly elevated the role of the Rebbe, and that became translated to the Rosh Yeshiva and Rav. To be honest, though, I must qualify that no one thinks that everyone with a rabbinic degree or position possesses this; it is only a true talmid chacham.
As we know, Modern Orthodoxy mostly rejects the notion of “daas Torah”. Rabbis are considered to have little power beyond the interpretation of the strict halacha and its application to modern life. For the most part, I believe that this is not a change toward modernity, rather it is the traditional vision, while “daas Torah” is a notion and label that was recently invented, and I believe that to be true.