The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume III, Issue 33
Iyar 5759 / April-May 99
Translations and original material copyright (c) 1998 by Yaacov
Dovid Shulman (unless otherwise noted)
* The Light of the World
* From Volozhin to Jerusalem (II)
* The Story of Cain
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
Supernal holiness is a holiness of silence, a holiness of being, when we recognize ourselves, our own particular inner self, as nullified, and we live an all-inclusive life: a life of all. We feel the life of the inanimate, plant and animal, the life of the entire totality, of all humanity, of every individual, the life of every mind and every intelligence, everyone who strives and everyone who feels.
Then with us, existence, in its entirety, rises to its source. And the source is revealed continuously--upon itself and upon us--with great glory, in the splendor of holiness, in truth and tranquility. All happiness, all that is good and just, all strength and harmony, all might and power flow upon us. We are the light of the world, its foundation and the force of the drawing forth of its life. In our merit, the entire world is sustained. Yet in our own yes, we are entirely as nothing. We are not set aside, separate, apart. We are alive, and all of our life is a holy of holies, a life of life. The beating of our heart, the flow of our blood, the ideals of our spirit, our look and the gaze of our eyes: all of these are a life of truth, a life of divine might pouring into them and through them.
If this holiness of silence will cast itself down to a restricted serve--to prayer, Torah, the constriction of particular ethics and care--we will suffer and be oppressed, we will feel that a soul filled with all existence is being crushed in tongs, imprisoned and compressed in measurement, the designation of one specific road, at a time that all roads together are opened before us, all of them filled with light, all of them containing life.
The arrogance in the era preceding the messiah comes stems an inner yearning for the holiness of supernal silence. In the end it will come, for in the future, Israel will yet higher than the ministering angels, who will ask: "What has G-d wrought? What is now being taught in the heavenly academy?"
The sons of the arrogant, of those who make breaches in the roads and fences, will in the future be prophets of the highest order, of the level of Moses and with the supernal radiance of Adam. The tree of life completely, in the full depth of its goodness, will be revealed in them and by them.
To bring this supernal light to the world, it is necessary to have the service of holy people filled with supernal love, who reveal in the meditation of their heart and the sensitivity of their soul both the treasure-house of goodness hidden in the most particular unique nature of the life of Israel, and as well a populace that is connected to the holiness of the forefathers, to the inheritance of the community of Jacob, yearning for the central point of its life with all its might, fearful and suffering regarding the destruction, recoiling from the breach of the fences, girding its strength to keep and guard every ruling written with faith and skill.
Dispute between Torah scholars, different paths
contradicting one another are revealed in life. And the flow of
light brings about its accomplishment in the chambers of the soul
in its great holiness. And the light of the messiah is
FROM VOLOZHIN TO JERUSALEM
But at this fire, circumstances were different. The heat had been continuous for several weeks, everything was very dry, the wind was blowing, in every house the oven was burning because it was Shabbos eve. The fire grew larger and stronger. The commotion this time was more than the usual. In addition to the loud outcries of "Fire!," "My house is in danger!," "Help!," and "Water, water!," people everywhere were calling out, "Oy, my child!," "Where is my Shloymele?," "Has anyone seen my Yitzchakel?" Mothers and fathers forgot their houses and the little bit of merchandise in their stores. They ran about with their hands stretched out, looking for their children. It was cheder time, and all the older children were learning with various teachers.
As for the smaller children, some were off playing, some were in cheder, some in a sod (a town garden), and some near the river.
The outcry and tumult split the heavens.
Here again, the yeshiva students took an active role. They ran to bring the children from cheder, they looked for their parents, they grabbed children from the street and carried them to wherever the children pointed.
The yeshiva students had a commander-in-chief, and this was Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik. At that time, he was the second rosh yeshiva, and world-famous. But he was still fresh and young enough to run from one street to the other, seeking the lost children. He carried one child on one shoulder, another on his other shoulder, and a third in his arms, as yet a fourth ran behind him. And he distributed them to their fathers and mothers. And as soon as he delivered one such transport, he again ran to see if there were any other child who had remained behind.
Besides extinguishing the fire and rescuing the children, there was another task that must be attended to during a fire in Volozhin. This was the rescue of the rosh yeshivas' writings and books. When the outcry of "Fire!" broke out, a number of yeshiva students ran immediately to our house to pack up the books and help bring everything to safety. Most important, they carried out "the rebbe's chest," the case in which my father's writings were stored. They yeshiva students knew where the box was and what it looked like. They also knew that any other manuscripts on the table must be placed in the box and delivered into trustworthy hands so that this, before all else, will be carried to a field outside of town where the fire, however great it may grow, will not endanger it.
That field was the safest place--both for objects and people--when it became clear that nothing more could be done to stop the fire. It was too large, the wind was too strong. House after house burned, street after street, until it could not be contained. One could wait until the fire would die down of itself, the wind would stop blowing, or there would be no houses left to burn. In the meanwhile, everyone took refuge in the field.
This field was on a mountain slope. From here, we could see clearly how the fire was destroying and burning houses large and small, study halls and stores. Everyone was here in the field: small and great, young and old. Here stood my father (of blessed memory) surrounded by the family, distinguished young people and older householders. Here as well were the Torah scrolls from the yeshiva and all the study halls. Almost the entire town had gathered.
People cried and wailed. From a distance, as a house started to burn, a family would burst into wails. When a row of stores caught flame, a outcry would burst forth: "Our store is on fire!"
Suddenly, everyone saw that the roof of the yeshiva had caught fire. A cry that reached the heavens burst from everyone's throat: "Woe, the beis hamikdash is burning!" There remained no one, learned or simple, with dry eyes. Whether quietly or aloud, everyone wept. Everyone cried, "Oy vey, the beis hamikdash is burning!" "The holy yeshiva is in flames!" Children who had been asking for food, adults who had been bemoaning their destroyed homes and stores, forgot what they had been thinking of and wishing for. Instead, there was one outcry, one moan: "The beis hamikdash is burning. The yeshiva is on fire!"
It is possible to draw God's complete providence only when we break our lust for money.
We do that by giving charity.
"A spirit descends to cool the heat of the heart. When that spirit descends, the heart receives it with the joy of the song of the Levites" (Zohar Pinchas 244a).
This "spirit" is charity, which is "a voluntary spirit" (Psalms 51:14). With this, we cool of the heat of the lust for money. The verse "He cuts off the spirit of the princes" (Psalms 76:13) can be read, "The spirit cuts off the princes." The spirit diminishes the lust for princeliness and wealth.
"The song of the Levites" is dealing faithfully in business- -in other words, being happy in one's portion and not rushing to grow wealthy. Song refers to business. In Hebrew, "business" is literally "lifting and giving." This corresponds to the verse, "Lift up a tune and give the tambourine" (Psalms 81:32).
"The joy" is the fact that one is happy with one's portion.
And this is the incense [that was offered in the Temple]. This incense connects the heat of the heart to the spirit. "Incense rejoices the heart" (Proverbs 27:9).
"They will bring incense for Your nostrils" (Deut. 33:10). That incense nullifies the cruse, "by the sweat of your brow shall you eat" (Bereishis 3:19). The words for "nostril" and "brow" in the above two verses are similar.
And this is the revelation of the messiah. At that time, there will be no lust for money. "On that day, a person will cast aside his gods of silver and his gods of gold" (Isaiah 2:20).
The messiah is "the spirit of our nostrils, the anointed of Hashem" (Eichah 4:20).
As long as the idolatry of money exists in the world, there is anger in the world (see Sanhedrin 113; Sifri Re'eh).
But when this idolatry is nullified, so is the anger nullified. "The spirit of our nostrils, the anointed of Hashem."
Then love is drawn into the world: "He performs love for His anointed one" (Psalms 18:51).
When this love will be revealed, consciousness will be drawn down. And that is the building of the Temple: "I in the greatness of Your love will come to Your house." (Psalms 5:8). And: "His right hand [which indicates love] will build the beis hamikdash" (Zohar Pinchas 220b).
Consciousness is a house. "If a person has consciousness,
it is as though the beis hamikdash was built in his time"
THE STORY OF CAIN
Here are two short thoughts, even though they are nowhere near the weekly parshah.
1. The phrase "And Adam knew Eve" has the noun first and the verb following. Rashi infers from this that "Adam had previously known Eve."
Immediately afterwards, we are told, "And Cain brought from the fruit of the ground a present to Hashem. And Abel brought as well from the first-fruits of his flocks, and from their best."
In the Hebrew, "Cain brought" presents the verb first, implying (ala Rashi) a recent act. But "Abel brought" presents the noun first, implying something that had occurred earlier. Thus we have an additional reason for the fact that God accepts Abel's offering but rejects Cain's. Abel's, although mentioned second, was brought first.
(We still have to ask: if this is the case, why is it not stated more excplicitly?)
2. "And Hashem said to Cain: Why are you upset and why is your face fallen? After all, if you do well, you will be forgiven. But if you do not do well, sin crouches at the entrance, desiring you. But you can rule over it." This is immediately followed by, "And Cain said to Abel his brother." Yet we are not told what Cain said to Abel. Perhaps the paralleling of "Hashem said to Cain" and "Cain said to Abel" implies that Cain said to Abel what Hashem had said to him. Cain, the archetypal hypocrite, rebuked Abel for what were really his own flaws. And Abel allowed Cain to "rise up against him," and thus suffered death.
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