The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review

Yaacov Dovid Shulman

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Balak 5758 / July 11, 1998


* The Business for which We are Suited
-by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
* Rabbi Nachman Becomes a Rebbe
-by Hillel Zeitlin
*The Sense of being a Stranger
-by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
* The White Frock
-a Yiddish Tale
* "We Will Do and We Will Listen"
-by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
* "We Will Do and We Will Listen"
-by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

Every one of us must engage in the business for which we are suited.

This is particularly true regarding Torah learning. At times, circumstances may make it difficult for you to stand firm in what your heart desires. But nevertheless, you must stay strong and not relinquish that which is suited for your particular spirit.

Oros Hatorah 9:1

by Hillel Zeitlin

As time passed, the outward signs of immaturity in Nachman quieted down and the emergence of the genius and tzaddik became apparent. He began to attract other young people who found in this young man who illuminated the nights with his recital of Psalms, with his tuneful prayers and weeping pleas, a rebbe, advisor and guide.

In the first years after his marriage, when he was being supported by his parents-in-law, Rabbi Nachman had no desire to wrap himself in the garment of a rebbe--he took no cognizance of the fact that he came from a family of rebbes and wonder-workers, nor that he himself was somewhat of a wonder-worker (at this time, people were beginning to recognize his uplifted character).

When Rabbi Nachman ceased to be supported by his parents-in- law and was left with a dowry of three hundred rendel coins, he did no more than pray and learn. When the three hundred rendels were spent, Rabbi Nachman and his family went hungry. Once, when he was suffering badly from hunger, he went to pray in the field, as was his custom. Roaming through the fields, he saw some stalks of grain in a kerchief. He took these and brought them home, filled with joy, praise and thanks to G-d, Who had delivered him his sustenance when he needed it. But what would he do next? Miracles do not constantly occur. One must keep one's soul in one's body, and one's wife and children are asking for food. And so, lacking any choice, he began to consider becoming a rebbe.

At first, he had strongly opposed such a possibility. He hated the fame that comes with being a rebbe. He hated it so intensely that at one time he had considered leaving everything behind and travelling throughout the world, from house to house, unknown and unnoticed by anyone. Once, he declared: "I would have wanted to go from house to house and laugh at the entire world."

But this was too hard for someone from such a family, with such a great spirit, for someone who was so physically weak and delicately raised as Rabbi Nachman was. Therefore, he felt in all his senses that he had a great mission to fulfill: that he had a message and a teaching; that he carried within himself a great blessing for those near, far, and very distant--not only for his own generation but for generations to come. And even though the fame of being a rebbe brings with it great spiritual dangers, there are times when one needs to undertake such a task.

Therefore, Rabbi Nachman agreed to the request of the village Jews in the area of Medvedevka that he should relocate there with a stipend of a rendel a week.

The near-by village Jews in the region of Medvedevka were imitated by the more distant village Jews, who were in turn imitated by the inhabitants of Medvedevka and other shtetls. In this way, people began to travel to him from a twenty-mile radius.

From various later statements that Rabbi Nachman made, one can see that he had a great deal to do in order to oppose the small-mindedness and sloppy nature of some of his Hasidim. In connection with this, he though very highly of the previously- mentioned Rabbi Shimon. He liked Rabbi Shimon to such a degree that he considered him a partner in his work, a helper, a fellow- warrior and fellow-builder.

Once, he said: "Do not learn from what you see of me. Although you may see me as gloomy, you yourselves must always be happy. Can you compare yourself to me in everything? Inwardly I am happy. But I must blaze a trail through a wasteland and wilderness, hacking away all the undergrowth until a road is prepared for the masses. This work concerns me almost constantly." And he added that Rabbi Shimon had a part in this work.

And Rabbi Nachman once told another two Hasidim--Rabbi Yehudah and Rabbi Shmuel Eizik of Dashev--who wanted to move to Medvedevka in order to be close to him, "I yearn for the roads upon which you have travelled to me. From every step of your journey, an angel was created."

from Reb Nachman Breslover

by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

There is a sense of being a stranger that you may feel outside the land of Israel.

That sense connects the entire inner desire of your spirit ever more strongly to the land of Israel and its holiness. Your hope to see it grows. The impression, the inner image, of the holy structure of that land upon which G-d always gazes grows increasingly deeper.

There is a depth of holy yearning for beloved Zion, a recollection of that entirely desirable land. When that grows in even a single soul, the wellspring flows for everyone: for tens of thousands of souls connected to that soul.

Eretz Cheifetz (quoting Oros), p. 48

A Yiddish Tale

The elder, holy Tshortkover rebbe, Rabbi Dovid Moshe, told the following story.

For seven years, Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov learned under the holy tzaddik, Rabbi Shmelke of Nikolsburg.

When seven years had passed, his rebbe told him, "Now you may go home. But I will give you provisions for the road." And he gave him a loaf of bread, a gold rendel coin, and a white frock. Those were his provisions for the road.

Rabbi Moshe Leib went home. On the way, he heard a very bitter outcry. He followed the cry until he came to a house, and he heard the voice coming from a cellar. There a Jew was imprisoned, crying out and weeping: "Oh, where can I get three hundred rheinish coins to pay the count the rent for the tavern? If I do not, I will die before my time, G-d forbid!"

Hearing these words, Rabbi Moshe Leib immediately threw down to the Jew his only piece of bread, which his rebbe had given him. He told himself, "At least in the meantime, this Jew will not die of hunger."

Then he rushed to the count and spoke with him about the Jew imprisoned in the cellar. He wanted to give the count the rebbe's rendel. But the count apparently didn't want to absolve a debt of three hundred rheinish with one rendel. And so Rabbi Moshe Leib left the count with a broken heart, asking himself "What can be done? What can be done?"

The pain of the Jew touched him so deeply that he rushed back to the count, again with the rebbe's rendel in his hand.

At that time, the counts had the power of life and death over their villages. When Rabbi Moshe Leib came back a second time with the rendel, the count considered him a rebel, and he sentenced him to death. And the manner of execution was to be as follows: the vicious courtyard dogs would be set upon Rabbi Moshe Leib and tear him to bits.

But the dogs did not even want to touch Rabbi Moshe Leib.

Seeing this, the count ordered that Rabbi Moshe Leib be taken to a courtyard where all sorts of vicious animals were kept. When Rabbi Moshe Leib saw them running to him, he immediately put on the white frock that his holy rebbe, Rabbi Shmelke, had given him. And all the vicious beasts fled from him.

When the count saw this, he himself went to the Jew in the cellar and freed him. And of course he released Rabbi Moshe Leib.

At the conclusion of this story, the holy Tshortkover rebbe said: "Where could one find such a frock today?"

from Shivchei Ramal

by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

"We will do and we will listen."

"We will do" comes before "we will listen."

As a result, we appreciate the Torah for its divinely unique aspect more than we might appreciate it solely for any necessary practical advantage that exists in learning.

First comes "we will do." This encompasses our connection to the value of practical learning.

But then comes "we will listen." This shields our connection to the transcendent value of Torah learning.

Oros Hatorah 8:1

by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

"We will do and we will listen."

I am ready to obey;
So now I am listening.
I am ready to do;
Therefore, speak to me.
To speak,
First listen.

All translations and original material. Copyright 1998

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