The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume V, Issue 41
Balak 5761 July 2001
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2001 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (email@example.com).
* Now That You Have Come Home
* The Society for Positive Mindfulness (Part Vii)
* Evaluating R. Nachman
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
Now that you have come home, the
The baggage of your insig-
Chasm between these dull flat
Dew-wet blackness, there upon
by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman (the Pieszesner Rebbe)
It is deplorable that human beings are so immersed in habit that they are unable to break free.
When a person is habituated to see only physical things in his thoughts, it seems to him that thought itself is a physical and sensory phenomenon.
[If this is your belief,] you have erred, and not only regarding imagery and thought. Do not be so sure that even your senses are entirely physical. After all, you have never seen the sense of sight and never heard the sense of hearing (and so forth). You have only sensed those things that sight sees or hearing hears. But once you are removed from the object that is seen or the sound that is heard, your sense of sight or hearing disappears, and you do not sense them. And so in truth, why assume that the sense of sight itself--for example--is physical and can see nothing but physical things? Perhaps it is capable of seeing everything, including non-physical things--but since you only bring it physical things, you have habituated it only to use its physical sight.
We have already spoken of how "the wisdom of a man illuminates his face."
Everyone can recognize whether someone else is intelligent or foolish, pure or coarse. Such sight is not physical--for whether someone is intelligent or foolish, pure or coarse, does not affect his features.
At every stage of a person's ascent, there exists this stumbling block: the inability to transcend habit.
No matter how much we may want to explain reality to such a person, no matter how much we might wish to make him wise, it is difficult to successfully bring him to realize that truth is the opposite of what his eyes perceive. His habit brings forth a type of hidden stubbornness in his heart that does not allow him to shift a hairsbreadth from his original conceptions.
How can we raise such person above the earth? When he hears words such as these, words that contradict his habitual experience, he thinks and exclaims, "What is this man talking about? Is he saying that this world is not physical, and not only that, but that I myself do not know who I am? This spiritual person is mad!"
Essentially, what you lack is the inability to expand your thought to pure mindfulness, stripped of physical form and image. You demand of every thought that arises in your mind a physical form and image, since your are habituated only to these types of thought. If this does not appear, you do not even recognize what you are experiencing as thought.
In truth, we are not saying that imageless thoughts never arise in your mind. It does. However, our consciousness possesses a critical filter that screens and checks all of our thoughts. Any thought that is not similar to this-worldly existence appears to that filter as counterfeit, and it pursues this thought and wipes it out of your mind.
For instance, thoughts of impossible things arise in a child's mind, such as that he can fly, and so forth. Such a thought doesn't enter an adult's mind. The filtering faculty that has grown within him evaluates this thought and compares it with the things of this world that he sees and hears. It expels and denies any counterfeit thought so efficiently that it seems to him that this thought never even entered his mind. This filter is so developed within him and it has such influence on his mind that it blocks and frightens any counterfeit thought from treading across the doorsill of his consciousness. And he does not even sense this filtering faculty. Instead, it appears to him that these thoughts simply aren't occurring to him.
And now in regard to our topic, it is not that you do not have any thought stripped of physical form. Such thoughts do arise within you. But since the filter in your mind is habituated only to thoughts with form, it chases away any pure thought. And since you do not even sense this filtering faculty; it appears to you that no thought or imagination without form exists within you at all.
But in truth, once a person is convinced that a true thought cannot resemble a this-worldly image, and once he has expanded and broadened pure thought within himself, then when such a thought arises in him, he thinks, imagines and sees in accordance with the state of holiness and the throne of glory of the root, the place from where he has hewn his soul. He does not [feel a ] lack of physical form and [his filter] it does not block his thought.
Then, when he starts to analyze this experience, asking "What am I thinking and seeing?," he has already descending. Then he can no longer understand himself and his previous thought. This analysis is a return to comparing every thought to the thoughts and forms of the world.
Bnei Machshavah Tovah
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
To the degree that we gain clarity in [our understanding of] Jewish laws as we perform them and cause them to shine, we gain joy from them.
[If we] lack clarity, if we do not possess a clear knowledge that clings to our soul, then we will associate adhering to Torah law precisely and in accordance with all its details with a feeling of heaviness. This can lead to a trembling weakness that will [ultimately] result in disgust with the Torah (heaven forbid).
If we possess a broad mindfulness, we will not find the [Torah's] precision--a precision of breadth--to be in the least oppressive. To the contrary, [we will see that] this precision is a consequence of perfection--just as the precision of grammar indicates the perfection of people's speech.
The value of the elevated nature of the conceptual [world] and purity of the innermost foundation of true Torah corresponds to a great precision whose details, which are expressed in action--like branches extending from their root--are many and broad. A person of understanding and perception takes these all in with one broad glance.
If that precision in action is lacking, then a clear image of the elevated nature of the value of the divine Torah, the elevated nature of its rules and laws, and the preciousness of their worth will totter.
Then the loss that will in consequence affect the entire spiritual burden borne by the soul of all Judaism for humanity in general and for Israel in particular is beyond measure.
Therefore, we have the great responsibility that, when we clarify halachah, to learn Torah for its own sake: [seeing to it that what we learn will be as free from imprecision] as a garment is bleached [of stains]. Then learning the precise details (in their breadth) will be the outcome of the pleasure in understanding a supernal concept and its joyful state.
This is one way--it is a glorious way--to learn Torah for its own sake. It is one of the forty-eight paths by which the Torah is acquired: in joy and purity. An inner knowledge of clear understanding certainly leads to the strengthening of this path.
Orot Hatorah 9:4
by Reb Avraham Ben Nachman
In the summer before R. Nosson became a Hasid of R. Nachman, he considered moving to Berditshev or Odessa, where his father had stores. However, he was delayed, because he received notice from his father-in-law, R. Dovid Tzvi, that he would be passing through Nemirov. But God caused his father-in-law's trip to be delayed from day to day, until the month of Cheshvon had already arrived. R. Nosson waited and waited for him in Nemirov.
Meanwhile R. Nachman moved to Breslov, which is only about eighteen miles (verst) from Nemirov, R. Nosson's home. With His mighty wonders, God brought all this about so that R. Nosson would become a Hasid of R. Nachman and that through him not even one phrase of the words of R. Nachman would be forgotten.
As soon as R. Nosson heard that R. Nachman had settled in Breslov, his heart burned so strongly that he paid no attention to the business, but immediately wanted to travel to R. Nachman with all possible speed, since at that time his father was in Berditshev. And so he decided that now he would travel immediately for a short visit, since now, at any rate, he had no great obstacle, since his father was not at home.
Afterwards, if he would see that he were gaining wisdom and knowledge that were strengthening his adherence to the Torah (which is the principle thing), and if he would he will see and understand that his service of God was improving due to R. Nachman's influence, then he would no longer pay attention to any obstacle.
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