The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume VII, Issue 42
B'haalotchah 5763, June 2003
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2002 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
by Prof. Chaim Lifschitz
When the rebbe of Sokolov, the rebbe of Gur and his son-in-law, R. Chanoch-Tzvi Bendin visited the land of Israel, they had a dispute with Rav Kook regarding exercise, of which Rav Kook had written (in Orot), "the exercise that the Jewish youth engage in, in the land of Israel, to strengthen their bodies so that they may be strong Jews elevates God's Presence ... like Its elevation as a result of the songs and praises hat King David recited in his Tehillim."
First Rav Kook showed them a source for this idea in the Rambam's Guide to the Perplexed.
The Gerer rebbe replied, "We don't learn the Guide to the Perplexed."
So Rav Kook told them that once, when R. Yisrael of Salant needed medical attention, he went to a professor of medicine. Later, the professor told one of his patients that he never had a patient who followed his regimen as strictly as did Rabbi Lipkin. The professor instructed him, for instance, to play ball every day for a certain amount of time. Of all the patients whom he instructed to do so, no one was as careful in following his orders as R. Yisrael, even though R. Yisrael was already sixty years old.
by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira
It is clear from our holy texts that the ways of the holy Kabbalists and Hasidic masters (who serve Hashem in the path of the holy Baal Shem Tov and his disciples) are the ways of the prophets of God.
"Rabbi Yaakov said of himself, ‘In what way do I deserve divine inspiration so that I can be amidst the faithful prophets, the students of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, before whom supernal and lower beings tremble?" (Zohar, Terumah p. 154a). In his humility, he expressed astonishment that he was able to be amongst these faithful prophets, the students of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai. And the work Maor Veshemesh teaches in a number of places that the path of the tzaddikim of the Baal Shem Tov's lineage in every generation is that of the prophets of God.
The holy prophets, the masters of the Zohar, the Ari, the Baal Shem Tov and their students are angels of God beyond our comprehension. Their holy, heavenly path is hidden from us and we do not purport to rise to their high level and to be great as they, who are fiery angels. But there is one thing for which we yearn–and which we are obligated to achieve: to serve Hashem, the God our forefathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzchak and the God of Yaakov with a whole-hearted service, complete in all the limbs our body and spirit, so that not one strand of our physical being nor one spark our of spirit should emerge beyond the holiness of Hashem that fills and surrounds us.
And another thing: it does not suffice for us to be like a slave who serves the king behind the milestone, far from the king, not hearing the king's words and not enjoying the king's radiance–a service with a closed mind and dulled heart. We wish and yearn to be a child: "you are the children of Hashem your God." Then in our service of God–in our Torah learning, prayer and in other mitzvot–we will feel that we are close to Hashem. Just as a child is overjoyed to see his father after not having seen him for years, and after having yearned for him so painfully, we too yearn and long for God. "How do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, desires someone and dwells with him? When we see that it is the desire of that person to pursue and attempt to reach the Holy One, blessed be He, with his heart, spirit and will. Then we know for a certainty that the Divine Presence is there" (Zohar).
Then, when we serve God, we will feel our spirit rushing to its Father, yearning for Him all day and all night, running, melting, melting into the bosom of its Father in heaven. And will we feel ourselves close to God and delight in the radiance of His glory not only in prayer and service, but always. If a person is on a trivial level the entire day and at every hour of the day his soul is buried under a carpet of foolishness, he will also be trivial when he learns Torah, prays and serves God, so that even when he serves God his spirit will not arise (heaven forbid).
We have to be Jews throughout the day. Throughout the day we have to be close to God–sometimes with greater inspiration and other times with less–but we are always Jews, always children of the Holy One, blessed be He. Everything we do should be with our soul spirit until even our thoughts are always clear, strong and connected to God's holiness.
Then our spirit will be so much stronger than our senses so that our senses will no longer be able to confuse and draw aside our thoughts, telling us that all we see is this world and all we feel is physicality. But even more than that, our senses themselves will be influenced by the thought of our heart, so that they too will see the holiness of God spread across all reality, and we will know and see that even in this world we are in the Garden of Hashem, in Eden before God's throne of glory.
How may we attain such a whole service, if we in some small measure yearn to know the ways of the prophets, the Kabbalists and the tzaddikim of Hasidism? "Go forth in the footsteps of the sheep." At the very least we may see their holy footsteps and roll in the dust of their path, absorbing into ourselves the paths of Hashem. So we must know what the bottom step of all this holiness is: how can we, who yearn and long to be Hasidim, begin to attain this?
The initial revelation of divinely holy people comes when their Jewish spirit, a portion of supernal divinity within them, is revealed to them. Then, with their spirit revealed, they are ready to become a vehicle for this great and elevated manifestation.
R. Chaim Vital writes in the introduction to his Shaarei Kedushah that sometimes a person's spirit is so purified that it is revealed to a person and guides him in all his ways. That is to say, there can be a tzaddik who has attained no more than the manifestation of his spirit–not even prophecy or divine inspiration–but this too is something that guides him on his path to God. And now, you may be scrupulous regarding all the details and fine points of the laws of the written and oral Torah, and all the customs of the holy Jewish leaders, and you may desire to be even more of a Hasid. So you must go beyond the bottom line–not only by serving God beyond the letter of the law with your physical actions, nor even only with your mind and thought, but with your spirit too.
You must add spirit to your service. Your spirit will be revealed, and your entire body and soul will serve God. Then you can trust that God will bring you to become a Hasid.
In this vein, Rashi explains that a "master of the spirit" (Pesachim 40a) is a "Hasid." The beginning and core of Hasidism is to be in touch with our spirit.
by Rabbi Mordechai Yosef of Izbitz
"On the day that he set up the Mishkan, the cloud covered the Mishkan..."
A person can use this as a measuring stick throughout his life, because the entire body of the Torah rests on this. When the Jews traveled in the desert, it means that they went beyond their limits to desolate and wild places in order to take control of all the wild energies that are called "snake," "serpent," "scorpion" and "thirst," and to draw holiness out of them.
In the same way we all have energies within ourselves that are wild and that want to misguide us. These forces come from realities that have been laid waste. And we have to incorporate these into holiness. This is what is called a "journey." "Coming to a rest" means that at times God does not want the Jews to go beyond their limitations but to constrict themselves: "be weighty and sit in your home" (Melachim II 14).
This coming to a rest was the cause of all the Jews' [spiritual] suffering. At that time, "the cloud covered the Mishkan." The Mishkan is the point of profundity within a Jew's heart. The cloud covered this Mishkan, keeping a person from going out to absorb the holiness beyond his limitations. And so they had to suffer this concealment "for a day or two days or a month or a year"–whatever God wanted.
"Sometimes the cloud would be there from evening to morning"–meaning that God makes things go step by step, just as He created day and night. Then a person is at rest.
Afterwards, however, "the cloud arose in the morning, and they traveled." We are at rest not so that we should be in an on-going state of concealment, but because there must be some little concealment that can result in a revelation of light. This is how God guides the world, step by step.
Sometimes there was yet more concealment, until God gave the Jews permission to travel and attain something new (Midrash Rabbah Naso 7:8).
All the limitations and [hierarchical] sanctification of the Israelite camp only took place when the Jews were at rest. As soon as the Mishkan's parochet curtain was rolled up, everyone, even ritually unclean people, could enter the camp. Sometimes "the cloud remained for a long while on the Mishkan, for many days." The Midrash (Midrash Rabbah Shemot 1:41) teaches that: "Whenever the phrase ‘many days' is used, it indicates suffering."
Sometimes "the children of Israel keep the guard of Hashem"–meaning, sometimes we have to make a great effort to hold ourselves back, to rein ourselves in and not force a spiritual breakthrough. And in reward of this, God will save us.
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