The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review

Yaacov Dovid Shulman

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Volume VII, Issue 37

Bahar 5763, May 2003

Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright 2002 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (

by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

The rain strode down and washed my soul
Into a morning cereal bowl.
Day bleached my bones with vivid light,
My soul went squirreling into night
Drenched by the fountains of the moon,
And felt its petals quicken, soon
To bloom upon the broad estate
Of silence, wind, a breathless wait.

by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

If you feel that your will is weak, you must do everything you can to strengthen it, in order that you will be able to accomplish everything good that fits in with your nature. It is better to work on strengthening your will than to work on individual details of ethical improvement.

Of course, at the same time that you are working on strengthening your will, don't forget to work on gaining greater purity and sensitivity, and on lifting the level of your will to holiness. But your basic work on the imperfections of a weakened will has to consist of working to strengthen the essence of your will, using a variety of approaches: natural, ethical, intellectual, Torah-oriented.

Don't overlook any idea that can help you achieve the elevated goal of strengthening the power of your will in its entirety.

Orot Hakodesh III, p. 77

FAITH IN THE SAGES (continued)
by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
with commentary

And as a result [of ordination being given to unfit rabbis, the gentiles] also expel Jews from their dwelling places, where Jews had already settled, to places where Jews had never lived.

When a person who does not deserve a position of spiritual leadership is given that position, creative, divine energy is drawn to him and thus is misdirected. Then more generally, energy is misdirected, and the connection between Godliness and the expression of its power in this world attenuates. Justice, balance and vision no longer prevail.

When Jews live somewhere for a while, they imbue that place with their spirituality. Even though it may be exile, it still has a flavor of the Holy Land. It is still a mikdash m'at--a small sanctuary. Thus, when the connection between God and how energy is applied in this world is no longer clear and straight, Jews are disconnected from the place that they have made home with their presence, and are driven out into areas of waste and chaos.

The authority given to a rabbi and writing are conceptually the same.

R. Nachman stated previously that giving authority to an unworthy rabbi results in misdirected spiritual energy, and this also manifests as a loss of authority of Torah writings, and a gain in the authority of non-Jewish teachings.

Basically, the energy that enters a Jewish spiritual leader and the energy that enters Jewish spiritual writing is the same, even though it may manifest differently, just as electromagnetic waves manifest in a variety of forms (light, X rays, radio waves), dependent on their frequency.

[Originally,] rabbinic ordination involved one's hands. As the verse states, "Yehoshua bin Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, since Moshe had rested his hands upon him"(Devorim 34:9). And [hands] are related to writing, as in the phrase, "a hand that writes"(source unclear). And writing is also related to wisdom, since all universes were created with the letters of the [Hebrew] alphabet.

This is talking about the transmission of divine energy into the world. It is through the vehicle of the hand that this energy can enter a human being (ordination) and spiritual texts (writing).

The hand, apparently, is a term used to describe the vehicle for such transmission, whether that transmission comes from the hand of God or through the hand of a human being.

That divine energy is called "chochmah," which is usually translated as "wisdom." This wisdom is creative: depending on the form it takes, it creates a particular reality. God's hand writes letters--it draws chochmah down into templates (the letters), each of which creates its own reality.

So being in tune with divine energy and directing it into the world is a very powerful state. Our consciousness molds reality.

Compare the two phrases, the word of Hashem were the heavens," (Tehillim 36:6), and "You have made them all with wisdom" (ibid. 104:24).

The "word of Hashem" parallels "wisdom." The "word" is the incarnation of God's wisdom.

But the unfit rabbi is not the real problem. He is only the manifestation of the problem, just as an unenlightened text is only the manifestation of the writer's thoughts. The real problem, R. Nachman says, is those who have the responsibility and capability of granting the flow of divine energy implicit in ordination.

Perhaps R. Nachman is thinking specifically of government-appointed rabbis, which were to become a real problem in the coming years. (That this is at least probable is supported by the fact that R. Nachman was also very much concerned with a related issue of governmental interference in Jewish spiritual life: the cantonists, young boys who were drafted for up to 25 years into the Russian army, during which time a concerted effort was made to dejudaize them.)

Each letter contains wisdom, which God's wisdom determined that each letter will have its own particular form, and through it a particular universe with a particular form will be created, and will have its own set of reality. And similarly the other universes each have their own form and reality, through the form of some other letter, for is the decree of God's wisdom.

Likutei Moharan I 61

by Elazar Dov of Koznitz

"Come, let us make [ourselves] clever, lest possibly [Israel] increase."

The holy rabbi, the rebbe, R. Yerachmiel (of blessed memory), interpreted this verse as follows: "Come, let us make [Israel] clever, and then automatically the spirit of 'lest possibly,' the spirit of doubt, will increase."

I heard the pious rabbi, R. Chaim (may he live long) (son of the holy rabbi, R. Pinchas of Kinsk, of blessed memory) tell the following story.

His grandfather, the holy rabbi, the rebbe R. Yerachmiel (of blessed memory) used to pray in the attic above the beis medrash (the study hall) of his father, the rabbi, the holy Yehudi (of blessed memory) at the tijme that the congregation prayed in the beis medrash below, as others continued learning.

Before going up to the attic to pray, he would open the door to the beis medrash and take a look inside.

One time a young man dressed in a garment called a "khlatil," colored green, entered and asked if he could meet with the holy rabbi. He was told thta he could do so after prayers. So the young man took a sefer and sat down to learn. Meanwhile, the holy rabbi came to pray, first opening the door to the beis medrash.

Immediately he stepped back and left, and he immediately called his servant and gave him instructions. Accordingly, his servant went to the beis medrash and asked if there was young man there dressed in green. The students pointed the young man out to him, and the servant took him out and led him to the cemetery.

The holy rabbi told the story about this young man. He said:

"When I was about eight years old, I slept in the room next my holy father's room. One winter night, at about two in the morning, my holy father came to my bed, woke me up, and told me to wash my hands and get up. Even though this was very hard for me to do, I washed my hands and got up to obey my father's wishes.

"When I came to my father's room, I saw this young man standing there.

"My father said to me, 'Take this man to the cemetery.'

"I grew very frightened. My father said to me, 'Are you afraid?' He gave me a lantern and told me, 'Go with him.'

I took the man by the hand and led him to the graveyard. When we arrived, I said to him, 'Go to your resting place.'

"When I said this to him, the young man extinguished my lantern and disappeared.

"I was terrified, and when I came to my father, I fell down faint. My holy father woke me and asked me, 'What happened?'

"I told him that the man had put out the lantern.

"My holy father said, 'That evil person! I wanted to help him, and this is how he treated my son. Therefore, his travails will outlive Gehinnom!'

"And this young man did not have any rest until now. When I saw him, I felt sorry for him, thinking that because of me he is being pushed away, heaven forbid. And so I helped him."

The yahrtzeit of the holy rabbi, R. Yerachmiel (of blessed memory) of Peshischa is 8 Iyar 5594 (1834). May his merit protect us and all Israel, amen.

Sifran shel Tzaddikim

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