The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume V, Issue 5
Bereishis 5761 October 2000
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2000 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (email@example.com).
* The As-yet-unknown State of Israel
* Dirt (Conclusion)
* The Old Man and the Tree (Part I)
* In the Drunken Air
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
A political state does not constitute a person's supernal satisfaction.
That is true of a normative political state, one which rises to no higher purpose than comprising a large regulating body, above which--and not touching it--hover the many ideals that are the crown of life.
However, this is not the case with a state that is, at its core, idealistic, in whose being is incised the most exalted idealistic content.
Such a state indeed comprises an individual's greatest happiness. It is indeed the highest rung upon the ladder of happiness.
This will be our state, the state of Israel. It will be the foundation of the throne of God within the world, with its entire desire being that "Hashem will be one and His name will be one."
selection from Malachim Kivnei Adam
by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
Be aware that the essence of honoring the Sabbath lies in eating. Eating and the Sabbath are connected in the verse, "Eat [the manna] today [on the Sabbath]" (Shemot 16:25). Eating on the Sabbath is very precious, for it is entirely Godly and entirely holy (as is discussed in teaching 47).
Therefore, it is a great mitzvah to eat a large Sabbath meal. This rectifies the desecration of the Sabbath--a necessary rectification, since it is easy[--indeed, unavoidable--]to accidentally desecrate the Sabbath.
The desecration--chilul--of the Sabbath is related to the word chalal, a corpse (as in the verse, "when there will be found a corpse upon in the ground" [Devorim 21:1]).
The sages say that when a person's first wife has died, "his steps are shortened" (Sanhedrin 22). And the Sabbath corresponds to one's first wife. As the sages teach, when the Sabbath complained to the Holy One, blessed be He, "You gave every day of the week but me a partner," God replied that the Community of Israel would be her partner (Midrash Rabbah Bereishit 11).
Therefore, desecrating--chilul--the Sabbath corresponds to the death--chalal--of one's first wife. As a result, one's "steps are shortened."
And so[--because the desecration of the Sabbath is unavoidable--]our sages forbid us from taking large steps on the Sabbath (Shabbat 113b). Rather, on the Sabbath, we must walk with small steps.
The weekday is related to the concepts of chilul and chalal, and so it is called chol. On the weekday, when we perform a mitzvah, there are places from which the Other Side can draw its sustenance. Each mitzvah has a "body," and the Other Side--the side of negativity and death--can draw its sustenance from the "feet" of the mitzvah. As the verse states, "[the mitzvah's] feet descend to death" (Mishlei 5:5). And so chol can lead to chalal.
On the Sabbath, however, [we can raise] the feet of the mitzvah from the Other Side (the "husks"). As the verse states, "Bring back your feet on the Sabbath" (Isaiah 58:13). On the Sabbath, we can bring the feet of the mitzvah back to holiness.
Then the mitzvah begins to walk before God.
When the mitzvah first begins to walk, it cannot stride broadly. Its footsteps can only make a narrow path.
This is like the development of a baby. When he begins to walk or progress in any other way, at first he does not know how to do it well. But his father, out of his great love and pleasure in his son, "makes a path" out of his tentative steps.
For instance, when the baby has a small accomplishment or says anything, even if it is not particularly clever, his father, in his love and pleasure, appreciates what the child did. He magnifies it, broadens it, and makes a great deal out of it.
Similarly, when the mitzvah begins to "walk"--or, more broadly, when a person serves God in some new way, even though at first it is a "narrow path," out of God's great pleasure, He makes of these footsteps a "paved road." The verse states, "righteousness shall walk before Him" (Tehillim 85:14), and "righteousness" corresponds to the mitzvot--as in another verse: "All Your mitzvot are righteousness" (ibid. 119:172). When the mitzvah begins to walk before God, "He places his steps to a way." God makes a paved road from the footsteps, which were initially only a narrow path. Out of His pleasure, God transforms these footsteps into a broad and paved road.
All this comes about through eating on the Sabbath, for it is from eating on the Sabbath that we receive the power of the feet. As our sages stated, "When you eat, you will find [the food] in your footsteps" (Shabbat 152). When we eat on the Sabbath, the feet receive power. And then from the small, tentative footsteps that are only beginning on a narrow path, a paved road is made.
This corresponds to the words of the Sabbath tune, "[on the Sabbath, the Jews] walk with a small step, they eat and recite grace three times" (Kol Mekadesh).
On the Sabbath, the Jews "walk with a small step." At first glance, this is puzzling. As was said above, when a person's first wife has died, his steps are shortened. Since the Sabbath corresponds to one's first wife, it would have been appropriate that on the Sabbath one's steps are, to the contrary, large and broad. However, [the unavoidable] desecration the Sabbath has caused its "death."
And so the lyric goes on to tell us that the Jews "eat and recite grace...." The Jews eat the Sabbath meal, as a result of which the small steps are in truth rectified and broadened, and a paved path is made of them: "He places his steps to a way."
And so by eating on the Sabbath, the desecration of the Sabbath--corresponding to the "small steps"--is rectified. As a result of our eating on the Sabbath, the small steps are broadened, and from them a paved road is made.
[When we eat on the Sabbath with a propre consciousness, we are ingesting the food of heaven: manna, a food that is Godliness and holiness--life-filled and transformative. By eating on the Sabbath, we rectify the deaths of imperfect weekday mitzvah observance and Sabbath desecration. In both cases, this revival rectifies the small footsteps of mourning so that they can be filled with life-energy. Our Sabbath steps are still small externally, but on an internal, spiritual plane they are broad, firm and life-energized.]
Likutei Moharan 277
by Avraham Stern
The Baal Shem Tov once took a little vodka and went for a walk in a forest with his holy companions. There he drank a "lechaim" with them and told one of them to go to a certain tree bole and say, "The old man should also have some vodka."
And then he told his companions the following story:
There was once a wealthy Jew who had an only daughter. He visited a yeshiva and chose the best student as his son-in-law. When this wealthy man grew weak in his old age, he asked his son-in-law to tear himself away from his learning for a few hours a day and help his wife in their large manufacturing business.
Little by little, the son-in-law spent more time away from his learning. When the wealthy Jew at last passed away, the son-in-law grew immersed in the business. Materials came from a [gentile] Moscow manufacturer, who also had an only daughter--a learned woman who was in charge of keeping track of the factory orders.
When the time came to square accounts with the manufacturer, the son-in-law went to Moscow to review the figures. There, the manufacturer's daughter did not let him travel home. [In other words, he abandoned his wife and took up with the Russian woman.]
His wife [sent a message to] the Russian woman, asking what had happened to her husband. The Russian woman replied that he must have died on the road. And, saying that she felt pity for a young widow with orphaned children, the Russian woman forgave all her debts and promised to send her new orders at a very low price, below what she was charging other merchants.
The man's "widow" slowly grew used to her situation. From day to day, she grew more wealthy, and she gave her children a good Jewish education.
Meanwhile, her husband in Moscow was happy with his Russian wife and they had two children.
One evening, he went for a walk in the park. There, he heard someone amongst the trees weeping. He made his way to the sound, and found an old man crying bitterly and reciting the prayers of Yom Kippur eve. The husband was deeply moved, and he asked the old man why he was crying. The old man replied that he had converted from Judaism, and he regretted it. He knew that Jews were now gathered in synagogues for Kol Nidrei. But he could not join them, for it might cause the Jews trouble if the Pravaslavner synod of Moscow learned of it. Therefore, he was weeping his heart out before the Master of the world. He had resolved from now on to be a Jew again, no matter what may happen to him. (to be continued...)
from Chasidishe Maasiyos
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
In the drunken air,
Now may the beggars banging broken canes
Walk on streets scrubbed eggshell white
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