The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume VI, Issue 19
Beshalach, January 2002
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2001 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
* Forming a Group for Spiritual Growth (Continued)
* The Ohr Hachaim and the Blood Libel (Conclusion)
* Not Shadows (Part i)
* An Islamic Militant Opened Fire in Jerusalem Today
by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro (the Pieszesner Rebbe)
Besides this–and the following is crucial–when there are Hasidim who understand and engage in Hasidic worship (i.e., when the light, holiness and service of Hasidism are drawn down to enter this world in various places), then even laymen and simple folk who travel to a rebbe draw down spiritual sustenance and are called Hasidim. This can be compared to the holiness of the Temple: even a simple person, a farm laborer at the border of the land of Israel with his hoe and scythe, was able to draw sustenance from the holiness that was manifested in the Temple.
But this does not occur when there are no Hasidim who truly understand Hasidism and engage in its service. When people do not know what Hasidism is and do not engage in its service–whether or not they are engaged in Torah study–how can they be called Hasidim, just because they have a rebbe to whom they go? Has Hasidism nowadays been transformed, or has a new Hasidism been revealed, one that no longer demands that people understand it and engage in Hasidic worship? Nowadays, can one still be called a Hasid with no need for comprehension or proper service (heaven forbid)? Such Hasidim–even if they are headed by an exclusive group–do not do their rebbe any good, nor does their absence take anything away.
In this regard, Rabbi Chanina said, "I learned much Torah from my rabbis, more from my colleagues, but most of all from my students" (Taanit 7). To such an extent do true students help their teacher. And when they are absent (heaven forbid), what are we taught? [When the Jews danced before the golden calf,] "Hashem spoke to Moshe: ‘Go, descend.'" Rabbi Elazar explained that "the Holy One, blessed be He, told Moshe, ‘Moshe, descend from your greatness. I did not give you greatness for any other reason than for the sake of the Jewish people'" (Brachot 32).
See how important and necessary it is to have a group dedicated to [spiritual] service in general and particularly in Hasidism. The holy sefer, Me'or Vashemesh (Teitzei), teaches that "in previous generations, before the radiance of the light of the path of the Baal Shem Tov spread throughout the world, if a person's heart was touched by the fear of God he would close himself off in his room and engage in solitary meditation, eschewing the company of others...Some people fasted and engaged in self-mortification...However, although it is true that ‘the Merciful One desires the heart' and that whenever someone does something solely for the sake of God, this is pleasing to God, this is not the essential path in serving Him. Rather, the main and central post upon which everything depends and the content of the paths of proper return to God are to be found through loving fellowship, close friends and forming a close relationship with the tzaddikim of the generation...A person might imagine that when he is alone he can more readily awaken his heart to return and cling to God than when he is among friends and people in a group who are cognizant of him, and that in the company of others he will lose his connection [to God]. Nevertheless, it is more fitting and correct to strongly engage in loving fellowship...In this way, one can draw down illumination for many days...whereas when one remains alone, one succeeds only for the moment."
Me'or Vashemesh states that even in the past, when people served God by fasting, self-affliction and closing themselves off in order to cling to God, service of God in a group was superior and remained with a person for a long period. And so certainly now in our generation, when there is no solitary meditative state, no fasting and no self-mortifications, a group is crucial in serving God–particularly, in the way of Hasidism.
And therefore I suggest that you break up into groups, each a holy fellowship of Hasidism.
Hakhsharat Ha'avreichim, p. 145
by Avraham Stern
The Ohr Hachaim asked him, "What kind of punishment does the minister deserve for this?"
"Death for treachery," replied the sultan.
The Ohr Hachaim told him, "Take your revolver and aim it straight at the minister so that it will kill only him." The sultan shot his revolver, and the mirror burst into tiny shards of broken glass.
Immediately, the Ohr Hachaim handed the second mirror to the sultan. In it, he saw the minister lying dead on the ground, and the frightened queen ordering her servants to bury him secretly in the dirt floor of the sultan's wine cellar.
After this, the Ohr Hachaim said to the sultan, "A blood libel will result because of this. Jews will be accused of having killed the minister in order to use his blood for the Passover matzos. (This was the classic accusation from the Middle Ages). The anti-Semitic clerics will find false witnesses by bribing them and promising them the world-to-come, and these witnesses will testify that the Jews killed him. I suggest that the sultan hold an open trial. But before the sultan puts his signature to the court's verdict–which will certainly not be favorable for the Jews–I advise the sultan to hold a royal ball, to which the greatest ministers will be invited, as well as the guilty parties, the anti-Semitic clerics, the judges and the witnesses, and wait for me there."
The sultan did so, and the Ohr Hachaim came to the minute. Immediately, the sultan invited him to sit next to him. The Ohr Hachaim washed his hands for bread, in accordance with the halachah, took a thin piece of bread from his bag and recited the blessing over bread.
At this point, an anti-Semite, one of the accusers in the blood libel, stood up and denounced the entire people of Israel with the claim of the evil Haman (may his name be erased), as found in the Gemara (Megillah 13b) that "when a fly falls into a Jew's wine glass, he isn't disgusted. He throws out the fly and drinks the wine. But if the sultan will touch the glass of wine, the Jew will pour it out. This shows that all Jews are traitors to the crown."
To this, the holy Ohr Hachaim replied, "We Jews are loyal citizens. The Torah commands us: ‘My son, fear God and the king.' So is it written in Mishlei. Yirmiyahu the prophet wrote to the Jews in Bavel, ‘Seek the peace of the city.' And our sages tell us in Pirkei Avos, ‘Pray for the well-being of the government.' But the same Torah also tells us to separate ourselves from the nations in matters of eating bread and drinking wine, so that in our exile we will not assimilate. I will offer you proof. If his royal highness desires, I will go down to the wine cellar with him and all the guests and witnesses, and there I will pick out a bottle of wine for myself before everyone."
The sultan, who well understood the Ohr Hachaim's intent, immediately stood up and accompanied the Ohr Hachaim. Unwillingly, all the guests had to go along. When the Ohr Hachaim entered the cellar, he said loudly, "I smell a dead human body." The sultan also said that he smelled it, and commanded that the earth be dug up. Immediately, the dead body of the minister was found, and everyone recognized it. On the spot, the sultan had the false witnesses and their advisors put to death. And the blood libel was brought to an end, to the good fortune of all the Jews.
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
Reality in its being and existence is tied to the supernal nature of the source of reality. Not superficialities, not shadows, nor partial forces make up the content of reality, but the manifestation of essence, the richness of being, the depth of what is, from the root of its inner self, just as it is the source of the being of the soul-level, the happiness of souls.
The perfection of one's will and one's spiritual education, as well as that of everything that feels and thinks, must be drawn from the root of the supernal source. This elevation will come about a result of an acculturation to supernal sanctity, which results from the proclamation and declaration of the name of God in its fullness.
Then the evil within reality will be transformed to good, [an evil] that rules with its blind and wild might in the body, in the physicality of humanity and all life, in the inchoate worlds, in actively stormy powers, in coalescence and crystallization, in people's lack of knowledge of how to distinguish between good and evil, in its connection for people's yearning for evil, for self-elevation, for the spread of might and fury without even a glance toward righteousness, justice, the refined goal, upon which the supernal source will cause its broad streams to flow.
Orot Hakodesh II, p. 495
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
Sit down on my planet. We
One grows tired of standing, of
Seventy-two years ago,
Told you that we would sit here
Class for Men: Hakhsharat Ha'avreikhim ("Spiritual Training"), step-by-step guidebook on how to develop an awareness of our souls and of God, by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro (the Pieszesner Rebbe), Sunday night. For information, call (410) 358-8771.
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