The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume III, Issue 35
Iyar 5759 May 99
Translations and original material copyright (c) 1998 by Yaacov
Dovid Shulman (unless otherwise noted)
* To Maintain the Existence of Judaism
* A Clear Mindfulness
* The Arrest
* When the Torah is Drawn Down, Providence is Drawn Down
* Halachah and Aggadah
* -The Glass Bottle
TO MAINTAIN THE EXISTENCE OF JUDAISM
To arouse people's hearts and engage their minds with
elevated thoughts whose source is in the secrets of Torah
becomes, in the final generation, completely indispensable to
maintain the existence of Judaism. And the descent that brought
about the need for the use of this elevated means is in itself an
A CLEAR MINDFULNESS
A clear mindfulness is the basis of everything. The sense
of what is good and true that comes from an inner understanding,
not contorted by any inclination of this world, is the path of
illumination that leads everything as well as every individual to
an eternal happiness, together with a temporal happiness that
matches that eternal happiness.
THE ARREST (continuation)
When they arrived in Oshmina in the morning, they immediately went to the "ispravnik." He had not yet come to the office so my father occupied himself in learning mishnah. When the ispravnik arrived and saw the "criminal," he immediately brought him respectfully to his room, gave him a chair and, after a short conversation, explained that the matter must be transferred to Vilna, the governing city to which Volozhin belonged. He made no difficulties in regard to him father himself, but the chest of Torah writings was sealed and sent to the governor of Vilna.
Obviously, the informing itself led to nothing. My father had no letters regarding counterfeit money. But even in regard to the fund-raising and other yeshiva matters, the fear proved unfounded. The chest with its contents was delivered to the "learned Jew," the utshani yevrei, who was close to the Vilna governor, a very learned man from the teacher's seminary of that time called Yonah Gerstein. This Gerstein, it appears, was not an enemy of the Volozhin yeshiva, was were other maskilim of his area at that time. At the critical moment, he helped not only the yeshiva but my father himself.
Besides our fears regrading the yeshiva, there was also the danger that the writings and responsa in the chest would be sent as far as Petersburg for an inquiry. And that would mean, in actuality, that they would be lost forever.
Gerstein understood all this, and so he sent back all the Torah writings with the observation that they contained no criminal activity. He then burned all the letters referring to fund-raising and money collecting, with the explanation that they were person letters that were not even worth sending back. But he set aside seventeen responsa that my father had written to Rabbi Yaakov Reinovitz in London, to whom the informer had sent his forged letter, for further investigation. These letters never returned and remain lost to this day. The entire episode left no trace behind, besides the government stamp on the chest of Torah: "a memory of the destruction."
One reason that this episode had no lasting effect is that the informer, despite all his craft, had not forged my father's signature exactly. My father used to write one "yod" to connect his two names, Tzvi Yehudah. This "yod" served as the last letter in Tzvi and the first in Yehudah. The forger overlooked this and put in an extra "yod." At first glance, this was not discernable, but it was discovered with greater study.
Who was the informer? This remained a mystery. There were all sorts of conjectures. Some attributed it to a yeshiva student who had come to pray on Yom Kippur very late in the evening, his hair recently washed and combed. My father strongly reproached and so perhaps in this way he had taken his revenge.
Others said that it had been done by someone who afterwards
became a famous journalist in Paris. Still others suspected a
rabbi's son who was "going off the path" of Judaism. It is said
that the informer eventually wrote a letter to my father asking
for forgiveness and instruction on how to repent. As for the
rabbi's son, after my father passed away, he published a eulogy
filled with respect and feeling.
"Much does childishness do."
WHEN THE TORAH IS DRAWN DOWN, SO IS PROVIDENCE DRAWN DOWN
The soul (nefesh) is desire.
"The chayos angels raced and returned" (Ezekiel 1:14).
When the Torah is drawn down, so is Providence drawn down.
HALACHAH AND AGGADAH
Halachah and aggadah must unite with each other. The
necessity of engaging in both of them together will necessarily
bring about their spiritual unification. The feeling of the man
of halachah when he deals with aggadah--and vice versa--that he
is entering another world takes away the greater portion of
spiritual fruitfulness, which comes from a spiritual tranquility
whose foundation is an inner unity.
The idea of bringing distant worlds close is the foundation
of the building and perfection of the spiritual world. It is a
basic force that runs through all manifestations of life in all
its details, and which must be constantly revealed in ever-
The first mishnah in Yevamos lists fifteen categories of
woman with whom one cannot perform levirate marriage because they
are one's relations. These woman also absolve any co-wife they
may have of the obligation for levirate marriage.
THE GLASS BOTTLE
The glass bottle
Like a satellite spinning through the sky,
Imagine dinosaurs feeding upon huge blue-green fronds.
Every message from heaven to man
It is a glass bottle, a silvery needle that threaded a line
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