The Wings of Morning - A Torah Review

Yaacov Dovid Shulman

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Parshas Bo

1. On the Parshah: "Come to Pharaoh"--by Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev
2. The Hidden Love--by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
3. The Letters of Our Soul--by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
4. Whatever is Positive and Ideal--by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
5. The Mouse; A Grizzled Lion--poems by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

On the Parshah: "Come to Pharaoh"
by Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev


In the spiritual interpretations of Judaism, more meaningful than historical chronology is seasonal synchronicity. The plagues of Egypt precede Purim by almost a thousand years. Yet the date of a plague can be interpreted as being directly linked to and preparing for the dynamics of Purim.

In the plagues of Egypt, G-d merely overthrew an evil king. But in the story of Purim, G-d turned the heart of an evil king to favor Israel.

In the seed of the story of Egypt blossoms the story of Purim.]

"Hashem said to Moshe: Come to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart" (Shemos 10:1).

Why does the verse state "Come to Pharaoh," whereas elsewhere the expression used is "Go to Pharaoh"?

Also: Why specifically in context of the plague of locusts does G-d state "I have hardened his heart"?

There are two types of miracles carried out for the sake of the Jewish people.

The first is that G-d punishes those who harm the Jewish people. As a result, the evil ceases.

The second is that G-d reverses the hearts of political leaders, so that they actually come to plan good things for the Jewish people.

To illustrate: in Megillas Esther, we find that Haman--not Achashveirosh--was punished. But G-d turned Achashveirosh's heart to good in regard to His nation, the house of Israel.

All this is alluded to in this week's Torah reading.

The sages teach that every plague lasted one month (Shemos Rabbah 9:12). We can deduce that the plague of locusts began in the middle of Shevat--thirty days before what would one day be Purim (in the middle of Adar).

Here on earth, we delve into the laws of a holiday thirty days before it begins (Pesachim 6a). This has a heavenly analogue. Thirty days before a holiday, the heavenly dynamics begin to prepare for that holiday.

The plague of locusts took place thirty days before what would one day be Purim. The event of the plague of locusts presaged the dynamics of Purim.

During the plague of locusts, G-d stated, "I have hardened his heart." This indicates that Pharaoh's heart was under the control of G-d.

And we have a general principle that "the good always outweighs the bad" (Sotah 11a).

So if G-d has the power to harden Pharaoh's heart, He is certainly able to carry out His tendency to turn hearts to the good: that is, to reverse the hearts of political leaders and advisors for good regarding His nation, the house of Israel.

This indicates that in the time of Purim, the heart of Achashverosh would actually turn to the good.

In accordance with this, we can interpret as follows:

G-d told Moshe: "Come to Pharaoh."

But how could Moshe bring himself close to the evil Pharaoh?

G-d explained to Moshe: "Come to Pharaoh"--meaning, "Bring yourself close to him. You may ask how you can approach such an evil man. The answer is that I have hardened his heart.

Therefore, he is given over into My hand--and the good always outweighs the bad. Thus, I can turn everything to the good for my nation, the house of Israel."
Kedushas Levi

The Hidden Love
by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

There are two types of love.
One is the love within the measured qualities of our existence. These may be called "days."
...In every "day"--in every measured quality--G-d's love for Israel exists. It is actual.
There is another love that is potential. That is the love between Israel and our Father in heaven that existed before creation, when Israel was still in His consciousness and mind.
A father loves his son. Everyone can understand that love. But the connection and love between the father and son while the son is still in the father's mind, before conception: we cannot now grasp that connection and love. Now, we can only understand those things contained within time and measured qualities. But the love in G-d's consciousness and mind transcends time and measured qualities. It is not cloaked within any garment.

In the future days, the Torah of the Ancient, Hidden One will be revealed. The statement of the sages will be fulfilled:
"The righteous will point at G-d. As the verse states, 'This is Hashem, for whom we have hoped' (Is. 25:9)" (Taanit 31). The Holy One, blessed be He, will then remove His garments. "The earth will be filled with the consciousness of Hashem like water that covers the sea."

The love within consciousness, the innermost part of Torah, will be revealed. That innermost part is G-d's divinity. When it is revealed, peace will spread.

"They will not harm nor destroy on all My holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the consciousness." The love within consciousness will be revealed.
Likutei Moharan I 33

The Letters of Our Soul
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

In the land of Israel,
Grow the letters of our soul.
They reveal illumination.
They draw down mighty life
From the blaze of life
Of the Congregation of Israel.
Eretz Cheifetz, p. 24

Whatever is Positive and Ideal
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

What is the basic nature of the [sexual] covenant, of how that covenant is made--in the ethical sense?

Whatever is positive and ideal, whatever wells from the essence of the most elevated and exalted morality: that must be planted in us, deeply and strongly. It must exist within the entire nature of our heart and soul, to such a degree that it does not require encouragement, strengthening or protective boundaries. It must be palpable and permanent.

We must experience it as strongly as a decent individual experiences a repugnance to the possibility of murder or any other evil, negative activity that the power of general ethics has already addressed successfully.

When we reach that state, we will be happy in its exalted being. We will rejoice in the name of G-d and always trust His kindness.

But when the [sexual] covenant is flawed, the natural power within ethics is weakened. In consequence, the flaw brings about trembling and weakness in the depth of our soul. That inner trembling results from a tendency to turn from the path of good. At that time, we need constant guarding and encouragement: intelligent and in-depth.

With an arousal of supernal repentance motivated by love of G-d, this flaw is transformed into goodness. Instead of engaging in a variety of activities with the energy of nature, which lacks intelligence, now we act with the force of intelligence (see Orot Hateshuvah, Chapter One).

Then we also experience, with goodness and joy, some of that pleasurable feeling that naturally comes from the path of goodness and the service of G-d in general.

At the same time, we experience fears and states of bitterness. These come about because we are now strengthening ourselves to walk upon the right path. Actually, if the trait of the covenant were not weak in ourselves, we would already be doing everything with confidence and a joyous heart.

[When we experience all these feelings,] we become accustomed in our depths to do good for the sake of the essence of what is truly good: the desire of G-d (see Musar Avichah 2, 4.) In particular, it is typical that tranquility will then characterize our every mitzvah, our every path of service and every good trait.

It might be that from the emotional aspect within ourselves, we do not recognize that tranquility entirely in its full glory, in a manner that will cause our soul to draw us to it. It might be that from our individual aspect, we do not feel our ethical elevation, which results from good deeds, this discipline, and the like.

However, in the framework of the totality, in the context of the Congregation of Israel, it is certain that every spiritual and moral improvement, every aspect of approaching G-d, will bring positive influence.

In general, the balance of spirituality is without a doubt lacking in the world. We are massively immersed in physicality.

At times, in our individual lives, we may have turned appropriately to spirituality, which perhaps has subdued our physicality. [Still, because spirituality is so much outweighed in the world,] we do not experience, as would have been appropriate, that sweet feeling that holiness places upon the heart of those who go in its ways.

But when the balance of our spirituality is joined to the treasury of the entirety [(the Congregation of Israel)], we will find that the place of aridity [within us] has been watered with the emanation of holiness. It will soak us with its influence.

Then we will pluck its true fruit. It will be fit for us to rejoice with it.

"There are people who act out of love and rejoice in sufferings. Of them the verse states, 'Those who love Him are like the coming forth of the sun in its strength'
(Shoftim 5:31)"
(Shabbos 88b).
Midos Harayah, p. 66

The Mouse
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

"Hmm," said a great voice.
"I see that you have fallen
Into the hole."

"Well," said the mouse,
"Since you dug this hole,
Surely you have lined it with straw.
Surely I will be able to scramble out."

"Hmm," said the great voice.
And then it said no more.

A Grizzled Lion
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

Sometimes, when a grizzled lion
Merely lies still,
The forest stirs about him.

All translations and original material. Copyright 1998

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