The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review

Yaacov Dovid Shulman

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Volume VII, Issue 19

Shabbat Bo 5763, January 2003

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

by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

I am as tired as a bat
Who is wearing an old straw hat.
I hang about in trees
And fan myself with the breeze
Of my long, curved toes.
I really wonder if anyone knows
About the green fruits
And the long, stringy roots
That seem to have spread out,
And I bury my little brown snout
In the primrose.
I guess that's the way it goes,
I guess that's the way the tidal wave
Blows through the old, upended grave,
And the green sky is dewy
And the high school band chants "Louie, Louie."
The wind is a muttering torch
Spitting sparks on this old porch.
And these books seem so tired,
So mired
In an old brain pan.
They were given a CAT scan
And they meowed.
I was really cowed!
So anyway here I am,
Having tasted the concord jam,
Swaying in the zephyr,
Afraid I'm growing deafer.
The world looks rather brown
When you're hanging upside down.
Urgh! That wet wind sure does blow,
I wish I knew the answer, though:
How to strain out the rocks
And the scent of old socks.
Sometimes I think it's hidden
Underneath that old midden.
And I flap my elastic wings
And feel those wet evenings,
And the smell of fruit drives me batty,
And I seek your friendship, laddy,
And the shifty, crazy flight
Of intoxicated bats at night.

by Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook

A New Power of Life

When you learn Torah for its own sake, you are doing a kindness to the entire Congregation of Israel.

How is that?

The spirit of the Jewish people is strengthened when its children gain their spiritual sustenance from the fruits of that spirit.

The entirety of the Torah is filled with the spirit of Israel. Every individual who is engaged in learning Torah unveils a new power of life in the soul of Israel as a result of the spiritual food that he receives from the Torah. The more that this learning is illumined and crowned with a broad awareness and good understanding, and the more that it gives a person generosity and a pure spirit, the more does the power of Jewish life reveal itself and give the Jewish people the power and joy of life that enable them to be encouraged and rise.

But the source of all weaknesses in the spirit of the Jewish people that enter the world is the forgetting of the Torah and the neglect of learning Torah.

Orot Hatorah 2:5

For the Right Reasons

When we learn Torah for the right reasons, we draw from God's Will the elevated goal of the Torah, which spreads into every detail. Then a supernal kindness increases for the person learning and for the entire world with him.

But when we learn for incorrect reasons, then the particular manifestations [of spirituality] are revealed [only] to the discrete particulars, and the wisdom contained in them is constricted. Corresponding to that measure of wisdom, God's Will is curt, and with short temper and anger. And it would have been better for a person [who learns in that manner] never to have entered this world.

Orot Hatorah 3:5

The Branches of Light

When we learn in holiness and an uplifted soul, the breadth of the entire Torah can be seen: how it emerges from the source of its holiness, from the source of the Congregation of Israel, and how all of the individual laws spread like the branches of the light of life from the source of life of the entire people.

Orot Hatorah 4:5

A Great Difference

The Torah has one goal: to awaken our highest spiritual aspect so that we will be engaged in holy states of mind, and turn away from immersion in the animal, physical, which weakens our essential strength.

From the point of view of the negative goal–to turn aside from evil–all aspects of the Torah are equal. But from the aspect of the essential revelation of the divine light that suffuses the soul, there is a significant difference between a great thing and a small thing.

Orot Hatorah 6:5

A Spiritual Life

Do not think that it is possible to live a spiritual life without the light of the Torah. It is impossible to live without light and air, without food and drink–it is that much more impossible to life without the life-force of the Torah.

The measure of the spirituality of people who are far from Torah and life really comes only to the degree that they have a connection to the Torah, or they have a connection to those who live the life of Torah, that they have, concealed within their soul, some store of an inheritance from the influence of the life of Torah that their forebears in previous generations attained.

Also, Torah scholars who stand in the assembly of God have the same relationship to the mysteries of the Torah as everyone else to Torah in general: they must receive their basic life-force through the influence of the secrets of the Torah.

Orot Hatorah 12:6

by Rabbi Avraham Sternhartz

The first teaching in Likutei Moharan is based on Rabbi Nachman's comment, "What can a person do? Pray, learn and pray." Once, when R. Nachman was still in Medvedevke, someone came to him complaining that he does not know if God has accepted his prayers, because, since he prays at great length, other people have no respect for him.

Rabbi Nachman told him that he should be sure to learn some Mishnah or Talmud (or whatever he prefers) immediately after his prayers. Then he can be sure that his prayer will be received, and that he will be accepted and respected by God and man.

After some time passed, this man returned to R. Nachman with the complaint that he is unable to comprehend his learning with such total clarity that it will illumine his service of God like the sun–since the holy Torah is called a sun.

R. Nachman replied, "If only it would at least first shine for you like the moon, and afterwards shine for you like the sun. But learn forcefully, be invigorated by the learning and comforted by it. And the most important thing is simplicity, for that overcomes the evil inclination, which can literally drive a person mad."

After more time passed, this person returned to R. Nachman with great joy and told him that the advice that R. Nachman had given him was illuminating him in all his ways.

Afterwards, R. Nachman revealed the first teaching in Likutei Moharan. At the time, he said, "What does a person have to do in this world? Pray, learn and pray."

If you are very familiar with this teaching, you may understand to some small degree that everything in it hints at and alludes to the incident involving that man.

A little is explained as well in the tale of the rabbi and his only son who felt no pleasure in his service of God. Although the son was advised to travel to the tzaddik, his father, a rabbi who did not act with simplicity, was influenced by the evil inclination [and discouraged the boy from going].

"Happy are those who are simple upon the way, who walk in the Torah of God."

And a hint suffices for the wise.

Tovot Zichronot

by R. Moshe Yehudah Leib of Sassov

Spiritual Guidelines to a Joyful Service of God

1. Although in your eyes this may be insignificant, it is hewn from a high and holy place.

2. The degree of joy in your worship will indicate the measure of your faith in God.

3. If you are overwhelmed by sadness, it will be very easy for you to transgress the entire Torah.

4. If you are sure that this world was created only as a means for your soul to arrive at an eternal tranquility, why should you be so overwhelmed by unhappiness?

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Jerusalem, Israel