The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review

Yaacov Dovid Shulman

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues



Volume VI, Issue 8

Chayei Sarah, November 2001

Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2001 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (

* The Burning Bush
--by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

* The Society for Positive Mindfulness (continued)
--by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro (the Pieszesner Rebbe)

* A Short History of R. Yaacov Dovid Kallush of Amshinov (5574-5638; 1803-1878) (continued)
--by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Bromberg

* Looking down from above
--by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

When you speak, the burning bush
Must flame within your mouth, even
You, lost paddler on a stream whose trees are gnarled,
Moss-laden, this becalmed frenzy within your sinews

Cries, snaps the hasps of houses,
Blind crow fluttering one-winged, you
Seek the sunlight creaking from your joints, driven
To blind pirouetting where the sun is the molten

Indecision. Now, hear the
Leaves' brown incandescence, these true
Teachers, when teachers' words are dry as leaves that
Crackle, crumble, mounds of dust in your rose arteries.

Can you help but take off your
Shoes, see, every tree is bursting
Light, every mountain, your hand, the air, your heart
Sheds light, your feet are burning, for this earth is holy.

by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

When we truly look at the good within every individual, then we are loved by others with an inner affection, and we do not need to depend on even the slightest amount of sycophancy, for the interest that we take in the aspect of goodness that we are constantly encountering truly conceals from us all the bad aspects, and "the shame of the naked is concealed."

Arpelei Tohar, p. 107

by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro (the Pieszesner Rebbe)

There is yet another fundamental, natural impediment that keeps a person from simplicity, ruining him and turning him into an insincere dissembler, a man who lacks heart and soul. It is a mental disease, something that has twisted his [mind] so that it cannot [think] straight, but is instead askew, tangled and confused.

Like a person with a nervous condition, this person cannot think straight. His mind has grown so incoherent and confused that he cannot think simply. This is a type of insanity, a mental illness and affliction (heaven have mercy).

And usually, just as one can discern whether a person is mentally ill (to whatever degree), so can one tell a person like this, a liar, by his face and eyes.

The Talmud gives the reason for this condition: "idleness leads to uneasiness." Although person suffering from a malady of this type speaks rationally, his consciousness has grown confused and entangled, one thought [conflicting] with another, so that there is nothing fundamental and no truth.

This is why–as a rule–the greatest liars are those who are idle. And so a person who must engage in mental work or who engages in difficult physical work (which also suppresses his mental activity, cf. section four above), is not deceptive. In other words, this malady of uneasiness and confusion has not affected his mind.

What is a true healing regimen? Do not be complicated, but simple. Avoid idleness as much as you can. And do not imagine that it is enough that you avoid idleness for three or four hours. The evil inclination is a thief: he is content to make you idle for a ten minute period, then ten minutes more, and then another ten minutes, until–for the remainder of the day–all of your thoughts will be confused.

Idleness is like a rot that spreads to everything it touches, destroying and ruining that which was healthy.


We realize that a person is so used to over-valuing human knowledge and intellect that it is difficult for him to understand our demand for so much simplicity and guilelessness, and he imagines that we want him to be a fool.

But a person who raises this objection has not understood our intent, and it is possible that the venom of the sin of Adam is causing him to consider the opinions of the world (and, in particular, its outlook on good and evil, an outlook that results from lack of clarity and from being unable to choose between the two polarities of good and evil) as good. He honors and worships [the world's outlook], and imagines simplicity to be boorish and foolish.

Yet Yaacov is praised as a "simple man," and we are directed to be "simple with Hashem your God"–that same God Who is the source of wisdom, and one of Whose titles is "Wise." This is true wisdom, pure wisdom. A wisdom that is simple and direct is certain.

Even by simply using our human intellect, we can understand to some degree why we should not assign so much importance to and be so impressed by human intelligence and all of its new creations. At most, we should be astonished at human ingenuity, just as we are astonished at a stage magician or at an acrobat who stands on his head or walks on his hands–although we are amazed by their abilities, we do not look up to them or value their opinions.

Imagine that someone is researching the workings of the stomach. Many theories have already been proposed whose falsehood has already been demonstrated. And so many that are still considered true today will also fall by the wayside. New things will be discovered, and the so-called verities of our day will be considered laughable.

And [besides], does our stomach know how to work only in accordance with our theoretical understanding? It does its work without fanfare, without all these technical discussions, with surety and knowledge, without theory, with an unquestioning awareness–right and left, good and evil, preceded it (unclear). This is because, containing the life-force that God placed within it, it does not need to grope and hesitantly consider, like a blind man groping in the dark. Its knowledge is without dispute. It is a seeing and pure wisdom, a knowledge of simplicity, without confusion, without analysis and complexity.

But since human intellect–an empty intellect–lacks this sight and knowledge, it has to create complexity, to create [theories], to be stymied and trapped within confusion. Sometimes a person stumbles upon a fundamental truth, but other times he falls like a blind person falling into a pit . And even when a person knows something, it is only in some partial, superficial manner, and not a true sight and knowledge.

But if all humanity were to be simple, guileless and faithful–which comprises the revelation of spirit, reality and truth–then everyone would know and see things with a complete certainty, not with this fumbling in the darkness that people call "intellect."

And the problem is that even if a person is not an actual liar (claiming that a tree is a stone), falsehood exists within him in a potential state, and he lacks simplicity, truth, and the reality of the spirit.

And so from this moment on, member of our fellowship, make it your unwavering habit to be totally, completely simple in everything that you do. When you are talking to someone or thinking about something, don't mock and don't try to find something laughable in someone else. Have you ever seen a plant or a simple spirit mocking?

With the [quality of] thought that you have already strengthened, image standing before God. In all that you do, at home or outside, your actions and thoughts are only the payment of the debt of your service to God. You are obligated to drive yourself so as to pay off that great debt, and hope that, at the very least, by the end of your life you will have been able to pay off half of your debt to God. [With such an attitude,] you will not have free time for even an unnecessary breath.

And the more that you image this and make it permanent within your mind and heart, you will grow ever more simple, wise and guileless.

Bnei Machshavah Tovah

A SHORT HISTORY OF R. YAACOV DOVID KALLUSH OF AMSHINOV (5574-5638; 1803-1878) (continued)
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Bromberg

R. Yaacov Dovid also dedicated himself to freeing the unjustly imprisoned–pidyon shevuy9im. He established a fund for this goal and every Hasid was obligated to donate to it every day–each in accordance with his means. The rebbe himself directed this fund and accomplished wonders in this area. He took no note of his own health but himself went to collect the money and conscripted others to this work as well. IT is told that once he needed a large sum of money for pidyon shevuyim and he asked the rabbi of Warsaw to accompany him to a wealthy man to request a certain amount of money. The rabbi excused himself, saying that he had to solve a difficult Tosafot and so was unable to go. R. Yaacov Dovid drew a small volume of mishnah, which he always carried with him on his travels, from his pocket, and opened it to a statement of R. Tarfon in Pirkei Avot: "You are not obligated to complete the work, nor are you free to ignore it," and showed it to the rabbi. The rabbi understood what R. Yaacov Dovid was telling himself.

He no longer felt able to deny R. Yaacov Dovid but closed his volume of Gemara and went with hm. And they received what R. Yaacov Dovid had wanted.

by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

Those tzaddikim whose supernal gaze prevents them from seeing physical matters well, must look down from above, just as the majority of people must work hard in order to be able to gaze up at abstract matters from below, from the world of action to the world of the spirit.

These tzaddikim are those few with an elevated stature who gaze from their height to the entirety of the house, the usual dwelling place of Israel, the entire nation.

Arpelei Tohar, p. 111

To subscribe by e-mail (free) or to sponsor an issue ($18.00), please contact:
Yaacov Dovid Shulman 410.358.8771;

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues
Jerusalem, Israel