The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume V, Issue 44
Devarim 5761 July 2001
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2001 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
Observing the Torah must result from a surge of spiritual power within the depth of the holiness of the soul, as it pours forth its flow of life (onto the activities of each individual and of the entire community) with a sudden outpour--and not by slow growth and linking parts together "command to command, line to line" (Isaiah).
Then, that which is distant [from us] draws a sustenance of life that is appropriate for itself just as that which is near [us] does. And the foundations of the Torah, including its details, decrees, enactments, customs, righteous rulings, positive articles of faith and the ramifications of all of these, all together beat with the steady pulse of their life, as one.
This is not how matters proceed when there is smallness of faith. Smallness of faith comes from a contraction of logical impoverishment, when the intellect must toil before it can find a link between the essential thing that the heart does understand (to the extent that it can) and the distant branching of individual paths. And it constantly stumbles and blunders in the paths of life. This limited intellect, with all its calculations, cannot illuminate our way. This broken vessel cannot draw forth water from the flowing and living spring of the light of God that is found in His world and in His Torah, whose strength is not withheld.
So now the light of teshuvah goes forth, clearing a path for the nation. It powerfully proclaims a return to God so that we will hear His voice, walk in His ways and cling to Him. Only with this mighty strength will the nation live and survive. Then our normal intelligence, with all its ability, will be a fine servant, one that can help--to some degree--the spirit of life pulsing within the fulness of the soul, in regard to the form and shape of some specific matters. But the foundation of everything, the wellspring of life, is the spirit of God within the heart, living within the innermost part of the soul and filled with might and strength, assuring that "He will not be still until He shall establish and make Jerusalem the object of praise upon the earth." Orot Hatorah 11:3
a Hasidic story of the nineteenth century
by Avraham Yitzchak of Zinkavitz
Finally, the two messengers came to Jerusalem. The rabbi of Jerusalem was a very wise tzaddik. The messengers told him their story, and he told them to wait a few days. In the meantime, he would go up to heaven while he was asleep and ask what to do. He fasted, and then, one night, he went up to heaven and asked for help. He was told that the two messengers should travel to a place called Luz, and that there they would be helped. So the messengers went on their way. Again, whenever they came to a place where Jews lived, they asked the rabbi of the place to sign their letter. They had traveled so far that no one knew the names of the rabbis in Turkey any more. But each rabbi knew the name of the rabbi who had signed right before, so he believed the letter.
After a while, the messengers began to hear people mention the name Luz, so they knew that they were coming close.
Finally, after a great deal of hard traveling, they came to Luz. This city is mentioned by our sages in the Talmud (Succah, page 53); they say that in Luz, nobody dies. But that's the old city of Luz. The two messengers came to the new city of Luz, which is not too far from the old city. The two messengers went to the rabbi of Luz. They showed him their letter with all its signatures, and told him that the rabbi of Jerusalem had told them that they would be helped in Luz.
The rabbi answered them, "My friends, I cannot help you. This is the new city of Luz, and you can only be helped in the old city. But there's a problem: no one is allowed into that city. You see, the old city of Luz is completely surrounded by almond trees (the almond tree is called 'luz'). One of the almond trees has a hole in it like a little door. If a person has the merit, that little door opens and he can go through it into Luz. But there's another thing. Before you can even hope to go into Luz, there's something you have to do. Right before that almond tree with the little door in it is a little pond. That's the mikvah, where a person goes to purify himself. Whoever wants to go to Luz has to first go into the mikvah."
The rabbi sent the two messengers to that thick almond tree with a guide. When they got there, the messengers went to the pond. They saw that it was full of scorpions and snakes crawling around and sticking their heads out of the water. They were very frightened.
One of the messengers was extremely brave. He quickly took off his clothes, jumped into the pond and dunked his head under the water. Then he ran out and put his clothes back on. Thank God, none of the snakes bit him and none of the scorpions stung him.
Then the messengers sat next to the almond tree. They prayed to God and said Psalms and begged God to let them into the old city of Luz. from Sipurei Tzaddikim
by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman (the Pieszesner Rebbe)
If we are unable to begin our spiritual journey by awakening holiness directly, let us fall back on our approach of descending to the lowest point of a person's physical self and raising him from there. Let us begin with a physical awakening, because (as we stated earlier) every awakening--even if it is only physical--is a key to our soul.
Imagine if person's son were arrested and imprisoned. Now he can only visit his son when the prison warden enters the cell to interrogate him. Since the cell was opened only for the purpose of the criminal investigation, a foolish father will only speak with his son about the case. But a wise father will reason, "True, it is the warden who has opened the cell door. But since it is open and my son stands before me, I will embrace him, kiss him, and speak to him as a loving father."
Every feeling that is connected to something of this world opens a spark of our soul, and our soul is revealed a little bit. Let us then consciously draw her out even more. Let us greet her with words of love, awe and pure mindfulness for God. Since this feeling based on physicality has opened and revealed our soul a bit, we have something to begin with. We can now knock upon the door of our heart and summon her from behind the gates of bronze, where she stands, imprisoned. "Open for me, my sister, my friend" (Song of Songs). "Come forth to serve God with purity and passion, with faith, love and awe."
For example, we all have worries about something in our own life or about someone who is as important to us as we ourselves. When we bring these troubles to mind and imagine them vividly, as though they are before our eyes, our heart melts with emotion, and inside, we even weep. So bring these thoughts up deliberately. And when your heart is aroused and broken, consider: "Why should I break my heart and weep for nothing? Isn't God before me? I am standing before the Throne of His Glory. And so I will cry to God, Who hears the sound of weeping."
Then, utilizing the advice of the Ravad regarding thought and image (as taught previously), realize strongly that you have ascended and are standing before the Throne of Glory, before God, where you have been given the opportunity to pray and plead. Then you will see what meaningful prayer you will experience as a result of this [visualization].
Bnei Machshavah Tovah
Place your thought in the power of the words that you speak until you see how the lights of the words sparkle within each other, and from their midst are born various lights...The lights of the letters are the rooms of G-d, and He draws His energy into them.
Maggid Devarav Leyaakov 51
by Reb Avraham Ben Nachman
Afterwards, during the Ten Days of Penitence, R. Nosson came to R. Nachman and told him everything in his heart. R. Nachman told him, "Un veiter iz gut az miret zich oys..." And more than that, it is good to speak things out... [before God]."
Then, on Shabbos Teshuvah, R. Nachman taught "Summon Yehoshua" (Likutei Moharan 6), and R. Nosson was very moved (cf. Chayei Moharan). During these Ten Days of Penitence, R. Nachman assigned R. Nosson practices in accord with the root of his soul: to study eighteen chapters of mishnah a day, not to eat any animal product for a twenty-four hour period each week, and, one time, to stay awake for two days and a night in a row.
Afterwards, R. Nosson came home. On Simchas Torah, a number of Breslov Hasidim came to R. Nosson to rejoice in the holiday, and they talked of the greatness of R. Nachman and his songs. Habn zei zich gedrapet oyf di vent megodel hadveikus v'haga'aguim. They climbed the walls [?] out of their great cleaving to God and their yearning. They were very sorry that they had not gone to R. Nachman for any part of the holiday, and so they decided to go after Havdalah, as soon as the holiday came to an end.
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
This truck struggling up the cur-
Dow hands' sad joy, weep for for-
Forget the heart within you
Of a land that struggled on
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