The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume VI, Issue 45
Eikev, July 2002
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2002 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
* ARE YOU GROWING TIRED?
* THE MERITS OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
* THE BUSINESS OF TORAH
* HASIDIC TALES
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
Are you growing tired of
They are the lamps. And are you
The mountains you have climbed in
Shafts of light, vertical and
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
Every Saturday night after the Sabbath is over, the prophet Elijah sits beneath the Tree of Life and records the merits of the Jewish people.
The secrets of the Torah are the trait of the manifestation of Elijah.
Therefore, if you have any connection to a desire for the secrets of the Torah, on any level whatsoever–even if it is merely something you imagine, or a feeling, or something that you can grasp with your human intellect; and certainly if (aided by God's supernal love) you have risen to higher levels–then every Saturday night after the Sabbath is over, you should engage in the activities of Elijah. Involve yourself in the merits of the Jewish people.
With a conceptual understanding, with a bright and clear grasp, recognize the holiness of the Jewish people and their precious worth. Cling to the totality of the holy nation, the nation of God, His special inheritance, upon every individual member of which God's holy light shines infinitely–for the world rests upon even the most empty of Jews.
Tremble with a holy awe at the holiness of the divine, supernal soul of every Jew. Be filled with a transcendent yearning and desire for the holy elevated advancement of the Jewish people in general, and for the success of every individual Jew in all the works of his hands, in physical and spiritual matters, [bringing him] everything good.
From the midst of the depths of your soul, sing and proclaim, "Happy are you, Israel, happy are you, Israel! Who is like you, a nation redeemed by God! I have loved you, my nation and people, I have desired you with all my heart, with all my soul. I yearn for you with all the warmth of my heart, with all the fire of my bones. I yearn to see your glory, your beauty and your grandeur, the time that you will be raised and uplifted, the time that you will grow in your own characteristic beauty, when all your special qualities will come to the fore and the wondrous things hidden within you [will emerge] from the potential to the actual, a time that you will be planted in and become an inhabitant of the land that matches your character, the land of your beauty. Then, to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west, the beauty of your strength and the height of your horn will be revealed.
"The nations will see your righteousness and all the kings your glory, and they will call you by a new name that the mouth of God will pronounce, and you will be the diadem of beauty in the hand of God, a headband of sovereignty in the hand of God."
by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
"Set up groups that will be involved in Torah" (Berachot 63b).
In his essay, "Heed and Listen, Israel," Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson...explains at length that involvement in Torah must have the same qualities as involvement in a secular activity.
If you are engaged in business, you do not sit alone behind closed doors with your merchandise until someone breaks open your door and ask you to sell him something. To the contrary, you locate your business where you will find the most traffic, you put the greatest effort into publicizing your merchandise to passers by. Even if a busy passerby will not buy your wares right now, he will at any rate remember that he can buy it here, and at some future time he may come and buy. Similarly, we must be "involved in Torah," not content with learning Torah for ourselves and not even with teaching it to students who come and ask us to teach them. But we must teach Torah wherever there are many people. We must put the greatest effort into spreading Torah and seeing to it that the greatest amount of Jews learn Torah.
"A person who buys and sells at the same price is no businessman" (Bava Metzia 40b). The point of business is to earn money, and as much as one can.
The same applies to being involved in Torah. A person can learn Torah, he can be making an effort to teach Torah–but he does it without any enthusiasm. He does not feel that he is getting any benefit, any profit. But "Israel [through] Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one" (Zohar). Through every word of Torah and through spreading Torah, you gain the benefit of having acquired yet another part of the world for Torah. But this person feels nothing. And so even when he is involved in Torah and spreading Torah, he lacks enthusiasm. He is not like a businessman who is deeply engaged in his work, but like an employee who does the work only because he has to.
"Every day, a voice proclaims from Mt. Horeb, ‘Woe to those people for the insult to the Torah'" (Pirkei Avot). (Horeb means "to destroy": the power of Torah destroys the physicality of people and of the world.) This voice is speaking of people who learn Torah day and night, and who spread Torah. But "woe to those people for the insult to the Torah"–woe to those who learn Torah but shame it, who do not fully appreciate its quality and greatness.
by Avraham Stern
An Introduction to this book of Hasidic Tales, with an explanation by the story-teller of the reason for this book and its purpose [translator's note: since almost all of this book has already been presented here, this introduction ,may serve as an after word].
"King Solomon wrote three divinely-inspired works: the Song of Songs, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. Which one did he write first? R. Yonasan said that first he wrote the Song of Songs [the ‘Holy of Holies'–Yadaim 3:5], then Proverbs, and finally Ecclesiastes. R. Yonasan deduced this from the way of the world. When a person is young, he recites poetry. When he grows older, he cites proverbs. And when he is old, he speaks of emptiness" (Midrash Rabbah Shir Hashirim 1).
From this, you might think that Ecclesiastes contains foolish, empty matters–heaven forbid! The truth is, however, that "the older a Torah sage grows, the more knowledge does he gain" (end of Kinim). And we are told that Solomon "grew wiser than any other man" (Melachim I 5:11). And so in his old age, he was certainly wise.
So what is this "vanity of vanities" that he speaks about?
We learn from the Kabbalah the great secrets that are hidden and concealed in the seven "vanities" that Solomon refers to (cf. Tikunei Zohar 29). Or, according to its simple meaning, the book of Ecclesiastes is addressed at keeping a person away from the three harmful traits of envy, lust and ego. And so after Solomon has described these "vanities" with all their details, he concludes in the final verse, "the end of the matter will be clear to all: fear God and keep His commandments, for that is the entirety of a human being."
When you learn Rashi's commentary on Ecclesiastes and, even more, when you learn through the lengthy Midrash Rabbah on Ecclesiastes, you feel for the first time the great wisdom of King Solomon's divine inspiration, for he describes every individual [and] the entire Jewish people, as well as the exile and the complete redemption (may it come swiftly in our days, amen, God willing) and the way of the entire world. He explains why the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper by referring to the secret of reincarnation. "Therefore, I saw the wicked buried and coming" (8:10). After they are buried, they come back again.
Three leaders led the Jews for periods of forty years: Moshe Rabeinu, Dovid Hamelech and Shlomo Hamelech [King Solomon]. The letter "mem" has the numerical value of forty, and it has a connection to the Jewish redemption (cf. Sanhedrin 94).
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