The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review

From
Yaacov Dovid Shulman

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WINGS OF MORNING

Volume VII, Issue 36

Emor 5763, May 2003

Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright 2002 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (yacovdavid@aol.com).

THERE SWIMS UP FROM THE DEPTH OF TIME
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

There swims up from the depth of time
A fish of frightful mien
Whose fangs are spiked grotesqueries,
Whose scales are pale cool sheen,
With blood-red eyes and savage teeth
And horrid, bone-white grin.
What terror stole up from that black,
What gruesome flank and fin,
There in the brrr and lanky cold,
Where giant squids glide past,
Trailing glory: sucking arms
Of ruin and rack and blast,
Staring with dead saucer eyes,
Wraiths flowing through the cave
Of nameless floating entities
Whose image will deprave?
And jellyfish like dreadful angels
Silently do rise,
Pulsing like a silent clock
Whose passage scarifies.

Oh thank the sun that shines upon
The blue and glinting sea,
The salt wet air and rocking boat,
This kind tranquility.

But grow acquainted with the deep,
The cold and breathless deep
Where angels dream and serpents stir
And rub against your sleep.

The glinting sun, the bobbing hull,
The gunwale glistening,
The far-off clanging of the buoys
For those yet listening--
Upon those slight, precarious isles,
Rough seagulls land and preen,
Then rise into the lucid air.
Their wings are damascene,
Their hearts beat fast, they rise and wheel
As grandly as the sea:
A gentle circle silver-blue
A boundless wizadry.

Approach the coast of noisy men
Where commerce clubs with war,
And broken spars and drowned calves heads
Are cast upon the shore.
The cobble path, the wall-lined lane,
A gate of fleur de lys,
A fountain where azaleas bloom,
A smooth-trunked alder tree,
A voice as silver as the leaves,
Subtle in the air,
Whose little shivers stir the green
Of herbs and maidenhair.
Earth and water, fire and air
Collect within your soul,
A four-fold song, a human voice,
A ringing golden bowl.

HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE GROWING SPIRITUALLY
by Rabbi Kalman Kalonymus Shapiro

If you want to know whether you have grown spiritually or, heaven forbid, have been deteriorating over the course of the last few years, take note of your desire your desire, not just your wish.

Only when you work hard to attain some goal is that called desire. If you don t work for it, even if you want it, that is not desire, only some kind of vague wish. For instance, a poor person wants to make a living. That is a desire, because he works at it. But if he wants to suddenly find a million dollars, that is merely a wish to get rich not his true desire.

Every Jew wants to be perfect, but that s just a wish that one day he ll get up in the morning and find that he s perfect. That is not a desire. Only when you want and work to reach a level and state of holiness do you have real desire.

So a false desire can always be great. Whatever state a person is in, he can always have the same desire to suddenly become immensely wealthy, or that he will instantaneously become a spiritual master. But that is not real desire, a desire that comes with work.

Such a person doesn t leap, but he trods, he walks steadily to a higher state and level of serving God, and his mind is fixed on continuing to grow. And so a person s desire corresponds to his level. If he is small, his desire is small. But when his service of God grows greater and he rises, then his desire grows greater.

So if you want to know what level you are on, look at your desire: at what you have desired in the last year or two and what you desire now. If the two are equal, or if your desire has grown, then (thank God) you have been growing spiritually.

Tzav V ziruz, pp. 333-34

SOME EPISODES
by Rabbi Chaim Vital

And two years later, my Ashkenazi teacher of blessed memory [the Ari] came to Tzefat and I learned with him.

And a little while before he passed away he told me, A son will be born to you now, with whom your wife is already pregnant, who is five hundred levels greater than you, but it is not clear whether he will live... And my teacher passed away, and this son also passed away after a year and a half. I called him Yosef, and his awareness was perfect. And a week before he passed away, he spoke words that were close to prophecy.

I thought that my teacher is the Torah scroll of the Ashkenazim [in my dream], and that he had been reincarnated into that son, Yosef, and that it was he whom I had circumcised in that dream.

** The year 33 [1570], 15 Tammuz.

I asked a dream-question regarding [my] grasp of Kabbalah.

In the dream, I saw an old man who looked like Rabbi Avraham Halevi Mugrabi sitting at the window in my house. He greeted me, and I responded in kind. He said to me, Do you want me to teach you some explanations and secrets of tefillin?

I said to him, If you want, I will teach you more than eighty wondrous secrets regarding tefillin, which you have never heard. He thought that I was joking, and he began to tell me a number of secrets, but I was dismissive.

And so he turned to go.

I said to him, First of all, why did you come, and now why are you going?

He said, You called me, so I came. And since you aren t speaking to me, I am going on my way.

I realized that he was the prophet Eliyahu. I asked him if I would succeed in writing a commentary on the Zohar, but he said to me, I cannot answer you until some days have passed. And he wished me well and went on his way.

** The year 30 [1570], Sabbath eve, 13 Av

I dreamt that it was the day of Shavuot or Rosh Hashanah.

I was sitting with my father and mother and relatives, eating at the table. There was a window frame that was not open to the outside on the southern wall. On the window ledge was a snake egg, and it began to crack at one end.

I took it and threw it to the ground, where it broke open completely. Two huge snakes came out of it, a male and a female, entwined and clinging to each other like the union of a male and female. I took a stone as white as snow and threw it at the head of one snake, and its head was cut off. But its body remained entwined with the other snake, and the head that had been cut off jumped and escaped from the house.

I went out to find it. I saw a tent of very white cloth, and I went into it to see whether the head of the snake had gone there, but I did not find it. I said to myself, I m not worried about it, because it will certainly not live past late afternoon, and when the sun sets it will completely die.

I looked up and I saw written on the cloth [of the tent] the following statement, beginning in Aramaic and concluding in the Holy Tongue, Whoever subjugates and breaks the Sitra Achra [of evil] and whoever pursues the guilty to remove that pollution and to repress the Sitra Achra, I will place his chair higher than that of My servant, Metatron.

It appeared to me then that this is an exact citation of a verse from the Proverbs of Shlomo. I said, If the reward of someone who subjugates the Sitra Achra is so great, I will go and kill the second snake as well, since I have already killed one snake.

Then I awoke. And this was early in the morning.

** In that same year.

I dreamt that it was Simchat Torah, and I was praying in the Greek synagogue in Tzefat. Rabbi Moshe Cordovero as well as someone else much greater than he were there. (After I awoke, I wasn t sure whether that was the Tanna Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair or Rabbi Elazar ben Yochai of my generation.)

They asked me to go up and lead the prayers by reciting the Musaf repetition in a loud voice. I stood up and recited the weekday Shmoneh Esrai until I completed the blessing, He Who causes the horn of salvation to flourish. I immediately took three steps back and said, He who makes peace... (to be continued...)

Sefer Hachezyonot

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Yaacov Dovid Shulman 410.358.8771; yacovdavid@aol.com.


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