The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume III, Issue 2
Haazinu 5759 / October 98
Translations and original material copyright (c) 1998 by Yaacov
Dovid Shulman (unless otherwise noted)
* Baseless Love
There is no such thing as "baseless love." Why baseless? This other person is a Jew, and I am obligated to honor him. There is only "baseless hatred"--but "baseless love"? No!
Malachim Kivnei Adam, p. 484
LESSONS FROM A THIEF AND A BABY
The following are the sweet words of the holy sayings of the holy tzaddik, Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov. These will revive the body and soul of every Jew who reads them, and plant in every Jewish heart precious, good and clever traits. May his merit protect us.
"From all my teachers, I have grown wise" (Pirkei Avos). We should learn from everyone.
Rabbi Moshe Leib used to say, "I learned three things from a thief, and three things from a baby, and they have always been helpful to me.
"A thief is always fearful. He does his work at night. And what he steals at night, he sells in the morning for a pittance.
"In the same way, every Jew must always be in awe of God. His main service of God should take place at night, unknown to anyone else. And although he served God the entire night, in the morning he should be extremely humble, without the least pride.
"A child is always happy. Even when it grows upset it can been appeased in a moment. When it wants something from its parents, it cries, and then they must give him everything.
"In the same way, every Jew must always be happy. Even when he suffers and has needs, and grows sad and angry, he must immediately be appeased and believe that this is God's will, and so accept all his sufferings with love. When he needs something, he should only cry before his Father in heaven, Who will help him, for God 'hears outcries' and, as the holy Talmud states, 'the gates of tears are never closed.'"
May his merit guard us.
Shivchei Ramal, pp. 31-32
YOUR EVERY MOVEMENT
It is very good to give yourself over to God and to rely on Him.
This day, give over to God your every movement, as well as everything that your children and those dependent on you do, so that it may all be in accordance with His will.
Likutei Eitzos, Yirah Ve'avodah 35
A JUDGEMENT WHOSE GOODNESS IS INTENSE
The mystical teachings tell us that [the energy of] every good deed that an evil person performs goes to a place of evil and pollution.
The Holy One, blessed be He, does not deny this person his reward. He pays him in this world for his slightest good deed.
Nevertheless, this is the portion of the wicked.
To an even greater extent, [God is exacting with the righteous]. "In the land [of this world] shall he be paid" (Proverbs 11:31). "Those who surround Him are in a tempest" (Psalms 50:3).
All this proceeds from a judgement whose goodness is intense, whose purpose is that the light of holiness and goodness will grow stronger and increase.
In regard to entire nations, every good deed carried out by an evil nation strengthens the universal evil. "The mercy of nations is a sin" (Proverbs 14:34) [because they act solely out of self-interest (Bava Basra 10b)].
The nation of Israel, on the other hand, is "a righteous nation, keeping good faith" (Is. 26:2). And the Holy One is exacting with those who surround Him. This is true of the entire nation of Israel: "Only you have I known from all the families of the earth; therefore, I will visit upon you all your sins" (Amos 3:2).
When the greater part of a source is good, this indicates that really in its inner being it is entirely good. Every sin that comes from such a source actually contains in the wealth of its inner being great light and vast salvation.
When Yosef's brothers sinned and sold him into slavery, the entire world was sustained, [for Yosef distributed food when "there was a famine in all the lands"].
And [the sages instituted a prayer,] "Even when the [Jews] transgress, may their needs come before You" (Ber. 28b).
However, the goodness and constructiveness that come from sin must be intensely purified--to such a degree that it will rise to perfect all creation.
This purification consists of sufferings, which scrub away sin (Ber. 5). Such sufferings purify those sins that come from the depth of goodness. They cleanse these sins of ugliness that comes from superficiality. They return these sins to their inner foundation--which is a life of truth and holiness.
No actions of the righteous ever go astray--even "his leaf does not wither, and all that he does succeeds" (Ps. 1:3). Even the most infinitesimal sin must be purified, in order to contribute to that universal, supernal state of activity to which every movement of one's holy soul is directed.
"The Lord knows the way of the righteous" (Ps. 1:6). The Lord alone knows, on a level that no created being can conceive of.
Every return to God motivated by love arrives at that inner source where everything created is good, retroactively a structure of wholeness and honesty.
Sins are transformed to merits without the necessity for a new creation. Rather, these sins merely reveal their original state of being.
In a similar fashion, the new heavens and earth that the Holy One, blessed be He, will bring about in the days of the messiah will not be new. Even they already exist, [having been "created during the six days of creation" (Ber. Rabbah 1:18)].
"The new heavens and new earth that I [will] make are standing" (Is. 66:22)--they are standing now.
THE MERIT OF DISBELIEF
Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov used to say that one must posses all the traits in the world. Even bad traits must be used for good.
For instance, the trait of hatred must be directed against evil people.
We must use jealousy when we see Torah scholars sitting and learning God's Torah. We may envy them and also learn the holy Torah constantly.
The worst trait of all, pride, is also useful--for instance, when you want to raise charity, a great mitzvah which saves one from death. It may be that you are always prideful. But when you want to perform this great mitzvah, your evil inclination comes to you and tells you, "Who are you? What are you?" Then you consider yourself the worst, most contemptible person in town; and the more you consider this, the more you are convinced that it is true. So you grow incredibly humble and decide not to perform this mitzvah, telling yourself, "Let a fine Jew raise charity, but not I, for who am I to do so?" But if you are wise, you will make use of your pride and persuade yourself that you are the finest Jew in town. Then you will perform this great mitzvah. And you will perform all mitzvahs that your evil inclination tried to persuade you to leave alone because they are too great for you. Make use of the greatest pride, and perform the great mitzvah. As the verse states, "His heart was exalted in the ways of Hashem."
Then there is the trait of disbelief, which would appear totally unnecessary.
But the holy Rabbi Moshe Leib explained in his holy wisdom that this too is very useful. And whoever hears his words must acknowledge that they are true and justified.
For example, a poor person comes to you and asks for help. Then your evil inclination makes a tzaddik out of you. It persuades you that you are entirely pious and filled with great trust in God. And you tell the poor person, "Trust God. He Who helps the entire world will also help you."
But if you are wise, you will not be such a foolish saint with that unfortunate person. For the moment, cease your trust in God and become a disbeliever. Imagine that there is no one in the entire world who can help that poor person except for you. Do all you can to help him.
Such a disbelief brings you to the greatest faith. With such disbelief, you will acquire both worlds in a single moment.
May his merit protect us. Amen, may it be God's will!
Shivchei Ramal, pp. 32-33
All mitzvahs, good deeds and service of God are like childbirth. As the Talmud states, "the true children of the righteous are their good deeds."
Before giving birth, a woman suffers pangs and distress, and she cries out.
Serving God is the same. When you want to serve and return to God, you must exert yourself. You must cry out, groan, double up and bend from side to side. This is particularly true at the beginning, for "all beginnings are difficult." At that time in particular, you must cry out and groan, and so forth.
But even afterwards, serving God does not come easily. You need to exert yourself and move yourself before you accomplish one accomplished act.
So do not get upset at everything you are going through. It is all necessary. And, as the Talmud states, "according to the effort is the reward."
Likutei Eitzos, Yirah Ve'avodah 22
UNITED TO DO YOUR WILL
After Yom Kippur of 1928, when the British Mandate government interfered with the prayers at the Kotel, Rav Kook stated, "Come and learn how we relate to the nations of the world and how they respond to us. On the Days of Awe, we pray, 'Place Your awe on all Your beings...May all beings fear You and all creatures bow before You, and all be united to do Your will with a full heart.' And at that moment, when we pray that the entire world will recognize God, these gentiles come and interfere with our prayers, which are being recited on their behalf."
Malachim Kivnei Adam, p. 167
Rabbi Shmuel Aharon Shazuri (Weber), secretary of the chief rabbinate, tells:
After the pogroms of 1929, the Arab rioters were given light sentences. At the same time, new restrictions were placed on Jewish immigration.
When Herbert Samuel, the British chief representative, asked Rav Kook for his opinion, he replied, "Why does the Torah only fine a thief double payment, in contrast to man-made laws, which are stricter? The reason is that the thief endangers his life: he knows that if he will be found breaking into a house, he is liable to be killed. Nevertheless, this does not deter him. And so, if the Torah were to threaten him with an equivalent punishment, he would not be deterred from robbing a second time. But he does take a monetary punishment seriously, because that endangers his purpose.
"Therefore," Rav Kook continued, "what upsets me is not that the Arab rioters are given light sentences, but that they gain political profit from their actions. In my opinion, the sole punishment that can deter them is a political loss, for that would endanger their purpose."
Malachim Kivnei Adam, p. 155
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