The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review

Yaacov Dovid Shulman

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Ki Seitzei 5758 / September 98

Translations and original material copyright (c) 1998 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (unless otherwise noted)

apologies for any typos, etc.


* The Luminosity of Repentance
-by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
* The Neglect of Torah
-by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
* Rabbi Nachman's Journey to the Holy Land (continued)
-by Hillel Zeitlin
* The Torah is the Spiritual Holy Land
-by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
* A Tale of Slander
-A Yiddish Tale
* If the Box is Too Large
-by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
* At Hand
-by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

Corresponding to the luminosity of our repentance before learning Torah is the luminosity of our understanding.

To the extent that our will rises, so does our mind rise. To the extent that our will is luminous, so is our mind luminous. Oros Hatorah 6:2

by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

The "neglect of Torah" is different for everyone, each on his level. Someone who can rise mentally to a great level but who is indolent or afraid and thus rejects his lofty state, allowing himself to remain low, is rejecting the Torah of G-d for which he is suited.

In regard to this, the rabbis stated that "G-d overlooked idolatry, immorality and bloodshed, but not the rejection of the Torah." Oros Hatorah 7:2

by Hillel Zeitlin

The shipping agent listened to all this and left. The nextg day, he came to Rabbi Nachman and said, "I thank you very much for telling me the complete truth. If you had not done so, I have had you put in jail, and I would have been punished in this world and the next. Now I am ready to do whatever I can to help you: I can get you on a ship or do whatever else you want."

The next day, the shipping agent came again and reported that a ship carrying Russian-Polish Jews had just come to Istanbul.

One of those Jews was Rabbi Zev Wolf of Tsharna-Ostra, who was a then-famous rebbe. When Rabbi Zev Wolf learned (from Rabbi Nachman's man) that Rabbi Nachman was in Istanbul, he sent an invitationt o Rabbi Nachman to join him at his lodgings. But Rabbi Nachman begged off, because he wanted to remain free to continue to engage in his "childish behavior."

This behavior conissted of the following: he would go a bout barefoot, without a gartel and hat. He merely wore an undergarment, and in this way ran through the streets like a farshtift schoolboy. He gathered a group of small boys and played at war with them: one was a Turk, the other a Frenchman, and so forth.

Meanwhile, there was some scene in the courtyard where Rabbi Nachman was staying, and so he had to leave, and he moved to where Rabbi Zev Wolf was staying.

Rabbi Zev Wolf received Rabbi Nachman with great respect. He made a feast in his honor. But Rabbi Nachman did many things that went against Rabbi Zev's will.

When Rabbi Zev Wolf went to lead the prayer services on Shabbos morning, Rabbi Nachman was already sitting down to eat, for he had recited the morning prayers earlier. Later, when Rabbi Zev Wolf sat down to eat the third meal, Rabbi Nachman sent his man out to see if there were already stars in the sky so that he could recite the evening prayers. After he recited the evening prayers, Rabbi Nachman made Havdalah to conclude Shabbos took off his jacket and gartel, lit a pipe and came to Rabbi Zev Wolf, who was in an elevated state, at the time of "supreme favor," in the midst of conversation with the "sons of the palace who yearn to see the glow of the manifestation of G-d."

But Rabbi Zev Wolf didn't say one angry word. To the contrary, he recited the evening prayer and made Havdalah, and then he spoke with Rabbi Nachman with graet friendliness. They talked together for almost the entire night.

What benefit did Rabbi Nachman derive from incitging peopel against himself, purposely inciting even those who liked him, engaging in childish behavior, playing at war and the like? This will become understandable later, when the desctription of Rabbi Nachan's journeys will be completed. I have a remarkable legned, known only to a few, which was told to me orally: a legend about the birth of Rabbi Nachman, about his forebears, the Baal Shem and Rabbi Nachman of Horodenka, and about Rabbi Nachman's messianic mission.

from Reb Nachman Breslover

by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

Just as the Community of Israel develops its special qualities to their full extent only in the land of Israel, so does each Jew only develop his special spiritual qualities by means of the Torah. The Torah is the spiritual holy land and corresponds to the unique nature of the Jewish soul. All other areas of knowledge are like other lands, and relate only as such to the soulful greatness of the nation of Israel. Oros Hatorah 12:7

A Yiddish Tale

The following is a wondrous story about the holy spiritual masters, Rabbi Israel of Rizhin and Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Apta, the author of Oheiv Yisroel. (At the time of this story, he was rabbi of Meziboz.) This story was told by the Hasid, Yechiel of Warsaw, to the spiritual master, Rabbi Elazar of Koznitz.

When Rabbi Israel of Rizhin was a young man and first gaining a following, an event occurred that was so extraordinary that one's heart trembles upon hearing it.

One of Rabbi Israel's followers publicly told him at a ceremonial meal--a tisch--that he had just come from Meziboz, where he had heard Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel say to a large crowd at his own ceremonial meal that the spiritual master of Rizhin is a fool (God forbid).

As is well-known, the evil power of slander is so great that sometimes the greatest men can believe it (heaven forbid). And so it was here--Rabbi Israel of Rizhin was very disturbed when he heard this, and he said in his distress, "Rabbi Avraham wants to upset me. I am not afraid of him, because I come from the royal house of David, and no one in the world can do anything against me."

As the story spread among Rabbi Israel's followers, they grew afraid that this might lead (God forbid) to dissension between Rabbi Israel and Rabbi Avraham, who was at that time the oldest sage and spiritual master of the generation. An argument between two such leaders might have a terrible effect on all of Jewry, God forbid, and cause great suffering, heaven forbid.

In fact, the whole story was inexplicable. Was it possible that Rabbi Avraham would have said such a thing about the holy Rabbi Israel, who was well-known as a Godly man--and, in particular, when everyone knew that Rabbi Avraham thought highly of Rabbi Israel and always honored him? And also, it was very strange that, even if Rabbi Avraham was critical about Rabbi Israel, he would use such language about him.

Rabbi Israel's followers got together and applied themselves wholeheartedly to decide what they could do to quiet things down and prevent dissension from growing out of this slander (as our Sages say, "Great is [the power of] slander..." Arachin 15a).

God helped them and enlightened their eyes, and they had an excellent idea: they went and told Rabbi Israel's holy mother the whole story. They then advised her to order her son on the authority of the honor he owes her to go to Meziboz and meet with Rabbi Avraham, in order to prevent dissension within the Jewish people. As our Sages said, "Sages increase peace in the world" (Berachos 64).

When Rabbi Israel next visited his mother, she commanded him to travel immediately to Meziboz, for this matter affected all of Jewry.

Although Rabbi Israel's opinion was very different, he had to obey his holy mother. He immediately had his coach readied, and he ordered the person who had told him the story to accompany him, along with others.

They left immediately, taking leave of many people, and set out for Meziboz.

When they were within two miles of Meziboz, Rabbi Israel sent a man riding horseback to Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel to notify him of their arrival.

Rabbi Avraham was filled with joy. Together with his holy children and all the important inhabitants of Meziboz, he immediately rode out to Rabbi Israel to give him a royal welcome.

When the two men met, their joy was boundless. They travelled into town in the same carriage, and came to Rabbi Avraham's house. Rabbi Avraham told his people to immediately prepare a great feast for the holy guest, like the feast of King Solomon in his time.

When the spiritual masters sat down to the meal, Rabbi Israel looked carefully at how little Rabbi Avraham was eating. Rabbi Israel knew that Rabbi Avraham always ate normally, and he said to him in wonder, "Why does the holy rabbi eat so little? It is well-known that when you eat, it is exactly as if you were offering sacrifices to God, and that your every bite is like a sacrifice. So why are you reducing the number of holy sacrifices by eating so little? This is a great loss."

Rabbi Avraham answered him, "The holy Sabbath is like a guest that comes once a week (the Talmud states, 'The Sabbath is called a guest'--Chulin). Therefore, we honor it with delicacies of food and drink. But since a holiday comes only a few times a year, the Sabbath is called the host in relation to the holiday. Sometimes a holiday falls on a Sabbath. Then the host, the Sabbath, honors the guest, the holiday, and we eat or drink something extra for the sake of the holiday. But sometimes a guest comes who is even greater than the host. This is when Yom Kippur falls on the Sabbath. Then how can the Sabbath honor Yom Kippur? With another piece of food or drink? That is of no importance to such a holy guest. Instead, the host nullifies himself completely before the honor of the guest: because it is the custom of the holy guest not to do eat and drink, the host also refrains from eating."

When Rabbi Israel's Hasidim heard Rabbi Avraham's holy words, which implied that he held Rabbi Israel to be even greater than he--although he was already an old man and Rabbi Israel was still young--it became yet more inexplicable to them that Rabbi Avraham should have called him a fool. But it was impossible that the man had fabricated such a story. Who would dare make up such a story and tell it to Rabbi Israel?

So the matter remained a mystery, and they hoped with all their hearts that they might come to understand it.

That feast took place at night.

After the meal, Rabbi Israel went to his room to spend the night, a room that had been prepared for him by the wealthiest man in the town, in keeping with Rabbi Avraham's directives. Rabbi Avraham's holy children, among them Rabbi Yitzchak Meir, accompanied him there. When they came to the room, Rabbi Yitzchak Meir asked Rabbi Israel when he would be saying the prayers the following morning, so that he might know when to prepare a morning feast for him.

Rabbi Israel replied, "I will tell you a story. Please listen."

to be continued....

from Niflaos Yisroel IF THE BOX IS TOO LARGE
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

If the box is too large, it holds nothing.
If it is the right size, it is not even a box.

It is so nice to sit in the room with you
Once I have learned my manners.

Didn't one of the rabbis say
That there is nothing better than a good neighbor?

by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

There is so much at hand.
How shall I ever get beyond it?
Or shall my hand find within its grasp
The holy land?

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