The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review

From
Yaacov Dovid Shulman

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WINGS OF MORNING

Volume V, Issue 49

Ki Tetze 5761 August 2001

Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright 2001 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (yacovdavid@aol.com).

* The Stones of Acco
--By Prof. Haim Lifschitz

* The Society for Positive Mindfulness (Part Xiii)
--By Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman (The Pieszesner Rebbe)

* To the Holy Land
--By Dr. Heszel Klepfisz

* Here, in this Blood
--By Yaacov Dovid Shulman

THE STONES OF ACCO
by Prof. Haim Lifschitz

Once, when a Hasidic rebbe came to the Holy Land, Rav Kook asked him the purpose of his visit.

The rebbe replied, "It is my custom to prostrate myself at the grave sites of my holy forefathers every year. But now, since the Bolsheviks have taken over Russia, I can no longer do so. And so I have come here in order to prostrate myself at the grave sites of the tzaddikim in the Holy Land."

Rav Kook told him, "In the land of Israel, every piece of land has holiness, and one can prostrate oneself there. As the Gemara says, R. Abba used to kiss the stones of Acco' (Ketubot 112a).'"

Shivchei Harayah, p. 232

THE SOCIETY FOR POSITIVE MINDFULNESS (Part XIII)
by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro

But do not forget the basic purpose of our "Society for Positive Mindfulness." It does not suffice to have a [spiritual inspiration triggered by this-worldly reality]. Ultimately, such inspired thoughts have a physical form--because when you have a thought, you must picture an image that is almost physical. ([As mentioned earlier, you are allowed to image, for instance, the Throne of Glory,] relying upon the Ravad's statement). And in order to gain inspiration, you have to imagine this-worldly problems and your day of death.

But is [a person who needs this really] called a spiritual person and a thinker? [Not at all. And so] our desire is to tear aside in one motion the entire curtain spread across the totality of life. Then, in an instant you will see yourself standing before God's glory in the midst of a great camp of angels and seraphim--and you are one of them.

Up to this point, the advice that we have given has only presented a means of coming to a true intent and of raising you level after level. [The goal is that] there will manifest in you passion and an imageless thought, the expanding of a thought that is so strong and clean that you will see God in everything. Instead of your senses forcing your thoughts to apprehend a sensory form only according to their nature, the opposite will occur: your mind will contemplate a clear thought (the essence of thought without form and image), and this will overwhelm your senses, penetrating deeply and being manifested by them in the world. It will reach the point that all of [your thought's] communication and contact with the world will occur without the veil of your senses. Instead, your thought will function directly through [the vehicles of] your eyes, ears, and so forth. These organs will only be transmitters of your thought.

This is not to say that we intend to entirely wipe out your physical senses so that you will not apprehend the world in front of you. You will see the world, but you will also see God's holiness resting upon it (whether or not you are looking at it). And this is not to say that you will merely contemplate mentally that God rests upon the world and that He rules over everything. We have already spoken about the fact that our mind alone does not really bring us close to God. [By analogy,] what good would it do you to close your eyes and gaze at [an image of] clouds? Will clouds really descend upon you in consequence?

Rather, there will be revealed within you a new type of thought that you have not known before, a type of thought that [already] exists within you, and with which you will see everything.

We are not telling you fantasies, nor are we speaking of matters that so transcend the world and nature that only elevated personalities can reach them. These are things that every Jew can assuredly and certainly attain with a little effort--as long as that effort is constant. These matters do not conflict with nature.

If it is hard for you at this point to understand how you will be able to arrive at a state that neither you nor your friends could have ever imagined, do not despair. Know this rule: never despair of reaching any great level and elevated trait that you have heard about. Rather, desire these things in your heart and work hard to reach them.

Many people were lost and did not rise to the state that they were capable of reaching only because they surrendered out of laziness, sloppiness and their evil inclination. If they only had wanted to try to act and to rise little by little, step by step, they would not have wasted all their days in trash, they would not have destroyed all the light and holiness that had been prepared for them.

And so do not content yourself with reading through this little book. Instead, learn it slowly. And do not go through it all at one sitting. Rather, pause at the end of each section. And it is preferable to take a few days to go through it--a little today, a little tomorrow, and so forth. And then, after you have finished, learn it a second time, then a third time, and so forth.

Bnei Machshavah Tovah 10

TO THE HOLY LAND
by Dr. Heszel Klepfisz

In the month of Elul, I was not able to travel to Uman in the Ukraine, where R. Nachman of Breslov is buried, as so many Jews from Israel do--and not only Breslov Hasidim. It is remarkable that although Breslov Hasidism has not had a rebbe for almost two hundred years--that is to say, since R. Nachman left this world--it has not lost its popularity at all. To the contrary, Breslov is very wide-spread in Israel.

One of the best-known, God-touched lines of verse in the Jewish state is the phrase authored by R. Nachman: "The world is a very narrow bridge, and the main thing is not to be afraid." This song is sung among the religious and non-religious, amongst leftists and right-wingers, in towns and villages, kibbutzim and moshavim. The sounds of this pervasive melody are carried from the radio and television. It appears that the teachings of Breslov still have something to say to young and old, and to all types of people.

In the month of Elul, many people leave Israel for Uman in order to celebrate Rosh Hashanah there. This custom has taken hold in Breslov tradition. If others travel to be with their rebbe for the New Year, Breslov Hasidim go to the shtetl where R. Nachman lived his last years, and where he was brought to rest. Even when the Ukraine was part of the Soviet empire and going there entailed no end of difficulties and obstacles (even self-sacrifice), people still traveled to Uman for Rosh Hashanah. And now, even more people go, under the more lenient conditions of the newly-established Ukrainian republic.

I have not, as I said, had the opportunity to travel to Uman in Elul. However, [by remaining in Israel] I am going in the steps of R. Nachman when he made his unforgettable visit to the land of Israel.

Yes, R. Nachman visited the land of Israel. This was almost two hundred years ago, when undertaking a trip from Eastern Europe--from Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and White Russia--to the Middle East was fraught with danger. The land of Israel was under Turkish rule. But at that time the French emperor Napoleon possessed the strong ambition to take over the Jewish land and adjoining countries. The Middle East had always been considered an important strategic point. And so the French army began its march to the area. There were already the intimations of war and the cataclysms that war brings. A person would have to travel for long months on ships that set out from Russian ports to come to the land of Israel. Not all the ships arrived. And the traveler was always dependent upon the caprices of the captain and sailors.

In addition, one needed to take along great sums of money. With money one could, when necessary, bribe those on the ship, and others whose help one needed along the way. R. Nachman had no money. His friends barely managed to collect a slim amount for him. But nothing could alter his decision to travel. He said that although his great-grandfather, R. Israel Baal Shem Tov (founder of the Hasidic movement), despite a burning desire to travel to the Holy Land was not fated to carry it out, he, the great-grandson, would not be discouraged from doing so.

Not even the appeals of his family had any effect. His wife and children attempted to dissuade him. Who would support them when he would not be home? But R. Nachman remained firm. He must walk upon the holy ground. He must breathe the air of the land of Israel. It is this land that binds the Jewish soul to the great Jewish past. Here the Jewish heart can be found together with its root.

R. Nachman was accompanied on his journey by one of his first students, R. Shimon. A detailed account of R. Nachman's journey exists, where one can read about the dangers into which he and his student fell: about the storm that broke out upon the Black Sea and which threatened to sink the ship; and about the other trials that they endured. This moving portrait was penned for the generations by the Breslover's soul-friend, R. Nosson Sternhartz, who drew a moving portrait for those to come. R. Nosson wrote down not only R. Nachman's profound teachings and wonderful stories. He made sure that a variety of details of R. Nachman's life would not remain unknown. Amongst these writings is the notebook whose theme is the journey to the land of Israel.

This journey dragged for many months. R. Nachman and his companion set out right after Passover in 1798. The first port was Odessa. They travelled slowly from port to port and from ship to ship until they finally arrived at Haifa on the eve of Rosh Hashanah 5559. "One cannot imagine the great joy that R. Nachman felt at the moment that he placed his feet upon the holy ground," we read in R. Nosson's description. R. Nachman remained in Tiberias for Rosh Hashanah, and then went to Tzefat.

Der Kval fun Doyroys, pp. 367-72

HERE, IN THIS BLOOD
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

The enemy exploded
Breath-taking fireworks. On the
Radio, the white chatter of the River
Of Death chirruped cheerfully. Already, the dead were

Buried. And the lapping edge
Of the black water was drifting
Over our heads: the thrum of "deplore," "restraint,"
The mesmerizing murmur, "cycle of violence."

When this world turns away its
Eyes, let your heart melt until you
Have no heart. Outside, the river of voices
Is pulling our souls to madness, to despondency.

Here, in this blood that is your
Blood, upon this soil that is your
Flesh, you will feel a grief that wails, you will feel
That you are in this grave, and that you are alive.

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